Terii’s Cycling Babble


Kattegattleden, Day 1 – Nervous Beginnings
August 14, 2015, 9:04 am
Filed under: Tours

I woke quite early and peeked out the window. The sun was coming up and showed the flag quite clearly. It still waved, but not with the frenetic pop and snap of the night before. After that it was simply fidgeting around, splashing through a hurried shower, and then rushing down to breakfast after waking Jens.

It wasn’t a bad breakfast buffet. I had a cheese bun made into a sandwich with some Swedish cheese and ham along with a bit of watermelon. Fuel for the day. I’m also glad I had a reminder programmed into my phone to take my blood pressure meds, because I would have completely forgotten about them.

Loke had been quite excited and reluctant to settle the night before. It was sad that he wasn’t going to get what he anticipated. Not even a run of a few miles with me before going back home with the hubby. He still had a week to go of enforced rest. While Jens went down for breakfast, I kept Loke company and wound him up by getting dressed in my cycle clothes.

Then it was time to walk the 200 or so yards to the little park where the car was parked with my loaded trike. The fuzzy swerved back and forth at the end of his leash, eager and ready for what he wouldn’t get. It didn’t help to settle my nerves. I was quite on edge about the tour. This was the most ambitious thing I’d done with a trike. A little voice in the back of my head kept whispering that I wasn’t recovered enough from the stroke. It insisted on reminding me how exhausted I felt after just 2 consecutive days with shorter rides than what was planned. My husband gave me pep talks, promising that he’d come if he had to, no complaints or blame. This was supposed to be fun. I had the credit card. Just enjoy myself.

Loaded and ready...

Loaded and ready…

It seemed just moments later, I gave him a good-bye smooch and clipped in. Loke looked stricken as I rolled off without him. Then he and hubby were in the car and on their way back across the width of Sweden.

I stopped almost as I started to memorialize the start of the grand adventure with a photo at a little fountain in the park.

I didn’t realize it at the time, rather I didn’t worry about it, but I didn’t start the ride from where I’d marked the beginning. Only now, have I discovered that it meant missing a couple gorgeous photo opportunities, one of them a lovely old church. Ah well. Maybe next time.

I headed west through the park, aiming for the shoreline to escape the press of early morning traffic of the small city of Helsingborg. Though only 7:30 on a Sunday morning, it was quite busy. I rolled through the morning shadows of the taller buildings, feeling a bit claustrophobic on the cycle path, squeezed by cars on one side and the pedestrian lane on the other mingled with small trees thrusting up through openings in pavement.

Helsingborg City Hall

Helsingborg City Hall

I took a brief stop to photo the lovely city hall with it’s bronze statue under a green patina and pushed to do a quick loop through the park with the tower which is where I somehow missed the beautiful shot through an arch and short drum towers up to the medieval fortress tower as well as the church.

Getting up to the tower was a bit of a climb. Coming back down wasn’t as fun as I hoped as I needed to curb my speed to not hit pedestrians or zoom into traffic.

Kronborg across the water

Kronborg across the water

For a short bit, the streets became a little confusing and I didn’t see any Kattegattleden signs. I took a cue from a couple on road bikes loaded with little pannier bags though they disappeared quick. It was enough to set me straight on the path with the first of the route signs. In short order, I was rolling on a cycle/pedestrian park strip right at the water’s edge. Across the narrow strip of water, lay Denmark with Kronborg castle (of Shakespear’s ‘Hamlet’ fame) visible. My telephoto lens helped make the castle a tiny bit clearer than a pale smear at the water’s edge.

The wind blustered, though with less intensity than the day before. Best of all, it came from the south and east, actually helping instead of hindering. I rolled by the closed food kiosks, the brightly colored giant pillows and modern looking houses.

And yes, giant pillows. I think they’re air filled and well tethered to the ground to keep from flying off. About 1 yard deep and 3 or so yards across, there’s plenty of room for an entire, good sized family to sprawl.

