Athlete Adventures: Iceland National Trail
This month I’ll be flying to Iceland with my bike to cycle circumnavigate the country on a new route. The route involves 3324 kilometres of mixed terrain cycling, over 38 000 metres of ascent, and will become Iceland’s first National Trail. The journey will take me 20 days, and I’ll be doing it solo, unsupported, and carrying everything I require on my bike.
Iceland's rugged landscape
Cue the logical question: ‘What’s the point?’
I think the ‘why’ behind this adventure, as with any adventure, is the most important element to define.
I love endurance challenges, I love the idea of pushing myself harder and further than ever, redefining what I interpret to be possible for me. I love being out in this planet’s wild places and have really started to understand the benefits of the outdoors. To me, adventure is the exploration of physical, mental planes through the connection with the natural world.
I always try to have a deeper meaning to my challenges, using them as a vehicle to raise awareness for a certain cause or money for charity, to positively impact the lives of others and inspire people to get out and redefine their own ‘possible’. If one is going to undertake a challenging and personal feat, it always becomes a more spiritual and human experience when the cause is greater than the self.
Bens bike, fully kitted out with Alpkit luggage for the journey
The Iceland National Trail project
I first ran into the concept of the Iceland National Trail while researching the potential for a challenge in Iceland, which brought me to Guy Sachar. Guy had thought up the idea following a trip there but the project never materialised into a proven route and fell by the wayside. Upon reading his ideas, I was immediately inspired and got in touch straight away. In the end, Guy did not have the time to build upon this idea, and it was decided that I would reinvigorate this idea, edit the route, test it and bring it to life.
I would love for this challenge to inspire people to take on their own challenge, to set their own goals impossibly high and work to achieve them while making that goal bigger than the self. Physical exertion, orientating and focussing the mind, exploration of new places, helping others and learning something new are the five key factors, I believe, to any adventure. With that in mind, I wanted the biggest challenge I’ve ever done to date to stand for something big.
I hope that this route will serve as a ‘line on the map’ that will help others to go on adventures of their own around some of the most amazing places that Iceland has to offer; linking culture and the natural world with physical exertion and positive psychological experience. This route will be something that can be completed over any distance, in any time, by anyone.
The proposed Iceland National Trail route
I follow the mantra of Bruce Lee, “apply what is useful, discard what is useless, find your own truth, add what is specifically your own and continue to evolve”. This is something I have implemented with the Iceland National Trail to take the initial ideas and transform them to something unique.
For more information on the route, visit the Athlete Adventure's route page. Ben flew out to Iceland on the 4th August, he’ll be recording the journey through a series of videos and posts on social media, plus you can track his progresshere.