Terii’s Cycling Babble


Leaving Møn
July 22, 2013, 10:07 am
Filed under: Misc

Wednesday morning, July 17th, Jens and I both woke around 4 am. Or rather, I woke him around 4 am. In my defense, he’d told me to at least nudge him to see if he wanted to try some fishing, which would be best in the early hours. To my surprise, rather than rolling over for more sleep, he actually got moving.

Originally, I’d plotted a 14 mile loop which would have started and ended at the camp ground. Unfortunately, my legs still felt like pounded meat from the last 5 hell miles of the previous day. Even if they hadn’t felt so abused, I would have needed easy access to my small chainring, not the nightmare it was. Still, I was determined not to ruin Jens’ day. I encouraged him to find a fishing spot I could drop him off at while I drove around and walked with the dog around the cliffs I was desperate to see.

Loving the sunrises here!

Loving the sunrises here!

He accepted and we packed the car in short order to leave the sleeping campground.

I love early mornings. Can you tell?

I love early mornings. Can you tell?

I drove since Jens was still fairly sleepy. It was a bit of an adventure, following the small winding roads between hills that were quite steep in places in search of specific places a man in a fishing shop had recommended. It was surprisingly difficult to find access to the water, but we managed. At both places, someone had parked their car to sleep in it though Denmark doesn’t have the same ‘Allman’s Right’ laws that exist in Sweden.

A Glorious Morning

A Glorious Morning

One place we found, required walking about 300 yards or more. I chose to wait in the car, saving my legs to walk in the area around the cliffs. While I waited, I worked on my blog. Another car pulled into the parking lot and a man wearing waders got out. He quickly gathered up a huge net, several poles and a fishing basket before heading off in the same direction as Jens and Loke. I tried to call my hubby to tell him since Jens might not see the guy if he took a different route, but alas. The phone had no coverage.

Jens did see him which he found encouraging. After a few more minutes though, he decided not to fish after all. He just didn’t have the oomph to wrestle into his waders especially since he was worried about me being bored while he played. After I asked, ‘Are you sure?’ half a dozen times, he convinced me that we should just go to the cliffs and start puttering our way home.

Baltic Through the Trees

Baltic Through the Trees

Look! White Cliffs!

Look! White Cliffs!

We pulled into the Geocenter parking and got out to walk. The first stretch was along a board walk, nice and level where it ran high above the steep drop to the beach below. It provided gorgeous views of the the sea though not so many of the white cliffs I’d come to see.

My legs so hate me...

My legs so hate me…

Back next to the Geocenter was a ‘path’ to the beach. I winced to see the series of unpleasantly steep stairs that zig-zagged down and down for what seemed forever before disappearing among the beech and conifer trees.

I gripped the railing to keep upright, my legs buckling. They turned to noodles because for every tread downward, I’d have to drag myself up. I had to turn away.

It was also the second time that Google Maps had lied. It had a cycle path down to the beach marked. I didn’t see it happening unless it was done by one of those people who can kangaroo hop a bike on a single wheel. Jens asked if we were going down and I said no.

To the north, a sign listed two view points at 300 meters and 500 meters. Just passed the signs we found yet more stairs. Maybe a bit less steep than those going to the beach, they still showed no mercy. My hubby waited until I decided to start climbing. I think it surprised him. The logic was very specific. Better to go up when I’m less tired than when I absolutely need to do so at a time when my muscles just have nothing left.

Huge Old Beech Tree

Huge Old Beech Tree

Part of what drove me was the same thing which had inspired me to crawl into the first low passage grave the day before. Two things had drawn me to Møn. The Neolithic archaeology and the cliffs. I’d seen the Stone Age monuments and I was going to see the cliffs even if I had to crawl back down the stairs when I was done.

Speaking of crawling, my knees and shins had quite a few bruises from my mound explorations. The right shin, already bright pink from sunburn had a big splotchy area of a deeper red, puffy and inflamed from the nettles.

At the top of the stairs was a good sized clearing. Dead center of it was a beautiful old beech tree. Stately and standing so tall that its crown reached higher than those trees up on the hill opposite, it surely has seen centuries of life and was now a lord of this forest. Impressive as it was, it would have been more so if two huge limbs laying on the ground had still been on the tree.

As I photographed the leafy ‘old man’, rapid thumping on the stairs behind us made me turn. A man, late 20’s to early 30’s came clattering up. He wore Lycra shorts with a cycle jersey, SPD shoes, a helmet and wrap around sunglasses. He gave a cheery ‘G’day’ in an obvious Aussie accent as he set down the mountain bike he’d carried on a shoulder. As he sped off toward the hill on the other side of the giant beech, I called out, ‘That’s going to be a wild ride down!’ He threw a grin over his shoulder, ‘Not here!’

I swear he went up that hill faster than I can go on most flats.

Stunning

Stunning

Jens said maybe that was how one was supposed to do the cycle path to the beach. I replied that a cycle path should be something that a person rides their bike/’bent on… not have the bike ride them.

We pushed on upward again and found more glimpses of beauty. Jens stayed back from the railings along the drop offs and kept Loke away from them as well. It probably made him nervous the way I’d walk right up to the beams and lean over to see more. A couple times, he’d ask in a pained voice for me to not stretch out so far.

Day light shining UP through the ground

Day light shining UP through the ground

I think my darling hubby finally washed his hands of getting near railings at all when I spotted a hole among the roots of a tree. Beyond it, I could see the blue of the Baltic waters, bright in the morning sun. Stunned, I blurted, ‘How on earth is that thin bit of ground holding up the tree?’ before considering how nervous that would make Jens. He stayed firmly on the path after that.

Me? I just thought it was cool though I wouldn’t have wanted to stay there for too long. I’m just a little crazy. Not completely disconnected from reality of what will happen to that chunk of ground one day.

Around some of the cliffs hundreds of swallows swooped through the air, probably nesting in any little clefts in the chalk face they could find. I love swallows. They’re darling little birds and eat huge amounts of insects.

Just breathtaking

Just breathtaking

Against my better judgement, we walked down the path even along areas that sloped steeply downward. Completely worth it. On the way to the last beautiful view, Loke found a snake. Just a cute little ringneck rather than the poisonous one, but Jens’ dislike of snakes is stronger than heights.

My hubby brought Loke up short before he had a chance to hurt the pretty creature. About that time, we turned back around.

My legs were trembling by the time we reached the car. As we left the park, we saw the Aussie mountain biker again, loading up his car. He made good time though it must have been a brutal climb from where he’d parked to where he crossed our path.

The rest of the drive was uneventful. It felt so good to be home and well we came home when we did. Within a few minutes of walking through the door, I found the battery in my wireless mouse was swelling in spite of a lack of power to overcharge it. It was tightly wedged and rounded enough that the battery cover wouldn’t go on it. I’d hate to think what might have happened if it had burst while sitting on the computer desk!

So, that’s the whole trip. The ups and downs. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be getting the trike’s gears fixed and things can return to normal.



Westward!
July 22, 2013, 4:27 am
Filed under: Day Rides

I woke around 3:30 am on July 16th after a somewhat uncomfortable night. Though the room looked nice, it was nearly airless. Opening a window offered no relief without further ventilation to create a cross-flow, so I sweltered. Even Jens was warm which is unusual unless it’s broiling out.

Sunrise on Møn

Sunrise on Møn

Now that Midsummer has passed and the year is getting older, sunrise is coming later. Add in that we were quite a way south from Uppsala added even more time between dusk and dawn, so I busied myself by working on the blog text for the Copenhagen ride. Finally, I noticed color in the sky and grabbed the camera to step out for a photo. Then began the ritual of getting dressed, running back and forth to assemble and load the trike. I also fed Loke and harnessed him.

Ready to Roll

Ready to Roll

He might have been flat at Churchill Park in Copenhagen after our 16+ miles, but by the time we’d reached the B&B, he was bouncing happily off the walls and remained perky all through the evening. So, he was raring to go in the morning.

I was a little concerned for his paws. The new socks either didn’t want to stay on or bothered his feet and made him limp. It appears that his 3 toed foot is sensitive as well. A sock which seems to fit properly makes him whine and he doesn’t want to put weight on the foot. Too large and it flies off as soon as he goes faster than a walk. I’m guessing its a leftover from the removal of the toe.

Ahh! Early morning on new ground!

Ahh! Early morning on new ground!

Scenery near the B&B

Scenery near the B&B

One thing I’d learned about Møn just on the drive over was that it’s not flat. I’ve often heard how perfect Denmark is for exploring by bike because it’s flat as a pancake. Copenhagen? About as rumpled as an untouched sheet of paper on a smooth table. The same for the area around the city. The closer to the bridge across the thin band of water separating Møn from the bigger island, the more hills. Møn itself, is quite hilly. Granted, the most of the hills have a gentler grade then most around Uppsala or other parts of Sweden I’ve pedaled over.

Splash of color

Splash of color

The hills were less of a concern than the wind. By my experience, early mornings are usually calm, but not this one. While unloading the trike, it roared furiously through the tree limbs overhead and it raged out of the west. Guess which direction was planned for the day?

I had maps for an eastward ride, a loop even, but the things I was most interested in were to the west and that ride was a 30-ish mile one way. I wanted to be fresh and strong for it to be sure I covered all the bases. Not struggling with achy, worn out legs. I wasn’t going to risk missing on many very fascinating things for a few less intriguing sites just because the ride was easier.

Elmelunde Church Distant

Elmelunde Church Distant

In spite of the mileage in Copenhagen the day before, I felt strong and rested. So, off we went west.

Though Loke hadn’t been bothered by yesterday’s big city run, I think he enjoyed the return to the wide open spaces and quiet, clean air of countryside. The brand new cycle path running parallel to the road beckoned and we both were off like a shot. He wanted to charge along at full tilt, but out of respect for his feet and potential onset of arthritis, I kept him to a more moderate gallop of 15 mph. The wind was cool and the morning peaceful. Close to a perfect start of a day.

Only a few things flawed it. The wind, of course. Also the sunburn hurt. Just the snug fabric of my usual cycle tights irritated the angry skin on my shins and the sport bra under my cycle shirt about made me crazy where it rubbed on the burn around shoulders. At least I was covered for this ride. I’d even slapped on some sunscreen against whatever UV rays made it through the cloth. My face and ears seemed to have bounced back overnight. No sign of redness or discomfort there.

Elmelunde Church & Bronze Age Mound

Elmelunde Church & Bronze Age Mound

The first target on my map was barely a mile and a half away so we reached it very quickly. Elmelunde Church. It also proved to have my first burial mound of the day, though not the highly anticipated sort. It was bronze age instead of neolithic and lacked the open passage into the tomb chamber.

Not thatched, but darling!

Not thatched, but darling!

At Elmelunde, I had to make a choice. On the map, the route would take me a bit north to smaller back roads marked with a cycle route which I thought might be more scenic. That had been planned before Jens and I had driven through Stege, Møn’s largest town, the evening before. I’d thought it just a humdrum, recent little place only to find out differently. I was a bit concerned that the original route might have me missing a few of the sites. I wavered between sticking to the larger road with it’s newly established, separate cycle path or the original plan. In the end, Loke and I zipped off beside the bigger road which seemed to have less climbs and would shave off a couple of miles.

