19th and 20th March
As arranged, on Monday morning I presented to students at The International School on the outskirts of Reykjavik. Firstly I spoke at the morning assembly to the primary students, then made two longer 45 minute talks to years 4/5 followed by years 7,8,9 and 10. The school has students who have lived in places from all around the world, so there were many interesting questions after I’d finished. The aim is to have classes take part in the Breaking the Cycle education programme and follow my activities throughout this year and in Antarctica. After the final presentation, we brought in the new Christini bike, which was a big hit.
With no snow around the south west corner of Iceland, and pending rain, we decided to take in a few sights on the way to the south coast; Geysir and Gullfoss, around 100km east of the city were the main attractions. The geysers at Geysir expel the second highest jets of water vapour in the world (after Steamboat in the USA), up to 70-80m. We weren’t disappointed. There were several vents in the area, but one seemed to be the most active, spouting jets of sulphurous steam roughly every 10 minutes. The water vapour released in the atmosphere formed what seemed a permanent cloud over the region, which unloaded as heavy rain every so often.
About eight kilometres away was Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, powering over a series of natural steps and into a deep volcanic fissure.
We eventually drove to Vik, Iceland’s most southerly town, where we parked the truck for the evening. I had wanted to start cycling from there – even if it was along the main road on surfaces not appropriate for the fat bike, as I just wanted to get some distance in. Unfortunately we awoke to solid rain this morning that was forecast to continue all day. It wasn’t worth pulling out my bike and cold weather set up (leather boots, polar clothing, etc) to get soaked and worn out in such conditions for no real benefit, so we decided to continue driving east.
Travelling along the base of Vatnajokull, Iceland’s largest icecap would have been spectacular if it wasn’t enshrouded in rain clouds. For much of the 270km to Hofn we drove along the base of the Vatnajokull over the grey plains of volcanic silt and debris. Occasionally large boulders come hurtling down the mountains and wipe out anything in their path. The roads are often washed away and quickly rebuilt, but the bridges are protected as priority because they are more difficult and expensive to rebuild. It was a long and challenging day of driving for Mike; strong cross winds and some winding roads towards our final destination for the day, a small fishing town called Djupivogur.
Still no snow, so tomorrow we will first aim for Egilsstadir, 85km away over a mountain pass and not far from Seydisfjordur, where we disembarked from the ferry. When we arrived there just over a week ago, the land was white with snow and below freezing. We’re hoping, that once we re-enter this north easterly region, we will again find accessible snow and I can get some sort of training rides under my belt.