Day 5 – On ice

My plan to get back to Reykjavik was set in motion today as I packed up my tent and jumped on the bike for the short trip up to Geysir. Unfortunately the 1km or so of road consisted of unsealed gravel which likely did my knees no favours. Upon arrival at Geysir I scoped out where the buses were to arrive and waited. When a bus rolled in, I would wait for it to clear out, then ask the driver if I could pay for a ride back to Reykjavik. I had little luck and most drivers were not outright rude but certainly very terse yet vague. “Are you going back to Reykjavik?” “I don’t know” “Can I pay for a ride back?” “I don’t know”. I may be throwing them under the bus so to speak, but I think the world will be a happier place when all the buses are driving themselves and all the bus drivers no longer have to spend their entire working lives driving the same route over and over again.

After an hour of this I spotted someone I had noticed momentarily at the campsite the night before, a woman traveling in a camper-van with a bike rack. She had just ridden into town on her bike and was getting money out at the ATM as I approached her in the safest way possible, facing away so I didn’t look like I was about to rob her. I got her attention and asked her if she was heading towards Reykjavik in the next day or two. She asked why, and I explained my predicament. She asked to look at my knee, and when I complied she made an oddly thorough assessment (I would later learn that she was a physiotherapist). The knee was visibly bloated at this point, and she was concerned that it was blood pooling as a result of a torn ligament or tendon. Without hesitation she declared that she would be back in one hour to take me to Reykjavik and vanished on her monstrous e-bike. Her kindness overwhelmed me, and I fought to hold back tears as a thousand tourists marched past me. I always strive to help others in need, but sometimes I look at those who help me and see them towering above me.

As promised, the camper-van arrives and I was soon heading to Reykjavik. My savior was Doritt, hailing from Germany.

Once back in Reykjavik I put away my stuff and was whisked to the local hospital. Iceland charges an exorbitant for medical services to foreigners (standard rate is $920 aud for a consult) so I first had to call my travel insurance and get their okay to proceed. Calling Australia proved tricky, and the reverse call charge failed, leaving me with about 30 seconds to relay my Icelandic number and hope for a callback. Luckily it came, and my insurance medical team directed me to go to check myself into the hospital. After a lot of waiting the doctor had a look at the knee and determined, thankfully, that I had not torn anything. She was not able to provide a detailed assessment without an MRI, but she believed I may have just had a really bad sprain (with a side order of cartilage damage if I was unlucky). She gave me a prescription of anti-inflammation medication, a knee strap, and instructions not to jump onto the bike for at least a week. 

I left the hospital both relieved and shaken. On one hand there was hope that I had not done any serious or permanent damage, and on the other hand my trip was on thin ice. Would my knee heal in a week? Two? Was there a more insidious injury hiding in my knees that would rear its head and require even more downtime or even surgery?

For now I try to remain positive and make arrangements to book a cheap rental car for the next week. I can’t stand to sit around doing nothing when I have come so far, and with a car I can see a lot of the country not on my cycling itinerary.




  1. Erdi
    June 9, 2017

    Hope your knee will heal quickly Andrew 🙂 Take care oh….and you should pose yourself in the picture too.

  2. Jurek Wilczynski
    July 10, 2017

    Helping others and receiving help from total strangers is one of the most amazing life experiences one can get. Good on you Andrew that you appreciate and see the value at such moments.

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