I forgot about this semi-flat stretch

I forgot about this semi-flat stretch

The trike hummed along at 8.5 mph at least as Loke jingled and ticked beside me with a hint of tension on the running bar. Larks sang as they fluttered in the wind.

Random Scenery

Random Scenery

Oddly, though the wheat bowed and rippled in the wind like waves on open water, I felt oddly untouched by it. It swirled and gusted around us, but our pace held smooth and strong.

Møn doesn’t seem to have many woodland areas. Mostly it was huge grain fields, wheat mostly though corn turned up a few times. I think I saw oats once. There were trees, but mostly in small clusters or lining country lanes or standing as windbreaks between fields. Not surprising there are so few trees though. It’s a small island, not more than 40-ish miles from east to west and less than 20 from north to south. Add that diminutive size to the fact it’s been farmed since the stone age and farms mean cleared land.

The Mill Gate

The Mill Gate

Stege's Main Road

Stege’s Main Road

I was a little irritated at myself when I didn’t see the first item of interest near Stege until I’d have turned off the cycle path to return to the main road. I could have taken the original route just fine. I managed to console myself with the fact that it had been almost flat and saved a few miles which meant strength I could need later for fighting the wind.

By the time I reached Stege, I was ravenous. Just like in Copenhagen, breakfast was going to be served too late in the morning for me to twiddle around for it, wasting valuable ride time. Of course, in Copenhagen, it was more an issue of beating rush hour traffic than needing every moment to cover 30-ish miles in addition to hiking across fields and creeping into burial mounds.

It was just at 8 am and Stege was quickly coming to life though not with normal activity. It was clear the entire town was in a frenzy of preparation for some kind of festival. The best news was the bakery was open with a sign proudly proclaiming their hand-baked goods and the smells coming from it were heavenly. I tethered Loke and trike to a handy spot, ran across to the bank for cash before dashing into the bakery.

A Chocolate Snail & OJ. Mmmmmm

A Chocolate Snail & OJ. Mmmmmm

It was naughty, but what a filling breakfast. A ‘Choklad Snegal’ (chocolate snail) which was a glorious cinnamon bun type pastry with chocolate frosting. A box of orange juice and I was set.

Loke watched hopefully for a few minutes as I ate before he gave up to lay down, drowsing in boredom. Pity I couldn’t share with the furry one. This was the best cinnamon bun type goodie I’ve had in ages. Swedish ones tend to be dry and rather hard even when they’re just minutes from the oven. This was almost as gooey and soft as any from a small family bakery back in the States. I ate every crumb.

I enjoyed it so much, I even called Jens to tell him about the bakery. He’d mentioned probably skipping the breakfast at our accommodations since I wasn’t there to eat it with him. This place with it’s fresh baked goods was a good alternative.

Tempting as it was, I didn’t lick my plate. Loke eagerly tap-danced as I unlocked the trike but the wild charge out of town he hoped for didn’t happen. I went in search of a restroom. There were at least 4 public restrooms in Stege, usually around parking lots. Finding an open one at that hour was the tricky part.

Stege Church

Stege Church

Relieved, I came out and met a man who was standing a polite distance back, admiring Loke. He said something and I responded that I didn’t understand Danish very well. He asked in English if he could pet Loke and I welcomed him. We had a brief conversation about Loke and also his dogs. He has a pair of Samoyeds. One was 6 years old owned since a puppy. The other was 3, but a recent addition he’d taken in after her owners had divorced and neither could keep her. I thought it very kind that he’d given her a home.

To Loke’s annoyance, once our chat was done we still didn’t race away to leave Stege in my rear view mirror. I went hunting for a way to the church whose red brick tower was clearly visible over the rest of the town. The streets were cluttering fast with all manner of things for the festival. Everything from tables of hand made pottery, odds-n-bits you’d find at a yard sale, American classic cars on display, the smaller types of kiddie carnival rides, street food and more.

Stege Church collected, I found myself boxed into the church yard area. The little side streets leading too and from the church were blocked with booths and stands. A portly man with hints of silver in his otherwise gray hair saw my dilemma. Calling out cheerfully in Danish, he found a way open enough space for me to pass. I called out my grateful thanks in Swedish as Loke and I slipped through.

Finally Loke got his wish. We charged across the bridge and down the western road. After about a mile, we turned left onto smaller roads. Rather disappointing at first as we had to go through the residential area of the town across from Stege. Boring. Little houses, mostly of brick and not a one older than say 1950’s. It was worse that we poked through the area because a series of climbs slowed me down.

Bridge to and from Møn

Bridge to and from Møn

Jordehøj Mound

Jordehøj Mound

Soon enough we were back out into the countryside where the scenery was again worth looking at. My anticipation started to rise as the Garmin ticked off miles. Six. Seven. By the time it showed 8 miles, I was nearly in a fever pitch. Scanning the landscape to the right for the first example of what had made me so determined to come to Denmark the past few weeks. Then, pedaling past the bulk of a wheat covered hill, I could see it sitting in the middle of a fallow field.

I gave a happy cheer at small bump in the landscape, smaller by far than any burial mound I’ve seen in Sweden. Loke looked at me like I’d completely gone mad.

Maybe I had. Why else would I get giddy as a kid on Christmas about a dirt hill with a hole built into it?

I made the turn onto a rough country lane in desperate need of patching. When I found the sign for the mound, there was no accompanying parking lot. A minor annoyance. I doubted there’d be any traffic, but if someone did come along, the little road was too narrow for my trike and a passing car. No ditch, just a steep embankment of about 12 inches that I heaved the trike up to sit in the grass and weeds left to grow wild.

Hmmm. Suddenly not so sure about this...

Hmmm. Suddenly not so sure about this…

Once swapped from my cycle shoes to Five Fingers, Loke and I set off. He was enthusiastic. He bounced around, pausing to sniff and hunt for critters in the grass. Reaching the base of the structure, I circled around it in search of the entrance. The sight of the dark opening gave me pause.

It was tiny! I expected small, but the ‘walk in a low crouch’ small not ‘hands and knees crawling’ tiny. None of my research had indicated crawling. ‘Tall enough to stand in’ and ‘bring a torch’ mostly.

Jordehøj's Passage

Jordehøj’s Passage

I stood there, tapping my leg with the side of Loke’s flexileash while I pondered. Sniffing furiously, the fuzzy one warily crept toward the black maw in the side of the mound. His shoulders barely went past the lintel stone before he shied away, clearly as unhappy with it as I was.

Putting the handlebar bag on the ground, I settled on my knees and poked my head in to look. Dark? The light from outside reached in further than expected. Wet? Just damp, but lots of little pebbles scattered on the passage floor. Critters? Yep. Webs, though I didn’t see many of the spiders that made them and snails clinging to the walls.

The hard question of ‘How badly do I want this’ bounced around my mind for a few more minutes while I struggled to convince the Canon to shoot the passage. I think on the automatic settings, the camera thought the lens cap was on.

Abruptly, I decided to do it. Seriously! This was one of the major things I’d come to Møn for. Then I’m gonna chicken out just because of a bit of crawling? I’m not claustrophobic nor particularly bothered by spiders or snails. I’m not fond of mud, but it wasn’t really that wet. No way I wanted to go home, disappointed because I didn’t get to see the burial chamber in a mound! Carpi Diem!

'Can we please go back?!' he asks

‘Can we please go back?!’ he asks

Camera secured away and pushing the handlebar bag along, I began to crawl. My helmet stayed on, taking up even more of the limited space, but better then cracking my head on the uneven ceiling.

Loke was not thrilled with my choice. It says something about his loyalty when he came without even a single tug on the leash. He huddled close as I crawled, seeking comfort in the face of this utterly unfamiliar activity.

Awkward is the best way to describe that 23 foot journey. Little flashlight in my teeth (should have brought a head lamp!), Loke’s leash in one hand as I pushed the bag along with the other. Move the leash hand, knee scuff, knee scuff, shove the camera bag. Move the leash hand, knee scuff, knee scuff, shove the camera bag. That would have been bad enough, but the pain was worse. Hurting more than the pebbles digging into knees protected only by thin Lycra was the scraping and pressure on my sunburned shins. Aieee!

Burial Chamber Left Side

Burial Chamber Left Side

Finally I reached the burial chamber. It stretched off to the left and right for a few meters making a ‘T’ with the entry passage. It was cool and quiet under the heart of the mound. I breathed softly in awe of the stones encircling us.

Some of the rocks had diamond bright reflective points like sparkling beads of dew. Dust motes danced in the flashlight’s illumination. Loke found enough courage to sniff along the walls, but showed no signs of wanting to pee on anything. The enormity of what surrounded me raised goosebumps on my arms.

Where I sat, a people poised on the brink between history and prehistory worked to build this amazing structure of so many stones, all weighing tons. Especially the capstones over my head, holding up countless more tons of weight in dirt, flint and clay. No heavy machinery. No cranes and yet with great skill and knowledge, they came together for these undertakings. All done for love or respect of their dead so they could go securely into whatever afterlife they believed.

Right Side of Burial Chamber

Right Side of Burial Chamber

I felt inspired and honored to see it.

My camera apparently felt otherwise. Not for anything could I get it to take pictures. It’s a problem it’s given me in dark spaces before. Then it occurred to me that iPhone cameras will snap at anything. I pulled it out to point at the end of the chambers and it worked! The images even came out surprisingly decent given it was probably too dark for it to focus properly.

When I made to leave, Loke added some difficulty. He didn’t want to stay behind me, but he didn’t want to go first either. So, not only did I have to shuffle along pushing the handlebar bag, but I had give his furry butt a shove to move him a couple steps. I had to laugh.

As profoundly moving as the experience had been, it was glorious to emerge into the sunlight where I could stand up and stretch. Loke shook out his fur and immediately bounced to a patch of grass to roll around in. During the short hike across the field back to the trike, I started laughing with glee. I’d done it! Instead of turning back because the size of the opening had surprised me, I’d pushed on past my doubts. It felt intoxicating! Or maybe it was something in the mound’s air? Hehe.

I would have felt sad at leaving the mound as we raced off down the road, Loke pulling like crazy, except there were others ahead of me.

Give me curiosity every time!

Give me curiosity every time!

Within a half mile of the mound, I stopped to greet the first horses of the trip to Denmark. What a beautiful horse and a darling pony! I especially loved the horse’s coloring. Neither of them had the least bit of fear at us, which always makes me happy. I certainly don’t want any more events like the one earlier last year. I still twitch when I look at electric fence wires.

After cooing at the horses a bit more, I released the brakes and we zipped toward the bottom of the hill. Snorting and whinnying the blonde bay horse ran along the fence line with us. I stopped again at the corner of the pasture fence where the excited bay trotted in little circles. On the post of the street sign was another small sign I recognized as the Danish equivalent of the Swedish signs that often lead me to burial grounds/mounds or ruins.

Sparresminde

Sparresminde

Nothing in the immediate area was marked on my map. Of course, there was no distance marker on the sign either. Whatever it was could be just out of sight or a few miles away. In the same spirit which had bolstered me to crawl into Jordehøj, I made the turn which gave the horse a short distance more frisking along with us.

We didn’t have to go far. Barely a quarter-mile. Just behind the crest of a grain field, I saw a mound identical to the one I’d left moments before. Spotting a sign, I did a U-turn to park on the edge of the road. Not a great place as it was barely wide enough for a single car.

