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.


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.



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.

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.

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.



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.

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.

False Starts & Hurricanes – Tour September 15-16
December 19, 2011, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Tours

Strängnäs Cathedral

I had such big plans for this year, but circumstances and a viciously hot summer both derailed them. At least I managed to get two tours done.

Sö Runestone #277 - Strängnäs Cathedral

My tour in September began in a rather high stress fashion a week before I actually got under way. I’d made a list, checked it several times and packed carefully. We’d loaded the car a few days in advance. The big day came and Jens drove me to Strängnäs, a town on the southern shores of Lake Mälaren. We arrived at the cathedral there and I walked around taking pictures of the many runestones scattered about and not an info sign to be seen for any of them.

Sö Runestone #276 - Strängnäs

Building Near Cathedral

The search for stones done, I returned to the car and began to unload in the surprisingly cool morning air. The sun streamed down gloriously to sparkle on dew covered grass and I was actually humming happily to myself as I set all the packs on the ground. I had to remove the trailer before dragging out the trike. Out came the trailer’s tongue, then the two wheels, the left side, the right side and…. I stared in dread at the trike now clear of obstacles.

I’d forgotten the bottom! If I’d forgotten a side, it would have been annoying, but not a show stopper. With the tarps and the rope I had, I could still have tethered everything into a bundle, but without the bottom there was nothing to be done. Snarling at myself with a few mental kicks, I repacked everything into the car. Then came the wait for my husband to wander back with Loke so I could tell him the bad news so he could growl around about my scatterbrained-ness. I forget critical things like this just enough to for him to dread my announcements for long rides and now… tours.  Hard to say who it irritates more.  Me or Jens.

No way either of us wanted to do the hour’s drive back home to get the trailer bottom and then drive back out. So, I planned to start another day.

That came a bit later than I liked because of the weather, but soon, I had a couple days forecasted clear and we tried again.

Trike's Eye-view Of Harbor Square At Strängnäs

Loke, Trike & Trailer At The Harbor

This time went much better. Rather than beginning at the Cathedral, I unloaded the car right near the water along a section of boardwalk with benches and planters. I kept my humming to a minimum as I didn’t want to jinx myself, but it went much better. I seemed to have everything for a wonder. Soon, I was saying bye to the hubby and hitching an excited Loke to the trike. As Jens drove off in front of us, Loke took after him in a flat out run along the southern lake shore. Even as Jens turned away, Loke still kept up his exuberant charge with the tongue-lolling husky smile.

Random Lake Side Scenery

The harbor area of Strängnäs was quite pretty and I stopped to take a picture. I can’t remember exactly why, but Jens caught up with us there for a moment before leaving again.

Vansö Kyrka

Shortly outside of town, I turned more inland through pretty countryside in that gorgeous phase between Swedish summer and autumn. Loke was running well in spite of a frisky wind out of the west and it seemed mere moments before we stopped at our first country church. Vansö Kyrka. With a happy husky, I made a quick circuit of the church, but found no stones.

Old Buggy

It seemed after I left Vansö, the wind continue to pick up to the point, it became a little less fun to ride. I wasn’t going to wimp out over a little wind though. I mean, am I going to call for a rescue every time it get a little windy if I’m cycling 200 miles from home? It was part of the challenge of touring! Not just going on through the pretty, calm days, but through the wet and windy too. At least the winds weren’t enough to bother Loke. I feel a certain amount of guilt when he’s trotting along with his head down, ears flattened and squinting. I know that unless the winds are strong enough he’s flying from the end of the trike’s tether like a kite, they can’t hurt him, but he’s just never been fond of breezes. Even when we drive in the car with the windows down, after a few min, he tries to avoid the gusts. No tongue lolling, ears flapping in the breeze with his head out the window for this dog.

Fogdö Kyrka

Fogdö Kyrka was the next on my maps. I stopped in the shade there for a bit of granola as a late lunch. After Loke and I both filled our bellies with a little something, I took a slow walk around the church for photos and runestones before sitting in the shade a bit longer. I let Loke decide when it was time for us to move on. He’s enough of a bully to let me know when he’s bored and wants to run again.

In my map books was mention of a cloister ruin. Intrigued, I decided to look for it though I’d not mapped a way to it. Fortunately, there was a little sign for it pointing down a gravel road just across the paved street from Fogdö Kyrka.

The road wasn’t too bad and, as ever, I gave Loke the smoother parts and took the rougher as long as there was no danger to my derailleur. We’d gone perhaps half a mile or so when I came to T-junction with a turn to the right. There was no sign for the ruin which I suppose I should have guessed meant go straight, but I looked at my map book and decided to turn right. I’m glad I did or I would have missed a wonderful meeting.

After another half-mile or so, I began to feel perhaps I’d taken a wrong turn and was considering turning back. Ahead was a pretty country house with the barn-like roof, painted red and white trimmed and surrounded by a well kept lawn of hedges and fruit trees. An older man getting his mail stopped to shade his eyes and watch as Loke and I came down the road with curious interest. I decided to ask for directions.

I asked after the cloister in fumbling Swedish and the man smiled and asked very clearly, “You speak English? Where are you from?”

I told him and he asked about the trike, very impressed I was out for a cycling tour with my dog and then told me I should have gone straight at the T to get to the cloister ruin. I didn’t need to turn back though. He began trying to describe how to find my way there. Grinning I held up my Garmin Edge and zoomed out a bit so he could point to each turn I needed to make. I thanked him and went on my way.

