My Incredible Iceland Bike Tour (VIDEO)

By Darren Alff on - Download my FREE bike tour starter guide!

In the summer of 2012, I traveled to Iceland with my friend and ex-college Roommate, Brandon Roesler.

Brandon and I sat next to each other in a Freshman English class, became roommates the following semester, and stayed close friends throughout our college education.

Throughout our college years, I spent my summers bicycle touring across the United States and Canada. And after I graduated from university, I started cycling in foreign countries all around the world. I tried to get Brandon to join me on my bike tours on several occasions, but for whatever reason, I could never get him to fully commit.

Which is why it surprised me a little, when more than a decade after our first meeting, Brandon called me up and said he was ready to join me on a bike tour in Iceland.

During our first couple days in the country, Brandon and I met a French bicycle traveler named Calite who joined up for part of the tour. Adding a third individual to our group made the bike tour in Iceland even more special.

While I’d love to say that cycling in Iceland with Brandon was a totally positive experience, the truth is… it was a fairly challenging time. Brandon hurt his knee during the first day on the bike, my face swelled up on several occasions (due to dehydration – I think), and it was cold, windy and miserable for a great deal of the ride.

But we pressed on and we survived. We spent 25 days cycling around the country and I was impressed by Brandon’s abilities. He was strong, despite the obstacles we encountered, and he was constantly making me laugh.

Looking back on our Iceland bike tour now, I’m not sure if Brandon enjoyed his time in the country. We’ve only exchanged a few short Facebook messages since the trip ended almost three whole years ago.

So while I can’t speak for Brandon, I know that for me at least, it was an overall positive experience. Yes, I was cold and miserable at times. And yes, we got on each others nerves. But I think that when I look back on the experience now, the cold and wind and pain has disappeared from my memory, and all that remains is a bike ride with a friend in a beautiful, isolated, and stunning land.

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15 Comments

  1. Zsolt Pogany

    May 12, 2015 at 5:58 am

    I realy appréciated your Iceland video. It reminded me of good memories as I have been in Iceland in 2009 but unfortunately not with a bicycle. I was on my way to Spain to walk the St-James way.
    Thank you for all the nice videos and inspiring articles.

  2. Eno Wong

    May 12, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Awesome bicycle touring documentary video ,that share both physical(what you see and hear) and emotional (your feeling and what you think) experience from the trip. Great job Darren ! By the way, may I know what software do you use? I’m plan to do my 20++days bicycle touring from Sabah back to my home (kuching) next April, your video inspire me a lot … Thanks Darren =)

  3. Martin

    May 12, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Congratulations on a beautifully made film. Thanks for inspiring

  4. Burt Reiff

    May 12, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Hi Darren,

    Exactly what time frame were you in Iceland? I’d like to go there….I’m thinking in August…best chance for “warmer” weather.

    Thanks

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      May 12, 2015 at 8:02 am

      We were there in late May I believe. It was right before the main tourist season began. July and August would probably be better as far as weather is concerned, but there might be a lot more people on the roads.

  5. Michael Valenti

    May 12, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Darren, thank you for sharing your Iceland journey with us. Your strength and perseverance is a powerful reminder that we get out of life, what we put into life. Your positive attitude is an inspiration to all.

    Best of luck, ride safe and maybe someday we’ll meet on the road. I’d like that.

    Michael

  6. Gerry van der Weyden

    May 12, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Nice job on the video Darren. You have captured some incredibly beautiful, stark landscapes. The ride comes across as either lonely or magically serene, depending on one’s P.O.V. Coupled with the challenging weather, the challenges you describe with your cycling partner are not surprising. It’s so true that time has a way of moulding our views on experiences. In our culture of immediate gratification, it is difficult sometimes to see the importance of taking on challenges and persevering when confronted by trying circumstances. I imagine you must encounter this a lot. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Alexander Henson

    May 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I just visited Iceland two weeks ago for two days in a car. Its stark landscape is stunning but mile after mile of moss-covered black lava does not grab and keep one’s attention. I also noted the wind in almost each of the frames. It is a cold wind. I did not see any dramatic volcanic action and there was none in your video. I noted there were no shots of anyone enjoying a hot-spring bath. I enjoyed the Blue Lagoon and wondered if there were other hot springs in use. I was also curious what time of year you were there.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      May 12, 2015 at 9:52 am

      You’re right about the landscape in Iceland being stark, but I think traveling across Iceland in a car over 2 short days is VERY DIFFERENT than slowly traveling across the country on a bicycle over the course of 25+ days. By the seat of a bicycle, you can really take in a place, stop and explore, etc. You see places differently when you travel by bike… and Iceland may be one of those places in the world where traveling by bike truly gives you a different perspective on the location.

      There are a lot of places in the world that are stark and empty (deserts, winter tundras, vast oceans, etc), and a lot of people might say these areas aren’t worth seeing or visiting because they are “stark.” But it is this starkness that attracts some people to these places as well. I personally love desserts for example. Some people hate them. But that’s what’s so great about a place like Iceland I believe. Some people will never go there… and never want to go there… simply because it’s too cold, too stark, etc. And that makes me happy actually! Because it makes my time in that place even better! 🙂

      As for our trip, no, we didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon (it’s not something I would have enjoyed. I think Brandon would have liked it though). We did, however, jump into some other natural/man-made pools and hot-springs that are not as touristy (we had them entirely to ourselves).

      We also spent a few days in Reykjavik (not shown in this video). We were there in late May, I believe. Possibly early June. I’m not 100% sure. It has been three years since I was there after-all. 🙂

    • Sita

      May 12, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Thank you for this very beautiful video
      It captures the hardnesss and the beauty
      Very moving too, especially your last words

  8. Jamie

    May 12, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Well done mate. It was worth the three year wait!

  9. Gary Siegel

    May 12, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    The video was truly accurate concerning the barren lands and fields of Iceland and the weather conditions. I actually started riding again while stationed in Keflavik back in the early 90’s. Riding in the area of Keflavik and Reykjavik was eye opening to say the least. The winds never stopped it seemed, but the coastline was worth the views despite the cold. Trips to the Blue Lagoon were well spent and rewarding. Your world travels are so interesting to read and view, keep up the good work. Maybe our paths will cross some day, till then keep safe on the roads.

  10. maria

    May 14, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    AWESOME!! AWESOME!!! video!!
    We went on a 5 week bike adventure around Iceland this past June (On a bike friday bike, ugh) We kinda wished we had a mountain bike, but we survived. Ha Ha!! We loved the solitude and beauty of this amazing country.Your video really captures it good. If you would like to get your kicks and see us on our tiny bike fridays , check out my video on youtube. (Two crazy trolls bike Iceland) Thank you soooo very much for sharing your adventure. I look forward to seeing more of your bike adventures!

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