On June 7th, 2019, I and my longtime friend Duffy, set out to Cycle Iceland’s Ring Road. Here is the third and final post of the day-to-day breakdown of our Iceland bicycle touring experience.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 9 (88 Miles)
We stayed the night in some small cottages about 15 miles Southwest of Egilsstaðir. We had committed to our detour down Route 95. As we rode, the fog slowly thickened, and the road went from paved luxury to bone-jarring gravel.
By the time we made our turn to start the climb on Route 939, the visibility was less than 100 feet. We could hear waterfalls and rapids all around, but only occasionally caught a glimpse. In better conditions, this is likely an incredible ride.
The “monster” downhill on Route 939
As we reached the summit, there was snow still on the ground despite it being June. Then, as we started riding down what was a monster downhill, the fog parted and the valley was glorious. The wind was screaming, but that didn’t stop us from stopping multiple times for selfie and landscape shots. Scenically, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the Iceland bicycle tour.
We continued further and finally reached the Southern Coast of Iceland and made our turn West rejoining the Ring Road.
The rest of the day, we rode along the hugging the coast. After 14 hours, we finally stopped at a guesthouse for the night. I drank a beer and fell asleep. Duffy stayed up cooking lentils and drinking a few more with some Tasmanian farmers.
In total, we covered 88 miles for the day and 4,823ft of elevation gain.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 10 (59 Miles)
I woke up early as usual and started packing my bicycle. I notice Duffy was moving slow. I assumed he had drunk more than he should of so lacking any sympathy I pushed him along.
On this section of the Ring Road, traffic was noticeably more substantial. Not to the point of being a burden, but it was apparent we were heading towards a popular tourist area.
We continued along the coast, and at one point, we caught our first glimpse of a glacier. It was part of Iceland’s massive Vatnajokull ice cap just past the town of Höfn.
The day warmed up nicely as pushed forward. We finally stopped at a guesthouse after 59 miles and 1,650ft of elevation gain.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 11 (71 Miles)
I had to stop. I thought it said “Bud Shop” on the door
In the morning, the fire alarm in the guesthouse went off for no reason. I tinkered with it for about 10 minutes before anyone else even woke up. All I could do was wonder how anyone could sleep through this? They did.
After the fire alarm incident passed, it was time to pack the bicycle. Again, Duffy was moving slow. This time I knew something was up. He had stomach problems per his description and sent me ahead with a plan to meet later in the day.
It was very early, maybe 5:30 am when I arrived at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. I had the whole place to myself. I took videos and watched the icebergs work their way towards the ocean, stunned. It was magnificent.
Later that afternoon, I cycled across an incredible 20 miles of crushed lava. I was on a glacial plain. It was the most alien of all the landscapes I had seen in Iceland. It was super beautiful and desolote, and I was having the time of my life.
Duffy was not doing so well. He was sick and getting sicker. Also, as it turns out, cycling across a barren treeless landscape with stomach problems, is not a pleasant experience.
Duffy arrived a couple of hours after me at a guesthouse a few miles off the road. He didn’t say much, and almost immediately passed out. He seemed determined to continue the next day, but he wasn’t looking good. I had my doubts.
We had covered 71 miles with 1,293ft of elevation that day.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 12 (76 Miles)
I had to tell about 50 people to move to get this shot
I was up early and packed as usual. Duffy was barely moving. He told me to go, and again, he planned to catch up.
The miles were fast that day. By 11:00 am, I had covered 60 miles and reached the town of Vik.
I was feeling great and eager to get some more miles in, but I stopped and ate a cheeseburger at the N1. The menu called it the Magistrate. It was a huge double patty burger with a fried egg on top of the bun. I finished it in under a minute.
I spoke with Duffy, and he was starting a 30-mile section that crosses an empty uninhabitable lava field. He was not doing well, and I thought the lava field could be the last straw. If that weren’t enough, the ominous thunderstorm that was rolling in from the mountains surely would. I gave him words of encouragement and continued pedaling East.
I finally stopped for the night in a little tourist town at the Skogafoss Waterfall. I managed 76 miles that day. Unfortunately, I have no idea on the elevation. That was Duffy’s department.
When I spoke with him that evening, he had made it to the town of Vik about 16 miles behind me. He already had plans for a doctors appointment and a bus for the following day.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 13 (60 Miles)
Getting clobbered by the wind on Day 13
I was officially at it alone. It was just the Ring Road and me. I had 96 miles to go to Reykjavik, and nothing was going to stop me.
The morning was windy. Having this much wind this early was unusual. And of course, it was a headwind. I felt like crying. I couldn’t believe after everything else, I had to deal with this on one of my final days.
I cycled into the wind for 11 hours that day. I only covered 60 miles. My shoulders were on fire from continually trying to keep the bicycle on the road and moving forward. I was so close, but Iceland’s Ring Road wasn’t about to let me coast in.
Cycling the Ring Road – Day 14 (36 Miles)
I was up by 4:00 am. I ran to the window to check the wind. It was still blowing, but significantly lighter. I packed hurriedly and was off.
The ride was pleasant. I took my time, stopped, and casually went about completing my miles. Then I saw it, a hill, a towering wall between Reykjavik and me. For the second time in two days, I felt like crying.
As I cycled past false summit after false summit, I slowly accepted my fate. Climbing at the moment was my reality. There was nothing I could do but grind ahead.
I finally reached the top after two hours and could see Reykjavik in the distance. I was overcome with emotion knowing I would soon finish.
I don’t remember much about my last hours of cycling the Ring Road. Other than being overjoyed. There’s just something so gratifying about setting a goal and seeing it through.
An attempt to cycle Iceland’s Ring Road is a serious venture. It’s tough, and it seems there’s something waiting to stop you around every turn. With that said, it’s incredibly beautiful and well worth the effort.
For my final thought, I’d like to quote a comment from a video I posted on Reddit about my trip.
“It looks like a once in a lifetime trip, as in, once in a lifetime is plenty.”