Day 14: Kirkjubaejarklaustur to Hvolsvollur

Today is the first day that I feel tired after a ride. Had a prevailing wind so made the most of it!

Starting off from Kirkjubaejarklaustur. The pizza was rough and was only edible because I was  hungry. Unfortunately I didn’t really get any sleep last night. A couple of hardcore Russian bike nuts rocked up at midnight and decided to shout at each other all night. I always camp near a bench so that I can tie my bike up and camp close by but unfortunately the bikers decided to sit on said bench and chat loudly all night before crashing out and snoring their heads off. Not fun, they revved off at about 5am and I dozed until 7. Went to local supermarket, had a decent breakfast with lovely patisserie. Cloud was grey so thought I had better get going before the rain comes. Today I had planned to go through Vik and stop there for lunch and then stay in Skogar. So I started off cycling through a lava field, the road appears to  cut through where the lava had stopped but so it ends up looking like the moon but with moss on it.

The day was pretty flat with a very decent wind, I was cruising at 14/15 mph. Only 70 km to lunch so was rocketing along. But then it started raining, heavy, light, heavy. I was soaked to the skin knowing that I would be soaked for the rest of the day. I am literally getting webbed feet as my  feet are wet all day and every day.

Started on my way, passed on old guy on a Recumbent cycle which is a kind of  half seated, half laying down bike. Rode along with its rider, a Danish guy and chatted about his time in the armed forces. Then I got going faster again and was passing other cyclists going straight into the wind knowing exactly what they were going through. Rocked up at Vik at about 1PM so it had taken 3 hours to do 70km/45miles. I would normally expect 12mph so very fast and felt like I was really whipping along. Unfortunately the wet had made me feel  cold, very cold so I needed hot food. Ordered big hot meal and cups of tea. I decided to have a nice leisurely lunch and take my time but it began to rain really hard. Just as I started leaving the guy on the Recumbent  turned up and said that it was a bad day to have a leather saddle. I had learned that it was a bad choice for Iceland as the wet makes it all misshapen and it never dries out fully.

On my way out of Vik I needed to go out on a hill into small mountain range. It was  a 10% ascent, cars struggling, so I cranked it down to 1st gear but on the way down it was a different story and I hit my PB 42 mph (!) One and a half hours later, I rocked up at Skogar, the lady there said that there was a severe weather warning for tonight so all of the rooms were full. She told me where there were other places 3 – 6kms down the road. So I cycled 3kms more but it was full, 6kms full, 20kms full. In the end I thought “stuff it, I am going to head down to the next town” which is Hvolsvollur.

My average speed today was 14mph so I was very tired and decided to treat myself to a hotel.  A local recommended a hotel but it was £110 room so that was too much of a treat for a lone cyclist! I have now found a small place with a tiny room in a lovely B and B . They too were full but kindly cleaned out a storage room for me! It is full of Israelis on a birthday trip and I can hear them singing and celebrating downstairs which is nice. I have just had my shower and am now  going to walk about half a km back to the centre to get some food. I therefore need to put my  dry feet back  into wet shoes. The good news is that there are now only 100km to Reykjavik so it looks like I am going to finish a day early and spend time with Dave doing touristy stuff on Thursday!

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Day 3: Launceston to Sanford Peverall

Total mileage: 59
Terrain: Hills – some tough hills

We were waylaid in the morning in the local cycle shop as the guys bought some gloves to help with the handlebar sores. The ride out of Launceston was a long, continual climb that certainly had us all in a sweat.

From here we passed into Devon and Dartmoor. Although we got slightly lost and ended up on an A road for a while, the day was most pleasant, albeit fairly hard cycling. The hills of Dartmoor were something I had worried about prior to the trip. As it turned out, they were indeed formidable but the views were stunning.

Lunch was in Crediton, after the most severe hill. I think we were all knackered. From here, we took the main road north towards Tiverton. Unfortunately, this is a road of virtually continuous climbing. When we made it to the crest of the hill, Pete and I cracked our bikes into top gear and cycled like made buggers. I managed to hit 37mph and Pete almost made 40mph.

From there on in to Tiverton, we all lost our mojo a little. After finding some supplies for the evening, we were directed along the Great Western Canal. This had been specifically updated to allow cyclists and pedestrians along it. It was stunning, with the setting sun to our left and the canal to our immediate right.

At the end of the track, some 8 miles from Tiverton, was Sanford Peverall camping ground, an extremely pleasant campsite, certainly better than the dodgy room in Launceston.

Arrival of the third Thorn

After taking the bikes out for a spin, we settled down for some decent pub chow

Last Thursday I journeyed over to Guernsey to collect my new Thorn touring bike. The first thing I was struck by was the sheer size and weight of the bike. My Specialized road bike is a lightweight speed machine. I can lift it with two fingers and have hit 50mph on it. Although I may have a backpack on most of the time I am cycling in London, the bike is awesome out on the open road. 50 miles in 2 hours is well within the realm of possibility.

The Thorn on the other hand, laden with two rear panniers full of my possessions and a bar-bag is a completely different proposition. The steel frame is so much heavier and less responsive than my carbon / aluminium Specialized. Tackling hills is all together a completely different affair.

Pete and I took the bikes out for a spin on Friday night. Although we only clocked up about 7 miles, I was impressed by the sheer workmanship of the Thorn. Everything felt just so, mechanically pleasing. Although much lower geared than my Specialized, it was very comfortable on the winding Guernsey roads.

We spent most of the rest of Thursday customising the bike, adding all the additional kit I had brought over and testing the brakes, which are incredibly squeaky!

Quick outing in Devon

After my longer cycle ride on Thursday, I managed to do something silly to my knee. I ended up having to forgo my cycle ride on Saturday and cut short my Sunday ride to just 30 miles. Ideally, I should have paced myself a lot better, rather than hooning around on my road bike like I was on fire. No matter, the virtues of having a partner who is an acupuncturist prevailed as my knee was duly needled up and restored to health.

Google map of today’s cycle route

I plan to reduce the overall length of the cycle rides, instead, increasing the frequency as I am more concerned about the day by day rigour then the duration of these cycle rides.