Terii’s Cycling Babble


Kattegattleden Leg 3 & 4 – Up, Over and Beyond
August 20, 2015, 7:22 am
Filed under: Tours

I slept wonderfully for the 2nd night of the tour. The bed was comfy and with the window open, it wasn’t too noisy and cool enough to snuggle down under a light blanket.

Sunrise from my room

Sunrise from my room

I was still a bundle of nerves when I woke to get ready for the day on July 22nd.

After eating what had become my usual breakfast (cheese roll with ham and a bit of fruit), I talked with the hotel staff a bit more. One of them was a woman who used to take the train with her bike between Båstad and Ängelholm. She heartily recommended that. Everyone familiar with the area had said the same thing about that ridge. Heartened with the information from the various people familiar with the train in question, I called Jens and decided that I’d walk down to the train station where I’d look at the Båstad one with the cycle car and see if it was doable.

Where Linne stayed when he visited the region in 1749 (I think)

Where Linne stayed when he visited the region in 1749 (I think)

Ängelholm Church

Ängelholm Church

The station was about a half-mile away. Fortunately, it seemed to be a good day for me, lacking any post stroke pain so I managed the walk easily. The early hour also gave me a chance to enjoy the town a little more. I took photos of the church and the pretty little timber and plaster building near the cafe where I’d eaten the night before. Made for much nicer images than with people scurrying around and bikes zipping to-and-fro.

Turned out the building (probably oldest remaining in Ängelholm) might have been where Carl von Linne stayed during a visit to the area. The sign next to it described how Ängelholm was during his visit at least as well as the problem the town used to have with rolling sand dunes being blown in from the shoreline and how it was solved with the planting of beach grass and finally trees.

The 8 am-ish train arrived and I looked. Decided it was worth the risk so went inside and bought the ticket which, for myself and the trike, came to 63 Kr. Dirt cheap.

From there, I rushed back to the hotel, got my clothes back nice and clean from their little laundry service, flung everything on the trike and pedaled down.

Awaiting the verdict

Awaiting the verdict

The wait was still nerve-wracking for me. I was most worried about whether I’d be able to get the trike on and settled in 2 minutes or less that the train stops for. Then of course, was the concern that I’d be told it couldn’t be there for whatever reason.

On the train and onward!

On the train and onward!

I’d miscalculated a bit where the ‘bike car’ was going to stop, but rushed down to the right door as quick as I could. Once I had the pedal boom in, I took a breath. It was surprisingly easy to get the rest of it in. There was almost no gap between the platform and car with space enough inside to maneuver it out of the aisle. There was another bike leaning on the other side of the car, a woman with a bright bubbly little boy of about 8 months old.

It started sprinkling as the train rolled out. My time was spent staring out the rain splattered windows across the rolling, beautiful landscape and looking at my maps. Though the day’s tour had been reduced from about 25 miles of pedaling to a 20 minute train ride, I was okay with that. The rest of the day would be well spent relaxing to recover a bit and maybe short little toodles around Båstad.

Then the train stopped and a voice announced there was a technical problem with the signals. So, the trip turned into about an hour.

Getting off the train was a little trickier at the Båstad stop. The gap between platform and train was wide enough to catch my wheels and I couldn’t reach the front to pull up. While the conductor looked irritated and disinclined to assist, the woman with the bike leaped to my rescue.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I’d done it. I was in Båstad in one piece. The trip could go on.

It started raining again, so I scurried under the shelter near the platform. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the station, it was only just coming up on noon and check-in wasn’t until something like 2 pm or so. Dry for the moment, I relaxed in the trike seat to read a book on my Kindle.

Making it to Båstad was a relief. Of all the hotels I’d found for the trip, it was the only one who didn’t allow cancellations without charging for the night.

I finally rolled down the sharp drop toward the hotel. Annoyingly, the turn into the hotel proper was near the bottom and cut back up the slope. My knees hated me for that short little climb. Above the hotel, ridge I’d taken the train to avoid rose like a wave about to come crashing down. It had definitely been a wise decision to not kill myself trying to ride it.

Though I was a little early, my room was ready. I had a very nice room in a little building perched at the crest of a hill. Though the door was on the ‘ground’ level, the windows opposite were above another room built into the hill itself. My trike was parked snug and mostly safe in the building and just outside my door, locked to a radiator. I didn’t want to climb that hill again if I didn’t have to, not after the way my knees protested so I walked down into the town proper.

It was crazy in Båstad when I headed down to look for a late lunch. I’d been a bit forewarned to expect some madness in the town as the Swedish Open for tennis was in full swing, but I was dismayed all the same. Cars packed the single ‘main’ street of the town, zipping around. Crosswalks were few and far between making it a bit difficult to navigate when I found myself on the wrong side of the road.