Smaller than Jordehøj's entrance!

Smaller than Jordehøj’s entrance!

Loke cavorted adorably as I made the hike up the hill. He bounced through the growing grain like a frolicsome gazelle fawn. As innocent as it looked, I’m sure he was hunting for small critters in the growth. Huskies… bless them.

He was less happy when I scrambled the short distance up the mound’s side to reach the entrance. Smart dog already recognized what it was and what I might do.

Actually, I wasn’t thrilled when I reached the opening either. Dismay would best describe what I felt. Easily as much as when I first set eyes on the small stone doorway of Jordehøj. This one was smaller and proportionally narrower. I’m quite hippy and I wondered if those hips were going to be scraping on stone if I went in.

On closer inspection, I wasn’t even sure I could go on my hands and knees. The height between floor and uneven ceiling looked barely enough for Loke to walk into without keeping his head down. Belly crawling?

The same Carpi Diem spirit which had seized me at Jordehøj, still held, so I knelt to peer into the passage and at least take a photo of that much.

Even less inspired now...

Even less inspired now…

That only increased my doubts. In a couple places, the big wall stones leaned in from the sides or hung lower in the ceiling to constrict the passage even more. There were more spiderwebs and snails. Couple beetles as well. Even so, I still found myself pushing the handlebar bag in and preparing to stretch out for the long wriggle to the burial chamber.

Then I heard it. A distinctive insect buzz rarely mistaken for anything other than what Swedes call ‘wasp’ but American’s would name ‘yellow jacket’. I froze, praying that Loke sniffing around at my feet wouldn’t do something to anger it. The last time he ticked one off, I got stung. Three times.

Abrupt silence made me wince. The buzz hadn’t receded into distance, but simply stopped. Sloooowly, I pushed myself back, carefully turning my head to look for it, hoping I wouldn’t hit it with my Da Brim or something silly. Yep, a yellow jacket was crawling around on the lintel stone. Then I heard another one.

Okay, that was the end of that. Snails, spiders and beetles? No problem. Damp earth? Sure! Slugs would be icky, but even those I could over come. I probably wouldn’t have even been deterred by a snake. Not even the single poisonous sort that Denmark shares with Sweden. It’s bite is no worse than a wasp sting.

Beautiful scenery from the mound. My trike there.

Beautiful scenery from the mound. My trike there.

Sounds odd that I’d face down a snake with venom the equivalent of a wasp sting but not wasps? Well, snakes don’t tend to bring friends when they’re p*ssed. Two wasps so close in the same area and apparently harmonious rather than combative with each other hinted at a hive nearby. No how as I going to risk getting Loke and I caught in a ticked-off swarm of flying hypodermics while pinned in tunnel I could only belly crawl through.

Love the thatch and dormer window.

Love the thatch and dormer window.

Obviously, I was disappointed, but I do have my limits. Everyone does. The wasps had tested my new-found willingness to explore and thwarted it. I was hoping that the presence of the winged needles around passage entrances was an exception rather than rule.

Loke and I hurried back down the slope to the trike. I took a moment for both of us to drink some water before moving out.

And my furry partner limped. Immediately I stopped. Looking over every bit of both front paws, I found nothing. The pads looked a bit worn, but not seriously so. Moistening them showed no bruises. No cuts, thorns or abrasions. While I man-handled him, Loke sighed impatiently and finally woofed at me. Instead of obeying his command to move, I glanced over my map, looking for someplace better than the ditch-side of a tiny little road to wait for Jens.

My favorite cottage of the ride

My favorite cottage of the ride

A church was close enough to coddle Loke along. I took the time to put socks on his front feet, but he didn’t want to walk in them. I removed them rather than face dragging him each and every step. I rolled us out slowly and though he still limped, he tried to pull us into a run. The horses back at the pasture didn’t help. They were so excited to see us again they were cantering back and forth, winding Loke up.

Less than a quarter mile down the main road leading west, Loke was fine. He was dragging hard into the harness, desperate to go faster than the 5 mph I held us to, and not a hint of foot pain. After a limp free mile, I relented enough to move up to 7 mph which made him a little happier. Or at least stopped him from trying to pop the stitching on his harness.

Damsholte Church

Damsholte Church

About 2 miles from Sparresminde, we rolled to a stop in the shade of a small building outside Damsholte Church. I secured Loke to the locked trike, left plenty of water and went to look at the church.

It’s a pretty church, though younger than most as it was built in the mid-1700’s.

Inside Damsholte

Inside Damsholte

While finding an angle I liked, a man entered it. I hurried after him and slipped inside.

Other than he and I, the place was empty. I held up my camera and he answered with a smiling nod. As I snapped photos and admired the colors and decor, my phone rang. A little embarrassing.

I don’t remember why Jens’ called, but after a minute he asked why I was whispering. ‘Because I’m in a church.’ I promised to call him back once I was finished.

Though the interior was simple, I found a certain elegance to it. It turns out the ‘stark’ nature of the decor is due to the mindset of the Lutheran beliefs.

The stairs up to the gallery were narrow and steep, the wood worn into little hollows here and there from centuries of use. The height next to the enclosed organ gave the best view of the nave, so definitely worth the climb.

Hand Operated Organ Bellows

Hand Operated Organ Bellows

I passed around the back of the organ to go down the opposite stairs and found, to my surprise, a bellows pump. It looked like it had a few adaptations in the name of modern progress, but still the bottom edge of the bellows showed under the box and the hand lever still remained. Things like that strangely make me smile.

I called Jens back when I stepped out of the church. We finished whatever the conversation was during the walk back to Loke. I took a moment to use the bathroom located outside the churchyard before getting ready to move out.

Though he’d been fine for a mile to mile and a half between the last mound and the church, Loke was limping again straight away. That was it. I did a loop back to the church parking lot to ring Jens for a husky rescue. During the wait, I looked for something obviously causing his limp, but all appeared normal. I wasn’t going to toy with his feet though. He’d done well, covering roughly 30 miles in two days.

According to Jens, Loke stared mournfully after me for a short while after they left me, but finally just laid down and slept. The hubby took good care of him. They puttered around the west end of the island, visiting beaches which the fuzzy one really enjoyed. He likes playing in splashing water as long as it’s not deeper than 8-10 inches.

Kong Asgers Høg - King Asger's Mound

Kong Asgers Høg – King Asger’s Mound

Passage Through Kong Asgers Høg

Passage Through Kong Asgers Høg

On my own, I was off like a shot. I spun the pedals at a higher cadence, zipping into the wind at about 10 mph where the terrain allowed. I flew down hills at speeds between 17 and 25 mph. I covered about 3 miles in 23 minutes. That’s actually about the same speed Loke and I can manage on loops around here when he’s well rested. But the climbs, particularly the last mile to my next destination, combined with the strong winds slowed me from my slightly better solo speeds. It was roughly 12:30 when I reached Kong Asgers Høg.

The mound was clearly bigger than the other two. The Sprint secured, I walked up to the passage and peeked in. This one was more what I had expected of the first. The floor was hard packed and pebble free, with divots and shallow furrows from all the visitors over the years. The ceiling offered enough clearance that I could walk, albeit hunched awkwardly, rather than needing to go on hands and knees or contemplate belly crawling. No spider webs. I didn’t even see a single snail or beetle.

I’d barely gone a yard into the passage when tires pinging on gravel and Danish voices made me back out to watch a pair of touring cyclists pull into the parking area. I decided it was safe enough to leave the trike as they walked toward me.

Chamber to the left of the passage

Chamber to the left of the passage

Once I was in a little, the light disappeared somewhat. I twisted around to look over my shoulder. The woman was peering at me. ‘Are you coming in?’ I asked in English. She glanced at the walls and ceiling, ‘I don’t think so.’ Nodding, I continued my bent walk down the 33 feet of passageway.

The ceiling in the burial chamber proper was high enough I could have stood erect if I removed my helmet. With it, I just had to duck my head a little. It was a long space, stretching to the left and right of the entry. The fact it was at least 1.5 feet, maybe 2 feet taller than Jordehøj’s passage and chamber made it significantly more impressive. The big stones seemed more defined.

Sand stone masonry between the big wall stones

Sand stone masonry between the big wall stones

As in the first one, I took a moment after my photos to absorb the weight of age and history steeped in the place. What I felt standing in those rooms I’ve not known since visiting Stonehenge. Yet, beneath the mounds, it carried a more primal edge to the amorphous emotions. Stonehenge has been so ‘groomed’ by modern man. There’s a sturdy walkway of metal mesh encircling it where everyone shuffles around the ring. There’s no walking amongst the stones. Here, I could reach out and touch what Neolithic villagers had sweated and strained to move. Stand or sit where people had wept in grief while interring loved ones with personal items to ease the way into the life beyond.

I think the man waited for me to emerge. He started the walk from the parking lot toward the mound just as I straightened up in the open air. He gave a friendly nod as we passed each other. The woman came too, though more slowly. I pulled out my iPhone, ‘Would you like to see pictures since you don’t want to go in?’

Accepting my offer, she flipped through them curiously and laughed at the one of Loke looking longingly back toward Jordehøj’s exit. She asked where he was and made disappointed noises when I explained about his limping and my husband taking him. ‘I would have liked to see him. He looks beautiful,’ she told me. Handing my phone back, she added that she would go in after all.

Instead of going back to the trike, I walked down the road toward the next POI just 100 yards or so to the south.

Spovedyssen & Scenery

Spovedyssen & Scenery

Sprovedyssen, called simply ‘Sprove’ online, was quite interesting. Instead of a passage grave, this is called a dolmen though it was still used for burial purposes. As I crossed the road, I heard a bike bell ding. It was the couple on bikes who waved goodbye as they headed back to the east.

Passage to Dolman Center

Passage to Dolman Center

From the sign next to the road, a path wound over the 20-30 meters to the burial structure. Eager to reach the dolmen, I wasn’t paying attention. I paid for it.

The path was only 10 inches wide, a foot at the most, flanked by knee high growth to either side. Within 3 strides down the path, I yelled and jumped to the left with more agility than I would have thought possible. I managed to carefully set down the handlebar bag with the camera before hopping around, swearing like a sailor while tears squeezed from the corners of my eyes.

Nettles. I thought the things hurt before when I accidentally stuck my hand in one while opening a gate. My cycle tights offered no protection. What I think made it so much worse than my first nettle experience was more affected skin (a spot larger than my spread hand as opposed to a 50 cent piece) and sunburn. My right leg had the worst burn and the nettles had slapped right across the reddest part of it. Double whammy.

Once the pain ebbed from the fiery burn to the stinging itch that made want to scratch down to the bone, I felt guilty at the damage I’d done to about a 6 foot area of crop field. I’ve no clue what kind it was, but I’d flattened about 6 plants. Catching my breath, I avoided the nettle trap by using a furrow through the crops.

Under the Sprove Dolman's Capstones

Under the Sprove Dolman’s Capstones

No more nettles lurked in the area around the dolmen so it was safe to walk there. As I took the pictures and looked closely, I realized it could be a skeleton of a mound like Kong Asger’s. A stone-ringed raised terrace of earth with a inset path leading to the center where larger stones formed the walls of a rough little chamber dug down into the higher ground. The dolmen needed only capstones on the passage, some sandstone masonry in the gaps between chamber wall stones to be followed by the clay, flint and finally a smooth mound of dirt. It would have been a tiny burial chamber though. Round and not even 6 feet across.

