Selfoss to Thorlakshofn: rethinking the tour - Endless Days in Iceland - CycleBlaze

June 29, 2013

Selfoss to Thorlakshofn: rethinking the tour

I woke up this morning to the usual grey overcast, but at least it wasn't raining. I had some decisions to make about my route. It was clear that my previous intention to go off into the interior for a few days was no longer an option. I simply didn't have the time before my return flight to Paris, nor did I have the energy. My bike with its wide tires, heavy frame and trailer was too slow, the wind was worse than I had reckoned, and my aging body was not prepared to do more than I had already asked. I was also quite spooked by the collapse of my tent a few nights previously, and I think that was the final straw. Quite without realizing it before, I have become more risk-averse since loosing a kidney to cancer. I suppose there is some truth to the pop-psychology idea of pasing from denial to anger to acceptance, and my battle with my psyche over my physical condition seems to be going through all those stages. So I asked myself: " If you had a few days in Iceland, and a bike, what would you do?". The answer was surprisingly easy. I'd head for the coast, preferably to a fishing village, ride slow and easy and look for seafood, birds and beer, not necessarily in that order. I'd try to meet people, take a few pictures, do some sketching of the countryside, and just generally mellow out. And have fun doing it.

I rode south from Selfoss direction Eyarbakki. This is by far the flattest part of Iceland on the combined deltas of seveal glacial rivers. There is little to see until you get to the coast at Eyarbakki, which prides itself on being a relatively old town by Icelandic standards.

One of the older houses in Eyarbakki. Prior to the early 1900's, most houses were built from turf. Iceland is surprisingly new for a country that was settled over a thousand years ago.
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I don't know the significance of this sculpture, there was no sign in English, or Icelandic for that matter.
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The road follows the coast westward from Eyarbakki through a jumble of dunes until you get to a lava flow just before the fishing village of Thorlakshofn. I got there just before lunch time, and with my new mindset, decided to stop for the day. There was a nice campground near the municipal swimming pool, a few small shops and a restaurant in town and best of all the sun had come out and the wind died down. The campground was quite busy as a lot of Reykjavikers had come down for the weekend. They herded their caravans into circle, and got out the deck chairs and barbecues and seemed to be having a great time with the children running around screaming, laughing, and falling down.

The Thorlakshof corral from my tent.
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I rode into town, minus the trailer which I left in the tent for pizza and a beer at the restaurant. Then over to the library, but the librarian was just locking up when I got there. I asked her where I might find a cash machine so I could get some kroner. She told me how to get to a small store where there was a machine, and also about the village festival being held on the wharf. After I got the cash, I wandered down to the wharf to see this festival, which consisted of some folks playing cards and kids getting their faces painted. They were supposedly cooking lobster bits which they were going to give away to the "crowd", but they had run out by the time I got there. So I wandered along the docks looking at the fishing boats before going back to the campsite.

A fishing boat moored in Thorlakshofn.
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While on my way back to the campsite, I walked through an open field. I was "attacked" by ferocious arctic terns guarding their nests. I swatted at them ineffectually, and ran for the safety of the campground. Unhurt, and somewhat amused, I lay down in the tent and promptly fell asleep. After my nap, I went back to the restauant and procurred a couple of beers which I drank with dinner cooked in front of the tent using my new windscreen. Only one match to light the stove! Dinner over, and dishes washed, I went to bed; The campground was quiet the children also being put to bed.

Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 286 km (178 miles)

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