Iceland has a fairly steep learning curve with a rather Dickensian way of educating those who have underestimated it. The towns are fenced, allowing the sheep a free run of the country and roads. The roads alternate between paved and unpaved in a random fashion. The cloud cover is low, allowing you to experience high winds and whiteout conditions without warning and at the same time.
In less than three hours I was completely humbled.
My first lesson came as I decided to take a small coastal road that paralleled the main ring road. This was listed as a secondary, unpaved road. Still being in the non-Icelandic mindset, I thought a decent gravel road along the water would be a nice way to get started. What I failed to realise was that even the main highway 1 ring road in Iceland isn’t completely paved, so a secondary unpaved road might not qualify as decent.
All was well, with striking views and light gravel riding.
Then I hit a washout and was educated.
When you have to divert from the road for a washout, check it out on foot, no matter how small the creek or simple the climb on the other side seems. In this case, the creek was a breeze, but the steep bank on the other side was a problem. All the 4X4s crossing the creek and up the bank had left it in shambles- a condition a quick look would have shown me. Instead, I found out this way.
I ended up having to ease the bike back down across the creek until I had enough room to get some speed, cross the creek, and then climb the opposing bank with the momentum behind me.
There was no damage to the me or the bike, so I got up and took my bowl back up…