My first stop was at a cafe. It was one of those places with a limited menu. I ordered a beef wok dish. If not for the spicy heat of chilies, it would have been utterly tasteless and served with clumps of rice like congealed wallpaper paste. At least the salad was good with a tasty dressing.

With that disappointing meal sitting heavy, I pushed onward to the grocery. Mistake. The pain kicked in and it was a harsh walk for over a mile back to the hotel with some fruit and yogurt to serve as a light, if boring dinner. Still tastier than that pitiful beef dish.

My room didn’t have a balcony. Instead, two french windows opened inward, practically turning the whole room into an outdoor space like the livingroom of our vacation apartment on Bornholm last October. The wind kicked up, blowing the curtains and refreshing the room. I relaxed in one of the comfy chairs with my book and took time to just stare across the tree tops to the glint of ocean beyond.

Being 10 feet or more off the ground, I actually slept with the windows open as the wind made rushing noises through the trees. Once the traffic calmed, I could just hear the crash of waves. Very comfortable night.

Can just make out the sea

Can just make out the sea

I was eager to get going when I woke on the morning of July 23th. The sky was fairly gray and wind still brisk, but looked to be in my favor as it had been for the whole trip. In spite of walking the most I’d done since the stroke and how bad I felt afterward, I felt strong after relaxing for the evenings and sleeping very well. I devoured an extra cheese roll with ham to make up for my pitiful dinner and hurried back to get ready.

As I pulled the trike out of it’s spot in the building, a Danish man held the doors open for me and asked a few questions about the trike. He didn’t know English so our conversation muddled along between Danish and Swedish. They’re kinda close enough that one can generally get the gist of the other with some careful listening. I have to admit that Bornholm Danish was easier for me to puzzle out than Mainland Danish.

The tennis frenzy of Båstad hadn’t yet started so only a few cars rolled sedately through the town as I took a detour once at the base of the hill. To the northwest was the older part of Båstad with its church. It would add perhaps has much as 3 miles to the day’s total, but since I’d been doing so well and MapMyRide hinted that this would be the leg with the least amount of climbing, I felt confident it wouldn’t hinder reaching Halmstad.

Some of the older part of the town

Some of the older part of the town

I’m glad I did it. It let me see the old part of Båstad. My painful walk around the area between the grocery and hotel had given me only glimpses of boring structures which were likely no older than say 1940’s-1950’s at best.

My favorite building found in Båstad

My favorite building found in Båstad

I especially liked the old building where they housed the tourist center. The grace, attractive details and beauty that older places have, completely stripped away with the ‘get it up quick’ lackluster of the 20th and 21st century.

I’d say I was born in the wrong time, but knowing what I do about history, there’s really no time that I feel I belong in. Maybe in another universe? 😛

St. Mary's Church in Båstad (and trike)

St. Mary’s Church in Båstad (and trike)

The church was right next to my favorite building. I slipped and wobbled across the cobble stones in my cycle shoes to get the trike in the shot with it.

No players or spectators yet!

No players or spectators yet!

While quicker to go back the way I’d come, I wanted to take a different way so headed to the little residential roads closer to the water. That actually took me right through the area with the tennis courts. It seems there are two ‘stadium’ style courts, surrounded on all sides with rows of seating and 4 smaller, simpler courts. The smaller ones, I rolled by.

Cycle path and the ridge

Cycle path and the ridge

The smaller courts sat seaside with nice views of the ocean beyond. It was a nice cycle path too. The water lapped at the rocks just a few yards away and green parkland on the other side. There was a collection of tall posts with bungee cords and harness over trampolines like those perhaps used to train gymnasts or circus acts. The ridge rose in the distance, as if corralling Båstad close to the sea. I was glad I’d avoided riding over it and even happier that I’d be going around the rest of it.

Cormorant drying its wings

Cormorant drying its wings

The cycle path continued along the water, but the paving disappeared. Soon even the gravel surface threatened to abandon me in favor of sand. Pushing along, I passed an older man with an old Leonberger dog. Huge as the dog was, he was frightened of me and the trike which triggered a few twinges of guilt.

Finally the gravel vanished entirely and left me on sand. It wasn’t too bad at first, until reaching a spot where there was no more grass to give it any solidity and my wheels bogged. I pulled out my maps to look for nearby streets, the man with the Leonberger showed up with friends. Between them they had the Leon, an Irish Setter, a couple other small dogs (I don’t recall the breeds) and the West Highland Terrier I remember well. They were all nervous of me, bordering on aggressive.

