Iceland Bike-Through Expedition

Iceland Bike-Through Expedition 2000 By Doug Blane

This expedition will be followed by the Year 6 class of school children from Springfield Middle School, in Milton Keynes UK. This will be an interactive part of their geography and IT classes.

During the expedition regular e-mail reports will be sent back to the class for them to post onto the expedition’s web site at http://www.MountainBikingAdventures.com.

After the expedition the team members will be giving the class a slide presentation about their Icelandic adventures.

Email 1: 22-06-2000 – sent from Selfoss Library, Iceland

Carl Galvin Mountain Biking in Iceland during the Bike Iceland Mountain Biking Exprdition

Greetings from Iceland.

We arrived in Keflavik at 2 am, put our bikes together and cycled away from the airport. This was very strange as it was still light. 5Km later we were at the campsite in Keflavik.

In the morning we were trying to decide on our next destination, when I found a leaflet for the Blue Lagoon and we decided to cycle there.

We spent over 3.5 hours in the blue lagoon recovering in the hot sulphur waters from our flight and sleepless night. Wow…, The sauna was also excellent! To round off the day we cycled another 5Km to Grindavik where we camped 4 the night.

I the morning we continued east along the coast towards Herdisarvik bay and camped near the old church by a T-Bar. Yum, yum the cakes were good.

The following day we cycled to Selfoss via Hveragerd where we ate an incredibly hot “earth-quake” burger. (Oh by the way, locally there has been an earthquake, 6.5, but we weren’t near enough to be effected by it)

The roads are strange, we cycle along gravel tracks many miles and then there appears out of nowhere a long stretch of tarmac road. The road then becomes gravel road again, just before you reach a town!

We have been lucky with the weather, except 4 the first day we haven´t had much rain. There is still snow on the hills we can see on the horizon.

The clothing and equipment we have with us is excellent, many thanks to our sponsors. I have had a slight problem with one of my pannier attachments breaking, but have been able to buy a strap to secure it OK. Our bikes are fine so far, we haven´t even had a puncture.

We are well on our way to getting loads of excellent pictures for you to see and for the sponsors to use in their catalogues.

Tomorrow we plan to head north towards Gullfoss and then on to cycle route F35 into the interior region.

All the best,

Doug & Carl

Email 2: 27/06/2000 – sent from Blonduos Tourist Office, Iceland

Rainbow and steaming geothermal vent near the Langjokull glacier IcelandWe did it!

We cycled north to Geysir on roads and saw impressive steam spout.

Next morning we cycled onto Gallfoss an impressive waterfall. Wow. We then headed into the interior on horrible roads. We have been joined by another cyclist from The Netherlands called Arthur Gebuys.

The first night we camped at lake Hvftarvath between 2 glaciers, Langjokull & Hofsjokull. The area was like a desert.

The weather has been excellent, we have only had a few passing showers due to the glaciers and mountains.

The following day was hard, we only did approx. 60Km to a campsite at Hveravellir where there was a natural “hot pot” (ie hot spring) where we spent +4hrs recovering.

Doug Blane in a hotpot

We were fed by some kind Germans on a 3 week supported walking trip. The sunset on the steaming geysirs were amazing at midnight. The next day we made a long cycle north to Blonduos covering 120Km.

On one descent I had a blow-out on my front tyre. I have to fix the puncture and change the tyre for a new one I was carring. Some of this was on good 4WD tracks and tarmac roads.

We are spending the day recovering.

Doug & Carl.

Email 3: 6 July 2000 – sent from Selfoss Library, Iceland

PICTURE CREDIT DOUG BLANE Carl Galvin in a red Mountain Equipment gore tex jacket under Svartifoss Waterfall in IcelandFrom Akureyri we took the bus to Godafoss (waterfall of the gods) and spend a magical evening with the sun setting behind the waterfall.

The following morning we took another bus to Myvatn (Midge / fly lake).

We spent the day cycling around the lake without our panniers. The campsite was within a series of small volcano craters. The day was fabulous again and we ended it by climbing up a volcano.

On the way back to the main road we came across a split in the earth. This was amazing to see. We were able to climb under the split and below there was a pool of boiling water.

The following day we took the bus to Egilsstaðir as we did not wish to cycle the worst stretch of the Icelandic route 1 across Europe’s largest desert. We then took a connecting bus to Hofn where we camped for the night.

In the morning we took another bus to Skatafell National Park where we spent 3 nights [via the glacier lake, Jokulsarlon].

We walked around some of the waterfalls and up to a nearby summit with views of Europe’s largest glacier.

We are now trying to visit the Westaman Island for a few days before heading to Reykjavík. However due to the bus strike and us missing the connection to the ferry we are spending another night in Selfoss.

Time is going quickly… There is so much to see in Iceland and we are sure we will be back soon.

We have not been able to enjoy the Icelandic “hot pots” over the past few days and are missing them.

To answer an e-mail question from my parents, we are mainly eating hamburger and chips as this is the cheapest meal we can buy costing around 7 pounds. We have also been sampling the Icelandic national dish of hotdogs and milk-shakes!!! Oh and don´t forget the variety of cakes.

