Headed East

Time to leave civilization for the rugged frontier of slightly less civilization!

I find this map - printed on the side of a van - highly amusing.

For almost a week I’d been staying at Birgir’s AirBnB place on the north side of town. We had pretty different schedules, but when we did collide we always had fun conversations.

Birgir is an awesome host, and he's a fellow cyclist too!

Since it was my last day I had to pack all my gear on the bike, but before I did I asked if he wanted to give it a test ride, since he’d never tried a recumbent.  It wasn’t adjusted for his height (Icelanders are such tall people!) but he bent his legs awkwardly and managed to go 50 meters, then turn around without help. He said it was pretty cool but not his kind of ride: Not aggressive enough!

I rode to my habitual coffee shop and enjoyed the mocha for the last time, and assembled my final set of visa paperwork. I had a decision to make: Should I go to the print shop in town today, or try and find one later so I’m not hauling a stack of paper across the country? My plan was to submit the papers at a government office in Egilsstaðir, near the ferry terminal. Could I rely on a city that size having at least one printer I could use? Probably.

Next, I rode up the peninsula to the hardware store and bought two batteries for my speed and cadence sensors.  The clerk thought I’d purchased different batteries at the store a day ago, and apologized for “the trouble” of me supposedly having to come back because I bought the wrong ones.  Did I have a doppelgänger wandering around? It was too late for me to correct him; I’d already paid and was on my way out.

And that was my last piece of business in Reykjavík. I went north again, winding along the upper edge of the city towards highway 1. So far I was on the same route I’d taken two years ago, but that would change.

Looking over to the island - and archaeological site - of Videy.

Vatnagarðar harbor. Modern shipping is indispensable for maintaining Iceland’s first-world affluence.

On the way out of town!

I stopped at a fast food gas station joint and did some tourist watching.  The olympics was on the TV.  I got a “Memphis” burger, which turned out to be a cut-rate fast-food style burger with barbecue sauce added.

Honestly, it wasn’t bad! And it checked the protein and calorie boxes.

Replacing the batteries in my cadence and speed sensors. I love data!

Yes, it has fish collagen in it. Or at least, that's what it claims.

I was able to use good bike paths almost all the way out of the city. Geese and rabbits lingered in the parkland on either side.

This sign is brought to you by the local gangs "FLORA" and "KGB"...?

Lazy bun-day!

So many rabbits! I guess that’s the thing about rabbits: Where there’s a few, there are soon many.

The weather was glorious. For a while the path followed a riverbank. I stopped at an intersection and discovered a free water fountain, and a collection of bike tools hanging from wires. How thoughtful!

It has no button. It just runs perpetually. Well, unless it freezes I assume?
Bike tools are everywhere!

The path ended at the highway. I passed fields full of horses, and people on horseback. The highway was legal for bicyclists but I didn’t like the noise, so I tried to escape onto a parallel road for a while, which suddenly turned into dirt and loose rock. Whoops!

Along that road I was passed by a large group of young women riding horses. There was no place for me to pull aside because the bushes were quite thick, so I just stopped. They went about 200 meters ahead, then shuffled to a halt where the road got even worse, and chatted for a while in a low cloud of dust. Slowly the whole group turned around, and soon they passed me again going the other way.  I stopped and waited again as they went, just in case some of the horses were nervous. Many of the women waved and nodded or said hello, always in English. It was obvious I was a crazy tourist.

I enjoy signs like this.
I thought it would be easier than the highway. I was wrong!
Just when I thought the road couldn't get worse...

When I went ahead I saw just how uneven the road was.  Passable for a horse but not very fun for a packed-together group. I cycled along with a leg out for balance, wiggling around the largest rocks. Soon I found the main road again.

No winter service! Good thing I'm nowhere near winter!

It went up and up for hours, following a pipeline on the side of the road. What was in there? Hot water maybe?

I paused many times, and ate a bunch of leftover fish.  The wind pushed down on me and I ranted out loud to the sheep that since I was saving money on hotels I could spend extra money on fish.

The going got steep and wiggly, but I wasn’t bothered. I listened to lots of Goon Show and podcasts.

The road behind, with the city beyond.
The road ahead. Up and up it goes!
Some steamy action in the distance!
Now we're pretty high up...
Check out the little joint at the bottom to handle shifts in temperature.
I call this rock "Pointy Gap Rock". (I also call it my temporary bathroom.)
Ugh, when will the climbing end?
Floridana: Produced in Iceland. Hilarious!

At the 1300-foot mark it finally peaked, and I wiggled around through a couple of high valleys.

Just before the road pitched downhill, I stopped and ate a few more snacks. My destination was a campsite called the Úlfljótsvatn Scout And Adventure Centre. I was worried because it was getting late and I’d never been able to confirm that walk-up camping was available. Perhaps I could sneak in at the edge of a group?

The descent to lake Úlfljótsvatn was monstrous.  I was very glad I didn’t need to climb it.  The road was striped with tire marks, some of them moving alarmingly around the road.  People overcorrecting, or lane-wandering, or perhaps being surprised by sheep.

Holey Muckei!! That is well beyond a 15% grade!! ARRRGH!

I passed a hot spring with a sign warning about the extreme temperature. The water was weirdly inviting, but I decided there was no time for another stop.

I love the politeness of this sign.

Eventually the hour grew so late that it got dark. I found the camp and wandered from one building to the next, hoping to find an official who could tell me where to put myself. No luck. I did see a mowed field near a long stand of trees with campers gathered on it, so I rolled the bike over to the fringe of the crowd, pretending like I knew what I was doing, and quietly set up my tent.

I was almost done moving things around inside the tent, when some older guy with a daughter waved a flashlight at me and went “Weeeooo weeeoo, it’s the police! Haa ha ha ha hahahaa!”

I scowled at him.  Then I picked up my tent and moved it further away.  No one likes to be messed with at night, and this guy looked like the kind who would do it.

I wiggled into my sleeping bag and poked at maps for a while on my phone. In about an hour the camp grew quiet, as the last of the revelers turned in. A decent end to a solid day of riding.

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