Early on a Tuesday morning in May, I got a phone call from everyone’s favorite fatbike web guru, Gomez. He asked me what I have planned for the last week of June. Coincidentally, I was just about to quit my job and start traveling right about that time. Gomez then informed me that Lauf Forks, an Iceland based company, was having a product launch and wondered if I would like to go check it out. Heck yes, I would! I recently bikepacked across Iceland and I was chomping at the bit to go back and ride more trails.
I packed everything I would need for late winter/early spring riding, left my 110 degree desert home behind, and hopped on a plane headed to the north Atlantic.
Lauf is a small and relatively new fork company made up of only four friends based in Reykjavik. What they lack in personnel they more than make up for in enthusiasm and they are on a mission to make light, maintenance free forks. They were kind enough to fly myself and about 40 other journalists and distributors to Iceland for a three day whirlwind launch of their new forks.
We all arrived in Iceland on a Friday morning where long flights, jet lag and 24 hour daylight quickly made everyone disoriented. It took a while for everyone to filter in from the airport and we all took advantage of the free time to nap. Once assembled, we were loaded up into some giant monster truck Sprinter vans and whisked away to a scenic cabin in mountains for our first introduction to the forks.
We arrived at the cabin to find a BBQ already in progress. I did some socializing and got to meet a bunch of people in real life that I previously only knew via their internet writings. All this milling around waiting for dinner gave everyone an opportunity to check out the forks. Tires were kicked, forks were bounced and a few of us snuck off to explore the trails near the cabin. I staked claim to a Salsa Blackborow equipped with the new Lauf Carbonara fatbike fork. This would be my ride for the next two days. I disappeared into the rain and mist to see what the trails had to offer. It felt good to shake off the travel legs with some pedaling. Even if it was raining and I was in jeans and a t-shirt. I took some blurry cell phone pictures of the fork and huddled next to a backcountry bus (that had wifi) to send them off to Gomez.
Saturday morning found us all sleep deprived but ready to ride. We dialed in our bikes and headed off on a little group ride through the hills under sunny skies. From previous experience, I know that no ride in Iceland is complete without having to cross at least a few glacial rivers. This theory held true after only about a half mile in when we bottlenecked at a river crossing. Nobody was too upset since it was the first time most of the crew had seen the grandeur of the mountains around us. Waiting is always better with a killer view.
Up and over the hills, we finally arrived at the Basar hut where we would be based for the afternoon. With two loops marked for us, we were set free to ride as we pleased for the better part of the day. So that’s exactly what I did. When everyone stopped for lunch, I took the opportunity to ride some sweet, empty trails.
Around 5pm, we were told to change into warmer, dry clothes because were getting transported by helicopter, up to a glacier for the evening. Now I have seen a lot of Iceland from the seat of a bike, but nothing compares to seeing it from the window seat of a helicopter. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as we moved from the mountains to the agricultural interior and finally to the top of the Langjökull glacier.
We landed on a flat patch of snow next to a few big trucks and an obvious hole in the side of the glacier. We had arrived at Into the Glacier, a man made cave tunneled into the ice. We were greeted by Sigi, the man in charge, he escorted us into the ice and gave us a short tour of his pride and joy. This place was amazing. A half mile of tunnel, 50 feet below the surface, with a few side rooms scattered about.
At one point, the cave crosses through a rather large crevasse. As someone who likes to play in the mountains, I have spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to stay off the bottom of crevasses. But I must admit, it was pretty cool to be safely looking up at the fracture in the ice, with no climbing gear on and a beer in my hand.
A couple of studded tire Borealis fatbikes showed up with one of the helicopters and a little time-trial race through the ice cave broke out. I’m not much for racing, so I snuck back out on to the glacier to enjoy a local IPA under the midnight sun.
A late wakeup on Sunday found us all boarding a bus to head back to Reykjavik and ride some of the local city trails. We were set up next to a small lake just outside of town. Everyone exchanged bikes and rode some different setups for a few hours. As I rode a regular 29er with the Trail Racer fork on it, I couldn’t help but think that this might be a cool addition to any 29+ bike out there.
The whirlwind weekend was brought to a conclusion with a party back at the Lauf headquarters. We were given a short presentation about the forks and Johan, head of Lauf marketing, busted out some of his home-brew.
One thing I took away from this whole experience was that these guys are really excited about riding bikes and they truly believe in their product. I stuck around for another week just to ride with the Lauf crew and explore some more trails. This allowed me to really put the Carbonara fork through it’s paces. Expect a full review later this week.
I’d like to thank Benedikt, Gudberg, Johan and Bergur at Lauf for the opportunity to re-visit Iceland. It is truly a remarkable place and I know I will be back again and again.