Praesto in Denmark to Sassnitz Germany via Sweden days 12 to 17 - 23th to 28th July 2012

The cycle route from Praesto to Sassnitz

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The Blog

Praesto to Sassnitz

Day 12, 23rd July Praesto to Rodvig

Just when we thought everything was sorted and we had a nice easy ride into Copenhagen new challenges came along unlooked for. Sometimes with hindsight and from the comfort of our Weymouth home challenges make a tour. It will not be so in this case.

With just three days to Copenhagen and a rest day we went to bed in our lovely cabin near the sea full of optimism. Waking in the morning the management had a stiff neck. It was not any old stiff neck, he could only look straight ahead and not sideways or up and down. He was also in interminable man pain and the shortness of temper which goes with it.

If at home it would have been a straight to the doctor job. And this even for the management who has a deep distrust of that profession since quite without any justification they stigmatized him as fat when he was five years old. Now he avoids them, often to his cost but not always.

We are also both very determined and there was no thought of giving up. It was after all not very far today and Nanny could easily replace the management's pedalling on an easy stage. It did however require negotiations with that normally militant body, the stokers' union.

The management agreed that he would stop instantly and without question if the stoker yelled. The stoker, in return, was put in charge at junctions, indicating to the management when to go and when to stop.

This all worked surprisingly well. It was another scenic route around Praesto Bay or fjord mainly on minor roads with occasional forays into the woods and stops at minor harbours. In other circumstances it would have been a lovely ride.

By lunchtime we had arrived at our prebooked six berth cabin on a quiet campsite. The management got to work raising the tandem handlebars. This is not an easy job at the best of times and his lack of mobility and bad temper did not help. In view of his lack of patience, that it worked at all was more by luck than judgement.

Day 13, 24th July Rodvig to Koge

Following tender administrations by the stoker and lots of rest propped up with pillows the management was able to go on today. We were however both absolutely exhausted when we reached the hostel in Koge. For the first time on this tour we had wall to wall sunshine just when we didn't need it.

We broke our journey to view the local cliff scenery. It was pretty but at only about 30 metres high was not going to break any records. Its main claim to fame is the local church, half of which was lost to the cliff slipping in the 1920s, and fossilised sea dinosaurs.

We stopped for lunch on a grassy strip in front of the Baltic where kids were swimming and horses being exercised in the sea. It gave us a chance to recover before a wearying flog on a cycle route into Koge.

Day 14, 25th July Koge to Copenhagen

Koge hostel is pleasant and provided us with just what we needed to get back to some semblance of normality. Now that we are nearing Copenhagen the route goes inland leaving the coastal fringe which is more heavily trafficked.

For the first half of the ride we remained in Denmark's agro business area. Wheat fields everywhere with the harvest just starting. No sign of any animals out of doors except the occasional cat. Sometimes we had the unmistakable smell of pigs and that was it. Brian Aldridge would love it.

As we neared Copenhagen we returned to the coast and had cycle routes all of the way to the town centre hostel. Before entering the urban sprawl proper we had an early picnic lunch near Vallensbaek. This appears to be a beach resort for the city.

We have not seen so many Danes in one place before. There is a series of large lagoons between the Baltic coast and coastal development. The only access to the sea is on foot or by bike and there were hundreds of parked bikes belonging to the visitors.

As we cycled along the management was interested in a fleet of sailing dinghies, around 50 about to start racing, without a RIB in sight. The shape of the sail was unmistakable to him. They were OKs, a boat sailed at and introduced into the UK at Frensham Pond Sailing Club, his old club before Castle Cove. They are now in decline in the UK but still going strong here in their country of origin. Vallensbaek Sailing Club was hosting the World Championships.

We arrived early and in good condition considering. The main difficulty for the still blinkered management was the mass of other cyclists.

Days 15 and 16 26th and 27th July Copenhagen

We chose to stay in the city centre hostel to be near all the sights. The upside was that it was fun and central. The downsides were constant comings and goings, cabin like accommodation and like New York it never slept.

