Fat-Biking Iceland: Solo Expedition For 500 Miles On Beach

Geoff Harper had a unique goal: cycle the South Coast of Iceland the hard way — by beach, using roads only as a last resort. The trip turned out to be just a bit under 500 miles over three weeks through severe wind, rain and conditions that, as he put it, “would render a conventional bike useless.”

The British-born Denver resident chose a fat bike for the adventure, jumping on a 9:Zero:7 Tusken fat bike outfitted with a Gates Carbon Drive belt system and NuVinci N360 continuously variable transmission.

He chose to use the belt drive to better cope with the harsh saltwater and sand environment along the coast and said that the system worked well.

The loaded 9:Zero:7 Tusken Fat Bike

“This bulletproof setup allowed me to focus my attention on the difficult ride and resting whenever necessary vs worrying about chain maintenance,” he reported.

A few other adaptations – Ergon Ergonomics and Jpaks custom packs to carry everything needed for a three week self-supported expedition – turned the cycle into his ultimate beach ride.

A campsite along the way

Harper began pedaling on August 8 and arrived in Reykjavík three weeks later.

Geoff Harper’s self portrait along an Icelandic beach

“The expedition was tougher than I had fully realized though subconsciously I had suspected it would be,” he reported. “Moments of glassy-eyed elation followed moments of gut-wrenching hardship, again I knew these were in the past. What I overlooked however was the degree of self-knowledge brought about by the intensity of a solo trip such as this. Self-reliance was my only option with no choice but to trust my instinct where the will to keep moving, to stay warm, to find shelter and to eat were all I could think about for days on end and then conversely the absolute need to reconnect with people, those days spent alone in harsh conditions have forever changed my appreciation of a casual conversation and a smile shared with a stranger.”

Gear for cycling 500 miles of Iceland’s beaches

Harper’s complete gear list is worth checking out if planning a trip like his. It includes some great standards (Leatherman tti) and items unique to Iceland (Harðfiskur).

His trip looks like a great, albeit tough, way to visit a remote and beautiful part of the world. —Sean McCoy

A view from the tent

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.