Terii’s Cycling Babble

A Potentially Long Day
October 24, 2014, 5:27 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Even if it doesn’t turn out to be so long, it will still involve over 100 miles of driving. 120 actually. Off the trike is going to the shop. It’s been sitting in the garage for the past 3 or 4 days.

Remains of Neolithic Sun Temples & Iron Age Earth Works

Remains of Neolithic Sun Temples & Iron Age Earth Works

First though, sharing one of the ‘non-cycle days’ photos of Bornholm. Not a great photo. It was a murky day and though I loved the site for the long stretching archeology, there wasn’t really much to see. A few circles of short logs and a staired platform with signs explaining the site. The platform actually stood on one of the 5000 (or more) year old rings and archeologists think each ring was used as a sun temple. Built of tall logs with a platform at the top, floored with clay and offerings to be burned on a raised bonfire. There’s evidence of almost 2 dozen these ‘Woodhenge’ platform temples in the park area. Just to the left of the photo, you can see remains of the Iron Age defensive earthworks. There are also indications that some 14+ acres of the area were protected with palisades back in the Neolithic age.

There is also a grave area where over 30 skeletons were found, many showed signs of violence. One man was completely cut to pieces. Bornholm was often raided and involved with conflict as it served as a major crossroads for trade and a defensive position near the transition of the North Sea to the Baltic.

As for riding, it’s been sporadic. My intention was to resume my every-other-day minimum, but even when the weather hasn’t been abysmal, I’ve been sick and not wanting to risk making it worse by going out into chilly with a potential of soggy. It’s been weeks since there’s been more than a vague hint of sun and blue skies for more than 5 minutes. A few days were crazy warm with even a nighttime thunderstorm thrown in. Thunder and lightning in October… in Sweden. Not a hint of snow either though we finally did have a little frost. It’s as if it’s setting up for another Mississippi winter here in Sweden like last year’s. I hope it turns into a proper winter with snow that sticks around for more than a few hours.

The horrid weather combined with feeling unwell means there have only been 4 rides since the last one on Oct 4th mentioned in the blog. That being the Saturday after we returned from Bornholm.

Over the course of those 4 rides, I’d noticed my braking power rapidly diminishing. First it was just having problems getting down the very steep slope into the storage without crashing into back walls. My right front brake was quickly losing it’s ability to stop me on any kind of slope or if Loke wanted to run. Inspite of adjusting the cable so I could apply more pressure, it couldn’t do more than slow me down unless on a flat with Loke being lazy. Even then it would take 20 yards or more to stop. The least little downgrade or Loke wanting to go, it was useless. My left brake was quickly following suit, losing stopping power rapidly.

Our last outing, on the 18th, it became downright dangerous. Rolling down toward an intersection from the top of an overpass, I barely stopped before rolling into a crossing car. The parking brake saved the day. I walked the trike into the storage, knowing I’d crash otherwise and there it’s sat. Once we get a bit  more daylight, I’ll go load it into the car to drive it for the appointment at the cycle shop today. Loke and I will wander around the lake not far from the cycle shop.

Hopefully, by the end of the day I’ll have brakes again and we can go for a ride tomorrow.

Also getting the gears adjusted.

Oh, did I mention why I think I have so much trouble with my gears? I can’t remember, so I’ll mention it now.

After getting the gears readjusted last time, they started acting up a month or so later. Nothing drastic or unmanageable, but noticeable. I realized it seemed to start happening moments after a silly mistake. When I’m riding in the granny ring (small front gear) and the easy back gearing, I often just jump directly to middle front ring without changing the back gear.

In the biking world, small/small and big/big gearing combos are bad. Shouldn’t be done. Especially the big front/big back. Well, at times, I had a bad habit of forgetting that the trike was already in the middle ring while still on the large back. I’d jump to big ring in the front without changing the back. I think that pulled the back derailleur out of alignment and fouled my gears. Almost immediately, I noticed the sloppy shifting when it had been perfect before.

The past few months since noticing that, I’ve managed to not do the bad ‘big/big’ again and the gears remained the same, getting no worse. I haven’t wanted to test my theory and risk making the trike completely unrideable. It seems to be a pretty good indication though!

So, I just try avoiding such careless shifting and I may be happy with my gears for longer! *fingers crossed*


Do I or Don’t I?
October 9, 2014, 11:18 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Write up a post for the 2 consecutive site-seeing days that is. To show off a 5000+ year old site that was once covered with woodhenges and Bronze Age earthworks? A second castle ruin that was little more than a few tumbled walls on top of a small, very steep hillock? At least I don’t have to throw in another round church into the mix as I did cycle to it, but I’ll get to that.

I woke on October 1st and there was no way I was going out for another ride in spite of having felt great the day before. Two days of hard climbs (Ystad and 1st ride on Bornholm) combined with nearly 20 miles with no rest days between had finally caught up with me. My legs were okay for flat ground, but as soon as it started to slope or I had to step up, it was a titanic effort. Climbing the hill of the other castle ruin was like surmounting Everest.

The Wind-Tossed Baltic

The Wind-Tossed Baltic

It didn’t help that the winds had kicked up. The sea outside our vacation apartment had started crashing and roaring the evening of October 2nd. The previous two days on Bornholm, I’d been very fortunate. Before the trip over, I spent about a month checking the forecast for the island every few days. Winds were consistently in the 20-30+ mph range. Not surprising being a small island with nothing to stop the wind across water. But a hill into the teeth of the wind and I would have stalled. I might have stalled on my first 4% or greater grade even without the wind.

So, I declared it a rest day. Jens and I drove around the island looking at some of the things I really wanted to see, but didn’t think I’d be able to reach by cycling in the time remaining.

The morning after that (October 2nd), I didn’t feel much in terms of recovery. Walking slopes and stairs remained a challenge. It frustrated me. Then it struck me that my diet hadn’t had much protein on the vacation. Some fruits and vegetables with a heavy side of starchy carbs, but very light on protein. I told Jens I wondered if that was stalling my recovery. Bless him. When he next wandered into a grocery in search of our evening dinner, he came out with a lovely T-bone steak for me. It was soooo good.

Then I crossed my fingers. Our ferry was for October 3rd and Jens really wanted me to go for a ride. Mostly he wanted it done because of Loke. It was 6-8 hours of long haul back to Uppsala once we stepped off the ferry around 4 pm and it might be more endurable for the fuzzy if he had a few miles under his paws. I agreed with the concept, but given how weak and achy my legs were, I was dreading the ride. The thought the day might be windy on top of it made me feel a bit queasy, as if my sea-sickness was getting a headstart.

On the morning of the 3rd, my awakening in the predawn was one of silence. Just Loke softly woofing in the midst of some dream from where he lay on his pillow bed at the foot of our bed. No whine of wind along the edges of the metal stair railings to the upper level apartments and no roaring thunder of waves dashing on rocks.



When the sun rose, it was beautiful. The Baltic was nearly flat with only a hint of wind to ruffle the waters and blur what would otherwise have been mirrored stillness. The rising sun turned banks and skeins of fog into amazing shades of pearl and gray with a hint of peach tones here and there.

Seeing such beautiful if foggy weather lifted my spirits though trepidation still made me edgy. Would I be able to make it up the first hills?

When I finally started getting ready, I felt even more hopeful. Though not a 100%, I felt vastly improved over the previous two days. Only a hint of ache and weakness lingered in my legs as I plodded up the hill to the car with the first load of packing to leave in my arms. Jens had kindly offered to bring Loke up once I had the trike ready, to spare whatever energy I had for the ride to come. It was also convenient for him to bring up another bag or two to put in the car.

Loke was raring to go once he was hitched to the trike. He fought my efforts to keep him from galloping like a maddened beast. It became even more difficult when he saw another dog trotting along with his master on a bike.

The man turned onto a rough dirt track between two of the roadside houses. I gave him a few moments to let him and the dog get ahead before following. It was a bit rutted with erosion, studded with rocks, some as big as my head, as well as climbing at about a 6% grade. Up I went. It didn’t feel too bad.

A cycle strip.

A cycle strip.

I followed the Garmin’s map along what plotted a cycle path. A little surprising to find that it was little more than a strip of packed dirt in the middle of a mowed strip.

Along here, Loke started to go completely nuts. We saw our first rabbit of the day. Then another and another. Fuzzy bunnies bolting around everywhere with flashes of white from their cottony tails.

Ahhh, yes. The rabbits. I’d completely forgotten to mention them. We saw our first one early in the horror ride of September 29th. As we climbed our way up a silly steep hill to reach Allinge’s rail-trail, I spotted a small, inky black bunny. A couple miles later in that outing, yet another, also dark as pitch. I’d almost started to believe the island was populated with tiny black rabbits the way Skansen Zoo/Museum has black squirrels running all over the place.

That turned out to be a fluke. The third rabbit we saw was the usual gray brown and lived in the area of the apartments’ parking lot. Loke nearly got fangs in that one. If Jens had been a second slower spotting where it crouched, blending nearly perfectly with the gravel in the dim night lit only by a street light some yards off. Loke had bolted and Jens yanked him short, teeth less than a foot from the rabbit’s head. It sprinted off only after Loke had been brought to a sharp stop. I really would have hated trying to pry a dying rabbit out of my husky’s mouth. *shudder*

That rabbit or one, perhaps more, of it’s friends spent the rest of the vacation playing hide-n-seek with Loke.

