Cycling Iceland: 1532 km in 13 legs in the land of ice
Table of content
- Cycling Iceland: the adventure begins
- Leg 1: Keflavik - Úthlíð
- Leg 2: Úthlíð - Hveravellir
- Leg 3: Hveravellir - Varmahlíð
- Leg 4: Varmahlíð - Godafoss
- Leg 5: Godafoss - Myvatn - Grimmstadir
- Leg 6: Grimmstadir - Egilsstadir
- Leg 7: Egilsstadir - Djúpivogur
- Leg 8: Djúpivogur - Höfn
- Leg 9: Höfn - Svínafelli
- Leg 10: Svínafelli - Vik
- Leg 11: Vik - Hella
- Leg 12: Hella - Reykjavik
- Leg 13: Reykjavík - Keflavik
Cycling Iceland: the adventure begins
Leg 1: Keflavik - Úthlíð
140 km | 1107 m
Leg 2: Úthlíð - Hveravellir
110 km | 1464 mThis leg on paper looks normal, but in Iceland, there are no simple things. The first night in the tent provided some good 9 hours sleep like in a freezing bag, with the perfect match Ferrino High Lab Air of my sleeping bag and my tent Vaude Taurus Sul XP, which guaranteed good sleep despite the night rain. We leave at 9 towards Geyser. Some minutes of wait and then the "snort", precise as a clock, allows to prepare the camera to take its 10 meters high. Ready to the next celebrity, Gullfoss Falls: very wet and majestic, but we're not there for them. The thought is one and only: our bicycle trip through Iceland.
Leg 3: Hveravellir - Varmahlíð
110 km | 962 mWe wake up under a slightly frozen light rain. Fortunately, it's not our "galaverna" (a phenomenon typical of the Po Plain). We put on our technical waterproof clothes and we already fear our 80 km of gravel road to be cycled. We avoid the hot ponds of Hveravellir. Wet gravel means flat tire, and with these temperatures close to zero, it's not easy to change the tube... but we manage, and we're on the road again.
Leg 4: Varmahlíð - Godafoss
146 km | 1134 mThe day starts with a ride in the wide valleys until 500 meters from the pass, which we reach after 40 km of an easy climb and with tailwind: we almost can't believe it! Descent against the wind towards Akureyri and breathtaking landscapes. We ride along the fiord, hoping to sight some cetacean came to greet the Italians, but nobody shows up, and we face a long and steep climb. Rain on the top, cold and against the wind during the descent... But Godafoss and its waterfalls are getting closer and closer, and so the guesthouse hosting us for the dinner. Pretty quiet and mild night with the sound of the waterfalls.
Leg 5: Godafoss - Myvatn - Grimmstadir
97 km | 890 mFinally the sun and a bright sky: we almost forgot that could exist! We visit the waterfalls and we start again towards lake Myvatn taking advantage of this beautiful day. We decide to modify the itinerary: we won't reach Husavik on the northern coast, because the comeback would mean ride on a gravel road we could not ride on with our tires... This ride gets the pace of a festive day. Near the lake, we ride slower and slower: not for the wind but for the beauty of the scenery, which makes us stop eventually. Extreme contrasts: the green of the grass touching the intense blue of the lake with the lavic rock reflecting in it, never seen before! Some km further the northern "blue lagoon" awaits us for a deserved relax. One hour of dipping at 30° after two days of the coldest wind: well-deserved. Then 40 km against the wind on the neverending road towards Grimmstadir, a formality. Our guesthouse is in the middle of nowhere, the dishes made by the lady host unknown: we will never know what was in that soup, but at least the flavors were true. Goodnight, with a great sun.
Leg 6: Grimmstadir - Egilsstadir
159 km | 1024 mThe longest leg awaits us: on this sunny day at 5.08 A.M. the tent is an oven under this "Italian" sun and without wind. We choose the fastest way, but actually the road is the one and only Hringvegur 1; for half of the leg the tailwind helps us, so we cover a good part of the road in a reasonable amount of time. The first kilometers are wonderful: wild views, volcanos and these brown-green moments.
We keep crossing windy rivers getting bigger and wider, but offer a special view on the grass. I wonder whether Icelandic nature was too generous or unfair, so beautiful and so inhabited: we meet the first signs of life after 80 km! The second part of the ride, a bit boring, descents on a very wide valley towards the sea. Unfortunately, the wind is against us, and the descent transforms in agony. We pass by Egilsstadir and a road sign shows 750km to Reykjavik, exactly the total we rode so far... we are halfway through! We continue towards the lake we chose to spend the night next to, at a quiet camping place.
