Two in a row

Today was our second rest day in a row. We couldn’t find another way to make the logistics work to see Skagen, have a Sunday rest day, and have a reasonable itinerary to make it back to Amsterdam in time for our flight. Our current plan is to ride about 520 miles over the next 6 days, taking a rest day next Sunday about 100 miles north of Amsterdam. That gives us two days the following week to ride 100 miles and then pack our bike at the airport on the end of the second day.

We hit the supermarket last night and bought food to cook, taking advantage of the fact we are staying in an Airbnb with a good kitchen. We made fried tofu and mixed it with Indian curry and some leftover stir fry vegetables from Friday night. When you’re hungry things taste good. That tasted extra good! Today we had granola for breakfast and fried some potatoes for dinner. Both nights we made delicious salads. Our wonky diets kind of get in the way of the full European experience at times, but we generally find ways to eat amazingly well and because we are eating out of grocery stores, the cost fits my tightwad ethos.

Random fact: the apple juice is really good in Denmark.

Besides eating well, we are both sleeping well. There is something about exhausting one’s body that kicks in good sleep vibes. It is so amazing not to have to wake up to an alarm clock, although we may need to set one tonight to get an early start for tomorrow. We plan to ride 85 miles to Struer, but the wind will determine if that is an easy or painful plan. Also, Natalie’s ankle continues to be a problem. We’ve been working on our coordinated cadence during shifting, wondering if somehow my pedaling during the abrupt cadence change of a downshift is causing the problem. There are tandem drivetrains which would allow one of us to stop pedaling while the other continues to work — such a system might help with the specific issue Natalie is having, so we’ll look into those after this trip.

This weekend is when the graduating high school seniors are celebrating. Big open trucks with siderails drive around full of partying seniors. There is an adult driver, like a bus driver at the wheel and music is blasting and he is honking the horn. The truck stops and seniors come running out of their homes and hop on the truck which drives away to the next lucky neighborhood. It appears the mobile party stops occasionally for food, becoming a stationary party for a bit, but no less rowdy. I’ll try to include a video snip in the album below. It is interesting to see the different traditions. They must think our Halloween hay rides are completely bonkers weird — and they’d be right. We’re just used to that form of weird.

We are currently sitting on a couch in our Airbnb listening to our stomachs rumble. We must have eaten something they are not used to…. 🙂 We are loving the oat milk here, and just had some ice cream made from oat milk which was absolutely magical. Find some. Hopefully oat milk will catch on in the US as it has here. It seems like a much more efficient way to create a milk substitute than almonds or cashews.

Our bike is running well. We have one squeaky brake pad that drives me bonkers. I even ride sometimes with the brake slightly compressed just to silence the squeak. That is saying something — I’m willing to pedal harder just to pedal in silence.

Komoot (our routing software) has done a pretty good job of finding a route for our tour. We love the software and it works well from my phone. It is extra helpful that our bike computer integrates with Komoot so I can plan a route on the side of the road and upload it into the bike computer — the whole process can take less than a minute. We usually ride with me watching the heads up display on the bike computer and Natalie has her or my phone speaking directions to us as a backup. We’ve yet to get lost, knock on wood.

Today we attended the Aalborg ward. It was quite large relative to other wards we’ve attended on these trips. The chapel was unique and beautiful and someone translated for us. While at church we met a nice man, Per, who was very familiar with the roads, as he is a trucker. He did a little research and found that the ferry from Brunsbuttel to Cuxhaven (in Germany) we had hoped to use isn’t operating. That adds about 50 miles to our itinerary but we are so grateful he figured this out before we spent an hour or two later this week at the waterfront trying to find our boat. He also offered to rescue us if needed. 🙂 One of the funnest parts of our adventures is meeting wonderful, colorful, kind people. It always makes me want to be more helpful to others, as I sense the positive impact helpful people have on us. Often small and simple act are very meaningful. Someone simply waving at us or giving a thumbs up gives us a happy boost.

Party on.

