Terii’s Cycling Babble

Kattegattleden, Leg 5 – Sea Side Challenges
August 24, 2015, 1:05 pm
Filed under: Tours
Norreport (North Gate) in Halmstad taken from my hotel window

Norreport (North Gate) in Halmstad taken from my hotel window

I woke to blissful quiet on the morning of July 23 in my hotel room in Halmstad. The faint drift of music from various sources had died and the crowds faded away to their places of slumber.

Then several seagulls started squawking and I pulled a pillow over my head. In Bruge, Belgium, it was a duck. Here it was seagulls.

I padded over to the window and leaned out a little bit to get a quick photo of the gate before the city started to awake and clutter the streets with humanity again. Showered and most everything packed, I relaxed with a book until time for breakfast.

I had the usual breakfast of roll cut in half to make a sandwich of ham and cheese and a bit of watermelon. I even added a few slices of kiwi. I skipped the bacon this time as it looked far too underdone for my taste.

I felt a little sad once I got changed and headed down to the lobby. The last ride of the trip felt bitter sweet. I missed Jens of course, and Loke, but this had been a fun experience in spite of pushing beyond comfort zones. For the first time since the stroke, I felt free, fairly strong and capable.

People were starting to come and go through the lobby as I readied the trike right there in an out-of-the-way spot. Felt a little strange to do the whole unfold, secure the seat and bags inside with carpet to cushion the knees. Checkout finished, I walked it out the front door a bit after 9:00 am. A leisurely start to the day.

From the hotel, I rolled south, following the river a bit though on the opposite side as I’d come the day before. I’d hoped to cut over and follow along the water’s edge as much as possible though it would mean riding off the Kattegattleden. In spite of how obvious it looked on the maps, finding it proved a bit more challenging in reality.

The wind wasn’t as kind as it had been over the previous days. Instead of being behind me or from over my right shoulder, it mostly came into my face. Densely clustered clumps of clouds hid every bit of sun and most of sky. Some of the clusters looked a little dark and threatening, but there were no obvious rain veils.

Traffic began to buzz along the road where the cycle path ran through a landscape of gas stations, groceries and other assorted shopping places. My Garmin finally seemed to show a road that took me away from all that and to an area of paths near the water. I made a break for freedom from the tedium of that portion of the route.

I followed a small, tree shaded road toward the water, looking for the path the Garmin displayed. At last I discovered it. There was an information board proudly declaring ‘Prins Bertils Stig’ (Prince Bertil’s Path). It cut off through the trees, unpaved but with well packed dirt.

So serene

So serene

Under the trees, one could hardly feel the wind though the occasional gusted rustled the pine needles and make limbs creak. The path cut sharply south and soon, the water spanned out before me in a pretty view.

Less certain about the sand

Less certain about the sand

Sheltered by the patch of woods, there were almost no waves. I sat for a few minutes to enjoy the peace and take photos. As I made ready to move on, I had a bit of doubt as I regarded the state of the path. The firm packed dirt with a light cover of pine needles turned into sand. Portions of it looked fairly solid, but others less so. A quick glance at my printed maps and my Garmin’s showed several little foot paths running between Prins Bertil’s path and residential streets a bit further inland.

The flower I'd have missed on the Kattegattleden

The flowers I’d have missed on the Kattegattleden

Once sure there wouldn’t be a need to backtrack for a mile or more if it turned into a morass of loose sand, I decided to push on. I gave my rear tire pride of place on the firmer portion where it would be less likely to slip and offer more power to push the front ones through the softer stuff. It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t hard on me either which I count more important.

Across the bay

Across the bay

With a smile and relaxed in the seat, I spun along in leisurely fashion while enjoying the pretty little trail through the trees and along quietly lapping waters. Yes, I would have made better time sticking to the Kattegattleden where it’s paved surface ran along next to a busy road through commercial and residential districts. The enjoyment of it would have been narrowed down to, ‘How fast can I get through this. Can I push my average mph without killing myself to get more distance?’. It would have quickly gotten old.