I got up from the trike, intending to explore a near-by foot path, and they rushed me. Most of them stopped about 4 or 5 feet away, except for the bump I felt against my right calf. I slowly tilted my head to look down from the corner of my eye and there was the Westie, muzzle against my leg growling with threat. His mouth was closed, but the warning was quite clear. His elderly owner tried to call him off, but honestly, it was only fact I stood there perfectly still and without any fear that teeth didn’t sink in.

As I waited for the white puffball to give up, the Leonberger gathered some courage to approach the trike for a sniff. After that, he wagged his tail at me in friendly fashion as if to say, ‘Oh, just a weird bike. You’re okay then.’

In a squeaky, little Gandalf voice, 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!'

In a squeaky, little Gandalf voice, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!!’

While I was pinned by the Westie, the men gave up and started walk away. Irritating. What if the little monster had actually bitten me? The dog finally ran about 40 feet away to block the path and bark. I moved to turn the trike around and pushed it a couple yards to grass-pinned sand. He rushed back in to about 10 feet away. His owner called a few more times and finally disappeared in the distance. Carefully, I sat down and just fiddled with my phone, waiting for him to realize his master was safely away. It took 5 minutes or so before he abruptly bolted off after his human and never looked back.

Shaking my head, I pedaled on until I found a foot path I could navigate connecting with a small residential street.

Most of that stretch was off the marked Kattegattleden route. At some point, I rejoined it. It was so boring! It wound on and on through mostly residential area, away from shore. A two lane, busy road flanked by a busy cycle lane on one side. A measly 4 feet of space for both directions of cycle and foot traffic. Bikes often had to swerve out into traffic, sometimes oncoming for their direction of travel, to get by. I was no exception, especially when it came to getting by someone with a baby stroller or young children on bikes.

After a bit of that, I was fed up. One of the many driveways made a handy spot to swerve out of the way and look at my Garmin and maps to see if there were roads closer to the water that connected enough to get along.

Sea, sun and flower covered dunes!

Sea, sun and flower covered dunes!

There were and I gleefully left that unpleasantness behind for views of sand, sea and sun (since it had emerged) or little beach houses lining the roads and hardly a moving car to be found. It was so nice and the brisk wind was a nice counter to the hot sun. Oddly though, I noticed that even during the moments when no haze or thin cloud weakened it, it didn’t seem has harsh as it before in the previous months. It felt warm and pleasant. A lovely change.

What a view!

What a view!

One tiny side jaunt I made to reach the beach, I found a restroom, perfectly timed. Then I stepped out and wandered a few yards closer to the water. The wind was brisk, whipping waves into whitecaps. Back to the west, the ridge was still clearly visible and made for an impressive view. Photos for a nice panoramic taken, I walked by a sign which proudly announced that I was standing on Sweden’s longest stretch of sandy beach. I didn’t take a photo of the text and I’ve forgotten how long it was. A few miles at least.

Lovely little stream

Lovely little stream

I pedaled along those beach roads until they ended where a cycle path picked up. It was paved and well tended. At one point, a wooden bridge spanned a quiet flowing stream. Up current, the trees hugged the shore, branches shading the banks completely out of site. Down current, the trees gave way to the coarse coastal grass and sands of the beach where the water met the ocean in a spot quiet of wind driven whitecaps.

The bridge where stream meets sea

The bridge where stream meets sea

The bridge was interesting because it had apparently been built with donations from various people and businesses. Most of the vertical slats of the railing had name placards attached. Rather nice I thought.

The path went to gravel not far across the bridge and headed into a wooded area so thick with trails that when I stood up to stretch a moment, I could see three of them meandering around from just about any location. A few other bikers passed me, their cycles loaded with pannier bags as they called out friendly greetings. One of those meetings was an older couple, perhaps in their 60’s. They passed me with smiles and waves and disappeared.

Slice of Florida in Sweden

Slice of Florida in Sweden

The Kattegattleden took me further into the park. At a information sign, I passed the couple where they stood sipping water and reading.

About a mile after passing them, I abruptly found myself riding the trike through what felt like Florida. The path was more sand than gravel. The trees stunted, twisted like pine things. Though the growth was low, it was dense and blocked all the wind at ground level which offered greater impact of the sun giving it an almost tropical sensation. As I pushed on, admiring the sometimes amazing twists of trunks and branches, the sound of windblown waves gradually transformed into the more steady noise of traffic.

Somewhere along the ‘Florida’ stretch, the couple zipped passed me again with more friendly greetings. Their bikes had plumper tires than my trike giving them better speed and traction than I had.

