Advice on bicycle touring in Iceland

The text found at the site came as a pleasant surprise, and is good enough, to warrant being repeated on this website, as well. It has some relatively sound advice on bicycle touring  in Iceland, and safety

Verbatim copy from the site, on 2010-06-07,  shortly after the launch:

"Iceland is a great place for both regular bike riding and mountain biking, though we must admit we're decades behind other european countries when it comes to services for cycling in urban areas.

Most tourists that come here to bike go around the country via the ring road for at least some of the way; others choose rougher roads and use the kjölur mountain route or other routes in the highlands.  regardless of what you plan to do, you should keep one thing in mind: icelandic drivers don't have much experience when it comes to driving with cyclists as few people here bike.  most drivers want to react well, but simply don’t know how to.  thus it's acceptable to help "instruct" them in a manner that does not cause any danger. you could, for instance, extend your left hand and motion downward several times to let the oncoming driver know that he or she is approaching too quickly and to slow down.

Before heading out on the long-awaited biking trip, you should check the bike and make any necessary repairs.  examine the condition of the brakes, the brake wires, gears and chains.  it’s better to replace old components with new ones than to have them break down in the middle of your trip.  if you aren't certain about how to do some of these things then you can read up on them, take courses or bring your bike to a bicycle workshop.  observing repairs at the workshop would also allow you to learn a thing or two about your bike.

But let’s also consider what you should bear in mind when biking in the lowland areas of iceland, such as on the famous ring road.  apart from the bike itself, clothing plays the next most important role.  here in iceland we sometimes say that a light breeze is just hurrying by as it is often windy.  warm, wind-resistant under- and outerwear, at least on your front, is a must have on equipment lists for anyone planning to bike ride in iceland.  good biking gloves are also something that no one should forget; however, fingerless biking gloves are not recommended.  what’s more, summertime temperatures can drop quite drastically and wind chill can even bring temperatures below zero.

There is often considerable distance between urban areas, so it's advisable to bring some equipment for repairs, extra inner tubes and tires, and you need to be able to carry out repairs if need be.  if more complex repairs are required, icelandic farmers are not only helpful and hospitable if you visit them, but also unusually resourceful.  you will also need to bring normal travel supplies such as maps, gps devices, bike tools, extra clothes and nutritious and wholesome icelandic provisions.  keep in mind that in iceland there are few or no specific bike paths or roads.  you'll therefore be riding either on paved roads in varying condition, or on gravel roads.  be very familiar with the route you intend to use so that you can properly evaluate what kind of bike you’ll need.  regular street bikes are, for example, seldom suitable outside of urban areas.

When biking in the highlands of iceland there are other things to consider as conditions are very different.  first, we should mention the responsibility that lies with a cyclist in relation to the icelandic environment, which is delicate as the summer is very short.  roads, trails and footpaths need to be followed as bikes can easily cause harm to nature in the same way as cars.  consequently, never bike off-road no matter how tempting it may be.  if a situation arises in which you need to cross over a sensitive area, simply pick the bike up and carry it.

In the highlands weather can become perilous, even in midsummer.  clothing must accordingly be sufficient.  excellent underwear, e.g. made from wool, is very important.  in addition, wind and water resistant protective clothing is indispensable.  finally, extra clothes that are warm and comfortable to get into after a long day of biking can make any trip more enjoyable.  it’s not possible to rely on having mobile phone services in the icelandic highlands so it's advisable to have a satellite phone or two-way radio in case anything unexpected happens.  also, remember to have your tool bag prepared, as there may not be any workshops within a close distance.  the main things that the bag should contain would be, e.g. extra inner tubes and tires, pumps, patch kits, regular bike tools, extra brake pads, links for the chain, chain clamps, oil, electrical cable ties and strong tape.

If you're going to bike in the icelandic highlands then you should only use a bike with shock absorbers.  they not only make the journey a safe one, but also more enjoyable for the biker.

Roads and paths in the highlands of iceland are challenging and at the same time very exciting.  aside from that, the views simply have no equivalent.  focus on biking and stopping rather frequently to take photos or enjoy the scenes before your eyes.  remember to give someone a copy of your route plan as well as instructions regarding when to take action if you're not heard from.  writing your name down in a guestbook is not just a courtesy, but also an important safety precaution.  but above all, you should choose a route that is suited to your abilities, enjoy the trip and return home safe and sound.

These points could have a border or be broken up in some way
• dress according to weather and conditions.  leave a route plan behind and never travel alone to the mountains.
• keep a pace that matches your competence in biking.  if you no longer have full control of the bike, then slow down.
• if something appears difficult or dangerous then it probably is.
• get familiar with the intended route in advance and choose one taking your abilities into consideration.  bring gps devices or maps.
• treat the environment with respect.  stay on paths and trails.  carry your bike over sensitive nature areas.
• be an exemplary role model for other cyclists."

The Icelandic Mountainbikeclub also has extensive information for people touring Iceland on bicyles. Check it out here: Touring Iceland on bicycles