My friend and photographer Philip was in the Faroe Islands in 2015 because he wanted to observe the eclipse there - the Faroe Islands were one of the few places in the world that were in the total eclipse zone at that time. When he came back, he was thrilled and just said to me: "You really have to go there to cycle! He said the islands were incredibly beautiful, with picturesque villages and steep, green cliffs rising from the dark North Atlantic. I immediately started researching and was thrilled with what I found. Quickly the plan was made to cross the islands from east to west by gravel bike.
Finally, in May 2018, the time had come: Together with Max Schumann, I set off on a journey to the archipelago in the North Atlantic, where an 182-kilometer (113 mile) long stretch of land with an altitude of 4180 meters (13714 feet) awaited us. In my luggage: a tent, a sleeping bag and a mattress. The adventure could begin!
I had already discovered a special feature of the archipelago in advance: Many of the islands are connected by long tunnels and I wasn't sure if they are even passable by bike. So I contacted a local rider via Instagram and just asked. He just said: "It is not allowed, but it is not forbidden either. Just don't forget your light and a jacket - it is cold and dark under the sea!'
We already knew that the weather in the North Atlantic is quite unpredictable, so we had planned the daily stages a bit more generously. What we experienced on site was still beyond our imagination. Especially on the first day it was so windy that it simply blew me off the road and into the ditch.
After three days we arrived in Gásadalur on the west coast of the islands, very exhausted, our ears ringing from the wind, but very happy. And we realized: Philipp was right! The islands are incredibly beautiful, rough and pristine and I can recommend it to everyone to come here once in their life. Anyone who has ever been to the Faroe Islands will understand why there is a certain, charming but undeniable, roughness to the people and culture: The weather up here is simply in a class of its own.
The first day in the Faroe Islands is mainly there so that we can get used to the islands and something. Nothing here is like anywhere else.When we look out the window in the morning, rain and very strong wind await us. We still make our way to the eastern tip of the three main islands. The tour is not super long, but the strongest wind I have ever seen blows in our faces. Several tunnels have to be crossed on the route, some of which are very poorly or not at all illuminated. The first tunnel in particular is single-lane and we always have to stop in bays to let oncoming cars pass. That was definitely one of the most exciting tunnel crossings I've made so far.Our destination and the turning point of today's tour is the church of Vidareidi, which has become very famous through Instagram. So far in the east of the islands hardly anyone is on the road anymore. Unless a child has to be brought to school, the streets are mostly to yourself. This is also good, because the wind keeps throwing us from left to right and we can only stay on the bike with great difficulty.Due to the weather, we decided at short notice to spend another night in a guesthouse in Klaksvik before we just went out with the tent.
The second tour starts after breakfast in the bakery with a very, very long tunnel passage. For a long time we weren't sure whether the almost six kilometer long tunnel that connects the islands of Bordoy and Eysturoy was even allowed to be driven by bike. After a long research, we learned from a restaurant that apparently there is no ban, just not that many people have come up with the stupid idea of cycling through the tunnels ...: Because the air in the tunnel is really bad and besides the tunnel goes under the sea, which means that you first drive down for a long time and then go back up the "mountain" for a very long time and steeply to the other side to get back on
the surface of the earth to come.From Leirvik we go along beautiful roads that are closed to traffic along the coast until we reach another fishing village with colorful houses in front of the green hills
to reach. After some time, which we cycle on the main road with little traffic, we turn right and drive over a small pass to Hellur, from where we follow a hiking trail first through a small plateau and then steeply along the slope to our camp spot in Elduvik .Here we pitch our tent quite tired and with great effort. Since the wind is constantly blowing into the tarpaulin, setting up is very difficult. Fortunately, we are so exhausted from the day in the wind and rain that we barely open up when the wind presses the tarpaulin into our faces all the time at night.
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The third day finally starts with sunshine and a little less wind. We start our ride on a small icy road directly on the shores of the North Atlantic and cycle around the fjord, which is cut deep into the island here.After the day started very flat, it gets steeper shortly after the commune of Funnings and the road leads in several switchbacks to a crossroads, where we first decide on the right path to Gjogv, even if it is a dead end. Here we want to have breakfast in an old sheep farm and hotel and take a look at the village with what is probably the most spectacular harbor entrance on the islands.Then we make our way up the mountain again and this time even over the highest pass of the entire archipelago at 403 meters, in order to then drive over a beautiful serpentine road down to Eidi. From there the battle against the wind begins again. The 12.3 kilometers from Eidi to the gas station right in front of the bridge to the island of Streymoy are extremely hard and twice I am simply pushed into the ditch by the wind.When we arrive at the gas station, we fall on the floor in front of the cash register and both eat the typical gas station hotdog. On the island of Streymoy, the wind is gracious to us and carries us almost overhead in a hurry
entire island. Now we face another long tunnel passage and a small pass before we arrive at our camp spot for the night at Leitisvatn Lake, where we are very exhausted and pitch up our tent.
After a relaxing night in the tent, we go for a cup of coffee to drive the rest of the route. Today there are only about 20 kilometers left, which we would certainly have been able to cover the day before if the weather was better.We start relaxed and drive with the fully packed bikes towards the airport. From the small village of Sovagur we climb on the road towards our last tunnel on the tour. The tunnel to Gasadalur is an extreme relief for the people there. Before it opened in 2003, the only option to get into the village was by helicopter or on foot.Since then it has become much easier to reach the village and that also means that many tourists now come here. Because here is the very famous Instagram waterfall that everyone has probably seen before. And that is also our last destination on the route.