If not for the view across the water, I would have been quite bored with that bit of the ride.

Right about mile 2, I cut away from the route to scoot across the busy road to a small paved lane that turned into a harsh climb. If it was less than a 7% grade, I’d be surprised. With that as my first major climb, I realized how heavy the trike felt. I’d asked the mechanic if my old cassette had been a 12-36, but he said it had actually been a 12-34, but struggling as I was, I wondered if he was mistaken. The tiny road was closely lined with the big trees casting everything in shade, which was a blessing though the limbs and trunks also sheltered it from the cooling wind. It took more than 15 or 20 minutes for me to creep up a half mile, my knees complaining all the while.

Gorgeous little cottage named 'Little Pålsjö'

Gorgeous little cottage named ‘Little Pålsjö’ at top of hill

The little whispers of doubt about the wisdom of this trip became pangs as strong as the twinges of pain through my knees. One little voice kept muttering, “Jens is less than an hour away. Better soon than later to change your mind.” I shut it out and focused on getting up the climb. I stopped when  necessary and otherwise turned the pedals as slowly as my knees seemed to need. At times I did less than 20 rpm, but up I went even if in molasses slow spurts.

Pålsjö Manor

Pålsjö Manor

I practically melted into my seat with relief when I reached the top of the hill, parking on the beginning of a gravel drive to wait and see what would happen with my knees. As the pain ebbed, I dug out my camera to photograph a lovely cottage opposite the drive.

After a couple of minutes, I felt good enough to bump along the drive to the first castle of the day. Pålsjö was a modest manor house rather than a full on castle, though still pretty. It serves as a cluster of offices for modern businesses today which means that the interior has been stripped of history. Ah well. At least the building itself endures.

And with the offices in there, Sunday was the best time to be there! No cars parked around it like little chicks around a hen.

I could have continued on around the road to the north-west to rejoin the Kattegattleden a little further one, but opted instead to double back, thereby avoiding any further climbs right away. Steep as the climb had been, it made the descent hair-raising. Or it would have been hair-raising if not for the wind of my speed blowing it back. 27 or 28 mph at one point, then I slowed to round the curve, wary of cars that might decide to come up fast and cut to the inside as if on a racetrack. I still stayed over 20 mph all the way down! Fun!

Sofiero Castle

Sofiero Castle

Less than 2 miles from rejoining the route, I was coming up on the second castle/manor house of the day. Sofiero Castle. Much to my disappointment, I didn’t get to roll through the grounds. The main part of the estate around the castle were closed off except to paying visitors. I would have had to park and lock the trike, hoping my bags wouldn’t be ransacked by the time I got back. Such a shame.

I did get sneaky and walked to the exit turnstiles. I squeezed the lens through some of the bars to take several photos of the castle across the lush lawn. Not as good as rolling through the grounds and finding better angles/lighting, but better than nothing.

A lovely contrast

A lovely contrast

Beyond the pay-to-visit royal estate, the path crossed through the countryside far enough away from the coastline that not a glimmer of water was to be seen. It was coming gently down from some higher ground so I rolled along at a good pace with little effort, stopping every now and again to pull out camera or iPhone for something that caught my eye.

What a lovely windmill!

What a lovely windmill!

In spite of the easy rolling, my nerves didn’t want to settle. I kept thinking of Jens getting further and further away along with my feeling of being physically unprepared for this undertaking. I even called Jens a couple times, asking for pep talks which he cheerfully supplied.

Burial Mound

Burial Mound

Every now and again, I’d roll by an information sign announcing the once presence of burial mounds and settlements harking back to the Early Iron, Bronze or Stone Ages. Near one of these signs was what remained of an actual mound.

Hello Denmark!

Hello Denmark!

Not much further on and my path meandered back toward the coastline. First just a glimpse of water through trees or across fields and then finally back beside the shoreline where I could hear even the most gentle laps of water against the rocky shore.

