Terii’s Cycling Babble


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!

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