Ingjald's Mound

The road deteriorated a little shortly after that chance encounter. The soil looser and rockier. I had a bit of a challenging climb up a nasty slope. At the top was something that made it worth while though. A small grave mound.

I have to admit, thrilled as I was to have found it, I was also a little frustrated. Why? Because it was the PERFECT camping spot. The mound itself was fenced in a pasture, but running along the fence line was a neat dirt and grass track leading to a smooth grassy lawn about 100 yards down with a small parking lot and a diminutive building of some kind. All of it surrounded by low shrubs and tall trees. Sheltered, secluded and well off any high traffic areas. The problem was it wasn’t even 3:30 pm! I still had at least 3 hours to full dark.

After I took my pictures of the mound, I waffled and agonized for a few minutes about staying before sucking it up and moving on.

Actually, my timing couldn’t have been more perfect for moving on. Shortly past the grave mound was the first turn. As I took it, I heard the crunch of gravel behind me and in the shaky mirror, I saw someone on an old style comfort bike coming up fast. As they caught up, I turned to smile just in time for their speed to match mine. It was the nice man who had given me directions. Smiling he said he needed a little exercise and what better way than cycling with me to the cloister to make sure I found it.

Vårfruberga (Spring Wife Mountain?) Cloister Ruin

It was kind of fun to have company for a while though it about killed me and certainly pushed Loke. I’d say probably the fastest 3 miles we’ve done in mid-ride. Loke loped the whole way at around 10 to 12 mph and kept looking at the gentleman as if to make sure he wasn’t pulling ahead. It would have been a challenge even on paved ground, but the gravel made it doubly so as we wound our way up and down small rolling hills.

Somehow, I found breath to hold a conversation with our guide and asked if he’d lived in the area long.

“No,” he replied, “only 10 years or so.” It shows a very different mind set than mine as I moved so much all my life. 10 years in one place would have been very long and blissful. He was originally from Stockholm and was a retired journalist. Now he enjoyed his retirement in the countryside, walking and cycling around as well as writing books and short stories. One story he wrote had made it into an anthology based on the cloister we were riding toward. He was part of a group of people who were very interested in the history of the cloister.

Vårfruberga Cloister Ruin

Soon, we were heading down a shady lane past a farm with a history as being a place where kings would stop when they were out touring their realm. Kungsberga (King’s Mountain) it was called.

Hard between the lake and the farm buildings was the cloister ruin. As I changed shoes and gathered my camera to take pictures, my guide wished me a good journey and in parting warned me there were quite a few wild pigs in this part of the country side. He also told me they don’t like dogs and not in the ‘run away!’ way. The ‘I’m going to rip that dog to pieces’ way.

Well, that certainly put a whole new spin on overnighting.

Though they were little more than low walls, the cloister was an interesting ruin and far more extensive than I’d thought it would be. I spent about 20 min walking around with Loke, taking pictures and keeping the furball from rolling in sheep poop.

The wind increased even more as we pedaled away from the ruin and the way back to Fogdö Kyrka was quite a bit shorter than it had been along the circuitous route I’d taken to it. I was happy for that wrong turn though since I’d had the grave mound and a delightful meeting to show for it. It occurred to me, I didn’t get my guide’s name though and it made me a little sad.

Going was slow into the force of the wind and Loke did start looking irritated with the gale whipping down upon us. As it came on toward 5 pm, I turned my attention to the country side with an eye toward a camp spot. Most of the land was fields and houses, neither of which are acceptable or legal. The few places I did spot as potential places were quickly discarded for being too close to residences.

Amazingly, I found a small ICA grocery store! I tethered Loke and ran in side to see if I could find something to eat. Their produce was uninspiring. I thought about buying a tiny thing of milk and some cereal, but they had no bowls and nor did I. Something I definitely need to correct. Finally, I just settled for some orange juice and a can of Pringles to go with my peanut butter and crackers.

My thighs were screaming as I jumped back on the trike and though there was at least an hour’s daylight left, I was beginning to get a little worried. In September, we are back to nights with full dark. I spotted a sign with the pointy ‘R’ that indicating down an unpaved road. Exhausted and with no clue how far down it might, I considered not exploring it. Then I figured it might also give me a place to camp so I made the turn.

On a wedge of land between the road I’d turned off and the curve of the gravel road, I passed a collection of large barns and sheds. It was a curious mix of well kept and obviously used structures and equipment to dilapidated and rusting. As I passed the last building before a cluster of trees mostly hiding a little abandoned cottage, I considered camping between the trees and the end of the sagging barn. It felt wrong though. Granted, there was no house mixed in with those buildings and I would have been settling in the most unused section. The cottage had three about 10 foot high sapling growing in front of the door, the barn looked like it hadn’t been open in ages, and a large piece of tilling equipment looked as if it had sat in place for years.

I went on.

Not A Perfect Spot

The cluster of trees was quite small. I’d say less than 50 yards wide when I came to the cultural site. It was a memorial stone of some kind. I’m not certain it was a runestone though. I could see no carvings and there was no information sign, but it obviously wasn’t placed just so by a glacier. Lush, low growing grass filled a little hollow between the trees and a rock ledge with fields beyond.

