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BIKING IN REYKJAVÍK IS UNDERRATED

Best Bike Ride: Öskjuhlíð—Fossvogsdalur valley
23.7.2012
Words by Bergrún Anna Hallsteinsdóttir
Reykjavík may not be the most bike- friendly city, but it certainly has some beautiful routes where cars are not welcome. For a particularly nice scenic ride that’s fewer than 10 kilometres round trip, head to Öskjuhlíð and pick up a coastal path that takes you into Fossvogsdalur.

To find this mystical path, ride out of town through the south side of Þingholt. You could for instance take Laufásvegur, which gives you the opportunity to admire the charming houses, until you reach Gamla Hringbraut, where you turn left. Ride up the hill past Landspítali hospital until you reach the lights and then turn right on Bústaðavegur in the direction of the Pearl. Ride past the Valsheimili football stadium and turn off at the lights. Follow Flugvallarvegur until you reach the intersection and then turn left along the cycle path and you are on your way!

Ideally the wind is a light breath at your back and you are surrounded on both sides by an abundance of lupines. To your right is the ocean, velvety and radiant. To your left, is the somewhat unusual presence of an Icelandic forest creeping down the hill, dark green and resplendent (okay, forest is a stretch, but there are trees and this is unusual). You pass the odd runner, people walking their dogs, other cyclists, but it is otherwise quiet and for a moment you own the path, the valley, the city, the ocean, the world.

Just follow this cycle path around the hill side and then up to the valley. You will know where you are going. Just relax and feel the fresh air on your skin and enjoy the wholly underrated activity of biking in Iceland.

Eventually you cross over the bridge into Fossvogsdalur. The neighbouring city of Kópavogur is on one side of you, while the Fossvogur neighbourhood is on the other, hushed with the low hum of domestic life. You follow a stream until you reach the perfect spot: a mellow grove of trees, the long grass in an open stretch of field, or a shady spot on the bank of the stream. When you find it, you throw down your bike, throw yourself down and let the open sky swallow you whole.

Of course things aren’t always this ideal. If it’s winter, well, this romantic little jaunt is far less likely to be so blissful. If easterly winds are blowing you have to battle with headwinds most of way, probably getting dust in your eyes and expending twice as much effort to go half the distance.

But... the big BUT, it’s worth taking this ride because you may hit the jackpot and roll straight along in a westerly breeze, meet no one along the way and get to have this glorious feeling of momentarily owning the world. Who isn’t willing to take that chance? Even if things aren’t 100% perfect, they are still pretty damn nice and it will be worth it. We promise.

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