Terii’s Cycling Babble

August 8, 2015, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Misc, Tours

As I mentioned and marked in the last post, it ended up neglected for a couple weeks before I got back around to finishing the write-up of the July 11th ride. It was for a good reason. I went on tour.

Monday, July 13th, I dropped the hubby off at the train station for him to go to work so I could use the car. I’d been back home for 20 minutes or so when he called. He’d heard on the radio that Sweden’s first official tourist cycle route, called the Kattegattleden, was celebrating it’s opening day. He’d heard it was supposed to be well marked with hotels at good locations and even luggage service so one didn’t have to lug everything with them. Jens wanted to tell me about it before he forgot.

I told him I’d look and bookmark it, but he was being a cruel tease.  Kattegattleden

Helsingborg City Hall and Street from Slotthagen Park

Helsingborg City Hall and Street from Slotthagen Park

I did look and it was intriguing as it alternated between hugging the coastline and straying slightly inland on Sweden’s western side between Helsingborg and Gothenburg for 370 km or 230 miles.

A few hours later, Jens called again. He suggested that since Loke was effectively ‘laid up’ for two weeks and there were no plans for the hubby’s vacation, I should plot the routes and make arrangements to do as much of it as I could over a few days. My wonderful hubby said he’d drive me there and pick me up. He requested that I try to stay out for at least 3 days barring disaster. That way he’d have 1 car free day before making the 6-8 hour drive to fetch me.

Kärnan Fortress Tower - Helsingborg

Kärnan Fortress Tower – Helsingborg

The man knows how frustrated I’ve been since the stroke derailed my plans for touring this year which involves dragging a trailer loaded with camping gear. My distance still isn’t what it was pre-stroke and I have no where near the strength needed to pull everything. With no plans for his 3 weeks of vacation, he was offering this to give me a tour without the camping gear and something more interesting than things closer to home.

Looking into such a tour made me a bit nervous. It would be something completely outside of my touring experience. Admittedly, that experience doesn’t come to much. Just 2 very short overnight tours and 4 or 5 failed attempts for various reasons. All of those involved my Burly Cargo trailer loaded with a tent, sleeping bag and assundry, dragged around behind me for an undetermined number of miles for a day. If I only managed 20 miles, no problem. Just find a quiet patch of trees away from houses and pitch the tent. 40 miles? Just find a quiet patch of trees to pitch the tent. No stress to make a predetermined distance in a limited amount of time.

This was going to be, ‘leave one hotel and hope I can make exactly this many miles before nightfall’. My longest rides since the stroke were barely over 20 miles. It made me uneasy. It wasn’t helped by the fact that it is also the busy vacation season and that part of Sweden is popular with tourists which is why Sweden’s first official tourist cycle route is located there. Would be silly to have such in the far back of beyond lacking the infrastructure for easy cycling the whole family can do. Busy meant places to overnight would be at a premium.

Beyond trying to plot daily routes and find lodging roughly in the locations I thought to end my days, there was also the matter of the trike. The guy at the local cycle shop had done a great job tweaking the trike’s chain and gears, but even after just a few rides, it was starting to misbehave a little bit. Even if it hadn’t been doing so, I would have wanted it in prime form before heading out for lands unknown.

There was a bit of a back-log for such orders it seemed causing a bit of difficulty in getting them in before we were due to leave. I asked if I found the parts, could I bring them to the shop for him to install. He answered with a cheerful ‘Of course!’. So began the search. I spent essentially an entire day scrambling around to every cycle shop I knew. I needed a new rear gear cassette and 3 bike lengths of chain.

The problem was that the most common 9 gear cassette is a small ring with 11 teeth and the large ring with 32. I was pretty sure mine was 11 (or 12) for small and 36 for the large. The combination existed. The nice staff at the cycle shop near the American Food store had looked it up and offered to order it, but it would take a week. I finally settled on on an 11-34. I still ended up buying from 2 different shops as the one that had 3 identical chains didn’t have the cassette and vice-versa.

I dropped trike, chain and cassette off at the shop on Wednesday, July 15th. He promised he’d have it for me by Friday at the absolute latest. He actually texted me about 6 hours later to say it was done, but I was caught up in some minor emergency and couldn’t get there before they closed.

Everything was coming together. I plotted daily distances of about 20-25 miles. It would be better to arrive early and have time relax or perhaps add a few extra miles exploring the area around my hotels than plan too much and end up sleeping on the trike, in the open, paying for a hotel I didn’t get to use. I found a hotel in Helsingborg that allowed dogs where Jens, Loke and I would stay for Saturday night of the 18th.

I was a bundle of nerves by the time everything seemed in order. Finding hotels for Sunday and Monday night proved no problem, but Tuesday was harder, Wednesday even more difficult. After I figured out roughly where I would want to stop on Thursday, there were no hotels or B&Bs with vacancies in a 30 mile radius. The same for Friday. That more than anything determined that Thursday, July 23rd would be the last day of riding with Jens picking me up somewhere along the route that evening.

I packed as little as I thought I could get away with, but it still felt like a lot as I was slinging it in the car. Oddly, one of the heaviest bags was simply my clothes. It was no more than an extra change of cycle clothes, a pair of black capri pants for walking around towns with a long sleeved shirt if it got chill and a short sleeved shirt, yet felt like I was carrying pure gold.

