It feels really good to be writing this from a new country, having spent about 3 weeks pedalling through Sweden. Whilst I enjoyed Sweden, the weather over the last week has been dubious to say the least, and whilst it may not improve in Denmark it’s like a fresh start, with new adventures ahead.
Here’s a link to today’s ride, 103km in about 6.5 hours, although 4km of that was on the ferry from Helsingborg to Helsingor; got to get over the Oresund somehow!
It was good weather for ducks again when I woke up, quel surprise! Seems to have been a consistent theme over the last few days. At least I was feeling energised after last night’s feast of hot dogs and potato salad, with a side of tomatoes and chocolate milk.
I was up early to try and get to Helsingborg in good time, and then over to Denmark, so I packed up quick after a breakfast of cheese and tomato sandwiches.
As with yesterday this involved packing stuff into panniers inside my tent, however I had the added bonus of a porch to scurry to, to get out of the wet. Still had to pack my tent up damp though.
I was pedalling out of Markaryd by 08.15, through a very sleepy looking town, with evidence of last night’s festivities strewn along the main street and around the central square; food wrappers and empty cans/bottles in abundance. It must have been a good party! In fact I knew it had been a good party as I could hear it from the campsite last night, although it didn’t stop me falling asleep – noise rarely does when I’ve cycled a long way.
From Markaryd I rode South West, following small roads alongside the E04. Passed a sign warning about moose again, but I still haven’t seen any in Sweden.
The weather initially improved, with the rain abating, and sun coming out; nice to feel the warmth after being damp and chilly for while. I got some singing going to keep morale up as the dark clouds gathered on the horizon.
Around Orkelljunga the weather turned again, with a fierce squall coming through, leaving in its wake a blustery headwind. To add a little bit of the exotic to the weather menu it started to hail at one point, a break from the rain at least, but it stung rather; nowhere to hide when your pedalling along an exposed road through fields. I did spot a bear though.
On the outskirts of Helsingborg, with only about 15km to go, I retreated to a Max Hamburger restaurant feeling somewhat beaten and bedraggled, but at least the sun had come out.
Having frequented Max several times whilst in Sweden, it felt only right that I partake one more time of the bacon cheeseburger meal, a morale booster in itself, and perhaps my last meal in the country; okay so not very flash or healthy, but loads of calories.
Then it was just a case of getting into Helsingborg, how hard could it be? Quite hard as it turned out, due a few confusing road signs and lack of cycle paths taking you into the city. Yesterday I cycled along deserted country roads, that had wide cycle paths running alongside them, through forest. How come when you get to a big city like this there aren’t any? Maybe they were there and I couldn’t find them. At least the drivers were their usual patient and polite selves. After a bit of cursing, partly due to the wind, and partly due to navigational issues, I made it into the centre where a plethora of cycle paths spring up, which was a bit maze like until I found some signs pointing me in the direction of the ferry. It wasn’t really that tricky as I just needed to head SW until I hit the coast, I was just in a bad mood due to battling headwinds and hail.
My sour mood evaporated as I got into Helsingborg and saw the Oresund for the first time; the narrow stretch of sea/strait that separates the Baltic from the Atlantic. It was exciting to see Denmark just 4km away, with pastures new to be pedalled. The strait looks very busy, with lots of ships going back and forth, or through it; apparently the Helsingor-Helsingborg car ferry is the busiest the world. I wondered how submarines make it through without bumping into something, or in the case of the Russians, undetected; maybe they don’t.
I had a look at the old Keep above Helsingborg, the only remaining building from the once mighty Helsingborg Castle. The original castle was built by the Danes, and has origins maybe as far back as the 11th century, however the present form was built in the 13th century. The castle was demolished in the 17th century when the Danes were kicked out by the Swedes, with only the keep remaining; think the keep was meant to be demolished but the Danish king never gave the final order. Here are a few pics from my brief tour of Helsingborg.
After the Keep I rode down the hill to the Skandlines Ferry terminal, taking the lift, with my bike, to the ticket office on the 2nd floor. I purchased a ticket, 35 SEK, a bargain, but as it happened I could have just pedalled around to the car embarking point and bought one there. Still, it was fun taking my bike in the elevator. There were a lot of other road cyclists getting the ferry over, presumably after whizzing about in Sweden for a Sunday afternoon ride.
I got out of the wind for a bit and raided the onboard shop for a few supplies of a confectionary nature; Toblerone and Haribos mostly. I was trying to use up my remaining Swedish Krone, so I bought a celebratory beer too. I must have looked a bit of a sight swigging beer from a bottle, looking rather dishevelled and weather-beaten. I got a few curious looks from other passengers and MAMILS, but just smiled back at them, feeling very satisfied that I’d completed the Swedish leg of my tour.
Arriving in Helsingor I was first off the ferry, along with all the other cyclists who quickly left me in their wake; they weren’t carrying +25kg of gear! Unfortunately I managed to forget about Kronborg castle, which I had intended to have a look at, it being the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and an impressive edifice. I think I caught a glimpse of it from the ferry, and have just looked at pictures of it on Google anyway; the wonders of the Internet. I could go and take a look tomorrow but hate going backwards, so unlikely.
Instead I pedalled along cycle paths alongside the coast road towards Copenhagen, noticing immediate changes from Sweden. The road signs are different colours, as are some of the road markings; blue around roundabouts for cycle lanes. Some of the house are very similar, whilst others are covered in carvings and have thatched roofs. It also seemed busier, more built up and more people, but that might just be the proximity to Copenhagen.
I made it to Niva and found a good campsite for the night, after being passed by dozens more road cyclists out for a spin; cycling seems to be as popular if not more-so in Denmark, compared to Sweden.
It really was a relief to stop for the day, in a new country and somewhere that felt a lot warmer; which is odd as it’s only a few kilometres from Sweden; might just have been on my head. It was just nice being out if the wind and having some sunshine to relax in, and even nicer to have a hot shower. I was slightly concerned by the campsite goats, which I think are used to keep the grass short; I hoped they didn’t nibble my tent, not sure how I’d fix such colossal varmint damage.
Once set up I headed down to the Marina to the restaurant recommended by the campsite owner, for a celebratory meal and a couple of beers. It turned out to be an excellent meal, of lamb, new potatoes, green beans, asparagus, red current sauce and gravy; nicest meal of the tour yet.
Feeling relaxed I rode back to the campsite, to do some planning and write this. I chatted to a fellow cycle tourer for a bit, out on her first 2 week tour and enjoying it despite the weather. As always you learn lots on your first tour, and I think she’s caught the bug!
To finish up here are a few stats from the tour so far.
- Distance covered: 1,738 miles, that’s about 2,800km
- Number of days pedalling: 26 since Nordkapp
- Average distance per day: approx 108km
- Number of punctures: 0 (touch wood)
- Number of brake pad changes: 1 – rear set
- Number of new chains: 0 – but might need to consider new one soon, will check stretch
- Number of wild/stealth camps: 3
- Night’s indoors: 5 I think – hostel or cabin
- Beard growth: significant, but not sure whether to keep it still
- Chafing: was getting bad (7 out of 10) until I replaced saddle, now fine
- Cleanliness: not too shabby, been washing things as I go along, although reckon some of my clothes smell a bit from the damp
- Morale: dipped due to weather but now back on track
If you think of any other interesting stats to share let me know.
P.S. It’s raining again…