So, there we were, me pedalling along with Loke in a heightened state of prey drive being taunted by rabbits running everywhere. By the time we reached that same insanely steep hill leading up to the rail trail, we’d seen over a dozen. Not one of them black.

Those rabbits actually helped quite a bit getting up the hill. Loke was so desperate to find the next he nearly strangled himself on the harness. We made it, though I did it with gritted teeth and blowing like a bellows. My cadence was probably less than 30 RPM as I tried to spare my knees. As the strain eased upon cresting the climb, I gave an ‘ARRRAAGHH!!’ cry like weight-lifters sometimes give as they push for those final reps. Then I turned onto the rail tail before flopping back in the seat to gulp air. Loke endured that for about 10 seconds before stomping his front paws and whining at me. The bully.

From there, I had a bit of flat and tiny bit of downhill.

We came back out on the main northern road into and out of Allinge. It saved me from trying to wind through the narrow streets of the village, struggling to climb smooth cobbles slick with condensation from the fog. I called Jens to tell him I was aiming for Olsker which was about 3 miles away.

I made the turn past the village fire station and we were off in earnest…. up hill. From roughly a half mile all we did was climb for 2.25 mile, except for about a 75 yard section where there might have been a -1% grade. Maybe.

Misty Morning

Misty Morning

It wasn’t as hard as I expected, but it wasn’t exactly fun. Another portion of the climbing, my brain started playing tricks on me. We crested a steeper section and in my eyes it looked for all the world as if I was being blessed with a -2% or even -3% down slope. Loke and I sped up, ticking along at about 6 mph. But my GPS and the fact I had to pedal the entire way told the truth of a 2% or 3% climb.

Ols Church

Ols Church

Just as I finally saw the first hint we were entering Olsker, there was a lovely downhill glide. I reveled in it and Loke stretched his legs into his ‘sulky-horse trot’ of about 9 mph, tongue flopping in a husky grin. Through the little village/town it was delightfully flat as we cruised through toward the church, who’s conical roof covered in wood shakes showed above the trees.

Jens and I had gone to Ols Church, a round one, during one of the site seeing days. There was a nominal fee to get in which I always favor for the upkeep of cultural heritage sites. I cheerfully paid to get a look inside and was not disappointed. Since it was just a little way off the main road I planned to continue down, I crossed over and went the 100 or so yards to the parking lot for a loop around. That way, I can say I rode to the church and can show it off in my cycling blog with a clear conscience. It’s silly to worry about little details like that, particularly as I posted photos of France and Germany like a mad woman when the trike never so much as touched tires to those foreign soils. But then, I can be a silly sort of person… as my cycling outfit proves.

These aren't stairs! It's a mountain goat playground!

These aren’t stairs! It’s a mountain goat playground!

Not for the clausterphobic

Not for the clausterphobic


St. Ols Interior - Really could have used the tripod.

St. Ols Interior – Really could have used the tripod.

Bears mentioning, the stairs in the above photos were wedge shaped (as you can see) and alternated the wider ends on the left or right. Meaning if you went up in the wrong order, you could be clinging on to a tiny platform with your toes instead of a good solid support with your entire foot. Fun! As for the passage through the wall? Perhaps 30 inches across… maybe a couple less. Not for claustrophobics!

Before I left the parking lot, I called Jens to ask if I should call an end to the ride. It had been only about 3 miles, took about an hour or little more with an elevation gain of 269 feet. He encouraged me to go further as we still had plenty of time before the ferry. So off we went!

The distance between Allinge and Olsker was the worst of the climbing though we did mostly go up in a general sort of way for the next 2 miles by some 92 feet. But it was in a series of gentler grades and with some moments of enjoying the relaxation of downhill. Coast softly down a short distance, then another climb of perhaps 4%-5%, coast, climb, etc…

Icelandic Cuteness!

Icelandic Cuteness!

The clouds which had thickened a little since getting started, began to break up again. The scenery awoke some, though the fog remained.

A gentle landscape of mists

A gentle landscape of mists

After about mile 6, the landscape took pity on me, becoming almost flat. Loke? He needed no pity from the land. My husky was a machine, well honed to a task and determined to do it speedily and well. He trotted along as fast as he was allowed, either by me or the hills, refused more than a couple laps of water when it was offered and always impatient to move on. This was no 9 and a half year old animal. He was strong and vibrant, in his glorious prime. Not the least little hint of arthritis either. I wanted to laugh with pure joy of it.

It was roughly 11 am when I came rolling into Klemensker. It occurred to me I’d not heard from Jens since Olsker roughly 5 miles previous. I had a slight start when I looked at my phone and it showed 5 missed calls and a text from the hubby. I’d never heard a peep from it.

Jens was starting to feel antsy about the ferry. I was admittedly a little disappointed when he asked if I could end the ride. My feeling about it had gone from dread to delight and I was now sad to call it done. Actually kicked myself for not having started sooner. Most of the remaining distance between Klemsker and Rønne is gently down with a few soft climbs. If I’d had a couple more hours, I might have been able to ride all the way from Allinge to Rønne. Still, I really didn’t want to stress the hubby. So, I told him to pick me up at the church.

Jens walked Loke around while I repacked the car, Tetris-ing everything in place. When it came time to go, Loke leaped in behind the front seats where we’d put his huge pillow bed. He flopped over onto his back, paws tucked close to his body as he gave us an adorable tail wag. Too funny.

The ferry ride back was on nice and calm seas. Crowded though. Several busloads of kids in their early to mid-teens roamed around and many others. It seems like the entire population of Bornholm runs for mainland Sweden come week’s end, I swear. Our seats were less than ideal, being a kind of bench in a through way between the two sides of the catamaran. I kept Loke laying down with my legs over him so people wouldn’t step on him. Some kids came to say hi to him and ask questions. There was no sea-sickness. The ferry’s incidental movements felt more like being on a train than boat.

The drive back was long. I managed as much of it as I could before Jens took over around 8 pm. We made it back home around midnight.

The next day, Saturday, October 4th, Jens actually wheedled me into yet another ride though I was feeling the effects of a collective elevation gain of just under 500 feet over the 8.68 mile ride, 300 of it during the first 3 miles. There was at least a purpose to it. Get the trike back to the storage. Tired and achy as I felt, it didn’t stop me from whimsically deciding to extend the ride to the American Food Store in downtown. I haven’t added the ride to any of my tracking software, but I think it came to roughly 5 miles. Jens came to get me from the storage place rather than make me walk home, loaded with shopping.

Since then, the weather has turned mostly miserable. One day of a steady, moderately heavy rain which turned some streets into a lakes. Yesterday started off pretty miserable, though cleared gloriously later when I had errands which took into Stockholm so no riding. I’ve been fighting an annoying low grade cold which increases my reluctant to risk getting chilled in such wet conditions. It all serves to frustrate my attempts at riding every other day (minimum).

It’s supposed to turn around this weekend. Fingers crossed!

Much Better!
October 8, 2014, 9:01 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Written October 1st 

Much, much MUCH better!

After the fiasco on September 29th and discovering that inland of the island seems a bit kinder, I planned accordingly.

The evening of September 29th, I looked over my collection of maps to get a rough idea of where I might start from and a general direction of travel for the following morning. I found a cycle path running off through the country side, away from roads starting at a little village called Rø. Much of it was quite straight with only a few gentle curves toward one end. It very much said, ‘Rail-Trail!’ to me and we love the rail-trails. Gentle grades once developed for trains are our friend.

So, Jens dropped us off under gray skies and temperatures of about 54 F. If I’d been paying better attention, I would have had us stop at the church just out of sight around a curve and behind some trees. Unaware it was there, I opted to start at a business dealing with glass in some fashion or another.

As I pulled the trike out, I remembered the chain tube still needed dealing with. I asked Jens about the sharp knife he had commented on having since I lacked duck tape. As he rummaged through the roof box, I looked in a small bin in the car. Wouldn’t you know it? There lurked a roll of duck tape, black even. I preferred that as cutting the tube away would have had the chain rubbing on the body and back tire of the trike when folded.

Not a pretty beginning, but it's FLAT!

Not a pretty beginning, but it’s FLAT!

Everything wrapped back together (gotta love duck tape!), trike assembled and we were ready to go. Jens drove off as I did loop around the business’ parking to orient myself. It was a short jaunt to the beginning of the trail.

The rides of September 28th and 29th, Loke was amazing. A few laggy moments here and there, perhaps, but most of it he’s been wanting to go and fast, pulling like an exuberant 2 year old husky. He’s been setting paces like a sulky horse too. Sometimes his trotting breaks 9 mph, pushing 10 mph since I won’t let him run. Nor has there been any limping or hopping.

And that energy, drive and pulling continued for our September 30th outing. He so much wanted to run down that delightfully flat graveled trail. He tried. He’d push his trotting speed up and then give me a sly glance from the corner of his eye while edging into a lope. I’d call out for him to take it easy and flutter the brakes until he lapsed back into a jog with a sigh.