Viken

Viken

Sea birds and sail boats

Sea birds and sail boats

Another windmill appeared ahead, this one surrounded by a cluster of modest houses of the shoreline village of Viken. The gusty wind helped me along as I rolled toward the village, following the curve of the shore where various sea birds, cormorants mostly, used the rocks to come out of the water to dry their wings.

It was a bit after noon by this point and I started to feel hungry. Fortunately, I passed through a little harbor area and what should I find? A little food shack. They had various kinds of sea food available and I chose fried scallops with fries. Not often I eat lunch on longer rides. This was one of the best of the few I have done so.

Before pushing on, the food was allowed to settle.

I took a short detour into Viken, a bit away from the coast to chase down the church there. It took me a a bit to spot it as I didn’t expect it to be hidden in scaffolding covered in a white mesh like net. Honestly, from a distance, it looked more like tent-caterpillars had mistaken it for a tree and gone nuts. Closer up, it was just ugly so I couldn’t be bothered to dig out my camera and fiddle with layering photos to stitch into a whole later.

There was something heartbreaking as I rolled to a grassy patch to go into the church. The building sat surrounded by a complete loop of quiet little streets, almost as if in its personal little round-about. In the middle of the street was a ring-necked pigeon. It’s head was twisted at a completely unnatural and horrifying angle. Still alive. With it was another pigeon, probably its mate. That other poor bird was distraught and kept running around.

Model ship in Viken Church.

Model ship in Viken Church.

I’m not generally fond of these pigeons. They’re slow, poop on everything, and more than a little stupid. Over the years, Loke’s grabbed 3 of them out of bushes before I or Jens were even aware of them. Nothing like trying to pry a dying bird out of your dog’s jaws when he really doesn’t want to let go. Still, I hate to see such suffering. I didn’t feel there was much I could do, except move it to a quiet bush. Wildlife clinics here in Sweden wouldn’t do anything for one of these.

As I moved toward it, two things happened. First, the injured bird flew. Not well and not far, tilted almost 90% of horizontal for about 10 yards before it bumped down. That surprised me, but what startled me more was getting attacked by the other one. It came flapping at my feet, pecking at them and then leapt into the air. Wings thumped at my body all the way up to my head. I’ll admit it. My respect and estimation of these birds went up a few notches for that. Courage I did not expect.

Pews, pulpit and portion of the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling

Pews, pulpit and portion of the gorgeous barrel vaulted ceiling

Since the injured one had actually landed where I intended to put, I retreated, giving the field of battle to the feathered warrior who promptly went to its mate’s side.

Shaking my head in wonder, I headed into the church. There were a few people lingering around inside as I believe services had recently finished. Hanging from the ceiling near the door and under the organ loft were 3 model ships. These are very common in areas with a strong Danish influence, which covers almost all of the southern most portions of Sweden. I think they’re of real ships (though perhaps long lost to time now) that the congregations prayed for or hoped for God to protect.

I would have asked the woman who was the pastor, but she was having a long conversation with an older couple and hadn’t finished by the time I’d looked around. It didn’t seem they’d be done any time soon, so I moved on.

As I went back to my trike. I was surprised to see the injured bird looking a little improved. It’s head was not quite so much out of alignment and it was standing more steady as it peeked out from the bush. It’s mate puffed up and strutted aggressively back and forth. I really don’t think it survived, but it would be nice if it did somehow recover, for the sake of its companion’s steadfast courage if naught else.

Höganäs Church

Höganäs Church

Feeling guilty I couldn’t do more for the birds, I dropped back into the trike’s seat and pushed on. I don’t remember much of the way between Viken and Höganäs. It was along the water so I probably enjoyed the scenery which very likely involved sea birds perched on rocks thrusting from the water and distant views of Denmark across the strait.

Arriving in Höganäs, I turned off the trail once more to chase down the town’s church. Though it lacked white plaster and the stepped edges on tower’s roof, it was still quite Danish in appearance. If for no other reason, the width of the tower was as wide as the rest of the church. Churches further north either lack towers or the towers are half the width or less of the ‘long house’ portion of the structure.

