Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Idealic in Iceland

Just spent the morning lazing about in 41 degree spa with the warm sun on my face and cool Alantic breaze... just heaven... but i'm getting ahead of myself and i guess you might want to know how i managed to get to such a spa...

Iceland Arrival Thursday 22 June
I'm suffering I´m sea sick... it was fine as long as i stayed horizontal. This is not so easy to do when you get your 5.30am wake up call to prepare to depart ferry and you have to pack your sleeping bag and your on the top bunk and the ferry is rocking and your very hot and you want to throw-up and there are 5 others in the cabin with you....uggggg get me some fresh air in a hurry! All this and i had taken medication....

So i'm on deck... i don't want to move very much but i do manage to get some photos of the fjord of Seydisfjordur where the ferry arrives... When its time to unload the bikes we are first of from our deck which is good... I'm very shell-shocked... not sure what i'm doing where i'm heading, how much money i need, where i get money, and yes i should eat... but if the ground would just stop moving i would be fine.

So with a bit of help and encouragement for the 4 other bike rides, we all get some money, food and coffee and then tackle the big hill climb out of town to Egilsstadir. This hill is about 650metres.. not so high, but its cold, windy and one of the hardest climbs i've done on the trip... its also around 10kms up... i guess the sea sickness didn't help... But what a view... it was just grand... the mountain has ice on it and so do the peaks around.. yep i'm in Iceland... The right side of my face when a bit numb once i was on top of the mountain and the ride down the otherside was bitterly cold. I arrived at Egilsstadir more confused than i was. But the hot chocolate, food and wonderful help from the locals at the info office was just fantastic... Again the 5 of us on bikes all meet up and decided to all camp together.. it was great to have the company.

Riding my 1st week
Time to say goodbye to my fellow cyclists as we are all heading in different paths. I decide to ride north west 1st towards an area called Myvatn via the ring road. My 1st day out its cold and bit of rain, but nice to ride in. I don't get started until around 10 am as i have to got the bank and bakery (yum) 1st.. The ring road is sealed all the way which is tops. But it is not flat. The ground is still moving a bit too much but i have a top day and manage to ride 55km. I camp the night at camping spot that was closed. It was a nice quiet spot and i'm so glad i stopped early for the day and didn't ride on to the next camp spot a further 20kms... It rained and riding 20kms, mostly up hill in the rain on a dirt road is not fun.

So more about the dirt road. As i said the ring road is sealed, but for over 100kms there is no where to camp and i'm told by the locals a bit borring. The old ring road, route 902 or 901 depending on your map has two camping spots. A farm stay and a camp spot at Modrudalar. I made for Modrudalar... and what a wonderful spot. It was a long day of riding on dirt but only 44kms. The landscape was a bit like i would imagine Mars or the Moon to look like, but i loved it. Lonely Planet suggests that there is nothing to see along this section, but they are wrong... the open treeless plain, the hills, the ice still on the ground, the flowing rivers through rock and the colour of the dirt... makes the rough, rock, and uphill pushing my bike for 1 km on loose slippery stones on a hairpin zig-zag road worth the toil... just glad it was sunny and i only had to do this twice....

You can see Modrudalar from about 10kms out... your on top of the last big hill climb and your roll, slide, and slip down a dirt 10% road cut into the edge of the mountain. then you ride a long a flat lonly plain with distant ice cap mountains... all the time on your left if the grand peak of Herdubreid, 1682 metres, baiting you to visit with its snow capped top. The 1st thing you see as you arrive in the village is the small wooden church framed by the the distant red hills, then the turfhouses, sheep and lucky for me the barbed wire lying across the road! Had a great camp here and even manged to wash some cloths and dry them in the sun!

The next day was a simple ride of only 40kms mostly on the sealed ring road to Grimsstadir. This is the only camping spot you can use if you want to see Dettifoss, Europes most powerful waterfall. So the next day I decided to not only ride to Dettifoss on the rough dirt road but to continue onto the National Park at Asbyrgi, some 56kms on dirt. I left early at 7am as i was going to be a long day... I arrived at the falls at around 10am ish at the same time the two German cyclists from the ferry. We walked around the falls together and shared morning tea. They were returning and riding on the Myvatn, whilst i headed north to the coast. Amazing how the landscape can change around here... the ride up to the falls was grey, bit dusty and moon like, but once i headed north, the terrain changed it became more volcanic looking, redder in colour and green... yep there were flowers.. a few at 1st but they dotted the hills in green and pink and looked loverly. I arrived in Asbyrgi around 3pm and was able to catch the bus that takes you into the park on its western side... This was wonderful. The park is hard to discribe, but the 1st think you notice the the Birch trees... note this TREEs... They are not very tall, but they are here and well worth seeing... This area is still a very active volcanic zone. In the everning, or at least that whats my clock told me, as the sun doesn't go away around here, i did a long walk through the park and trees, whilst many are planted it is a loverly place to see...