They were long gone by the time the path took me sharply east and across another bridge spanning a larger stream or small river.

Water makes beautiful landscapes!

Water makes beautiful landscapes!

It made a pretty bit of scenery. The reflecting water appearing blue beneath a sky only slightly darker than a robin’s egg off set by the strong greens of summer’s bounty and a hint of the ocean beyond.

Not the most exciting part of the trip when the path ran close against the roar of a highway. There was an ‘on-off’ gas station. That’s one of those that is kinda built onto the highway itself. No smaller roads join the highway with their own ramps, just one leading into the station and one leading out. These are almost always matched with an identical twin on the other side for opposite direction of traffic.

Random Roadside Flowers

Random Roadside Flowers

I was a little tempted to stop. Tepid water sucked out of a platypus bladder through a bite valve becomes tedious and some nuts might have been good too. I decided against it though, preferring something more interesting than what I could glean from a gas station.

At least I was avoiding the edge of dehydration like I tend to end up with on longer rides. Often it’s because I hate trying to find some place sheltered enough I’m not going to be mooning the world when I need to answer nature’s call. Often times, I have trouble just finding somewhere I can get the trike far enough off the road where it feels like it’s not going to get hit. Logically, I know it’s not a greater chance of it getting hit without me in it, but it still feels that way.

But with this being an official ‘tourist cycle route’ places to go were plentiful and I made sure I took advantage of it by reminding myself to drink little sips often. That hydration might have been one reason why the tour didn’t feel so hard on me physically. Well, the rides on day 2 and 4 any way. I won’t lie about feeling all noodle-legged on the first day.

Pretty and fun landscape

Pretty and fun landscape

Once the route led me under and away from the E6/E20, I found myself making a gentle, but steady climb inland for a mile or so. With the glint of sun on cars zipping down the highway behind me, I crested a small ridge and began a thrilling downward plunge. I relaxed, relatively speaking, and enjoyed the ride. Without pedaling, I covered almost a mile and a half racing down a long, gentle slope at speeds approaching 30 mph. The road surface was good so it was a fairly smooth roll. Another hill appeared, but I had the speed to glide right up and topped it at 11 mph before racing downward again. I was giggling gleefully most of the way.

That ‘wheeeeee!!’ was followed by more climbing, but like the first it was an easy grade. I just relaxed and didn’t rush it. Instead, I craned my head around trying to admire every inch of the scenery.

Surprise! Random Grave Mounds

Surprise! Random Grave Mounds

One thing I missed though were the pretty cottages from the 1600’s that had been scattered all through the landscape between Helsingborg and Ängelholm. I’d not seen a single one since leaving Ängelholm.

Toodling happily along between rolling fields of ripening wheat, I spotted something unexpected high above the road to my right. A trio of grave mounds sat high above the wheat fields and trees that fell away to toward the sea. None of the various web sites I use to find interesting things had indicated anything of the sort.

Moving on after taking pictures, I came upon the friendly couple reading the roadside information board about the area around the mounds. Since it wasn’t specific to the mounds, I photographed it for future reference and left as they rested a moment. They overtook me again on the next soft climb and said, “See you in Halmstad!”

That made me smile.

Some of the cairns

Some of the cairns

Scenery across the burial ground

Scenery across the burial ground

Not much further along, I took a detour off the route again, heading for one of those interesting spots I’d found with all my cross-referencing. My goal lay back near the water so I scooted under the E6/E20 again and with a fun, short race down, fetched up onto a road parallel to the sea. On the right were houses and the occasional pasture or empty plot of trees. The left was a reserve area, most of which was an old burial ground.

A half mile long stretch of shoreline crammed with old grave cairns, 250 or more, 2000 years old. Archaeological digs found little more than pottery, many of the cairns were damaged by people taking the rocks to build with. Looking at a satellite view of the area you can see how crowded it is with the graves. There is also a well in the area, though it didn’t specify how old that might be.

This is only the 2nd or 3rd sea side burial ground like this I’ve found.

Trönninge Church

Trönninge Church

It took a bit of effort to climb out of that little area to cross under the highway back onto the Kattegattleden. As soon as was back on the marked route, a church steeple appeared above the trees in the distance, the pale green of copper’s patina against the blue and white smudge of the sky.

Trönninge Church was quite charming, I thought. The copper roof accents of the steeple a nice contrast with the gray slate look of the main roof. The arched windows, the turrets and all that just gave it such a Gothic feel. It’s a ‘new’ church though, built at the end of the 1800’s. No deeper history behind it apparently. I still liked it. I didn’t get a peek inside as it was closed tight.

