Doo Doo Doo – Another one bites the dust

Ah! No wonder English is the global language when you have magnificent wordsmiths like Freddie Mercury to quote.

I was hoping to open by saying “Hi! I’m in Rosencranz”, but alas it is 100 metres away across the Danish-German border and doesn’t have a camping site.

So from battered and bruised in Løkken 4 sleeps ago, here I am at the end of the Danish leg (albeit a short leg of 457km and one quick ferry hop).

It’s quite strange. After being able to get very immersed in Norway, in a week (less 2 hours), I’ve gone from disembarking the ferry in Hirtshals to completing the stage.

So what can I say about the thin sliver of Denmark I have seen? It’s flat! It has a sand dune that runs the length of the west coast- so I didn’t see much of the North Sea. But it does have long stretches of inland lakes/bays that are teeming with birds (and frogs). It is dotted with charming thatch-roofed cottages and barns that are simply beautiful in the early morning mist. And it has hundreds of wind turbines.

I didn’t really get much done in Løkken as I couldn’t find a bicycle or camera shop, so mainly I slept and ate and slept again. My only break from being lazy was fitting my spare tyre and cleaning and lubricating the gears and attaching my Norwegian flag sticker.

After two days break I headed south again following the coastal road (the Kystvej and variations of “coast way”). It was a flat route and in four rides I covered 114km to Klitmøller, 90km to Thorsminde, 122km to Esbjerg and the final 91km to Rudbøl.

In such a small country it was quite a mix of scenery- stretches of forest, dune grass with some remnant gun emplacements, 19th century villages, industrial zones, harbours, oil rig maintenance and the ubiquitous wind turbines.

As for me – I’m a bit tired. The initial abrasions are all healing well but if anything the bruising is taking its toll. They seem to have slowly risen to the surface and my right leg in particular is a mottled black and yellow from the knee down and my lower back and right knee are not great.

So I am staying put here for three nights and am planning to do absolutely nothing – other than consume as much protein as I can (lots of bacon for breakfast this morning followed by half a chicken at lunch and steak and chips for dinner).

Afraid still no camera and didn’t have too many opportunities to stop and take photos, but here are the few I took.

 

An Inauspicious Start

A quick post from Løkken where I am having a break hopefully to get a new camera, service my bike (and now myself).

Headed off from Hirtshals (overcast and occasional showers) on a route that quickly went off road again. Pondering things far away (stay in the moment stupid) I rounded a turn into a dip and soft gravel. Couldn’t steer. Couldn’t brake. Went down big time.

After making sure there were no bones protruding I continued on for a while ignoring the blood patches expanding on my sleeve and pants before having a break to check the damage.

Not pretty (see pics).

Anyway made my way along trails and backroads to Lønstrup (lovely beach resort but wasn’t in the mood to stop and take photos) and abandoning the marked route followed the “main” road to Løkken.

Very busy and very full so have ended up with an apartment for three nights. Off shortly to find a bicycle shop and a pharmacy.

Left side very sore but I can at least move my shoulder again.

Have finally concluded my bike is not geared up for the marked route so will make up my own! Will need to go a bit more inland for the next 100km until it gets more built up and a coastal road begins but it is very flat so it won’t take too long.

Oh well … At least it wasn’t a train!

 

My nice new top :(
My nice new top 🙁
My nice old elbow :(((
My nice old elbow :(((

Welcome to Denmark!

I’m in Denmark!!!

Hello all

Well it’s been an eventful 4 days since my last post with many trip firsts occurring. My day off in Flekkfjord was very leisurely. It’s quite a small town so it didn’t take long to wander around so I just put my feet up for most of the day; setting out for the seemingly never to be reached Kristiansand the following (finally sunny) morning.

A hill climb on the E39 to start the day got the legs moving and built up a sweat to the point where I took my top layer off for the first time! It’s been off for most of the time since then (leaving me with very sunburnt upper arms).

