Romantic and lethal
One hundred meters below her feet, the roaring Atlantic Ocean is bashing against the edge of the cliff, rocks that rise up straight from the ocean, drastically reaching for the sky. It was as if a giant took a big bite out of the island and left a piece have for later, forming a summit that could make the blood freeze in even the bravest of men…
The land of sleeping beauty
The Faroe Islands are situated roughly halfway between Scotland and Iceland. They’re a cluster of 18 Islands, covering nearly 1,400 square kilometers of raw, untouched and awesome terrain in the North Atlantic Ocean, all connected via bridges and tunnels, with some islands only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Helgi, a native Faroese now living in Denmark, is a dedicated mountain biker and has his eyes and wheels set on exploring the sleeping beauty that is The Faroe Islands. “The landscape is stunning, and only a few people are using it for leisure purposes. It´s truly the great outdoors, with a very rough and Nordic feel to it! It´s a completely unique experience to ride your mountain bike up here” says Helgi as his face turns into a broad smile, one that could only be a characteristic straight from his Viking genes.
Helgi has initiated a dialogue with the Faroese tourist board, Visit Faroe Islands, and has presented them with the potential in creating marked trails for mountain bikers, something that would be of great benefit to the islands, as this would not only attract local riders, but would bring in a huge amount of interest from travelling riders coming to the Faroe Islands to experience the outdoors. The Tourist Board has taken a positive outlook to this opportunity, as they see a growing potential in active tourism for the islands.
The trail was hard to ride, with the last part being uphill and the soggy ground not making it any easier. They shift down gears, lean forward and push hard into the pedals, they´re driven by their curiosity, their urge to explore new places, and to do so on their mountain bikes. Helgi can´t imagine that anyone has ever been here by bike before. Hikers yes, but mountain bikers, most likely not. Helgi´s love for mountain biking is genuine and combined with his urge to create great opportunities for other riders, it´s only fair to say that he’s a true Nordic pioneer, and an adventurer by heart.
Enduro or XCO bike?
What type of bike is best for the Faroe Islands? Helgi explains: “You will get an experience with whatever mountain bike you ride here, but I will say that the trail capable full suspension mountain bike will make you smile the most. Lately my preferred bike has been the Trek Fuel EX plus which is a 140/130 travel 27.5 plus sized tire bike. The beefier tires fit perfectly for both the rockier trails and for the soft grass in the mountains. Because of the often steep technical climbing I tend to look for, I like the 2×11 gearing on this bike. When I go on my XC bikes fooling around I have a 1×11 gearing that does the job fine. But I much prefer to go with a trail bike as it’s like these bikes are made for the adventures on the Faroe Islands. I still have yet to try an Enduro bike up here, but it could be good fun as well. There are just no built trails with jumps and such so the lighter climbing mid travel trail bikes seem perfect to me right now. That being said, even road biking is great here as everything is astonishingly beautiful no matter what way you point your choice of bike!”
Planning a trip to the Faroe Islands? Here´s Helgi´s inside knowledge
“The weather can be unpredictable. Be sure to bring gloves, shoe covers and rain and windproof gear, even in summer time.
For gloves I highly praise the GripGrab Vertical for summer rides. They have outstanding grip, thanks to the new InsideGrip technology, and will protect your hands in case you crash. If you plan to go in spring or autumn, I suggest bringing an insulated glove like the GripGrab Windster. For shoe covers I recommend the GripGrab RaceAqua X for an all-round, all-weather cover. If it gets cold, then the insulated RaceThermo will keep your feet warm and dry. As the countryside is remote with few people, and the weather can change in a heartbeat, always bring a backpack with plenty of energy, a good windbreaker jacket, spare tube, tools and a comfortable cap that will protect your ears. It´s of course mandatory to bring a GPS device and a smartphone, and always let somebody know about your planned ride.”
Featured GripGrab Local Heroes: Helgi Winther Olsen, Lisette Rosenbeck
More info about the Faroe Islands can be found here: visitfaroeislands.com
Photo credits: Martin Paldan and Mikkel Beisner | GripGrab Media Crew
Contributing editor: Brett Smith