Published: July 20th 2009July 13th 2009
bikes on the train
Train system is very bike friendly in denmark
We have just returned from a cycling trip to Iceland via Denmark and the Faroe Islands. We left Winnipeg on June 20th and flew to Copenhagan via Reykavik. Bikes came off the the plane in Copenhagan with some issues-mine was out of the box but luckily all the pieces were there. As it turned out Jan's bike suffered some damage as the rear brake and derailer were out of adjustment. Never underestimate the amount of damage that baggage handlers can do - on the outbound we put bikes in boxes but probably didnt pay enough attention to taping the boxes shut and padding the contents. On the inbound we put them in plastic airline bags and had no problems.
Another issue is whether to deflate the tires, bike shop staff will tell you that tubes will explode if you dont deflate the tires so we let the air out before closing the bike boxes. However a friend who has done a lot of touring says it is unnecessary as the bikes all go in pressurized holds,,,,,,,,,
In any case we assembled our bikes in the Copenhagan airport and after some flailing around got on the bike trail and rode
Spectacular scenary-comparable to inside passage on Canada's west coast-we sat on the back deck and had wine
downtown (According to the info centre lady there is no bike trail from the airport) We found a cyclist who pointed us in the right direction and the trail started right in front of the airport door. It was about 12 km to downtown and we got lots of help from other cyclists to find our way. We went to the train station area near Tivoli Gardens and spent a fruitless hour trying to find our pre-booked hotel-no luck, will cease doing pre-bookings in future as hotels in current economy are not that busy.We ended up in the Saga Hotel right behind the train station. There were four of us including Harold Westdal who was also cycling and Chris Westdal who would be accompanying us by car.
Another item of note is that we arrived in Denmark with very little jet lag due to the brief stopover in Iceland on the way. Toronto to Iceland 5.5 hours,then 2 hour layover then Reykavik to Denmark 2 more hours..all on Icelandair
The next day was train day so we loaded our bikes on to the train (you need bike tickets as well as your own personal ticket)
On the the
ready for riding
After the first day we left the pack covers on
intercity trains there are passenger/bike cars and the space must be reserved and pre-assigned. We got on at 8.00 - #125 to Thisted with two changes (Mvejle and Streur) All the trains were on time or even early.
We got to Thisted at 2.30 and decided to ride the last 24 KMs through the Danish countryside to Hanstolm. There was a bike path part way and then we were on a small but fairly busy highway, Jan was having a tough time as her rear brake was rubbing and she couldnt get into all the gears.
We arrived at Hanstholm at 6.00 or so and found our way to the Seaman's Hotel which is directly across from the ferry terminal- $740 Kroners which is about $140 cdn- a unique place to stay.We got our final directions from a lady who was completely filling her station wagon with beer for the next day which was Summer Solstice Day- Unfortunately we cant stay...
THe next day we loaded our bikes on to the MF Norrona which is a big 8 deck Smyril Line ferry. Bikes and motorcycles go in the same location and there were a lot more motorcycles
After beers and before dinner
than bikes.We wont be allowed down to this deck during the trip so repairs to Jan's bike will have to wait.After checking our accomadation we upgraded to two rooms instead of one - the rooms were pretty small for four people.
A great two days on the ferry including a brief stop in the Faroes. The sea was very calm and the trip was quite relaxing with superb scenary in the Faroes where we had a brief stop. The ferry is a great experience but wasnt the cheapest thing we have ever done. Lots of European RVers heading to Iceland. There were two other cyclists incuding one on a recumbent with a BOB trailer like HWs.
We arrived in the rain at Seydisfjordur on the 25th at 9.00 and offloaded and were through customs quickly. The first stretch of biking involved an 800 metre climb in the rain with a cold wind. It took us about 3 hours to get over the top to Egilstator (about 24 kms) The trip down the other side of the mountain was fast and cold and we had snow beside the road at the top. I think it was about 3-4 C
a lunch stop
Our pannier organization system needed work
at the top.
Once in Egilstator we spent time in the local Shell Gas station having soup and getting warm. We then found, with the aid of HW's cousin, a bike shop and a guest house. It only cost $11.00 to fix the bike. Whew!!!!
The next morning we were off early in good weather down the Ring Road towards Myvatin, Harold had continued on the day before as he was going offroad to Bru to see the ancestral farm with the other Westdals from Canada. In Iceland everyone knows where Winnipeg and Gimli are located.
