If you had asked me two years ago, what I thought of Iceland, I would have stared blankly back at you. Of course, I knew of Björk, and I had read in some music magazine that there is a vibrant creative scene in Reykjavik. I had also heard of its bleak, dark winters that keep its people under duress…but that was about all. Until now…after bikepacking in the Westfords for 2 weeks.
For lots of people, Iceland is about stellar performances at the Eurovision, disruption to air traffic caused by the erupting Hekla, economic crisis, and more recently, the European Football Championships. For others, Iceland means something very different – they are in the know. It is a place of natural wonder and deeply desolate, uninhabitable landscapes. A place of contrast; steaming geysers and cold seas, warm people in a damp climate, black sand beaches and blue lagoons, smoking volcanoes towering out of a barren land. My curiosity and awe for Iceland was sparked by photos I had seen on Instagram of the tectonic fault at Pvengellir, the Northern Lights, hot pools and Fords and…the Sagas. In 2014, I decided that I would like to experience Iceland first hand, on two wheels – I was long overdue a dose of adventure.
I rounded up two good friends and we headed north for two weeks at the beginning of August. Despite our efforts to plan the trip sensibly, we failed miserably – our lives were busy and we went to Iceland not really knowing what to expect, but that was part of the adventure right? Brave? Yes. Stupid? Maybe.
We toyed with the idea of riding around the island, but upon learning that would mean a daily average of over 100km, and with no possibility to opt out (once you are on that road there is no going back, (unless you have more capable bikes (=going slower) and are willing to do waist high river crossings) – we decided we’d prefer to have the freedom to wing it, and make spontaneous decisions about routes from the road. This suited us perfectly. We ended up on the most beautiful gravel roads, miles away from the usual tourist traps and even made it to the Westfords which wasn’t originally where we imagined we would go.
Our adventure began in Reykjavik airport on August the 9th when Nick and I, met the third member of our motley crew, Dave, and caught the bus together to the city. We decided to stay in Reykjavik for the first night to get ourselves organized and a good night’s sleep – knowing we’d be camping for the following few weeks. The next day we would ride 128km north to Bogarnes on our way to the Snaefellnes Peninsula.
Stay tuned, Day 1 will be published tomorrow…