I found nothing to indicate this was an unfinished mound or one that a curious, greedy 18th or 19th century busybody stripped down. So, this might as it was made thousands of years ago even if it’s weathered and shifted a bit since everything was carefully put in place.

Leaving the area of the mound and dolmen meant doubling back about a mile. With the wind at my back and glorious downgrade, I raced at 17+ mph. Nor did I slow down after whipping through the right-hand turn to begin the southern leg of the ride. The gusting wind pushed at me from a little behind my right side and the the landscape continued it’s mostly negative slope. In my highest gear and chainring, I spun rapidly, ignoring the rub of my cycle tights on my sunburned, nettle-stung shin.

The two miles to my next destination went in a blur. Breathless and smiling, I bumped to a stop in another parking lot covered in large stones.

Klekkendehøj Mound is hiding...

Klekkendehøj Mound is hiding…

Klekkendehøj was not to be seen though a hard packed trail through the huge wheat field made an obvious guide. When I first started the walk, I thought this was my first stroll ever through a field of wheat. Now I remember that distinction goes to one runestone hunt around Mariefred last month. Of course, that wheat was barely halfway up to my knee so hardly counts. These stalks were as high as my hip.

During the stroll, I noticed the condition of the ground. Not only was the path hard as rock and cracking from lack of moisture, but the trend continued even into the wheat. Møn or maybe even most of Denmark clearly could use a good wetting. At times, it looked like the clouds might accommodate the thirsty ground, but they never let loose.

Finally! Klekkendehøj In View!

Finally! Klekkendehøj In View!

The walk was longer than anticipated. It felt like forever, marching up the curve of the hill, before the mound was even visible.

Klekkendehøj is a rare double passage burial mound. Each passage leads to a separate burial chamber. One chamber actually has a mock-up of how the space might have appeared with grave goods. It was locked though there’s supposed to be a key available at the nearby farmhouse.

I didn’t bother fetching the key. I was starting to feel tired. It’s just as well I didn’t. Of the two passages, the one with the locked iron door about 5 meters in was smaller even than Sparresminde’s entry. Even with key in hand, I wouldn’t have tackled that tight space.

As it was, the larger passage was unpleasant. It wasn’t any worse than the others I’d navigated. It was me. My knees were bruised from crawling almost 100 yards on less than ideal surfaces. My shins had been painful just from the sunburn, but the nettle-brushed one was a new level of merry hell as it scraped.

Klekkendehøj had some rudimentary lighting inside, but it still wasn’t enough to make the Canon usable. Perversely, it also negatively affected the quality of the iPhone photos. As I started this portion of the blog, I also realized I’d forgotten to take a photo of the side-by-side passages in a closer up mound photo. Another indication of how tired I was after 20 miles. My brain was starting to go to mush.

Fanefjord in the distance

Fanefjord in the distance

Fanefjord Church

Fanefjord Church

I think it was between Klekkendehøj and Fanefjord where things started to go downhill… and not in the good negative grade on the landscape way. My speed was still quite good with the wind to the side instead of in the face and the ground being nice. Then, as my speed began to slow a little for a significant climb, I twisted the gear grip for the small chainring and… nothing but clattering. Annoyed, I twisted back up and then down, and it went. Just a fluke I thought.

I remained on the small chainring as I turned onto an unpaved track, blocked from car-traffic by large stones across the intersection. The track-bed was covered with big stones interspersed with patches of sand. It made for hard going, but was so worth it.

Grønsalen Long Barrow

Grønsalen Long Barrow

Stone 'coffin' burial pit set into Grønsalen

Stone ‘coffin’ burial pit set into Grønsalen

Grønsalen was impressive. The sheer size of it! Though it was only about 20-30 feet wide, it stretched longer than an American football field and nearly 4 feet high from level ground to flattened top. The mounds with the skillfully crafted passages and chambers would have required far more skill to place capstones and knowledge of materials to make water-tight, but they seemed so small against Grønsalen’s immensity.

I scrambled up to look at the burial pits and goggle at the scope of it from another angle. Again, my brain must have been half off because I forgot to get a photo of the white stone protecting the last untouched burial.

From there, I headed back north to take a road near the church which would take me further west. In hindsight, it was a waste of time and effort. A lot of effort.

By the time I’d reached the church, I’d already had the shifting issue with the trike again. The fact it impacted my smallest chainring was a bad thing.

About a mile from the church, I found a spot to stop and fight with the front derailleur, but to no avail. I remained stubborn though. The end of the ride was barely 5 miles at this point. The same as a basic River Loop at home. Surely, I could do it.

It was the worst 5 miles I can remember in a long time. First, Google Maps lied. The route took me across a causeway to another tiny island, Bogø, just west of Møn. On Google, it showed a heavy green line which indicates a dedicated cycle lane/path.

Umm… no. It was a tiny bit of shoulder ‘separated’ from road traffic by a stripe of white paint laid down in rumble strip pattern. It wasn’t even wide enough for my trike! If the right wheel was right on the edge of the paving, my left vibrated along on the outer edge of the stripe. That was only when the right side didn’t have nettles hanging leaning over the edge. Fortunately, I spotted them rather than discovering their presence the hard way. I don’t think my right shin could have taken much more abuse.

It was the worst bike accommodations I’d seen in Denmark. Kind of sad when a big city, packed with people, buildings, cars and trucks offers more space for bikers than what I found there. I refuse to even call it a bike lane let alone a dedicated cycle path!

Then there was the wind too. It was probably the fact there was absolutely nothing to block it. I suppose even the softly rolling hills on Møn probably tempered the wind somewhat. On that causeway, it was like riding on flypaper. It sucked the remaining strength right out of my legs.

Then the shifting became a nightmare. Desperate to move faster, I’d unthinkingly click to the 2nd ring when the wind let up enough and then couldn’t get back down when I desperately needed easier gears. The only way to do it was by stopping to unclip my right foot and shove at the chain with my foot while trying to push the crank with my left.

Bogø Windmill

Bogø Windmill

I was never so glad to see real land again as when I reached Bogø. The wind relented a little though it meant a return of hills. At least by that time, I had control of my shifting impulses and managed to stay on my small chainring as I gritted my teeth to push through the last of the climbs. Most of the final mile to mile and a half was downhill.

Exhausted, I came to a stop near a forest pavilion next to the smallest and most deteriorated of the chamber mounds I’d seen all day. A Danish family ate at one of the picnic tables while a pair of girls, about 16 years old I’d guess, monopolized the mound. I was too tired to care by that point.

Bad cell reception made it a little difficult to connect with Jens, but he finally found me. It felt so good to flop into the car seat even if I did have to face putting up a tent.

We were woefully unprepared for camping. We shopped some sausages a grocery while driving to the east side of the island. Putting up the tent was a challenge. We haven’t used it 7 years or so and then only put it up twice. At first, I pounding tent stakes with my cycle shoe until a very nice man brought over a rubber mallet. My mat went flat during the night, though it seems to have been from an insecure valve cover.

Loke was a good boy at least. He stayed in the vestibule on a double padding of fuzzy blankets for a comfy bed. No attempts to sneak out under the edge.

Of course, I suspected Wednesday’s ride was ruined. From the B&B of our first night, the landscape was one of softly rolling hills. Our drive to the camp ground showed a much steeper character. Indeed, on the main road just out of sight of the intersection with the B&B’s quiet little lane was a huge drop in elevation, impressive to behold. I probably would have been able shatter my previous speed record if I’d gone screaming down that. And I do mean screaming. 12% or greater grade for almost a kilometer. My legs hurt and with the shifting problems, I was all but certain that taking on the steeper climbs was not going to happen.

Jens kept asking if I was going to ride. I simply answered we’d see how I felt in the morning… then I passed out until my mat flattened.



Craziness In Copenhagen
July 19, 2013, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Early Morning – July 15th

Yesterday’s drive down to Copenhagen went fine. We simply made a mad dash south on the fastest and most direct route. Saw some lovely scenery, particularly along Lake Vättern, which happens to be Sweden’s 2nd largest.

View of Lake Vättern from Brahe Ruins

View of Lake Vättern from Brahe Ruins

View Framed By Old Window

View Framed By Old Window

The land around the lake is very steep which gives the lake its rather impressive depths. It might rank only #2 in size, but it’s the deepest in Sweden’s fresh water. I’m sure an impressive glacier carved all of it out during the last ice age. Perched on a rocky promontory, the ruins of Brahe Manor overlooks fields and houses surrounding the vast stretch of water far below. The view is stunning.

I’ve been there once before, either when I first visited Sweden to marry Jens or the next year when I finally moved to Sweden. We’ve passed by it a few other times on our way to the southern parts of the country for various reasons.

We stopped there this time to walk the dog and for me take pictures for friends, family and blog. I had my doubts about how well I’d be able to do. On sites like this, I prefer to capture just the ruin and scenery. Clutter like random strangers, cars, power poles and lines often put me off pushing the shutter switch and people swarmed around Brahe Manor like minnows at a lump of bread. Knowing the ride through Copenhagen was very near, it was best if I just got over it.

Brahe Manor From Across Highway

Brahe Manor From Across Highway

And actually, I did just fine with a combination of patience and quick shutter work.

Remanent of the Stairs

Remanent of the Stairs

The crowds took its toll on Jens’ patience though. He doesn’t care for heights and had Loke with him so he went for the low ground while I went up. He called a few minutes later to say he’d be back around the car. The furball was being too difficult with an overabundance of energy and so many people wandering to and fro.

There was a slight haze which lent a certain charm to the views. I didn’t rush as I’d done the first time. I let myself savor the far reaching vistas and explored more thoroughly. I found a chamber you can go into under the main floor the manor ruin as well as stairs leading into the foundations of one courtyard tower. I also spent several minutes just admiring the scenery from so high up. I’ve no fear of heights, but even I felt a little lightheaded when I looked out and down from the ruin windows.

I was glad to get back to the car, not only to sit down, but also for relief from the press of people.

The southern ‘county’ of Sweden is obviously the country’s bread basket. Wheat, wheat and more wheat. As far as the eye can see in some places. Such color in some fields! Some of it was the usual green of unripened grain, others the creamy golden yellow that looks as if it’s just days from harvest. Then there was another sort nearly as bright a yellow as a field of canola flowers, but just a hint of green that somehow made the hue more intense. I never knew wheat could almost glow, especially since it was cloudy most of the way.

No, I didn’t take photos of the fields. Attempting to do so at 110 kph would result in shaky photos and stopping on a highway is risky at best. Not to mention by the time you’ve spotted the perfect view, it’s whipped right by.

There were country churches to be seen of course. Even one that looked like it had been plucked right out of the Danish countryside and dropped in Sweden. Not surprising since that area of Sweden was trapped in a tug-of-war between the two countries for centuries. There was one little church that stunned me, surely a tribute to Gothic architecture in miniature. It lacked perhaps the weathered gray stone and gargoyles, but… I can’t describe it and we were in too much of a hurry to get to our hotel to try finding the proper way to it. Safe to say, I’ve never seen one like it in Sweden or anywhere for that matter. Maybe on the way home we’ll take a moment to seek it out.

