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Account of 2007 Iceland Adventure

By Don Anderson

This is my summary of the August, 2007 adventure in Iceland. The participants were my life-long friend John Jerrard, my wife Paula Christensen, and me, Don Anderson. John and I bicycled for a week, then Paula joined us for sightseeing and exploration. John returned home a few days before Paula and me.

Trip Preparation

I spent more time and effort preparing for this trip than any other trip I have ever taken. I have been on some pretty complicated trips, so this one was really intensive. Aside from the normal intensive physical training, I took time to acquire tools and spare parts for my 1962 Schwinn Traveler 3-speed bicycle, carefully designed and developed a box to carry the bike on the airplane, and studied a lot of information about Iceland. Darren, from the Icelandic Mountain Bike Club, provided a wealth of invaluable information.

The airlines were Northwest and Icelandair. In preparation for the flights, I disassembled my bike, partially deflated the tires, and packed the parts into a standard bike box 52" long, 31" wide, 8" deep. I wrapped the bike box in plastic snow fencing to provide reinforcement and a convenient means of lifting the box. I packed my Burley Nomad cargo trailer in a separate carrying bag, produced by Burley specifically for this trailer. My bike weighed 43 pounds, my cargo trailer packed with gear weighed 58 pounds, and my rack pack filled with gear weighed 11 pounds, for a total of 112 pounds of equipment that I needed to power down the road with my own personal strength. John used panniers on his mountain bike. His stuff weighed less than mine, but his body weight was higher, so he had a pretty big load too. He biked hundreds of miles in preparation for this trip, and reduced his body weight by over 100 pounds in the months leading up to the trip.

Trip Summary

John and I biked from Reykjavik to Gulfoss, took a bus from Gulfoss to Hveravellir, then biked north across the interior on the Kjölur route to Blönduós, and back to Reykjavik along the west coast. The bus ride was 57 miles. Our shortest full day of biking was 52 miles. Our longest day was 76 miles. We biked a total of 335 miles along this route. My top speed was 34 mph. John’s top speed was 39.5 mph. We camped at Geysir, Hveravellir, Blönduós, Staðarskáli, Reykholt, and Mossfellbauer. On the bike trip I broke or had to replace the following items: one spoon in the mess kit, one reflector on the cargo trailer, one mirror mount, and one tire.

Paula joined us after the biking was over. Paula, John, and I spent time in Rekjavik and the Blue Lagoon. Then Paula and I explored the south coast of Iceland. We saw beautiful waterfalls, stunning rock cliffs, and a large colony of puffins. Then we hiked out onto a glacier before returning to Reykjavik.

Day 0 - Saturday, August 4

I checked in at Detroit Metro Airport at 12:30 p.m. No problems checking the bike box. Northwest charged me $110 for the bike and excess baggage. I don't know how they arrived at the price. The woman just said, "The computer gave me this price." I met John in Minneapolis. He had flown in from Chicago. We flew on the same flight to Keflavik, arriving around 7:30 a.m. on August 5.

Day 1 - Sunday, August 5

We exchanged currency. The local currency is Icelandic Krona. Iceland is spelled "Island" by Icelanders, so the acronym for their currency is ISK (ISlandic Krona). The exchange rate was about ISK65/$. Things are expensive in Iceland, as noted throughout this account. We took a bus called the BSI flybus from the Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, arriving around 9:00 a.m. We had bacon and eggs at the bus terminal, for about $20 a person. The employees at the bus terminal allowed us to work in an upstairs area to assemble our bikes. The axle slot on my front fork was crimped closed a little bit from the airline cargo experience, so the axle wouldn't fit in the slot. This was a scare for me. I carefully pried it open with an open end wrench until the axle would fit. We stored the bike boxes and some luggage in a storage room at the terminal. Once we were outside, John noticed that his handlebar was somewhat loose. He had difficulty getting it tight. But this didn’t cause trouble for him in the days to come. His bike was fine throughout the trip.