We made good time despite a flat tire which we changed in the ditch-my first flat and it was easy to change. We then kept on going and stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant - beer and soup for 2 for $42-sign of things to come pricewise. We then hit gravel and another huge F hill which took a while.
We finally stopped and camped in a sheep pasture by the road about 6.00 pm -a 60 km day. Our first test of the new light weight single wall tent - it wasnt great, lots of condensation- not
First bus trip
There were 5 cyclists trying to get on plus a bunch of freight- so the company ordered up another vehicle with a cargo trailer
an idea whose time has come-it will go back to MEC after the trip.Another new issue was the 24 hours of daylight which took some getting used to including the use of a mask.
THe next day we were up early (5.00 AM) and on the road by 7.00 = the first hour was great as we did 20 kms due to a slight downhill and no wind. We had a great encounter at the end of the first 20 km leg with a German couple who topped up our water and made Jan coffee. Next part wasnt too bad and we stopped for lunch at a cross roads near where HW would come from Bru along with three other Westdals. The recumbent cyclist with the Bob was already here.
We continued on and decided to try for Myvatin -a long day of about 103 kms and we arrived at about 3.00 at campground on Lake Myvatin - home of noisy snipe and lots of midges. After obligatory beers, we established Camp Westdal in company with lots of other campers. This campground has the best showers and the washrooms were co-ed. This is a major thermal area and
Our first gravel road
The gravel was well packed and there wasnt much traffic
the water is naturally hot and smells of suphur, It cost $10 per person to stay there ( as opposed to the sheep pasture which was free) HW rolled in at 6.30 after a 120 km day including 50 km of gravel. We had a great meal (Arctic Char) at the local hotel and spent next years travel budget on the meal.
The next day things were a bit slow and we didnt get going until 10.20 I am starting to see some new birds and have an Iceland bird map - so far have added 10 to my list. The first part of our day was a traverse around the lake with one or two stops . We had two medium climbs and some good downhills,arriving in Fosshill near a big set of falls. The accomadation choice was guesthouse for $220 or a campsite for $10-we camped and had garage food including Skinif sandwiches (ham) We have solved the condensation problem in the tent by sleeping with heads to the door and only one sleeping bag over us (and door open)
This is a famous falls which apparently has a legend about pagan idols being cast into
Quite intelligent looking beasts
the water when Iceland became Christian. It is also notable for no guardrails which shows once again how Europe benefits from restricting the influence of lawyers-people actually have to take responsibilty for their own safety-good concept. There seems to be lots of room available in Greenland for North America to send excess lawyers.
The next day was a interesting run with a huge climb and a great fast downhill to Akureyri-including the Denmark part we have now put on 330 kms. Lots of traffic now. We opted for a hotel in this ciity -$89 for double with bathroom down the hall. This was our first visit to a public pool which cost $17 for two including towel rental- great experience. Did WIFI with Iphone here.
We then decided to hop a bus the next day to get to a scenic place on the coast where there might be a natural hot pool. We had a great sleep after a pasta dinner.
THe next morning we were up early and down to the tourist centre by 7.00 - got great info and decided to bus it to Blondous- Bus was to leave at 8.00 so we hit a
Cultural display of drying fish
We resisted the temptation to try some
buffet breakfast at a nearby hotel - usual selection for about $12.00 and we made sandwiches to go.
The bikes and HW's trailer went under the bus in the compartment. Quite a challenge as there was a lot of freight. We subsequently learned that bus company has to take the bikes and will put on extra equipment if necessary.We gave the driver a Winnipeg pin and made his day.
After the bus left, we did some map analysis and decided to continue on to Hvammstangi which was a small town on the Vatnsnes peninsula.Our plan was to ride on the gravel road out a location where there was supposed to be a natural hot pool. The bus ride took us 186 kms closer to Reykavik and avoided a stretch where there was no place to camp.
