Category Archives: Denmark

04 June 2015 – willkommen in Deutschland

I woke up and listened; only a faint rustling of the tent canvas, the wind had dropped, and it was sunny! Could this be the glorious day’s cycling I’d been waiting for?

Morning in Svendborg - glorious day

Morning in Svendborg – glorious day

Feeling buoyed by the thought that today was going to be a good’un, and with a new country in my sights, I was up, breakfasted and packed in good time. The campsite cat brought me a present, a mouse wrapped in leaves, which was a bit odd, and then ducks started following me around.

Stalked by Mallards

Stalked by Mallards

When the goats in the mini zoo started bleating I started to wonder if I’d developed Dr Doolittle traits overnight, or maybe this was all a dream and I was in fact still asleep, and it wasn’t such a nice day after all. Not wanting to consider the latter a possibility I got on the road quick.

Svendborg Sund Camping morning view 2

Svendborg Sund Camping morning view 2

There were plenty of people up early, paddling in canoes, or sailing in small yachts down the narrow stretch of water between the campsite and Svendborg. It all felt very relaxed and holiday like.

Goodbye Mallard

Goodbye Mallard

I rode over the bridge to Svendborg and then turned left, following nice cycle paths alongside the road to Faaborg. The scenery was more varied and interesting than yesterday, with a few hills thrown in for good measure.

It was so nice to be cycling without a headwind. I hardly looked at my Odometer, and could just relax and enjoy the sunshine and countryside. Before long I reached Bojden, just as the ferry arrived from Fynshav; a short 10km crossing to Als and Jutland.

After enjoying a hot chocolate and pastry on the ferry I pedalled on from Fynshav to Sonderborg, which didn’t seem to take very long, arriving in time for lunch. I walked through the town stopping to buy a hotdog from one of the many purveyors of such fine foodstuffs.

Sonderborg and first hotdog of the day

Sonderborg and first hotdog of the day

Hotdogs in Denmark appear to be very popular, with several different varieties. I preferred the Ristet, which comes inside a bun and is topped with pickled cucumber, crispy onions, mustard, ketchup, and remoulade.

Lots of people out in cafes in Sonderborg

Lots of people out in cafes in Sonderborg

Needing to use up my Danish Krone and I decided I’d eat my way through the rest of Denmark, and had another Ristet for good measure; I’ve been losing too much weight anyway, at least that was my excuse.

Sonderborg waterfront

Sonderborg waterfront

I paused on the bridge out of Sonderborg, hoping that the folks at home might be able to see me on the webcam, but also to stop as the middle section was raised for a boat to come through. Unfortunately I couldn’t delay long as it was just too busy, and I’m not sure I timed it right for the webcam. I cycled on to Dybol, then turned South and crossed the small island before rejoining Jutland; lovely quiet roads and cycle paths again.

Marina - Egernsund

Marina – Egernsund

I followed the Route 8 cycle path a lot of the time, not out of any particular design, it was just going in the right direction. I was also having a day of being open to possibilities, so if I saw a cycle track or nice road that went the way I wanted it to, I took it. I rode down the side of Flensburger Ford, through a number of small towns. This is obviously quite a big tourist spot, and very beautiful, with some lovely yachts out on the water (when I win the lottery etc).

After relaxing next to the Fjord for a bit, and of course taking on vital nourishment, I thought I’d better get on with the task at hand. I continued to follow Route 8, which decided to take me off-road and through the woods for a bit, as I got closer to the border with Germany.

Route 8 goes off road

Route 8 goes off road

It was slightly awkward cycling for a bit, and my bike developed an annoying squeak which I couldn’t identify the source of; it’s still doing occasionally now, a few days later, and I don’t know what’s causing it – I’d better investigate further in case it’s a problem that’s going to get worse.

Route 8 - the forest continues

Route 8 – the forest continues

I finally made it out of the trees, which had provided some welcome shade and smelt nice, and could see Germany across the bay. There was a beach and people swimming; in fact one cyclist arrived in the spot below and decided to go for a swim; I nearly joined them.

Route 8 - that's Germany over there

Route 8 – that’s Germany over there

In this case I resisted the temptation of a dip, as I needed to get through Flensburg, and carried on towards the border. I was keeping an eye out for customs officials as I’d seen a few signs suggesting they might patrol round here, but didn’t see any. In  fact, when I got back on the road, I barely noticed crossing into Germany.

