The Adventures of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike: Iceland

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This is a guest post from Kelly Diggle, a traveller and blogger who in 2015 became the 4th owner of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike (read Charlie’s full story here). Here’s her account of pedalling Charlie around the perimeter of Iceland…

In the spring of 2015 I found myself boarding a plane to Spain. It wasn’t for a holiday, however, but to collect Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike. Tegan had recently finished her tour across the country, and now it was my turn to take him on an adventure. 

To start, I needed to get him back to England. I deliberately booked my ticket home from a different airport 80km away, and gave myself one day to get there. This mini adventure resulted in getting lost, arriving 3 hours late at my host’s home and then subsequently locking myself in with no food (unless you count a fun-size packet of crunchy nut). But the real adventure was yet to come – a month circumnavigating Iceland alone – was I really cut out for this?!

Finally the time came and I felt as ready as I’d ever be. On the run up to this trip, I’d done everything possible to support the idea that travel doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. With the main component of my adventure – Charlie — costing no more than £25, surely I could keep costs down elsewhere. I set myself a £1,000 spend limit (flights, food, accommodation, missing gear), which became easy when a friend gave me an iPhone to document with and I spent most of my nights free-camping around the island. 

Once again day one proved interesting; I reached Iceland to find Charlie was still in London. Having opted to wrap the bike in a clear plastic travel bag, rather than a box, we had problems fitting him in the scanning machine before departure. Either the man carrying him to the plane got lost, or he couldn’t resist a short tour himself before putting him on a flight a few days later. But of course with dark clouds there is a silver lining. This slight mishap meant I was able to take a bus to the city and avoid the face-on downpour, and I ended up cycling with a hilarious Texan during my first week as our departure day now matched up.

I soon realised that Iceland was a perfect destination for a first-time-tour. The wild camping options were endless, the roads quiet, the scenery stunning and as long as the sea remained on my left; I wasn’t lost. It was thanks to a cut-short trip I took to Iceland the year before that I returned with the idea to see more. Summer was an amazing time to explore, as I had 24 hour daylight and zero worry about time – I could cycle at my own pace, for as long as I wanted.

During the four weeks I experienced many new things and never let the somewhat changeable weather get me down. Well, aside from one day I remember well that had me cycling slower than walking pace face-first in to the wind (on a flat road, I might add). There were highs; climbing dormant volcanoes, swimming in a natural hot river and being invited in by strangers on soaking wet days. Of course there are always low points – that’s why it is called an adventure – but I’ve never been one to focus on them. If anything, I think it is important to turn a low into a funny memory, learn from it or push it aside and make way for the positives. 

As it turns out, I was cut out for the trip. I had no previous experience cycle touring or wild camping alone. What I did have however, was sheer determination, enthusiasm and an open mind. My love for cycling has grown hugely, and I learnt many things including; the generosity of strangers and the capabilities of myself. It also prides me to mention that my total outgoings came to just £859 for this 4 week trip.

As for Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike? I got the pleasure of handing him over to Charlie (human) whom recently finished her 8 month tour from England to Hong Kong. Wherever he ends up going next, I can’t wait to continue following his journey, and feel genuinely honoured to be a part of it.

Thanks Kelly! For those interested to read more, do head over to By the way, Charlie did indeed make it to Hong Kong, but is now AWOL – the last reported sighting was a few months ago in Southeast Asia. Have you seen him by any chance…?

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2 responses to “The Adventures of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike: Iceland”

  1. Looks absolutely fantastic! Certainly the best way to explore a country!

  2. “Was I really cut out for this?” you say. After a recent overnight bike trip, when I had to make the call of shame to my husband to come and get me, I thought that too! But you WERE cut out for the trip, and you’ve inspired me to think that I, at the age of 61, am too! And to remember like you said, that every trip has its lows, and that’s part of what makes it an adventure. Really good post — thank you!

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