As we rolled along, bumping from gravel to a stretch of tiny paved road  beside a golf course, something about the name Rø kept nagging at me. At another barrier for us to navigate where the unpaved cycle path resumed where the road took a sharp curve right, I paused to look at maps. Right there, not far from where the cycle path started was a bright pink circle and a number. I pulled out the map key I’d made. Yep, a church.

Instead of sulking about looping back as I had the day before, I laughed. Ppft. It was only going to add about a mile to the ride and all of that on flat ground. Loke looked forlornly back at the green shaded gravel path as I wrestled the trike around. Still, once I clipped in, he was off like a shot and doing his best to run again.

Taking a right from where we’d started the trail, I soon spotted the church beyond some trees and up a bit of a hill. I hit the slope and could feel the lingering exhaustion of the previous ride. It burned in the weak-feeling muscles. We made the climb and I scooted across the road to park in a patch of grassy lawn just outside the church yard.

I loosed Loke from the trike tether, giving him a bit of movement with the trusty blue cable and walked over to the church with both Jens’ little point-n-click and my Canon.

There was a man doing some maintenance work on one of the buildings by the church wall. He gave me a nod as he went about his tasks.

Rø Church

Rø Church

Rø Church was rather impressive from the outside. Huge block of a tower standing at the forefront as if protecting the rest of the church. It surprised me, when I came around toward the front, to find the tower wasn’t square like just about every church tower I’ve ever seen. It was rectangular, longer across the front than sides. Of course, that might be true of the other Danish churches I’ve seen.

Upon a closer look from photos of my trip to Denmark last year, Danish churches do have rectangular rather than square towers. Maybe this one looked odd for it because the peak was different, lacking the stepped sides and the fact the stone work wasn’t hidden under centuries of thick, white plaster and paint.

Since there was someone working around the church, I decided to try the door. It opened easily.

The interior of the church was pretty, in a stark, simple fashion. No murals, very little color other than white. The pulpit hung from the wall like those in Sweden, lower lower down and lacking much in the way or ornamentation. There was a pipe organ, but even it looked humble. A large wooden box with a few pegs and levers set above the keyboard and the pipes standing above. Functional is probably the most apt description of for it. Quite a shock for one who is used to such organs being fantastic works of art as much as musical instrument.

And how on earth did I manage to not take a single photo of the church interior? I thought for sure I’d used Jens’ PnC camera in there, but nope. Not a single shot of the inside. Well, poo.

Photos done, we were off back to the cycle trail.

Further down the trail & so much nicer.

Further down the trail & so much nicer.

Loke tried even harder to run this time. I guess he wanted to reach new ground he’d not already seen twice in less than half an hour. This time we passed a young woman walking a young German Shepherd. The dog yapped and danced at the end of his leash. He wanted to race with us. Hehe.

It was so very nice to move. After a mile or so beyond where we’d turned around, we arrived at an intersection. To right another unpaved cycle path ran on, a sign saying Olsker was 7.8 km away, a bit less than 5 miles for the non-metric types.

Tempting in spite of the fact the gravel looked loose and after the first 50 yards or so, it went right up a steep slope. I knew Olsker was a round church and I wanted to see at least ONE of those before I left the island. Preferably all four.

I wriggled us through the barrier (why on earth was one there?!) and tackled it. Loke threw himself into the harness as we hit the slope. My legs screamed as I struggled up the climb. In spite of the furry powerhouse, the tire slipped a bit as I struggled for every foot of the climb. At the top, it leveled off and the earth packed down some. But about 20 yards on, the trail did a hairpin to climb another steep grade.

I washed my hands of it. My legs weren’t going to put up with much more of such slopes and I wanted miles per hour, not meters.

At least getting back down was easy even if it meant wrestling through the barrier again. I stared longing back a few times as we pushed on.

It began to drizzle as we went. Not really enough to get me truly damp. It was enough to make me reluctant to pull out my camera for photos. I started relying heavily on Jens’ point-n-click that he’d let me bring for church interiors or any where I could get far enough back to use the new Canon lens. Thankfully his camera is not only impact resistant, but also water resistant. A little rain wasn’t going to hurt it though droplets on the lens were annoying.

A lunch on the fly, right off the tree

A lunch on the fly, right off the tree

I really was in a good mood during the ride. In spite of drizzling gray sky, I smiled. We were making good time. Loke was every inch a strong, healthy husky with sound joints who in no way showed his 9+ years. I was riding through another landscape in a country other than my adopted home. On the flat trail, my legs felt fine. What was there not to smile about?

As for the ‘making good time’, compared to the previous day, we were flying. In the first 25 minutes of the ride, we’d covered over half of September 29th’s total miles and that’s with whatever time it had taken me to tether Loke, give him water, walk around Rø Church to look for the runestone as well as peek in side. An hour into the ride, we’d done over a mile more than the 4.6 miles that had taken us almost 3 hours. Yeah, I was smiling. It was wonderful to feel like I was getting somewhere rather than simply spinning my tires… figuratively and literally.

Klemensker Church

Klemensker Church

Too soon, the rail trail ended. Squeezing out through a barrier I could roll through, we came out in the parking area of some kind of light industrial building. By then, it was raining. Not a torrential downpour, but I was definitely getting wet and Loke trotted along with a distinct expression of distaste. He can be so much like a cat at times. Emerging from the mini-industrial park, the village’s church stood high on a hill… of course.

Klemens Church looked a lot like Rø Church. Rough mortared gray stone, imposing and even a bit bigger. Sadly, there was no lush lawn to park the trike with Loke. Still I set him up with some water and made the final climb up through the church yard. Up near the back of the church were a few runestones.

One was rather impressive one, over 6 feet tall with a continuous ribbon of runes around two sides. Another was unusually displayed. Broken in 3 pieces, they had been put into a wooden frame where cement had been poured around them. Once it set, they raised the frame vertically and put it near the church. Clever.

Kuregårdsstenen & a grave stone

Kuregårdsstenen (DR #403) & a gravestone at Klemensker

Lundhøj Stone (DR #399) & DR #403

Lundhøj Stone (DR #399) & DR #403

A little sign showed a few more somewhere outside the church yard wall. I went looking. Of the three, I found only two and lucky to have spotted them. They were hiding in the wall, very weathered. Surprising I made them out as I didn’t think I had the eye to spot such things without the help of paint and flashing neon outlines to scream, ‘here I am!’. That last stone eluded me in spite of a careful search of anything remotely rock like for a 20 yard radius.

One thing I’ve noticed about the churches on the island, they aren’t shy about reinforcing their old church yard walls with cement. One such wall was nothing but a blank face of cement while the side facing the street was studded with the big old stones. Oh, and hedges. They really love their graveyard hedges. Hedges to separate the rows of graves. Even mini-hedges barely higher than one’s ankles to separate the plots. Makes searching for runestones a bit challenging as there’s almost no clear view across the churchyards.

Inside Klemensker Church

Inside Klemensker Church

Klemensker Church's Model Ship

Klemensker Church’s Model Ship

Klemensker Church was open as well and much as the same as Rø Church inside. White, stark and functional. Right down to the organ. The pulpit was a bit more ornate. More decoration, mostly inset panels with paintings of either the Saints or Apostles with gold accents. A little ‘roof’ was suspended above it with a little more decorative wood work.

It was here that I took a photo of the ship model hanging from the ceiling. There was one in Rø Church as well and still another in a church a little further on. It seems most of the churches on the island have ship models. Not surprising I suppose given that it is an island. Still, since Denmark is mostly a nation of islands, I wonder if there were ships in some of the Danish churches I photographed last year. I didn’t look in any of them. I wonder if they were as frequently unlocked as the ones on the island.

Mystery fragments in Klemensker Churchyard wall.

Mystery fragments in Klemensker Churchyard wall.

It was with trepidation that I went back to the trike to set off down the road with no more rail-trail in the immediate area. The torment of the previous ride still haunted me.

Turned out, I needn’t have worried. From Klemensker, it was mostly down hill and on a dedicated cycle path separated from the main road by about 10 feet of grassy median. Loke ticked on like a well-tuned machine allowing us to cruise along at speeds of 8.5 to 9.5 mph. As I kept feathering the brakes to not go streaking along at 20 mph or faster with Loke along side, it crossed my mind I’ll need to adjust my brakes soon to compensate for the wear.

Nyker Church Belfry

Nyker Church Belfry

As we rolled along, it occurred to me that there was one drawback to this kind of ride. The softer landscape made for less dramatic and impressive scenery. Mostly softly rolling fields dotted with sea gulls or rooks. But it was oooooh so much easier to move around and get from seeing this to seeing that

A distance sign for Rønne, the island’s largest town, stood at an intersection but it was the name under it that caught my attention. Nyker.

I stopped to pull out my map key and grinned. ‘Nyker Round Church’ printed boldly next to a number. I think I actually giggled as I loosed the brake. The laughter spurred Loke into an attempt at a run. Silly dog.

Soon the distinctive round, almost tee-pee like roof of Nyker Church made its appearance through the trees. The two way cycle path split as we came into the village, each direction on its respective side of the street. After startled looks at a recumbent trike with a panting husky along side, a few people waved in greeting.

Nysker Round Church

Nysker Round Church

A bit closer to the village center, I passed what was clearly a sort of field day outing. Dozens of teens, probably the equivalent of American 10th graders, on bikes with two adults in their midst. It was a sudden parade of waves, smiles and calls of, “Nice bike!” or “Beautiful dog!” and the like. My arm was tired by the time the last one passed. I have to say though, I would have loved nothing more than to go on class outings like that when I was in school. A definite pang of envy.