I sat looking at the spot for a few minutes. It seemed okay. I could tether Loke to the post with the pointy ‘R’ sign and pitch the tent maybe a bit closer to the stone since I didn’t want to be in the low spot if rain came. There was plenty of room to drag the trike and use it and the trailer with a tarp to attempt rigging a shelter for Loke. While close to the gravel road, the road seemed very little used. The closest house was well over 100 yards away, tiny in the distance. Not too many rocks either and no tree roots.

There was one problem with it though. The WIND. That wind still roared and howled as it had for a large part of the day. Worse, it came raging unhindered across a huge expanse of a field and right into the hollow. It was getting late though and I needed to get camp settled before it got dark. I thought longingly of that little sheltered nook between barn end and trees.

Loke's Shelter, Such As It Was

Sighing, I let the consideration go. Annoying and unpleasant as the wind might have been, at least it wouldn’t kick me off the site like an angry farmer might have.

Getting the tent and Loke’s tarp shelter settled proved quite challenging, but I persevered. Both of them flapped as if in the clutches of a hurricane and I found out later how ironic that was. I didn’t really like how open Loke’s shelter still looked no matter what I did, but I fought with it as long as I could. Once that was settled, I took my food and Loke’s and walked with the wind to my back for over 100 yards or so. Then sitting on a rock, I opened his travel dish with a portion of dog food in it and tucked into my own food. That way, if pigs came, they’d find where we’d eaten rather than my camp.

About 7 pm, the wind died and I had blissful silence in the camp. For a while at least. Around 8:30 pm, it kicked up again with a vengeance. Sustained I’d say was between 20 mph to 25 mph with gusts over 30 mph. Though it was almost 10 degrees warmer than the night I’d camped out in June, I felt so much colder even bundled in thick thermals and sleeping bag on my air mattress. The gales just came under the rainfly and right through the mesh walls of my tent.

It began pitch black when the sun went down, but the moon was a little past the half-phase and when it rose, it turned the world into shades of midnight blue, velvet black and subtle pewter. Even inside my tent, I could see well enough to make out shapes to find even my iPhone.

Unsurprisingly, Loke was restless though not quite as much as he had been with foxes yapping in the distance on our first tour. Finally, he curled up in his shelter.

Dismantling Camp

I read on my Kindle for a bit and then slept fitfully through the night. I kept checking on Loke or trying to get an arm or knee to warm up where a draft had wormed it’s way through my sleeping bag. I’ll admit, I considered calling Jens to come get me a few times, but it would have been close to 2 am when he got to me, longer if he had trouble finding the turn off. So, I just sucked it up and tried to sleep.

A bit after 6 am, I woke from an uncomfortable doze and crawled out of my tent. The sky had gone to that dim gray of coming dawn and thankfully, the wind had less force, though I’d still call it breezy. Staggering sleepily around, I fed Loke, topping off his water before I fed and watered myself. I was in no hurry. I wanted plenty of light before I got back on the road again.

My View As I Brushed My Teeth

Loke seemed lazy that morning. Maybe he was sulking at me. I’ll admit a bit of concern as I had to dismantle his shelter from around him. He just stayed fox-curled and watched me. Bit by bit, I packed everything and refastened the trailer to the trike. He stretched for a moment as I took the picture, but I had to nudge him to get him up so I could put his harness on a few minutes later. He sat staring across the fields as I double checked the camp and sat down. He met the click of my shoes into the pedals with indifference. Around 7:30 am, I loosed the brakes and… we were off like a shot. The 150 yards or so to the paved road was covered at nearly 20 mph as Loke ran like his tail was on fire and he slowed only long enough for me to check traffic and make the turn before cranking on the speed again.

The rest of the short day’s ride passed in a blur. A miserable one even. I hurt. My thighs ached, the wind, while not nearly as fierce as the day before, still was enough to be an issue. Before 10 am, I felt more exhausted than I had when I’d stopped to camp. I spent almost 15 minutes climbing almost 200 yards of an 18% grade at a snail’s pace. I kept wondering if my brakes were locked or something it was so hard. No, I was just tired and dragging a load of camping gear. Loke was helping all he could. He was fine at least.

Loke Enjoying the Morning

After that, terrain began to dictate where I did and did not go. ‘Oooh! Look! There’s a grave mound down that road. Oops. Never mind. It’s gravel,’ or ‘I’m NOT climbing that hill to look for a burial ground.’ The final straw was when I’d made a turn to do an out and back to find a church and look for runestones. I made it about half a mile when I stopped and just looked ahead and DOWN. It had to be at least another 18% grade… and I would have to climb back up it. Nope. I refused.

As I turned around at that point, I realized it was a waste of time to continue if I wasn’t going to see the things I wanted because I was too exhausted to go where I needed to. That decided, I looked at my maps and found what I thought would be the easiest place for Jens to find and prayed I wouldn’t have to climb a 23% grade or something silly to get there.

It was near a camp ground and not far from Lake Mälaren. I found a huge parking lot and parked myself in the shade of some trees at the edge before calling Jens. Loke tethered with a long line and watered, I flopped back down into my trike seat and napped until he arrived.

Later that evening, I discovered that the brutal winds Loke and I had suffered were due to the hurricane that had battered New York. Even though it wasn’t even a tropical storm by the time the remnant had made it to us, it was still more than enough to make the trip and overnight dreadful. No wonder tarp and tent were flapping around as if they were in a hurricane. In a sense, they were.

I barely covered 25 miles for that whole tour. Disappointing, but at least I’d had some nice parts to the first day!

About Dang Time! First Tour June 1-2
December 1, 2011, 4:57 pm
Filed under: Tours

Both for this post AND for the first tour.

