My day on the peninsula
On my continuous search for adventures in Iceland and being constantly trying to make my “necessary” training hours an adventure I discovered this one. Snæfellsnes peninsula has since I was really really young been one of my favorite places in Iceland. On this July weekend I decided to reconnect with this magical place bringing the road bike and skis (I’ll get to that part later), but what a mix. I arrived late with a friend on Thursday to camp by the roots of Snæfellsjökull Glacier, calm and quiet, the way I like it - for now at least.
The mission for the following day was a 120 km circle around the Peninsula. From Ólafsvík to Ólafsvík via Fróðárheiði and Vatnaleið. Managing weather in Iceland is always tricky or close to impossible. After consulting with weather reports and forecasts for hours (weird hobby of mine) I had taken an educated guess that it would be best to go from Ólafsvík, heading South, then East, turning North and finally heading West. One would have thought that, since the route was circular, you’d at least enjoy tailwind for 50% of the way. Well, one thought wrong… For these 120 km we fought head wind for the majority of the route, however, I’ll not complain and here’s why!
We started the road on a short and amazingly smooth gravel road leading over Fróðárheiði. From there we had a sneak peak at Snæfellsjökull glacier which I love. The first climb was just over 300 meters in a few kilometers. On the descent we felt the head wind and it was quite strong. We continued to fight crosswinds and headwind for most of the way along the south side of the peninsula. I’ll be honest, this part was a bit tough, took us 2 hours to travel 50 km. We were quite beaten up when we reached a really nice café hidden in plain sight, disguised as a lousy road joint. It had the most amazing beagles, nice cakes and hot chocolate. Being refreshed and ready to go again we headed out into the wind. Let’s face it, our expectations were not high but only if we’d known what an amazing journey waited.
So the second part of the route began. We started climbing upwards approximately 200 meters, not as steep as the first one. Once at the top we rode an amazing road between lakes and beautiful surrounding before dropping down into the most amazing lava field, Berserkjahraun, on the other side. From there we kept on going towards the charming Grundarfjörður town. The highway is nested between the beautiful fjord and majestic mountains. Despite the wind the weather was awesome, warm and clear. We had visibility all the way over to Barðaströnd in the West Fjords. Oh and how great if was! We finished our ride back in Ólafsvík, drove to Grundarfjörður to relax in the hot tub and enjoy a pizza on the terrace of a small restaurant. Another great adventure day.
Highlights of the day (things you’ll remember years from now)
Meeting friends in the most unlikely places. It often happens in Iceland that you meet friends where you’d least expect it. Once I met a good friend on the top of the highest glacier in Iceland after 7 hours of hiking. When finishing the first climb a friend drove by, offering a ride :)
The time (and speedometer) seeming to have stopped passing when fighting head wind on the bike
Amazing view from Vatnaheiði
Fighting the famous bird Arctic Tern on the road. Lucky to have a helmet as it was in attach mode.
Sneaking past the majestic Kirkjufell mountain.
The view of Snæfellsjökull Glacier from the road.