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29th March 2021 / Comments (0)

ICYMI: The further away, the better

“I’ve ridden many thousands of miles on my bike all these years and I can’t say I regret anything… There were rough times but also good times. You just know it’s a challenge that you’ve got to overcome.”

We all have roads stick with us in our winds, routes we want to ride. One such route is across the Sprengisandur, an uninhabited high plateau crowned by an 826-metre pass in central Iceland. Many have tried to cross, and many have also failed.

In 2015, Rapha sent filmmaker George Marshall and framebuilder Tom Donhou to ride the crossing, but after days of challenging high winds, the pair were forced to abort their attempt. Four years later, George returned to lead a few others across the 170 mile expanse between the end of the paved road near the capital of Reykjavik and the northern town of Akureyri, this time a success. However, they were certainly not the first to make the crossing.

This short film from Rapha documents Ron Bartle’s trip across Iceland. Over sixty years before, he was joined Dick Phillips, Bernard Heath and their guide Raymond Bottomley for the first ever unsupported ride across the Sprengisandur. Their ten day expedition in the wilderness saw them crossing rivers in inflatable dinghies and pushing their bikes over boulder fields until they finally reached the first farmstead in the north.

Now in his mid-eighties and still an avid cyclist, Ron reminds us at a time when many of us cannot ride the roads lodged in our minds, that they’ll still be there for us this year and the next.

Read the full story on the Rapha Journal and check out Natt’s Iceland Divide.

Last modified: 30th March 2021

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