Yes, I actually took the leap and did a tour this year! My first ever.  I began June 1, slept over night and finished on June 2.

I took a few days to pack, making a careful list as I tried to make sure I had everything I might need and likely quite a few things I didn’t.  I randomly chose a place just south of the western tip of Lake Mälaren.

I don’t remember what time we arrived at Kungs-Barkarö Kyrka.  I can’t even remember why I’d picked to begin at that church a few miles south of Köping.

Kungs-Barkarö Kyrka

Except for the wooden clad, steep peaked bell tower on one end of the church, it looked much like Börje Kyrka – that white plastered simple exterior with a high peaked wood-shingled roof.  I made a walk around it and discovered there’d been a fire recently.  I think that’s the third church I’d found this year which had suffered fire-damage recently enough you could smell it.  It seems to have survived just fine except for a bit of charring on the wood cladding of the tower.

No runestones, sadly.

All Loaded!

Church yard explored, I turned my attention to unloading the car and organizing the trike and trailer.  It was a bit cool, though not cold as I worked. I do remember the mosquitos were out in force.  I think I lost about a pint of blood as I packed everything up and hitched the trailer and dog to the trike.  Even Loke looked irritated at all the buzzing, biting insects.

With a bit of nervousness, I said goodbye to my husband, plopped down on the seat and moved off.  One good thing about getting underway was escaping the bugs.

Chalk Transport?

Loke was delighted with the new ground and we ripped along the first 2 miles at a run.  The furry one was a bit frustrated with the slower pace I was keeping.  It’s recommended to keep the loaded trailer below 15 mph.  Loke, of course, wanted to do a full charge of 18 mph or more.  I did stop during the first quarter mile to take a picture of the elevated hauling system which stretches for quite a few miles through this country side.  If I remember correctly, it was used to haul chalk, but I might be wrong.

Björskogs Kyrka

The wind was a tiny bit nippy, but not unpleasant as we came to the next church just 3 miles from the one I’d left.  Björskogs Kyrka sat high on a rather steep hill, proving a bit of a challenge to climb with the trike and trailer.  The grounds were pretty and green around a yellow painted plastered church of Neo-classical facade.

Loke refused the water I offered as I relaxed for a few minutes to devour a banana.  I tend to neglect food when I go on long rides, but since this was a tour, I figured I really couldn’t afford to do so.

Random Scenery

I didn’t push our pace at all.  After all, I had days to cover ground and burning out wasn’t in the plans.  Under the gradually lightening clouds, the temperature rose until I was slightly warm rather than cool.  Loke was panting, though not desperately so.

The way through Köping was a bit tricky.  There were a couple of churches I wanted pictures of and nothing seemed straightforward in the town. I do remember passing by the building where our friends lived when they first moved from Uppsala to Köping.  In the distance, I could see two steeples.  One lay in the direction I needed to go and the other was a bit in the opposite way.  Being in no hurry, I went to check out the western steeple first.

Pretty Chapel/Church

I found a very tiny church or a large chapel.  Quite pretty really. Red brick facade with a copper roof gone green.  I liked it.  I do wish I’d been able to get a picture of it without people clustered at the front of it, but we can’t always get what we want.

I didn’t spend much time here, feeling out of place with the people in their suits and Sunday dresses.  A parking lot isn’t the most interesting or comfortable of places to take a break either. 

One nice thing about Swedish towns is that while they have increased traffic, they have good cycle/pedestrian paths!  With occasional glimpses of the next steep through the trees to guide me, I wiggled my way along the paths to the east.  I found a lovely green park crisscrossed with paths.  Quite a few people were there, giving Loke and I rather startled looks as we went along.

Köpings Kyrka

At the head of one such path was the lichgate into the churchyard of Köpings Kyrka .  Leaving Loke with the trike, I did a quite circuit of the churchyard, but found no runestones.

It was a bit after 12 pm, so I settled in for a longer rest and something that resembled lunch.  As Loke sat, looking around the park and sighing with boredom, I munched on some granola.  Every time I got an odd look, I waved cheerily.  Most of the time, I got a rather startled and hesitant wave back.

The sun was beginning to come through the clouds when I moved on, migrating my way east.  It was a bit of tangled web to find my way out of Köping.

The clouds peeled back more and more quickly as we went and with the sun’s arrival, the temperature shot up.  I’d gone from slightly chilly when we’d started that morning to unpleasantly hot.

Around 1 pm, there were few to no clouds and those were all far off near the horizon.  Unfortunately, it coincided with our arrival along a stretch of road  with not a trace of shade.  The road I traversed ran parallel to a rail track and the main road.  Given the amount of traffic on the main road, I was glad of the smaller access road.  I had little joy of the utter lack of shade however.

Ugh! Hot!!

Though I had little joy of this stretch of the ride, Loke was downright miserable.  His tongue flapped somewhere around his feet as he slowly trotted along with sopping wet ears, lower legs and belly.  I started to fret over a place to stop with shade for him, but it just seemed to be unending.  Finally in a passing bay, I swerved over so Loke was on grass rather than warm pavement and opened my umbrella.  It took coaxing both Loke and the umbrella, but soon, I had the furball shaded and laying down in grass.  Keeping his little water dish full next to him, I hunched sideways to get a bit of shade while I waited for his panting to ease.

His breathing had mostly gone normal when he got up about 20 min later, lapped a bit more water and then gave me a ‘Well??’ look.  Off we went.

