Terii’s Cycling Babble


Kattegattleden, Day 2 – Onward!
August 15, 2015, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Tours

The first night of my tour did not go comfortably.

Don’t get me wrong, the bed was great, but then my back decided it was too soft for me or something and started to hurt no matter how I laid. Then I started feeling so hot. With the door open a little and a fan blowing, it wasn’t really too hot, but I felt like I was roasting. It made for a fitful night.

I finally gave up trying to sleep once enough light came through the little dormer window and read some more instead. I think that was about 5:30 am. I also checked the weather forecast.

Unpleasantness on the horizon.

Unpleasantness on the horizon.

A few days before the trip, I kept checking and it looked promising. Then of course, the rain came during the evening of July 19th. The forecast said it shouldn’t rain on the 20th. Yet it was pattering a bit when I got moving for my shower. Out the door window, it appeared worse was to come. It was nearly enough to make me want to just snuggle down for half the day.

Instead, I cleaned up and packed in unhurried fashion. The original plan had been to dress in normal clothes for breakfast then come back to the room to change. Instead, on went the cycle clothes except for the Five Fingers on my feet. After triple checking the room, I locked up and went down the stairs with all my bags like an overloaded camel.

I went into the reception area where breakfast would be served, dumped bags in a corner and sat down to read until they brought breakfast out.

Breakfast was simple. Another bread roll with cheese baked in turned into a sandwich with ham. Also a bit of watermelon and a couple pieces of bacon for naughtiness sake.

As the very nice woman carried around her sleepy, shy 2 year old, she unlocked the wine cellar and told me about the buildings. The vineyard had been open for only 3 years. 10 years before that, she and her husband had worked hard to save the buildings from their nearly ruined state. They’d all largely been rebuilt, but used reclaimed timbers and bricks as well as old techniques. I thanked them for their work to preserve the very charm of the place. The only places that were new built was the public restroom, the wine ‘cellar’ and the restaurant area, but they’d worked very hard to make them look as if they’d been there as long as those constructed in the 1600’s.

The cottage with my little dormer window.

The cottage with my little dormer window.

In short order, I had the trike out of the cellar, loaded up and changed to the cycle shoes.

By the time the trike rolled off the gravel of the driveway onto the pavement, the sun was coming out. The clouds, which had been so dark out the window, had been turned to tatters and racing off across the horizon.

Once I was moving, I was surprised how good and unexpectedly strong I felt after how harsh the last few miles had been the day before.

There was nothing but anticipation for the day laying before me. I’d pulled up the MapMyRide route on my iPad before leaving the room. There was only one harsh climb to tackle right at the beginning of the ride. From there, it was nearly pancake flat for the next 20 miles. A short day and mostly flat.

The landscape for most of the first mile was level, rolling through a peculiar combination of rural and residential. Then it was a wild downhill plunge. The sun shone bright as I braced myself in the trike, death grip on the steering and exhilarated to speeds approaching 30 mph. I started giggling with the adrenaline rush.

The light’s glare turned the rain soaked asphalt into a blinding surface. Nearing the bottom of the hill, the mound of a speed bump appeared. The trike was streaking along at 27 mph by that point. With a strangled squawk of alarm, I gripped the brakes, but didn’t dare clamp down for a ‘stop on a dime’. At that speed, it would likely have flipped the trike over the pedal boom. My speed was still 22 mph when I hit it. All three wheels left the ground. Me, trike and all my bags sailed through the air for 4 yards or more before slamming back down.

Heart hammering in my chest, I expected to feel shuddering and wobbling from bent wheels as the trike still charged along at about 19 mph. Nothing. Smooth as silk as the work began to make the first and only major climb of the day.

The ascent hurt. I won’t gloss it over. My knees hated me, then I couldn’t pedal any more as half of the day’s climbing was going to be done before rolling 2.5 miles. The last 100 yards required pushing the trike. My post-stroke neurological pain chose that moment to jump into the fun. Every muscle through my arms, chest back and legs burned like fire as I pushed 5 or 10 steps, wedged my foot under the back wheel to straighten up and wait for the pain to ebb somewhat. Then I’d push again.

