Elements, a stunning new short film by Sam Needham and company, follows three friends as they set off into the depths of Iceland to explore the finest gravel the country has to offer. Watch it here, alongside an incredible set of photos and some details about the three bikes ridden in the film…
Poem by Sam Needham; gear notes by Rach Walker; photographs by Roo Fowler
Set over a single audio track, Sam Needham and Will Evans let the breathtaking scenery of Iceland speak for itself in their new short film. Elements beautifully captures the landscape while revisiting the fleeting moments from their trip along Iceland’s endless gravel roads. The riders in the film include Rach Walker, Hannah Jepsom, and Toby Pantling. Watch it below, and then scroll down to find a poem by Sam, details about each of the three bikes used in the film, and an amazing photoset by Roo Fowler.
Too bright to view ; hot to touch
They’ve overlooked the passing of time,
Immortalized by maps, we ride the dotted line.
The sky is falling ; The rivers rising
Lapsing of time, sees a carving line,
Valley to valley, beginning to end,
Crossing of water is onward journey’s friend
Our faces tight, eyes wide shut,
Gale upon gale, winds of change,
We braced, one step by one,
This land weathers, age after age.
Now before us, now beneath us,
Surrounds us, teases us,
Greens, reds and the deepest of blacks
The crunching of gravel steep through flat,
Vaster than vast,
Onlookers adored, taken aback,
Heights to behold and stories to be told,
This is a telling, a fable for old,
Whilst many have ridden Iceland’s gravel roads on all varieties of bikes, we opted for gravel bikes. We knew the roads wouldn’t be technical as such. We also knew there would be singletrack lurking off the beaten path. Gravel bikes gave us the best option of rolling fast and covering the miles, and also nipping onto some of the paths less ridden as we found them.
Though all three of us opted for gravel bikes, we each chose a different bike and had slightly different bag setups. As the team were supported by Hope, each bike was built using Hope 20.Five wheels on Hope Hubs, Hope Cranks, Hope carbon seat posts, and Hope RX4 calipers paired with Sram levers for durability. The differences lay in the other details.
Toby’s Orange RX9
As a lifelong Orange fan, Toby has ridden many Orange mountain bikes in the past, so choosing the RX9 was a no brainer. For Toby, the size large aluminium frame with a large loading capacity was a big plus. He chose to run the WTB Nano tanwall tyres with the 20.Five wheels, which have never failed him before. Toby has been on many bikepacking adventures around Europe and beyond, and for him the Blackburn bags have become a super reliable set of bags. They may be a little heavier than others on the market, but they’ve always performed well for Toby, remaining in place when riding on rough terrain with minimum rattle.
Hannah’s Trek Women’s Checkpoint ALR 4
Hannah has undertaken numerous bikepacking trips in the last few years, most recently a 14-day trip around Slovenia. One of her first “adventure bikes” was a Trek Crockett. In the meantime, she moved on to a Cotic Roadrat, but has now found herself back on a Trek with the aluminum Checkpoint. Light and comfortable, it suited Hannah and her small frame. Hannah also opted for the WTB Nano tyres but couldn’t get her hands on the tanwalls – seems they are in demand these days! Hannah mixed and matched her bags to fit the frame and handlebar. Standard bags from one brand wouldn’t cut the mustard given her small frame, and she ended up with and Ortlieb saddlebag and handlebar bag, Restrap frame bag, and an Apidura top tube bag.
Rachael’s Santa Cruz Stigmata
As a lifelong Santa Cruz mountain bike fan, the Stigmata was an easy choice for Rachael. The carbon frame is strong and light for long adventures like this one. The Stigmata had the same setup as the other bikes, but with a different tyre choice. Before and during the trip, Rachael was in training for the infamous Three Peaks cyclocross race that takes place in the Yorkshire Dales in the UK. The general tyre choice for the race is the Schwalbe G-One, so with that in mind, the Stigmata was kitted out in G-Ones for preparation. The Stigmata was also loaded up with mismatched bags to fit the frame. Rachael ended up using a mix of Alpkit and Restrap bags, both of which are made in the UK.
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