Monday 4.8.2014 Dag:433km Total:2206km
I do sometimes learn from my mistakes so today I had done the math and calculated how far we could reasonable ride in a day and have come to the conclusion that there's no way were going to ride the rest of the Westfjords in one day.
So the next stay will also be in the Westfjords at Hotel Bjarkalundur, that would mean that todays riding will be about 400kms
It would be done mostly on gravel but the condition these roads are in it shouldn't be a problem, we haven't got a lot of touristy things scheduled for today, we're going to ride out to a puffin colony at the westernmost part of not only Iceland but in fact Scandinavia as well.
The riding was great and the even though it was cloudy it wasn't raining either so no need for the Max setting on the Keiss today.
On the way to the puffin colony farthest in the Patreksfjördur there is the Gardar BA 64, a beached fishing trawler we wanted to have a look at so that would be out lunch spot for the day.
Freaky fact: The Gardar was actually built in 1912 as whaler and was then named Norröna, oddly enough the same name as the Smyrril Line ferry we arrived on.
The Latrabjarg puffin colony was not exactly what I expected, being Europes biggest bird cliff I was naively expecting that you more or less wouldn't be able to take a breath without getting a mouthful of puffin.
In fact during our visit we saw only four of them but they are truly beautiful and magnificent animals and the view from the cliff was absolutely breathtaking.
The puffins are ridiculously photogenic and completely ignorant of tourists, one landed right at our feet and strolled around like it owned the place.
We snap away with our cameras like the tourists we are and get on our bikes and head for the hotel.
A couple of hours later we stumble in to the hotel, sadly again we our reception is far from impressive.
Again I'm grateful for booking in advance so we got the room but the manager made it absolutely clear that we were to go nowhere near his posh restaurant before getting out of our (I'll admit, by that time pretty dirty) bike gear.
After dinner I hit the showers, thank god for the spray nozzle because I'm sure it was the only thing keeping the ice cubes from slamming into my head. I also owe a debt of gratitude to whoever left the window open to let the soothing +10°C air in to warm a fellow weary traveller after that refreshing soak.
Tuesday 5.8.2014 438km Total:2644km
We really need to get our shit together, we're pretty much riding around like headless chickens due to the first marathon-leg of the Westfjords, still we decide that the fact that we (ok, so it's my job) can't navigate to save our lives should'nt stop us from doing what we set out to do. We do after all still have plenty of time.
That's why we decide to go east and take a dip in the Krossnes hot bath before getting out of the Westfjords.
It would probably have been complete madness to "waste" a day like this had'nt it been for the fact that the (gravel) roads up to Krossnes is some of the best riding we do on the entire trip.
The surface is great, the weather is good (by Icelandic standards) and traffic practically non existent.
After been banged around on gravel roads for a couple of hours it was a wonderful and surreal experience to for the princely sum of 450ISK (about €3) take a dip in the Krossnes pool with a spectacular view of the ocean.
The pool in Krossnes is sometimes described as swimming at the end of the world, I can only second that statement.
It was well worth the trip. I usually get pretty bothered when we have to double back the same road we've already ridden.
Definitely not the case with the roads of the Westfjords, I was looking forward to it.
We had about 450kms to ride today since we had strategically booked a hotel close to the 35 road to Reykjavik across the fjell.
We had read (most likely somewhere on this forum) that of all the F-roads the 35 would be one of the best maintained and scenically beautiful.
We check in to the Hotel Hunavellir in Blönduos and ask what time the restaurant closed (starving as usual). Not until 9PM so plenty of time.
When we get down to the restaurant at a quarter past eight the restaurant was unfortunately closed.
This hotel is in the middle of absolutely nowhere and it's not like I'm going to starve myself so my apologies about the burn marks left by the field rations in the sink, they where indeed also very unfortunate.
Wedneday 6.8.2014 305km Total:2949km
So we decided to cross the fjell on the F35, this is however according to Garmin not possible. No matter where I point on that blasted road the helpful but very persistent lady that lives on my handlebars inform me that there are no roads leading to your destination.
Apart from the standard Garmin City Navigator map I had also downloaded a free Topo-map from ourfootprints.de, this was not routable in the unit but I knew it was in Garmins Basecamp.
