Nov 242010

Day One: Frederikshavn to Aalborg.

Although the typical party atmosphere on the overnight cruise from Oslo was nowhere to be seen, we did manage to connect with a pair of young Norwegians with whom we ended up socializing until just hours before our arrival. Like most of the other passengers they’d be heading straight back to Norway – not even setting foot ashore. But we had a festival to get to. So at 7am, we disembarked.

It was the usual story: a couple hours of sleep and still marginally buzzed from the night prior. Only this time, there’d be no lazy morning in bed. Today was Day One.

Over the next four days we’d be cycling anywhere between 70 and 120km per day, making our way slowly cross-country and towards a much-anticipated reward. The Roskilde festival.

In Denmark, they have an expression. I can’t remember the exact wording, but the meaning is something like “no matter which way you go the wind is always blowing at you.”

Let me tell you from personal experience: as unlikely as it sounds…it’s absolutely true.

Still, putting aside the nonstop wind I could only describe Denmark as a cyclist’s paradise. Cities have dedicated routes and signals, and even the highways that connect them – no matter how rural – provide plenty of room just for the sake of cyclists.

Our first day’s ride started out remarkably pleasant, as we skimmed the shimmering coast and passed through town after town.

But it wasn’t long before the luggage started getting heavy. What began as a refreshing ride in the sun turned gradually to a moderate challenge, and then to unbearable pain. Although 100km of cycling should normally pose little challenge, with strong winds pounding on your chest and a child’s weight in baggage smashing you onto a rock-hard seat…each kilometer quickly starts to feel like two. And then like ten.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have brought such an extensive collection of tents, sleeping bags, dress shoes, hookahs, Ukrainian vodka, party hats, bunny ears, food, bike repair tools, and a kitchen sink. But hey – we were heading to a festival after all 😉

Yet despite my considerable difficulty, somehow, Peder seemed to be completely unphased by the challenge. Throughout the entire day he rode deliberately slowly – for my sake – realizing only moments later that I was once again a mere speck in the distance. And his pack was even heavier than mine, on account of his 4-person tent and extra bottle of vodka! I guess all that training really does make a difference 😳

By the time we pulled into Aalborg only 75km later, I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Every part of me ached, and I had barely enough energy to keep my eyelids opened.

When I started this trip I couldn’t wait to brag about riding halfway across Denmark. But at the end of day one, I was already doubting if I could make it…

  11 Responses to “Tour de Denmark: On to Aalborg”

  1. I like the comment about the wind always blowing right at you. Wyoming is much the same, albeit colder and not as pretty.
    Also, is it just my imagination or do the people of Northern Europe favor brightly painted houses more? I’m seeing a lot of fluorescent blues, yellows, etc.

  2. Could be – but to be honest, many places I’ve visited seem to have more brightly-colored buildings compared to the relative blandness of North America. Take Brazil, for example – where it was especially noticeable.

  3. Nice quote about the wind

    The hats on the back of your packs are sooooo comedy!


  4. What’s wrong with sandals? They’re comfortable! 😛

  5. Andy/sandals: Ha ha, an echo of my words 😀

    Yeah, I was surprised the ride took such a toll on you. Sure, it was heavy, but my backpack was also considerably heavier than yours (i.e. all the tools, a 5kg tent, two blow-up mattresses, twice as much clothing, and two 1L bottles of vodka – the one you carried basically disappeared the day before – and disappeared completely after day #1 :-P). On the other hand it was nice to see you strugling at something physical for once, he he.

    One more time next year? We can bring the Herbster too 😉

  6. Sandals: Aw, you guys are just a couple of wusses, haha 😛

    Struggle: I’ll take that a compliment 😉 But yeah…I think we both know that my biggest physical weakness is cardio…and this was a hell of a lot of cardio. Particularly after I hadn’t been training regularly for more than 2 solid months…

  7. haha, I’m going to have to agree with them. Biking with sandals makes it a lot harder than it needs to be. Your feet will be working harder to grip the pegs because sandals don’t contour to your soles.

    and hell yes, bring me!

  8. I so disagree…the amount of power you have to put into the pedals is the same, just with a nice cool breeze to go along with it!

  9. testosterone

  10. testosterone…?

  11. Peder – I completely forgot to mention the bike seat!

    Despite our various repairs, it turned out that the seat of my bike was jammed so far into its tube that it simply couldn’t be removed. We stopped in a shop in Frederikshavn (our 3rd try to break it free) where the guy basically told us the only way would be to melt the frame with a blowtorch. And since it was too high for me to reach the pedals, Peder was nice enough to trade. I actually rode his bike to Roskilde 🙂

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