I had my dual liquid fuel stove in my gear. John had his Jet Boil stove, but we arrived on a holiday, so the stores which sold fuel for John's stove were closed. We did find Coleman fuel for my stove at a petrol station, so we relied on my stove for the both of us. This turned out to be OK, because we easily found prepared food along the entire route. We also bought matches and lighters, and rode around Reykjavik on our bikes. My only stated mission for this trip was "Bicycle in Iceland." Although much adventure was yet to come, I felt that my basic mission had already been accomplished. Just getting to Iceland, assembling the bike, and riding around felt like a major achievement.

We stayed at the Central Guesthouse, run by a woman named Anna. We had one room, with access to a shared bathroom and a shared kitchen. The room rate was ISK8,900 ($135). Anna only took cash as payment. We ate dinner at a nice restaurant named "The Pot and Pan." Dinner for two was about $120. The catfish special was great.

Day 2 - Monday, August 6

We got up early, and biked from Reykjavik to Geysir. The total distance was 66 miles. We went via Thingvellir, which is a beautiful and historical place. Iceland's first parliament, called the Althingi, took place there. On the road to Thingvellir, I moved too far to the right to let a car pass. My bike slipped off the road, and I fell over in the deep gravel. The fall was at a very slow speed, so I didn't get hurt, but I learned my first lesson: Stay away from the edge of the road. The weather was overcast with drizzle. I got really cold and started shivering. We stopped, I put on a fleece jacket and rainpants, and we continued. We took road 365 over to Laugarvatn. I had a great 25 mph downhill ride on a gravel road leading to Laugarvatn. Cars had to wait behind me, because the surface was so slippery with gravel that I didn't dare ride along the edge of the road. John held back and went slower.

From there, we took road 37 north to Geysir. My back really began to hurt during the last 10 miles of road, because I was pedaling uphill in a seated position. I had more difficulty going up hills than John, because my 3-speed bike didn’t have the low gear ratios that John’s mountain bike had. Here I learned my second lesson: Stand up when I pedal uphill, no matter what gear I'm in. Pedaling in a standing position is like exercising on a Stairmaster. So I decided that from now on, I’ll do the Stairmaster when I encounter a hill.

We camped at a campsite at Geysir. The typical cost for a campsite was about $12 a person. The original Geysir is now dormant, but another geysir was very active, bursting forth water and steam into the air every few minutes. This phenomenon is caused when water underground reaches the boiling point and blows off pressure at the ground surface. We also saw steam vents and bubbling mud in the area.

My back hurt so much that I couldn't even bend over to set up the tent. I began to worry about the next day, when we were planning to bike 64 miles over the toughest road on the route, with a 2,000 foot increase in elevation. A German tour guide named Jens struck up a conversation with us, and said that we should definitely ride the bus over the route the next day. He knew the route well, and said that it was dangerous for cyclists because off-roaders drove too fast along the narrow gravel road. After some thought, we agreed that we would bike to Gulfoss, 11 km (7 miles) down the road, and then take a bus to Hveravellir. I did not have a specific goal to bike a certain distance, or to bike along a specific route. My goal was simply to bicycle in Iceland. So our decision was made. We would take the bus the next day from Gulfoss to Hveravellir, and then bike the remainder of the distance across the interior and back to Reykjavik.