Not sure this view was worth the slog

Not sure this view was worth the slog

Every inch of my body trembled when I finally approached the crest of the hill. The grade lessened enough where I could pedal the rest of the way. I stood there for a few minutes, waiting for the blaze through my nerves to dampen down. I also fumbled out the camera to take a shot back the way I’d come. It was a pretty view, but what a hardship to obtain.

The pain became only a memory once I settled back down in the trike seat and started pedaling.

It’s odd, but once the first few months post stroke had passed, riding my trike became easier. Even on days when just walking through the apartment leaves every muscle fiber from base of the skull to my ankles screaming, I can still ride almost pain free as long as my knees behave. It does seem to impact my endurance, but no neuro-agony.

View from on high

View from on high across to another portion of Sweden

It’s because of that and the fact this was the worst hill of the day that none of the muttering doubts of the day before raised their voice. The rest of the mileage between the top of that hill to the hotel in Ängelholm had only tiny little climbs, mole hills, compared to the monster I’d just ascended.

There was another descent, not quite as extreme as the first one with the launch pad at the bottom. I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked though because of more speed mounds. Unlike the first one, these had the blue and white striped reflective markers to either side, so even when the sun glared on wet pavement, I knew they were there. No more flights for the trike. Maybe with shocks to absorb some of the harsh impact of landing I’d have gone for it, but while in midair I had images of my wheels turning into taco shapes.

Beautiful! Or it will be again.

Beautiful! Or it will be again.

I reached the flat ground and pedaled along beneath the cloud mottled sky. Not far on, I heard the distinctive whine of a table saw. The sound came from a gorgeous old house that emerged from behind trees. The white paint was mottled and flaking, but you could still see what it might have been during its heyday. Admittedly, the grounds of the estate have been long divided and any outbuildings that might have been around gone, but the house had endured. Now, someone was working to restore it. Saved from crumbling into forgotten obscurity. I only hope they preserve the sense of its past rather than sterilizing it into some odd combination of old and modern that happens sometimes.

First unpaved of the day

First unpaved of the day

A bit past the old house, a boy, about 10 years old came pedaling by on a mountain bike loaded down with a pair of large rear panniers. A quick glance in my rear view found a woman and a girl a bit older than than the boy. I smiled and waved at them. In my distraction, I missed the turn and had to double back about 100 yards.

Heading north, it was a gentle coast to the coast. Following signs for a few turns onto obscure little roads and finally the start of the first unpaved portion of the day’s ride, there was a sign for a POI.

A fossilized seabed studded with sea urchins

A fossilized seabed studded with sea urchins

Feeling recovered from the hell hill, I hopped up to look. Fossils! According to the sign, down the little foot path was a section of ancient sea bed studded with fossilized sea urchins.

The path was too narrow for the trike. Not thrilled with the idea of leaving it, I wrestled it into the tall grass beside the path and did it anyway. I carried all my electronics of course and locked it. If anyone grabbed a bag or riffled through, all they’d find were clothes, shoes, water bottle and tire repair stuff.

The beach was pretty, but fossil wise, visually underwhelming. No obvious sand ripples turned to stone and most of the sea urchins were just pock marks in the sandstone or a slightly darker blob here or there. A sense of awe still shivered down my back when I looked out across it and walked down to the water’s edge. To imagine walking on the bottom of a shallow sea from a whole different world from millions of years ago.

I didn’t stay long. The trike was lonely without me.

Jonstorp Church

Jonstorp Church

The wooded path was short and in less than 5 minutes, I was headed south through a little village away from the coastline. Right along the route was Jonstorp Church. I clicked a photo of it from the road, figure it would be easier than overlapping photos to be stitched later. Unfortunately, the church was locked. Not sure if it’s normally so or I was just too early. Impossible to say.

