Saturday, August 13, 2011

Recovering in Reykjavik

Our cycling adventure over, Eiko, Sho, Saya and I spent a couple of days in Reykjavik before returning to NYC. We had planned to stay in a hotel, but accepted an offer from Gerda Sigmarsdottir and Hinrik Johannesson to sleep in their home. It was generous and risky to invite us, since we had only met briefly by the road in northern Iceland a few weeks earlier. But Gerda said that she could tell from the cycling blogs that we would all get along.

And she was right. Sho and Saya quickly bonded with Gerda and Hinrik's three children and spent the days jumping on a trampoline, playing soccer, wearing out the local playgrounds, visiting a petting zoo and one of Reykjavik's marvelous swimming pools. When I asked her what she had done at the playground, Saya responded with the poetry of childhood: "I climbed over a real rainbow and jumped off into the world!"

We adults stayed up late each night, sharing opinions about the joys and challenges of raising children, and various approaches to staying healthy and managing work stresses. Gerda and Hinrik told us about their plans to do some ambitious, multi-day family hikes as their kids get older. I loved their desire to seek out vitality and growth with their children, and appreciated one more gift from this ride across Iceland: new friends.

Sho and I hiked with Hinrik and his twelve-year old son Johannes up Thverfellshorn, a mountain near Reykjavik. As we climbed above the cloud line, Johannes and Sho magically became the super heroes "Cloud Walker" and "Mountain Tamer." Both boys were frightened by the steep slope near the summit, but bravely faced their fears with a little help from their dads. Sho tripped on the descent, sliding face first in the dirt (see pic). I ran to him, worried that he was hurt, but he jumped up laughing, "That was awesome!"

The next day, Gerda generously watched our kids so that Eiko and I could run errands. We retrieved our bike boxes and suitcases from Darri Michaelsson, who had stored them in his home during our ride. Thanks again for the help Darri!

I disassembled my bicycle and carefully packed it in a hard shell case. Placing the tires so that they overlapped one another and were protected under a foam pad, I removed the pedals, seat post and saddle, pulled out the handlebars, and set them with the frame on top of the foam. I paused before clamping shut the cover and appreciated the jumble of parts. The bike's sturdy chromoly frame still carried the grime of a couple thousand kilometers of Iceland's roads. The tire treads were worn, the chain dusty and in need of a good cleaning. The bicycle seemed to be slumbering, waiting for me to bring it back to life and set off on another family cycling adventure.

On the day we left for Keflavik Airport, Gerda and her family saw us off with hugs and promises to stay in touch, as we loaded four bike boxes and five suit cases into an oversized taxi minivan. Soon Reykjavik was receding in the distance, and we began to pass black rocky lava fields. I reminisced about our lunches on similar rocks while cycling in Iceland's vast wilds, and felt an emptiness that this adventure was over. Turning back to glance over my seat, I asked Sho if he was interested in doing another ride next summer. "Duh!" he said, as if it were obvious that he wanted to. "But this time I'm riding my own bike."

Saya chimed in, "And I get to ride on the trailer cycle!"

Eiko smiled at me, and I felt a twinge of excitement at the prospect of planning our next family adventure...

Here are some pics:

The two princesses, Saya (age 4) and Saga (age5):

Hiking up Thverfellshorn with Johannes and Sho:

Sho and Johannes amid the cotton grass:

Cloud line covering Reykjavik in the distance:

Hinrik and Johannes:

Hinrik at the top:

Me at the top:

Signing us in:

Sho after a face plant into the dirt:

Breakfast with the kids:

Eiko, Gerda, Saga and Saya:


Eiko and I with Hinrik and Gerda:

Our luggage: two bikes, a trailer cycle, bike trailer, five suitcases...

Magnus, friendly guy who drove us to the airport:

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post

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