A ravenous hunger was making things unpleasant by that time, coming up on 1 pm. It’s not often I feel so starved on a ride. Most times, even if pedaling through 10 or more hours in a day, I have no appetite at all until an hour or so after stopping. Not so this time.

I came into the light industrial fringes of Halmstad with my tummy throttling my spine insistently. Almost I stopped at pizza/kebab restaurant (term used loosely), but the food in such places never really appeals to me. I pushed on hoping for a McDonald’s or a Burger King. Yes, even those are preferable to me over most pizza places.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Sooooooo glad I waited, because moments later I spotted a sign proclaiming ‘British style fish and chips’. You could even get it with mushy peas. The name of the place escapes me, but I swerved right in, locked up and charged inside. I ordered a combo plate. Fish, chips, shrimp and calamari with a little side salad. Mmmmmm….

Weariness was settling into my legs as I made the last push toward the ride’s end. It was, after all, my longest ride since the stroke.

I must have missed a sign for the route and even with my maps, I made a few wrong turns. I didn’t get right back on it, but knowing the general direction I needed to go I didn’t worry too much about straying that little bit.

It did mean dodging big trucks a bit, but not too bad. I rolled past a large lot of nothing but dirt. An RV was parked there with a man and woman in their 60’s or so sitting in arm chairs. They called out a cheery hello and the man yelled something along the lines of, ‘What a cool bike!’ They waved again when I had to double back upon discovering it was the wrong way and a dead end. When I passed a go-cart track, there was nearly a multi-cart pile up when one guy goggled at me rather than paying attention to the curves.

On the 'old' side of the river

On the ‘old’ side of the river

Soon, I fetched up against the river that runs through Halmstad which gave me a more precise orientation than ‘that way’ as my night’s lodging was near the strip of water that rippled gently through the town. I traveled north on the ‘new’ side of the river for a ways. It was more commercial or light industrial than anything else, but it offered good views to the older buildings on the opposite side.

Halmstad Castle

Halmstad Castle

One of those buildings was Halmstad Castle. The distance across the water gave an awesome view from far enough away so I didn’t have to take overlapping photos to be stitched together and fixed from whatever wonkiness ensues. I loved the sloop looking sailing ship docked beside it.

Loved the lower windows and the balconys' iron work

Loved the lower windows and the balconys’ iron work

Just beyond the castle, a bridge let me cross to the other side into another slice of madness. The pretty streets with older buildings were packed with people wandering to and fro. Definitely something was going on.

I rolled to a relieved stop outside the hotel. The first ‘chain’ hotel of the tour though according to photos inside, there’s been a hotel there for a century or more. Just a few yards away, people and bikes streamed through Halmstad’s only remaining medieval gate. The only portion left of the ancient defensive walls perhaps.

I glanced at it a few times as I gathered the important stuff off the trike, temporarily locked it to an iron ring in a flower ‘pot’ made from half of a large barrel and went in.

The line at reception was long. When I reached the front, I was told my room hadn’t been cleaned yet though it was almost 5 pm. I was a bit of a pest though when I asked for a secure location to park the trike. The desk clerk first suggested a parking garage, but I pointed out my trike was hard to replace and quite expensive so unless they had a garage secure and private for guests, I’d prefer something better. The luggage room would have worked except there was too many bags in it even folded.

Finally, the woman let me roll it into the offices behind the check-in desk. Inconvenient for them, but still very accommodating. The seat I put in the luggage room.

The trike settled, I just sat down in a comfy lobby chair and read for a while until someone came to tell me my room was ready. I asked about the craziness as she typed in the computer. Turned out the entire city was crammed with a music festival with the main concert that evening. That would explain why hotel rooms had been so scarce when I had been booking for the tour.

My room was on the second floor and if I leaned out the window a bit, I had a good view of the old gate. Literally, it was within a stone’s throw. I thought about taking a photo, but the constant stream of humanity cluttering it put me off. Being such an early riser and the sunrise still fairly early in July, it would make a lovelier image at 5 am.

I cleaned up and changed before heading out to look for dinner. I strolled around looking for a cafe or casual restaurant, but all such places were packed. Finally, with a sigh, I settled for McDonald’s. I spent the rest of the evening in my comfortable room. The chatter of people and squawking of sea gulls streamed through the window I kept open for fresh air.

During the end of day call, Jens offered me another day, but my searches for another hotel along the Kattegattleden within 25-30 miles of Halmstad found no vacancies. The entire region seemed well and truly filled to the brim. I felt a bit of a sad twinge, knowing tomorrow would be the last ride of the trip, and snuggled down to sleep.

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