Welcome to the Copenhagen tour 1996!

1203 Km in Norway, Sweden and Denmark


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Lightweight touring means a racing bike, a minimum of luggage and staying in youth hostels

Lightweight Touring Around the Kattegat


Background:

The Copenhagen tour of 1996 was the 5th in a row. The first two tours only included some 300 km in Jutland (Jylland) and Sealand (Sjælland), while the 1994 and 1995 tour went via the Swedish West Coast (700+ km).

In 1996 the tour was to be a combination of the previous tours, plus the island Funen (Fyn).

Contrary to previous tours, the idea this year was to carry as little as possible, no tent, no sleeping bag and no cooking gear. Therefore, instead of my Giant touring bike, I took the racing bike, a DBS La Migliore.

This is a clickable map. Point and shoot to go directly to the part of the tour that you would like to read about.

Crossing over the OsloFjord from Storsand to Drøbak

Day 1: Hønefoss - Moss 122 km

(see statistics for details)
Route description: E16 from Hønefoss to Sandvika and the coast road from there to Storsand. Ferry crossing to Drøbak (cost: 15 NOK) and via small roads up to the main road E6 at Vestby. There is a parallell cycle path for a few km, then you have to enter the E6 to Hølen, turn right towards Kambo and follow the old E6 all the way to Moss. The YH is situated outside town right along the road.

The climb across the Sollihøgda is always a tough one, especially so this time because I started directly after work. The first and second day on a long trip is usually the most painful, so I was very careful from the beginning not to start too optimistically. From Hønefoss to Sandvika there is a bicycle path for much of the way, which is nice enough for the climbs. It is unusable in the descents, though - too bumpy and curvy. I usually stay out of the bicycle roads downhill in Norway anyway, since they are usually combined bicycle/pedestrian paths here. Hitting a person in 60 km/h does not sound very tempting to me - I'm sure the pedestrians feel the same way about it.

I filled my bottles and bought a couple of bananas in Sandvika, and started on the coast road via Slemmestad, Nærsnes and Åros to the ferry at Storsand. The scenery is very nice on the Hurum peninsula, with its characteristic red rock and green hills. The road is a bit more hilly than it migtht seem on the map - normally you would expect it to be more comfortable since it stays very near to the seaside most of the way. There are quite a few steep hills, none of them too long, though.

The ferry across the Oslofjord was very nice in the evening sun. The climb on the Drøbak side of the fjord was quite a challenge, too - I was looking forward to some more comfortable landscape as I sweated my way towards the E6. Little did I know then about the wind and weather ahead - which was a good thing.



A dangerous and unusual view - a boat in the road!


Svinesund bridge between Norway and Sweden



Day 2: Moss - Lysekil 187,54 km

Route description:Rt. 118 to Sarpsborg, then 127 nearly all the way to the Swedish border. The last couple of km on the E6 to Svinesund.
In Sweden, E6 to a big traffic light in the middle of nowhere - turn right to Strömstad and stay on the Rt. 176 for about 15 km down to E6 again. E6 all the way down to Häby, then route 162 to Lysekil (30 km).

As there was no breakfast at the YH, and a nearby bakery did not open until 8.00, it was after 8.30 when I hit the road. The weather was extremely cold for the season, I had to use an extra jacket and long trousers to keep warm.

The most dramatic thing that happened this day was when a 16 ft boat suddenly came towards me in the road - it fell off the trailer due to a thoughtless driver who had not bothered to secure it properly. I was pretty mad, naturally, as this kind of stupor may kill an innocent cyclist or pedestrian - although my life in this case was not directly threatened. The driver got some help from passers-by and lifted the boat back on the trailer. He then headed for the car - ready to drive on - againg without securing the boat. I yelled at him and asked what he thought he was doing, and got a curse in return that this was none of my business. I thought it was, though, and decided to pick up the cell phone and report the madman to the police as he left heading north. What happened next I do not know, hopefully the boat found its way to the sea without futher accidents.