I had to scurry across the street to park in the grass at Nyker Church. Loke sighed as I rolled to a stop. I think he understands that he’s not coming with me when I stop for something on Bornholm.

I loved the church. White plaster walls following a smooth curve. There were a few angular additions, but the heart was beautifully round. I always seem to come in on the side opposite the entrance which offers chance to see one side of it coming and the other going.

Nyker Church Interior

Nyker Church Interior

The inside caught my breath. For furnishings, it wasn’t much. What looked like present day bricks for flooring. Modern chairs of cane and wicker set in circles facing inward rather than pews. What struck me most though was the smooth lines of the walls flowing into the ceiling, the center of which was supported by a huge column over 3 feet in diameter. It dominated that small interior. A bit of mural work decorated the column’s top where it flared to seamlessly join the ceiling.

There were other murals here and there on the walls, but they seemed a little off to me. A bare step up from a school kid’s drawings. Proportions just a little too off here, faces a bit too cartoony there. Yes, even compared to the simplistic, two-dimensional figures of medieval art work. Very pretty all the same.

Either (DR EM85;432F M) or DR #389.

Either (DR EM85;432F M) or DR #389.

In the square porch attached to one side of the central round of the church, I found a runestone kinda hung on the wall. It’s either DR-#389 or DR EM85;432F. It’s hard for me to tell because the style of the rune ‘ribbon’ as well asthe runes themselves look kinda thick and clunk. So, I can’t tell if it’s the coherent viking age stone or the medieval jibberish one.

I was so thrilled with my first Bornholm round church, I had a bounce in my step.

Setting to the task of coiling the Loke’s cable and putting water dish away, I smiled up at a woman as she stopped beside us. We had a bit of a chat. Once she understood I didn’t speak Danish, but English and, more importantly to her, some Swedish, her speech slowed down. Danish is just close enough to Swedish that with effort, depending on the speaker’s accent and how fast they’re talking, I stand a chance of puzzling out what they’re saying. Most have been able to understand when I’ve replied in Swedish if they’ve not had any English.

She was mostly interested in Loke, which is most common. She asked if he was some kind of sled dog. How far had we gone? How far would we go? How old was he? It was a slightly odd conversation being in Danish and Swedish.

I took a moment to ponder at a distance sign just at the roadside near the church. Aakirkaby (Aa Church Village). It was about 12 km away, so a bit more than 7 miles. There was a mark on my map for it, but I couldn’t decide if I should aim for it. I scanned maps and decided on Rønne with a few more stops in between.

Pretty cottage by Nyker Church.

Pretty cottage by Nyker Church.

Oh! In the midst of my miles by the wide open fields, I discovered what all those rooks were doing. They were hunting snails. The clever birds were doing what I’ve seen videos of other corvids do. Using cars to help them crack difficult food. They’d pluck up a snail and drop it on a hard surface to crack the shell. If it didn’t break, they’d next drop it on the road for a car to smash so they could dart down and pluck up the meat.

I got to experience this first had when I turned onto a smaller road called Ellenbyvej (Ellen Village Road). Lacking a dependable stream of traffic a couple of the rooks decided to give me a try. A snail plonked onto the road in front of me. I’m not fond of rooks, but had a moment of kindness and helped the bird. I generally avoid running over snails, but since there was something’s lunch I made an exception. Seeing that, another bird dropped a snail.

A third one must have been a young bird, because instead of dropping his potential dinner a few yards in front of me, it fell on me. Right through the vents in my helmet actually. Laughing, I stopped to take the helmet off and pull the lucky little cephalopod out of hair. That seemed to change the birds’ minds about my suitability to crack their snails.

St. Knud's Church

St. Knud’s Church

There was no cycle path or lane on that road, but the few cars that came along were polite, giving plenty of space as they passed. It was only for a mile and a half. There were a few hills here and there for me to climb too, but their grades were generally 5-6% or so. I even with legs feeling rather worn from September 29th’s ride, I spun up with no real distress, often faster than 4 mph which is pretty good for me on that grade. Admittedly, Loke was pulling like a freight engine making things easier.

Minutes after turning onto a busier road, with a cycle lane on the shoulder, I saw the tower of another church. A quick glance at a map identified it as Saint Knuds.

Inside St. Knud's. Fanciest pulpit on the island so far.

Inside St. Knud’s. Fanciest pulpit on the island so far.

The cycle ‘lane’ was pretty narrow, hardly wide enough for my trike. Loke spent a bit of time leaping through the road weeds. People were still very nice about giving space. Quite a few waves and smiles actually.

Swedes are friendly, but not the very open in-your-face kind of friendly. They’re often reserved, but I get plenty of waves and people asking about Loke when I ride in my adopted home land. That reservation has never really bothered me as I tend to be a bit of a loner. I’ve heard some immigrants from particularly gregarious cultures remark that Swedes are stand-offish and aloof.  I’ve never seen that, but I guess it all comes down to what you’re used to.

The Danish people are a little more open. Not to the point of people in the American southern states, but I’ve gotten more greetings per people passed than Sweden.

Saint Knud’s Church was much of a kind with the previous two. Not a soul within, but unlocked. White painted interior with little ornamentation and a box for a pipe organ.

The surprise came when I went to leave the church, looping around the back rather than going out the way I’d come in. Noises rumbled from the opposite wide of a mounded ridge of dirt just high enough I couldn’t see over. I came up to a little path cresting the pile. Loke watched after me as up I went.

Ugly, but impressive!

Ugly, but impressive!

Good I’m not afraid of heights. After a few yards of flat ground on the other side of the dirt, the mouth of a massive pit yawned. The edge plunged for tens of yards to a pool of blue green water below. On the opposite lip of the hole was some kind of processing buildings at the head of a switch back track. The strip mine was still being worked. What they get out of it, I have no clue, but the scope of it, so close to Rønne and Saint Knuds Church surprised me.

The lane by the pit turned into a cycle path after that. I followed it down to a barrier I had no way to get through. The two halves of it were positioned JUST right that only lifting the trike would have gotten it to the other side. There had been a tiny path about 50 yards earlier so I went to look

The path was navigable. It ran right along a chain-link fence to keep the public out of the mine area. Roots of the trees buckled the asphalt so I only went along at about 3 mph. I didn’t want to lose any teeth by slamming the trike over them.

It emerged in the parking lot of a sort of housing complex. A half-dozen or more people stood around, socializing and smoking. All of them turned to smile and stare as we moved by. They started waving and calling out about the beautiful dog and the cool trike.

About the time we rejoined the main road heading into Rønne, the rain came in earnest. Water hit my head through the vents in the helmet, running its annoying way down my scalp. Loke jogged along, downhill, with his head down and ears flat to keep the rain out, squinting all the while. It wasn’t nearly as cold as I expected. I wasn’t wearing an extra layer and though I wasn’t exactly warm, I wasn’t blue and chattering either.



At the bottom of the hill, just before entering Rønne proper, I found a random rest stop. I guess it must have been for cyclists as I can’t see why it would be there for cars a stone throw from town. It was still almost dry at some of the picnic tables under the trees. I stopped to water Loke while I darted into the restroom there. Then  I started looking at maps again, trying to figure out where to go. Settling on east by trails and paths kinda following the island’s southern coast, we set off.

Getting through Rønne was a bit annoying. More barriers across the cycle paths with barely enough room for standard bikes to be walked by/through them. One, Loke had to be unhitched while I pushed the trike up an embankment to go around. Seriously! I can understand them not wanting cars on the trails, but to make it nearly impossible for even bicycles to get through without having to be manhandled up an overpass embankment is downright silly.

About as perfect as a cycle path can get!

About as perfect as a cycle path can get!

I was fine not stopping in Rønne. The only POI I’d found in the town, Bornholm’s largest was potentially the church, which was encased in scaffolding. What little driving we’d done through there didn’t make me go ‘Oooh! Must go here to photograph that old street!’ It left me overall unimpressed even before the barrier issue. Skirting the place and getting back to calmer areas seemed most sensible.

I tried to stay on cycle paths, which required a bit of zig-zagging. Soon Loke and I were whirring through a corridor of trees on a paved cycle path. It followed with the east bound busy road, occasionally joining it as a combination cycle path/pedestrian walk, but for enough of the time, it was off on its own through the wooded patch.

Too soon the pretty part was gone as the cycle path joined the side of the road. As it came up toward 5 pm, the Garmin ticked past 19 miles. I still felt good and strong. Loke was still moving like an unstoppable machine combined with a sulky horse, pulling the trike along at nearly 9 mph. But I was hungry. Actually beyond hungry. Breakfast had been a few graham crackers with peanut butter at 6 am to keep my tummy mostly empty for me to feel my best on the ride. Nearly 12 hours with nothing but small, frequent sips of water! Oh! Nearly forgot the two small apples I pulled off a tree along the rail-trail!

I kept rolling while talking with Jens to arrange a pick up. Arnager was a tiny village at the end of the airport. So, I told Jens to aim for there. There was one of the cultural signs just off the Southern Land Road, but it looked like I’d have to wade through waist high weeds. Instead I pushed on toward the village in search of the cafe that had been indicated by another sign.