Day 3 - Tuesday, August 7

In the morning, we heated water for oatmeal and coffee. My plastic spoon broke. I had a spare, just in case, so this was not a problem. We biked the 7 miles to Gulfoss, a very popular waterfall. It was a two-tiered cascading waterfall, just stunning when the sun was at my back, creating a rainbow over the falls. Here we met up with Jens, the German tour guide, and we waited for the bus to arrive. The bus was specially designed for the interior roads, with a very high ground clearance and huge tires. We loaded our gear into the storage area at the rear of the bus. John accidentally broke one of the reflectors on my cargo trailer when he was loading it into the bus. The bus took us 92 km (57 miles) to Hveravellir where there is a little weather station, a couple of huts and a hot spring to bathe in. As I look back on this decision to take the bus to Hveravellir, I realize that I probably could have made it on the bike in one day; I certainly could have made it in two days. But if we had to take a bus, we took it at the right time. The road was dusty with a washboard surface. The gravel was deep in spots. And the views were not good. Just brown rocks as far as you could see. No plant life of any kind. The driver stopped to let some campers off at the track to Hvitarnes. There is a hut at Hvitarnes which looks towards the Langjokull glacier which falls into the lake, Hvitarvatn.Then he stopped again to let Jens and the German tourists off at the track to Kerlingafjöll, which has huts and a camp site in a geothermally active area. At this point, we could see glaciers in the distance. We drove on to Hveravellir. We stayed in the hut there. The cost was ISK1,980 ($30) per person.

At Hveravellir, we explored steam vents and hiked about 6 miles round trip on a trail. We didn’t go all the way to a crater at the end of the trail, because we weren’t sure of the total distance, and we wanted to get back to the hut to rest for the next day. Then we spent a long time in a "hot pot" next to the hut. A “hot pot” is what Icelanders call hot tubs. The road sign symbol for a hot pot is a black pot with a thermometer in it. The hot pot at Hveravellir was about 12’ x 15’, made of rocks, and fed by two pipes, one with natural hot water, and one with natural cold water. The water from the hot pipe was too hot to touch directly. If you were too hot, you used some rocks to move the hot pipe out of the water. If you were too cold, you moved the hot pipe into the water. This was an incredible experience. The colors of the minerals on the rocks were awesome. We talked with other bathers from Switzerland and Holland. So far, we hadn't met any other Americans on the trip. Around 7:30 p.m., a young Spaniard rolled into the area with his bike. He said he had biked from Geysir. He had covered the route John and I had originally planned to cover by bike. This guy was young, looked like an athlete, outfitted will all the latest gear, and he was beat. I thought we could have done what he did, but we probably would have arrived later at night and we would have missed out on all the time we had at Hveravellir to see the sights and bathe in the hot pot.

Day 4 - Wednesday, August 8

We woke up at 4:20 a.m. to begin the long day of biking. I took a quick bath in the hot pot. The air was cold, but the water was wonderful. We left the camp around 5:30 a.m. We hadn't ridden our bikes into camp, so we had some confusion about how to get back to the main road. We turned right on F735. After a while, John was convinced that we were heading the wrong way. Neither of us could see the intersection with the main road, 35. We turned around and went the other way on F735. On a very tough downhill, I fell over, again at a low speed, so I wasn't hurt. Then on a nasty, rocky downhill stretch, the left wheel of my trailer came off. I heard the sound of the trailer dragging along the ground behind me and stopped. Upon inspection, I saw that the axle stub for the wheel was bent. John was nowhere in sight. Now here I was, alone, in the middle of nowhere, with a broken trailer, not knowing which way to go. This was a good test of my character and confidence. I started getting out tools to repair the axle. John came over the hill. I explained the situation. I was able to straighten the axle stub, snug it up tight, remount the wheel, and get on the road again. We tried using my compass to determine which way we were headed, but the needle wouldn't settle down. Finally, I got out my GPS unit and started walking. Now we could clearly see that we were heading the wrong way. We got back on F735 heading east, and found our way out to the main road. We had only gone 3 miles out of our way, but it was not a good start to the day.

The rest of the day was great. The road was very rough in spots, but I felt strong. My back didn't hurt. I periodically checked fasteners on the bike and trailer, due to the very rough road conditions. We were beating the heck out of our bikes on lumpy downhill gravel stretches. The traction on a gravel downhill was not good, so I would just pick a line at the top of the hill, and try to go as straight as possible down the road. At one point, I had to run directly over a rough washboard surface at 28 mph. I just held on and kept the bike in balance. God, I was beating the bike up! After I hit a pothole head on at high speed, I thought if this doesn't break a spoke, nothing will. During the day, I had to tighten up a fender fastener. We stopped for coffee and waffles at a hut called áfangi by áfangafell. Near the end of route 35, we came upon a steep, paved, downhill road with switchbacks. Here I reached 34 mph. On these fast downhills, I periodically checked my brakes for proper operation, and listened carefully for any strange sounds coming from my bike.