Google Photo Album: 3 new photos added to shared album

Skagen day trip (no bike)

On our first rest day (Saturday) we took a day trip out to Skagen and Grenen. The train station was just minutes by foot from our Airbnb so that was nice, and we stopped at a delicious bakery on the way! Even better! Skagen/Grenen is a really cool site, the most northern point in Denmark where the North and Baltic Seas meet. That meeting creates a big sand dune from the beach out to sea, and it also makes a series of waves crashing into each other in a line out to sea. The day was perfect weather except for a very strong wind, but we survived (it was a good place and time not to be on our bike.) We ended doing quite a bit of walking, from the little town out to the site, so we were glad for the good temperature. It is so nice to walk along the beach!

We are on the train now, back to Aalborg. We plan to stop at a grocery store to grab some things for dinner and then head back to the Airbnb. We have had several late nights and we need to get more sleep. We tend to be sleeping well but not enough on this trip, so we hope tonight will be different.

Good rest day!

Google Photo Album: Skagen rest day

Riding to Aalborg

We woke early-ish, ate oatmeal provided by our Airbnb host, and headed to the ferry. It was literally minutes away on our bike and through a funny old door in a huge wooden wall. Our host said it was like the wardrobe door in the Chronicles of Narnia, and it was! One side was old houses and natural landscapes (forest, wildflowers, etc.), and the other side was 12 lanes of pavement and cars headed for part of their 7:20 AM commute via a big ferry. There was only one other bike, a couple of motorcycles, many many cars, and at least one double decker bus! The ferry ride was about an hour, and we sat comfortably on the passenger deck, using the free wifi and eating our chocolate croissants we bought on board.

We were then in Aarhus, which seems like a cool, very old city (that we wish we had time to explore), but we pedaled on. The weather really was perfect, just a nice breeze, perfect temperatures, sunshine, blue sky. We rode a little over 75 miles today. Our legs are feeling stronger. Some of the ride was on busy roads with no shoulder ☹️ but the drivers were nicer and more careful then in Iceland. Those roads made us especially grateful for some particularly beautiful bike paths we also had today! Hurray for bike paths!!

Food was mostly grocery store stops, but we found some extra yummy stuff. The food in Denmark seems to be more expensive than what we found in Sweden, but it had been easy to find. Unlike Iceland we don’t have to plan too far in advance.

We are in an Airbnb in a city called Aalborg, and we got in late enough that we haven’t explored it much yet, only enough to buy a few groceries in passing. We did find the LDS meetinghouse where we’ll go Sunday. It looks like a cool city! We love the architecture. We are on the middle of downtown and can hear everyone enjoying the night life down below. We are in a nicely renovated top-floor flat in quite an old building. We had a few glitches getting into the building, but a few sets of residents were very kind and friendly and helped us out. Showers felt great as always. There is free laundry in the old basement! Much needed. We didn’t have detergent, but washing our clothes without saying will still make them much cleaner and more spun dry than a rinse in the sink. There is a place to hang dry in the basement too. We had a simple quick dinner of fresh strawberries, stir fry (frozen) veggies, rice, peanuts, and chocolate ?. We will finish hanging our laundry, put in our earplugs, and sleep well. Oh! Another plus: we can store the bike in the locked basement too.

Saturday and Sunday are off-bike days, and we have some good stuff planned! Then we will be peddling again on Monday morning. We also hope the rest will be good for my ankle. It is doing all right but could use some love and rest.

This is awesome!

Google Photo Album: Ride to Aalborg

Final day on Sjælland

We left our Airbnb and kind host in Værløse for a 55 miles ride to Sjællands Odde where we had booked an Airbnb near the sea. Based on our Monday night experience of finding it difficult to get a place to stay we booked this room a day early, not knowing if we would make it to the last ferry crossing in time to make it on the last boat to Aarhus. We were overly conservative and made it with 3 hours to spare. We could have easily made it across and made further progress, but it was a unique place to stay and Natalie’s ankle injury from last year has returned so we are trying to find ways to take it a bit easier. We resolved to stop early and start early the following day.

The ride was beautiful with two ferry crossings. We weren’t sure how these would go and almost took a less scenic route to the south, but are glad it didn’t. At the first ferry crossing the ferry was just pulling out when we arrived, and they came back and picked us up. That saved us about 30 minutes which allowed us to make it to our second crossing in time to catch that ferry which left about 20 minutes after we arrived. That saved us an hour. We were grateful for a simple act of kindness that saved us so much time.