I do realize that bringing a laptop along to book hotels and do route navigation isn't exactly the gnarliest of all adventurous things but to quote the late Roald Amundsen: Adventure is just bad planning.
So with a (hopefully) rideable route in the unit away we went and almost immediately we almost bit of more than we could chew, the road surface was just an abundance of fist sized rocks which the Heidenau Scouts couldn't really dig into so it felt more like surfing than riding really. It was by no means unrideable but I did think that at the pace we were coasting along we were never going to get anywhere near Reykjavik in a day.
The road does improve significally though and when we road on to the real 35 about 20kms later I realized that I routed a shortcut straight through some kind of sheep pasture.
I guess that comes with the territory when you're stubborn (stupid) enough to do the routing with a hiking map.
After another couple of dozen kms the road gets worse again, a lot worse.
I find myself acting like a human sonar trying to scan the road for the best track to take with the best buoyancy through the loose material while avoiding the biggest and the sharpest of the big rocks, even though we had brought spare inner tubes along we weren't in a hurry to use them.
On top of the fjell the wind had picked up to the point that it was almost getting ridiculous.
We stopped at an emergency hut and prepared our lunch, the wind was by that time howling so bad I actually felt compelled to look out the window from time to time just to check if the bikes had toppled over.
We had expected some water crossings on top of the fjell, it was an F-road after all, but due to the last couple of days of sunshine (e.g. not rain) the worst we ever came across barely got the Tigers paws wet.
After riding through the biggest of the puddles and round a corner we almost ran into a giant herd of Icelandic horses herded by some local cowboys.
They took up all available road surface as far as the eye could see and it was one of the most majestic sights I have seen in my entire life.
The cowboys signaled that we should hang back and wait until told to pass and that was definitely a privilege and not a sacrifice.
They eventually get the horses of the road and let us pass and we ride the rest of the 35 without any major trouble, we stopped at the scene of an accident where a female bicyclist had taken a fall but it seemed all taken care of and to my untrained eye I think it was more psychological than physical damage since the lady was obviously in shock.
Like the secret agent kind of dry martini we spill out on to the normal road 35 and from there on it was all smooth sailing all the way to Gullfoss waterfall.
The wind and the dry roads meant that we had ridden most of the day in a biblical dust cloud so by that time I think both we and the bikes really looked the part.
At least a group of Japanese tourists thought so when they bowed respectfully and asked if they could take pictures of themselves posing with the bike.
Here we are by one of the great wonders of the world and they want to take pictures of my bike.
I don't care if they were just being stereotypically Japanese, I still get the bragging rights dammit!
I later also learned later that the vibrations had corrupted the memory cards of both GoPros, a real bummer since I would have loved to have had the heard of horses on film but then again it's not a sight I'm ever likely to forget for as long as I live.
After scoping out Gulfoss which due to its closeness to Reykjavik was really swamped with tourist we ride on to mother of all Geysers, the one that gave name to the whole phenomenon.
However Geysir is the laid back type of natural phenomenon and very seldom feels the need to show its power, the neighboring old faithful on the other hand is more of the easily agitated type and during our visit spat out a cascade of boiling water about every four minutes so even the most impatient got to take a picture.
Last stop of the day before the hotel is a ride through Tingvellir national park.
We had intended to visit the site of the first Icelandic Althing, the oldest parliament in the world but the heavens had opened up to a horizontal rain shower so we cut that visit a bit short.
A pity since it was a fantastic place, everything green and lush and it is also one of the few places in the world where you can see (the North American and Eurasian) continental plates drifting apart.
It was a powerful sight and I'm really glad we didn't skip it altogether.
As we ride all the way through Reykjavik to get to the hotel it is made abundantly clear that I've screwed up again.
No wonder the hotel was so cheap (~ €70 a night), the distance of 2kms to the city center was to Kopavogur city center, statistically it's Icelands second biggest town but practically it's a pretty sad suburb with f**k all to either see or do.
Turns out Lily Guesthouse is great though, free parking right outside the window, breakfast included and both proprietor and staff was helpful and friendly and Reykjavik center is just ten minutes by bus.
One of the best mistakes I've ever made.