The village felt oddly deserted though and what few people I saw gave me somewhat sour looks. I started feeling a bit like an intruder. I turned us back around to go sit on the tiny parking bay by the cultural sign.

Jens had said he’d be about 25 minutes. We had roughly 20 left, so I gathered up the stuff I absolutely will not leave on the trike and set us off toward the burial mound marked on my maps.

It turns out the path was somewhat recently mowed, two weeks or so. Enough I didn’t feel like I was going to come out with a dozen ticks and Loke a few hundred.

Well, being ruined makes photographing the interior easier.

Well, being ruined makes photographing the interior easier.

A slight glimpse within.

A slight glimpse within.

The old passage grave was much smaller than I expected and quite ruined. Most of the capstones atop the passage and the chamber were completely gone. When I walked up on the sides to look down, Loke’s curiosity took him into what remained of the chamber. He sniffed around, probably hoping for some small creature to eat.

The passage grave actually sat in a field of corn. The stunted looking stalks all around. Before we left the grave, I walked over for a closer look, to see if there were any actual ears of corn. I abruptly shied away from what looked like a huge paper wasps’ nest. It was nearly as big as my head. Curiosity pulled me back to look again only to recoil once more. It wasn’t a wasps nest. Something was horribly wrong with an ear of corn. It had split apart, swelling into these white tubelike shapes. I looked around and saw more of the small ears (the healthy(ish) looking ones barely 10 inches long with husk and tassel) that showed the same deformation though not nearly as full blown as the first.

It repulsed me. I actually shivered as we started back to the trike. I kept Loke tight beside me right in the center of the path.

We left the corn and I let Loke have more leash. About halfway back, I spotted Jens standing at the road edge. He’d made much better time that he had said. Once we got loaded up, we rushed off in search of food. It felt soooooo good to get a full belly!

You Think You’re Ready, But….
October 6, 2014, 8:20 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Written September 30th

Reality kicks you in the teeth.

Dawn view from holiday apartment

Dawn view from holiday apartment

Woke up around 4:30 am which gave me plenty of time to write up the post for the previous day. I can’t remember what time I finally got moving. I guess it was likely around 9 am. Maybe 8. My original plan had been to hit the ground running as soon as it was daylight enough. I rethought that plan, deciding it would be best if the daylight was strong enough for the camera to have a decent shutter speed. My tripod is sitting at the apartment back in Sweden after all.

Finally got everything together which took several trips on the steep walk to and from the vacation apartment to the car.

DR #401 - Brogård Runestone. Taken while driving to apartment.

DR #401 – Brogård Runestone. Taken while driving to apartment.

Loke was raring to go. Oddly, I felt more… annoyed than anything. I have no idea why.

The start of our outing was a gentle coast down the slope toward the center of Allinge. It’s a pretty sort of harbor town. Some old buildings tightly clustered around narrow, twisting and often steep little streets. Quite impressive to watch buses wind their way through some of them.

We weren’t going down to the old center though. A sign for rock carvings guided us into the first turn which turned out to be up a very nasty hill. Then there were no more signs. I made a turn onto a what looked like a drive way, but map and GPS insisted it was a cycle path. It was, but not the one I needed.

So, back I went. I coasted back down to the main road to head north. Then I stopped to look at my maps again. It gave me a moment to reorient myself and I decided what I needed to do was go back to follow the sign again and continue climbing the hill.

Poor Loke was so confused with all the back and forth. It only served to continue souring my mood as did the more than 5 minute slow crank up the hill which had to be a grade of more than 13%.

Cresting that hill, I made the turn toward a football field. The chugging of a tractor explained the scent of fresh cut grass on the cool morning air that was delightfully still. The turn also rewarded a view of another of the signs for the rock carvings.

Maybe carvings up there, but without being certain...

Maybe carvings up there, but without being certain…

I turned onto a gravel drive where I could finally see the tractor clipping grass on one of the football fields. There were information signs for the rock carvings too. I sat in the trike seat and stared off into the distant hill where a well beaten path led. Abruptly, I decided that if the hills were as steep as the one I’d climbed, I didn’t want to expend the energy on a quarter mile hike across a field.

At the last blue and white guiding signs, the little road became a cycle path. A paved, delightfully, wonderfully FLAT cycle path. Clearly it was once part of Bornholm’s rail system which no longer exists. My theory is that trains were used early in the history of mechanized travel. That period where trains were predominant, but cars had yet to be improved and commonly used. With the rise of vehicles which didn’t need tracks, particularly the larger lorries and buses which were far more flexible, the trains were no longer needed for such a small land mass.

Rock carvings at 2nd location.

Rock carvings at 2nd location.

That’s my theory any way as there is not a single working rail line on the island today.

More carvings at 2nd location, some I've never seen before.

More carvings at 2nd location, some I’ve never seen before.

Foot mark complete with individual toes

Foot mark complete with individual toes

Loke tried his best to run on that flat pavement. Rather quickly I brought us to a stop at another set of information signs. Beyond them, less than 50-60 yards away was dome of smooth, glacial scrubbed rock. I pulled the trike off the path, leaving Loke with it before I started toward the rock.

It was indeed covered in rock carvings. Dozens and dozens of cup marks the size of 50 cent pieces, ships, foot marks complete with toes which isn’t very common, and some kind of odd curling design that looked almost like a question mark. It was a bit tricky getting up to them on the height of the dome as I stubbornly hadn’t taken the time to change to proper shoes and walking on sloping rock is tricky at best in cycle shoes.

Shapes I've never seen at 3rd location

Shapes I’ve never seen at 3rd location

Location 3 Rock Carvings - Loke & Trike in background.

Location 3 Rock Carvings – Loke & Trike in background.


Ship variation I've never seen

Ship variation I’ve never seen

Off we went like a shot, Loke again pulling like a crazed 4 year old husky instead of the 9 year old he is. Just a little further on, we stopped again for yet more rock carvings. I really should have changed to my sneakers. It might have even been less time over all if I’d done so. This slab of rock took a little more careful climbing and meandering to get a good position for photos. This time I used Jens’ little point-n-click as it was easier to get good angles from a little closer in than with the new Canon lens.

Could be dozens rock carving sites out there.

Could be dozens rock carving sites out there.

If it's not flat, it's only a 2% grade! :D

If it’s not flat, it’s only a 2% grade! 😀

We passed a few people as we zoomed along the short stretch of the cycle path. It abruptly changed to gravel and a barrier ahead to keep cars away had just enough room to squeeze Loke and the trike by. A pair of women on bikes were just on the other side of the barrier as I went around it. The younger one called out something in Danish. I answered with an apology in Swedish. She tried English and I said yes.

She wanted to know if the path was good for bikes and would it take them to Allinge. I told them the path was meant for bikes, part of the old train system and it would go to the town though it would end south of the center. She thanked me and off we all went.

Pretty 'official' building north of Allinge

Pretty ‘official’ building north of Allinge

I was a bit uneasy with the next roads we took. Very steep descents that took us to a small village. The knowledge of what I went down, I might very well have to grind back up was foremost in my thoughts. Still, somewhere north of us lay an old church ruin.

We zig-zagged back and forth as I sought a path to the ruin thankfully managing to avoid the hideous climb we’d plunged down. It sat further north, just a little west of the very tip of the island. All the trails I found were for hikers, far too narrow for the trike alone let alone trike and husky.

Hammar Lake Cliffs

Hammar Lake Cliffs

I turned toward the lake which was lovely. Clear, rippling water with a wonderfully level path beside it free of traffic. On the other side, rocky cliffs jutted. Some of the faces of rock were sheer. The stone was beautifully lit by the early sun. I took quite a few pictures of those cliffs as I enjoyed the lake view.

Somewhere along there, my stomach announced it was not happy. That added to the overall sense of annoyance, heightening it to aggravation.

You can just glimpse the sea...

You can just glimpse the sea…

At least the scenery was pretty as I crept through it...

At least the scenery was pretty as I crept through it…

Yet another brutal hill, I called Jens to check in as I crept up at less than 1 mph. By this time I’d barely 3 miles under the tires and over 2 hours on the trike. Not for lack of Loke trying to help. Bless his fuzzy heart. I don’t think he ever let the tether slack. Even on the two all-too-brief flat bits, he pulled like mad wanting more than the trot I allow him.

Jens offered to meet us at the castle ruin to explore it together. He also suggested that since I had days more rides planned maybe I could call this day short and we could use it for sightseeing.

The approach to Hammerhus Castle.

The approach to Hammerhus Castle.

When the castle ruin came into sight, I didn’t get an answer when I called to let Jens know. I was rolling down the path for the climb up when he called me back. We decided that by the time he got there, it would have meant me waiting too long or that maybe I’d even be ready to leave.

Little did I know.

Though there were clear signs pointing to cycle parking, I hadn’t seen any signs actually forbidding bikes on the path up to Hammarshus ruin. Off we went.

Gate House maybe?

Gate House maybe?

There was actually a lot of work happening at the site. Little truck like vehicles bumped over the tumbled cobbles and eroded ruts while carefully winding around the many pedestrians or me and Loke.