Upon discovering this church was built between 1932-1934, I could feel my eyes glaze over with disinterest. Me and my obsession with older history. The older the better.

Loved these old cottages

Loved these old cottages

From there, it was a quick zip back the way I came to return to the Kattegattleden.

Rail Trail!!

Rail Trail!!

In a tiny place called Strandbaden (The Beach Bath) just north west of Höganäs, the trail again jigged a short distance from the shore line. It also became an unpaved, but well packed and maintained track. Arrow straight and quite flat. It was an old rail-trail. When I looked at my map, I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed it before. It appeared that it would have led me straight to Mölle.

The sun was pretty much gone by this time, hidden by a curtain of cloud. The wind remained brisk, but still coming from somewhere over my right shoulder so it was more help than hindrance.

Though not even 3 pm, I was feeling the journey by this point. It wasn’t harsh, but my legs were letting me know they didn’t want to keep turning pedals until sundown. Sundown being a bit after 9 pm. Still, given the fact that the ground had been pretty flat since mile 9 and I’d passed mile 20 with a quartered tail wind the whole way, I was feeling pretty good.

Mölle in the distance and the point beyond

Mölle in the distance and the point beyond

I actually toyed with the idea of following the rail trail to Mölle and double back to rejoin my mapped route. When I came up to the turn which would take me toward Krapperup Castle, I spent a little time staring wistfully down the rail-trail, now flanked with trees and turned to a green shaded tunnel. Feeling a bit anxious about reaching the first lodging for the day, I followed the route.

At least the scenery over my shoulder was pretty...

At least the scenery over my shoulder was pretty…

Another windmill at top of the evil hill

Another windmill at top of the evil hill

In less than 5 minutes, I was glad of the choice. While the trail to Mölle would have been easy, being an old rail bed, it still would have taken up some of the day’s strength and stamina. Turned out I needed it it. Almost immediately, the little road leading from the rail-trail canted up. It was harder than the climb that I’d made to the first castle of the day. Part of it might have been the 20+ miles I had under me or the slope might really have been steeper, but I crept up at a pace snails would have laughed at.

I finally had to get up and push the trike. That hill was completely battering me down as I plodded along for a couple steps, stop to let my muscles stop screaming and push a few more. With more than another 100 yards to the top, I was at my lowest point and called Jens for another pep talk, even considered telling him I couldn’t do it.

It was something silly that gave me the boost I needed, made me feel that it wasn’t just me being a broken down wreck. A couple walked past me, pushing their bikes. They were younger, less than 30 years old, looking very strong and fit as well. Yet, there they were pushing bikes without a single bag between them. They were sweaty and a bit breathless too. Not my level of breathless, but still if they were huffing while pushing unloaded bikes that weighed less than my trike rather than spinning up, maybe I wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was just the kick in the butt I needed.

I pulled off the pavement at the top of the hill to catch my breath for almost 5 minutes while watching the windmill spin. It was surprising to see one with sail cloth on the blades and turning. There was one on… Öland, I think, that would actually grind grain to sell. Or maybe it was in Denmark. Can’t remember. But still, out of all the old windmills I’ve seen over the years, less than 4 of them have had turning blades.

Krapperup Castle

Krapperup Castle

Once my breath was caught, I looked at maps. Originally, I’d planned to ride to Krapperup Castle and then scoot down the road across from it though the Kattegattleden continued straight across from where I sat. My mapped way would rejoin the route a little further so it wasn’t a huge issue though following the signs would shave about a mile off.

I decided to stick with the signs. I was wiped from the hill and sure there were more to come. I’d taken photos of the castle the day before. I didn’t really feel like covering an extra mile on the unlikely chance I’d feel okay sneaking on the private marked portions of the castle grounds to get a better photo of it.