It didn’t take long before he was panting pretty good again, but not far in the distance, I could see the steeple of the next church.  I hoped there’d be a wonderfully shady spot to park the trike and planned for us to rest there for an hour or more.  We reached it after about 15 min.

Munktorp Kyrka

Happily, the parking lot was surrounded by a wide verge of lush grass and old trees.  I coasted into a nice shady spot and tethered Loke where he had a nice, soft green bed and made sure he had plenty of water again.  I also gave him a little food before turning my attention to the church.

Munktorp (Monk Square?)  Kyrka had no runestones I found and I even had a chance to look inside in rather unusual circumstances.

As I finished my walk around the church and came back to the trike, a woman arrived with her teen children.  As they emerged from the car, she greeted me with a big smile and said she had seen us on the southern side of Köping.  As we chatted, more people arrived and another woman joined us.  It turned out there was a funeral scheduled.  By then, the sun had moved and put us in sun.  As I moved the trike into shade and topped off Loke’s water, the first woman asked if I needed more water.  I happily took the opportunity to top off my water.

Grave Slab In Munktorp's Porch

Gathering up my camera bag and water bottles, I followed her into the church where she showed me to the bathroom.  Thanking her, I ducked in to refresh myself and refill Loke’s bottle.  A few minutes later, I stepped out and into a problem.

The anteroom of the church was PACKED.  People in black suits and dresses stood shoulder to shoulder, milling around in what little space there was to offer condolences.  And there I was.  A plump woman in spandex and jogging shorts, faded ball cap, sneakers, all sweaty and streaked with zink sunscreen.  Rubbing against anyone would have left a bright streak on that dark fabric.  I scuttled to a corner next to the bathroom door and stayed there.

To my astonishment, I was accepted.  No one gave me even a curious look let alone a scowl.  I half expected to be told in an insulted tone to leave, but I might as well have been dressed in black rather than in  my grimy cycling clothes.  A few people greeted me and I told them I was sorry to have intruded and they had my condolences.  The widow was them and when I gave my sympathies, she gave me a quick hug.  I was touched.  I still feel a little teary at that easy acceptance I was given at a time of their terrible loss.

Soon the people filed into another room of the church for the service and I slipped back outside.  Loke stopped his grass wallowing long enough to look at me and wag his tail before flailing some more.

I was still hiding from the sun when the service was over and people came out.  A few more people stopped to pet Loke (and gather loads of white hair on their black clothes) and chat before I had the place to myself again.

It was a bit after 3 pm when the heat broke thanks to a thickening scatter of cloud and Loke and I moved on.  After Munktorp, the road was more pleasant.  Curvy and occasionally touched with shade from trees as well as sky.

Loke and I made good time through the country side as we made for a castle where I’d planned to camp.  By this point, Loke was wearing socks, which he disliked.

Strömsholm Slott

The castle is called Strömsholm Slott and Jens and I had been there a few weeks before on a ‘drive around Mälaren Lake’ road trip we’d taken one day which was why I’d planned to camp there.  Long history if you click the thumbnail.

To my dismay, when I reached the castle, I discovered most of the places I might have pitched a tent to be occupied.  It seems there is a riding school at the castle and there was a large competition.  Tents, horse trailers, RVs everywhere!  It was around 5 pm.

I stopped at a cluster of old red wooden buildings which had been outbuildings for the castle and probably a few centuries old.  After a quick peek in the tourist shop there, I pondered what to do as Loke and I ate ice cream.  I finally decided there was nothing for it, but to ride on until I found someplace to camp.  Fortunately, even in late june, the days are wonderfully long.  Even at 5 pm, I still had hours of good light.  Ice cream done, Loke’s sock’s checked, we continued.

Random Scenery

The path I’d picked away from the castle was not an easy one.  Cars were forbidden, but not bikes.  It had been grated recently, so the stones were loose and large.  Our speed was probably not much more than 4 mph.  I kept an eye out for a place to stop, but most of it was either fenced off or growing grain.  Gritting my teeth, we pressed on.

I was only too glad when we came to paved roads again.  I wasn’t on pavement for long though.  I made a turn onto a small dirt road that wound its way between paddocks and barns of a farmstead.  To my surprise, it turned into a cycle path.  As 7 pm came, I began to feel a little anxious, knowing I was coming up on another town.  I didn’t like the idea of being exhausted and sleepy in a place I couldn’t legally camp.  As the path ran straight between a pair of fields, I saw the shoulder of a mound of rock with a cluster of trees and stopped.

First Camp!

Under the trees against the nearly sheer face of the rock mound was a small hollow.  With only 5 meters between rocks and cycle path, was it ideal? No, but not far ahead was a residential area and for the entire distance between that spot and the castle had been residential and agricultural lands.  I decided it had to do.  I tethered Loke and pitched the tent.

It was a rough night.  First of all, Loke.  He didn’t want to sleep.  He spent quite a while woofing at me to move on.  THEN it was the foxes.  Once it got darkish around 10:30 pm, they started yapping which made Loke completely nuts.  He kept pacing around, peeing and flinging leaves and dirt everywhere.  I guess I should be glad Loke was there.  I’m sure his presence kept the foxes at distance.  Still, it was rather like suffering through a neighbor’s mouthy dog barking all night.

Second of all, the cycle path was amazing busy!  Even at 2 am people were cycling and walking past.