I crossed the border at Svinesund, a border point a little less modest than the one I crossed last year. The E6 is always a bit boring to cycle on, although in Sweden the road shoulder is much broader than in Norway, which makes it a whole lot safer. The main road is usually shorter, which made it the natural choice for much of the day. When the rain started around 15:00 there was not really very much to enjoy along the coast road, so I stuck to the E6 and pedalled as hard as I could in the cold rain and head wind. I made a brief detour to Strömstad before the bad weather started, though, which was very nice. The weather got worse and worse in the afternoon, and I was soaking wet for at least 4 hours. I got a cold from this which lasted for weeks. I decided to get off the E6 to cycle a bit safer, and called the Lysekil Strand hotel and booked a room. The last 30 km on Route 162 was a bit more biking-friendly, the disadvantage was that the wind increased even more as I approached the sea. I never exeeded 15 km/h and the 30 km took me nearly 3 hours. In addition to wind and rain I also had a problem with my new crank, which started to slide to the right out of the crank house. After a while it was impossible to use the high speed series, and as I had no tools I had to knock on the door of a private house to ask for help. A very nice, helpful lady luckily had the right tool for a temporary repair good enough for the remaining 10 km.



Cycling in Lysekil town


Lysekil - view from the ferry


Tjörn Bridge - the Golden Gate of Stenungsund


Kungälv - the Bohus fort with the YH nearby

Day 3: Lysekil - Varberg 206,62 km

Route description: Local private passenger-only ferry over to Fiskebäckskil, (cost: 25 SEK) north-east to the next island and next ferry over to the island Flatön (cost: 3 SEK), across the island to the next ferry (cost: zero). Main road from Ellös to Varekil, Rt. 160 to Stenungsund across the Tjörn bridge. Parallell country road to the E6 highway from Stenungsund to Kungälv, and further on to Gothenburg (Göteborg) Cross the bridge in the center of town, head south through the city to Slottsparken, where you'll find signposts to Särö. Good cycle path on abandoned railway line to Särö, then country road (partly Rt. 158) to Kungsbacka. Out of Kungsbacka towards Fjärås, but turn right after a while towards Åsa. Follow the coast road all the way into Varberg. YH situated 7 km south of the town, right after the village of Träslöfslage. YH signpost visible from the road, but the YH itself far away into the fields.

I had a bad start because I missed the 8.20 ferry with just a couple of minutes and had to wait for 45 minutes valuable cycling time. I considered for a moment to go back a little on Rt. 162 and follow the main roads, but decided to stay on the idyllic small roads near the open sea. Over on the other side I discovered that the nearest ferry service was closed during weekends, so I had to make a detour of 16 km. I was starting to wonder whether it was a stupid idea not to stay on the main roads after all. But the extra trip across the idyllic Flatön island was well worth the extra effort. The two small ferries I had to take went non-stop, even with just a couple of cars, so there was not much time wasted on waiting.

I decided to take the new road from Ellös to Varekil instead of the small roads in the southern part of the island, partly because of the time I had lost and partly because I needed to get to a place where I could borrow some tools. My crank bothered me a lot for the first 30 km this morning, getting more and more loose. At the Varekil Statoil I finally managed to borrow a tool strong enough to fasten the crank enough to last for the rest of the day.

There was not as much traffic as I feared on the Rt. 160 from Varekil to Stenungsund, so the ride was pretty comfortable. Close to the sea most of the time, and there was a couple of impressing bridges to cross. The biggest of which, the Tjörn bridge, was destroyed by a Norwegian ship in 1980. Several people were killed in the tragic accident, driving into the darkness where there was no longer a bridge. I had a cup of coffee in the cafe just 30 metres from the rebuilt bridge head. The locals seemed to have no grudge against Norwegians in spite of the old tragedy - I had a nice talk with the manager and a couple of local elderly guests who were particularly interested in my tour.

Between Stenungsund and Kungälv I had a funny experience. All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a cheering crowd - I raised my arm and waved back, just to discover that there was a bicycle race. I was doing 30 km/h, quite satisfied with my own speed, but when the racing cyclists overtook me there was just a swooosh and they were gone.