One of many old 'farm stead' collection of buildings

One of many old ‘farm stead’ collection of buildings

The landscape didn’t do me much favors. It was still up hill for a bit, though not as brutally as the hill that very nearly broke me into calling off the rest of the tour.

Brunnby Church

Brunnby Church

It was mostly climbing from there, but much kinder grades than before. Every now and again, I had a bit of a downward zip for a few seconds that let me catch my breath. I wasn’t sure what kind of food options I’d have at the vineyard, so I hurried toward a grocery I knew lay along the way, not far from the last church of the day.

I needn’t have hurried. Being such a rural area, the tiny little shop wasn’t even open on Sundays. Grumbling, I scooted toward the church just a few yards away.

It might be hell getting up, but scenery is pretty from on high!

It might be hell getting up, but scenery is pretty from on high!

Not surprisingly, the church was closed and so I pressed on toward the end of the day’s miles.

Looked like burial mound to me!

Looked like burial mound to me!

That last half-mile was spent climbing again. The hills weren’t more than 4%-5%, but I was tired and had set a new ‘longest ride since stroke’ record. Because of that, I kept glancing at my Garmin’s map in the ‘Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet?’ mind set.

Arild’s Vineyard was surprisingly busy. Cars everywhere and people wandering around. The place looked pretty though. Wood and brick buildings that looked centuries old with thatched roofs, tables set out to one side for people to eat and sample the wines. I grabbed my electronics and such to wander into the reception area. It took a few minutes before a very nice woman came in.

When I asked about a secure place to overnight my trike, we stepped out so she could look at it. After a moment, she asked me to wait and came back with her husband. They recommended putting it in the wine ‘cellar’. A dense stone building to one side where they crushed the grapes and began the wine process.

Home for the night

Home for the night

Helping with my bags, she showed me to my room which was across the semi-enclosed courtyard of the farm buildings, up a narrow set of modern wood stairs and through an equally modern door in the gable of the cottage’s end. The room was very narrow as the area was divided between two rooms, but quite deep. The ceiling went from about 8-9 feet on one side to about 3 feet from the floor on the other. Above the bed,  tiny little dormer window looked out. Not bad.

As soon as she left, I hurriedly washed, changed and scampered down to the restaurant area.

I was a bit nervous about my choices upon looking at the menu. Only about 4 dishes to choose from. I decided to take a risk on the pork. I have to say, it felt wrong to be at a vineyard and not order wine, but I never acquired the taste for it nor wanted to.

Through the day, the sun had disappeared and clouds gradually thickened. The wind became a bit more chill as I waited for my food.

To celebrate a successful day!

To celebrate a successful day!

I remained a bit dubious at the first glance of my meal, though half the fries looked tasty. I’m not a big sauce or gravy fan, never have been, and there was a thick slathering of Bearnaise sauce over the three large roundels of pork, which on the surface not covered with the sauce looked a little dry. Then of course half the fries were of sweet potatoes which have always repulsed me. Still I had to eat and if the pork was dry, the sauce would help.

So, I stabbed the pork to cut off a bite and… it practically flaked off like perfectly cooked fish, gorgeously moist in the center. I seriously rolled my eyes in bliss with that first bite. Then I tried it with a bit of the sauce and it was pure heaven. Finally I braced myself for one of the sweet potato fries. I had a new favorite food on the plate. They were crisp on the outside and a fluffy cloud of sweetness inside. Maybe my sense of taste has shifted, but the sweet/salty taste with the french fry texture was great this time. I devoured it all, leaving only a few smears, leaves and grains of salt, the only hints remaining that the plate had been used.

The timing was perfect. I’d barely had time to sit back with a satisfied sigh when the first spits of rain came as a warning. I paid and hurried to my room just before it started coming down in earnest. It was warm in the room, especially since the tiny window didn’t open. So I left the door cracked a bit and turned on the nice big table fan. Full tummy, comfy bed, I read a book for a while and then rolled over to sleep, ending the first day of my first credit card tour.

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