More wind, single track offroading, history, visit to Germany, two utterly brilliant campsites and even a song from Peli.
As normal my folks’ B&B trumped any other. We left with full stomachs following a lovely breakfast on the terrace. With a light lunch packed we headed toward the harbour. Our first destination that day was Als, the 11th island on our tour of Denmark.
Again I had looked wrongly on the price list on the ferry crossing website and we got a great surprise and our tickets at less than we had budgeted. 55min later we arrived on Als where we spotted at least 20 cycle tourers getting ready to board the ferry over to Fyn. What a fantastic sight!
Als was a brilliant ride, we had 38 miles to go: much shorter than the previous days but it took longer because we really enjoyed ourselves and took our time. The ride into Sønderborg was just stunning as we followed the Gendarm stien. This path follows the water through forests and the border between Denmark and Germany.
Peli even had a little paddle in the ever so clear and not so cold water before we arrived in Sønderborg. In this delightful town we hunted down a supermarket where we did our shopping for a few more days and had a fabulous picnic right outside since we were hungry and it would be too much of a hassle to pack up and unpack later.
Then we cycled over the bridge to Jylland up the hill to Dybbøl Mølle, a very historical place in Danish history.
After giving Peli a little lesson in history and why this place is so important we headed down onto Gendarm stien again. And had a great fun single tracking with our fully loaded touring bikes. I think we finally found some boots for Pelis bicycle that she liked and the stress from work and the off we had a few days before had lifted. I heard Peli singing something like this (Milly is the name of her bike):
Milly-chops, Milly-chops, riding on the rocks
Milly-chops, Milly-chops, better not fall off!
…to whatever tune in her head she had going with a massive smile on her face. Better take this pretty girl out on more tours, hadn’t I? :)
I suddenly got the feeling that the evening’s campsite wouldn’t have running water and the dinner we had planned required lots of water. So, I had a look in the camping book “i det fri” and found a new place a mile or two closer. The openstreetmap I had on the GPS didn’t have the correct road marked, so it did send us on a wild goose chase. But, a quick phone call later and we were right on track and found a little hidden gem nestled in a valley.
What a wonderful campsite: a little lake, with tables, gas cooker and very clean toilet and shower block. Best off all, there was not a mozzie in sight, even though a place like this would usually have them storming in the millions towards an unsuspecting cycle tourer. The owner spotted RoadKill, my little mascot who sits trustingly on the front of my pannier rack, and I told her that I had found him lying on a road in London and picked him up. She then overheard me speaking English to Peli and said, with a twinkle in her eye, “I see that’s not the only thing you picked up in London”. :)
We cooked up some pasta and garlic mushrooms, and really enjoyed a relaxing evening after a great day’s cycling. Days like these make up for the days with wall-to-wall rain.
The next morning we changed the planned route since we were alone and I really wanted to show Peli Tønder. So, we again followed the Gendarm stien to the border between Denmark and Germany. The border is just a little bridge on Gendarm Stien with a little flag on each side and a marking right on the middle of it.
Now the new boots we had bought for our touring bicycles, were bought with “fit and forget” in mind, big time. Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour, should be the most anti p*nct*re and and robust tyres for cycle touring that you can get.
But Peli just about managed to get around five, yes five metres into Germany – where the tyres originated – before they gave up the ghost. Wheel off, tyre off and with closer inspection there was a small thorn that had gone right through. Not one of the big whoppers you find in some countries, just about a normal-sized one. At this point we had managed around 350 miles of Danish lanes with their fair share of glass and flints in both dry and wet weather.
But a tiny German thorn was more that the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour could handle. Oh, the irony!
So, we legged it out of Germany over the old border crossing where I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car in a queue many a time waiting for our passports to be checked. Now, nothing remains of the old checkpoint other than a big empty space where it once all stood.
The next 15 miles or so to Tønder were rather boring. The closer we got the flatter it got and the wind took its toll. If we had the time, there are plenty of country lanes and things to see down here. One day we have to follow the whole of Gendarm stien along the border, as it is rather pretty there. In Tønder we loaded up on calories and ordered some ice cream, four scoops, guf, soft ice and a flødebolle on mine, yes I know it is my weak spot, but is sooooo yummy and I’m a cyclist. :)
Trust me to pick a route where the wind should be by default at our backs, only to have it right into our faces. Again the route was rather knackering, flat on a busy road with no cycle lane which is pretty unheard of in Denmark.
The campsite for the night would according to the camping book be a small organic farm. It sounded like a nice little place, but nowhere near as good it turned out to be. We had a little kitchen, shower and toilet all to ourselves, and plenty of space to pitch up on. The proprietor was very nice and told us just to help ourselves from the fridge. I hunted and found a cold Danish beer, which was well-needed after 57 hard (flat, but right into the wind) miles. We were also entertained by three cats who were rather interested in our cooking stove and bicycles. Not a good idea to mix a white cat and dirty touring bike: one of them ended up with a comedy oil streak across its little nose.
Our last day and 28 miles to Esbjerg and we at last had a tail wind. \o/ On the way to Ribe we were told to us the cycle lane, which we hadn’t spotted, by a lady who stopped her car at the side of the road. The Danes will point out stuff like that since if there is a cycle lane you have to use it.
Ribe is a 1300 year old town that is ever so nice. The plan was to find a bakery to get our breakfast since we were out of oats. And we needed our last fix of yummy Danish bread and winerbrød. We followed our noses at first but lost track when a very scented lady walked past and us past a ice cream place with its smell of waffels and guf. Then a second sense took over, sight, as we spotted a stream of other cyclists with bread bags in their baskets coming towards us.
Ribe and Tønder are in the lowest laying areas of Denmark and have over the years been flooded. Back in the day you could sail up to both market towns through the marshes. Now there is a big dyke holding out vesterhavet and the marshes are farmland.
This made the last bit of cycling simple and easy since it was flatter that flat and did I mention the tailwind?
We arrived in Esbjerg around 20 min after the Wowbaggers did on their train. We also spotted another couple who had disembarked the ferry with us some 11 days ago. They had headed via Frederikshavn to Sweden and did some touring there.
I was proved wrong: Esbjerg is a rather nice town and didn’t just only smell of fish as I have been told in my childhood. Though on a Sunday lunchtime it is not the place to go hunting for ice cream. So we had to settle with McDo ice cream, not the best, but filled a hole. We also did some food shopping for a picnic on the ferry back to the UK.
While killing time we spotted a couple on a tandem who were on their last leg of their 10.000 miles ride. Well by the time they get home they would have done nearly 11.000. They were doing it in aid of Shelterbox.org, which they also had on their trailer.
We boarded the ferry and had our picnic on the outer deck, while trying to take Vicky’s mind away from being sick. We had some success and she had time to sit all wrapped up in her duvet on the deck keeping an eye on the horizon before the rain arrived.
Arriving in the rainy UK was a “nice” welcome back from the last few days where we have enjoyed 25c+ and wall to wall sunshine. We got on our train towards London and said goodbye to our travel companions.
We had a great time and really enjoyed touring with you, even though it was a bit short, so where to next?