The route still followed the coast, but about half a mile inland rather than within view of the water. The change from sea to inland and back made for nice variety.

More old timber and brick houses

More old timber and brick houses

At the sea side was the beautiful expanse of the water and clouds playing against the blue of the sky. The peace of lapping water. Inland were views across a landscape of old farmsteads, churches, fields of grain and gently rolling terrain.

My luck continued with the weather as well. It was a bit warm, but not hot. The wind wasn’t in my face though I was heading mostly east after toodling mostly north-west the first day. Best of all, the morning rain kept missing me. Rolling along where things were mostly dry and then abruptly the road and trees would be drenched as if a downpour had stopped just minutes before. By lunch time the heavy-bellied dark rain clouds were gone.

 

Farhult Church

Farhult Church

It wasn’t even quite noon when I rolled to a stop outside the graveyard around Farhult church. I adored the little stone building outside the church as well as the timber and plaster building. The timber and plaster structure dates from the 1700’s. Luck was with me or the church is usually open on Mondays after 10 am, but I was able to go inside.

Farhult's Interior

Farhult’s Interior

Close up of the pulpit

Close up of the pulpit

It was fairly simple inside though there’s mention of murals in the history, mostly in the apse. The pulpit was prettily carved, painted and covered in gilt. As I worked to crop the photo to size for the post, I noticed that the gold lettering around the bottom is the names of the Apostle in that panel. At least I’m pretty sure. The two I can read are Petrus (Latin Peter?) and Paulus (Latin Paul?)

Once done inside the church, I pedaled around to the timber building to admire it as I relaxed by the little well. I completely forgot to peek inside and see if it was a real well or just a mock up.

I should have gotten a photo of it, but back at Arild’s Vineyard, the little courtyard area had a lovely stone well too. It was a real one. At least it was a hole into a larger open space deeper than the level of the ground on which I stood. Whether there was water in it, I’m not sure.

After sipping some water and wishing I had a few nuts or something to nibble, I moved on.

Crappy iPhone image of nice buildings

Crappy iPhone image of nice buildings

Not far past the church was a lovely cottage right next to a windmill. I should have dug out my Canon for a photo, but there were too many trees to get far enough back or find a good angle without multiple images. So I settled with my iPhone, which came out crappy dark. Ah, well.

Ponds and sea with sea side villages beyond

Ponds and sea with sea side villages beyond

I wasn’t making bad time. The flat terrain helped as did the accommodating wind. I was going to make it to the next hotel with plenty of time to spare given it was only 21-ish miles planned.

One of the swans

One of the swans

When the route strayed back to the sea’s edge, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d not seen any swans this year. Not a one bobbing around on any of the lakes or in the Baltic where they are so common. About 10 minutes after that thought, I had to laugh. In a length of shore sheltered from the bigger waves, a handful or so of the big, graceful birds glided across the water’s surface.

My energy started to flag about the time I saw the swans. Two consecutive days with long rides meant winding down quick during the second one, but at least there weren’t any tall or steep hills. Though it wasn’t even 2 pm, I was glad when I started coming toward Ängelholm. The last couple miles were rather boring though. A wide, fairly busy road though at least there was a nice cycle lane built to one side, separated from the occasional traffic by a thick curb.

Into Ängelholm

Into Ängelholm

The bike lane is a new addition. Google Street view dated from 2011 shows just the road and no nice wide shoulder.

There was a castle in the area. Riding to it and back would add about 3 miles, but since I had so much time left in the day and I’d planned it, I started looking for the turn off. Annoyingly, I couldn’t find it. Now while looking into it for this post, I see where I missed it. The ‘road’ I’d mapped was an unpaved track so rarely used that it was overgrowing with grass. Makes me wonder if there’s another way to the place or if it’s some kind of ruin.

