Njaršvik to Hella

Even with a late arrival I didn't sleep much possibly due to it not getting dark, possibly because I wanted to check the bike out. I gave up trying at 6am and decided the time could be put to more profitable use by re-assembling the bike. Apart from some problems re-aligning the rear derailleur it seemed to have survived the flight okay.

The breakfast at the youth hostel was basic, but good quality and plenty of it, so I made sure my energy reserves where topped up as far as possible before departure.

My pre-tour research had made it very clear that the road quality in Iceland was extremely variable and it wasn't long before I encountered my first puncture, something that was to be a bit of a bane on this tour.

The fact that my first flat came after only ninety minutes on the main road from the airport to Reykjavķk had me worried. I wasn’t even off the Reykjanes Peninsula yet and I was already worrying that the four spare tubes and a dozen or so patches I was carrying might not be enough.

I turned right once off the peninsula and headed away from Reykjavķk on Route 1 proper, which is where the climbing starts; nothing horrendous, just a plodding uphill for the next 40K to Hveragerdi. It was slow progress toiling away on a hot day in bright sunshine.

Word to the wise here, it is a probably a good idea to bring your own sun-cream, as none the shops I stopped at stocked any and my left thigh turned a bright crimson colour in a relatively short space of time.

After descending into Hveragerdi I began to encounter another of the factors my pre-tour investigations had forewarned me of: the wind. It hadn’t been a factor while climbing but, back down to sea level, it suddenly seemed to be blowing a gale in my face.

After thee hours battling the wind I reached Hella and, on noticing ‘Campsite Arhus’, decided enough was enough for the day. I had hoped to reach Hvolsvollur, but getting as far as Hella had been an honest day’s work, the fun having long since evaporated.

My impressions at the end of the first day were of a stressful ride with a lot of traffic and, lunar landscape aside, not a lot to admire scenery wise.

Thankfully the many open air baths, geo-thermal hot water pools and saunas in Iceland provide the perfect antidote to stress. The baths at Hella offer all three and I felt much better for a quick swim and soak in a hot tub.

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Day:1 of 9
Date:09 July 2004
Distance:131 KM
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