Basic toilet, HC Anderson birthplace and the train over the bridge to Sjælland and a trip to the hospital.
We woke up and found that the owners had left early and we still had the pressing problem of where and how to do our “bio break” as the Americans call it. With a bucket and some straw we managed to use the stables as an impromptu toilet block, and donated our proceedings to the farm’s dung heap.
Odense was only 15 or so miles away up and down some windy roads, before we hit the old main road directly into town which was mostly downhill and with a nice tailwind. In Odense we had a nice cuppa and what was ordered as a shortbread, but turned out to be a delicious sweet bun flavoured bun with cardomom, in the cafe Fyrtøjet next to the old town. The old part of Odense is now a heritage site mainly due to the author, H.C Andersen, whom you might have heard of.
We had a look around before we hunted down a bakery and it being a Saturday they were closing early. Danish pastries were bought by the metre and some ever-so-yummy bread. We had planned to take the train from Odense to Slagelse since you can’t ride your bike over the bridge. This is where the very bike-friendly Denmark presents something of a brick wall. Odense Station ticket office is upstairs in a mall where you’re not allowed to take your bicycle. All the platforms are accessible from the walkway below the tracks or the ticket office on the first floor. So, there is rather a lot of going up and down to get the tickets and then to the trains. The national rail line DSB rolling stock aren’t very friendly to heavy touring bikes, either. You have to go up three rather steep steps to get onto the trains. And there isn’t much help from the staff, either. In fact, poor Mr Wow even had the door closed on him as we were manhandling our bicycles onboard. Though, that said, when you arrived at the area of seating allocated to bike parking, people moved away immediately to give us room.
We also spotted the two fellas that we played “Hare and the Tortoise” with a few days earlier on the train.
Getting off the train in Slagelse was also a mission for us four. Luckily there was a friendly fella helping us off the train. Mr Wow and I looked at some bike p0rn while the ladies hunted down a place to spend a penny (or a øre). As we started to roll out of town it started to rain, but luckily we only had eight miles before we would arrive at the campsite for the night.
But, sadly, we’d only got three miles out of town when a colossal slice of bad luck hit our tour. As we came down a fast and winding road in the wet Mrs Wow lost control of her bike and came down fast and hard. Peli was around 20m ahead of me and I around 50m ahead of the Wowbaggers, when I heard a yelp and the tell tale sound of a person coming off a bicycle. I shrieked out to Peli to come quick and did a swift u-turn, racing towards the Wows with my heart in my mouth. As I was arriving I could see Mrs Wow was out cold and Mr Wow was already at her side, calling her name. As I jumped off my bike she came round, and we managed to move her away from her bicycle.
One good thing about cycling fully loaded is that the panniers provide an extra cushion, and stops you getting tangled up and too badly hurt by your bicycle.
Seconds later Peli arrived and took over the first aid, keeping Mrs Wow talking and making her as comfortable as possible, while me and Mr Wow cleaned the road up from bikes that we had dumped while rushing to her aid. I then called 112 and with the help of my GPS I managed to tell them where we were. This really taught me to keep your wits about you when cycling, and not just aimlessly follow whomever is in front. You need to be able to explain where you are if needed, so do keep an eye out for churches, factories, farms, rivers, bridges, masts etc. Anything that could help pinpoint you to the emergency services.
We, mostly Peli, got Mrs Wow in a comfortable position and kept her conscious while we waited for the ambulance. The paramedics arrived around ten minutes later and took great care of the patient. Another ten minutes later they were on the way to the hospital, and we were three riders and four bikes. It was still raining.
The hospital is only three and bit miles away and we covered that in rather fast time even though the rain was coming down rather hard at this point. After some asking around we found Mrs Wow in a ward looking rather dazed and confused, but very glad that we’d turned up. This was now around 17:30 on a Saturday evening and we were in for a loooong wait.
With the help of a local farmer we found a taxi service and stored Mrs Wow’s bike and panniers. After we arrived at the hospital I took a taxi out to the “scene of the crime” to pick up Mrs Wow’s bicycle. Small mercies: it’s great to know that taxis in Denmark take bicycles with a smile (and 10DKK cost) on a little rack.
We have nothing bad to say about the Danish medical system: they really took care of Mrs Wow, and most of the staff spoke perfect English. There was a lot of waiting around involved, but we were just unlucky that a neighbouring hospital had had a power cut and all emergencies were sent to ours. Around 21:30 the Wows were still awaiting the doctor, so Peli and I grabbed Mr Wow’s tent and hunted down a campsite we had found in the camping book.
Around 23:00 the doctor told the Wows that they’d keep Mrs Wow in for the night and Mr Wow found his tent pitched next to ours just after midnight. Suffice to say it’s rather hard to pitch an unfamiliar tent in the dark, in heavy rain. But, it’s good practice for when we have a Hilleberg! (Sorry, Mr Wow, that we pitched your tent “upside down” ;)
The next morning we could see the campsite where we’d spent an exhausted night: a small, neat lawn next to a farm which bordered on the church. We were welcome to use the toilet and shower there and learned that this church was the highest-placed church on Sæjlland. After breakfast Peli, Mr Wow and myself headed back to the hospital to find Mrs Wow spinning her yarn in the waiting room, looking delicate but much brighter than the previous evening. She had been checked upon every two hours during the night by kind and gentle nurses who shone lights into her eyes and checked her vital signs. This was impressive service, given that they were doing the job of two hospitals and we were told had a very busy night with road traffic accidents.
Then the wait set in, and we camped out in the visitors’ waiting room for the duration. We passed the time eating, blogging, photographing, chatting, tea-drinking, spinning: anything to while away the hours. We arrived at 11:00 and the doctor finally arrived around 19:30, just as we were tucking into an family (massive) sized pizza. Unfortunately, guests are not fed in a hospital. :(
Mrs Wow was discharged, but told to take it easy and rest her concussion and whiplash for at least three days. We managed to get her and her bike to the train station in Slagelse and then headed towards Copenhagen: that day’s destination. Of course, we didn’t arrive in the afternoon on bicycle as planned, but at around 23:00 rather tired by train, bikes and taxi.
We arrived at my mate Bam and had a quick well-deserved beer/cup of tea before we retired for the night.
The next day Mrs Wow was still in discomfort and had a rather sore neck. So, while we fed and washed ourselves we discussed possible scenarios for the rest of the holiday. In the late but still sunny afternoon Bam took Mr Wow, Peli and yours truly on a brilliant guided tour of central Copenhagen. We managed to see the parliament, old and new opera houses and the Queen’s resident among other things. Along with plenty of wonderful people on bicycles pootling through their daily lives as if cycling were the most natural thing on earth.
Mrs Wow held the fort just nicely as we arrived home to find her resting on the sofa. Dinner was cooked up – home-made pølser – and we had a good old chat during which plans were made for the rest of our stay. Gus would come and pick up Peli and me Bam’s so that he could say hello to the Wowbaggers and guide us out of town. The Wowbaggers would then take up Bam’s great hospitality and take an extra night in Copenhagen to recuperate, before they tackled the train journey to Middelfart. There, they’d stay in a nice hotel to rest and recuperate before meeting us again in Esbjerg to take the ferry home.