Island hopping through Denmark to Copenhagen (finally I made it!)

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June 1st 2008
Published: June 1st 2008
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I've finally made it to Copenhagen! After 11.5 days of cycling and 2.5 rest days, and I calculate 908 miles since Gent with all but the last day directly into a force 4 siberian wind.

Well the last 3 days have seen me arrive into Denmark via the Puttgarden-Rødbyhavn ferry and then onwards with a detour to the beautiful island of Møn, crossing Lolland and Falster on the way, before hitting Zealand and the capital.

In the end I decided not to stay an extra day in Lubeck, mainly because it would have been all the harder to get going had I done so, but also that I was running out of euros. That evening I had the most amazing salad at Cafe Affenbrot next to my hostel. A salad that really doubled as starter and dessert as well since it had strawberries, melon, grapes, mozarella cheese, pesto, banana, starfruit in it and the list goes on. That night I had a wander about the old town, but really it was pretty quiet, probably because the town doesn't seem to have a university - it seemed like mainly old people out and about. In the morning I breakfasted on food bought from Aldi's - really the worst supermarket ever thanks to it only ever having one person on the till, but conveniently over the road. It was just after this that my cheery hostel owner told me the best bakery in town was just a couple of minutes stroll up the road. So I felt obligated to have a wee peek inside, and ended up with an extremely filling wheat thing. I did worry that might be one pastry too many for my rear wheel spokes, but they coped admirably and I've no problems with the bike in the last couple of days.

Off I set northwards all too briefly without the wind in my face, up to the coast, and my first sighting of the baltic (at least I think it's called the baltic there!). At the promanade I got chatting with a woman on holiday with her parents (and sick of them after a week) and she took a photo of me with my bike, the beach, the sea, and all the windshelters the germans so love. After that I carried on north first inland away from the strongest of the wind and over surprisingly rolling countryside. My progress was good and before I knew it Iød hit the northern coast of the peninsula at a place called Heiligenhafen, a genuine fishing port also with a nice old square which had the best example of one of the german maypole type things I'd been seeing everywhere (see photo). I've no idea what its for.

Next I crossed the bridge onto the island of Fehmarn, the last piece of Germany of the trip. Unfortunately at this point it all got very exposed to the strong wind. I literally fought my way over that bridge- unfortunately on the main carraigeway. I could see there was a cycle lane on the other side, but with no way of crossing two lanes of motorway fast traffic in the strong winds I was forced to bravely push on and hope I wouldn't be mincemeat. On the other side I got off and did find a break in the traffic to cross, hoicked my bike over the concrete barrier (no easier task with a bike my way) and then walked back up the bridge to get the photo, chatting briefly with another cyclist who'd looked a little bemused to see me in the main carraigeway. Anyway after that was the final push to the ferry. Once aboard the ferry I parted with my last 10 euros all too easily on a fairly mediocre fish and chips - satisfying nonetheless - and I awaited that golden land of Denmark, the one I'd heard about in all the fairy tales.

Alas that's not what i got. What I got was Rødby - possibly the shittiest place in the world. The place was grim looking and dead. Straight away I noticed too that prices here in Denmark are much more than other places so far. I bought a coke, 16 kroner. At 10 to the pound that's not something I'll be doing too often. I have since noticed that thanks to monsieurs Carlsberg and Tuborg beer (or øl as they call it here) prices are extremely cheap. A bottle of beer costs about 8kr, thats half a coke or a water or anything else. It's a wonder that there isn't a serious drinking problem here (maybe there is - just round the corner from my hostel here in copenhagen there's a whole bunch of drunks - the area is kinda like the Cowley road area of Oxford but bigger, ie. perrenially up and coming from a working class backgound). Anyway it was 6pm and I chatted briefly with a young danish girl who explained she was waiting to leave Rødby asap as it was about the worst place imaginable even to the Danes. Her friend came and picked her up, so I was left to my bike and to find a place to camp for the night. In the back of my mind was a worry that according to the Lonely Planet wild camping is not permitted anywhere in Denmark. There apparently is a guide (which I've now seen thanks to a guy called Nuno who i met on the road today, but more later on that) that lists all the farmland where campers are welcome to pitch up for a small fee. Alas I didn't have it as there were a couple of places close to Rødby I could have used. Anyway I chanced upon a lovely cycle track through a forest near a place called Søholt which seemed to have a huge manor. About a mile up the track I met with an amazing forest scene and I thought this is the perfect place to camp. The ground was soft and free of foliage between the tall trees (see photo). I pushed the bike about 70m into the forest and found a perfect spot. Briefly I considered that I was probably still visible from the road, but what were the chances of anyone coming by - it was already 9pm. I set up camp and was just tucking into some instant noodles when the worst happened. A noticed a 4 wheel drive passing and then just as I noticed it, it stopped. Then reversed back a few metres. I could feel the occupants staring at me. Next thing I know the 4-wheel drive is driving towards me through the forest and regardless of the undergrowth. This clearly is not going to be a friendly welcome to Denmark.