We biked all the way to Blönduós. Our total distance this day was 76 miles. I do believe that the hot dog I ate at the petrol station in Blönduós was the best hot dog I have ever experienced. At the campsite at Blönduós, we met a camper who said he missed the Americans who left when the Air Force base at Keflavik was closed. He invited us to his tent for conversation.

Day 5 - Thursday, August 9:

In the morning, I went into a phone booth to call Gray Line Iceland & Iceland Excursions to confirm plans for a tour and boat cruise we had scheduled for August 13. While I was on the phone, my bike fell over and one of the two mirror mounts broke. I learned my third lesson: Always remove the rack pack when I leave the bike. The rack pack raised the center of gravity of the bike and made it less stable. The joint to the cargo trailer was so flexible that the bike could fall over while the trailer remained upright. I was able to retain the mirror by using the one remaining mount. It was a little shaky, but it worked.

We had easy biking the whole day. 52 miles total. For me, this was the easiest full day of the whole trip. We stopped at a petrol station along the way and I had a caramel ice cream shake. Every petrol station had food and soft serve ice cream - every single one. I was surprised at how much the Icelandic people liked hot dogs and ice cream.

We stayed at a campground at Staðarskáli, just before Brú. The campground was closed, but the locals said we could use it anyway. The campground was a small plot of mowed ground, with a small building housing a rusted sink and a toilet, neither supplied with water. I was beginning to feel like we were hobos, camping wherever we could. The petrol station there had all the food we needed. By this time, we had learned that Icelanders don't get up early. A young man opened the petrol shop around 8:00 a.m., and he looked like he only had about 4 hours of sleep. John and I always got on the road early to avoid traffic. The traffic on the main road didn't pick up until around 9:30 a.m.

Day 6 - Friday, August 10:

On this day, we biked 53 miles. I thought it would be an easy day, but it turned out to be difficult.

First, we had a very long climb up the Holavörðuheiði mountain pass. We rode through clouds, with very limited visibility. It was pretty spooky to have cars blasting past us at high speed when they could barely see us. I was glad I had a flag on my trailer. I even turned on my generator light, though I doubt it helped. Both of my hand grips came loose. This was really strange, because they had been so tight when I installed them in April that I had to use a hammer to force them on. John thought this was due to the humidity. I thought it was due to my vice-like grip during the ascent up the hill, which must have heated the grips up and softened them. My back didn't hurt at all, because I had learned to stand when pedaling uphill.

After the big climb, we left the main road, and took road 528 east. This was a gravel road, with a very steep ascent. We walked about one mile on this road. I felt like I was hiking in the backcountry, and dragging my bike along with me. This was very tough. The view from the top of a ridge on 528 was great. When I was standing at the top of this ridge, I stepped back and tripped over a rock. No serious injury, just a minor bruise on my left thigh. Here I decided that my biking gear was ideally suited for the paved Ring Road, where the ride was quiet, smooth, and fast. I didn't like the rough interior roads. I'd rather hike over rough terrain than bike over it. We had to take a few more tough gravel roads before the day was over. On one tough downhill, I lost the tension in my front brake cable. I had been squeezing it so tightly that the cable had slipped through the fastening nut at the caliper. I made it to the bottom of the hill safely, and adjusted both the front and rear brake cables. I had spare cables if I needed them.