Beach just across the border in Germany

Beach just across the border in Germany

For some reason my Garmin decided to switch off at this point, so I had to restart it and my route tracking, hence there are two links to today’s ride; a total of 119km pedalled in 6 hours and 45 minutes:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/793985036

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/793991399

I was in country number 6 of this tour! I rode on to Flensburg and walked through some of the city. Again there were a lot of tourists out and about, enjoying the sunshine and street cafes. Flensburg looks nice, with some lovely older parts to it.

The cobbled streets were slightly jarring on my still wonky hand, and always make me worry about my wheels, however I made it through and cycled South the Jarplund, where the ACSI app on my phone told me there was a campsite. It was a bit of a maze getting out of Flensburg whilst trying to avoid the busier main roads, and stay on cycle paths. I made it to the campsite but had to go around the houses a bit to get there.

At the campsite I met up with 3 other cycle tourers from Stuttgart, as well as an Italian motorcyclist from Italy; Larissa, Romulus, Alex and Claudio. Claudio is on his way to Iceland, and will be getting the ferry with his motorbike from North Denmark; there are a limited number of ways of getting to Iceland by ferry. Larissa, Alex and Romulus were just finishing a week of touring around Northern Germany, and are heading home on Saturday; Romulus has done loads of cycle touring in the past though.

Campsite in Jarplund - fun evening with new friends

Campsite in Jarplund – fun evening with new friends

Needless to say a fun evening was had, with a few beers and lots of chat about Europe, travelling, politics, and the economy, to name but a few topics. Claudio cooked pasta for everyone which was most welcome; in fact he kept producing food from his motorbike panniers. Thanks Claudio! Hopefully I’ll meet up with the all somewhere on the road in the future.

One thing about a new country – you have to relearn things in the supermarkets; took me about twice as long to pick up supplies, however at least they still have mountains of Haribo still.

All in all, a splendid day!

03 June 2015 – a bridge too far?

A fairly brief update from today’s ride, mainly due to the fact it was dominated by one thing, the wind, which isn’t that interesting. I still managed to cover about 110km in 7 hours and 20 minutes of pedalling (slow); here’s the link to my route and stats:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/793183309

You’ll notice a few of those kilometres were on the ferry from Tars to Spodsbjerg, providing a welcome respite from the elements!

I slept well at Ore Sound camping, just outside Vordingborg, despite the wind in the trees making a racket all night; still, makes me feel cosy in my tent.

Morning in Vordingborg - dry but windy still

Morning in Vordingborg – dry but windy still

I was on the road in good time, and pedalled back into Vordingborg to a bike shop I’d passed yesterday to buy some more puncture repair glue; can’t be too careful, and I figured if I bought some I’d hopefully not need it, as opposed to not buying some and then immediately getting a puncture.

Bike shop for more puncture repair glue

Bike shop for more puncture repair glue

Strange statues in Vordingborg, not sure what this one is about? Vaguely Lovecraftian

Strange statues in Vordingborg, not sure what this one is about? Vaguely Lovecraftian

With the wind swirling about, but mostly being a strong westerly, I rode over the first bridge to the island of Falster. This is where I discovered it’s even more windy on exposed bridges, however at least it wasn’t raining.

it was only a short leg over Falster, followed by a small bridge over to Guldborg on Lolland, a slightly bigger island.

Bridge 2 to Guldborg, Lolland

Bridge 2 to Guldborg, Lolland

I stopped in the square in Maribo, where there was a small market going on, and had a break; Haribo in Maribo, plus bananas of course.

Break in Maribo - market on 2

Break in Maribo – market on 2

After recovering a bit I rode on via a marked cycle route, when it didn’t divert me miles off course, down to Tars.

Cycle route to Tars - a rare hedge provides a wind break

Cycle route to Tars – a rare hedge provides a wind break

Denmark needs to plant more hedges, there weren’t enough.

This was a really tough section of the ride, and very tiring. The wind, as well as making riding difficult, is a constant noise in your ears blocking out any other sound, so it’s hard to take anything else in. All you end up focusing on in a strong headwind is keeping going, and making another kilometre.

Nice church en-route to Tars

Nice church en-route to Tars

I did however notice my left hand pedal start to squeak. This isn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary, random squeaks start and stop quite often whilst cycling, however coupled with the harsh conditions it added to my annoyance, and resulted in some choice words being vocalised in a loud fashion; no-one else around to hear luckily, aside from some slightly startled crows looking for shoes.