The hotel room is comfortable and pleasant. Simply decorated in Scandinavian fashion with very little color. Loke’s fur should blend in with just about everything except for the navy blue carpeting. We’re on the top floor with an view of the city though from here, it’s an indifferent one. The better views are further east with more of the old buildings. The room feels bigger than it is thanks to the ceiling which slopes upward from around 9 feet near the door to 12-15 feet at the window.

Copenhagen View From Hotel

Copenhagen View From Hotel

Once settled into our hotel around 6 pm, Jens wanted to go out in hopes of finding some place to eat. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving Loke in the hotel alone, so that restricted our choices.

The stroll by the modern buildings waterside was nice enough, but then we cut away from the Baltic. Immediately, the smell hit me. It was that sour reek that brought back memories of New Orleans, Chicago or just about any other city of significant size I’ve ever been in. I’d forgotten that odor of mingled spit, food and drink slopped everywhere as, oddly enough, Stockholm and Uppsala appear to lack. The sidewalks were unpleasant, spotted with old gum and dark splashes where sticky liquid, probably soda or beer, had been spilled or thrown. I cringed at the idea of Loke walking bare-pawed on it all.

Don’t get me wrong. Uppsala sidewalks aren’t pristine. What city’s can be? Compared to the ones toward Copenhagen’s rail station (very lovely building by the way) and the postal museum, Uppsala’s seem sterile and gleaming… and odor free.

Copenhagen Train Station By Morning Light

Copenhagen Train Station By Morning Light

I’m sure there’s more to this city then my first impressions gleaned from that short walk and I will find them. I want to be charmed, not revolted. I may not escape the smell as I ride right through the area we walked, but at least the cycle lane was cleaner than the sidewalk which is where Loke and I will be spending most of our moving time. Now, I just need to wait for a little more daylight so I can ride more safely… in Monday morning traffic!

I hoping the ride goes well for more than traffic concerns. I’m also going to try riding in normal clothes for the first time since the failed effort years ago when my Trice was shiny and new… instead of just shiny. There is a reason I pull Lycra onto my plump self for my rides and it’s not for looks. But I’m aware that being clad in black and often pink stretchy fabric while also riding a funny cycle and now a huge brim on my helmet making it look like some kind of odd fireman’s headgear gives me a bizarre and eccentric appearance.

For some reason, I want to look more normal for my ride through the southern bit of Copenhagen. So, cream linen capri pants with a sage green, long sleeved top I’d wear to a casual restaurant without thinking twice. The helmet with the Da Brim and my clunky cycle shoes can’t be helped, but I think the normal clothes will be a big improvement. Maybe even enough that people will be staring more at the husky beside me. Jens’ dad found a place in this part of the city that rents recumbent trikes. Or at least, he said ‘trikes that look like yours’. That could mean that my Sprint 26 might not make anyone bat a lash!

I’ll type more once done with the ride this evening. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Begun July 15th – Evening

Today was… strange. Don’t mistake me, it was fun, just very surreal at times. First, being in a big city with my head just a yard off the ground. Copenhagen might not be Chicago or New York City big, but compared to Uppsala which is Sweden’s 4th largest, it’s much larger with a higher density of people. Probably even bigger than Stockholm. So, I was more than a little nervous about the ride. Jens was going to be working all day so there was also worry about Loke.

All of those concerns faded away once I got rolling.

Blurry Dawn Over Copenhagen

Blurry Dawn Over Copenhagen

Breakfast at the hotel wasn’t going to be available until 7 am. I didn’t want to wait that long. It would have had me starting out on one of the busiest roads of the ride right at rush-hour. So, I went out to the car at 5:30 am with Jens saying he’d come down with Loke when I called. He didn’t wait, but ended up walking around with Loke as I got everything ready.

I didn’t know how much walking I was going to do, so before the trip I’d purchased an inexpensive little pannier bag. Only holds about 11 liters of volume, but very quick on and off. I didn’t want to leave anything on the trike someone might snatch or pilfer through, so needed a bag to carry water and a few other items for a shorter rides, but not so large that I’d dislocate my shoulder lugging it around while juggling Loke’s leash and taking photos. It was the perfect size. 2 liter Platypus water container, telephoto camera lens, Five Fingers for those times I want to walk in something other than cycle shoes, Loke’s off-trike tether, his socks, water bowl and puncture repair kit all fit snugly.

The air was bit on the chill side as Loke and I sped off through the parking area. I swerved around a building to get to the dock-side we’d walked the night before when I decided Copenhagen was stinky. It was peaceful, if a little windy. Hard to say what kind of day it was going to be as it was a fair balance between sun and cloud. When we cut back toward the road and onto the cycle lane, a guy cycled past. He glanced down with a big smile and wished me a Danish good morning. I grinned back and said the same in Swedish.

My fuzzy cycling partner was in high spirits and full of vigor. He stretched into a easy lope when I let him. It’s times like that when my worries about his health fall away. At home with the tedious river loops, he’s so sluggish it leaves me wondering if it’s boredom or something more sinister. Hard for me to let go of that feeling. I guess part of me knows when I do, it will be something bad.

But no worries yesterday. We flew into the city’s depths as if on wings. Near the train station, I discovered a minor problem. What to do when taking photos or reading maps for that matter. Getting that first one wasn’t too bad as the traffic, car and bike, were scarce enough for me to stop. Later would be an issue. Stopping in the bike lane would be like stopping a car in the middle of the street. No space for parking on the edge and often the curbs are too high to bump onto the sidewalk if the pedestrians leave room.

There’s an amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen called Tivioli. Jens and I walked to one of the entrances last evening, but of course, they did not allow dogs so we returned to the hotel. It’s pretty much across the street from the train station. I went on along the outer wall and turned right to follow it around to my next left turn and stopped in surprise.

Tivoili Gardens - Now THAT is an entrance!

Tivoili Gardens – Now THAT is an entrance!

Tivioli’s main entrance is amazing. A candy store and a ‘make your own teddy bear’ shop flank huge arches, beautifully carved and with hints of gilt. All of it, both shops and the entry, are built of a deep red stone and brick. The ground is paved with red and black paving slabs in a smooth, perfectly level checker pattern. I parked the trike with Loke in front of the arches and scrambled to the middle median of the road to get a photo of the unexpected sight. Loke didn’t seem impressed. He did a lot of sighing at me.

Photo taken we moved out again. Before we’d gone more than 10 yards, I came across a couple who were completely and utterly bombed. At the sight of Loke and I, they started laughing and screaming happily while they waved at us, apparently having forgotten that they had cups in hand with beer. The frantic, beer-spraying waving did not help their fragile balance as they staggered along with only each other for shaky support. They actually made Loke nervous as we passed. He edged as far away from them as the trike allowed, ears at a worried angle as he shot uneasy glances over his shoulder until they were out of sight. He’s not accustomed to such erratic behavior. Hoards of screaming, bouncing children, yes. Yelling, happy drunk people trying to walk down a city street? No.

Copenhagen's Fourth City Hall

Copenhagen’s Fourth City Hall

When I told Jens about it his comment was, ‘That drunk at that time of day??’. I answered, ‘I don’t think their night was over yet.’ Indeed, they appeared determined to make a go of it until next dawn.

My next stop was at the Copenhagen Town Hall square. Initially, I’d marked it as #2 on my map, right after the tower ruin, but since it stretched across a city block as it were, I rolled right into it. At first, Loke was in a frenzy because the square had been covered with pigeons. Once most of them scattered to a respectable distance, he settled down and I left him to wait beside the trike.

Bull & 'Dragon' Fountain

Bull & ‘Dragon’ Fountain

It’s a large impressive building, but first I was intrigued by the fountain sitting to one edge of the square. Big, heavy collection of bronze sculptures. Around the lower basin, odd creatures cling to the rim shooting water up in an arc from pointy noses. Above the basin, a titanic struggle between a bull and a strange, long bodied fish looking thing. I liked it. Not sure yet how the photo I took came out as the best angle to view the bull goring the fish wasn’t so good lighting wise. The best lighting angle would have shown little more than the bull’s rump and the fish’s tail. I’ve since found out that the name of the fountain actually has the word ‘dragon’ in it.

Fountain admired, I started toward the other side of the square where a statue stood high on a very tall plinth. When I say ‘very tall’, I mean 20 feet at least. I was about half there when I heard ‘WOOF!’. I looked back and Loke stomped his feet at me. I told him to wait. As soon as I took another step, ‘WOOF!!’. Sighing, I turned back around as the furry bully tap-danced at me again. To his credit, he didn’t try to move the trike even an inch. At least he’s a good boy as far as that goes. Hehe.

The Ruin of Jarmer's Tower

The Ruin of Jarmer’s Tower

From the square, it was a short jaunt to the tower. Traffic was beginning to pick up so it was nice to see a somewhat convenient place to park the trike out of the way near a small tree. Loke sighed at me some more as I moved off to find a better angle for what remains of Jarmer’s Tower which is all that is left of 11 towers built in the early 1500’s as part of Copenhagen’s medieval fortifications.

Street View of City Hall Clock Tower

Street View of City Hall Clock Tower

Random building I liked

Random building I liked

Quite interesting to see a medieval ruin surrounded by asphalt streets and modern buildings. Not another bit of ancient architecture in sight.

From there, we rushed back toward the waterfront. I didn’t stop for the high-up statues across the street from the town hall. The patch of ground it sits on has been recently planted with small trees. The statue is kind of neat, but once I was closer to it, I decided rather than run around for half a block trying to get a good angle, I’d just let it go.

Another Architectural Surprise

Another Architectural Surprise

I had a little trouble puzzling out where the cycle lane was for the direction I needed. In Copenhagen, people on bikes are expected to behave like people in cars to a larger extent. They actually do! In Sweden (and around the world), they may say that bikers should obey car rules, but it rarely happens. There were a very few exceptions in Copenhagen of course. Someone too impatient to wait for a light when there was no obvious traffic, but for the large part everyone played nice. Rather than someone on a bike obeying the traffic laws being the exception rather than the rule, it was an exception when someone didn’t.

Would have been lovelier without the construction equipment

Would have been lovelier without the construction equipment

Of course, it’s easy when bikes have their own little roads between the sidewalk and cars and their own traffic lights most of the time. And cars don’t use the bike lanes for parking! The only thing I could have wished for were more left turn accommodations. They were available in a few places, marked lanes and lights both, but mostly, a bike had to charge into the fray, attempting to convince cars they had as much right to make that left turn as everyone else. Me? Being so low to the ground, I tended to go past the left turn, go right again, then again and once more. That added some distance, but it kept me and Loke in one piece without a single near miss.

Love the spire!

Love the spire!

Eye-catching building near Stork Fountain

Eye-catching building near Stork Fountain

So, with such clearly marked lanes most of the time and the apparent regard most cyclists I saw had for traffic rules, I didn’t want to go riding against the flow of traffic. I just couldn’t see where they’d put the lane. It turns out it was there, but subtly marked from my low-to-the-ground profile. The brick-paved sidewalk on that side had a lines of different colored bricks to divide between pedestrian and bike. If I’d been higher up on a standard bike, I would have been able to spot it. Not about to trade my trike for a better view of Copenhagen sidewalks though.