Riding out of Copenhagen was normal big city busy with way too many stops for traffic lights. After about an hour we had cleared the city and spent most of our time riding in the country or through small towns.

Our Airbnb was a place called Ydreland (look them up on Instagram #ydreland.) The house was adjacent to the ocean so I (Pete) took the opportunity to jump in. It was a tad cold out, so I shivered until a warm shower rescued me. The host, Maj, was exceptionally fun. She is an artist who makes sculptures out of trash collected from the ocean and other sources. We had a nice dinner with her and a long conversation.

Google Photo Album: Final day on Sjælland

Celebrating Natalie’s birthday in Copenhagen

(with some commentary by Natalie)

We slept medium well in the campsite last night. It was better than wild camping as having a toilet and shower made a huge difference. We were definitely ready to stay in an Airbnb again.

We started riding a bit late and took our time. Our old bodies were feeling the effect of the previous 2 days. I think the sun beating down on us as we exert ourselves is probably draining us the most. Luckily today’s ride was short — 20 miles from where we camped (Niva) to Copenhagen. It was unseasonably warm today, apparently, about mid 80sF. As we rode along the road by the beach, we found a little ice cream stand with some kind of delicious berry sorbet! Just what we needed.

Natalie spotted an interesting looking healthy fast food place as we rode into the outskirts of Copenhagen. It was called KCAL Factory. She had an amazing salad and I had an avocado sandwich. I realize we were famished, hot, and tired — but I think it might have been the best meal we’ve had on one of these rides. Perfect, as today is Natalie’s birthday.

We checked into a cozy Airbnb which had a pool, so I took advantage of it. It felt so good to jump into the water. I hope we get to go swimming in the ocean while we are here. But mostly I hope we find some hot pools like we enjoyed in Iceland. My body needs a good long recovery soak.

We walked around Copenhagen in the afternoon. At first I was feeling quite drained, but eating an extra meal and getting more fluids in me helped me keep up with Natalie. (Have any of you tried walking with her?)

Copenhagen is a beautiful, interesting city, with colorful, lovely architecture — both old and modern. We loved the city’s greenspaces as well as pedestrian-only shopping areas. Nyhavn is an especially fun area too. We took a self-guided walking tour of some of the more scenic streets and sights. It was just right.

At the end of our tour of the city we found a small Thai restaurant in central Copenhagen that was amazing, called Wokshop. It was a proper way to celebrate Natalie’s birthday. We rode the train back to our Airbnb and spent the evening winding down. We’re feeling ready for tomorrow.

Google Photo Album: Day in Copenhagen

Last day in Sweden

We began a bit later, due to being up so late the night before. It was another day of beautiful weather, high forecast for 82F. We are getting used to riding in the sun all day, so sometimes by afternoon we feel pretty tired and we stop and find a shady place to have a snack and break.

The views today we’re not quite as pretty as yesterday, but still nice. Part of the reason was once again we bypassed some of the peninsulas to take a more direct route. This put about half of our ride on roads and the other half on bike paths. We rode a bit on single track, but it was all very nicely maintained.

As we began our big climb of the day, sweating and pedaling hard, we stopped and talked to a very nice person — riding home from a nearby town — who helped us avoid the remainder of the big hill as well as get off the road with it’s relatively busy traffic! She pointed us to a beautiful new paved cycle way that was not in our routing software. It appeared to have been maybe a rails to trails path, so the grade was much better for our heavy bike and tired bodies. We loved the bike path and appreciated her help so much! It was another case of perfect timing.

Food most of today was just roadside grocery store or small store stops, or stuff from our bicycle “trunk” trail food collection.

In Sweden we rode from Halmstad to Helsingborg, then crossed in the big ferry to Denmark (city of Helsingor). The crossing took about 20 minutes. It was cool to see how they pack in the big trucks right next to us on our bike and the cars. We went upstairs for a bit on the passenger deck and Pete bought a popsicle. It felt like the boat was moving really fast, which it was compared to our ride speed. Plus it was nice to gain some distance without having to do anything but pay. It was about $6 for us and our bike.