There is a justification for saying that the hostel was even more hippy than Copenhagen's hippy quarter of Christiania. It had bean bags on the pavement and its own beach party involving sand on the ground with blow up toys in the fountain. It was so naff in many ways and, like the 1970's hippies, it met itself coming back.

The management is of course nothing but trouble to himself and the stoker. He appeared to be recovered and was keen to get on with seeing the sights of Copenhagen. She on the other hand knew that this was not a good idea. She set about organising a slow start with a late breakfast and laundry.

She then cleverly organised a boat trip in the afternoon to see the sights of the city from the canals. The gentle rocking of the boat and the voice of the commentator put the management to sleep which would appear to be just what he needed.

When we awoke the next day the management appeared to be completely recovered and had his own plan for the day. Top of the list was to explore the hippy area of Christiania and visit the famous bicycle shop where the Copenhagen Pedersen cycle was developed in the 1970s.

The Christiania area is probably about half real and half for the tourists. It is a car free area and apparently still controlled by the anarchic "hippies". There is supposed to be open trading in illegal drugs which is condoned by the authorities.

The Pedersen bike may still be assembled here and there were several in stock including a tandem. We could not establish where the frames are made or the relationship with the people who revived the bike world wide. We were however able to get some bike bits we needed.

Our next stop was the Little Mermaid statue, mainly to take a picture of the stoker standing near it. She had her picture taken here 45 years ago so it was a very enjoyable nostalgia trip.

That left us time to pay our respects to Hans Christian Anderson before returning to the hostel to get ready for dinner. We had cycled over 20km just sightseeing which we very much enjoyed.

We had arranged to meet our friends Monica and Knud for dinner at an Indian restaurant. We seem to catch up with them about once every five years. They live in the west of Denmark, three islands and a long drive away and were in the city to see their family.

We had an excellent and convivial evening and it was well beyond midnight when we got to bed.

Day 17, 28th July Copenhagen to Sassnitz in Germany via Sweden

You may have gathered that for the past few days we have had lovely weather. Last night it broke with a very noisy thunderstorm. It did have the effect of putting an end to the round the clock partying which otherwise would almost certainly have continued into today.

We made it out of the hostel by 8.30am and caught the 8.52 train to Hyllie in Sweden by the skin of our teeth. The Danes and Swedes do not allow cycling on the road bridge from Copenhagen to Sweden so we had no choice but to take the train.

We bought the ticket a couple of days ago and had reccied the station for the lift and bike space on the train. The tandem fitted easily but the trailer had to be removed.

Hyllie is the first train stop in Sweden and looks more like a space ship than a railway station. It fortunately has good lifts and we were soon out and on our way.

The first 8km of our route was almost entirely on new cycle paths away from the roads. Once we were out of the urban area for about a quarter of the time we also had cycle paths. This is fortunate because the roads, while not busy, are wide and unpleasant for cycling.

It felt a strange ride. We pedalled through a large number of neat villages, saw hardly a person or much sign of any community facilities. Even though there were cycle facilities most of the cars we saw were gas guzzlers. It did not feel like there was much cycling culture here even though it was flat. And their agro business appeared to be even nastier than that of the Danes.

We reached the ferry at Trelleborg in good time for the 12.45 ferry. Having bought our tickets the boarding arrangements for bikes were among the most obscure we have seen anywhere. The idea was that the bus driver taking foot passengers to the boat opened a security gate to let us cycle on the car road. The only problem was that the lazy driver refused to open the gate.

We and about ten other cyclists had to traipse through the passenger entrance before cycling up a long and high ramp to the ship. Not for the faint hearted and certainly not for Condor. Having spent four hours on a smooth crossing writing the diary and web site, exiting was also via aerial ramps. At least they could not stop us getting off with the cars. Surprisingly there was a vestige of security entering Germany but no passport or other control.

We then had another 8km to cycle arriving at our hotel at 6pm. Sassnitz is a very pleasant little fishing port and it is always nice when our complicated plans work out. And we did three countries in one day.