Sleeping this far north is a tad difficult. I have to sleep with eye cover. Its light enough to read and play golf (yes Horizon boys you can play midnight golf up here, but the ground fees are tad on the high side). I don't mind the late nights, but the sun comes back at around 2,30am and so do the birds who want to sing right next to my tent... Great living with nature!

My next day was just a wonderful ride. something i could do every sunday morning with my cycling mates!... you leave Asbyrgi on a sealed road and ride through rolling farming lands and bay with black sand. Then you have small hill climb that takes you along the edge of the cliffs where the Puffins are nesting. The view back over the bay is on high snow capped mountains. Then your round the point, still on the edge of the cliffs and before long your can see the snow covered mountains that on the otherside of the fjord.. This is just so motivating and you ride the next 20kms into the Town of Husavik with the green farming hills, flowing streams and sheep on your left and on your right the Fjord and distant snow capped mountains. Then your arrival into husavik is a small fishing village, sunshine and lots to see and do.

Last night I went whale watching. What a treat. i didn't need to see a whale, the bay a millpond, the sun was out, giving warmth, the boat was wooden and it motors out into the bay you can just sit and watch the mountains.. But the whales came... just a treat... Didn't get back to the village until 10pm but no drama as there is no night...

So this moring after 6 days of riding i went to the local pool for a swim. All the pools have a spa or hotpots and one can just relax in the warm water..... This arvo i'll have a coffee by the harbour and just watch the view.

Tomorrow i ride to Myvatn!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Far-away-Faroe Islands

I´m in Thorshavan... had a great day cycling on Monday 19th June... The Ferry arrived at 6am... we all got our wake up call from the captain at 4,30am - just wonderful.. to get out of our cabins... The sun was shining, the port was just loverly. Its hard to capture but the houses are very colourful, yellow, red, blue and some have grass on the roof! Lots of wooden boats in the harbour... with mountains in the back ground... so loverly.

Now i, and the other 5 cyclists managed to get to our bikes by 6.30 am with the hope that we would be 1st off the boat. This was to make up for the 4 hour we stood outside in the cold wind at Hanstholm waiting to be loaded on to the ferry... The bikes were last! We got on board at 10,30pm 1 and 1/2 hours after the ferry was due to leave...

Yep we were 1st off. So at 7pm i was riding my bike with all my luggage (very heavy now as i have food for Iceland and extra warm clothing)... Along the Fjords that seperate the Islands that make up Faroe Islands... It was a great ride, cool wind and sunshine.... For those of you with a really good atlis I road along the northside of the Streymoy Island along the Alantic Ocean Fjord... At about 20kms I had to go through a 3km tonnel with my bike... it had lights and so did i.. I was a bit scared due to the traffic, but relaxed when i was over taken by a guy on his electric golf buggy!

Then at 40kms I crossed over what the locals call the Alantic Bridge. Its a small bridge that connects the two islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy. I then had a huge hill climb, about 2kms up and i think a 15% angle... I did it so pleased... Only to discover i could have riden along the Fjord... Great!

From here I road to the little village of Eidi... just wonderful place to camp and only 50kms.... I had a big hill climb to the camp and what a camp. The place is so situated that you can see all the way down the Fjord back from where you have riden.. In the arvo I did a walk to the top of the hill behind my camp... not the highest hill in the world, but the 1st i´ve done on my own and what a top view of the Alantic Ocean....

Then the night came.. it was so cold... but i had a great tent and now with all the extra bits of things i have i was as warm as toast.... In the moring it was a strong wind... perhaps a grade 5 ish and looked like rain.... I managed to pack and get on the bike by 10am... I had a big day riding against the wind and yep it rained... I felt good as i was managing to do around 8kms/hour... I guess i weigh (bike and luggage that is) around 55kg maybe 60kg with water... I´m getting so fit or at least my legs are!

I didn´t stop riding allday, except for a visit to the loneliest bike shop in the world... I need to see if they had brake pads for my bike... yep I should have thought of this in Denmark... but no i waited until I was in the most unlikely place for the parts to try to get them.... And guess what not only did he have them he knows how to fit them... so happy! Should last the next 12 weeks!

I kept riding and finally made it to the camp spot in Torshavn by 5pm... i was very tried, it was cold, windy, wet and i hadn´t eaten lunch... I got my tent up and make my way to camp cook dinner along with the other traverlers... such a wonder lot of folks heading to Iceland...

It rained all night.. And i woke to find that my tent was in a small lake... Thanks MacPack for the snow floor! I was high and dry, unlike some of the other campers... The day here has been very foggy, not so cold infact with the sun out warm... I feel strong and able to tackle Iceland now i have had a taste of wind and rain....