Then there were the rocks and roots.  As I said, it wasn’t an ideal place to camp.  Lastly, I was COLD. Even wearing all my layers I was shivering as it got to around 40 F.  Over a 40 degree drop from the warmest part of the day to the coldest.  Brrrr.  I needed a better sleeping bag.

Around 2:45 am, I decided to give it up.  Sitting up, I stumbled through the faint light to feed Loke, check his feet and give him water.  Shortly after 3 am, I had plenty of light and began to break camp.  The furry was nearly hysterical with joy as put everything in the trailer and harnessed him.  By 3:30 am we were tearing at warp speed down the cycle path!

Of course, it so happened that less than a mile away, I found what would have been a perfect camp site!  It was even a historical site.

This Would Have Been A Better Camp

A lovely grassy sward overlooking the glass calm waters of a widened stream or a small lake.  I stopped to admire the place as well as look at the signs.  It turns out the place was the location of a battle!

Near a mockup of a crude wooden bridge was the information sign.  I was standing where the battle of Herrevadsbro took place in 1251.  Such a peaceful looking place for a bloody event.  I sat on the mock bridge to eat my granola breakfast as I watched the strengthening dawn.  Loke sulked some distance away, tethered to a flag pole.

It was still short of 4:30 am when I put away the food and we moved on.  I wanted to be out of the small town before frenzy of commuters in the area began rushing toward Stockholm, Västerås and Enköping and I still had to go further into the town to take a picture of a church before leaving it.

Kolbäck Kyrka

It took a bit of wiggling along the quiet streets to find my way to Kolbäck Kyrka.  I found no runestones.

The next hour and a half was spent backtracking not just the distance from camp battle site to the church, but also toward where I’d emerged north of the castle onto the paved road.  We made good time.  Loke was running happily in the early morning and I felt good, hardly tired at all from the 32 miles we had covered in the first day.

Mystery Fornborg

It couldn’t have been much later than 6 or 6:30 when I stopped to take a look at a fornborg.  It sat high on a steep hill covered with low blueberry bushes and other ground hugging growth with a few narrow paths twisting through.  The once village itself was no more than a tumbled ring of rocks sitting on the brow of the hill like a crown.  Loke was actually quite happy to stop here.  He frolicked happily through the bushes as I climbed to look for a way into the inner section of the stone.  If any existed, I couldn’t find one.

I love the faint red-gold touch the rising sun gives to the photo of the fornborg.

As we came down, Loke abruptly yelped, leaping almost a meter into the air.  He landed and began chasing something through the bushes.  I pulled him back and checked the paw which had come up first, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with it and no problem with his walk.  Soon we were out of the field and on our way again.

Shortly after the fornborg, we came to the worst stretch of the ride.  I thought it was even worse than the broiling stretch on the west side of Munktorp.  A main artery between Köping and Västerås and commuters had begun.  Traffic was whizzing by and most of it was uphill.  No shoulder.  Not fun and it didn’t help that it seemed Loke limped occasionally.  I kept checking his feet under the socks, but his feet looked fine.

It was a huge relief when we turned off onto a smaller road.

Säby Kyrka

Säby Kyrka was our next stop and I found myself eyeing Loke worriedly.  As he had on the big road, Loke seemed to limp every now and again.  Not so much that I was certain he was limping, but enough that I was suspicious.  As we made our fruitless search for runestones, I watched Loke very carefully.  I also spent almost 15 minutes going over every millimeter of his foot, looking for some spot of skin too thin on his toe pads or a cut or thorn, anything.  He gave no sign of pain at my handling.  I waffled for a bit and then called Jens to being the drive to come get us and let me know when he was on the west side of Västerås.

Loke was still desperate to run, so I gave in.

Stora Rytterne Kyra Ruin

By the time we reached Stora Rytterne Kyrka ruin, he was limping quite badly.  Our speed had dropped to barely more than 4 mph as I nursed the furry one along.  The road was narrow with no place to sit safely let alone space for Jens to park while we loaded the trike.  There was nothing for it but to keep on.

The ruin was one of the best preserved church ruins I’ve seen outside of Sigtuna.  Loke still tried to be bouncy as we explored the ruin, but his paw was bothering him quite badly.  When I took a look it was swollen and felt warm.  I was baffled.

There was no help for it, we had to sit there and wait for Jens.  In spite of his foot, Loke was restless and even pawed at me as if to say he still wanted to go on.  He wasn’t fooling me.

The only thing I could think of was perhaps when he had jumped and yelped at the fornborg, perhaps he’d been bitten by the one poisonous kind of snake here in Sweden.

Soon, Jens was there and I was home by about 10:30 after having cycled over 15 miles for the day, even with Loke limping slowly along for the last mile or so.

We kept an eye on Loke’s paw, but by the 3rd he was already showing significant improvement and by the 5th, he didn’t have the least little limp much to my relief.

So, barely 48 miles for the entire tour, but we got out and did it!  I loved it and I think Loke did too though he didn’t seem to like sitting still all night.  Goof.

Best Laid Plans…
August 3, 2009, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Tours

View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com

That is what my 67+ mile tour amounted to. *sigh*

Originally, I was supposed to do the tour over Thursday and Friday, but I over did the packing and there was no way I was going to be ready.  Then Saturday we had plans and I knew we wouldn’t get home quite late, so a 5:30 am start Sunday morning was out.  So, even though my husband’s vacation was over, Monday morning it was.  I had planned to find a place to camp the evening before and spare my husband a 5:30 am wake up and drive through the countryside.  He decided that it would be better to have the early wake up and probably get to work in better time.