Leg 7: Egilsstadir - Djúpivogur
89 km | 1012 mEasy, short and relaxing leg, mostly sunny! The first part is a mountain pass, the second means descending to the southern sea, in a beautiful valley accompanied by sterns and sheep, but also some wild swans swimming in the river not far from us. Everything is quiet, except the central 30km, becoming gravel just before the mountain pass, with the coldest of winds and the classic flat tire which changes the mood of the day... This should be a short way to Ring 1, which would follow the windy fiord.Once at the top, on a really hard descent, the scenery is again uniquely beautiful: the sea, the top of the fiord, the valley and the mountains cut by some waterfalls. Again, new and beautiful views. Riding along the fiord, some wild ducks ask for attention, and we are lucky enough to sight a group of reindeers, crossing the road not far. We're already in Dyupivogur, where we stop for the night.
Leg 8: Djúpivogur - Höfn
104 km | 709 mThe light ticking of the rain at 7.50 A.M. wakes us up. Oh boy, what a night sleep! The cold and the effort of the day help, but even at home, I don't sleep so well! And despite the light at night! We leave for today's 100 km, with a slow pace getting ready for the next three legs. The first part is dedicated to pictures: towards Höfn we find alpine views on the right and sea views on the left!A good fusion of landscapes, which renovate at every little hill and shock us. The second part of this leg is more "normal", where many farms break the monotony, together with the rain, for a short period of 10 km but this brings down the temperature at 6°... We are prepared, the forecast told so. After a tunnel towards the west, we see one of the first sections of the Vatnajökull, the world's biggest glacier after the poles. Tomorrow it'll be all for us, after this night in Höfn.
Leg 9: Höfn - Svínafelli
130 km | 573 mVatnajökull day, a 130 km leg, with the glacier next to us. We put on every piece of clothes we own, in order to enter this fridge, but our fear is too big, and the wind helps us, so these first 70 kilometers are really easy with these landscapes interrupted by the ice until the coast. Then rain and cold.
Leg 10: Svínafelli - Vik
153 km | 421 mDespite the 110 km along the glacier, today we ride next to these walls of ice. At our left, a wide gravel plain separates us from the sea, and here the ring does a larger turn towards Vik, the southernmost point of the island. The scenery changes every kilometer, the mountains become of a green even more intense, and we cannot avoid stopping to take some pictures. We are not worried about the 144 kilometers we have today: the tailwind helps us. We meet other cyclists, loaded AF slowly proceeding in the opposite direction.
Leg 11: Vik - Hella
98 km | 512 mThe tent held perfectly tight against tonight's water. The eleventh leg, this Iceland bicycle trip is close to the end. After a visit to the glacier, from Vik, we handle quite right the comeback to Keflavik, with a day in advance which we decided to take in order to avoid every problem, sand storms or other natural problems which could cause some delay. Today we divide the leg into three 30 km periods, with some stops along the Ring to see the waterfalls in Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. The stops are worth it because every guide suggests visiting these places: apart from the rain, which forces us to wear our technical clothes more than one time, today's destination is Hella, reached really fast riding among farms and the spring sun, similar to every other European countryside landscape. With the waterfalls of today, together with Þingvellir, Godafoss, and Geyser we close our visit to the "golden circle", the typical Icelandic itinerary for tourists with a few days available.
Leg 12: Hella - Reykjavik
92 km | 592 mHead down and ride fast! This is today's main hymn, because the meeting point between the Ring and Reykjavik doesn't offer many sights, just a 6% ascent for 5 km against the wind, but we're used to it now!Entering in Reykjavik is always pretty problematic, because you'll be on the highway inside the traffic, but once in the center it's easier to ride on the cycleways. In the afternoon, after reaching the camping spot, we visit the capital, in total deserved relaxation.
Leg 13: Reykjavík - Keflavik
104 km | 656 mThis last Iceland bicycle ride is from Reykjavik to its airport in Keflavik. The adrenaline initial challenge into the wildlands gave space to the relaxing plains of the south, or maybe the forces of nature helped us after some terrible first days of this trip, and now coming to an end is easy.
Iceland is a remote country full of natural beauties. You can have free camp almost everywhere or look for a camping site, but if you want more confortable places you can check availibility on booking.com.
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