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Shots of Manon Carpenter in Iceland.


Nov 072018

Former World Champion and multiple World Cup title winner Manon Carpenter has hung up the race jersey, but it still pushing boundaries in adventure and exploration on her bike. Creating an incredible challenge with fellow rider Monet Adams, the pair set out on a journey to discover the epic mountains and harsh terrain of riding Iceland by bike.

ON HER TERMS is a short film journeying through Iceland to find some of the most unique trail riding in the Northern hemisphere and exploring why Iceland is one of the most inspiring and unusual places on earth to ride. With one of the most progressive approaches to harnessing geo-thermal energy, Iceland holds a special magic for both riders, who are passionate about developing sustainability around Mountain Biking as well.

Watch the film here and get into a behind the scenes interview with Manon below:

Behind Iceland: Interview with Manon Carpenter

How long have you been dreaming about exploring Iceland by bike?

Iceland in general has always been on the list, I think it is for most people but the idea of exploring by bike came up end of last year. Friends Monet and Sam first brought the idea up and I was immediately sold. It's just such a different place to most, the landscape and their way of life. Being able to capture a small part of it while seeing what the country has to offer for bikes seemed perfect. You can already access many of the mountain trails by bike and there's a scene of local core mountain bikers who are working hard to get more and more trails approved.

What challenges did you face on your journey?

The weather was actually extremely cold and wet! It was their wettest summer for 100 years, typical as the rest of Europe was having its hottest! At one location on the slopes of the volcano near Reykjavík the wind was so strong we could barely open the car doors or stand up, let alone ride a bike. Other days it was just packing on the layers in between filming and riding, but that is just part of day to day life in Iceland and you've got to deal with the elements. 

What was the most interesting thing you discovered about the island?

So many things! Everything just looks so alien, out of this world there. It was definitely the landscape that blew me away. You travel through endless black lava fields, and we rode down the middle of a lava channel that was 50m wide and 5m deep, you could see the smooth, over vert walls on either side where the lava had run through. And these landscapes are right next to the city where over a hundred thousand people are living. 

Tell us about the hot springs – they looked incredible!

They were! Blue lagoon is the first place most people might think of but at the hot springs in the highlands the hot water just bubbles out of the river bed and mixes with the freezing cold water. You have to wade through the cold to get to the hot part, and then find the right spot. In some places like the old swimming pool we visited, there's a fenced off section where the water is 80°C coming out of the ground. You'd boil alive if you fell in. 

What kind of bikes/ equipment did you need to get around the island?

We took our all mountain/enduro bikes, with 150/160mm travel suspension, and good tyres. They can handle most terrain on the descents and are light enough to be hiked up the trail in places where it's not possible to ride. A lot of layers, and Icebike's off-road truck that can also handle almost any type of terrain! At one place in the Highlands another vehicle had got stuck in one of the many river crossings and had to be pulled out so you really do have to have the right kit. Then we had all the camera gear, drones and gopro's to capture as much of the island as we could. 

Where did your interest in Green Energy come from and how impressed with Iceland’s set up were you?

The environment and our impact is a big topic these days, and being someone who appreciates the outdoors I've always been aware of it. I'm also doing a Geology degree at the moment and climate change comes up a lot in uni. It's super interesting learning the reasons why some countries go more green than others, and Iceland obviously has the perfect location for it. Seeing how they maximise what they have on their doorstep is really impressive. You can go and overlook the power station near Reykjavík, and see the huge pipeline making its way from the mountains to feed hot water to the city. A lot of focus has obviously gone into getting as much as they can from the resources they have. 

You packed away your race jersey this year after (8) years competing in DH, how was life changed for you now?

It's obviously a lot different without the busy race schedule and travelling. I've been having a lot of fun simply riding, working on some filming projects or trips that I've wanted to do for a while and checking out spots at home and abroad that I never got round to before... it's been a good summer! It is very different not having the year planned out for you but I set myself some goals at the start of the year and things that I wanted to work on, and am happy that I've made a good few of them happen. 

What’s next on the horizon for you?

Well it turns out that putting the race jersey away doesn't mean putting away hospital visits unfortunately! I'm studying abroad in Vancouver this year and I'm currently waiting for a broken collarbone from the end of summer to hurry up and heal so I can check out all the trails over here. There's a ton of locations on my list to ride so watch this space! Then home in May to make the most of another summer in the UK.