Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Biking to seals and puffins

Breiðavík in the background
I sleep well, there’s no wind, no clouds and once when I opened an eyeball during the night I saw the red glow of the midnight sun through the walls of the tent. Today will be physically quite tough, so I again chow down at breakfast and also drink as much water as I can. Roadrunner and I are on the road at 9:45. 

It’s uphill all the way until the pass at Látraháls and I don’t want to wear myself out too early so I walk and push my bike. There’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s hot and the road is dusty and my lips are dry and cracked and I’m constantly thirsty. It feels like the desert. Every time a car passes, which thankfully isn’t too often, it kicks up a cloud of dust covering me and my bike. The sand grits between my teeth and I can feel my face getting sunburned. I stop at lake Svartbakavatn for a good long drink and fill my water bottle. 

Road to Keflavík
Soon afterwards I check out Taglbrekkur, the road to Keflavík, pedaling down it a few meters before quickly giving up. As one of the staff at Breiðavík warned me, the road is not good for biking. The rocks are too big and the rest too sandy. Besides, the road looks thoroughly uninviting – a drab and dusty road to nowhere. I’m sure it gets pretty in due time, but I will save that for another day.

Beaches at Brunnar
So I continue on to the bird cliff and after the steep serpentine pass, things get easier. I take a long break in the beaches at Brunnar. A French couple is having fun filming the krías attacking their heads. The campsite there is very near to the beach and the view is amazing. There are no facilities except for a toilet, and all the busses going to Látrabjarg stop there to use it. Despite that, I can imagine it would be nice to camp there and walk on the beach at night.

And here out in the middle of nowhere I see a familiar face – it’s Einar from Westfjords Adventures. I roll up on my bike much to the amusement of the elderly passengers in his bus and have a nice chat. We meet again later at the bird cliff for more small talk. 

From there the rest of the route to Látrabjarg is easy by bike. Light ups and downs to keep things moving, but nothing too strenuous. I find a safe place to park my bike and head to the lighthouse. Einar said that seals often sit out on the rocks, and indeed there are at least three of them out there today, sunning themselves. 

I point them out to a British lady, who in turn shares her binoculars with me. Then I hike up the cliff again, but not too far. Today my legs are tired and I prefer to sit in the grass enjoying the view. I head back at about 3pm. It takes an entire hour to push my bike up the serpentine pass and I pass a Dutch guy on foot with just a light daypack. After the pass, it’s downhill most of the way back to camp. I feel light and free and although I am covered in grime from head to toe, I playfully swerve back and forth on the road. All in all, each route took me about 2 hours excl. breaks.

It’s been a perfect day but I have never been on such a hard bike tour before, and it reminds me of the marathon trekking tours I took years ago through the highlands. I love the combination of physical exercise to the limit, being outdoors, and doing it all – for the most part - alone. I roll into camp feeling like a warrior, and indeed several people stop to chat. Some saw me on the road, others saw me at Látrabjarg – they wonder about the little gear I have, and the fact that I am a woman travelling alone makes their jaws drop. 

Roadrunner climbing the pass
10:30 pm
But I don’t much feel like chatting just yet. Basic human needs take priority. I take a full shower, clothes and all, and wash the grime out of my hair. Then I relax in the sun on the terrace of the hotel with a cold Cola Lite waiting for the restaurant to open. I’m treating myself to a good meal tonight, I’m famished! Lamb chops, red wine, and dessert of catalan crème custard. Later, around 9pm while relaxing at the tent, a young girl from Berlin comes up to chat. Laura is in Iceland for 9 months, working on various farms. Her mom Dagmar is here too, and now they’re seeing some of the sights together. It’s nice to have some friendly campsite neighbors. (Please get in touch if you read this!)