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Cycling Iceland's Continental Divide : Jenny Graham and Lael Wilcox new documentary

Emma Cole
25 Jan 2022

The endurance duo ride along the fault line of the active island of Iceland

Jenny Graham, the fastest woman to cycle around the world, is joined by endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox on an epic route through Iceland in the new GCN+ documentary The Rift – Riding Iceland's Fault Line.

The pair explore Iceland’s brutal and active landscape, dipping their toes in hot and cold rivers, on a difficult and gruelling 200km route along the Continental Divide.

They also take in some of the country’s geothermal power plants and look at how the country has become one of the world’s leading self-sustaining energy producers.

‘It’s a land that’s alive and it was amazing to experience country’s incredible geology whilst meeting some incredibly people doing innovative things,’ says Graham.

‘The route was amazing, brutal but brilliant, and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking.

‘If you can ride in Iceland, you can ride anywhere in the world’.

The route

The pair begin at Thingvellir National Park, then ride south through Reykjadalur, and finish at Grindavik, where the active volcano, Mount Fagradalsfjall, lies.

For the first leg of the journey, Graham and Wilcox are joined by Iceland’s top two female enduro cyclists, who have zero fear and throw themselves down the rocky descents, much to the elation of Graham and Wilcox.

We learn about the huge growth of female enduro cycling in Iceland, something which started as a small Facebook group and now has to at least 1,000 members.

The duo then embark on a route where they navigate 20 river crossings, which Graham manages to do whilst wearing shorts.

The different clothing choices is remarkable throughout. For most of the documentary, Graham wears shorts and no gloves whilst Wilcox is much more wrapped up.

It is hard to tell who is from Scotland and who is from Alaska.

Energy

With billowing steam a constant feature in the frame, the documentary is more than just about cycling an epic route, as it also looks at how ecologically progressive Iceland is.

We are taken to several power stations and learn how Iceland harnesses its geothermal energy, whilst using a completely circular method.

A particular highlight is when a local shows the pair how he bakes bread in a dishwasher he has adapted to harness the geothermal energy.

Very cool and hot.

Volcano

Whilst the pair ride through some utterly stunning landscape, the most mesmerising part of the film comes at the end, when Graham and Wilcox get to the active volcano, Mount Fagradalsfjall.

The volcano’s eruption became the longest recorded in half a century as it spewed lava for six months, and Iceland officially declared the volcano’s eruption to be over at the end of last December.

Wilcox is evidently captivated by the eery, but beautiful event and it is hard to take your eyes away from the lava seeping its way down.

The pair speak to a local volcano expert who brings a wealth of knowledge and reassures viewers that the volcano is ‘behaving well’.

The Rift – Riding Iceland's Fault Line is available to watch on GCN+ from today.

GCN+ is accessible on desktop and phone, offering uninterrupted live coverage and longer broadcasting than television. This is available here and costs £39.99 per year.

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