We left bright and early Saturday morning (for Jens any way) with the plan to arrive in Helsingborg and spend a little time sight seeing together. It was a bit cloudy as we started out, but by the time we reached the last 50 miles or so to the coast, the gray rolled back to leave blue skies.

A bit worrying, with the azure dome of the heavens came winds. Crazy winds. Sometimes the car twitched and bucked with them and trailers of the semi-trucks swayed. They were coming from an unfavorable direction for my rides. I could only hope they would either cease or, at the very least, shift to come from the south and west.

We arrived in Helsingborg around 2:30 pm, settled into our hotel with the very friendly staff and headed out. to poke around.

We took our time heading north up the coast, even stopping along a section of beach to walk with Loke. Poor fuzzy was in a frenzy. Past trips of this sort, good things came in the form of lots of running with the trike. He expected it to come and it left him with insane amounts of energy. It was hard to keep him from lunging around even on a short leash. He wanted to be everywhere at once and hit the ground at a dead run.

Krapperup Castle

Krapperup Castle

After the beach, the goal was Krapperup Castle. Our arrival was well timed. There were people walking around the grounds between the timber and brick outbuildings and as we walked away from the parking lot toward the castle, someone set up signs for paying to park. If we’d been a minute later, we’d have had to fork over cash.

Grounds of Krapperup Castle

Grounds of Krapperup Castle

There was a little cafe and gorgeous, huge roses in the garden. The moat was mostly empty making an icky appearance which was a pity. With rippling water from the moat, the green lawn, the flowers and the castle, it would have been a much lovelier image. The best angle for the castle was frustratingly roped off and marked clearly as private so I settled for a side view, which at least displayed the ornamental stars to best advantage.

The area became busy quick as there the production of an opera was on offer in one of the outbuildings. We stayed only briefly before hopping in the car to push on north.

A member of an online recumbent trike group I’m part of lives in the region and he heartily recommended that I cycle up to a little harbor village called Mölle and perhaps onward to the lighthouse on the point above. To explore the possibility, Jens and I drove that way.

Mölle Chapel

Mölle Chapel

The route didn’t look too bad. We stopped briefly at Mölle Chapel for photos and headed on into the village proper.

Entering the tangle of narrow streets entered a whole new level of hilliness for the region. The twisty little thoroughfares tilted up steep slopes. Before we even left the fringes of the village toward the nature reserve around the lighthouse, I knew there was no way I’d be cycling there. It would kill my knees in short order and make it doubtful I’d reach my first night’s lodging. It was pretty though.

We drove the pretty, narrow road through the reserve. It was packed with people both on bikes and foot. Some were on foot pushing bikes. Parking at the end of the road at a sort of trailhead toward the lighthouse, Jens asked if I wanted to walk to the scenic point. After a peek at a sign and discovering it would be over a mile for an out-n-back, I told him I’d pass. It would be silly to break myself down for a walk after driving so far and spending a fair bit of cash for rooms too late to refund.

Above Mölle

Above Mölle

On the way back down, we stopped at an overlook high above the Mölle with a gorgeous view of the village and over the strait toward Denmark. The opposite country was just a faint dark smear between the sea and sky at the line of horizon. As I walked away from the car to get a better angle of the view, I noticed a little family sitting on the wall. The man was holding a little point-n-click camera, attempting to get a good photo of him, wife and daughter. They were frowning at his most recent blind shot attempt. Smiling, I offered to take the photo for them.

They looked startled by the offer, but gratefully handed the camera over. I guess in this day and age full of cell-phone selfies, often with selfie sticks, such courtesies are rare. Almost as rare as point-n-click or video cameras are becoming. They thanked me in English heavily accented with Danish.

As we passed through Mölle again, Jens headed for the harbor just to get a look at the boats and the sea. I guess the Viking blood in his heritage was stirring.

Across the harbor at Mölle

Across the harbor at Mölle

It was a lovely harbor. The piers were mostly stone and looked quite old, perhaps even harking back a couple centuries at least. The winds whipping through the rigging of the sail boats made strange whistling moans or even the occasional wailing sort of keen. Sounds that would have been spooky in the dark. Across the sheltered water, sat the rest of the village with the Victorian Era looking hotel high up like a crown jewel and the high ridge of the peninsula as a dark backdrop.

By then, Jens and I were quite hungry. We scooted back to Helsingborg to hunt for a street cafe that wouldn’t mind having a husky lurking in a corner. Fortunately, we found a pub like place just yards from the door to our hotel. We sat in the blustery wind outside while people gushed over Loke. One was a little girl, just over 1 year old who wanted to hug and pet and kiss him. Loke wasn’t entirely thrilled with it, but he was very gentle and patient with her. After that, we wandered around where I took the photos at the start of this post with the view down across the city and of the medieval tower. Getting the photos of the tower would save me some time in the next morning. I could roll by, but not stress about stopping and spending time getting photos.

The beds were fairly comfortable, though the room was warm even with the windows cracked a bit. Right outside our window, a flag cracked and popped in the fierce winds. Live music drifted up from the pub where we’d had dinner. Those two sounds followed me into sleep as I hoped to start the next day and my first credit-card tour feeling refreshed.

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