This great wide yonder


I’m back!

Back!

It has been a while but I’ve been very busy gaining cash & kilo’s in Ireland.

Those last ones weren’t exactly necessary but it’s one of the side-effects of Guinness. Anyway, they might be of some use keeping me warm… right?

I had the time to put together a little video of my previous time in Iceland.

I flew back for one last bicycle-trip, through the highlands this time.

the route

As the whole area closes for about 10 months a year due to bad weather and snow there’s just this small window of opportunity to explore this crazy part of the country. And even more of the country is closed already as there was a volcano about to blow.

I’ve been watching the news anxiously as I wouldn’t mind getting stuck in Iceland, but I needed to get there first. Lucky there was no problem with the flights and the whole thing only started to go off when I was well and truly on the way.

Just like 7 months ago (when I first arrived) Simon decided to join me. I was very happy to have the company.

do not smile in pictures...

The plan was to go ‘lightweight’ as it was gonna be a pretty rough track.the track

But my definition of lightweight might not be the same as yours…maybe not so light

Clearly I’m not all that experienced at this lightweight-business, and left some items I really shouldn’t have left. Like my tools, bathers & chargers.

My bike was a little annoyed I left her sitting still for two months while I was having a ball in Ireland…

And she made sure to let me know by breaking down at regular intervals.

Nothing too serious, and nothing Simon couldn’t fix 😉Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 6.27.47 PM

The first day was glorious cycling, blue-ish skies, tailwind, downhill and a bit of sun.

There goes Simon

Couldn’t get much better.On the road again!The only minor issue was the wind. So we struggled to find a camp out of the blaze.Rock faceBut we managed… and how!Yup

All the things you could possibly wish for in a campsite were there, shelter, clean water, whiskey.

Drinking

Well, that last one I carried in my panniers (lightweight you see)

The huge river crossing that looked slightly daunting to me at first turned out real easy.

Simon river crossing

With the water coming straight from the glacier I wasn’t overly keen to go through.

Simon got his bike across and just when it was my turn a local farmer came along and agreed to ferry the rest of our gear across in his trailer!

Local Farmer

I did feel like a bit of a cheat, but there were still over 30 rivers to cross along the way, so I didn’t really miss out…

Cold feet

It was a real challenge to manoeuvre the bikes over lava rocks in psychedelic shapes.

Lava

And sharp stones. SimonActually, it’s just madness.Rocks

But good fun! up and overAnd the fact we never averaged over 50km a day didn’t bother me one bit.relaxing

We checked out some cave’s along the way but they weren’t any good for camping. Too many sharp rocks.more lava

So it was really handy when we noticed a hut conveniently located at the end of our day.

It was a hut for hunters and fisherman, but they didn’t mind us crashing there for the night as well. Hunter

It’s lovely to have a roof at times.

But I was very pleased we didn’t the next night for I would not have wanted to miss this;IMG_2831 IMG_2824 IMG_2819

I know!

I was not expecting to see the Northern lights in August at all!

And that at another lovely camp spot after a day of barren yonder.

You know you’re travelling with a Viking when you ask for the eggs,eggs, not axeand he wonders what you want his Axe for.

Note: Eggs in Panniers on rocky roads are not a good idea…

barren yonder

We had almost given up on finding a good spot at all as most the river crossings were dry, No more waterunlike the ones we encountered earlier in the day.small crossing

And there had been little in the way of shelter.posing

With no more water and still a way to go we had to get some out a near dry muddy lake a couple km’s from the road.Muddy Water

We had gotten onto this road by going through a fence that tried telling us the road was closed.closed? really?

Simon disagreed with the sign so we continued on and never saw the sign on the other side.

So someone probably just forgot to take it down. quiet roadOr so we told ourselves.

It made for a lovely quiet day. No cars at all 🙂 'the big sand'

This area is called Storisandur. That means ‘big sand‘. But the sand that was still to come was much bigger… I didn’t know that yet.

We hit road 35.

road 35

Not a major highway but a little dusty at times. Lucky for us rain was on it’s way.rainbow

That settled that.