Approaching the tip of the point

Approaching the tip of the point

A rocky shore

A rocky shore

The only difficult with that southward portion of the trail was the narrowness of it combined with pedestrians strolling around. A few times, I had to push over into weeds to let them squeeze by. Once, a trio of girls walked in front of me, but they strode along briskly and I refused to be in a rush. I toodled along at their pace until they turned off onto one of the narrower trails toward some houses. Even then my speed probably didn’t increase much.

The trail surface alternated between semi-soft sand and a more packed surface where it wound through the denser portions of trees a few yards from the water. The adjoining foot trails continued to turn up at fairly regular intervals, bolstering my confidence to continue onward.

Sea and Sun!

Sea and Sun!

Coming to the tip of the point that jutted southward, the trail cut a few more yards away from the shore and offered a bit of a climb. As I came over, around and down that little ridge to the westward side, the force of the wind made itself known. It gusted through the thin fringe of limbs and branches, carrying the sounds of waves washing against sand and rocks.

The clouds had been thinning over the course of an hour or so and they seemed to almost fly apart once I was around the point to roll northward for a distance. There was blue sky in between the innocent puffs of white and silver as well as a warm sun reflecting off the random waves of water.

Rolling on pavement!

Rolling on pavement!

The prince’s path took me to a paved road after a time. At first it seemed to be a cycle path, but with the sight of harbor as well as a few vehicles passing me, it definitely was a road. It was narrow enough to be a uncomfortable when a car did come along, but everyone was polite and slowed down enough that it wasn’t dangerous.

Along that beach side lane were a pair of quarry pits full of water since the watertable was so near. One had an opening cut the 50 or so meters to the sea to be converted into a peaceful little marina for non-sail boats since it wasn’t a drawbridge across the channel.

Just beyond it, the much larger pit was landlocked. There were a few metal towers and here and there along with a wire strung along the length of it. A tiny, crude shack sat near the sharp edge overlooking quarry, something about boogie boards painted on the side. There were some bikes, a car and about 6 or 7 people gathered around the top. I stood up and leaned over the little chainlink fence to see a guy in a wet suit with a boogie board. After about a minute, things got settled and he was suddenly zipping across the water, hanging on to a ski rope pulled by the motorized zipline strung across the quarry. Quite clever I thought. There were even a few ramps down there for the more accomplished boarders to do jumps. The guy I saw seemed to be a beginner.

Thar be surfers down thar!

Thar be surfers down thar!

See! Swedish surfers!

See! Swedish surfers!

Less than a mile beyond the quarries, the road took a sharp turn inland, but a sign for the Prins Bertil’s path pointed down toward the beach with a sharp drop. I stopped the trike at the top of the hill where a few cars were parked, one of them an old VW van kitted out into a crude sort of camper and painted with peace symbols and such. In the little bay below, I could just make out a few shapes, surfers no less, bobbing on the waves.

Wary by how close the path seemed to go down to the beach and how loose the sand on the first drop down there looked, I walked it a bit to decide which direction to take. Down by the bottom of the hill, the sand became loose enough that the trike would have bogged. Further along, it looked no better. I was not going to push the trike through 200 yards or so of soft sand. Resigned to following the road for a bit, I walked back up to the trike.

It was probably less than a quarter mile when I saw another sign for the prince’s path. I followed the turn onto a smaller road which deadened in a sort of round-about/parking area. In this obscure little nook of Sweden, stood a fish shack. No more than 10-12 feet long and 6 feet deep, made of 2×4’s and plywood with a sturdy plank to serve as awning and nightly barricade, a man stood behind a chilled deli case full of fresh fish. Presumably those fish were fresh caught out of the Atlantic/North Sea. Hidden as it was away from any significant sized roads and sitting at a dead end (for cars), he had 3 or 4 people to wait on.

The path for bikes and pedestrians continued on between some trees. The way became a bit rougher and it almost looked as if I should turn back. Then a down slope appeared with just enough space between the trees and rocks for the trike. Some of the bigger rocks had been marked with bright pink spray pain for unwary cyclists. Beyond those, open land beckoned so I risked it.

I rolled out into a beach area. There were some people around. Near a large-ish building a man and woman sat in chairs wearing some kind of uniform. They gave me a friendly greeting as I rolled by. There were signs for a bathroom which was welcome. I found one of the few places that didn’t forbid bike parking, which I found odd. The first half of the building was a room devoted to the storage of various walkers and wheelchairs. The bathroom was a single occupant room, large with both the toilet and a shower kitted out for handicap use.

