Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 38: August 2, 2011

After waking up and emerging from our in tents in their back yard, the Hvitanes family treated us to a tour of Litlibaer, a home less than a kilometer away and one of Iceland's collection of historic buildings. Kristjan, Elis's grandfather, grew up there, but it is now a stop for tourists interested in seeing a traditional Icelandic home built in the 1800's. The door frame and ceilings were low, and the roof of the small wooden structure was covered with a thick layer of grass to keep out the wind. Old black and white photographs of Kristjan's ancestors adorned the walls, and glass covered displays held old farm tools. Elis told us that, at one time, twenty people from two families lived in the five-room, two-story home. It must have been challenging, especially during the long dark winter months.

After thanking our hosts for their generous hospitality, we set off on the 74-kilometer (46 mile) ride to Isafjordur. We struggled in tough conditions for the first five hours, a steady rain and strong icy winds blowing from the north across the forbidding sea. The views were stunning, but none of us appreciated them much, focusing instead on just getting through the ride.

At 5 pm, we rolled to a stop, dripping, cold and hungry, in front of a restaurant in Suedavik, a town 20 km (12 miles) away from Isafjordur. We had skipped lunch, because it was so uncomfortable to linger in the biting rain, and relished the chance to warm up and fill our bellies. The rain stopped while we were eating, and as we rolled out to cycle the final 20 km, I finally started to appreciate the incredible ocean vistas as we snaked along a narrow winding road by the sea. Isafjordur is settled on a spit of land that juts out into Skutulsfjordur Fjord, surrounded by stunning cliffs, snow-draped mountains and deep dark waters. I marveled at the natural beauty as we cycled into town.

Our new friend, Elis, and his mother, drove into town to meet us, and we chatted in a cafe. Elis, age 14, was particularly sweet to Saya, who asked when he is going to visit us in NYC. Eiko and I told him that he is welcome to stay with us. It would be nice to return the hospitality his family showed us.

We'll spend a couple of days in Isafjordur, then say goodbye to Arisa, who is returning to Japan. I was impressed by her resilience and good humor over the past week, as she endured some seriously challenging rides. Arisa, you have earned the right to call yourself an adventure cyclist!

Here are some pics from today:

Sho, Eiko and Arisa bundled up:

View from the road:

Eiko staying hydrated:

Cool tunnel near Isafjordur:

Isafjordur from the other side of the fjord:

Mountain view from Isafjordur:

Skutulsfjordur Fjord:

Eiko and Arisa:

Sho and Saya with Elis in cafe:

With Elis and his mom:

- An Iceland Bike Adventure post

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