I just made the ferry over to Spodsbjerg on Langeland, with about 3 minutes to spare, and had a nice break on the 10km crossing; think it was about 10km anyway.

Made the ferry, on my way to Langeland

Made the ferry, on my way to Langeland

I indulged in a hotdog and Fanta, topping up my energy reserves and morale. It was quite a rough crossing, with a few waves breaking over the bow and soaking one unfortunate passenger; I must admit I laughed this. I was mostly hoping my bike didn’t get tossed about too badly, as even though I’d tied Smaug down there were a few big hits.

After the ferry I pedalled over Langeland quite quickly, following a marked cycle route for the most part, before taking on the next challenge; a set of two bridges over to Tasinge.

Cosy cycle path next bridge

Cosy cycle path to next bridge

The first bridge was quite high, and very exposed. I ended up walking my bike over some of it as the cross wind was just to strong to go in a straight line. I made up a marching song about Denmark and strong wind which I’d better repeat right now, but it might come out in the pub at some point.

After the mini island of Sia the second bridge was flatter and more manageable, but it was a relief to get over to Tasinge.

Bridge to Tasinge

Bridge to Tasinge

Bridge to Tasinge 2

Bridge to Tasinge 2

I passed a few cycle tourers going the other way as I approached my destination for the night, with smiles and waves giving me a much-needed boost. I’m not sure where they were going to stop for the night, but if they were camping on one of the smaller islands they were in for a rough night.

I ended up stopping just prior to the bridge over to Svendborg, turning off to a campsite near Vindeby; Svendborg Sund Camping. As with many of my camping stops I’d found this site using the ACSI app on my phone, which is proving very useful.

Arrived at Svendborg Sund Campsite - a relief

Arrived at Svendborg Sund Campsite – a relief

Svendborg Sund is a lovely campsite, and the owner was very welcoming, pointing me in the direction of a picturesque and sheltered place to pitch my tent.

Cold one form the Lobster bar, nice view

Cold one form the Lobster bar, nice view

I bought a couple of recovery beers from the campsite shop, then set up, had a hot shower, and felt a lot better. I felt a sense of accomplishment at having overcome the headwind to manage a respectable distance for the day.

Double thumbs up after a hard day's ride

Double thumbs up after a hard day’s ride

It was nice to settle down in the common room for the evening, and plan the next day’s ride. Just down the hill I watched a young man setting up quite a display which he later used to propose to his girlfriend; there was a small pavilion tent, a rose lined carpet to it, candles and all sorts going on. I didn’t take a photo as didn’t want to interrupt; he already looked very nervous. Hope he got a good result!

Office set up for the evening

Office set up for the evening

Excited about tomorrow; wind is supposed to drop, and pedalling out of Denmark to Flensburg in Germany, so last night in Scandinavia. Really feel like I’m making progress now, and looking forward to the next few weeks.

And yes, I’m wearing suncream Mum ;o)

02 June 2015 – spoke trauma and short leg to Vordingborg

Okay, today was a bit crap, until the evening bit anyway. It started off alright, with no sign of rain, and a successful fix of the puncture in my front tyre, then I headed into town for 09.00 to see about getting my broken spoke fixed; tip of iceberg springs to mind.

Morning at Koge campsite - dry at the moment

Morning at Koge campsite – dry at the moment

Unfortunately I discovered the bike shop I’d pinpointed last night doesn’t open until 10.00, so in a fit efficiency I whizzed back to the campsite and packed up my stuff, so I could get straight on the road after maintenance was completed.

I liked this big Oak Tree

I liked this big Oak Tree

About 6 kilometres later I was back at the bike shop and checked-in Smaug, or at least his wheels, for a bit of TLC. The bike shop owner recommended a local cafe whilst he performed an initial diagnosis, so I headed there for my own bit of maintenance.

Smaug undergoing maintenance, so I thought I would too

Smaug undergoing maintenance, so I thought I would too

The cafe did a very good Danish pastry and hot chocolate, and feeling things were moving in the right direction I ambled back to Garant Cykler to get on the road. It started to rain; not to worry I thought, it’ll only be a shower, the forecast said overcast but dry all afternoon. Hah!

