Iceland 2009: The North

Monday 8th June: VarmahlÝ­ - Akureyri (96 km)

You know you are cycling in Iceland when ... you have to work as a team.

When you go bicycle touring on your own you can enjoy the advantages of freedom and flexibility. We both did this for many years when we were single. We met many solo cyclists in the south but in the north they were mostly in pairs or in small groups. Bike touring with a companion can be easier. You can share the weight of communal equipment and you can take turns riding in front when the wind is strong. You can share food and water and you can encourage each other when life is difficult.

Teamwork is very important but every day, the weaker cyclist still has to ride as far as the stronger cyclist.

A farm east of VarmahlÝ­

A farm house surrounded by horses east of VarmahlÝ­


The road over Íksnadalshei­i

Route 1 west of Akureyri

Near the top of Íksnadalshei­i

Karen's diary:

It rained a little overnight but the temperature was mild. It's a good thing we saw the lovely view yesterday because it was gone completely today. As we coasted down to the main road the mountain tops were shrouded in low, grey clouds and the air was cool. We were still on Route 1. The first part of today's ride followed along the Hera­sv÷tn river, on a flat road in a wide valley. Gradually the valley narrows and the road begins to climb gently. Above the towering scree slopes we caught glimpses through the clouds of snowy, pointed mountains. After some time the road swung to the east and followed the river Nor­urß. The gradient steepened slightly and the river tumbled through small gorges. The countryside was highly reminiscent of New Zealand's South Island. The wind was behind us and we enjoyed the climb. At the top of the pass (540m) it was cold and drizzly so we put on warm and waterproof clothing for the descent down the Íxnadalsß river valley. Unfortunately we had a headwind and the descent was as strenous as the climb (but less fun). The road was mostly flat or low-angled and we could not build up any speed. Somewhere in this dreary place we were passed once more by the little red Citr÷en 2CV. We all waved at each other and I cheered up a little bit. Eventually we reached Eyjafj÷r­ur and turned right; we enjoyed a tailwind for the last ten kilometres into Akureyri. The traffic got heavier.

Akureyri, a town of about 17,000 people, is situated at the head of a long fjord, surrounded by mountains. It is a lovely location but our excitement was diminished by the cold wind and gloomy sky. We went straight to the central campground which is located a few blocks up the hill from the waterfront. It has toilets and basic kitchen facilities; for showers we had to go across the road to a school building and pay 50 ISK for four minutes of hot water. It was quite busy but not very sociable. It was too cold to sit outside to talk.

At 9.00pm the clouds began to break up. We are hoping for some blue sky tomorrow.