It was a bit of a headache to figure my way toward the little island with a castle and other buildings on it. So much construction cut off some of the roads I needed. Upon discovering the road I’d spent about 20 minutes looping around to find an open way to, it was only to see a sign marking the entrance as private. That would have been fine. Google street view had shown that standing opposite the bridge and photographing past the arch would have been one of the best shots. Except there was scaffolding and backhoes everywhere.

The Stork Fountain

The Stork Fountain

The next mile or two after is recalled only as a blur of teeth-rattling cobblestones and lost cycle paths while battling with the haphazard layout of the streets. I never did find one little stone statue of a fishwife. In a city of bronze, impressive sculptures, I would have liked to photo the plump, almost cartoony stone woman.

While confusing Loke with all the loops and turns, I did a minor good deed. We were cruising along one of the canals behind a couple of other bikes. The man directly in front of us was loaded down with a few plastic shopping bags. One was near fit to busting. He hit a bump and a small something fell out. He apparently heard it because he stopped to look in the bag and around his feet. I slowed enough to scoop up the lightbulb box, swerved over to stop next to him. ‘Excuse me.’ He looked startled before giving a smile of thanks.

The next point of interest, I pedaled hard for was another fountain. Getting to it was a mad house. The area looked as if it were mostly a walking area, but white vans and trucks rushed every which way, apparently without heed for pedestrian or cycle. It was a hazard of early morning Copenhagen it seemed. Service trucks scrambling like mad to empty the public garbage and clean the streets before the general population awoke to cause it’s daily mayhem.

Somehow, I safely made it to the fountain. As I took the photos, I felt more than a little exposed to those service trucks. Still I collected a couple images of the bronze storks and cattails.

Joy! Cobblestones on the way to the round tower!

Joy! Cobblestones on the way to the round tower!

Rundetårn - 'Round Tower'

Rundetårn – ‘Round Tower’

Fleeing the square with it’s flying city service vehicles, I did a zig-zag through some of the narrower streets, most paved with jarring cobbles, in search of the ‘Round Tower’.

Rundetårn is a pretty 17th century tower built onto the back of Trinitatis Church as a combined library, astronomy observatory and students’ church.

View of Rosenborg Slot (castle) across a formal flower garden

View of Rosenborg Slot (castle) across a formal flower garden

Loke & the Sprint at Rosenborg Castle

Loke & the Sprint at Rosenborg Castle

Next on the map was Rosenborg Castle. With some trepidation, I found my way through the walls around the grounds and into a no cycling zone. Fun times! Trying to push the trike along which didn’t roll straight on gravel while a hyper husky wanted to run back and forth to tangle himself in the pedals and mudguards.

It was worth it though! The castle was beautiful! I took many photos from different angles as we strolled along. As we came to the castle’s public entrance, a pair of geese completely panicked at the sight of us. We were more than 200 feet away when they flung themselves into a frenzied flight for the castle moat.

It was barely 8 am by this time and I was more than halfway through the ride. Jens was going to be working until 3 or maybe even until 5 pm. Worse still was that I’d forgotten my Kindle. If I reached the Little Mermaid by 10 am, that was going to be a long wait.

Burdened with an overabundance of time and quite chilled, I picked a spot in the sun to just settle in and enjoy the morning. By now the light was strong enough and I was no longer shadowed by buildings, it was time to slather down with sunscreen. Unfortunately, all I only had the smelly chemical sort. My less stinky, titanium based kind had hidden itself from me. Pity since the chemical kind breaks my face out. Still even smelly and slight blemishes on my face is better than painful burns.

Other than needing to smear myself with more sunscreen, the ride wearing the linen Capri pants and sage green blouse was problem free.

One of many statues on the castle grounds

One of many statues on the castle grounds

That’s one drawback to having dressed in street clothes. My shins and upper shoulders and chest were exposed when normally it’s only my fingers, neck and face not covered by some kind of sport fabric. So, I needed more than smear on hands and face from a Chap-Stick like tube of sun protection.

The geese came back to the grass, at about 200 feet away which seemed to be their level of tolerance for Loke’s presence. As I sat, waiting for time to pass while Loke wallowed in the grass, I realized the geese were only afraid of Loke or perhaps dogs his size. Every other dog that went through the park didn’t even ruffle their feathers.

Kamp Med En Slang - 'Battle With a Snake'

Kamp Med En Slang – ‘Battle With a Snake’

It was good to finally see dogs in Copenhagen. I was beginning to think they were an endangered species there. In Uppsala, you can’t go 10 steps without tripping over a one, though always leashed with an owner. It just seems Copenhagenite dogs only emerge in a grassy, tree-filled environment.

Also, while I munched cherries, I noticed other people in the park… on bikes. They zipped along faster than the joggers who ran in determined laps. Those rule breakers passed right by park employees with not a word said.

The unusual arrangement of stone & bronze intrigued me

The unusual arrangement of stone & bronze intrigued me

Upon seeing that, no way I was going to push my trike any more though I wasn’t going to speed along. Walking speed or a very slow jog at best. It would drive Loke completely bonkers, but I could see more of the pretty park.

The trike rolled out at 9 am, Loke straining hard at the tether as bikes and joggers sped by. There were a number of statues scattered along the smooth gravel paths flanked by old, cropped trees at attention like soldiers. Though there were spots where grass was browning, the lawn was dense and lush as luxurious carpeting. Beds of flowers made vivid pools of color and hedges divided the park. A fountain splashed water and there was a little fenced play area of children which looked as if it was water based though at the time.

Stag, Hind & Fawn

Stag, Hind & Fawn

I had to keep a good grip on the brakes and kept telling Loke, ‘Easy.’ Not that he listened for even a moment.

Just as I’d finished photographing the snake and rider statue, a couple came walking with a pair of dogs. One was a Bichon Frise and the other looked like a smallish mix-breed of some kind. They saw Loke and came trotting toward us, ignoring their owners who called. I simply sat calmly. The Bichon stopped about 15 feet away and then turned back, but the other one, black and white with a coarse, wiry coat came right up. He and Loke sniffed each other. For a wonder, Loke was polite and well-mannered!

The man came up and I said, in English, it was a cute dog. It turned out the little guy was only 7 months old. Remarkably unbouncy for such a young animal. After a few minutes, the man told the dog to come and it finally trotted after him.

Gorgeous Colors!

Gorgeous Colors!

Barely 10 yards after that meeting, I saw a very odd thing. A few jackdaws were hunting for food on the lawn. One was a fledgling who pestered the others when they found something. The youngster hadn’t a single feather on his head or neck. Not a one. It made his head look bizarre and small. Like a mini-vulture’s stuck on an overlarge jackdaw body. Seeing the size of his skull, it really amazed me that so much cleverness can be crammed into that tiny little space. Jackdaws are extremely smart and some even have what can be considered advanced problem solving skills. I once saw a documentary about a female jackdaw who puzzled out how to bend wire into hooks to pull miniature baskets of nuts from a plexi-glass tube without being trained to do so.

A rental 'bent trike! :D

A rental ‘bent trike! 😀

I finished crisscrossing the park around 10 am which was perfect. Being hungry, I hoped to find someplace to eat around my next destination and most places open around 10 am.

Nyhavn (New Harbor) was just a short jaunt from Rosenborg castle. Still, it took a little time to get there due to my efforts to obey traffic laws, particularly associated with one-way streets. Finally, I emerged at the water’s edge where Nyhavn’s canal met the Baltic. Right at the corner there, I found a cycle rental shop. A lot of the shops rent not only standard diamond frame touring bikes, but also upright trikes with passenger cart on the front. This one even had a recumbent!

Nyhavn - The prettier side

Nyhavn – The prettier side

Rounding the corner where the bike rental shop sat, Nyhavn came into view. It’s beautiful! Old buildings painted in surprising colors lining narrow little streets beside a boat-lined canal. I rolled along at walking speed, enjoying the view. Lovely as it was, I wasn’t entirely looking forward to crossing to that side in spite of street cafes awaiting.

Nyhavn - The Mansion Side

Nyhavn – The Mansion Side

10:30 am and the end with the most cafes closer to the heart of the old city was packed. A milling mass of people. Still, I gamely crossed the bridge and started down the harbor’s opposite side.

Cobblestones! Not only did I have to creep through to avoid bumping people, but I got to bounce while doing it!

To my further dismay, most of the ‘cafes’ were actually just street side beer bars. Maybe only 1 in 4 seemed to serve actual food. Wikipedia says the harbor used to be notorious for beer, sailors and prostitutes. Well, the latter two may be gone, but it’s clear the beer still flows in raging rivers down the throats of tourists. One place had fish-n-chips on its menu as well as lobster (half and soup!), but the area was just too crowded to leave Loke tethered while I sat to eat.

Disappointed, I pushed on.

The map and I briefly parted ways while I tried to keep track of traffic flow and cycle lanes. During the rolling along, trying to reorient myself, I stumbled onto the next site by accident more than anything.

It was startling to emerge into a calmer spot of the city. A wide sort of avenue that ran between the beautiful church with copper roof tarnished green and hints of gilt and the wide paved court of a palace complex.

Frederiks Church a.k.a The Marble Church

Frederiks Church a.k.a The Marble Church

The proper name of the church is Frederiks Church, but it’s most commonly called ‘The Marble Church’ and it is lovely.

Fortunately, the road between the church and castle complex is nearly traffic free. The best view of the church is from the middle of the street. The rest of the area around the church is built too close to manage framing it decently even for a series to use in photomerging. It still felt odd to scramble into the middle of the street to snap the picture.

Up to this point, the ride had been fairly standard except for the unusual (for me) surroundings. I’d gotten some startled looks and more than a few smiles. I’d spotted perhaps a dozen people taking photos of us, but unobtrusively so. No near misses with traffic and Loke had been running like a machine except when his socks made him limp. Just a normal, everyday outing that just happened to be located in the capital city of Denmark.

When Loke realized we were heading for the open area of the Amalienborg Palace area, he pulled like crazy. I guess it was an indication that he was a little tired of buildings and traffic. Fortunately, the square was momentarily quiet as we raced in at almost 12 mph before reaching the cobblestones.

Amalienborg Square Panorama

Amalienborg Square Panorama

The courtyard with its near identical palaces surrounding a bronze statue atop a pedestal of nearly snow-white marble was perfect for a panorama series. Loke huffed when the trike stopped so I could take the pictures. Then we rolled on toward the water-side park across the way.

Before we reached the park, I stopped to see where the next place to see was. Flipping idly through my maps, I was mostly oblivious to my surroundings so I didn’t see them approach. It was the excited and friendly chattering voices that finally got my attention. I looked up and blinked.

In a near perfect semi-circle around me were some 20 smiling faces and nearly as many cameras/phones. Even a pair of video cameras. A few took pictures right away, but most of them held up or waved them as while asking in Japanese or English if it was okay to take my photo. More than a little bewildered by the sudden attention, I nodded and put a smile on my face. It felt rude to do otherwise.

