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Day 1 >> Grindavik

Jon had warned me that the weather could be a problem. A German couple singing going home songs outside the youth hostel didn't help with our optimism about this. After putting the bikes together, we set off shortly before midday into an annoying headwind and overcast skies. Shortly after midday it started raining, but we were ok, fighting the wind on the rough gravel track "short cut" to the Blue Lagoon, Grindavik and beyond. The track followed a pipeline carrying hot water from a geothermal borehole, across a lava field to the Keflavik area. Many communities in Iceland get free hot water in this way and such pipelines are a common sight.

All tooled up and ready to go

Jon will be your guide today

Lava field travel (the steam is the Blue Lagoon)
It was near the end of this track that we spied low cloud coming at us fast, and that's when Iceland chose to initiate us into its weather club. The rain blew horizontally at us, stinging our faces, and the wind literally blew us from one side of the road to the other. I seem to remember this was the point that I decided I needed a beard for survival reasons, and would not shave for the rest of the holiday. In Grindavik, a mere 5km later, our expensive so-called waterproofs were utterly defeated and we abandoned the day and made camp. A friendly English couple (the only others in the camp site) invited us to dry out in their camper van and we chatted away for the rest of the stormy day.

Travel stats!Camp stats!
Offroad11 km gruelling       Paid?No one there to pay  
Tarmac8 km gruelling Showers?No
Walking   - German campers?  No
Day 2 >> Selfoss

In the morning everything was much calmer, and the wind had swung round to a Westerly, giving us a healthy tailwind in compensation for the previous day. We made excellent progress along the South coast dirt tracks, passing young lava fields and black hills and dodging the afternoon's scattered heavy showers.

Black cliffs and the North Atlantic

Here's one a volcano made earlier

Bizarre random piles of cairns

Scenic lunch stop

Jon hadn't been to the clinic in a while

We're not in Kansas anymore...
Such was the tailwind, we made up all our lost distance, and rolled into Selfoss with plenty of time to stock up on food and listen to the sporadic rain from inside the tent.

Travel stats!Camp stats!
Offroad55 km       Paid?Yes  
Tarmac34 km Showers?No
Walking   - German campers?  Yes
Day 3 >> Thingvellir

A scoot up the road to Thingvellir (or Pingvilla as we called it), and the ancient site of the Icelandic parliament (formed around 930AD, the oldest in the world). This area sits in between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are moving apart at 1cm a year. We made camp in the resulting rift valley, and then went for an explore inside the ravines and fissures that have formed as the ground is pulled apart. Just hope there are no earthquakes while you're in there...

More free power - hydroelectric

Frodo stopped for a photo in front of Mordor

Moss covered ravine - only missing the dinosaurs!

Behind me: Europe, behind Jon: North America

Walking inside a geographic fault - how cool?

Waterfall not far from the "law rock"
It rained all afternoon.

Travel stats!Camp stats!
Offroad - Paid?Yes  
Tarmac45 km       Showers?Yes!
Walking   2 hrs German campers?  Yes
Day 4 >> Husafell

This was a big day planned to get us North to Husafell, almost all on gravel tracks, and climbing to a 727m mountain pass. We were ready to wild camp if necessary. Once again the wind had changed, this time to a strong Easterly giving us a gusty crosswind for most of the time. Before this day I could never say I've had my handlebars turned, front wheel skidding along the ground, just to make straight line progress on a straight level track. The track summit brought us almost within touching distance of the Langjokull ice cap, then rained on us (nearly snowed), then gave us a long descent down to Husafell culminating in 3 memorable steep sharp switchbacks.

Early morning in the Serengeti

Cold + tent + bad sleep = Minging Foz!

Destination behind those mountains

Yes, it was that windy

A cold soggy summit

and the beginning of a looong descent
Incredibly, the wind on the descent was even more erratic, changing from dead calm to a gale and back within seconds. Jon and I were both blown off the track at least once. Arriving tired in Husafell at a respectable 5pm, we found the only shop (and cafe) was operating winter opening hours of 11 - 4. Bugger!

Travel stats!Camp stats!
Offroad60 km       Paid?No one there to pay  
Tarmac10 km Showers?No
Walking   - German campers?  No one else there
Day 5 >> Still at Husafell

A rest day, of sorts. We rode over to the next valley to explore the Surtshellir lava tubes. These are formed by hot molten lava flowing underneath a solidified crust. I think I rained on Jon's parade a bit by refusing to try and reach the end of the tube, but it was several km long and we probably would have died, so I think it was for the best.

I just liked the colours

An Icelandic farm on the way to Surtshellir

Climbing down into a lava tube

Inside the tube. The floor is ice.

Tube junction (4 tubes meet here)

Husafell camp site - very pretty
Following a burger back at the cafe, and a short walk that was rained off, we planned where to go next. There simply wasn't going to be enough time to ride around the Westfjords like we had hoped (progress, or lack of, was too weather dependent), so we hatched a plan to cross back on ourselves and visit Gulfoss and Geysir before a 2 - 3 day big off-road route in the South.

Travel stats!Camp stats!
Offroad 22 km Paid?No one there to pay  
Tarmac 6 km Showers?No
Walking   3 hrs (easy)       German campers?  Nearly, but they left
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