Exercise Magma Fox ; 15,786ft descended, 15,626ft climbed, 170km ridden, 7 riders, 6 days, 1 Iceland.
Iceland’s Volcanoes, synonymous with destruction, danger and death – all three narrowly avoided thanks to sound instruction, a great guide and a smidge of good luck! (oh, and a strategically located man catching tree).
Team Fox pushed themselves to (and occasionally beyond) the limit during 5 days of adrenaline spiked, gut wrenching, mettle testing mountain biking across Iceland’s stunning volcanic terrain. With exposure to risk at every turn riders strengthened nerve and developed skills surpassing the aims of Adventure Training; developing their leadership skills, teamwork, fitness, moral and physical courage, skills which are vital to Operational Capability.
Ride 1; Dòmadalur, 20km, 2810ft climbed, 2992ft descended.
A real “kick ass” introduction to the Icelandic Highlands. Long steep climbs were rewarded with flowing single tracks and stunning scenery. Keen to push ourselves from the off we declined the direct route to the first mountain hut preferring to summit one last peak albeit with some regret as we undertook what was the most challenging hike a bike section of the exped the view from the top was exceptional. Beer and fish anyone…..?
Ride 2; Landmannalaugar, 27km, 2952ft climbed, 4265ft descended.
Undulant – probably the best word to describe the rides in Iceland. Today we took on the most spectacular single track trails in the country including summiting and battling high cross-winds to circumnavigate the narrow ridge of the Brennisteinsalda volcano crater, ending the day in a natural geothermal hot pool, some well-earned recompense for the physically testing hike-a-bike sections.
Ride 3; Fjallabak South, 53km, 3979ft climbed, 2034ft descended.
The longest day, beginning with a steep climb, many a river crossing and the most exciting double tracks of the highlands. We ended the day with a fantastic single track ride around Mt Laufafell down to the Ljósá River and on to Mountain Hut Hungurfit in a hidden valley behind the Tindfjallaökul glacier. A knockout day (especially for one!).
Ride 4; Emstrur, 40km, 2887ft climbed, 3346ft descended.
Challenging and extremely remote single track surely among Iceland’s best, lead us on past Lake Álftavatn and to the famous Laugavegur trail chosen one of the “World’s Best Hikes: Epic Trails” by National Geographic. Overnighting in Mountain Hut Mosar by the canyons of the Markarfljót River.
Ride 5; Þórsmörk, 30km, 2998 climbed, 3149 descended.
Incredible but formidable single tracks lead us via deep canyons, through desert sand and lava fields to Þórsmörk valley. A mythical place with “rider-saving” birch trees (catching two of Team Fox’s riders preventing them from taking the direct route straight off the track and down a cliff edge) and ravines surrounded by steep mountains beneath the slopes of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
With one day left Team Fox continued to explore the remarkable Icelandic countryside soaking aching muscles in the Blue Lagoon, visiting Strokkur Geyser and Gullfoss waterfalls.
“Iceland is an amazing country – the terrain perfect for pushing MTB skills to the limit. A far cry from my Road Bike and novice to ‘fat wheels’; I was constantly outside my comfort zone in a real test of mental and physical courage. We finished each day with a great sense of achievement and sometimes disbelief as to the days accomplishment.”
SSgt Claire Norton
With thanks to; Bike Company for delivering Iceland’s best MTB adventure with amazing trails, great food and fantastic guides! and to The Ulysses Trust, RFCA Yorkshire and The Humber, North of England RFCA and 4th Infantry Brigade for helping fund this one of a kind opportunity; key to the retention, continuous training and professional development of our Soldiers.