I woke around 4:15 am and went into a frenzy to get everything packed into bags so I could break the trailer down for transport.  I packed the trailer first to make sure all the stuff would fit.  Around 5:20, I was waving coffee under my husband’s nose.  It still took a bit to get the car loaded and everything settled to move out.  Between my frenzied jumping around to get everything packed and feeling a case of nerves at this first trip, I got overheated.  But we got everything nestled in the car Tetris style.  I was quite pleased how well everything fit.

Frösthult Kyrka

Frösthult Kyrka

There was fog this morning and in some areas it was quite thick.  The air was a bit cool, which was nice.  It had been a few days since the last ride, so Loke was in a fever pitch of anticipation.  Thanks to us driving the route last week, we knew exactly where Frösthult Kyrka was.  The only date I could find for the church was something about 1210, but I couldn’t translate it.  Also buried here is a Swedish Christian Missionary who went to convert Native Americans in the Delaware area between 1643 and 1648.

It took a while to get everything dragged out of the car and more than a bit of scrambling to get the trailer hitched and loaded, dog settled, cycle shoes on and such.  I sent my husband off before I was ready to start pedaling so that he wouldn’t be terribly late for work.

I was a little nervous about the extra weight of the trailer and its effect on my knees as I settled myself into the seat and started out.  As ever, Loke wanted to explode into a high speed charge down the road.  I wanted to keep my speed below 15 mph because of the trailer.  That seemed to irritate the furry one quite a bit.

Fog & Gray Skies

Fog & Gray Skies

He mostly ignored the trailer, but from time to time, he’d suddenly give a startled jump if it gave a particularly loud rattle or maybe if he saw it from the corner of an eye or the like.  Right away I took a slightly different turn than I’d plotted.  It wasn’t too bad though since it took me to the road I was supposed to cross.  I simply had to travel about 150 yards along the shoulder with early morning commuting traffic whizzing by toward Stockholm.

Once I was past that road, traffic was blissfully non-existent.  I continued on past fields with the sun hidden behind clouds and the soft gray veil of fog  that was in places softly glowing by stray beams of light.  The air was still cool and Loke was making a good clip.  His legs were wet from the dew clinging to the grass along the side of the road as I kept him off the road as much as possible.  Surprisingly, he was pulling more than usual.

River Scene

River Scene

As I covered the first few miles, I was rather pleased with how easily I drew the trailer along behind me.  I had expected to feel something of a strain on my knees, but I simply took it easy and kept the pace down a bit.  Just .5 mph less than usual.  I had also changed out my small chain ring from 30 teeth to 26 teeth and it made quite a difference going up hills.

Tranquil Waters

Tranquil Waters

Very quickly, the road shifted to unpaved, but one of those mostly smooth ones with a light scattering of stones along the center and edges that were easy to avoid for both myself and Loke.  It also wound along a small, dark and slow moving river/stream.  The fog was slowly lifting and grazing cows watched us as we pedaled by.  I was relaxing into the ride, my stress about the extra weight of the trailer fading as it continued to feel easy.  It was becoming fun.

We made a turn and the road became quite a bit rougher.  I’m fairly sure it was grated since the exploration last week.  I pushed to the far side of the road.  I was rattling, the trailer was rattling, but Loke at least was in the grass and off the brutal stones.  Even with the uneven surface, I still was having a fairly easy time with the 30 or so pounds of weight that I was dragging along.  There was something that was making itself uncomfortably known though.  I was starting to chafe.

Härnevi Mill

Härnevi Mill

I spotted a sign that said “Härnevi Kvarn” (Härnevi Mill).  Just down a tiny unpaved track off the dirt road I could see a little white plaster and brick building.  It looked like there was space enough at the end to turn the trike with the trailer around and I was curious enough to go look.

I can’t quite puzzle out the history of the area, but there doesn’t seem to be anything specific on the mill.  Just something about the area stating that there was a grave field from early times and there had been seven mills in the area.  What the mill sawed or ground, I couldn’t find.

Mill Pond

Mill Pond

To explore the area more comfortably, I pulled on my normal shoes to walk around as the last of the fog and clouds cleared.  The grounds were nice with a mill pond, mill race, and a gurgling little stream. Peaceful with birdsong and water sounds in the summer warmth.

I also took the time to stick some socks on Loke’s feet.  He wasn’t pleased with it, but I felt a bit better about his paws.  I also took the time to change from a short sleeved shirt to my long sleeved, moisture wicking cycle top.  Even though Loke had his socks on, I kept him to the smoother parts of the road where I could find them.

Härnevi Kyrka

Härnevi Kyrka

The chafing was getting worse as I went along.  The dirt road went on for a while more until I came to Härnevi Kyrka.  The bell tower was across the road from the church with a large flat graveled parking area.  It was perfect to park the trike as I looked around.  The church was built sometime during the 1400’s.

Lots of trees around the church so it was hard to find a good shot of it.  Just next to the churchyard wall was a small cafe.  It opened at 11 am, but it was only 9:30.  I checked my maps and continued on.  The dirt road seemed to go on and on.  Though after the church, it smoothed out again which was nice.

Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge

I was happy to see paved roads again, though not so thrilled with the size of the road and the traffic on it.  Along this road I found the stone bridge Jens and I have driven past on several occasions, but I never really had a chance to get a picture of it.  I pulled into driveway of an abandoned house.  Loke and I walked back along the road to the ‘new bridge’ that had a bit of distance from the old stone one which gave a good shot.  It was a bit edgy as there was no shoulder on the new bridge.  No traffic came along which was surprising.