I brace myself for the worst, whilst slurping on my noodles. I try not to show my fear as the passenger jumps out. He's clearly a forest ranger type. He shouts at me. I say 'sorry do you speak english?'. He softened a littled and replied 'Get out immediately, it's illegal to camp here. You must leave NOW!' So you get the idea that I was forced to leave my lovely campsite - well if I'd stayed imagine the trouble in the morning if they'd come back to check. I reckon this was the private forest of some Danish lord that i'd inadvertantly encroached up. So I was somewhat troubled. By this time it was 10.30pm and getting dark. I had to pack up the tent then get back out on the road and find somewhere else. So I donned my helmet for the first time since leaving gent and my cycle light and cycled off into the night. I feared the worst that I might be cycling a long time into the night, but as luck would have it I found a picnic area not mcuh more that a few miles away with a bit of flat ground hidden from the road behind some bushes. I put the tent up in the dark for fear that my lights might attract more unwanted attention.

Morning broke, and I'd counted less than 5 cars in the whole evening. I packed up without problems and set out on the road again, for what was to be the toughest day of the trip. The wind had if anything got stronger in Denmark than Germany and the worst that Holland had thown at me - always from the East, always the direction I've been heading in. This day I made it fairly quickly through Nykøbing a nice looking provincial town, then to the ferry at Stubekøbing on to the island of Bogø. That first bit had been pretty nice, taking in fields and quaint farming villages with thatched houses mainly with yellow walls. It was only on Bogø that the wind really struck. Across a land bridge to Møn, my final destination for the day I barely broke 8mph and I was pushing with all my might. Another 30km of relentless pushing followed (taking in a Viking burial mound on the way) before I finally made it to my destination at the far eastern edge of the island, where hills rise suddenly up before dropping into the sea with Dover-esque white chalk cliffs.

I stayed at an amazingly pleasant campground there and booking myself straight in for two nights. I'd definitely be needing a rest day, and plus it'd be nice to see the cliffs properly by taking the day to walk around. Well as you can see from the photos that¨s precisely what i did do. In a nice loop around with bright blue skies and surprisingly little wind (i'd prepared for a battering on the cliff top). I looped around then came back to the campsite for a beer induced afternoon snooze (yes the campsite had a convenient store). Later that afternoon I stumbled upon some info about the local viking remains that wasn't in the lonely planet. Just around the corner was a spectacular Dolmen, just there on the edge of a field next to a small road. I was the only one there and was free to play around as I liked (i resisted the urge to climb on top). So ended another nice day.

This morning I got up an with a relief found it still windy as hell, but of course that would mean at least half the way to Copenhagen i'd be getting a tailwind! I stormed back through Møn, to Præsto, averaging over 16mph. Heading north the tailwind (oh beautiful tailwind) turned more into a side wind with a bit of tail thrown in. But I wasn't complaining. In a place called Køge I had a little break to take in the ancient wooden buildings there and have a late lunch. Suddenly a fellow cycler jumped out of the woodwork (so to speak). He was Nuno from Geneva, and it turned out he'd been travelling up for about a month, a bit slower than me, but taking his time to get up to the North of Norway just like me. We compared notes, and chatted about this and that, and agreed to meet up later, maybe in Copenhagen (where he was heading too, but not tonight) in a day or two, or maybe later on the road, who knows?!

We parted company and i raced on north through rather uninspiring beachside towns, but still keeping up a phenomenal pace as compared to previous days - amazing what a difference the wind makes (take note todays stats at bottom Fongy!!). It was on my last legs though that I eventually pulled into Copenhagen. I headed straight for the closest hostel, and haven't really looked around yet.

Tomorrow though I'll be foraying briefly into Sweden (by train) to meet an old Oxford friend, Akexandra, who's now studying in Lund, so Copenhagen will have to wait another day. Expect I'll stay here 3 nights at least though...

Day 10- Lubeck to Søholt - 29/5
Dist (miles): 76.24
Ave speed (mph): 11.7
Max speed (mph): 22.5
Time on saddle: 6h31

Day 11- Søholt to Møns Klint - 30/5
Dist (miles): 69.41
Ave speed (mph): 10.6
Max speed (mph): 29.0
Time on saddle: 6h31

Day 12- Møns Klint to Copenhagen - 1/6
Dist (miles): 77.57
Ave speed (mph): 15.1!
Max speed (mph): 31.0
Time on saddle: 5h07

Additional photos below
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