We got there about 11.00 and had lunch at a Shell station and bought some groceries for dinner. Once again everyone knows about Winnipeg, Gimli etc, We rode about 10 Km on a gravel road with no traffic and lots of birds (Godwits and Whimbrels) We also got up close to a herd of Icelandic ponies and found a sheep sorting
Sheep seem to roam free and this is for sorting them in the fall
corral near an excellent campsite on the ocean. J and H tried to find the hotpool which was a hot spring welling up in the ocean-too hot for bathing. Lots of seabirds- next bike trip will bring binoculars to go with Iphone birdbook
We had a great sleep and were up early and back to Hvammstangi for breakfast at the Shell,then off down the highway through rolling terrain to another Bru (which is bridge in Icelandic) I made the mistake of saying how lucky we had been about having no wind against us in Iceland and WE GOT WIND. For the last long downhill we had to pedal to make headway. We arrived at another major truck/car stop gas station and had lunch and waited hopefully for the wind to abate-no luck so we started off down the road heading south towards Reykavik. Very tough so after 3-4 kms we did a u-turn and decided to go back to another road with the wind. We made it to a very small village on the ocean called Bordeyri which had one of the best guesthouses of the trip - $25 each for showers,laundry,TV lounge, kitchen with food and dorm beds.
a calm day on the fjord
Cycling allows you to really enjoy the scenary
ACE place and highly recommended.
The next day we did a 37km up and over on a gravel road to Budardular where we caught another bus to Borgarnes - our AK since starting in Denmark is 446 kms. The bus fare was $37 each including the bikes and we were delivered right to the front steps of the local Hostel. The bus driver and the Hostel owner were buddies AND the bus driver also owned a nearby restaurant so we went there at night and had Mash Fish..... Another good place to stay and the owner is very helpful.We went to the community pool and had a steam. Excellent.
Bogarnes is fairly close to Reykavik BUT cyclists cant use the Ring Road tunnel so we had a 90 km detour which turned out to be a great sidetrip-no traffic, friendly people and superb scenary. The detour goes around what is called whale cove and one of the world's last remaining whaling stations is located at the end of fjord-Whale meat is on the menu at several restaurants as is the meat of Puffins and Razorbills.
In any case we rolled out of Bogarnes at 8.00-slight climb after
bridge then great 24 km run on #1, then on to #47 which goes around the fjord- We stopped at Hrafnabjorg for lunch (as usual a gas station) While there a movie crew came in and started setting up to shoot a movie=They pleaded with us to stay but we had to keep going.......
We rolled on to Pyrill (an abandoned USA naval station and the the site of the whaling station) No whales today.
After we crossed the end of the fjord, the road started to climb a bit and we stopped at a roadside park for a break where a friendly local coughed up three cold beers which is no small gift in Iceland as beer is about $8.00 per can. We paid for the beer after as the wind got up and we had a small rainshower. We struggled into Skopjes at about 4.00 pm after a 77 km day. It is a lake country place with lots of cottages-we stayed in an on farm guesthouse - 8000 isk for the three of us.A highlight of the restaurant was that we could get gin and tonics ( all important in the fight against malaria)
At the summit
on our way over to Bouardalar
The next day (Saturday July 4th) will be the last day of cycling and we will have about 51 kms to get to Reykavik.
We got the road at 8.00 and road in the rain until we got back to the main Ring Road (#1 ) As we got closer the traffic picked and the road got bigger until we ended up on a 6 lane freeway.We had trouble finding the bike path but finally did so and got downtown quite easily. However many people think riding in to or out of Reykavik is about as much fun as a tooth extraction....
Our AK at trip end was 574 Kms-Great trip.
We did some major siteseeing the next day including the Golden Tour-other than the geysir place,this was probably the low point of our trip. Organized bus touring is akin to recreational dental work.
On our last day we went to the airport by bus and checked in.ONE of us paid $165 to ship his bike and the other two were not charged anything???????? We then went to the Blue Lagoon which is a natural hot pool near the airport. Excellent
We will pass over
On the way to Reykavik
the flight home which had very few enjoyable moments.
One last type for cycle tourists - do not book separate flight segments - otherwise you have to reload the bikes if the connections are not close together-you also may get to pay for each reload - Also be sure to join your panniers together and bag them so you can stay within the 2 item maximum. Approching the checkin counter with a high degree of servility and with your "I support Airline Workers " badge on is helpful as there seems to be some leeway as to how they charge for bikes and luggage- Taking the prepay option for sports equipment MIGHT be worthwhile but once in a while you can get the free bonus option like some of us did. We also think renting bikes at the destination might be a better plan.
A special thanks to HWs cousin and partner who helped us enjoy Reykavik and fed us an amazing salmon dinner- we hope to repay them in kind if they ever come to Canada.
There are more photos below