Later in the day, we reached a small village just south of Reykholt. Here we swam in the local pool, rested in a hot pot, ate great food (lamb, potatoes, and purple cabbage), and set up our tent in the campground behind the restaurant. The woman running the establishment was very kind. After setting up the tent, we took a day biking trip to Reykholt, where we saw the archaeological remains of Snorri Sturluson's place. Snorri was a scholar and chieftain who wrote Heimskringla (History of the Norwegian Kings). Born in 1179, Snorri married an heiress and became Law-speaker at the Althingi twice. He was dispatched to Norway as a diplomat, and when he returned to Iceland against the King of Norway’s wishes, he was murdered on the king’s orders by Earl Gissur's men on December 23, 1241. We saw Snorri's hot pot, still operational, with the remains of a tunnel which ran from Snorri's house to the hot pot. The hot pot was a circular pit surrounded by stacked stones. It included a stone bench to sit on. After this, John and I had dinner at a Fosshotel, where we had our first taste of Brennevin. Brennevin is an Icelandic schnapps made from potatoes and caraway seeds, nicknamed "Black Death." It was pretty tough stuff, but I became accustomed to it.

Day 7 - Saturday, August 11:

By now I had lost track of what day of the week it was. We had a nice ride in the morning on paved roads. On one of the fast downhills, I felt a recurring bump, at the frequency of the tire rotation. I knew what it was. I had an emerging bulge on the rear tire. It was getting ready to blow. We stopped at a really nice campground at Fossotun to change the tire. The campground had a giant chess set, with pieces the size of small people, and other outdoor games, like shuffleboard. I changed the rear tire without any trouble. John wanted to help. It was fun to use the wrenches, the tire lever tools, and the small tire pump to make the repair. I felt like all of my preparation had paid off. I even had another spare tire in case I needed it.

Soon after the tire repair, we traveled around a fjord named Hvalfjordur. We headed right into the wind. It was tough. At one point, I realized that I had too much friction in the back. I had been pumping on the pedals so hard that my rear wheel had slipped forward on the chain side, and the left side of the tire was rubbing on the frame. I hadn't tightened the hub nut enough when I remounted the rear wheel. I remedied this and continued. As we rounded the end of the fjord, we felt the wind come round to our backs. The cruising was incredible! I was booking along at over 20 mph in high gear. The grass was bent over from the wind, but I felt nothing because I was cruising with the wind. Now, after 6 days on the road, I reached a religious experience, when I was surrounded by beautiful green scenery going by at high speed, and I was filled with endorphines. I felt strong, balanced, and in bliss. This was as good as it gets.

We merged into Route 1 headed into Mossfellbauer. The traffic was heavy. The crosswind from the left was so strong that it was hard to stay on the shoulder of the road. John took a picture of me with my trailer flag bent over in the wind. This was the most dangerous part of the trip, due to the high crosswind gusts while traffic passed us at 60 mph a few feet to our left. We just had no choice. We wobbled down the road at a slow speed, working our way around the bay which is north of Reykjavik.

The campground at Mossfellbauer was gone. Apparently it had been replaced with a soccer field. A local resident said we could sleep in a city park. Boy, I felt like a hobo! We set up our tent at the edge of the park. This had been a long day. 70 miles. We had had to walk up at least 3 steep hills. But we had sunshine all day, and great scenery. We ate dinner at a KFC.

Day 8 - Sunday, August 12:

In the morning, I noticed that two other parties had also camped in the city park. They had vehicles, not bikes. The last time we saw other bikers at a campsite was at Hveravellir 6 days earlier. We biked the 10 miles to the Reykjavik bus terminal early in the morning. This time, different bus terminal employees made me work outside on my bike. The weather was good, so this was not a problem. I disassembled my bike and stored it in the storage room at the terminal. John kept his bike assembled so he could still use it for transportation. I was happy to put my bike away for the rest of the trip. We spent the day walking around Rekjavik and stayed at the Central Guesthouse again.

