This is a shot of one of the stone jetties on Dawlish. The sky was overcast but there was some really interesting light breaking through. My HiTech grad filter has a purple cast to them, much like Lee filters have a slight blue cast, which coloured the sky. Juxtaposed next to the polarised sea, which looked green after a chopping night and the colours look other worldly.
The moody weather seemed very suited to the scene at Bosta beach. In the back ground, the Time and Tide Bell, by Marcus Vergette is visible. This is one of up to twelve installations around the UK, created to reinforce connections between man’s influence on the landscape and its effect on the rising sea levels. Effectively, the bell will stop tolling when the sea level rises to a certain point.
A few years ago, I was in the US to shoot a TV commercial for VW. I took a couple of days out after 5 days of filming and wondered over to Death Valley. I was incredibly lucky to be there as the weather turn from bone dry to stormy. This is a short while before the heavens open and flooded many of the roads in the National Park.
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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Julien is currently waiting for a pizza to arrive.
Woke up and had a chat with Dave. He decided that he couldn’t ride anymore. So left him behind in Hofn. Jumped on bike. Perfect conditions. Arrow straight road, glacier on the right hand side. Even saw the sun and although it was intermittent, it was a welcome change. Julien got excited by the conditions and caned it as he was so excited to see the sun. Not many kilometres left to cover but still a few days left to cover them in so am limited myself each day.
Cycled on for about 65 km and found a very random hotel in the middle of nowhere. Situated on a flat plateau and is a building that looks like containers from a big ship with windows at each end. Looks bizarre and crazy but is surprisingly smart inside. I wandered in and they looked me up and down. I asked them if they had any lunch but I was too late. Too late for lunch and too early for dinner but they did have their special so I was treated to bowls and bowls of lamb soup with a great waitress running back and forth refilling my bowl.
Headed to Kirkjubaejarklaustur and outside of the town I could see a rain cloud coming like curtains ahead of me. I thought I might get away with it but no, cycled 8kms in the pissing rain. Found service station, ran in absolutely soaked. Ordered a cup of tea. I met two German guys going around the island in a 4×4 so spoke with them for 1 hrs 30. Went to Tourist info to find out where I could camp. In the tourist office there was a great guy who was half Scottish and half Icelandic who recommended a campsite and a great restaurant where I have now ordered pizza. It’s arrival is imminent!
I have two days left and now I am solo am cycling about 17/18 miles per hour and getting excited about meeting up with Dave in Reykjavik and celebrating the end of the tour 🙂
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Hoped for the rain to stop at the hostel so waited and waited but it didn’t so we set off at 11. Cycled north inland first and at about 10kms out of town the weather improved but it was still wet and gloomy. Julien feels the cold a lot more than Dave so went ahead a bit quicker. He found a lovely place for lunch and wrote Dave’s name on the road hoping he would see it and stop as he caught up. Unfortunately he didn’t see it and called from several miles down the road to find out where Julien was! Luckily Dave found another great place for a hot lunch so the boys dined in separate towns.
Now cycling towards Jokulsarlon which is renowned for it’s glacial lake. There were loads of icebergs floating around. Dave a bit behind so Julien snapped away. A Swiss couple made us a hot drink in their caravan which was lovely. We looked on the map for a campsite, the nearest of which was 35kms. So, we decided to stop where we were for the night and set up on top of a hill that lay next to the stunning lake. With the permanent light, we were afforded the most beautiful of views until the sky finally clouded over after supper.
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We awoke on Saturday morning having slept well in Stykkisholmur. After breakfast we had a good review of the map and thought “bloody hell it is gong to be a long way from here to get anywhere useful” so reluctantly we cycled back to Borgarnes. It was another hard ride back and a bit of a detour but was definitely the right decision. The ‘return’ journey seemed harder partly due to Julien’s very heavily laden bike and the fact that Angelique’s make-shift panniers shifted with every notch on the road resulting in us having to stop to re-adjust them after each minor bang. We covered almost 100k back to Borgarnes.
Although this may upset the more adventurous of our followers we elected to take the local bus to Blonduos which is a small seaside town in the northwestern part of Iceland. Our leg muscles were bulging and the logistics of our kit were getting us down. Approximately 1000 people live in the town and the distance from Reykjavik is about 245 km. The word that sums up our first view of the town was ‘weird’ but we mean that in an eerily endearing way. There is an unusual building that looks a little bit like a pudding bowl with the top lopped off. There were few people around and the only thing missing from this ‘Omen’ style scene was the tumbleweed. We found a little camp area and stuck the tent up.
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Total mileage: 88
Terrain: Hills – Very challenging and long day
We had not intended to make today such a long day but things conspired against us and we ended up cycling for 13 hours again. We did pass a big landmark today, as the image shows below, we made it to Scotland. I also set a new top speed record for the trip, beating Pete by hitting 45.5mph – bloody scary on a fully loaded bike!
Hasket Newmarket was lovely and the cycle ride up to Dalston for breakfast was very pleasant. We had cereal and fruit for a change, leaving the full English aside. From Dalston, we went via Carlisle, a super- grim town after the beauty of the Lakes. Things got a little tricky thereafter, as we cycled on B roads that run parallel to the M6 motorway. Our plans came undone when the road ran out, with only the motorway as an option. There was a lot of construction going on, so we decided to cycle through the road works, along the M6. Things went well until we were stopped by the Foreman. He gave us an earful about the safety aspect and that we should go back and around (a 12 mile detour). He fortunately relented and allowed us through, over the border and into Scotland.
As soon as we crossed the border, the weather turned foul and started to drizzle. We had to join the A75, a dual carriageway from Gretna to Dumfries. Fortunately, Mary had an alternative plan and we hopped onto a minor road, which was far more pleasant. We were about 5 miles outside Dumfries when the skies opened and we were all completely soaked. As we rolled into Dumfries, we were unsure whether to press on or stop and dry off.
Our decision was made for us by the fact that there was nowhere safe for us to leave the bikes, so we bought some food and headed to the tourist office. Here, we bought a map of Scotland and talked to the guys there about where we should head to. They recommended a place called St Johns.
Unfortunately, this meant getting back on the dual carriageway and cycling in the rain. All of us were cold, tired and fed up of the busy roads. All of this changed once we got off the A roads. We were fortunate enough to cycle a wet but gorgeous road, another top 5 road for the trip for me.
The biggest blow of the day came when we got to St Johns. All of the hostels, hotels and B&Bs were booked out, including some rancid Scottish woman who lied through her teeth saying one moment that she had room and suddenly changing her mind the next. What really galled us was that she said there was a YHA hostel 10 miles up the road, in the middle of nowhere. We were cold, tired and hungry and really not in the mood for this crap.
Our early impressions of Scotland were somewhat saved from complete damnation when we eventually arrived at the hostel. We were greeted by some really friendly people, given great rooms with incredible views and then food by the other people present. Overall, a very long day indeed that ended really rather well.