One castle I tried to chase down in Denmark turned out to be demolished a couple years before I rode in the area. Toxic mold had grown so bad in it that it wasn’t safe for humans to enter. So sad to lose such a gorgeous structure with history to such, but if it couldn’t be saved, it couldn’t be saved.

Across the River

Across the River

My hotel was called, ‘River Side’ so when I rolled across a bridge spanning a pretty little river I knew I was close. The old portion of Ängelholm was crazy busy. Cars zipping around and no cycle path to get me off the narrow street. There was a small old building of some kind as well as a church, but I was tired and, with the smell of food in the air from a pair of cafes in the square awakening my appetite, ravenously hungry.

The traffic, wheeled and foot, was putting my teeth on edge and exhaustion made the trike feel even heavier. Before eating, I was going to see if there was somewhere to dump my luggage and lighten the load at the very least.

I rolled to a stop and walked in. I was greeted by a very nice young woman. She checked and though it was barely after 2 pm, my room was ready. She also showed me the hotels private garage which staff had to open so no one was going to nip in and roll the trike out. Bags dumped in the room, trike feeling much lighter, I rolled out to dodge traffic back to the square and cafes.

The two cafes were nearly carbon copies of each other. Less than 100 yards apart on opposite sides of the square and identical menus. One was larger, the chairs and awnings were different. I chose the one where I could park, lock the trike and still see it from one of the available tables.

I had schnitzel. Though I wasn’t expecting excellence from a random street cafe, it was a let down. Perhaps I felt that disappointment in ‘bleah’ food more keenly after my good fortune at Arild’s Vineyard. I ate enough that I didn’t feel starved and left the rest.

I then rolled down a street that didn’t allow cars except for delivery trucks for the shops. The sheer press of people surprised me. It didn’t seem there was really that much to draw so many people to Ängelholm. Almost made me wonder what I was missing.

After the ‘eeehhh’ late lunch, I decided to buy a sandwich from Subway for dinner. I grabbed a cookie and soda to make it a bit naughty.

I made an effort to explore around the area beyond that, but I was just tired. So, I went back to the hotel, parked the trike in the garage and went up to my room to read.

It wasn’t the end of my day. I started feeling restless and decided to go to the theater. Less than 100 yards from the hotel and I was curious to see Minions, in spite of the fact that with such a small theater they only had it showing in Swedish for kids. While my Swedish is improving, I was too tired to focus on another language.

Then it was back to the hotel. I started looking at my ride tomorrow and from there I started feeling stressed. The first day’s climbing had been about 700 feet. Most of it had been at the beginning and the end with mostly flat in the middle and had been harsh. The 2nd day had about 500 feet, 200+ feet in the first 2 miles and then little up and down the rest of the 15 or so miles.

The altitude profile for the miles between Ängelholm and Båstad on the other hand, showed over 1000 feet for the ride. 750-800 feet of that was in just 5 miles, climbing the tall ridge that stretches across a fair chunk of the southern part of Sweden. There was a big hoopla about getting a tunnel built through it because trucks have trouble crossing it, especially in the winter.

I about folded up right then. My knees simply would not be able to deal with the grades that made what I’d already fought my way up seem flat. I called Jens and discussed him possibly picking me up the next morning. I could ride on while he drove across Sweden and stop when the ridge began to occupy most of the day. I made a post on Facebook. I’m on a recumbent trike group and it turned out that one of the members lives in the area.

He kindly offered to come keep me company if I wanted to attempt the ridge. I told him while company would be nice, I didn’t think it would help get me up that monster of a hill.

Then he suggested I try a train. The local trains in the area have a car for bikes. I spoke with some of the hotel staff and they all recommended that I don’t try the ride if I’d had trouble the first day and take the train. Still nervous, I talked with Jens and we decided that I’d look into the train and decide in the morning which way the wind was going to blow.

So, I snuggled down into my cozy, comfy bed in a snug, clean and pleasant room for my second night’s sleep.

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