I expected it to be hard which helped make the effort bearable. Loke helped as much as he could, but there were still sections that the tires slipped on cobbles or loose gravel.

One stretch, something unexpected happened which added to the frustration I’d already been struggling with. I couldn’t go forward, so attempted reversing in hopes I could sort of zig-zag my way up. Something went wrong with the rear cassette as the chain jumped. The slope was so steep that my parking gear couldn’t even hold me very solid, but somehow, I managed to lever myself out of the trike at that steep angle.

There's the source of the bleating!

There’s the source of the bleating!

I sat down in the dust and gravel, beyond aggravated and just so tired of every inch of the ride requiring herculean effort. I’d thought myself ready, but it was proving too much.

After peering around, I found the problem. Part of my chain tube had broken loose. Going forward, the chain pushed it out of the way. When I tried to back up, the chain carried the rubber back into the rear cassette, making it jump off the teeth where tension yanked it down to the smaller rings. I needed either a sharp knife or strong scissors to cut it away or duck tape to pin it in place. I lacked any of those things.

What a view!

What a view!

Same view higher up

Same view higher up

This meant I couldn’t let the trike roll backwards for anything. If I had to turn around in a narrow area, there would be no way for me to do the multipoint turn by going back and forth. I would have get up, lift the heavy back end of the trike and physically walk it around. My back was going to hate me.

My back was going to hate me even without that annoyance. There were sections of the path that defeated the trike. So steep that the tire simply spun. Sometimes, it would even roll back a couple inches even as it turned forward. For about a 50 yard stretch, I marched up the hill, shoving the trike along before me as Loke dragged.

When it levelled a bit, I got an astounding view off to the north. There was a haze in the air, but it did little to diminish the scenery. I had to take pictures of course.

The noble steed awaits below...

The noble steed awaits below…

The trike had to wait at the entrance to the castle courtyard proper. Slick cobblestone and narrow passages barred the way. Again, I really should have changed to other shoes, but I just felt I couldn’t be bothered with all the unlacing and wrestling around only to have to do it again when I got back to the trike. Much better to creep along, risking a broken tailbone or worse from a bad slip. *Eyeroll*

The ruins were more extensive than they first appeared. It seemed to be 3 broken bits of larger buildings with some walls, tumbled wrecks of 2 or 3 drum towers. Some had scaffolding where workmen crawled around, busy with restoration work. Inside the biggest ruined building, an old doorway or arch opened out into another whole section beyond. It might have been either a second smaller courtyard or a vast open hall with smaller rooms opening to either side.

One of the ruined buildings

One of the ruined buildings

The big tower with smaller ruins to the back

The big tower with smaller ruins to the back

Ruins at the back of the main tower

Ruins at the back of the main tower

After exploring around with my crazed husky, I went back to the trike to look at maps. I knew the way from the castle was more hard climbs and there wasn’t really much to see. Most of the rest I was interested in was further south and east. Honestly, I was exhausted and utterly disheartened. Disgusted even with hours I’d spent for a measly 4 miles.

Sitting by the path as I moped over the maps, Loke and the trike started to get a lot of attention. People came up to pet him. One woman took photos of him with her iPad, urging me to get in with him. One older man, slowed and looked at the trike. I was about 10 feet away to sit on a rock. He glanced at me and asked in Danish if it was my bike. ‘Ja’, I replied.

Didn't notice the pond earlier!

Didn’t notice the pond earlier!

‘Svenske?’ (Swedish) he said, surprised.

I replied in Swedish that I lived there, but was American. He grinned and swapped to English, asking what part of the US. I went with Mobile, Alabama as it’s the closest large city to the last place I lived in the states.

He laughed, ‘I know Alabama. Drove there on the way to New Orleans’. Then he told me how about 20 years ago, he’d landed in New York and he and his wife drove to D.C. And then New Orleans, Chicago and finished their trip in Minnesota. I must have looked as exhausted as I felt because he gave me a friendly pat on the shoulder and wished me a good trip.

Gudhjem Church

Gudhjem Church

After creeping and bumping the steep way down to the cafe, I called Jens and asked him to come get me. Annoyingly from his previous offer of having me cut the day short ride in exchange for site seeing, he’d flipped opinions. ’It’s such a pretty day. You shouldn’t waste it! Not going to be any prettier than this!’

Still he came and we found somewhere to eat in Allinge after I’d come to the apartment to clean up and change clothes. Then we went driving to look for a fishing spot for Jens. Pretty scenery. We also stopped in Gudhjem (Home of God) to chase down a church and a ruin. Not sure I could get there with bike. Many of the streets are banned to bikes, being far too steep.

St Anna Chapel Ruin at Gudhjem

St Anna Chapel Ruin at Gudhjem

Oh! The ruin was also a first for me. The first church ruin I’ve come across where the church was blown up. I blinked at that. Hehe.

Cycling is forbidden on many streets in Gudhjem.

Cycling is forbidden on many streets in Gudhjem.

Once he found a few likely places, we took off across the center of the island to head to Rønne, the largest town, for groceries. We found another castle ruin on the way, stopping to look at it. Heavens, my legs were weak as wet paper for making the climb up. Jens was laughing at me as I wobbled, stopping a couple times to slap at my legs to get the ache out of them so I could force another step.

Also on that drive, I discovered the interior of the island, with a few exceptions, is significantly flatter.

So, that’s the plan for the day. This murky, gray and probably wet day…


Ystad and the Manor
October 5, 2014, 7:12 am
Filed under: Day Rides

Written September 29th

Well, yesterday’s ride went pretty well. My start was a bit later than anticipated, but Loke and I made such good time I never really felt stressed.

Street View in Ystad - Evening Sept 27

Street View in Ystad – Evening Sept 27

I went out to get the trike ready first. Off to the east, the sun tried to break through the blanket of clouds. Blessfully, after the previous day’s insane winds, it was utterly calm and cool at roughly 51 F.

Trike assembled, I dashed into the hotel to bring out the fuzzy, camera, and such.  The moment the brake was loosed, Loke was off like a shot for us to follow the little road which may have existed clear back in medieval times. The cobbles were surprisingly smooth for what they are and I wasn’t rattled much at all.

Then it was onto a large road flanked on both sides by buildings more recently dated (mid-1900’s to current). It also introduced us to the first climb of the day. Loke’s enthusiasm dampened through that stretch, clearly bored with it even if it was new. Not that I blame him. It was a fairly uninspiring area, particularly at 3-4 mph.

Following the map, I made a turn between a hedge and a tiny wooded cluster for yet more climbing. Loke perked up a bit. He loves being surrounded by nature on outings though he seemed happy enough to run in Copenhagen last year. From there, we continued ever upward on paths through green parkland between residential streets. It was between 8 and 9 on Sunday, so people were already out. A few on bikes and many out walking their dogs.

And More Up and Up

And More Up and Up

The character of the residential area changed from older, well established (say mid-1900’s) to brand spanking new. The pavement of the cycle paths giving way to grass-choked gravel for the most part. I tried to avoid those, preferring to go on the newly paved streets by houses done in cookie-cutter, suburbia style. Some still had scaffolding. Others simply lacked grass on the raw earth of their postage stamp sized yards. Still upward we went.

Enjoying the sun while it lasts.

Enjoying the sun while it lasts.

A Pretty Pond

A Pretty Pond

We finally emerged from the residential areas onto a narrow road with a cycle path running aside it. Given how low trafficked it was, I was surprised they had bothered with a path beside it.

Loke & I both love the tree lined lanes.

Loke & I both love tree lined lanes.

At the top of the next steeper rise came the turn toward my first major POI for the ride. It was onto a gravel lane flanked by twin rows of trees as it rose and fell between fields of gently rolling hills.

The sun had utterly disappeared by this point, leaving just dull clouds. With our turn off the pavement and the tree-lined lane beckoning us on, Loke suddenly had his verve back. He wanted to run down that track with its on-again-off-again grassy strip in the middle. He pulled hard into the harness and scanned the landscape for small critters other than sea gulls dotting surprisingly green hills.

On my GPS, the map showed a pond. In reality it was only a marshy patch of ground perhaps 75 feet across choked with cattails and other bog loving plants at the edge of the field. I wonder if it might be a slow seeping spring as I can’t for the life of me see why farmers wouldn’t have filled it in decades ago before the whole environmental push rather than have to steer their tractors around it all this time.

Loved the almost tunnel feel of this section.

Loved the almost tunnel feel of this section.

I wouldn’t mention that soggy spot except as we rattled along, still climbing, we startled a great blue heron out of the reeds. I watched it while pushing up the next steeper incline. Gracefully folded neck and dignified beat of wings, it didn’t fly away, but circled the plant smothered wet spot until it felt safe enough to come down again. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one of those birds. They’re not common here in Sweden. I didn’t try for a photo of it, being sure it would disappear into a dot across the fields.

The steep ground sorta levelled where the road split. One direction went sharply upward again, following the tree-line and field edge of the woody patch in front of us. The other took a lovely drop down into the trees themselves, an impressively old one forming a lovely arch across the lane. Loke seemed to understand what I was contemplating and pulled toward the tree shaded path. I was a little wary of it, knowing where we went down, we’d have to go up. I wasn’t exactly sure which way would be easier and more direct to the ruin.