Garant Cykler - great bike shop in Koge

Garant Cykler – great bike shop in Koge

The bike shop didn’t have the greatest news on Smaug’s wellbeing. Unfortunately the spoke issue was not contained to just one spoke. A few days ago the chain had slipped off the top rear cog, and had slid down in between the rear cassette and spokes. I’d extracted it but unbeknownst to me at the time, it had chewed up several of the spokes on the drive side. This meant they were also in danger of snapping and needed replacing. You can’t see this sort of damage unless you remove the rear cassette, which I don’t have the tool for. Thankfully the owner is also a proficient wheel builder, and did a great job of replacing the dodgy spokes and truing the wheel, despite being stacked up with other work. It took him quite a long time and one broken set of clippers to remove the compromised spokes, which due to being chewed up didn’t fit back through the spoke holes very well; tricky. Whilst he was doing this I mended the punctured inner tube I’d kept, for future use.

If you’re familiar with my Bike around Britain tour in 2013 you’ll perhaps know I had a lot of trouble with my back wheel and broken spokes then. It seems to be a feature of cycle touring, with so much weight on the bike, however hand-built wheel help with this, and I’d hoped having 26 inch wheels, which are stronger than their larger counterparts, would also assist in preventing issues. So I had a feeling of ‘oh no, not again’ building, with not a small amount of dread. I was therefore extremely happy when the owner presented me with the fixed wheel to put back on Smaug, and we then adjusted the gears to stop the chain slipping off again; I reckon  the shifters got moved slightly out of alignment during the plane flight to Nordkapp, as I’d noticed a few things knocked out of kilter and tried to move them back into place.

Smaug fixed - thanks Garant Cykler

Smaug fixed – thanks Garant Cykler

I was also going to pick up a couple of new inner tubes, just in case, however it appears Schrader valves are pretty rare in Denmark, where they go for Presta more. I’ll just have to fix any punctures I get before buying some new ones in Germany. I’ve still got one spare, even after another one blew up in the bike shop due to a weak spot. I bought up a couple of new tyre levers after breaking one this morning; getting Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres on and off is hard work, and I’m not the best bike mechanic you’ve ever met, very amateur really.

Just realised my pump will fit either Schrader or Presta valves; reversible hose. So I could get Presta valve inner tubes.

If you’re cycle touring and pass through Koge, I’d recommend Garant Cykler if you need anything fixing or tweaking; good skills and really helpful. I really appreciated their assistance, and don’t know what I’d have done if the breakage had happened somewhere more remote; I’d have no doubt coped, and improvised something, but it would have been a much more painful experience.

I eventually got back on the road and started pedalling South, in the rain, at about 12.30, so quite a bit behind schedule for the day but not too worry, these things happen. It was wet and windy all the way to Vordingbord, so not a lot to report other than rain, spray, wind, and crankiness. I did get another puncture in my front tyre, which I fixed, however I’m developing a suspicion that the replacement Schwalbe tubes I’ve got aren’t as tough as the original Continental tourers I had on.

D'oh - yet another puncture

D’oh – yet another puncture

My no puncture stat from the other day definitely jinxed my run good luck on the wheel/tyre front, however hopefully that’ll be the last of them for a while; I don’t know why I say these things!

Break from the rain en-route to Vordingborg

Break from the rain en-route to Vordingborg

For a while my morale really dipped on the ride down to Vordingbord. It was only 60km, but the incessant rain, coupled with the driving wind, really grinds you down after a while.  After a break I enforced a change of mental state on myself, accepting the weather, putting a big smile on my face, and belting out a few songs; American Pie always a favourite. It always seems to work, you can either gradually spiral down to a meltdown, or pick yourself up and think positive. The weather certainly hadn’t got any better but my morale suddenly improved, although I probably confused a few people in the towns I passed through by smiling at waving at them.

Vordingbord achieved I decided that was far enough for the day, and checked-in to the Ore Strand campsite, still smiling; insanity can’t be ruled out.

Arrived at campsite in Vordingborg - still smiling

Arrived at campsite in Vordingborg – still smiling

It’s a great little campsite, right next to the beach, with a good kitchen area I could sit in to get out of the wind; thankfully the rain had stopped. I nipped to Lidyl once I was set up, to resupply, then settled in for the evening, munching my way through a lot of pasta, salad, and snacks, as well as a glass of wine or two for medicinal purposes.

Haribo heaven - visit to Lidyl

Haribo heaven – visit to Lidyl

I took a wander down to the beach, just to stretch my muscles after the short but arduous ride; bit damp but would be nice when the sun shines.