All the best,

Doug & Carl

Email 4: 12/07/2000 – sent from Kevflvik Library, Iceland

PICTURE CREDIT DOUG BLANE Cross small Church perched on the edge of a lava plain at Krysuvik IcelandFrom Selfoss we took the bus to Porlakshofn to catch the ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). The ferry took about 2hrs 45 mins.

We camped in the middle of a large volcano crater. In the afternoon we climbed up the edge of the crater. On the way up we came across loads of Puffin´s. This was amazing as we were able to get within 2M of them.I have some excellent pictures of the Puffin´s.

We then went down to the other side of the crater into a small bay which has black “volcanic” sand. There was also a small sea cave.As we climbed back up we passed a local “puffin catcher”. The locals catch them and eat them as part of their normal diet. Puffin´s taste nice, a bit tough, the meat is dark red and stringy.

yum, yum

The following day we climbed up a volcano that erupted 1973 which increased the island by 20 per cent. All the 5000 inhabitants of the island were evacuated without any lives lost. 350 houses were destroyed and the harbor entrance was narrowed down from 850M to 170M. They used the hot rock to heat the water for the houses for many years.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip around some small islands. We were promised the chance to see “free willy” but he was out at sea for his daily walk!

The next day we took the ferry back to the mainland and the bus to Reykjavik. The capital city of Iceland. We didn´t think much of it except for the swimming pools and hot pots.

We are now in Kevflvik and it´s raining. This is the worst weather we have had, I think we have been very lucky.

We plan to spend our last day in Iceland back in the Blue Lagoon

Then home…

Doug & Carl

Email 5: 12/07/2000 – sent from Kevflvik Library, Iceland

PICTURE CREDIT DOUG BLANE Puffin on the banks of a volcano Westerman Islands IcelandFrom Selfoss we took the bus to Porlakshofn to catch the ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). The ferry took about 2hrs 45 mins.

We camped in the middle of a large volcano crater. In the afternoon we climbed up the edge of the crater. On the way up we came across loads of Puffin´s. This was amazing as we were able to get within 2M of them.I have some excellent pictures of the Puffin´s.

We then went down to the other side of the crater into a small bay which has black “volcanic” sand. There was also a small sea cave.As we climbed back up we passed a local “puffin catcher”. The locals catch them and eat them as part of their normal diet. Puffin´s taste nice, a bit tough, the meat is dark red and stringy.

yum, yum

The following day we climbed up a volcano that erupted 1973 which increased the island by 20 per cent. All the 5000 inhabitants of the island were evacuated without any lives lost. 350 houses were destroyed and the harbour entrance was narrowed down from 850M to 170M. They used the hot rock to heat the water for the houses for many years.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip around some small islands. We were promised the chance to see “free willy” but he was out at sea for his daily walk!

The next day we took the ferry back to the mainland and the bus to Reykjavik. The capital city of Iceland. We didn’t think much of it except for the swimming pools and hot pots.

We are now in Kevflvik and it´s raining. This is the worst weather we have had, I think we have been very lucky.

We plan to spend our last day in Iceland back in the Blue Lagoon

Then home…

Doug & Carl

Email 6: 15/7/2000 – sent from Milton Keynes, Great Britain

TheIndependentNewspaper20000905We have now arrived back in Great Britain.
It’s feels strange to be back. There is so much greenery everywhere compared to Iceland and we have experience the darkness of nightfall for the first time in three and a half weeks. Wow, it’s nice to get a good nights sleep.

Our mountain bikes (and other equipment packed in the bike boxes) didn’t arrive with us back in Great Britain as they were lost by the airline.
They were delivered a few days later.

Many thanks to the following people for making this expedition so successful:

Year 6 Springfield School (especially for their wonderful enthusiasm)
Mrs Watson
Mr Collins
Darren Smallman
Arthur Gebuys
Glyn Williams-Jones (from the OU’s geology department for giving Year 6 a Iceland Geology slide show while we were away)
Richard Spears
Jerry Isserlis
Icelandic Mountain Bike Club (info on web site)
Erla Gudrun Gislad (from the Icelandic Tourist Office in Blonduos)
Iceland’s Library network (for affordable internet access)
The German walking group (for feeding us at Laugafell)
All the people we were lucky enough to meet during our travels in Iceland

A big thank you goes out to the expeditions sponsors:

Ron Hill
Mountain Equipment
Rohan
Terra Nova

Some of our pictures should be appearing their catalogues soon.

Many thanks also to Anglia TV, Milton Keynes Citizen Newspaper, The Open Universities “Open House” Newspaper and “Open Eye” in the Independent Newspaper for their coverage.
There should be follow-up features appearing soon.

Quotation for the trip:
“If you smell sulphur you know that something good is going to happen”
[there is usually a hot-pot nearby]

I would recommend travelling to Iceland and it is a wonderful country with so much to see. We will be back sometime in the future.

ENDS

Copyright Doug Blane 1994
www.DougBlane.com
All rights reserved

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