The last day of the trip and the weather was against me straight from the off. As I sat in the café, preparing myself for the day ahead, I could see the clouds circling above me. As I cycled out of Hvolsvollur, a wicked cross wind caught me, tossing me into the middle of the road. Fortunately for me, there was not much traffic on the road so I was not in any jeopardy.
The rest of the morning’s cycle to Selfoss was miserable. On one occasion, after being pushed into the centre of the road, in the path of on coming traffic, I was forced to dismount and push my cycle up the hill as the cross winds were so fierce and dangerous. This very much set the tone or the remainder of the day.
The intermittent spots of rain did little to raise my spirits. However, after turning due west, the wind fell behind me for the final 20km stretch for the morning and ensured that I was able to match the pace of the previous day’s ride. Before I knew it, I rode into Selfoss.
Reluctant to frequent the same greasy establishments that are peppered all around the ring road of Iceland, I chanced upon a lovely small café. The place was empty and the young owner welcomed me in with a warm smile. Lunch was very pleasant but I was warned that there was a mountain range that I had to cycle over before I made it to Reykjavik.
It took me an hour in more vicious side winds to make it 20km to Hveragerði. There in front of me stood the mother of all inclines. The route up was perilous for several reasons. Firstly, the cross winds were extremely hazardous, pushing me out into the road many times. There was no hard shoulder on my side of the road; instead, the upward route was divided into a dual carriageway. Large vehicles hurtled past me as they climbed the hill at alarming velocities. The final problem was the intense, unrelenting incline. The hill stretched out for an eternity ahead of me.
After crossing the road, I pushed my heavily laden bike up the unyielding ascent. Cars came far too close for comfort on more than one occasion. I did however, manage to conquer the hill eventually, crossing back over and pedalling once the camber eased a little. The battle of gradient and cross wind raged on against my onward progress. I swore at the wind as the hard shoulder disappeared completely. I had to choose between the road and the terrifying traffic that adorned it or the sandy, rocked waste that lay just beyond it.
Progress was extremely slow and arduous. I began to loose my cycling mojo and decided to stop at the next petrol station. As I sat nursing a bottle of coke, I made a deal with myself that I would load my bike and good self on to a bus should one happen to pass by. It didn’t and in hindsight, I am eternally grateful. To have given up so close to the end of my journey would have endured and bugged me forever.
The petrol station owner told me the road got better and he was right. Soon after leaving, the road began to descent, the cross winds soon subsided to infrequent gusts rather than perpetual gale and the hard shoulder reappeared. I spotted Reykjavik in the distance. I know at that point I was going to be fine. Iceland had not defeated me after all.
A few hours later after becoming lost in the suburbs of capital city, terrified on the tri-carriage ways, bemused by the maze of roads in the docks and perplexed by the general lack of signage, I arrived in the middle of town. I sensed a slow bubbling of euphoria n my heat as I booked into a pleasant local hotel. Luck was on my side that evening. The sunset was stupendous, the hotel extremely comfortable, dinner scrumptious and sleep deep and restful. I had done it. I had cycle around Iceland.