We spent a couple of days in Akureyri, a city in the north of Iceland, which gave me an ideal opportunity to explore some of the nearby hills.

Known as “The Capital of the North”, Akureyri is the second largest city in Iceland, situated at the end of a huge 100 km long fjörd named Eyafjörðir (pronounced “AY-a-fyer-dther”) on the country’s northern coast.

I parked the car at a lookout overlooking this gorgeous city, and set off in search of a dirt track over the mountains.

A fjörd is a long valley formed by glaciers, framed by long ranges of mountains on either side. So if you want to get out of a fjörd, you either have to follow the coast, or climb the hills. I decided to climb the hills.

The first part of the road was paved. I climbed it quickly, and grinned stupidly when I realized that “Malbik Endar” was Icelandic for something like “Paved Road Ends”.

As I climbed, the city of Akureyri spread out below me. Behind it, cloud rolled down from the snow-capped hills on the other side of the fjörd.

As with my previous rides, today was wet, cold and windy. If the rain cleared up (or froze up) like last time, I’d be able to ride further. But it it remained wet and windy, I’d be restricted in how far I could sensibly go. Even though I had good wet weather gear, I didn’t want the rain to soak through my gear and cool me down. That might not work out well on this isolated road.

The wind picked up, so I pulled a merino balaclava over my head to warm me up. In weather like this, warm riders are happy riders.

At the top of the hill, fog started closing in. A small stream ran beside the track filled with melt water from thawing snow. I jumped the stream and had a bit of a look around.

The rain grew heavier, the fog got thicker. I decided this would be a wise point to turn around. I was at the top of the hill. The way home was all downhill from here. If I had gone further, I risked getting soaked from the rain, and would have to climb back up the hill to get home.

As I rolled back down the hill past numerous snow drifts, I wasn’t disappointed. I’d be riding again in a couple of days, so I didn’t mind if today was shorter than expected.

As I descended out of the clouds, Akureyri and Ejafjörðir appeared through the mist.

Descents are notoriously quick, and I wanted to enjoy these views so I stopped several times on the way down to take it all in.

Total distance: 25.72 km
Max elevation: 565 m
Min elevation: 71 m
Total climbing: 719 m
Total descent: -718 m
Average speed: 15.22 km/h
Total Time: 02:54:05
More data

I rode about 25km in 3 hours, and burned about 1,500 kcal. This was a leisurely ride – I stopped often to enjoy the view and take photos. But it was cold and the climb was challenging in the strong wind.

I’ll rate it 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

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