Trio Fatbike 600Km Across Iceland

Arctic Endurance
The trio’s first day. It wasn't all roads! Photo: Ryan Hill

They rode 95 percent of the time, but as usual, the five percent made the best stories.

Endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch, photographer Chris Burkard and retired professional cyclist Angus Morton have just biked from north to south across central Iceland, unsupported.

The trio set out from Stora Brekka, near Iceland’s northern tip, on April 1. On April 9, averaging 60 to 70km a day, they made it to the south coast. Even more remarkably, they rode 95 percent of the time, pushing only five percent.

Rebecca Rusch and her bike. Photo: Ryan Hill

But that five percent loomed large: They endured storms with 100kph winds. “The winds were so severe that putting our heads down, digging our boots in, and pushing our bikes…were the only things we could do,” said Rusch.

They trudged up mountains and glaciers as high as 900m while battling side winds in -20˚C. On their second day, they spent five hours (of a 14-hour day) pushing their bikes. Another time, they pushed for six hours up a glacier near Maelifell, a popular volcano.

Some of the five percent. Photo: Instagram

In general, their expedition ranged from perfect snow to barely rideable. They also crossed freezing rivers, deep valleys, and highlands. They looked for windows of opportunities they called supercrusts, a crunchy top layer of snow created by a succession of thawing and freezing. This “frozen yet not bulletproof ice” allowed them to ride without much walking. Luck seemed to be on their side. “Fat biking and any form of fat bike expedition is 100 percent snow dependent,” said Burkard. 

The “push” from Myrdalsjokull Glacier Crossing to Vick. Photo: Ryan Hill

Occasionally, Rusch, Burkard, and Morton averaged almost eight kilometres an hour but usually, they made their daily distance by putting in mega-hours. By the end of it, Rusch’s Giant Yukon bike had taken quite a beating. But they soldiered on, and on April 9, they reached the Dyholaey Lighthouse, almost the southernmost point of Iceland, and the end of their expedition. 


About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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Dave @ Accidental FIRE
7 months ago

Oh man I hope there’s gonna be a short film from this expedition, looks amazing!

7 months ago

Makes you wonder – if the 5% gave the best stories maybe they should have just left the bikes at home? 😉

Gary Goldenberg
7 months ago

“They trudged up mountains and glaciers as high as 3,048m…” I think you meant “feet.” The highest point in Iceland is just above 2,100m.

Jerry Kobalenko
7 months ago

Thank you, corrected.