Family Touring in Denmark 1995

July 10 - 27 1995
PARTICIPANTS AGE EQUIPMENT Trine 4 Burley d'Lite (trailer) Mari 12 Trek 830 (MTB) Lars 14 Nakamura Hurricane (MTB) Svein 35 Giant Expedition (Touring) Gro 36 Merida Orient (City/MTB)

Some cyclists I know have strong objections to cars. In my experience, however, a car isn't always a bad thing. For a family of 5, it provides economical transportation to wherever you'd like to start your biking vacation, and a Thule bike rack makes it possible to bring 4 bicycles with you on the roof of the car. In addition to that, I've built a special rack from an old ski rack for bicycle trailers, placed behind the bike rack. (Station wagon necessary for this solution)

After a successful biking holiday in the northern parts of the Danish mainland Jutland in 1993, we wanted to see Djursland and Sealand in 1995. The starting point was Hobro by the Mariager Fjord. This was as far south as we got in '93.

We parked the car in a relatively safe place near the house of relatives in Hobro. The plan was to stay in youth hostels, but we had a large tent as a backup since we wanted to be free and not book ahead for more than one night at the time. We had one Burley d'Light trailer for Trine and her personal luggage, and relatively large panniers on all 4 bicycles. Lars and I also had front wheel panniers. We found out that we needed another luggage trailer, and bought a relatively cheap box-style trailer for about 650 DEK (100 USD) in Aalborg.

Day 1: Hobro-Gjerrild youth hostel (95 km)
In spite of the fact that we had relatively heavy luggage we decided to go this far on the first day. From earlier experience, I'd say that a daily distance of 40 to 60 km is sufficient for family cycling. Anyway, we had already booked a room at the Gjerrild YH and started off optimistically early in the morning. At this point Lars pulled the Burley and I the heavier luggage trailer. We wanted to go as much as possible on the Danish national bicycle road system, and preferred security above speed. However, we had to use main roads without cycle lanes for 20-30 km on the first day. After this, we were able to stay on quiet country roads or cycle paths for nearly all of the tour.

Due to a high pollen level Lars had an allergy problem (inherited from his father) and had to give up pulling the Burley after some 45 km. I discovered that the Burley could easily be attached to the luggage trailer, so for parts of the rest of the vacation I pulled 2 trailers at the same time. Of course this was a bit heavier, but with a 12 year-old setting the speed the problems was not really overwhelming. I wouldn't have climbed any Norwegian mountain roads this way, though. Later on, when we came to my brother's in Copenhagen we even refined the patent, fitting a bent aluminium tube to the luggage trailer thus enabling an even easier attachment of the Burley. This way Lars pulled his sister whenever he wanted to, and when he got tired we switched over in less than 30 seconds.

It was late afternoon when we finally arrived at the Gjerrild YH, the youth hostel itself situated near a picturesque forest. The host, by the way, is an experienced long distance cyclist. In the dining room there was a huge map describing his 25-day trip to the North Cape and back through Sweden.

Day 2: Gjerrild-Frederikssund (20 km + ferry crossing)
On my previous trips, crossing over from Grenå to Hundested had never been a problem with a bicycle, even in peak season. The staff at the YH, however, informed us that the old large ferries had been replaced by low capacity, high-speed boats. When I called the ferry company they could not guarantee tickets for the next day, but we were encouraged to show up for the 12.30 departure and have a try. So we did, and got our tickets all right, the problem was that the ferry was more than 3 hours delayed because of heavy fog. If we had known of this earlier, we would have visited the Kattegat-senter near the ferry terminal. It is an aquarium centre showing sea life in the Kattegat area, the main attraction being the glass tunnel through a large shark pool. I was there alone in 1993, and I can recommend it as an interesting experience both to adults and children. Naturally, the waiting on the quay became a little boring for all of us.

It was pretty late when we arrived at Hundested, and as we were terribly hungry we decided to have dinner in a cafeteria instead of preparing something on the roadside. We ordered some Danish bøfs (huge meatballs) and found an outdoor table. (The cafeteria itself was very smoky. In Denmark, restaurants are still not required by law to provide non-smoking indoor areas, but pursuing this line of thought could easily lead to a completely different discussion.) The food was excellent, and the little drops of rain were sufficiently stopped by the parasol.

We had initially planned to get a little closer to Copenhagen this day, but because of the ferry delay we decided to try to get a room in Frederikssund, just 10 km from Hundested. I made a call from the cafeteria, and fortunately they still had a vacant room. The town itself was quiet and nice, maybe a little too quiet for anyone looking for discos and night clubs. We, however, were quite happy for the company of fellow travellers, a hot shower and nice beds.