Still, I think the route through the trees appealed to me almost as much as Loke. Down we went and the furball did his best to run, giving me disgusted looks as I kept him to a jog. He finally settled for going along like a sulky racing horse, stretching out his trot as much as he could for speed. He’s getting better at that. Sometimes he almost hits 10 mph with that pace.

It was pretty. The trail was still gravel and grass. On the left was an old dry stone wall. The big rocks were all moss covered and ancient. The ground on the other side supported beautiful old trees right up to the edge of the wall. After a short distance, there was an opening in the trees with clear view of part of a lovely old building, a barn I thought. I coasted down and found I was right. Sadly, the only old thing about the barn were the stone and white mortar walls. It was topped with corregated tin and closed with sliding metal doors hung on sturdy metal tracks.

A portion of the stables

A portion of the stables

We turned back and made the short climb back up to the main path. Barely 75 meters on, I saw more old barns and even stables as we reached another turn. One was up the particularly steep slope where I could see the coral colored plaster of what looked like a manor house. The other way was down toward stables which still looked to be in use, but quite old. Peeking over them, I saw a small tower which I knew belonged to the ruined manor/castle I was looking for. It was down that steep hill. Down we went.

The stables were extensive and at least one of them was very much in use still. Extremely well outfitted actually. Just rolling by the open doors I could see stalls of smooth sanded and stained wood topped with railings of stainless steel. To the front was what looked like a sort of giant heater hung from the ceiling, a kind of gargatuan hair dryer for damp horses on cold days. Luxury, modern accommodations for pampered equines housed in centuries old walls.

Some of the residents of those accommodations watched us curiously from their fenced pasture next to the old ruin as we rolled to a stop.

Bjersjöholm Old Manor

Bjersjöholm Old Manor

The manor was fairly impressive because it was mostly intact. Two buildings stood opposite each other, faded and tired looking. At the far end they were linked by a wall interrupted by the small tower I’d seen and an arched opening that led out to rolling hills covered in fields beyond.

I left Loke with the trike as I went to look at the manor. At first it seemed locked tight, which was expected, but still disappointing. I peeked through a grimy window and saw old plastered walls, cracked, dirty and even chunks fallen. The floor had once been brick, but entire sections of it had been pulled up allowing sickly looking plants to take root here or there.

I persisted in exploring. There was a low passage through the first building I looked at, doors to either side. Much to my surprise, they were only ‘pinned’ shut, literally. The metal strap and loop fastenings held closed by an old metal bar with a loop in the top. I tugged it open and door swung wide, almost slammed back by a sudden gust of wind.

I stepped in. A brick column stood in the center of the small room with a metal one next to it, holding up the ceiling. The bricks pulled up from the floor were covered with plaster dust where they were stacked against a wall. If I had to guess, they’d been removed during an archeological exam of the place.

That was all. No doorways leading to the other side, no hint if it had been used as a kitchen or the like. There was very little to photograph really.

The door on the other side was pinned, but not locked shut as well. Very surprising given it was set up as a sort of museum area. The walls still had a few cracks, but clean and freshly painted. There was even lighting installed, but no power to turn them on. Sadly, none of the photos I took came out. Plexiglas cases stood filled with pots and other accoutrements of every day life in the manor’s heyday. None had tags for information or dates. They only sat mutely in their dust-free environment, pricking my curiosity.

On the opposite side of that room was an old wooden door which might have been a century or more old if the metal work of the handle was any hint. That one was most definitely locked or perhaps even nailed shut. It was a bit dim for me to get a good look. Definitely wasn’t going to open under my efforts.

A couple more doors in that wing opened, but still little to see. One was simply storage of odds-n-ends that made me think of play props. Given the amount of dust on them, they’ve been undisturbed for a few years. Another room was fitted with modern counter top, a sink with faucets and a silent fridge. Quite a jarring contrast given the cracked ancient walls and floor that seemed to be as much dirt as brick.

Oddly, I’d been able to peek into all the rooms on that side and had found not a single stairway up to the second floor. I at last noticed a doorway on said second level, set in a bit from the wall with a few stairs leading into the open air. It seems there once had been an exterior set of stairs to the second level, now gone. Perhaps the lord and his family lived above with the lower levels for kitchens and other necessities to keep the noble family happy.

The other building was completely locked. Mostly it seemed to be used to store the posts and railings of jumping frames to train horses. Where the first building had vaults and ceilings of stone, this one had beams with planks of wood for the 2nd story floors. Old and dark, some appeared to be falling in. Just as well the place was locked.

So was the little tower, sadly. I think it would have been neat to take a look from it’s upper level for the view.

Small, the manor must have been a sight in its glory. Now, it just struck me as sad and fading.

Hedeskoga Church

Hedeskoga Church

It was then time to move on. It was barely passed 9 am at this time. Loke eagerly sprang to his feet as I came back to the trike. He was raring to go. Turned out I needed that energy of his. The climb up from the ruined manor was very steep and the gravel loose. Even with Loke pulling with all his strength I gained perhaps 2 inches of ground for every slipping spin of the wheel. Even my parking brake couldn’t hold on the slope to let me up to push the trike.

Somehow, we made it and came the easier part of the ride. Since leaving Ystad, we’d ascended almost 300 feet according to my Garmin. Understandable. Castles or manors tend to built on high ground and we had been heading inland from the coast.

In the old part of Ystad

In the old part of Ystad

As we crested a brief climb and started down the rattling gravel descent through the arch of trees, something weird went wrong with my pedalling. Much to Loke’s annoyance, I stopped. He’d been hoping for a chance to run, I’m sure. It was a bit of a challenge, trying to figure out what was wrong with the trike while dealing with a husky who wanted to run.

In spite of his shenanigans, I found the problem. Though on the middle chain ring at the front, the chain had tried to completely slip off the rings to the inside. It was wedged at the bottom between the granny gear ring and the protective cage around it. Baffling as I’d not been changing gears at that moment and the first its ever happened. I looked for a good, sturdy bit of twig to lever and prod the chain back into place while keeping my hands grease free. In moments, we were moving again.

Greyfriars Abbey - Ystad

Greyfriars Abbey – Ystad

There were only a few brief climbs to be made as we rolled back to the paved roads. The heron was gone as we passed the marshy spot.

I’d not noticed it when plotting the map for the ride, but the route I’d chosen back to Ystad actually passed a church less than a quarter mile from the castle’s lane. Just a white plastered affair with a distinctly Danish style steeple tower on one end. Still, I stopped for a photo.

I keep forgetting to mention much about the new lens. Part of me loves it, but only for general sort of things. When it comes to trying to catch the images of buildings, particularly ones with towers or not much room to back away from, it’s a problem. The old lens was 18-55 focal length or so. The new one is something like 24-150. Losing that 6 mm on the low end has hurt. I couldn’t get far enough back from the church to catch it all in one go though it would have been no issue for the old one. I’m not entirely certain how well pictures taken with the new one will stitch together.

Loved this little cottage near the monastery.

Loved this little cottage near the monastery.

The longer low-end focal length certainly made trying to take pictures in the crowded area of Ystad’s old center a challenge. I guess in a few months, I may try to get my hands on a fixed focal lens in the 15 or 18 mm range.

Ooh. It just occurred to me. Getting interior photos of churches or the like could be a particular headache with the new lens.

Any hooo.

From there, most of the way back to Ystad was a snap. Down and down. There was one longish climb along a very busy road, but the cycle path beside it meant no stress and my ability to spin up slopes remains better than it had been a month ago. Hills have to be very steep and/or covered with very loose, slippery gravel to kill me. I still may be pitifully slow on those over 6% grade or so, but they don’t inflict physical distress. On gentler grades, I’m definitely faster even in a higher gear.

Loke and Trike in Old Ystad

Loke and Trike in Old Ystad

Though I’d walked through most of the older, interesting parts of Ystad with Jens the previous evening, I made a point of rolling through them on the trike. They’re so pretty it was no bother to see them again and I’d returned with plenty of time to spare for our 12:20 check-in at the ferry.

St. Maria Church - Evening of Sept 27th

St. Maria Church – Evening of Sept 27th

I called him to arrange meeting back at the hotel though Jens had already checked us out. The car was still there though and I hoped the hotel owner would let me change somewhere. I didn’t relish wandering around the ferry in my cycle clothes.

The man kindly let me use the room we’d slept in to change. It hadn’t been cleaned yet so it was no bother at all he said. Once changed and everything packed back in the car, Jens and I went in search of a coffee shop for me to chase down something resembling food. I’d eaten nothing before heading out on the Ystad ride.

With a muffin and cup of hot chocolate in my tummy, we took another short stroll around Ystad’s center. In a small, old brick building, I found a Subway Sandwich shop. I bought a sandwich to eat later. Then it was off to the ferry.

Our chariot arrives!

Our chariot arrives!

Thankfully, the ferry ride was relatively brief. The catamaran style ferry, built in Australia, is one of the fastest in the world apparently. It’s top speed is about 75 kph (46 mph for us non-metrics).

It’s not that I have anything against speed or even boat trips. But the exceedingly high winds of the day before and the brisk breezes that had kicked up on my way back into Ystad meant rolling seas of a bit more than a meter. Those waves came at us mostly from broad side. The ferry is sizeable, but not so much that it didn’t bob around like a cork in an agitated bathtub.