There was meeting of the Ore Strand beach committee in the kitchen building that evening, which I kinda inadvertently gate-crashed by being there at the same time. I chatted to several of the locals, and got given a Danish pastry to top up my energy reserves; a good result. Really lovely people, interested in what I was doing, and they recommended I take the island hopping route rather that getting the ferry straight over to Germany, so I think I’ll do that.

Link to today’s route and stats, shortest leg for a while at 58km in about 3.5 hours:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/792180933

The weather forecast doesn’t look great for tomorrow. It’s supposed to improve later in the week, so finger’s crossed. However, if one more person in Scandinavia shrugs and says ‘that’s Danish weather for you’, or insert Sweden or Norway to that statement, there may be violence. I’ve heard that in every country I’ve been through, including the UK, in response to changing weather and it not matching the forecast!

News just in; I’m in Svendborg tonight typing this up, and the campsite owner just told me there’s been 2m of snow in parts of Norway, which is really unusual for this time of year. The bad weather is supposed to continue for the next few days, so I’m glad I’m not there now, and hope no other cycle tourers are stuck in it.

01 June 2015 – København, Koge, and things that pop and ping

To say it rained a bit last night would perhaps be regarded as an understatement. I awoke in the early hours of the morning to the thunderous roar of rain hitting my tent, and was somewhat alarmed I’d spring a leak, or get washed into the Oresund, however I’m happy to report I remained dry; another win for the Hilleberg Akto, now 3 years old but still going strong.

Smaug looks damp after torrential rain overnight

Smaug looks damp after torrential rain overnight

After the overnight rain at least there was sunshine in morning to dry off everything off, including a rather despondent looking Smaug. And for a change I didn’t have to pack my tent up  wet! Today was also a new map day, always exciting; time to explore Denmark. I’m still wondering if I can get to Tarifa by 05 July, my birthday. It seems a bit of a stretch and might mean rushing things too much, but would be nice to celebrate my fortieth at the Southernmost point of Europe, or thereabouts.

New map day, always exciting

New map day, always exciting

Got on the road about 09.30, pedalling out of the campsite past the small tent of the cycle tourer I met last night; no sign of life, I hope she didn’t drown. The tiredness I first felt wore off quickly as I rode towards Copenhagen (Kobenhavn – havn means port, but can see where the word haven comes from) in the sunshine. Even the wind seemed to die down a bit as I approached Denmark’s capital, on the island of Zealand.

Road to Copenhagen - sun's out

Road to Copenhagen – sun’s out

I made it into the city centre after riding along lovely quiet cycle paths, to suddenly find myself immersed in masses of traffic and pedestrians, a bit of a shock to the system. Copenhagen also turned out to be somewhat of a building site, with development going on all over the place, including a new subway station right in the centre.

Copenhagen centre, flash hotel

Copenhagen centre, flash hotel

I overheard a tour guide talking about the hotel in the above pic; I think she said One Direction stayed there recently, woohoo. Of more interest was the story about a Danish hero who attempted to assassinate Himmler when he was travelling back from Norway to Berlin during the Second World War; Denmark was occupied at the time. Unfortunately Himmler bypassed Copenhagen in the end, otherwise certain historical events might have turned out quite differently. I think tagging on to, or drifting between guided tours, might become a new hobby.

Copenhagen- canals

Copenhagen- canals

It was tricky to do much sightseeing with all the crowds and traffic, whilst laden with a heavy bike, so I didn’t end up delaying long in the city, instead pedalling slowly South West and stopping occasionally. I could have detoured to see the Little Mermaid statue, and Tivoli Gardens, however it would have been awkward and I wasn’t really in a sightseeing mood.

Copenhagen - bikes in abundance, bit of a building site though

Copenhagen – bikes in abundance, bit of a building site though

True to what I’d read Copenhagen really is full of bicycles, they’re everywhere. It will be interesting to see how Amsterdam compares if I go that way (still not decided).

Copenhagen - cool cafe

Copenhagen – cool cafe

Before I knew it I was out of Copenhagen, which I guess isn’t that large in comparison to other European capitals, and pedalling through suburbia. There’s not a lot to report from the ride down to Koge, it was fairly flat, straight, and boring. I did keep having to stop for traffic lights which was a bit tedious, and interrupts your rhythm. The cycle paths are good but I’m really noticing the increase in cars compared with Sweden.

