It was inevitable that one day Daniel Hughes should take to cycling on the roads of Iceland.
Iceland is a photographer’s paradise, but also a unique opportunity for those who love cycling. And if you are passionate about both, you will inevitably end up pedalling across the “Land of Ice”, your camera strapped to your side so as to take some incredible snapshots along the way.
“I’d long wanted to experience the combination of photography and cycling in Iceland. I never got round to it before due to my fear that the experience wouldn’t live up to my expectations or that I wouldn’t find what had impressed me so much in other photographers’ works. Now I am glad to say that my fears were completely unfounded.”
Daniel Hughes and his wife Carali crossed Iceland from the island’s southernmost tip, at Vík í Mýrdal, to Akureyri, in the far north, riding two Jenas in bikepacking mode.
If you look at the map, the journey looks quite smooth. Both Vík í Mýrdal and Akureyri lie on Route 1, a ring road that circles the entire country along the coastline. But Daniel and Carali had another, much more adventurous idea in mind.
They would travel inland from Vík to Akureyri, crossing the central F roads, where F stands for “Fjalla” in Icelandic, or “mountain”. Usually crossed by 4x4s, these roads lent themselves perfectly to the two Jenas.
The queen of Iceland’s mountain roads is the F26, which Daniel and Carali finally took towards the end of the third day of their journey, after being stunned by the beauty of the Fjallaback Nature Reserve.
“The view all around was incredible. A photographer’s nirvana. One part of the park was lush – all green, with rivers that seemed to meander endlessly. The other was barren, the cracked ground brimming with quicksand and volcanic lava”.
The same sense of disbelief continued along the entire F26.
“The scenery kept changing, each half hour bringing with it a whole new landscape, regardless of whether we were climbing or descending. At times, you’d take a bend in the road and suddenly find that the panorama had transformed completely. Also, the weather in Iceland changes constantly: in twenty-four hours you’ll come across all the climate conditions that in London you encounter in a year.”
Never as in Iceland has the bicycle been so useful to Daniel Hughes.
“One of the reasons I love cycling is that it allows you to stray off the beaten track, and that’s essential for a photographer looking for original shots. These routes are incredible in Iceland. Here, the landscape is so changeable that, unexpectedly, you can encounter extraordinary waterfalls or geological formations that are just begging to be photographed – and all quite close to yet invisible from the main roads. If I hadn’t been riding an off-road bike, the quality of my photographs and the excitement of those seven days spent bikepacking would certainly have been very different.”
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