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The windy Country
Posted on 4/22/2010 11:00:00 PM

No internet yesterday, so posting Thursday's entry today.

Luebeck-Vordingborg, 166km

Made it to Denmark in one piece. Today's 'stage' came to 166km. I think the last time I rode more than a century was the 2008 Tour of Flanders for cycling terrorists (yes, some locals actually use this term - for the unruly behavor of some of the 17000 cyclists; they should just close the course off, period).

If Chicago is ther windy city, Denmark certainly is the windy country. The cross winds came more from the front today, which helped me in finishing my ambitious dinner at a nice restaurant in Vordingborg. It was called Casa Viva and it was true to its word, for it was almost the only place alive downtown. The only other things open were the bar next door and the ATM, for which I was grateful.

I can see some improvement in my cycling. After the DNF yesterday, I upgraded to an hors délai. You had to be in the youth hostel by six pm or else... you would have to use a complicated system of calling, getting a key for the lockbox and then finding your room. I got there shortly after seven, so that's the system I used.

I was really lucky that I ran into a guy at the youth hostel. He xplained to me where the lock boxes were, otherwise I would probably still be searching. He was very nice, but as he talked exclusively in Danish, I could only get the most important parts - my three-hour crash course is not yet showing for much conversation.

The lady on the phone also described the bike shed. Since I had a four-bed room to myself, I skipped the search and put the bicycle next to my bed. For some reason I sleep better that way.

I hope I haven't used up my luck, because I also can't complain about the weather. There was a time when the sky became almost black. I feared the worst and stopped on the backside of some abandoned factory under a shelter. Getting ready for a rain storm, I put the rain cover over the bags. The wind finally took its toll, so I put on a shirt underneath the jersey and the armwarmers. I opted for the headband as well - can't beat UT. Besides being nice and comfy, the orange color are clearly visible.

But when I left the shelter, I was surprised to see that the sky had gotten brighter again and the sun even came out again. A few kilometers later I noticed the road was wet. Maybe the stop to get ready for the rain delayed me long enough to miss the worst!

I reckon it's best to just recall the day chronologically.

Shortly after I set off, I came by the Schwartau factory, famous for its jams and jellies. I assume they were offered at breakfast in the youth hostel this morning, but I only had eyes for the gigantic glass bowl of Nutella.

I continued the 20km to Scharbeutz, where I was supposed to be yesterday already. At this point it was after nine am, so I figured the bike stores would be open. They would be if there were any, so another eight miles on my questionable setup. Finally found a repair store that sold tires - exactly the kind I wanted (Schwalbe Marathon Plus). I replaced front and back, packed all my stuff together and continued. That sentence was written quickly, but I am certainly not the world's fastest tire changer - let's just leave it at that.

Quite an amazing number of windmills around here. People say those things are loud. I can't say. I came through a wind farm - about 20 wind mills to my left and a dozen to my right. The wind itself was so loud that I simply couldn't tell if the mills made any noise as well.

Most of the day was spent (again) on crabby bike paths, with the most annoying the curbs that would be as high as half an inch. I don't know why planners think that it is a good idea to put in obstacles for cyclists on every intersection - maybe it is just a way to get roadies to learn how to bunny hop. I wasn't able to do it with my extra luggage on the back, so I had to slow down considerably quite a few times.

Occasionally there were roadways that I could just use, always a relief as it was going much faster and smoother. At one point I came across a semi-automatic rail road crossing. A guy was busy removing some red and white tape after the train had passed.

I rode across the Fehmarn Sund bridge, which connects the mainland to the island of Fehmarn. About a mile to get to the top, then down the other side. Another ten miles on a busy road, with the passing trucks blocking the wind - nice!

I came to Puttgarden, which is the place to take the ferry across to Denmark. It was confusing where to go - there were signs for cars, buses and trucks. So I kept right instead, towards the ferry building. Found a machine to buy a ticket for six euro. But it said the bicycle couldn't be walked into the ferry - I had to go to the regular car entry lanes. Couldn't they have just told me that at the beginning?

I tried to find a gap in the fence to get across, only to find a "bicycles prohibited" sign! I went to a booth that sold tickets and I was told that I didn't have the right ticket. Peds are six Euro, bicycles seven additional euro. At least the return trip is included, although I am planning to take a different ferry, so that won't help.

They guided me to lane number one (out of about 15), which was located to the very left. After five minutes, the lights for adjacent lanes turned to green, but not mine. A ferry worker waved me through anyway. I was told to go to the lower deck - with all the buses and trucks. The crazy part was that they were all lined up at the right! Poor planning in my opinion, but I was able to proceed before the cars were given the go-ahead.

Since I was the first one in, I stood in the front row, next to a tour bus. I took the two bags that had all my valuables and went upstairs. I then actually typed these lines, so I can't tell you much about the crossing. Water has the tendency to look the same everywhere anyway...

Leaving time was funny, as the door back to the deck was now broken. So we were guided around to a different door. I managed to get my bags on just in time before the gigantic ferry door opened and headed out - beating the bus and a couple of trucks, too.

There isn't much to tell about the Danish part of the travel, as it was flat and just large agricultural fields. It only became scenic at the very end, when I crossed the Storstrøm bridge. About as long as the Fehmarn Sund bridge, not as high but almost entirely over the water, with nice views on the bay.

The only noticable thing was the lack of cyclists. They must all be in Copenhagen. Throughout the day I saw:
- two sporty cyclists
- two women either commuting or otherwise using the bicycle for transportation
- an old guy with aero bars, fighting the headwindand
- one guy whom I couldn't pass easily, as the bike path was narrow and there was a 1/2 curb (going up towards the roadway!) Guess they really don't want bicyclists to interfere with motorized traffic. But that is where I passed, there was no other way.
- also a couple of people in wheel chairs.

Only in Vordingborg itself did I see three our four people on bicycles (one was pushing her expensive looking road bike, so I am not sure if that should be included???)

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