I had my first flat a couple of km before Kungälv - I thought for a while that there was just a leaking valve but after opening it and pumping the tubular a couple of times I found out that my precious Kevlar tubular tyre was leaking. Three times the price of an ordinary rubber tubular - and just good for 300 km - I'll stick to ordinary tyres and inner tubes in the future. Anyway, I had an old spare, already good and worn, which in fact lasted much longer than the expensive one.

Gothenburg was easier to cross now that I had an idea what I was looking for - on the two preceding tours we had a hard time finding Slottsparken where the cycle path to Särö starts. Once you're on the cycle path things go pretty smoothly. I have mentioned the abandoned Särö railway line in an earlier report - probably the nicest part of the whole tour. Obviously, railway engineers must think much the same way as cyclists - as the track almost invariably goes through the most idyllic parts of the landscapes. The fact that hills and curves are smoothed out helps a lot for cyclists as well. Anyway, Särö is not very far from Gothenburg and soon I found myself in less idyllic surroundings on Rt. 158 towards Kungsbacka.

I must add here that there ARE signposted bicycle paths available, but from earlier experience I tend to avoid some of them at least with the racing bike. With an MTB and a little less hurry it should be possible to cycle most of the West Coast on dedicated cycle paths. (Ginstleden and Cykelspåret, plus a few local bike paths.)

In Kungsbacka I did the classic error of locking the bike without checking first where I had the key. I came out of the petrol station arms full of bananas, chocolate and orange juice when I realized that the key must have fell out of the saddle bag in the process of changing tubulars earlier that day. I looked through all my luggage, of course (not much, though) and had to go to the humiliating step of asking for help to destroy the expensive Ming Tay cable lock. It took more than 15 minutes to open it - a good investment that lock !?! (burglar's tools would do it in 15 seconds I fear) I bought a cheap 39 SEK lock since I did not plan on leaving the bike too much for the remainder of the tour.

In Kungsbacka - before the stupid incident - I had a look at the map and figured that I would be able to make it to the Varberg Youth Hostel before dark, so I phoned down and reserved a bed.
Now 3 things occured that made this impossible; the lock is mentioned already. That one took me at least half an hour. Secondly, after a while the crank started wandering again, so I had to stop and borrow pliers again. I wasted another half hour. Thirdly, the YH was situated 7 km south of the town, not in the center of it as I had thought. It was therefore rather dark when I arrived at the YH far out into the fields. The doors where open and not a person inside, but I installed myself in room no 9 as I had been informed on the phone, and waited for someone to show up. Nobody did. I had a shower and went to bed, and woke up at 7:00 morning. Still no host present, but there was a phone in the corridor, and a note instructing guests to call a number if there were any questions. I called the number and asked if I could pay for the night. -Yes, the hostess answered, -please leave the 90 SEK in your room. I only had a hundred SEK bill, and left it on my table. Keep the change, I said to myself; thanks for the service! A bit unusual for us city people to be trusted this way - this COULD have been a very cheap way of sleeping...



Having a rest a few km north of the Hallandsåsen hill

Day 4: Varberg - Copenhagen 219,5 km

Route description: Coast road to Falkenberg, Skrea, mainly E6 to Halmstad. Rt. 177 to Laholm, then unnumbered roads through Vallberga, Skottorp, and Ø. Karup. (bottom of the Hallandsåsen hill) Parallell road to the E6 to Margretetorp and Ängelholm, Rt. 107 to Strövelstorp, unnumbered to Helsingborg. Ferry across the Øresund to Helsingør, coast road (Strandvejen) all the way to Copenhagen City.

As I started cycling, I thought for a minute that my ambitions for this day were too optimistic. The 200+ km from yesterday were still present in my muscles, and as there was no breakfast at the YH I was pretty hungry when I started. I began looking for places to eat from the first minute, but as I rode the first part of the day on back roads, and it was early Sunday morning, nothing was opened yet. I was pretty sure that something had to be available in Falkenberg, but I was either blind or too hungry to look properly - it was only some 10 km south of the town that I finally found an open cafe. Some 40 km on an empty stomach had to be compensated for - I enjoyed a LONG brunch with plenty of coffee refills.