Day 3: Frederikssund-Copenhagen (60 km).
We had our only flat tire on the entire tour this morning, on Lars' bike about 5 km after we'd started. When fixing the flat I discovered that a spoke was broken, and I decided to change it before any damage was done to the wheel. Adjusting the wheel took some time, and during a period of 45 minutes at least 3 Danes stopped their cars to ask if we needed any help. No wonder why we keep coming back to Denmark!

Bicycle paths in this part of the country are generally of the highest quality and EXTREMELY well marked, and contrary to Oslo and Gothenburg, Copenhagen is a very comfortable city for cyclists as far as finding your way is concerned. However, we managed to get lost once between Frederiksværk and the city, more due to lack of attention than insufficient road signs.

Once during the day we were surprised by heavy wind and rain. We found shelter near a small bakery, bought some fresh, hot bread and sweet cakes, made some coffee and had a really nice break on the steps of a closed shop.

We arrived at my brother's around 18:00 and stayed in Copenhagen for 4 days. The bicycles were used for short rides in the Valby neighbourhood, but apart from that we just relaxed.

Day 8: Copenhagen - Holbæk (45 km)
In Copenhagen there is a long, narrow system of parks stretching from Valby to Nørrebro. There are separate paths for bicycles and pedestrians - so everybody can use the park without disturbing others. We rode several km through this system of parks on arriving in Copenhagen, and it made it easy to find our way to the Roskildevej when leaving.

The road from Copenhagen to Roskilde is one 25 km long flat stretch with no bends. It was terribly hot in the sun, so we had several drinking and banana stops.

Roskilde is a very busy town during the annual Roskilde Festival, a rock event that attracts music-loving people from all over Northern Europe. When we were there, however, ordinary tourists and residents filled the streets. After Roskilde the scenery changed a little - there were more bends and hills as we approached the nice little town of Holbæk. A very helpful young man on a bicycle helped us find the Youth Hostel down by the harbour. It was newly rebuilt, and had a very nice atmosphere.

Day 9: Holbæk - Kalundborg (40 km ??)
The weather got hotter and hotter, on the morning when we left town the thermometer showed 30 degrees C. This meant even more frequent stops than the day before. The landscape here was very idyllic, far more varying than I could remember from a car ride a few years ago. Then again this is what I often experience; seeing a country from a car gives you a very 2-dimensional view. After all, when you have to use your own muscles to climb the hills, pulling 2 bicycle trailers under a merciless sun, even Denmark becomes 3-dimensional with mountains and valleys.

After a long, hot day we finally conquered the town of Kalundborg, where we had planned to stay one night. When we came into the newly built YH we immediately decided to stay two nights. This would mean that we would have to hurry a bit the following days in order to reach the ferry back from Frederikshavn to Gothenburg. The YH was the most impressing one we had seen so far, with a very nice staff, good food, spacious guest kitchen and even an outdoor chess board!

The town itself was certainly worth a visit, too. The old town is still pretty intact. Many Danish town have been renewed in this century, in a period when nobody paid too much attention to the old architecture. Luckily for Kalundborg the Old Town is situated a little awkwardly in relation to the harbour, so the modern town was built without destroying too much of the old one.

We were fortunate enough to visit the town when they had a big celebration of some kind. One of the nights there was, among other events, a huge party and rock concert on the old town square. Hundreds (thousands..??) of people - young and old - danced, sang along and had a very good time. While the show on stage was good entertainment in itself, all the little shows among the audience was an even funnier thing to watch.

Day 11: Kalundborg - Århus - Hobro (105 km)
The ferry crossing from Kalundborg was very special. On our Grenå - Hundested crossing we didn't see a thing because of the fog, but this day the sky was blue. Entering the Århus bay was a beautiful view - the hills of Mols to the starboard and the Jutland mainland to the port.

The Århus YH is situated a little north of the town, and looks very nice. However, when they insisted on charging 7% extra for the room when paying with our VISA card, we decided to skip the YH and head directly back to Hobro. (I checked with VISA when I got home, and they confirmed that at this time the extra charge was illegal in Denmark. The law might be changed, though, in that case it will be more expensive to use credit cards in Denmark.)

We had a short stop at the Århus MacDonald's and rearranged the luggage a bit. Lars pulled the Burley and Gro the luggage trailer, while I headed for Hobro alone in order to get the car and return for the others. The bicycling tour ended midway between Randers and Hobro at 22:00 when I met the rest of the family again. We spent a couple of more days in Denmark, however, before returning via Sweden back to Hønefoss.

Everyone was quite satisfied with the tour. It is a bit sad, though, to realise that it might be our last tour of this kind together for a few years. Next year Trine will be too big to be able to sit in the Burley, and too little to cycle herself.

Luckily, we have great touring areas locally around our hometown - maybe I'll be back with reports from there in a few months.

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