After a couple minutes, one young woman handed her iPhone to someone else and walked up. Without any English, she indicated she wanted to take a picture with me. When I nodded, she crouched down on the side away from Loke, arm around the back of the trike seat and we tilted our heads together a little. It started a flood. Most of the young women and girls took their turn and a few of the older as well. Only one younger guy came with one of the women for the three of us to pose. A few more tourists strolled in so it took almost 20 minutes before the tour group moved on with waves and ‘Thank you’ in two languages.

Just not the same in bronze...

Just not the same in bronze…

Bemused, I could only shake my head as I pedaled on. The incident made me happier than ever that I wasn’t dressed in my usual cycle outfit! Imagine! A rash of online photos posted in Japan of plump me in Copenhagen while wearing black and pink spandex! I shudder to think.

Loke and I crept through the park which was nearly as crowded as Nyhavn had been. The flood of people eased a bit once we reached the water’s edge and I turned east. It was peaceful beside the Baltic though the cobblestones didn’t make for easy going. A few other people took pictures of Loke and I as we rolled by.

I stopped only once and briefly to take a picture of a copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Not something one expects to see when toodling along the Baltic in Copenhagen. A bronze copy of one of the world’s most famous Italian works of art. It might even be to proper scale, but I’m not sure.

The rough surface made a good excuse to go slowly along though once past David, there wasn’t really much to see either on my side of the water or on one of Copenhagen’s islands just south of us. On our side, it was mostly large brick buildings which might have been 100 years or more old, but looked warehouse like. Understandable. What would one expect to be built on what was once a working dock? Across the way, it looked mostly like modern clutter with just a few isolated exceptions that didn’t photo well across the distance.

Gefion Fountain

Gefion Fountain

Relief came into view in the form of the gates leading into Churchill Park. Even before I could see it, I could hear the splashing of something I’d looked forward to the entire ride.

Gefion Fountain. If I’ve ever seen a water feature this size or larger, I can’t recall it. It completely enthralled me and clearly not just me. People were packed around it. I left the trike in Loke’s care to wriggle through the masses to find a good angle for a picture. Loved it.

Saint Alban's Church (The English Church)

Saint Alban’s Church (The English Church)

Close up of the flints

Close up of the flints

Quite literally just a stone’s throw away was the next treat. Saint Alban’s was one of the most lovely small churches I’ve seen in a long time and quite unlike any church I’ve seen before. It’s very much an English country church dropped into Copenhagen. The contrast between the pale limestone accents around the darker surface of knapped flint set in the plaster surface was incredible. Supposedly, this kind of use of flint is common in English parish churches. That’s enough to make me itch for a chance to explore England! As if it wasn’t bad enough thanks to my brief ride around Falmouth when I visited ICE last year.

Saint Alban's Interior

Saint Alban’s Interior

I nearly giggled upon seeing a sign welcoming visitors into the church. With Loke pulling like he could (and would if he had the chance), run another 20 miles, I coasted onto the grass near the church. Once Loke was settled in the shade with plenty of water and trike locked to a small tree, I headed in.

The inside was simpler than anticipated. I guess I just expected more with how elaborate most Swedish churches tend to be. Still fascinating. A pair of women stood inside the porch. As each visitor came in, they would ask where they were from and then offer an information sheet in the best language for the person. A very nice touch, I thought. They also had donation dishes out. I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t anything to give, but all I had was Swedish coin.

One thing I really liked about the interior was the wooden ceiling. I guess it’s what they mean when a ‘wooden barrel vault ceiling’ is used in a description. I sat on a pew to read the info sheet before photographing it and the everything else.

One of the Citadel's buildings

One of the Citadel’s buildings

It was just coming up on 11 am when I unlocked the trike again and we moved on toward the Citadel. That proved to be underwhelming. The grounds were pretty enough, but inside the star-shaped mounds of earthworks were just a few wooden buildings… and lots of uneven cobbles.

Disappointingly, the paths around the earthworks were off limits to bikes, so I settled for rattling my way straight through and out the other side to go hunt for what is probably the most famous landmark in all of Denmark. At least, it’s the one I’ve heard about the most.

It was easy to know when we had arrived. We slowed to a snail’s pace through the densest masses of people I’d seen all day. What I sought was nearly hidden by a wall of humanity even when I stood up from the trike.

As I debated if it was worth the effort of getting a clear view, I heard a woman say something. It was Danish, which has quite a bit in common with Swedish, but all I could make out was that it had been question and the word ‘dog’. I turned to her. A short woman, only about an inch taller than myself, a little older with brown curly hair to her shoulders. She was stirring a pot full of nuts over a propane fueled flame to coat them with sugar and sweet spices to sell to the tourists.

I smiled and said, ‘I’m sorry? I don’t speak Danish.’ She laughed and said she should have known. She left the nuts to come for a closer look at Loke. She asked if he was a Samoyed. I think it was because most huskies don’t have as much white on them as Loke does. When I told her what he was, she smiled and told me that she just loved huskies. She used to skijor with one, a female, when she worked as a ski instructor in Norway. Then her product started to burn and she hurried back to it.

Almost immediately, another older woman said something to me. I couldn’t understand her at all. I asked, ‘Do you speak English?’. She said yes and I realized she had spoken English, just with so thick a regional accent it sounded like another language all together. It turns out, she absolutely adores dogs and asked to take Loke’s picture and pet him. She and her husband immigrated from England to Spain where they run a kennel to rescue and rehabilitate street dogs before finding them homes.

No one else distracted me as I told Loke to wait and pushed forward a little bit. And there it was…

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid.

It’s a small, unassuming statue. Good thing I knew this before I went looking for it or disappointment would have stung me. It just seemed silly to skip it when it was probably no more than a quarter mile from Saint Alban’s church and is one of the most famous things in Copenhagen.

And that was it. Except for the palace area off limits, I’d ticked off everything on my map. From beginning to end, I’d completed the ride and it was not even yet noon.

Loke and I went back to the grassy sward next to Saint Alban’s church where we settled down in the shade. I alternated between dozing and watching people. A few more tourists came up to ask for photos. One particularly brave Japanese woman actually sat down next to Loke and put her arm around him. He didn’t quite know what to make of that, but didn’t move away.

During a lull, a stocky man who had waved a smart phone for permission to take a photo earlier approached. He said something and quickly established how little English he knew. Still, we managed a bit of a conversation. What kind of dog was Loke? Did he have a dog? Yes, a German Shepherd. Where was I from? That took a bit to answer as ‘an American living in Sweden’ was a bit too much English all at once. Where was he from? He answered with a country that didn’t sound familiar at all. I asked where and he answered between Turkey and Romania which is Bulgaria. I’m fairly sure he hadn’t said Bulgaria, but countries often have different names in different languages. In Swedish, Sweden = Sverige, Germany = Tyskland and so forth. So, maybe Bulgaria is completely different in Bulgarian.

Finally, he gave me his name, Achmed and asked mine. After a few minutes more, he held out his phone for me to take a photo of him and the furball together.

Achmed & Loke

Achmed & Loke

Then he cheerfully showed me the picture of me and Loke he’d taken earlier. I really didn’t need to see that. I think one reason I was able to smile as people took pictures was knowing I’d never see them. Even in nicer clothes, not flattering at all. With all the photo exchanges, I pulled out my camera and he happily posed again next to my furry cycle partner.

Achmed finally asked where in Sweden I lived. He was thrilled by the answer. ‘Uppsala, very nice!’ I asked if he’d ever been to Sweden. ‘Yes, Gävle,’ which is less than an hour from Uppsala. As a joke, I said, ‘Prata du svenska?’ (Speak you Swedish?). The answer was ‘Lite!’

Then he wanted to know what had taken me from America to Sweden. I held up my hand to show the wedding band.

He gave a wistful sigh, ‘No good.’

That left me speechless. Had he been flirting with me? It never occurred that might be the case. Overweight with grease stains on one knee, my hair flattened with sweat and in a tangled ponytail. Short of clipping it short, snarled hair is unavoidable when I ride. If it’s not the wind, just twisting my head around to enjoy scenery will do it.

We communicated a few minutes more and then he got up. He leaned over to give me a rough sort of hug and firmly kissed both my cheeks. Shaking his head again, he gave me an wry smile and, ‘No, no good.’

It took a while to shake off that bemusement. First the touring group from Japan taking the photos, then this.

By then, it was a bit past 1 pm and I realized I was ravenous. Putting away his bowl and hitching Loke back to the trike, I made ready to go in search of food. Silly as it sounds, I had spotted a KFC (of all things) near the City Hall. While setting the GPS for it, Loke abruptly started bouncing and yodeling which elicited laughter and another barrage of photos.

The Garmin first led us back toward the Little Mermaid. A Danish woman on a bike started chatting with me about Loke as we went along together. We came to a dead end.

‘Where is the little mermaid? Are we in the right area?’

‘Just a wrong turn. Follow me.’ In short order, I had us on the right trail. I told her to take a turn closer to the water when she had the chance and she couldn’t miss it. Off she sped.

Gustafs Church

Gustafs Church

The starting loop took me by a church rather like a Swedish version of Saint Alban’s. Gustafs Church is for Swedes who lived in and around Copenhagen as Saint Alban was for English speaking Anglican Episcopal worshipers.

From there, Loke and I spun quickly through the city streets as if we’d lived in Copenhagen all our lives. With just 9 miles under his paws when we arrived at the Little Mermaid the first time, he still had plenty of energy so we went the 1.5 mile back to the city hall area at 10 mph allowing for traffic.

KFC was a disappointment. European franchises of it just can’t match my memories of the extra crispy pieces from the US. They don’t even offer extra crispy. I’d have been just as happy with a street side hotdog. Maybe even more so!

Then we buzzed back to our spot in Churchhill park next to the fountain and church. We finished with just a smidge over 16 miles.

He finally looks tired!

He finally looks tired!

I parked us under the deep shade of a tree. Loke paced around a bit, even woofed some. Finally he sat down with a sigh. A few minutes later, he laid down. A short time after that, he flopped over and went to sleep. Curiously, he stretched out in the sun rather than in the shade. Goof.

We had a few more visitors. Some Australians and quite a few more Japanese and even a couple Koreans.

Around 3 pm, I realized my shins felt warm. Baffled, I looked down. They were in the shade, but pink. I’d forgotten to refresh the sunscreen! I could tell I was going to pay for it. My face felt a little warm too, especially my right ear oddly enough in spite of the Da Brim. It was my legs from mid-shin to ankles and my shoulders and upper chest near my neck that were the worst. My carelessness made me grind my teeth. I don’t like sunburn. It’s unnecessary and painful not to mention potentially harmful. I burned more than enough when I was a kid and teen to continue to do so at my current age.

Though it was a bit like closing the barn after most of the horses escaped, I rubbed on a fresh coat of protection. I figured it was better than getting scorched even worse.

Jens arrived to pick us up around 4 pm. We had McD’s and charged off for the south where a reserved B&B room waited for us. It was adequate, but not nearly as comfortable as Copenhagen hotel. Still, I was looking forward to the next day’s ride with more enthusiasm than I’d had for the Copenhagen outing.



… And Home!
July 18, 2013, 2:44 am
Filed under: Misc

It may have been short, but it was an intense trip. Mostly intense in a good way though the latter part of the 2nd full day in Denmark did end on a sour note. I will get to that later!

Saw lots and covered a total 46.6 according to the Garmin though might be a bit closer to 48 since I forgot to restart the GPS a few times. Had some experiences I count as incredible, odd and strangely moving. Challenged myself and won. Isn’t that about the best one could want in a trip?

