Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 16: July 11, 2011

We attempted our most ambitious ride of the trip so far, a 105km (65 mile) trip from Hofn to Djupivogur on the eastern coast of Iceland. It was sunny and relatively warm, in the mid 50's F - perfect weather for a long bike ride. We left Hofn at noon and steadily made our way up the remarkably beautiful coast. The cries of sea birds echoed off steep cliffs to our left, complemented by the gentle lapping of the ocean surf to our right. Gannets and guillemots swooped overhead, crying out as they searched for food along the coast.

Low-hanging clouds shrouded a mountain chain off in the distance ahead, and the majestic white fingers and craggy cliffs of Vatnajokull Glacier faded slowly behind us. We passed by fields of purple lupin, brown marshy expanses of grasslands, and sprawling rocky fields. We saw many sheep and powerful Icelandic horses, who looked up curiously at us as we rode by. Sometimes the sheep appeared far overhead, grazing hundreds of meters up a steep rocky hill. From a distance they looked like white and black rocks until they started to move.

It was a spectacular setting, capped off by a sight I will long remember: fifteen whooping swans fanning out near the shore. We stopped for a few minutes to appreciate them - they coasted serenely over the water, large alabaster forms stretching out long necks to take gentle sips of the glistening water.

The day felt like one long moment of spiritual transcendence. Although I suffered from the physical challenge of fighting headwinds and pulling our heavy train up the rolling hills, I felt like there was no other place I'd rather be. Sho and Saya regularly called out excited exclamations at the animals and stunning vistas they saw.

In the end, we cycled for 9 hours today, pulling into Djupivogur exhausted and famished at 9 p.m. We ate hot soup and bread in Hotel Framtid and decided to get a room in the comfortable inn. We plan to take a boat ride to Papey Island tomorrow, hoping to enjoy some more of this area's remarkable natural beauty.

Here are some pics:

A 1-mile long tunnel in the middle of the ride. It was spooky, but fun!

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post

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