As I walked back past the wheelchairs, I saw they had been marked exclusively for water use in the handicap beach. Curious, I walked back down and ambled a little closer to the water. There were a series of ramps that gently led into the water. Suddenly the pair in uniforms made sense. They weren’t dressed like lifeguards, but they would have been there to serve that purpose as well as help people with physical difficultes into and out of the water. Perhaps even swim with them to keep them safe. What a lovely idea!

At least forbidding bikes parking too close around the buildings and such made sense. Don’t need a bunch of bikes making it difficult for wheelchairs and walkers to get around.

Beyond that, the path became an interesting challenge. It led me onward through some trees, down another drop in the terrain and emerged back out into the open again. The ground seemed to fall away sharply as the path led across a big slab of rock that tilted toward the tumbled beach. I gave a bit of a squeak and hit my brakes. Standing to get a higher view of the terrain, it wasn’t as sudden an edge as it had first appeared, but not what I would want to attempt at over 10 mph either.

It was another one of those moments where I weighed my choices. Go back, pushing the trike through the trees to the handicapped beach to find the road or risk it. The little dip up and down with the path running through it didn’t look too bad. Against my better judgement, I decided to risk it.

View back the way I came

View back the way I came

Going was very slow, more suited to mountain bike or a fat trike than my recumbent, but I was able to pedal along without the need to push it up on foot.

The trail continued on in that fashion. Decently solid gravel path, a bit too narrow at times as it wound between rocks and plants, up and down the folds of the terrain along the water. I kept thinking that Jens would have liked that stretch. Not too bad for an intermediate mountain biker, though I could be wrong. What I know about mountain biking wouldn’t fill a sheet of paper even with large print.

Beautiful as the scenery was and though I hadn’t needed to walk the trike up any hills, I started to feel nervous. The downhills tended to be steeper than the ups, so going back would have been harder, probably requiring quite a bit of pushing. I kept looking at my maps to see what the trail would do, where it would come out and how far I still needed to win free. The distance went quite slow.

Whew! Steeper than it looks!

Whew! Steeper than it looks!

Suddenly, the path cut sharply away from the water, straight up the side of a long, steep climb. Uneasy, I pedaled as carefully as I could but the surface was loose gravel and dried dirt for much of it. The rocks were thin slivers like shale and finally the rear wheel started losing purchase too often. I finally had to start walking with the trike pushed in front of me.

Some shade would have been welcome, but at least the brisk wind kept me from feeling too overheated under the sun. Like the previous rides where I had to walk up hills, it went by with me taking a few steps, brace the wheel with my foot to straight up and rest. Push on. It wasn’t particularly hard. Easier than the two hills I’d had to climb the same way with paved roads. While I’d like to think it’s because I had gotten stronger, I’m sure the grade wasn’t as extreme the previous ones.

I took the way back down at a cautious speed. After that, the ride becomes a bit vague in my memory. About all I recall is rejoining the Kattegattleden consisting of a paved cycle road set a few yards off the roadway. Trees and a golfcourse, houses of course and fields.

Jens had called at some point during the rocky shore jaunt. He was arriving in the area much earlier than anticipated, 2 pm instead of the 4 or 5 pm he’d previously stated. When he called to say he was about 20 minutes out, I quickly picked a place not too far from either of us. A camp ground in a little place called Villshärad. Some place easy for him to find and plenty of parking area to load the trike.

I arrived first, but waited less than 10 minutes. When he pulled up, I greeted him enthusiastically. Loke jumped out, barely gave me a glance before going to sniff at the trike and then moved on to other things. So nice to feel missed.

The day’s distance was right at 14 miles.

4 rides over 5 days for a total of 77-ish miles. I’d challenged myself, tried something new and came out ahead. It gave me a huge boost of confidence that was greatly needed after the stroke. Part of me was sad for to end, but another was just too glad to go home and have a chance to sprawl on the couch and watch TV with the hubby with an indifferent husky waiting for me to feed him dinner.


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