Sept 25 Reydarfjordur 40 km
Heading along the East and South Coasts back to Reykjavik should be less intense that the West and North segments. There are more towns and most if not all of the time I will down at sea level, and so possibly it will not be as cold. I have lots of time but I really do not want to camp unless I have to and so my jumps will be firstly to those towns with hostels and secondly where I can find a moderately priced guest house.
My first jump, leaving the Ring Road for a few days, is over a mountain range down to Reydarfjordur, which has a hostel that is open and expecting me. It is a short jump, but as I said, I am in no hurry. It was very cold, possibly 3C, as I left the hostel and began the steep climb out of town. It is tough to balance my clothes with cold and the heat generated when I have a long climb. Once the steep out of town was behind me I settled into a long 6% climb that I can grind away. It continued with some flat segments for 17 km. But the wind was negligible and there was some warming sun. I quite enjoyed the steady cadence of the climb.
Heading down it was steeper and I chilled right away, and did not put on enough clothes. I stopped to shoot a small waterfall and noticed mist rising up from below. I headed into the mist which was brightly back lit by the sun. I couldn’t see more than 10 m and got spooked right away, and it seemed to get colder. I was creeping down at about 15 kph and the lack of visual cues started to give me vertigo. I could use the whole road because if a car came along I would get lots of audio notice and I decided I would stop and let them go by. But, and maybe the cold contributed, I was really spooked.
The lessening grade of the road was the only clue that I had possibly reached the bottom. I still couldn’t see anything. Finally a traffic circle with some signs indicated that I was near the town. I still hadn’t seen the fjord. The first houses that emerged from the mist gladdened me, I needed a coffee shop in the worst way. It was a bakery, I had four cups and a cookie, it still wasn’t even noon. I gradually got warm.
I had a little map for the town. A map for a town of about 400. But with the mist I still had no references for where I was. The map indicated the hostel and I found my way there. This hostel is in a number of houses that could possibly hold 100 people. I will only be joined by one other on this day. Quite a difference a month makes in the tourist business here.
I made lunch in the hostel and then rode around town a bit. There is a WWII museum here, but it was closed. So I spent some time in the grocery store figuring out what I would cook for dinner. The hostel house is so attractive and I have become used to bringing up a Youtube documentary when I have internet access. This evening, after posting some photos from the north, l I watched Julia Bradford’s hike on the Laugaveurinn Trail, Iceland’s most famous hike. This hour long show was excellent as all of her shows are. Even though the mist prevented me from seeing much of the fjord or surrounding areas I did enjoy my stop here.
Sept 26, Berunes, 90 km
My jump today follows the shore line of three fjords as I begin my slow way south. Berunes is a farm hostel and they are expecting me. The clouds were a little higher today so I could see across the fjord. I would not see any sun though.
To start with I headed back up towards Egilsstadir for about 6 kms and then climbed about 100 m to the entry of a 6 km long tunnel. It was very cold again and so I had over-dressed for the climb. I was slightly sweating by the time I reached the entry where I stopped to fix my lights. The tunnel was lovely. The road was just as wide as normal, it was fully
lit and the gentle grade up to the apex and down again meant I had an easy ride. And it was warm. Once a few hundred metres away from the entrance the temperature must have risen 10C. Now, in all of my clothes, I was really sweating. I took a little off but the damage was done.
Once out in the open I chilled immediately. So I just kept riding for a couple of hours until I hit Stodvarfjordur. I pulled into a little coffee shop and had my four cups of coffee and a full eggs and bacon breakfast. In the hour there my things dried a bit, but it was now raining off and on and so I was going to be wet. I also visited Petra’s Steinsafn. Petra began collecting as a young woman about fifty year ago and now has, probably 100,000 wonderful rocks from around East Iceland. It cost me 1000Kr to visit and I think it was worth it. This took another hour.
When I headed west, inland, on each of the fjords I had a pretty good wind, but when I turned around the bottom and headed back east toward the sea the wind was steadily against me. And as the day progressed the rain segments lasted longer. I still stopped the odd time for photo attempts so I felt I was kind of taking it easy. But when the wind and rain were hitting me hard I ground away and as I got closer to my destination it seemed to get worse.
Finally I saw the Berunes Hostel sign and I rode up a rough 300 m road until out of the rain a big farm appeared. I was met by an elderly woman who helped me get my dripping bags into the house and showed me where I could get my bike inside as well. I seem to have the run of this hostel, alone again. I arrived at 3:30, a little early but for a while I luxuriated in spreading out, getting warm, hanging all my wet things hung up, showering and getting dry things on. I sat and watched the horizontal rain, had coffee and felt how good it feels to be in out of that. I think unless you have been out in rough weather you cannot appreciate how good it is to have comforts like this. If the forecast is correct, it will rain all night and then clear up tomorrow.
