Full Stop

Current location: Rejikiavic, Iceland

I’ve thrown in the towel on riding the remainder of the country. I arrived into Eglisstadir and was talking to the hostel owner about my plan. He gave me a direful warning that the next 160km should not be taken lightly. This was about the fifth warning about riding the north that I had received and put some thought into it. I knew the road would have no services for the entire stretch which I wasn’t very keen on. In the end I decided to catch a bus to Akueyri and after riding the bus through it i’m confident it was the right choice to make. The whole route was a tundra in a very literal sense of the word. I couldn’t see myself enjoying any part of that ride.

It’s almost comical how nice it is 2 weeks after I started. I lost heart on the ride after catching that bus, I’m not entirely sure why. In any case I figure I cycled about half the country which leaves me a reason to come back someday.

I’ve thought a lot about the idea of man vs. nature here and I think it is safe to say that nature is a hairs breath away from reclaiming the whole thing for herself. I have to give a lot of credit to the first settelers here. They must have been extremely stout of character to keep going on here.

On a more lighthearted note as more than a few friends have told me the hot dog here is something worth trying. I found them in every gas station on the island and I would commonly see locals partaking in them which I gauge as a positive sign. On ordering my first one I was asked if I wanted fried onions or raw onions on it to which the answer is always both. He then went on to ask if I wanted something in Icelandic and as I looked puzzled at him he thought for a second and translated it as potato salad sauce to which my answer was yes, I’ll have all the potato said sauce. Divine. I think I had at least one a day, sometimes more if I ran into other gas stations.

My favorite place has to have been Breidalsvic. The locals there were really nice and let me camp behind the hotel and gave me some licorice vodka to keep me warm.

I’ll post pictures when I get a chance. It will take a while to process them all.

A Cold Summers Day

Current location: Djúpivogur, Iceland

Yesterday was the first day of summer here. It was a whopping 3 degrees Celsius. I’m pretty sure that my toes were blue by the time I had finished riding for the day. I arrived into this town just in time for them to have a summer music festival. I got amped up to hear some Icelandic artists only to be regaled with RHCP Californication. I had a good time and was mildly amused that all the songs I heard were in English. I didn’t understand any of the patter in between songs as they spoke on Icelandic.

I had to give up any hope of cycling around the whole country in Vik. The headwind there was forecast to be 30mph for 4 consecutive days. I took the only means available to me at that point and jumped on a bus. I don’t really regret this as the first 80km was a completely featureless plain. There would have been no respite from the elements for several days and the prospect of fighting that wind for days would have driven me mad. The bus driver was nice enough to stop every now and then for “foto-stop” every now and then.

I haven’t yet managed to see the Aurora Borealis as most nights I’m completely blanketed by clouds.

The cost of things in Iceland is shocking at times. A pint of beer tends to run $10 while the cost of a gallon of petrol comes out to about $9.  Food is expensive as well. I can only hazard that they import everything as well much as Hawaii does.

Riding on the highway had gotten better north of Höfn if only because traffic had almost completely died out. There is no shoulder to speak of which puts me squarely in the road. Fortunately drivers tend to give the whole lane when they pass me. Reaction from passers-by has been generally positive as I’ve received many a thumbs-up and got my photograph taken once.

A short video showing the headwind I was faced with. http://youtu.be/Rtw3BygxIM0 I pan down at the end to show you the direction I needed to go. It was diametrically opposed to the wind. Sigh.

Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short

Current Location: Selfoss, Iceland

Hobbes came to me as I started cycling of the first day. It appropriately summed up the day as I ended. Upon setting off it immediately started to snow and that combined with a headwind was a lot to take in on the first day. The weather continued to be an issue for the remainder of the day as I went through snow, hail, and yes rain. It was ceaseless in it´s downfall all day. The only saving grace to my soul that day was ending at the Blue Lagoon, a very touristy hot spring.

My first impressions of Iceland is that it is extreme in it´s starkness. Stark in it´s ever changing weather and stark in it´s bare landscapes. The taxi driver that took me from the airport told me that the weather can change ten times a day and after cycling for 2 days now I´m apt to believe him. It´s pretty plain to see why there are so few trees in the country. The wind has been whipping me at 60km/hr, which I´m sure is enough to ruin any burgeoning tree.

I have yet to run into another cycling tourer which is what I expected seeing as I’m 6 weeks early on the season and the weather has been far from ideal.

The people here have been friendly and helpful whenever I´ve asked for help.  Most everyone that I have met has had a strong command of the english language, which is benificial to me as the chances of me uttering even the plainest Icelandic phrase would be nigh impossible.

Tomorrow the goal is 75 klicks against a strong cross wind on the main highway.  I´ve managed to avoid this road by taking side roads but from here on it´s the only feasible route available.

FYI: I´m trying to post on instagram once a day http://instagram.com/romperdug

Discombobulated

Current location: Keflavik, Iceland

A rather unremarkable start to this trip. After arriving this morning and getting into the hostel I setup my bike and got supplies for the road. I whittled away the rest of the day sleeping and pouring over maps trying to figure out the planned stops.

The hostel I’m staying at is part of an abandoned US military base. A lot of the buildings look worn but it seems as if they are trying to make use of the buildings. The city I’m in is a fair distance from Reykjavik which means it’s very quiet.  I’ve only seen one other guest at the hostel which doesn’t surprise me terribly as it is still the off season for holiday goers.

I think my chief concern now, as it has been since I thought up this scheme, is the weather. The taxi driver told me this morning to give up any hope of cycling the West coast as they are still dealing with meters of snow.  Fortunately for me the West coast was last on my itinerary so I can make a decision when I get there.

Dust Off the Cobwebs

It’s about time I shake off the rust on these old legs and see if they can’t propel me around another country.

In a moment of divine clarity Matthew suggested I cycle around Iceland.  So there it is, I promptly booked tickets to Iceland on the 15th of April.  Fourteen days away.  It’s just enough time to get Penny back into riding shape and get my mind right once again.  I’m not terribly sure about the route yet but from the small amount of research I’ve done it looks very manageable.

I’ve loved this video about Iceland, as it captures my imagination of the place and helps validate my choice of country (a few seconds of NSFW.):

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

It will be 23 days of exploring Iceland.  Less than I’m used to but it’ll have to do.

PS. This is not an April fools joke.