So, now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get cracking on merging, cropping and sizing photos. I didn’t get much written either so lots of that to do as well. It might take me a couple days to get even one post done, so patience please!

Loke just waiting...

Loke just waiting…



T-Minus…
July 14, 2013, 2:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s been a mad scramble to plan. I didn’t expect it to be this much work. After all the decision for me to go to Denmark when Jens’ vacation began was spontaneous. It’s amazing how much there was to do when the hubby (and therefore the fuzzy one) decided to come. Yet, we’re down to the wire. In about 4 hours, we’ll head out on the long drive to Copenhagen.

Loke likes the AC in summer.

Loke likes the AC in summer.

Now that worst of the organizing is done, I’m near giddy with anticipation. Just last minute packing is left and we’ll all be piled in the car. I’ll admit to a bit of nervousness about riding in Copenhagen. My few forays into the urban jungle on the trike have been less than fun, but Denmark’s capital city has many parks and the harbor area where I could sit and watch the flow of people.

Loke will be fine. He doesn’t even twitch an ear when cars or even big trucks blast by us close enough to be touched. As long as I remain between him and the big stuff he’s cool with it.

As usual with the cycling vacation trips, I’ll wait until we’re back home to organize everything into the blog. I’ll hopefully have the time and energy to at least write up the rides while things are fresh in my mind. That will leave cropping and sizing the photos to be organized into the text when we’re in Uppsala again. 1 post per day until all the rides are done. Three rides definitely planned with maybe a potential 4th. We’ll see.

Jens is also talking about taking a fishing trip up north before his vacation is over. That could be fun! Another trip like the one to Stor Blåsjön a couple years ago. All about scenery rather than history. Scenery is good, especially when it involves mountains, fast flowing rivers and glassy calm lakes!

Okay, enough of a little babble! I have packing to do! Wheeeee!



Huskies, Plans & Stats
July 11, 2013, 5:14 am
Filed under: Misc

Yes, yes. It’s been quiet here I know. Life has had me scrambling around and most of it has been a headache. Though I have been riding, it’s just been local loops with nothing exciting occurring, so this is just a babble to share things Loke related, vacation and stats.

First! Loke!

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

Loke & siblings on their birthday.

The furball turned 8 years old on July 1st. I hope Kerstin doesn’t mind I used that photo. It was too cute not to. Loke is the middle one in the back. Looks surprisingly small compared to the others, which is odd. I seem to remember him being the monster puppy of the litter when we brought him home. If he was the runt, then he more than made up for it.

Before Loke’s birthday though, Jens and I scheduled a day to drive to Insjön to visit with the lovely couple who run the kennel (based at their house) and see the new puppies which were going to be a few days shy of 5 weeks.

The drive was roughly 3 hours. Since we were leaving around lunch and I didn’t want to end up stuffing myself with McDonalds for dinner, I shopped a foot long Subway sandwich before we left. Half was devoured for lunch and the other was packed with cherries and fresh local grown strawberries in a plastic grocery bag.

Tina's shoes properly mauled.

Tina’s shoes properly mauled.

Jens’ sister Tina came with us, as did Loke of course. Once we arrived at the kennel, in my eagerness to see the pure cuteness that are husky puppies, I lost track of Loke. When I tore myself briefly away from the bumbling little bundles of fur, Jens said Loke was tethered to a flag pole our hosts had in the front yard with his bowl full of water. The puppies were too young to be inflicted with the huge rampaging beast that is Loke, their uncle. The pup’s mother is Loke’s full sister, just from a later litter.

Loke's Dad. Handsome, yes?

Loke’s Dad. Handsome, yes?

They were adorable. At 4.5 weeks, they were a little shy of strangers, but soon enough they were bouncing around with that uncoordinated way of young carnivores. I became so absorbed in watching their antics and playing with them, I didn’t take more than a few photos. Tina took plenty though. I just have to get copies from her.

We had a nice visit. Loke got to ‘play’ with one of his other sisters. It was shock for him at first. She came tearing out of her kennel to get right into his face and proceeded to chase him. Leaping and bounding as she bowled into him or jumped over him. After about 20 minutes though, his attitude kicked in and he had her on the run while he tried to mount her like he does every other dog in the world. She was too quick though and much smaller meaning she could wriggle under a nearby trailer out of his reach.

Full of cake and saft, we said our goodbyes and went to the car. It was then we discovered that while Loke had been left alone in the car for less than 4 minutes, he’d done something bad. In the front passenger seat, a few wisps lay. I looked closer and it proved to be thin, clear plastic and shredded white paper. Exactly what had been around my sandwich. I looked into the undamaged grocery bag where the fruit still sat, but my dinner was gone.

Apparently, as soon as everyone’s back was turned, Loke had jumped into the front seat, carefully dug around in the food bag on the floor boards to lift the sandwich bag out… then proceed to shred it in order to get to the forbidden bread within. I’m guessing the meat and cheese were afterthoughts. There was not a crumb left. Not even the least little smear of mustard. I wanted to cry. His feet had just healed and now I had that to look forward to again. *sigh*

For the first week, I treated his feet twice a day in hopes of holding off the results of his raiding. Now, I’m doing it every other day or so though I check daily. Some redness, but nothing more thankfully.

As for his feet though, they just seem so incredibly fragile and slow to heal. He goes on an 8 mile run around here and the pads look worn as thin as onion skin. Then it takes 3 days before they look anything near normal again. I remember the dog who could run 30+ miles and have the pads look barely scuffed. The next morning, they’d be just fine and hard as iron. I guess it’s just age and/or his constant abuses to his allergies making it so.

Socks are… hard to predict. Sometimes, they rub the edges of his toes to leave raw spots where the pad meets furry skin which leaves him limping anyway. I’m trying different sizes, struggling to find a balance between fitting well enough to not flop around, tripping him but loose enough that hopefully he won’t get bloody spots on his feet. *sigh*

Loke’s the main reason I’ve not been doing more than tedious loops around here. I’d love to ride other places, but Jens always wants me to take Loke with. That means the hubby has to drive me since if I want to do anything over 10 miles, Jens will need the car to fetch Loke. That means 3 trips for Jens. 1 to drop us off, 2 to rescue Loke, and (if too far for me to ride back home) 3 to pick me up. Just the thought of it makes me shudder and feel it’s too much hassle. So… I just do hamster track loops. Yay.

Tours have the same issue. Though everything from the paw pads up has the stamina of a champion, Loke’s feet can’t deal 30+ miles for 2+ days in a row. So if I want to tour, I need to do it on my own… which means Jens has to be home from work. Something’s always coming up on weekends which I feel obligated to attend, not to mention I do like seeing my husband on occasion.

I should just go sometime during Jens’ vacation… once we get back from Denmark.

Yes, Denmark.

Back in February, I mentioned that Jens and I had been planning a trip to Denmark. Jens had to go to Copenhagen for a few days on business and suggested that Loke, trike and I go along. Then the whole issue with Loke’s tumorous toe began. Then last month, Jens was being sent to Copenhagen again. He mentioned it only after all his plans had been settled at a hotel which wouldn’t accept dogs and he had invited his dad. Seeing I was disappointed, he promised that we’d take a short trip to Denmark soon to make it up to me.

Well, Jens isn’t really interested in going to Denmark, but as I started looking around, I’m now downright fascinated to do so. So, I hatched this brilliant plan! Jens’ first vacation of the year begins June 15. He’d be home so could stay with Loke while I swiped the car to go to Denmark solo, sparing Jens the trip.

Of course, though Denmark, even outside of Copenhagen, isn’t high on his list of places to visit,  Jens decided he’d rather go then stay home and enjoy the novel sensation of having plenty of spare time devote to relaxation.

I hate to say it, but I’m disappointed. I was so looking forward to going without worrying about Loke’s feet, stopping every mile to give him water. I was thrilled at the idea of zipping along at 10 mph for miles when the terrain and wind are in my favor, flying down hills at 20 mph and covering more distance than I can with the furball in attendance. More distance means more to see!

I hate feeling that way. Really I do. Loke’s been such a huge part of my cycling experience. He should have years yet of strong activity left. He used to be the force that bolstered me. Yes, the speed was slower, but together our stamina was greater and we could power on through anything. 40 miles was joy. Now.. 10+miles is anxiety.

Okay, enough of wallowing in teary emotions.

Even if Jens hadn’t already decided he’d rather tag along, he would have ended up doing so anyway. A few days after I’d announced my plans and he said he’d come, he found out that he’s needed in Copenhagen on Monday the 15th though it’s technically his first day of vacation. So, we leave this coming Sunday morning, arrive in Copenhagen that evening. The next morning, I go exploring what I can of the city with trike and dog while Jens attends to business. Then we’re off into the Danish countryside.

Originally I’d have been exploring no further than 20-30 miles outside of Copenhagen which has a fair bit to see, but then I discovered a small island south of the one Copenhagen sits on. I’ve been buzzing with greater anticipation since. I don’t know if I can do the planned rides with Loke. One is 25 miles and the other is nearly 30. Maybe with the proper socks to protect his feet he’ll have the stamina for at least one day and being new territory he’ll have the speed, but I’m too wary of disappointment to hope. I’d rather be surprised.

Fingers crossed I come back from the 4-5 day outing with lots to share!

After we get back, I might still take off on a solo tour since Jens’ vacation will be for another 2 weeks. It might be my only chance.

Jens has also applied for time off in September and we’re trying to shape up big plans for it. That’s all I’ll say on the matter until we actually get them settled. All that has been decided is Loke will be staying here, most likely at our apartment with Jens’ dad for company while Jens and I explore regions beyond Sweden.

And last! Stats!

With the rides being yawn-fests around here, I hadn’t bothered to download the trips from my Garmin since the Mariefred ride. When I did so this morning, I discovered that sometime during the ride before last, I broke 600 miles for the year. Curious, I also tallied up my total mileage since I got my first Garmin in 2007. The Garmin Training Center software says 4,786. Add 12 miles for the first ride of 2013 lost when the Garmin malfunctioned brings the total to 4,798. The true total mileage on trikes is higher since my Trice Q arrived in the summer of 2006. I probably only managed a couple hundred miles that first year, working to regain fitness after having been off bikes for 5 years or more thanks to my back. Then there’s all the times when I’ve paused the tracking during breaks for food, water or exploration of interesting places only to forget starting up again varying distances, though only very rarely over 1 mile. But 4,798 miles has a certain kind of symmetry to it. It means that when I push over the 803 miles of 2012, I will also break 5,000 total tracked miles.

June admittedly ended up being a flop. No real goals made as my mood has been ‘murky’ and uninspired to do much trike wise. 114+ miles as opposed to 166+ last June.

July? Well, with just 77+ miles in July 2012, 30+ miles accumulated already and 3 rides plotted in Denmark for a total of around 60 miles, I’ll beat it. Even if I can’t finish the Denmark rides there’s still the rest of the month to push past a measly 77.

All this means that moody apathy or not, 2013 is still on it’s way to being the 2nd highest mile year since first purchasing an ICE trike!

And blog stats! This will be my 180th post and sometime last week, the number of hits tipped over 15,000. Not too shabby given my complete lack of advertisement.