It was probably 6:30pm by the time we reached Denmark. Once across I really wanted to visit Kronborg Castle (associated with the story of Hamlet), since I teach high school English. It was closed but we rode all around and took photos. The moat was cool and it’s a beautiful castle, right on Baltic Sea very close to the ferry landing.

In Helsingor, we had a hard time finding somewhere to stay or eat. We had a few dead end ideas but finally found veggie pizza and salad. Getting food helped us think clearly as we searched for somewhere to sleep. We talked to a nice local person and got a recommendation for a free camping place, but when we checked it out the public toilet there wasn’t working and it was a bit rowdy for our taste, so we rode a few more miles to a pay campsite and stayed there. It is simple, quiet, clean, and cute. We were able to use the pay showers which felt wonderful after a hot grimy day.

Many people here set up elaborate tent homes connected to their camper trailers. It is hard to describe how fancy these are. They have fences, tables, and even potted flowers and plants. One person even had a weed whacker leaning against their “home” because who knows when you’ll have the urge to do a bit of yardwork on vacation?

We rode about 65 miles. By the time we got to the camping where we stayed, it was almost 10 pm and the host was closing up. Glad we made it in time.

So far Denmark seems more expensive than Sweden, but may just be area we’re in.

On to Copenhagen next! Thanks Sweden!

Google Photo Album: Last day in Sweden

Getting worked

I am completely worked. We rode 90 miles with only about 2000 vertical feet. I had thought we could do more, but I realized as we suffered through our last 20 miles that we have been sedentary for a week, not counting Sunday, and this is our longest ride this year and the first one with over a hundred pounds of gear strapped to our bike. That combined with 100 pounds of bike makes for a lot of mass to get up to speed.

Besides crashing into our Airbnb in Laxvik with full body shakes, here is how the rest of the day went. We rolled out from Kungsbacka around 9:00 a.m. and headed south down the western cost of Sweden. We stayed mostly on a bike trail labeled Kattegottleden 1. We chose to bypass several sections where the trail went out on peninsulas. We would have loved to have ridden there, but we felt like we needed to make up time. In hindsight, that might have been a bad idea. We have written in some amazingly beautiful places in this world. I think today’s ride was the most beautiful and scenic we have been on anywhere. There was one section we rode through that we were just absorbing it and didn’t even think to take pictures. If you are looking for an amazing bike ride, come to Sweden and ride Kattegottleden 1. You will not be disappointed. I wish we had given ourselves 2 or 3 days for this part of the ride.We arranged an Airbnb late in the day. There have been plenty of options. If the whole ride is like this we will regret bringing our tent and sleeping bags. So far the costs have been very affordable — approaching the cost of a campsite fee. The one we are in now is delightful, 200 meters from the ocean (which we can see out the window) and costs about $50. The hosts are exceptional as well. We are very satisfied. We may find it hard to leave in the morning. For food we stopped along the way eating at a roadside fast food place (veggie burger, falafel, and lots of fries), ate at a supermarket (can of peaches, Gatorade, and grape juice) and finished off by going shopping prior to heading to our Airbnb. Tonight we had rice with frozen stirfry vegetables. It was perfect for me, as I was in poor condition to eat. After walking to the beach we finished the day with chocolate pudding (vegan) and hot chocolate made with chocolate oat milk. I realize things taste extra good after a day like today, but that stuff is awesome. The brand is Oatly, and I think it is available in the US. We hardly had the energy to blog, but we love recording our memories in an effort to preserve them. Google Photo Album: Ride to Laxvik

Taking a break from our break

We’ve been going stir crazy waiting for our bike. It feels so great to finally have it again. Typically on these long trips Sunday is a full-on rest day. Today we needed the opposite. We walked to a small church near where we are staying and enjoyed worshipping with those who live here. Even though we didn’t understand everything said, enough of the service was familiar to us to be meaningful.