Day 9 - Monday, August 13:

Paula arrived in the morning. Due to a variety of complications, John and I went on one tour while Paula went on another. She took the Golden Circle Tour, visiting a power plant, Geysir, and Gulfoss. John and I took a long bus tour of Snaefellnes peninsula and a short boat cruise at Breidarfjordur Bay. In retrospect, I think it was best that Paula took the separate tour. She went on the most popular tour, seeing the best sites. Paula and I stayed at the Hotel Cabin and John stayed at the Flóki Inn Guesthouse. The room at the Hotel Cabin was $275 per night.

Day 10 - Tuesay, August 14:

Paula and I picked up a rental car, a four door Toyota Corolla wagon with a manual transmission. I should note that I saw many American vehicles in Iceland. In particular, there were a lot of Dodge Durangos pulling trailers and Dodge Ram Trucks with camper tops. We also saw Jeep Grand Cherokees, along with Ford Excursions and GMC trucks. Most of these were relatively new vehicles. It was surprising to me to see so many American vehicles in a European country. Gasoline was ISK124/liter, which works out to about $7.50/gallon.

The three of us drove to the Blue Lagoon, spending the day in this luxury hot spa in the middle of a volcanic landscape. We had dinner at the Pot and Pan in Reykjavik. We had a nice discussion with the waitresses, who informed us that tips are not customary in Iceland, because the workers are highly paid. Prices are high in Iceland, but the local people can afford it. They feel rich when they travel to other European countries. A typical beer in Iceland was $10. A good bowl of soup was $25. Our dinner at the Pot and Pan for three people was $200.

That night, we went to a club in Reykjavik where we listened to live American music and drank Brennevin. Paula and I stayed at the Hotel Cabin for a second night. John stayed at the Flóki Inn Guesthouse for a second night.

Day 11 - Wednesday, August 15:

John departed for the Keflavik airport early in the morning. Paula and I spent the day shopping and sightseeing in Reykjavik. The main shopping street is Laugavegur. Reykjavik is an interesting city. About 250,000 of the 300,000 people in Iceland live in Reykjavik. Paula really enjoyed a coffee shop which was under another shop. That night we drove to Geysir and stayed at the Hotel Geysir, taking a bath in the hot pot.

Day 12 - Thursday, August 16:

In the morning, Paula and I went to a multi-media educational museum at the Hotel Geysir. It displayed the history of geothermal activities in Iceland, and included a shaking platform which simulated a recent earthquake. Then we went back to Gulfoss, and enjoyed the giant waterfall. After that, we drove to the south coast. We stopped at 2 very dramatic waterfalls. The first one was relatively small, with a path leading behind it. The mist was so fine and dispersed, that it produced a 360 degree double rainbow. Very dramatic. The second waterfall was very large, and was named Skogafoss. This had a path leading to the top of it. Paula ventured out beyond the warning rope, right up to the edge. I’m more afraid of heights, because my balance isn’t that good.

Then we drove to the lighthouse at Dyrhólaey. It was surrounded by long, sheer cliffs. I lay down on my stomach, slid out to the edge, and looked straight down to the water, several hundred feet below. From there, we hiked out over a giant stone arch which reached out to sea, with more long sheer cliffs around it. This reminded me of Angels Landing at Zion National Park in the U.S. We had dinner at the Hotel Lundi in Vik. Lundi means puffin, but they didn’t have puffin on the menu. We spent the night at the Hotel Dyrhólaey.

Day 13 - Friday, August 17:

Paula and I continued our explorations of the south coast. We saw a colony of puffins up close at the bird sanctuary at Dyrhólaey. This was really great. The birds were very interesting. They had webbed feet and very colorful beaks. Paula took several photographs of puffins walking and flying around.

