“Iceland is cold, boring, windy, and mostly dark except over the summertime when is bright. Everything looks a bit bizarre there, I’ve learned that Gunnar means viking and Thor is someone the vikings looked up to as the god of thunder with the hammer (Mjölnir) which he could throw away and yet it would always come back to him, this is Iceland, the place we are taking you in this article. Oh, and most people there believe in elves!
That day you get registered to a 200km race in one of the most remote parts of the planet, that’s an exciting day! Some people planned for a while, some others just winged it last minute, for me this was a last minute booked trip where I didn’t have anything prepared but I was ready to see this amazing landscape and this great scenery, and maybe an elf.
Me, Neil, and Jake stayed in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, built by farmers but with this charm and breeze that makes you feel awake all the time, especially when it only gets dark 3 hours a day.
On Friday we joined the Enve pre ride for a little loop of 50km to test out how it would be riding through lava fields and crossing rivers. It was sunny and warmer so that made our afternoon a very pleasant one. We picked up our numbers, bags, and downloaded the route on komoot to be prepared for the next day. The “night” was long and the hours where approaching the starting line of the race and I this time, slept like a marmot.
And there we where some hours later, I find myself and 250 other riders in the start line of The Rift, what would be a 200km race self supported in the south west of Iceland, and basically a loop of one of the most active volcanoes on the island. There are 4 checkpoints that would save us from hunger and some many river crossings that will keep us fresh (or freezing). It was raining a little bit, but not quite enough for a jacket. So I sat there, in the most beautiful scenery fretting about whether to start cold, or start warm and have to take my jacket off on the first climb. Bike racers are strange.”
“Komoot was the route planner for this event and glad they had already on the app the weather forecast that you can see through the course how is going to be, I might have check that 10 times over the morning to see it it was changing a bit. I was confident I would be fine with a merino jersey long sleeves, some bib shorts (obviously haha) and I took a rain jacket for the beginning and then took it off twenty minutes into the event. There was a checkpoint for clothes so in case you where to wet or sweaty you will be able to change yourself. I was excited on that start line it was meant to be an epic day and that’s all I had in my head.
The race started after 9 km through the main road and with a lead car, I was feeling good and I went and tried to stay in the front group for as much as I could. As the first 100km where pretty much uphill and some strong side wind I decided to slow down into the first split, it was a good pace and some nice people around so I stick to them until the strong wind hit me and some uphills so I was not able to continue with that group. Over that the landscape was changing every 10km, some nice rocky hills, a bit of green fluo and some of the multiple river crossings, it was stunning.
As soon as that 100km half way through where approaching I think me and a lot of other riders had in mind that the wind was going to be then, tail wind and also adding the downhill was just the most pleasant time of the day, and yes, there we go after the 4th river crossing a nice descent with some snaking roads, also most of them washed out with the most severe washboarding I have ever experienced, seriously, it was like holding a jackhammer. we touched down to one of the first road sections, but there was a head wind, actually it was head wind all the last 50km, which I spent completely alone. When I knew that the end was coming I put on some music on my phone did the last 20 km with some great tunes and sort of dancing against the wind and completed what it would be one of the most difficult but beautiful races I’ve ever done.
At the Lava venue, everybody was stoked the vibes where hi and people couldn’t believe how stunning this place was, the time is coming already for next year’s one! See you all there…”