Along this road we also found our only campground (read shower)  on the trip and we met a whole group of cycling-folk!

Stephen & Christy (Australia) had met Nadine & Stevan (Germany) in South America on a year long bike-tour. Since then the couples have met up in Kyrgyzstan and Iceland to keep on riding together. They picked up Wolfram, another German rider along the way and together with Simon and myself we had a lovely group.

Sylvian & Karin (Swiss) are used to bike touring as well,

IMG_2891

only this time they weren’t.

We met them in the hot spring.lovely hot spring They invited us over for hot chocolate & whiskey and even left us some of their home-grown & dried food! food!

It was greatly appreciated!

The plan had been to catch ’em all at the next camp area. There was a storm brewing and gale-force winds expected.nice views along the way

But when we got there we decided to push on a little bit.

Only 23km, we thought.

How long could that possibly take.

HA!up hill

This is where it started to get funny.cold and wet

At times it didn’t seem much like ‘bicycle-touring’ I’m not sure what to call it, probably a pushing-and-dragging-through-rivers-sand-and-up-mountain-bike-ride. Going there

It took us five-and-a-half-hours!IMG_4094

Just when we dragged the bikes through the worst of it I got a flat tyre. It was 22.30, this storm brewing, a cold wind and only 4 km to go. The decision was made to throw all my luggage on the back of Simon’s bike and push the last leg.

The hut was bliss! In a raging storm we managed to contact the care takers. The place is owned by the 4x4WD-club in Iceland. It has space for 60 people, but there were just two of us.The Hut

With all this luxury and ‘only’ 18km to the next hut we enjoyed a leisurely morning of drinking coffee and drying gear.

In the meantime we got the news that this volcano had started to blow. It wasn’t a problem though. As Simon explained, it’s only lava this time. No ash…

There have been a few times when I though wow! This place looks just like NZ!

And like NZ they put great shelters in remote places so you can find a safe place to sleep in case of strong winds & rain.Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 8.09.20 PM

Which is often.

The views up here are absolutely spectacular,big hill

If you’re lucky.fog

But the weather changes quickly, and for a reason I didn’t understand somebody thought it a great idea to put a huge pile of sand in the middle of our track.pile of sandthe trackpretty country

It had been pretty wet and fairly cold for a few days now.heading down

But just as we started to come down from the mountains the weather started to clear up.

clearing up

And we spent a leisurely time at Gulfoss,Gulfoss

It looked pretty different from last time I visited… Last time

We ended this little tour at a hot spring owned by Simons friends Bjorn.Hot spring

And back in Hafnarfjordur we met up with three mad fat-bike dudes.

Charlie, Chris & Pat  had also just conquered the central highlands so we were all in dire need to celebrate…

A ridiculous night with far too many beers and ‘Opal’ a lethal Icelandic concoction, followed and  nearly made me miss my flight to Canada.

10612939_844710675541277_1694079364091578517_n

Pic: Charlie

But it did not.

only just.
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15 thoughts on “This great wide yonder

  1. Reblogged this on Bike Around Britain and commented:
    Thinking about where to tour next has occupied a lot of my time recently. I really fancy the Mediterranean coast, but then this pops up on my blog feed, and thus duly added to the list of possible destinations. Might need to recruit some buddies as looks like rough terrain.

  2. Geweldig blog weer en de foto’s zijn echt fantastisch! wat een tocht, pittig hoor. Leuk om te lezen.
    Succes verder in Canada!

    Kus!

  3. Hoi Mirjam, Wat een avontuur! En wat een prachtige foto’s! Het is erg herkenbaar voor mij omdat ik in juli ook op IJsland was. Een prachtig land waar ik ook erg van genoten heb.
    Veel plezier in Canada. Ook een schitterend land, dat ik vorig jaar bezocht. Geniet ervan.
    Groet van Heleen.

  4. A great read! Just stumbled across your site as I was researching into cycling Iceland in March 2015. Great pictures and story-telling!!

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