Bikes Roll Where Sheep Strolled

Vala Hafstað

On a farm in South Iceland, a young couple has found a way to combine sheep farming with another passion, namely mountain biking. Guðmundur Fannar Markússon, or “Mummi,” and Rannveig Ólafsdóttir on the farm Mörtunga, just east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, have converted paths, trodden by their sheep, into bike trails.

“We took over the sheep farm from Rannveig’s parents in 2017, after having worked with them on the farm for a few years, in addition to offering bike trips in the area,” Guðmundur relates. “Besides farming, we’ve been busy converting paths, left by the sheep, into mountain bike trails. Our land spans 11,000 hectares [27,000 acres], or the equivalent of 11,000 soccer fields.”

After their roads crossed, Guðmundur quickly started riding a bike all over the farmland, and before long, Rannveig followed. “Right away, Mummi saw an opportunity in biking along the sheep’s paths, which lie along canyons and up and down the moors,” Rannveig states. “We have long been working on making trails, fit for mountain biking, all over the farmland, and I recommend a visit during the summer, be it with family or friends.”

What began as a passion for mountain biking has now evolved into Iceland Farm Bike, an adventure tour company, specializing in mountain biking.

The options for mountain bike trips in the Skaftárhreppur district are many, she adds. The Laki circle can be covered in three days, and in the highland pasture of Skaftártunguafréttur, many kinds of daytrips can be taken.

Last summer, the couple offered mountain bike lessons, where two of Iceland’s most experienced mountain bikers came to instruct. Rannveig describes the lessons as a success and plans to offer them again this summer.

Bikes can be rented on the farm, or you can bring your own.  All the trips offered come with a guide. That way, the ride becomes more enjoyable, Rannveig states. “For environmental reasons, we want to make sure people stay on the trails.”

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