While the road markers were saying 102km to Kristiansand, the tourist map was quoting 149km for the car version of the Nordsjø route, and there was still 208km for the poor cyclist! So the day had a lot of detours, firstly  inland along a river to Kvinesdal to avoid a tunnel on the E39 (perversely going through three tunnels on the way), crossing a bridge then retracing the route while crossing over the hill the E39 tunnel passed through. The trail then crossed under the E39 to do a loop to the town of Farsund- a beautiful place, and a shame to just pass through it before continuing the loop back the the E39 and the town of Lyngdal.

A very nice ride until 12km from Lyngdal when the trail took a detour from the secondary road and then another detour from the backroad onto an extremely steep climb that led to a mountain bike trail. Not very amused when an hour later I arrived very hot and bothered on the original detour road.

So I covered the last few kilometres to the campsite I was aiming for to discover it was a Bible Camp! Alex (Jones) will be disgusted that I didn’t take this opportunity to convert them all to atheism but I was exhausted so peddled into town, had a pizza and found a decadent hotel to stay in instead.

Here I started a chat with a guy with the same brand of bike trailer and his story of it being tough going and that his brakes were almost shot. I was somewhat more surprised when I realised he had only just started from Kristiansand. What could possibly lie ahead?

Pondering this on my decadent private balcony at midnight, the next first – I saw some stars, about 8 of them (2 were actually the planets Venus and Jupiter). No full nighttime yet but getting there.

Well I was to find out why the guy had had a hard time next morning when the first detour led to yet another off-road challenge – wet gravel trail, 20-25% gradients, uneven surfaces. Just a totally stupid stretch to take a bike and trailer geared for a cross-continent ride.

Having to change my line on one descent on coming across two walkers led to the next first – I crashed. Front wheel hit a rut and stopped and I went flying! But in a show of riding brilliance (OK sheer good luck) I managed to land on my feet and my momentum meant I hit the ground running thus avoiding the tumbling bike. Pity it wasn’t captured on film as to end up as I did I would have had to have somersaulted over the handlebars!

The rest of the day was uneventful but I called it quits early at the campsite at Mandal. It was more like a camp city – restaurants, pool, mini golf and a concert in the evening (all in English) comprising 1980’s disco and funk hits (hallelujah it’s raining men).

Alas it didn’t start raining till after the concert finished and it was wet when I packed my already mouldy tent and headed off. No more surprises, just pleasant rides. I was in Tangvall in time for an early lunch with just one more road (the 456) between me and the end of my Norway ride.

Winding around the coast the hamlets soon became satellite suburbs and before I new I was on the bike path into town. Kristiansand 6.2km.

I was almost there – soon it would be the podium and the cute young girls in yellow mini-skirts.

Kristiansand 4.9km – damn another tunnel, another detour over a hill. Will this be the last for Norway.

Kristiansand 4.1km – the city comes into view. I can see the finish line at the dock.

Kristiansand 2.5km – hmmm nice parks.

Omg! Look at all the people lined up to cheer me home (oh, hang on it’s Saturday and this is the shopping mall).

Port of Kristiansand 200m. Better zip up my top (oops it’s in the trailer – sponsors won’t be happy). Raise hands in a victory salute (not with my bike riding skills).

Done.

Well I did it. Nordkapp to Kristiansand.  75 days, 3,020km and 29 ferries. No pomp, no ceremony but that’s probably fitting. In the words of Winston Churchill – for this is not the End, nor is it the Beginning of the End, but it is the End of the Beginning. So time to move on.

The next ferry to Denmark left in two hours so I went and bought a ticket from a lovely young lady who after enquiring about my trip said that I was inspiring! I hope that wasn’t in the context of brackets “for someone your age”!

So farewell Norway. A beautiful country with lovely people. Just need to work on the food:p

The ferry ride was smooth sailing and it still amazes me how they squeeze all the cars, trucks and mobile homes in. I booked a hotel over the wifi connection and stared out the window watching Norway recede over the horizon and eventually Denmark coming into view.

