Iceland: Crossing the Middle

It depends what your definition of “it” is.

Most of one day we pushed through mud and water.

Most of one day we pushed through mud and water.

As the horizontal rain stung our faces, Bob announced the temperature had dropped to 35 degrees. I hadn’t bothered with the map all day and was surprised to see a turnoff ahead. It appeared the alternate road would at least drop off the ridge and we might find sheltered camping there. We both had to stop losing heat, and soon. We blew down the loose, gravelly switchbacks and rode to the nearest building for shelter until we could get our bearings on the map. After ten minutes of cold-addled indecision, a maintenance worker appeared. No, he said, no campgrounds were around here, but a farm stay accommodation was within two miles. We began to feel warmer immediately.

The innkeeper shuddered as we told her where we had come from. Her compassion warmed us and later when she had gone, it echoed through the quiet dining room as we munched on crisp breads and drank the coffee and hot chocolate she’d left for us. This delicious warmth and hospitality helped us understand why we don’t see more Icelandic bicyclists out in the elements. Later as we huddled by the lace curtained window – and the warm radiator below it – snowflakes blew by outside.

How hard can 57 kilometers be? Too hard, sometimes. We only made 21 miles that day. Iceland is like that.

Icelandic Cuisine: beans and onions, flat bread and dried fish; chocolate covered rasins for desert.

Icelandic Cuisine: beans and onions, flat bread and dried fish; chocolate covered rasins for desert.

The standoff with the tarantula ended in a truce after she endured being herded out the door by my helpful husband. At 10:00 p.m. the temperature was still over 90 degrees and she and I were both happy to be here.

If You Go. Don’t, but if you insist, consider doing a day hiking tour or trek instead of a bike tour. Many European cycle tourists ride the Ring Road which is sometimes busy and has no shoulders. The wind can hit anywhere and combined with passing trucks, can be strong enough to push or pull you into traffic. The highland routes are more adventurous and scenic with less traffic. Be aware of the possibility of long stretches of mud, snow, deep sand and no water. If you still want to bicycle tour in Iceland, invest in very good, warm clothing layers and rain gear. Be sure your tent will hold up in strong winds. Accommodation can be very expensive.