After this, we walked along a black sand beach, which led to the base of the high cliffs around the arch. I swam in the cold water. Paula captured a photograph of a seal swimming near me. I wanted to have clean feet when I put on my socks and shoes, so I walked closer to where the water was lapping up against the cliffs, and sat on a rock near the water's edge to rinse my feet. With my back to the sea, quite to my surprise, a giant wave came crashing over me, and washed one of my shoes out to sea. Paula spotted it in the water, and suggested that I might be able to swim out to retrieve it. I started heading into the water, but I felt a sudden dropoff and a strong undertow. I'm not a very good swimmer. I headed back to shore and let the shoe go. I figured I wasn't going to risk my life for a shoe. This was sad, because this was one of the shoes I had worn on the bike trip. It’s still having an adventure in Iceland. I had to walk about a mile back to the car with only one shoe on. I had one spare set of shoes for the rest of the trip, a pair of business casual leather shoes.

Later this day, we drove to the base of a glacier and walked quite a ways up it. We did not have crampons, so I was a little nervous about this. This was a muddy, wet, dirty glacier. But we made it along the rock covered ice, finding spots where there was some traction. I was wearing my business casual shoes. I would have felt a lot better if we had glacier gear with us. We saw a variety of glacial formations, including ice caves and pools of water.

I had a room reserved at the Central Guesthouse in Reykjavik for the night, but we arrived back in town after 6:00 p.m., so Anna had already rented our room to somebody else. We stayed at her daughter's apartment, in a room she rented out for occasions like this. Anna’s daughter’s name was also Anna. That night, we went to a huge live music outdoor free concert in Reykjavik. The music was all local. The language was all Icelandic. So I don't know what anybody was saying or singing, but it was interesting. They played opera and something that sounded kind of like rock and roll with rap mixed in. The performers all looked to be over 40 years old.

Day 14 - Saturday, August 18:

We returned the rental car, picked up my bike box and camping gear from the BSI bus terminal, took the BSI flybus from Reykjavik to Keflavik, and took the flights home. Icelandair did not charge me anything extra for the bike box or for the cargo trailer bag. We arrived in Detroit at about 2:00 a.m. in the rain. We managed to fit everything into my Sebring Convertible with the top down. The rain was light, so we drove home without getting very wet. The next day, I recycled the bike box and re-assembled the bike. The rack on my bike was bent up from the airline cargo experience, but I easily fixed this.


The trip was a success. The mission was accomplished. All of my planning paid off. I had the right gear, parts, and tools. The reading material told me what I needed to know about the route and the local sites. The physical training was critical. I used all the strength I had. There were no crises or injuries. My liquid fuel stove worked well. Coleman fuel and gasoline were readily available. The 3-speed Schwinn Traveler was fine for biking on paved and gravel roads. No issues other than a tough first gear. The Burley Nomad cargo trailer worked well. The bike box worked. I don’t really want to take the bike on a plane again, but if I have to, I know how to do it.

The Ring Road was the best cycling. If I ever return to cycle again in Iceland, I’ll stay near the coast. The interior was interesting, but not a great place to bike.

Iceland is a very friendly, easy place to visit, but it’s very expensive and generally too cold, windy, and damp for me. The people we met from Holland at Hveravellir had been to Iceland 7 times. They said it was a great place to visit, but they didn’t want to live there. Also, Iceland has great food. I saw a travel show earlier this year complaining about the food there. The show was wrong. The lamb, catfish, arctic char, lobster bisque, chocolate soufflé, hot dogs, ice cream, and yogurt were all great.

John is physically fit. I was really impressed with his fitness. I think he had a few leg cramps, but he didn’t complain about a thing the whole trip. He covered the whole distance without difficulty. His planning and training also paid off. I should note that I am also physically fit. I still feel the strength in my legs. Over the first two weeks after the trip, I had leg cramps at night, but they didn’t really hurt. My muscles feel great.

I love my bike. I love camping. I love physical challenge adventure vacations. For me, the theme for this trip was “Enjoying the Ride.” I wasn’t trying to achieve a particular goal, other than to bicycle in Iceland. But I definitely was challenged. I met the challenge in a relaxed, confident way. I’m at a stage in my life when I’m “enjoying the ride.” Life is worth living. Every adventure contributes enormously to my overall sense of happiness. This was a big one.

Don Anderson
September 5, 2007