I checked into the Hirtshals Hotel, had a shower and a steak for dinner followed by disappointing profiteroles for desert (can’t beat Roses’s). And there we are.

Hirtshals is at the top end of Denmark and the start of the next stage. The familiar cycling sign is out front the only change is that the green “1” has been replaced by a red one (forget Eurovelo the locals mark them as national routes). I still need a new camera but as everything will probably be closed tomorrow I will head off and hopefully have a pleasant flat ride along the coast and take Monday off to shop (and get the bike serviced if possible).

So all is good and I am feeling proud at ticking the first country off the list. I bought a sticker on the ferry and will place it on the bike as my first scalp – 6 more to get!

Been a bit slack on the photos as I was too busy cursing the bugger who came up with those silly detours.

Keep well.

Into the Geopark

Hello all

Well I am in Flekkfjord and having a day off (it’s been a week since my last rest day in Bergen).

It has been 2 great and challenging rides since being rained out in Bryne having entered a totally new terrain.

The area I am now riding through is described as a Geopark and is essentially 180km of rolling mounds of volcanic rock involving steep “switch-back” ascents -3645m over the course of this section- flat tops with lovely lakes descending into lush valleys with more lovely lakes and stretches along the North Sea coast through scattered fishing villages.

It’s hard going, wet and wonderful.

Shortly after leaving Bryne the trail headed of towards the coast and the Nordsjøruta leading to an old preserved farm at Håvegen. From there the gravel road turned into a tractor path and then through a gate into a sheep paddock followed by  two cow paddocks. Certainly not what I expected!

But other than the fiddly process of navigating bike and trailer through the paddocks and explaining to the cows that I was as surprised to be there as they were to see me, it was a pleasant change of pace and soon enough the paddocks led to a walking trail that in turn led to the old coastal road. The trail follows this old route rejoining route 44 from time to time.

On the first day out of Bryne, I made my way to Steinsnes- a camping site just outside Egersund. A wierd place – situated on a river and an industrial zone – it was like a big gravel car park with a motto of rack em, pack em and stack em as far as visitors were concerned and most of those just sat around staring at other visitors. Very creepy! I think it may be where the characters from Jo Nesbro books go for their holidays. Then again as the cost of a hut was only slightly more than a tent site it clearly was not targeting the sophisticated trans-continental cyclist market.

I set off the next day towards Egersund (much nicer looking place) and followed route 44 till the first turnoff back to the Nordsjøruta which did a loop down to the coast through the fishing villages of Dalane and Rekefjord winding back to join route 44 just before the next turnoff to Sogndalstrand.

Dalane wins my vote for best fishing village ever. It breathed the fact that this was a place for fishing and had all the charm but none of the gloss of others aspiring to various heritage listings!

Sogndalstrand (where I had lunch) was definitely a listed place and deserves it. Away from the main town it is the original fishing village built along either side of a river and has been set aside to preserve as is.

With hamburger in stomach, I set off for the afternoon ride and the thought of an easy ride into Kristiansand soon vanished. Three tough climbs (the last of which was definitely “push” biking) and the usual afternoon rain. The views were still spectacular though I imagine on clearer days the view to the horizon would be awesome.

As always there was the final pass, the descent, hot shower, hearty meal and warm bed awaiting. My legs are still a bit sore (will walk that off this afternoon) but I’m looking forward to the rest of the ride to Kristiansand and Norway’s final challenge!

Flekkfjord is a lovely place (well appears to be from my quick ride in and from the hotel balcony) and like Sogndalstrand is predominantly why weatherboard. It’s actually a pleasant change from pastels. I can only assume it doesn’t snow much here, and the need to find your home in a world of white not as big an issue.

Still need a new camera but these were taken with my iPod.

Moving On

Oh well, looks as though my camera has moved on. Thankfully I have copies of about 250 of the best shots so no tears required. Missing bit will be Bergen to here but the internet is full of shots of Bergen’s world heritage area and given the ongoing rain I hadn’t taken many shots on the road this week – farms, fir forests, ferries and frustrating freeways mainly.