With renewed strength I went on towards Halmstad, where I had planned to stop. Still rather full from the meal I felt there was no need, however, and continued south on the Rt 117. Here, too, there are separate cycle paths, but I choose to make a more direct approach towards the Hallandsåsen hill. I went through the town of Laholm, which has a hydroelectric power plant and an energy museum downtown. Since I work in the business I would have stopped and looked, but as I had planned to reach Copenhagen before the night this will have to wait.



On the DSB train ferry from Korsør to Nyborg

Day 5: Copenhagen - Nyborg 118 km

Route description: Through parks and cycle paths in Copenhagen to Roskildevej - Rt. 156. Then Rt. 14 to Ringsted, Rt. 150 all the way to Korsør - DSB train ferry to Nyborg.

I started from my brother's around 10.00 and headed westwards. There is not really much to tell about the road between Copenhagen and Roskilde - one long stretch practically without curves or hills. Very comfortable, though, but not very exciting. Roskilde is another matter - a very nice town to have a break in. I tried in two different bike shops to get a new tubular, as I had no spare after the flat in Kungälv, Sweden. It was too risky to go on without a spare - especially on the Danish cycle paths where it seems as if maintenance budgets have been somewhat reduced during the last few years. Well, there were no tubulars in Roskilde so I went on towards Ringsted hoping to avoid flats. Tubulars are obviously out of fashion in Denmark, I had to go all the way to Slagelse before I could get one. Not buying a couple more when I had the chance was a bigger mistake than I thought at the moment.




Not very inspiring......


But with a little help from friendly people, everything goes!



Erik Wennerholm with his own promotion T-shirt

Ready to leave the Vejle YH on his way to Gibraltar

Day 6: Nyborg - Vejle 90,4 + 7 km walk, 15 km car and 13 km train - 3 flats

Route description: Rt. 1600 from Nyborg to Odense, then 161 to Middelfart. Over the bridge towards Fredericia, then E133 to Vejle. YH situated a couple of km south of the town, turn right at the Shell station right after crossing the motorway.

I had looked forwards to seeing Funen for a long time - in fact the island was the only part of Denmark that I hadn't seen so far. (oops - I forgot Bornholm, sorry folks, have to go there some day, too) The ideal route would be to go south to Svendborg and Faaborg, or even make an island tour to Langeland and Ærø. But when I woke up this morning I immediately cancelled all plans of making the tour longer than necessary. The rain poured down and the wind came in from the west - almost directly in my face. I hit the Rt. 161 and struggled on against the wind wearing all the rainclothes I had, including shoe covers.

Before the first hour had passed of course everything was soaking wet. I was even more cheered up when I had my second flat on the tour some 5 km before Odense. Without a spare I spent some time in Odense trying to find a bicycle shop that sold tubulars, and the story repeated itself - the first and second shop had no idea where I could get one. I finally found a place that had only one tubular left, I bought it and headed west - calculating the risk of 3 flats in a day to be minimal. I was wrong.

At this stage in the report I should have made a few comments of the beauty of Odense, the famous writer H.C. Andersen's house etc. However, the fact is that I was so consentrated on the tyre problem that I just passed through Odense, hardly looking left or right.

The Rt. 160 looked pretty much the same as the 161 from my point of view, except I had 2 flats now instead of 1. With only one spare tubular I suddenly found myself in the road with a crippled bike 20 km from the nearest town. I started walking in order to find a bus stop - but after walking 5 km I decided to try fixing one of the old tubulars using rim glue. What a stupid idea - it needs 12 hours to dry and even then it would never work. A car with two gentlemen stopped, however, asked if I needed help and offered me a lift to Middelfart when they heard about my problem. I am repeating myself here - I have said this in previous reports, too: No wonder why I keep coming back to Denmark! The gentlemen were actually planning to cross the Lillebælt on the motorway bridge, but took a 5 km detour to help me find a bicycle shop in Middelfart.

My mood sank to an even deeper level of despair when I found out that no tubulars were available at all in Middelfart. I even considered changing rims right there, but when I was informed that I had to wait 2 days I decided to try something else. One of the mechanics phoned a bike shop in Fredericia, 20 km away, and when we found out that they had tubulars, I took the train (I had to get there before closing time) and bought 4 - four of them. I wouldn't risk another story like this. Once more I promised myself never to go touring with tubular tyres again.

