Terii’s Cycling Babble


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.


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