I arrived in Koge after having to stop to pump up my rear tyre several times. After recording in my last blog post a puncture total of zero, I fear the tables have turned, and perhaps I have attracted the attention of Loki again. Luckily it was only a slow puncture so I was able to get to Koge campsite, book in, and get set up before addressing the issue.

Bike repairs - 1st puncture of tour

Bike repairs – 1st puncture of tour

I mended the puncture successful, thankful of the dry weather, but noticed a more nefarious problem during my endeavours.

Found a bigger problem - broken spoke

Found a bigger problem – broken spoke

Unfortunately a spoke had broken somewhere along the way; I thought I’d heard a distinctive ping earlier. It was on the rear drive side too, which I can’t fix as I don’t have a cassette removal device; maybe I should have bought a hyper cracker . Thankfully there are loads of bike shops in Koge, and the guy at reception recommended a couple for me to try in the morning, so I’d be able to get it sorted. There was no point in just suring up the surrounding spokes and carrying on, as it’d just get worse, more spokes would break, and I’d find myself really in the lurch.

Koge - nice house

Koge – nice house

One good thing; as I was fixing a puncture I changed my front and back tyres around, thus prolonging their lives with any luck. I felt quite chuffed to be following sage cycle touring advice successfully, however those Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres aren’t half stiff to get on and off.

Koge central square

Koge central square

Bike maintenance partially completed I paused to chat to a couple of German cycle tourers who turned up towing trailers, on their way to Finland. They don’t like their trailers, and recounted how unstable they make the bike, meaning you can’t really stand up on the pedals or go fast down hills. I’ve often wondered about one myself but am quite glad now I didn’t go that direction, and will stick with my panniers.

After a shower, but still with slightly blackened hands (impossible to get them completely clean after maintenance session) I headed into town to grab some food, and ended up succumbing to temptation and eating out at the Cafe Vivaldi, in the town square.

Dinner at Cafe Vivaldi - Burrito boost

Dinner at Cafe Vivaldi – Burrito boost

It was truly awesome burrito, with a nice beer on the side; portion size worthy of any cycle tourer, and with a salad too, so health bit covered. Post dinner and after a quick walk about I headed back to the campsite.

Cafe Vivaldi, Koge

Cafe Vivaldi, Koge

Koge square - pretty flowers

Koge square – pretty flowers

Nice house again

Nice house again

Streets of Koge

Streets of Koge

On the way back I noticed my front tyre going flat, so I’d either pinched the inner tube when changing the tyres round earlier, or picked up new puncture somewhere; it turned out to be a small metal staple, but I didn’t fix it until the morning.

Here’s a link to today’s ride – route and stats, a slow 75km, taking 5 hours, best speed up soon;

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/791586108

Not sure on route for next few days. Could go direct to Germany by ferry from Rodby, or round the islands; will depend on the weather and if I want to get serious on challenge of getting to Tarifia for my birthday. I think I’d prefer the island route, as it’ll be nice to see a bit more of Denmark. I did try to work out the number of miles to Tarifa; think I’ve got about 2,000 left, or 4,500 to get to Istanbul, or 6,500 to get all the way round and back home. Should be doable in the 5 months I’ve got left, considering I’m already over 1,700 miles in under 1 month. I guess it also depends on any problems I have with the bike, which as I’d discover tomorrow should never be underestimated.

31 May 2015 – to Denmark

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!

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/790146713

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.

Hearty dinner in Markaryd

Hearty dinner in Markaryd

Nice weather for ducks

Nice weather for ducks

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.

Morning on the lake in Markaryd

Morning on the lake in Markaryd

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.

Packing up in the porch

Packing up in the porch

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.

Still not seen a moose in Sweden

Still not seen a moose 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.

Biscuit break on the road to Helsingborg

Biscuit break on the road to Helsingborg

I liked this bridge, marvellous masonry

I liked this bridge, marvellous masonry

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.

Closest I'm going to get to a bear in Sweden

Closest I’m going to get to a bear in Sweden

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.

Feeling a bit bedraggled, burger stop!

Feeling a bit bedraggled, burger stop!

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.

Last stop at Max burgers?

Last stop at Max burgers?

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.

Arrived in Helsingor

Arrived in Helsingor

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.

Double thumbs up for Denmark

Double thumbs up for Denmark

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.

Niva campsite goats - friendly varmints

Niva campsite goats – friendly varmints

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…