After fixing the tubular crossed the street and sat down at the Fredericia McDonald's. After the meal the constant rain turned to showers and then ceased competely, my mood improved greatly and the last 20 or so km to Vejle went like a dream. Even the wind was weaker here - not unexpectedly in a little more hilly landscape.

I made it to the Vejle YH just before closing time. A couple of hundred meters before the YH I met a Swedish biker, Erik Wennerholm, who was looking for the Youth hostel as well. It was a very interesting aquaintance, especially because he was on his way to Gibraltar on his Crescent bike. (some people claim that I am crazy, touring 1200 km in a week - I'd like to be as crazy as this guy.) Erik had a very sensible schedule - his plan was to cycle no more than 120 km a day. I hope and believe that he'll make it! By the way - of course I made him aware of Eurobike, and I hope we'll soon see a report from his tour.

NB: For the latest news about Erik's tour: Click here!




Finn (right) and his DSB collegue riding in the Jutland "mountains".


An idyllic old style farm in Jutland


Studying one of the excellent infomaps along the road

Day 7: Vejle - Hobro 143 km 24,66

Route description: Partly unnumbered roads, partly Rt. 52 to Silkeborg, then a few km on Rt. 46 towards Randers, finally unnumbered roads north to Hobro. (I didn't read the map as carefully as usually, as I cycled with people who knew the roads.)

During the night, the weather had changed dramatically. It was the first day of the tour that felt like summer, and for the first time I could put my long-sleeved jacket away. Another great improvement was company. Finn Hansen - described as "relatives" in my report "Family Touring in Denmark" - phoned me the night before and told me that he'd like to take the train to Vejle in the morning and ride back to Hobro with me. He even showed up with a collegue from the DSB, (Danish State Railways), so we were able to ride in a nice little paceline through the beautiful landscape of Mid-Jutland.

At the lunch break in Silkeborg my computer read a pleasant 28 km/h average, but during the afternoon it fell a few km. We spent the evening planning a tour to the Rallarveien in September '96 - Finn is planning bring along a few friends to the Norwegian mountains.



Day 8: Hobro - Frederikshavn 114,52 km

Route description: Rt. 180 from Hobro to Ålborg, E45 to Frederikshavn. Bicycle path all the way.

The morning started with sunshine and a nice tail wind that gave me an average of 32 km/h for the first 40 km. The sun lasted all day, which I felt that I deserved now after so many days of bad weather. I made a long stop in Ålborg, shopping a few things in a couple of bicycle shops and having something to eat. Just outside town I had a flat again, but with 3 spare tubulars the day was not ruined this time.

The last leg of the tour from Ålborg to Frederikshavn went without any problems, except for a Swedish truck that pressed me out of the bicycle road near Sæby. (The truck was crossing it on its way to the main road.) I managed to catch up with the driver as he was waiting in the ferry line in Frederikshavn, and when he said that he hadn't seen me I asked if he was blind or something. Driving a 18m truck should at least require a minimum of eyesight. But I cooled down as he excused himself and offered to pay for possible damages on me or my bike. As I was still in one piece, and the bike seemed likewise, I made no further trouble - I had made my point.

I got a comfortable bed at the Frederikshavn YH, found a nice restaurant and surprised myself with a big meal to celebrate a successful tour.




Day 9: Frederikshavn - Oslo - Hønefoss (2 km + ferry 8h

The end of the tour - a long, relaxing ferry trip. I made a few mental notes about the tour and concluded with the following:
  • Lightweight touring was quite pleasant - I could have saved a bit of money by using the youth hostels' guest kitchens instead of cafeterias, though.
  • No more long-distance lightweight touring until I have changed to rims for ordinary tyres. Tubular tyres are too expensive and fragile for touring.
  • Touring alone has its advantages as well as disadvantages. You keep your own speed, but you spend an awful amount of hours completely on your own. On a rainy day I could sure use some company - I'll try to persuade someone next year.

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