I leave to night at 6pm... so excited.... Now if this weblog looks like its rushed...its is because i have just been asked to be interviewed with my bike for the local paper!!! so got a go folks and get my 15 minutes of fame!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Iceland Calling

Changing my booking to Iceland

I have just got of the phone after being on hold for 20 minutes about changing my booking to Iceland... I´m very keen to get there now and the weather is so nice that its making me think I should go now!...Also it would be better to catch up with Cloudia as she is having so many visitors in July. So I´m planning to catch ferry on the 17 June... This only gives me 4 days to get to ferry - so i have to ride across the country and perhaps catch a ferry. It will aslo mean some long days riding... ie 80kms

I´m in Fredericia on the East Coast, staying with Dorte & Michael - friends of friends. Its a lovery spot and i´m staying in their cubbyhouse in the backyard...

Getting here I caught a ferry from Flensburg on Saturday 10th June. I then road along the main cycle route 5 through Aabenraa, Hedersley, Kolding and Fredericia. I arrived here Monday 12 June. Highlights have been the wonderfully hot weather. Everyone tells me this in not normal. I visited the Kolding Castle which is worth the visit - it has been restored but is modern very nice..., I have also been swimming again in very cold water... but so refrishing...

And shopping again. I have bought a windstopper jacket very flash very expensive and i´m not sure i´ll ever use it in Perth but Iceland yes... I have also bought a gas fitting for my stove so i can use both gas and metho... I´m told metho is hard to get in best to have both...

I now need to work out how to get to ferry in 4 days (this includes the day i leave) - plus buy some food to take... just hope this booking agency has confirmed my change of booking... they are not very contactable!

Keep you posted!

Denmark Dreaming

Hello folks

What a top time i´ve had in Demark...

Train & Ferry to Gedser
I left Berlin in fine weather. I left Berlin from the new Berlin Station - very flash... and it had lifts for the bikes :) The train trip was pleasent and I arrived in Rostock in 3 hours. I had a map to ride to the ferry but didn´t know how to get out of the station.. a young guy said i could catch a train and helped me get my ticket and even helped get bike on train... all this and he was going in a different direction.... so kind.

This local train took me to the ferry terminal, where with the cars, trucks and buses i lined up to catch my ferry... Felt a bit strange standing there with my yellow bike and the motorised equipment, but when the time came to load, i get to board 1st and i get a good spot to put the bike. Other bike riders arrived and we chatted on the ferry ride across. Highlight was seeing the windfarm in the middle of the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark.

Once in Gedser i had a 30km ride to the coastal town called Marielyst where i pitch my tent

Denmark Riding
Over the next 4 days i road towards the west of Denmark across the islands of Falster, Lolland, Langeland, Aero and Als to the mainland of Denmark (the bit attached to Germany)... The weather i had just got better and better. Its now in the mid 20´s and just loverly, almost too hot. Hightlights of my ride are below:

  • Ocean camp at Kragenaes (Lolland) with thunderstorm, black clouds, rolling hills of grain and blue ocean seas and small wooden sailing boats.
  • Finding my flags and hat that had blowing away the day before whilst riding through the thunderstorm, black clouds, rolling hills of grain towards the blue ocean seas and small wooden boats
  • Riding through loverly fields of green and rolling hills with views of the ocean
  • Sitting and waiting for 2 hours for the ferry in Rudkobine as i had miss read the timetable and missed the ferry by 20 minutes... Drinking a very expensive coffee ($6A).
  • Meeting Wouter the Frog Catcher whilst waiting to board ferry.
  • A 5.30pm ferry trip across to Aero Island is not to be forgotten - just loverly weather, sunshine and great conversation with Wouter and Lars who are setting up breading ponds for the Fire-Bellied Toad on the Aero
  • Going out with Wouter along the clifts at Voderup Llint to check ponds for the Fire-Bellied Toad. We heard two and saw lots of other frogs.
  • Cooking dinner for everyone...
  • Visiting the worlds largest solar hot water system...
  • Visiting a berial mound and going inside.... reported to be build around 2800bc
  • Waiting in cafe a Soby for an hour for next ferry to Mommark, just sitting in the sun at a small harbour watching nothing happening - just heaven

Day 5 of my riding was a wonderful riding from Mommark to Sonderborg, then on to Kollund were i cought an afternoon Ferry to Flensburg (Germany). Here i did some shopping for bike stuff and tried to get a windstopper jacket - but not luck. I then had to ride to Sandwik near Glucksbury (Germany). I got lost twice and it was 6pm... When i asked for directions the guy said he lived near and would give me a at 6,30pm I was at Christiana's place and thanked the driver who's name i never got.

My next day was a semi rest day where i road 20kms but without luggage. Having a coffee in town, swimming at the local beach - yep that´s correct i managed to go for a swim in the Baltic Sea - simply wonderful and cold but so refreshing. I just sat on the beach for a few hours and then road back home to watch the 1st game in the world cup!