I get seasick. Ever since I went on a dependence cruise on a newly commissoned Navy ship when I was about 20 years old. That was the first time it happened. As long as I firmly keep my eyes fastened on the horizon, I don’t get too bad, but as soon as I can’t see the line of sea and sky for more than a minute or so, it gets ugly FAST.

The absolute sickest I’ve been on a boat or ship was when Jens and I went whale watching in Norway in December 2005. The seas were high with the plunging waves of almost 3 meters (10 feet) and the boat not much more than 30-40 feet long. While on the deck, looking for the whales, I was okay. Even standing on the bow which was almost like a roller coaster, I had no problem. Though the sun never really rose, there was something resembling daylight. Once that was gone, I went below deck. 10 minutes later, I was violently ill and remained so even hours after we returned to our mountain cabin.

So, I sat near the window and except for a few seconds at a time, I kept gaze firmly on the horizon. Still felt a little queasy and dizzy, but not full-blown sick.

It was a relief when we were back on dry land though it took about half an hour for me to feel normal again.

Borholm is beautiful. It’s more of the rolling sort of hills like those around Ystad with some sharper points here and there. Apparently some impressive sea side cliffs. I think I surprised Jens when he asked for the address to our accommodations for the rest of the week. I told him I didn’t need them, just follow the signs to Allinge. Once we reached the town, I directed him where we needed to go without maps or GPS, even pointing out the place when it came into view.

Our accommodations are quite nice. It turns out the apartments here are all owned by individuals who rent them out when not in use. So, they have a slightly ‘homey’ feel mingled with the hotel touches. There’s a kitchen with 2 burner stove though no oven except for a microwave. Tiny fridge. Even a dishwasher and a miniature washing machine! I can wash my cycle clothes! Yay! The bed’s comfortable though the sofa is shockingly not so. The bathroom is wonderful. A shower nook to make Jens happy and a huge spa tub for me to soak away whatever aches my rides here give.

I do expect aches. I expect the island to challenge my new found cycling-up-hills skill. The place is threaded all around with foot and cycle paths, not all of them paved so there maybe more difficulties like that found when attempting to leave the ruined manor. I’m looking forward to it!

Just waiting for daylight to get moving!

And So It Began!
October 4, 2014, 9:11 am
Filed under: Misc

Written September 28th

We packed most everything the night before with the exception of electronics and whatever we were going to be using the night/morning before the drive. We were on the road by 7:13. Pretty good. Generally we are an hour or more late than when we intended for trips like this.

Well, the drive down wasn’t much of a problem. A little harrowing at times, but not because of traffic or such. Wind. Crazy, crazy wind. Driving along with trees whipping around and then a particularly strong gust would blast across the road making the car buck. It was causing enough problems that they gave frequent traffic warnings on the radio.

In spite of the frolicsome car, I didn’t really get a clear idea of the wind until walking Loke while Jens fueled the car. It actually shoved me and the fuzzy around. At one point, I ended up in a whirl of air which I suppose would have been a dust devil in other locations. It shoved me me to and fro and then suddenly most of my hair was something close to straight up. I must have looked like one of those troll dolls for a few seconds.

Brahe Manor From Across Highway

Brahe Manor From Across Highway – June 2014

Around 11 am or so, the shift changed when we made another stop at Brahe Manor ruin. My, but we’ve seen a lot of that place this year what with the drives to and from Borås a couple times and what not. It’s a major stopping point for travellers and tourists, which unfortunately means a lot of discarded food. When I ran into the restaurant/shop/gas-station for a call of nature, Loke managed to find a bun while strolling around with Jens.

Lake Vättern on a mostly sunny day!

Lake Vättern on a mostly sunny day!

We made a brief detour into Malmö where there’s an Apple Store. My iPhone is giving warning that it won’t be lasting much longer. So, I wanted to get a look at the iPhone 6 to see if I might be going another route. The mall is new, called the Emporium. The largest mall I’ve ever been in is the Woodfield Mall outside of Chicago, which if not the largest in the world, it is up there among them. This mall, I’m pretty sure is the 2nd largest I’ve ever stepped foot in.

It was crazy. First, it was packed with people like sardines in a can. Second of all, it was a maze. Not just the tangle of corridors with the confusion of lights and swirling masses of humanity, but a 3 dimensional maze. It took a few moments for me to be sure, but yes, one had to go up to the third floor and to get to the second. There was no escalator exclusively to the middle layer of the building. The elevator was not an option with the even greater press of humans tight around it.

I sighed in relief at the sight of the bright, glowing Apple ahead when I finally made my way through the complex. That lasted for only a moment. It wasn’t a shop in a mall, it was a popular nightclub. They had three guys wearing minimal headsets for communication holding back a line of people surrounded by velvet rope to dole them in a few at a time as others left. Bouncers. 100 or more were in that line and others adding to it even as a couple of Apple employees brought out yet more of the posts and velvet rope to accommodate the line. I estimated a wait of an hour or more given the slow shift of people in and out.

I turned on my heel, sending Jens a text to tell him no way and why. He was shocked. It’s been a few days since the release of the new iPhone. He thought the rush would be over somewhat. At least enough for me to get in and get my hands on a display model for an idea of the size, weight and feel. Reading the dimensions of something only goes so far.

I was a little disappointed when we took another way out of the mall area than we had into it. Coming in, we’d passed the most bizarre fountain I’d ever seen in my life. It looked to be bronze mask or front half of a head, looking skyward with an open mouth and a huge gush of water leaping past the lips. Not just 5 or 6 feet long. No. I’m talking 20+ feet from chin to pate. Turn the water off and 5 or more people probably could have fit in the mouth. We’d come up to it and been forced on by the flow of traffic through the round-about too quickly for me to dig out my iPhone to snap it then didn’t go close enough to it on our way out.

We arrived in Ystad around 4 pm. Our hotel for the night sits in the lovely old heart of the town. It is very much a part of that heart. The building has a plaster and beam and is clearly old. 1793 is proudly proclaimed on their website and outside. Built right against it is another old building which is used as a pub/restaurant with a gorgeous old courtyard behind the street face. It claims to have been constantly in service since the 1400’s. ‘Oldest still working brewery in the world’.

We took a walk to the church a stone’s throw away, by more of the wood and plaster/brick faced buildings which most date from the 1700-1800’s. Here and there, something from the later 1800’s has wedged its way in between the older ones. The most jarring are those clearly from the mid-1900’s.

And here’s my usual complaint about the views of the beautiful cobble streets with their utterly charming 1700’s buildings ruined by a wall of cars, almost always parked on the prettiest side. Yes, I know people live in them and need places to park, but I still can’t help but lament at the ruined photos.

The Bitter Flavoring for Beer!

The Bitter Flavoring for Beer!

We took a short wander through the town. Found the restaurant we decided we’d eat at a little later as we headed for the church and then onward toward the old cloister and its pond. While photographing another of the old houses with lovely wood accents painted blue with red accents, I stopped to take a closer look at an odd plant near one of the doors. It was carefully trained up a support.

I laughed and called Jens over, “You know what this is.”

Jens only frowned at it. “Grapes?” He took a closer look and then shook his head. “No. What is it?”

That surprised me. How can an avid beer drinker not know hops when they see it? And here’s me, who avoids beer like plague, able to identify them straight away. I absolutely can’t stand the bitter taste of beer which is all thanks to hops. Actually, I avoid most alcohol. Wine, champagne, vodka, tequila… Rum is about the only thing I’ll touch and then only well mixed with various fruits and ice into daiquiris. I only have that about twice a year. Three times a year if I’m feeling particularly naughty.

Pretty building across from where we ate.

Pretty building across from where we ate.

We finished the evening with wonderful plank steaks at the restaurant. For those who don’t know, plank steak is served… well, on a plank! You take mashed potatoes, squeezing them out onto the edges of a ‘plate’ size slab of wood and nestle the meat cooked a little short of what it was requested and half of a tomato in the center. Then you put it in a hot oven to roast it all together (finishing the meat) until the edges of the potato mash begins to crisp and brown. Serve hot, plank and all often with béarnaise sauce drizzled over.

After that, we flipped through bad TV and I fell asleep around 8 am. Not surprising as I was awake before 3 am yesterday to make sure of the last bit of packing. I still managed to forget my tripod! Annoying.

This morning, I woke around 4:30. Soon, I’ll get ready for a short ride. Just 7 miles or so. I’ll leave from the hotel, heading through the old parts of the town toward a castle less than 2 miles outside the modern edges of Ystad. Then I’ll come back into the town, pedalling by the cloister and it’s pond, the church and on toward the ferry point. I should be able to make that before our 12:20 ferry check in!

Here Come The Posts!
October 4, 2014, 5:49 am
Filed under: Misc

Over the next few days anyway.

We arrived back about midnight last night. Felt wonderful to fall face first for sleep in my own bed. It’s always true for me that no matter how wonderful a holiday was, it is glorious to come home.

It was a nice vacation, though it had it’s hardships. More than I thought really, but it got us out of the house to see places I’ve never been that aren’t right next door as it were. Such experiences are never wasted in my opinion.

Now I’ll get cracking on sizing the photos to fit in my write ups as well as write the last day’s ride. The posts with Bornholm and Ystad will be trickling out!