Grave Mound In Distance

Grave Mound In Distance

Just past the bridge, there was a long moderately steep hill.  The view leading up to it was nice at least.  Off the road was a steeper hill covered with grass and small trees.  It looked identical to grave mounds.  I found a parking area off the road and a sign.  It was for a nature reserve and my guess had been correct.  It was a collection of grave mounds, the largest of course was for some high ranking chieftain   Most of it was built up in just a few centuries after  Christ’s birth.

I finished the long slow climb up half a mile or more of a hill.  It was definite proof of the value of that smaller chain ring.  It was a nice long glide down the other side and Loke got to kick up his heels a bit which he really enjoyed.

Torstuna Kyrka

Torstuna Kyrka

The next church on my planned route was Torstuna.  This church is originally a middle age structure, but all the renovations through the 1700’s have seemingly wiped away any trace of that first building.  Can’t find much else after that.

I tried to walk around in search of runestones, but ended up being threatened by a standard poodle and a German shepherd lurking in the background.  I decided not to press my luck so went back to my trike.  I rested for a bit, let Loke have a bit of water and a breather.

Most of ground that I was covering was open wheat fields.  Still pretty as I went along.  Not far after that, I passed a field with a number of mares with young foals.  There was another dog incident right past the field.  It was jumpy moment as a chow came charging across the yard.  I got up off the trike and faced it down, but once it got close it seemed to be more friendly than threatening, even with Loke.  It sniffed and wagged its tail before turning and finally obeying its owner’s calls.

Uppland's Runestone #839

Uppland’s Runestone #839

I finally came upon a couple of rune stones.  One sat right on the verge of the road, easy to see, painted clearly and not terribly weathered.  Alas, it lacked the little placard which usually has the information for the stones.

The other one sat further back from the road and required some wading through tall grass.  Loke adored that.  He flopped down and wallowed around in the weeds as I looked at the stone.  It was carved sometime in the 1000’s.  The translation reads, “Amunde and Ödgärd allowed to be raised this stone after Anund, their son, and built a bridge.”

I’m not sure which bridge, or where, that was built in Amund’s memory.  If it still existed, I would be quite curious to see it.

I let Loke wallow and flail around a bit more before he jumped up and wagged his tail, ready to hit the road again.

The chafing was getting quite bad as I’d gone on and it was getting bad enough, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue much further.  Still, I didn’t like the idea of ending the tour before it really had begun.

Loke was starting to feel a bit hot, but the next church was right around the corner.  It almost snuck up on me.  I saw the sign right at the turn before I even caught sight of the church itself.  There was a smooth gravel drive that led round to the front of the building facing away from the road and wonderfully shady trees.  I parked in a nice deep patch of shade and fastened Loke to one of the trees with some water.

Nysätra Kyrka

Nysätra Kyrka

Not much info on this church, but I thought it was kind of pretty with the lower base of stone and the upper portions of brick.  I wandered around (painfully so) in search of any rune stones.  Loke got a nice long drink from a bucket I filled from one of the spigots in the church yard.  Back at my trike, I munched on a second banana and some of my granola with some chocolate covered cashews mixed in. Mmmmm…

Loke and I relaxed there until he finally quite panting.

As I left, I knew the end of my little adventure was rushing upon me.  The pain was growing.  I was gritting my teeth and my knees began adding to the problem as I wasn’t sitting or pedaling properly.  The chafing wasn’t going to heal quick, so pitching a tent for a couple hours to continue on wasn’t going to help much.

I knew Biskopskulla wasn’t too far from from Nysätra, so I was determined to make it at least that far.

Biskopskulla Kyrka (Bishop's Hill Church)

Biskopskulla Kyrka (Bishop’s Hill Church)

Biskopskulla Kyrka was built in the 1100’s and early parts of the 1200’s in the roman style.  The tower was added sometime in the 1200’s.  Not much else is known from the early history of the church, though there is speculation that it was a private project.  There were no runestones on the grounds.  Oddly, most of the gravestones, weren’t that old.  I think I found only two that predated the 1900’s.  There were two very small weathered stones that might have been much older grave stones, but it was too hard to tell what they might have been.

I called Jens and told him I couldn’t go on.  It had only been a few hours and a lowly 16 miles.  He asked me to at least try out the tent as I waited for him to escape work.

My tent!

My tent!

It was fairly easy to set up.  Even better, it’s freestanding and light weight.  Even partially in the sun, it turns out that it doesn’t get that warm even with the fly on.  Granted, I had the door open, but even most tents that I’ve had door open or not, you roasted.

It would be an incredibly tight fit for 2 people though it is rated for two.  For me alone, it’s quite roomy.  It’s tall enough for me to sit up in, though just.  Granted, I’m a bit of runt standing at just 5′ 2″.  I even discovered two little mesh storage pockets near the entrance.  I’m very happy with it.  It was a fairly comfortable wait for Jens actually.

I was a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to make the full distance.  It would have been nice to have at least made it to the first of the three castles.  I accomplished a lot though.  I discovered that one of the things I was worried most about was turning out to be almost no issue at all.  It wasn’t my stamina that gave out, or my knees, or my legs.  The trailer was good.  The tent was great.

Hopefully my next attempt will fare better!