After church we headed back to our Airbnb and made a large lunch, which we topped off with a bag of microwave popcorn. Then we decided to stretch our legs on our bike and ride to the ocean. We rode about 30 miles, mostly on paved trails and asphalt, but true to form, ended up on some dirt roads and single track. It is an amazing experience to be riding down unknown trails far from home and just hoping the GPS isn’t playing games. I’m not sure what algorithm our routing software (komoot) uses when choosing a path, but with few exceptions it has almost always worked well for us. Today’s little ride was exceptionally beautiful — or maybe it was just that it felt so good to finally be riding. We found one especially amazing remote beach at the end of a dirt path.

Now we are winding down and packing for tomorrow. We are anxious to get some miles toward Copenhagen. Natalie’s birthday is Wednesday and we hope to spend at least part of the day there. We haven’t yet figured out where we will stop tomorrow, so we don’t have accommodations arranged for the evening. So far there seem to be plenty of options, so wild camping may not be required.

Google Photo Album: Sunday

Reunited…

… And yes it feels so much better than being separated from our orange bike!

Natalie writing tonight…

This morning we had a sure enough sounding message from the airport (that our bike had been on the midnight flight) that we got up early, dressed in our bike clothes, and Uberred to the airport, ready to put the bike together and get in as many miles as we could. But … it wasn’t there. Long story short, we waited a while, communicated with all kinds of airport/airline personnel in a few different countries, waited to see if it got on the next flight, and finally left the airport bikeless, pretty bummed but knowing we had to get out of there and try to still enjoy Sweden.

We public transportation-ed to a town called Kungsbacka, a bit south of Gothenburg, just for a change of scenery and a small but tidy Airbnb with a kitchen. We walked in town a bit, got food, and tried to figure out what we could do to enjoy our time but still be available if the airline called. We couldn’t go off wandering too far since we only had feet and buses for transportation now. Just when we had given up on it arriving tonight, Pete got a text in Swedish that mentioned 25 minutes! Thanks Google translate for helping us text back that yes we would be available for our missing luggage to be dropped off!! The guy doesn’t know he almost got a hug from me, but we were so happy to see those two boxes — and they were in remarkably good condition! We spent the next couple of hours putting it together happily. Such. A. Relief. Thank you, bike guardian angels! Thank you anyone in the airlines who helped it happen in the end (finally).

Google Photo Album: Putting the bike together

“yeah, I know them.”

Today we are back at the airport. The online status for our bike indicated it arrived last night, so with reckless abandon we took an Uber to the airport. To get back into the baggage area there is a protocol where someone from the handling company has to come get you, as you are bypassing security by going through customs in reverse. Today as we came through, following another passenger, he helpfully pointed out that we were tailgating (totally appropriate from a security point of view). The worker escorting us simply replied “yeah, I know them.” So on the positive side, we are on first name basis with the staff here….

Our bike must be having fun in Paris, as it wasn’t on its expected flight. Now we are waiting for an update for the next chance for it to get on a flight. If it looks like we will not make it out of here before Sunday, we will find an Airbnb near a church and take a day of rest. It is a good thing we hadn’t made reservations as with previous trips. If we start riding on Monday we will be starting our 3 week bike trip behind by half a week. We will probably need to adjust our route in order to make it to Amsterdam in time for our flight home. This year we won’t be riding 1000 miles.

It is a bit frustrating and discouraging, but it is important to maintain perspective. Given the real problems in our world, our little mishap doesn’t even register. The staff here has been helpful and courteous. The people we have spoken with on the phone and via Twitter have also been professional. We are grateful for the people, just not grateful for the situation. Maybe for our next trip we will only consider direct flights.

It will all work out.

Exploring the abandoned city

The first half of the day was spent at the airport trying to encourage the airlines to look for our bike boxes. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive, but finding it didn’t seem to be high on anyone’s list. The common answer felt like “call us tomorrow and we’ll see if it turns up.” Eventually a Delta agent I contacted through Twitter responded that the bike boxes were slated to be here by 5. While that didn’t happen, at least it was more specific. Air France is now saying they will arrive at midnight.

We realized that being at the airport wasn’t producing any results, so we took a bus into Gothenburg. We checked into a hotel here and then walked around the city. The place feels abandoned. Today is a Swedish holiday called Midsummer. It is amazing how much of the city is closed. However, we still enjoyed walking in the beautiful green parks and seeing the city center and port area. And we found raspberry sorbet!