I was eventually joined by four American girls and then by a German man. About 6:00 the woman of the hostel came out and asked if I wanted to eat. When I told them on the phone I was travelling by bike that made an exception and agreed to make food for me. It was a lovely Salmon meal.
Sept 27, Statafell, 113 km
My breakfast was brought out at 8:00 and so it was close to 9:00 before I got away into a bright sunny day. My first challenge was to ride into Berufyordur and back out again passing by village of Djupivogur, which you can see across the way from the hostel. It can’t be more than 1 ½ km across the fjord, but need to follow the road. The wind was already gusty and so it was hurting before long. I was also juggling clothes trying to get the right mix. I hit gravel after about 10 km, and that lasted for 20 km. Back on pavement, which is too often as rough as the gravel, I finally got to Djupivogur after 40 km. I had expended a lot of energy as the road is quite hilly, rough and the wind was bad.
I turned south winding around the peninsula and then into a second and then a third fjord. Neither as long as the first, but the wind seems now to be at me both going in and out. And of course on the south peninsula points it is the worst, because it is a south wind and the land ends stick right out into the North Atlantic.
My final southern leg was the worst. It was about 15 km long and the wind gusts often stopped me, and once almost knocked me over sideways. When I turned into the final fjord for the day I finally got a little respite. My final 20 km to my hostel was not too bad. I pulled in at 4:30, never having stopped for long all day. It was not fun.
Again, it is a farm hostel, and I have just been joined by a Chinese couple. It looked like I was going to be alone. I made do with food out of my bag, of which there is precious little. Tomorrow I hope for a short day to Hofn which has a hostel, and it looks like I will have to spend a couple of nights there. The wind in predicted to be in the 50 to 80 kph level. We’ll see.
Sept 28, Hofn 35 km
It was drizzly right from the start but not much wind yet. I had a pretty fast opening hour as I was trying to get to Hofn before the heavy rain hit. The hostel manager said he would let me in early. Once again I had a climb up to a tunnel, this one 1.5 km long. It was mostly downhill and I blasted out into full rain near the sea. I then had about 10 km into Hofn, which is about 2 km off of the ring road. In town I followed signs into a residential neighbourhood to the hostel. I arrived at 10:00, just as the office was closing. But I was let into my room and I began to settle in for a two night stay.
After getting my bags in and some things hung up I set off on my bike for the information centre and grocery store. It was still raining heavily, but I needed to get these things done. The visit to the information centre confirmed my worst fears. The weather forecasts I have been getting on my phone have been spot on the whole trip, but you can always hope. The information centre people confirmed that we would have winds in excess of my limits for the next 4 or so days. It would be nice tomorrow, Tuesday, but rain beginning again as I go south.
In the Nesto grocery store I had bottomless coffee and pastry while I fretted about what to do. I bought some groceries and scurried back to the hostel. Not much point in even trying to look around. Tomorrow in the sun I could walk around even if it was too windy to ride.
I had two maybe three days grace to get on bike back to Reykjavik, now only about 450 km away. But the forecasts seem to consume all of those and I sure didn’t want to sit in Hofn for three days. I could take the bus in jumps down the coast and try to see some of the things on my list. I could also take a bus all the way to Reykjavik, rent a car, and travel back up here a bit. Sometime around 1:00 in the morning, as I lay struggling with my choices I decided to look into renting a car from here.
Sept 29, Hofn
At 7:00 I was wide awake. I walked outside and sure enough the trees were bent double and it was bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The forecast still seems to be right on. My on-line reports indicated the same heavy wind back on down the south-east coast.
A bit after 8:00 I was on the phone to the budget rental in Hofn, the only place with a rental agency on the whole SE coast. To rent a car for a week, returning it in Reykjavik would cost me about US$ 1000. The girl was very helpful and after few conversations and checking to see if they had a car at all, she suggested I try on-line. It may be cheaper. The Budget system wouldn’t come up with a car. Back on to my girl and she suggested the Avis system. This one worked and came back with a Cdn$ 520. I grabbed it. I am scheduled to pick up my car at 11:00 tomorrow and return it a week later in Reykjavik, three days before I return home. This seems like a great solution to my weather problem. The end of my ride, but that was part of the gamble in coming at this time of year. We’ll see if it pans out.