Where are you based and what drew you to Iceland?
I live in London, but I spend about half of the year travelling with work. This was my first trip to Iceland. A few years back my aunty gave me a photography book by Richard Long, who walked hundreds of miles across the middle of Iceland, from the southern to the northern coast. He photographed the striking volcanic wilderness that consumes the remote interior of the country. Years later and by coincidence frame builder Tom Donhou invited me to do the same journey but on his new DSS2 gravel/road bikes. Tom choose the route as it would involve a few hundred kilometres on tarmac and a few hundred on K's on difficult gravel/rocky road, thereby really testing his DSS2.
What was your favourite part of the trip?
The first night in the wilderness we camped on a volcanic beach at dusk. Sky, rock and lake were all drenched in dark blue. The rained had stopped for the first time in days and the deafly wind died down. The lake was still. It was serenely quiet. We were a few hundred kilometres from a plug socket and our phones were dead. I remember looking round and releasing nothing was alive, not a single bug or plant. I've never been anywhere so quiet and comfortingly peaceful. I felt content, a rarity, not a worry or concern in my mind. It was another world from PPI claim calls, deadlines and Vanessa Feltz. I joked to Donny saying I'd found my spiritual home – maybe I had. A picture from that evening hangs above my desk for a sniff of escapism when needed.
Was the riding varied and what terrain did you prefer?
The landscape changed by the mile. First of all the trees faded out, then bushes, then grass, then even moss disappeared until eventually we be surrounded by nothing grey. The change in the road is more abrupt. Miles of smooth fast tarmac suddenly ends and the Sprengisandsleið begins. The Sprengisandsleið road is a few hundred of kilometeres of various guises of gravel, ranging from fast hard pack to unridable rumble and rocks. The road goes round europe's largest glacier. Ice cold glacial river crossings are common, some with bridges, most with out. The gravel road needs constant attention to spot a line through the rocks and not puncture or crash, both happened frequently. Knuckles swell up and its easy to get frustrated as you're wrestle a fully loaded bike up and down 15% climbs. Any frustration is soaked up the view, the memorising sight of the glacier is a sponge for any bad feeling and keeps your chin up.
How did you plan the route? Did you stick to a plan or did you explore and see where the road took you?
There's really only one road, the Sprengisandsleið, so we had little worries of getting lost. We spent 4 days in the wilderness without any access to power supply so relied purely on maps. NB Tom did all the map reading and planning, I sat back and followed his lead.
What equipment did you use to capture your journey?
I took a few expensive and heavy cameras such as a DSLR, a drone, medium format film camera, but pleasingly my favourite shots were taken on a point and shoot Olympus 35mm camera, which cost £30 on eBay and weighs less than a phone. Bad weather meant all the expensive gear was heavily packed away in dry bags and was slow to access, but the 35mm was always on hand.
What destination would be on your riding wish list?
I want to return to everywhere I've been and go to everywhere I haven't. Life's too short.