Tonight we ate dinner (found a yummy Indian food place open) and did some minimal food shopping. We hope to be on our bike and riding south tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it really arrives on the midnight flight. We are both fighting to stay awake hoping that we’ll have a more normal night’s sleep. This is a different start than we had planned, of course, but we’re enjoying being on vacation together in an interesting, pretty, new-to-us part of the world!

Google Photo Album: Day in Gothenburg

First hiccup

We arrived in Gothenburg yesterday on schedule, but our bike and checked panniers didn’t. Natalie thinks our bike wanted to party in Paris and missed the flight on purpose. Hard to fault the bike for having the celebratory spirit when in France. Now we are spending quality time on the phone with Delta and Air France trying to find it….

We were able to find a cozy Airbnb close to the airport. Uber filled the transportation gap left by our wayward bike. On previous trips our first day has always involved a long ride, which may have made it easier to sleep on the first night during those trips. Neither Natalie nor I slept very well last night due to jet lag. The Airbnb was very comfortable, and our hosts were delightful, friendly, and helpful.

Today’s plan is a bit up in the air. We are at the airport now but waiting here isn’t going to speed the arrival of our bike, so we may find a place to store our luggage and head into Gothenburg and attempt the normal tourists approach to a vacation.

We hope we can be riding by tomorrow.

Update later in the day: The airport notified us they have located or bike boxes and they should arrive tonight!

Google Photo Album: Airbnb near Gothenburg

It’s go time

We spent the last couple of days packing our bags and bike. It is an interesting experience to try to jam 3 weeks worth of stuff into two small panniers. I’m always surprised when everything seems to fit.

Taking the bike apart and fitting it into two bike boxes is a real-life 3D Tetris experience. This year we are using two boxes I retrieved by dumpster diving near a local bike shop. One is a bit small and we were barely able to fit the front half of our bike in it. The bike has to be broken down into a multitude of smaller pieces to fit in the box. In previous years we’ve nearly lost some of these pieces when the boxes failed during their ride on the airplane with us. So this year I attempted a different strategy. I rigged nylon straps that hopefully will hold the box together. We will see how that turns out….

Checking in at the airport in Salt Lake was a little bit more work this time. The people who were security checking the bike boxes decided they needed to take every single thing out. The bike pretty much only fit if everything was packed in the right order, and as they attempted to put things back in they didn’t quite discover the right order. By the time they repacked one of the boxes it was bulging heavily on the sides. When they got ready to put the straps back on they finally caved and let me help.

Right now I am writing this sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Neither of us slept very well in the plane, but now we’re trying to stay awake. In about an hour we board our plane to Gothenburg Sweden. We land around 5:00 p.m., so we just made reservations at an Airbnb close to the airport. Our goal will be to land, put our bike together, and ride to our Airbnb before we fall asleep…. Also, while sitting in the airport, I started planning the first leg of our route along the coast of southwestern Sweden. Some might argue I am a bit late planning details such as this. They would probably win that argument.

We are so excited to start riding. If we can just stay awake.

Getting ready for our next ride

Some people commented that our Iceland blog ended abruptly. Sorry about that. It was an amazing experience and we love looking back at the photos and remembering the beauty of the country. We are so glad we did it.

We returned home, moved into a different home, and got busy with life. Our new home is minutes from the Jordan River Parkway trail and we love being able to ride so easily.

This year’s trip will take us back to Europe. We fly into Gothenburg Sweden and will make our way to Amsterdam over the next 3 weeks. We haven’t fully determined our route — we’ll make it up as we go, giving us maximum flexibility. We plan on riding about 1000 miles and mixing up tent camping with Airbnb for accommodations along the way. Unlike 2 years ago, we don’t have a single reservation — only a plane ticket there and a plane ticket home.

We are a lot more confident (overconfident?) about our ability to figure out the logistics as we go. We will have access to more resources than we had in Iceland, so we won’t be dragging a trailer with food and water. We will fit our sleeping bags in our panniers (cutting down on our already limited space) and attach our tent below our bike to keep the center of gravity low.

We can’t wait to hit the road again.