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I’m cycling to Iceland: it’s a killer to ride but an easy country to love

I’m cycling to Iceland: it’s a killer to ride but an easy country to love

On the road near Borgarfjörður Eystri in eastern Iceland. Photograph: Gestur Gislason/Getty Images The final part of our writer’s marathon sees him riding Europe’s wild…

Saturday, Oct 08

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On the road near Borgarfjörður Eystri in eastern Iceland. Photograph: Gestur Gislason/Getty Images The final part of our writer’s marathon sees him riding Europe’s wild outlier, where even squalls and snow fail to dampen his spirit

After a night at sea on the ferry from the Faroe Islands, a jagged, stormy Iceland appears. With much of Europe in a heatwave, it’s a shock to see snow on the skyline. The ferry noses up a long fjord, docking at the small east-coast town of Seyðisfjörður. The weatherboarded town is lovely and busy with tourists. I collect my mountain bike and set off, cutting along the north shore of the fjord and soon leaving the tarmac behind. Iceland has seen a boom in tourism in the past decade, fuelled by Game of Thrones and Instagram. One effect is that hotspots are now red hot. A waterfall or viewpoint deemed special is inundated. But the rest are ignored.

By an abandoned farmhouse I leave the bike and walk uphill to an idyllic waterfall. The ground is thick with orchids, crowberries and tiny birch trees that have taken years to achieve ankle height. The water flutes over deep, spongy beds of lurid green moss. Bees and butterflies swarm on patches of wild angelica. I lie down. Kevin Rushby cycles past Loðmundarfjörður. I had been warned about the Víknaslóðir path north: how it might be hard for cyclists. That day I discover an important truth: if Icelanders say something is hard, it is. Just as the […]

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