The ride from Bergen has been pleasant at times and frustrating at others. I followed the marked trail out of Bergen for a while but turned off when the bike path disappeared.

The traffic is much heavier now and few tunnels allow bikes, so I have made my own way (with only one blunder) along backroads through farming areas and small rural towns. My blunder was not zooming in far enough on the map to see that the last 10km into Stavanger was a small stretch of highway and 9km of tunnel.

A very ignoble entrance to Stavanger- with my bike and trailer in the buses luggage compartment. Oh well it’s meant to be a bike ride not an orienteering contest!

For the record the route was Bergen, Krokeide, Ferry to Huftamar, Husavik, Ferry to Sandvikvåg, a roadside camp in a park next to the first McDonalds I had seen since leaving Oslo (and yes I did have McMuffins and Hasbrowns for breakfast), a detour around the Bømlafjord tunnel to Langevåg, ferry to Buavåg,  Haugesund, Hervik, Melkevik, Arsvågen, ferry to Mortavika, bus through tunnels, Stavanger, Bryne!

A few spells of sunshine but mainly rain and today I as approach the North Sea coast, I see why it isn’t on the list of tropical paradises.

With 200km left till Kristiansand I am finding it more difficult to stay in the moment, and having made the mistake of starting to plan ahead, I dream of the 2,000km of flat straight cycling that appears to lie ahead (I’m going to follow the North sea route through to Dunkirk). After weeks of care free riding and the occasional car rush between ferries, I’m not really enjoying the mad race to get somewhere or the long detours required so that some slack arse motorist doesn’t have to endure the effort of moving their foot from the accelerator to the brake and back. Far better I ride an additional 20km! (I needed to get that off my chest.)

If my map reading doesn’t trip me up again it should be easier going for the final leg following route 44 for a few days before one final tussle with the E39. It’s been an experience, but if my aim wasn’t a north-south crossing of Europe then the ferry from Bergen to Scotland would be the go. But these southerners do have a hard act to follow and Bergen and Stavanger are great little cities (they just prefer you to visit by car).

Sorry there are no new photos but if you google any of the places mentioned above I’m sure there are plenty out there (and I will grab some to fill the gap when I return).

Trivia piece – a golf course is called a golfbane in Norway. Quite astute of them!

Keep well!

Grumpy in Bergen

Hi all, I am in Bergen, or more to the point just passing through. My big city inability to get accommodation continues so I have a bed for the night and then it’s back to the road.

If the ride from Ålesund has a theme, it is rain, and as the forward forecast is for rain for 8 of the next 10 days, I am pretty much over it. I will make haste to Kristiansand, hop on the ferry to Denmark and hope that there is a European summer somewhere.

While I had hoped to have a break here, I am in pretty good condition and my main need was a washing machine. Unable to clean my clothes, I threw most of them in the bin and got some new ones; and my room for one night only has a bath tub – which was lovely.

No doubt there is a lot to see in Bergen, but I walked through the world heritage area while looking for a bed and tbh I have seen so many lovely old waterfronts it was hard to be overawed. The area was also totally overshadowed by the multiple cruise ships docked just across the road. Oh well as I said, I’m grumpy. I was planning to stay just outside but bike restrictions on the E39 meant I couldn’t get there, and the bike route into Bergen could have been designed by Jeremy Clarkson as his revenge.

Not many photos over the past week as I have usually just been trying to spend as little time getting soaked as possible, but a lot of lovely green valleys, wild Atlantic coast rides, and lovely fishing have to be seen.

I would definitely return here (with a car) as to cover a single fjord from outer islands to furthest inland reaches involves many hundreds of kilometres but going by what I have seen and what is out there towards west cape it would be a lovely week or two of touring.

Anyway, final tally for the Eurovelo 1 leg: 84km walked, 2,430km cycled and 24 ferries caught.