Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Denmark Biking Route Day 7: Haderslev to Flensburg

Click here for route map
Length 71 km (44 miles), terrain: light hills, gain 446 meters

Hey folks, it's #SummerFun time! This week, as a vacation from the normal blogging routine, each day we'll publish a short biking route in Denmark. Maybe it will inspire a few people to try something a bit different from their usual workouts!
This is our last day of biking through southern Denmark, this beautiful land full of thatched-roofed farmhouses and secluded beaches. We'll head south from Haderslev, on Jutland's east coast, and cross the border to Flensburg, in Germany.

We'll continue following Danish National Bike Route 5 southwards at first, but this section is no longer called the "Water Way" like yesterday, it stays inland. We'll ride through the countryside mainly, with only a few glimpses of water today. Later, we switch to National Route 3, continuing south as route 5 turns eastwards.
Watermill along the way
We first head westwards out of town, along the Haderslev Dam, a dammed-up lake that empties into the fjord. Once the route leaves town, it turns southwards. We'll cross a couple of highways, then bike past Slivsø, a lake with a little beach.
Later, we arrive at the first stop along the Baltic coast at Sønderballe Strand, a curving stretch of sand and boat docks. I jumped into the water here for a good cool-off.
Along Bike Route 3
You now pedal uphill to get into the plateau above, going through fields and villages, like Kiplev and Hølbol.

The last big Danish town of the ride comes up soon, Aabenraa, another harbor town on the end of its own fjord. 
Aabenraa town center
It's worth it to walk around the old town, and -- at halfway along today's route -- time for a break. 
Nachos and a Blackbird beer hit the spot!
I stopped into the church because I wanted to see an example of a typical Danish port tradition: sailing ship models hanging from the church ceiling. I've only ever seen that in Denmark.
In the Aabenraa church
Leave town along the waterfront, passing the giant marina. Now the route zig-zags a bit on its southward journey, avoiding the main roads and taking you from one village to another.

Finally, bike-route 3 hits Kollund Strand, on the Flensburg Fjord. Stop at one of the little beaches for a last swim and a great view over the water. That's Germany off on the other side.
Kollund Strand: that's Germany on the other side of the fjord
So now you follow the trail west across the border and past Flensburg's Wassersleben beach. 
The crossing back to Germany
Continue south past the shipyards and you'll find yourself at the town's cool waterfront, with its big collection of wooden ships and a wooden-boat restoration club. 

Old ships along the Flensburg waterfront
Hansen's brewhouse, right on the water, is a great place to celebrate the end of a great week with just as great food and beer. Enjoy!

Monday, 23 July 2018

Denmark Biking Route Day 6: Fredericia to Haderslev

Click here for route map
Length 88 km (55 miles), terrain: light hills, gain 506 meters

Hey folks, it's #SummerFun time! This week, as a vacation from the normal blogging routine, each day we'll publish a short biking route in Denmark. Maybe it will inspire a few people to try something a bit different from their usual workouts!

Today's route follows the east coast of Denmark's Jutland peninsula, heading south along National Cycle Route 5. This route is known as the Vand Vejen ("Water Way"), and for good reason. There are plenty of bays, beaches and hilltop views out over the Baltic Sea to the east, with regular spots to swim, which is great on a hot day.
Fredericia cannons
We're starting in Fredericia, the old fortress town on the water, surrounded by deep moats and high walls. Originally, I had planned to take the train home from here, but I had gotten into the biking groove so well, and the weather was still holding, sunny and warm, so I decided to add-on another two days and bike back down to Flensburg, in Germany.
And the Fredericia town center
This area is the crossroads of Denmark: where the east-west highways and railways cross the north-south ones in Jutland. So at the beginning, we'll be crossing a variety of roads, freeways and railways, until we get past nearby Kolding.

But no worries: the bike route keeps us away from all the traffic.

Leaving Fredericia, we head directly westwards, crossing car route 171, then two freeways and a railway. There are also some industrial parks nearby, so this is one of the least scenic stretches of the whole week-long trip.
Gudsø Vig, secluded and shallow!
But as soon as you cross the railway, you leave all that behind, just west of Taulov. You now head through beautiful hilly woodlands and come down to the water's edge for the first time, at Gudsø Vig, a wide bay. I took a side trip into the hamlet of Gudsø and rode down a cow-path to the water for a quick swim. I had a little beach all to myself, but the water was so shallow, that I could only float a few centimeters above the bottom.
Kolding students
From Gudsø, it goes inland for a while, through more beautiful woodland, then comes down to the Kolding Fjord before entering the Kolding old-town. Here's another place to take a nice break, in the lively downtown, with half-timbered houses and a castle. I was ready for an ice-coffee break there, on the main square. There were a lot of students in their white caps walking around. When students graduate, the get to wear the hats for their last weeks. A nice tradition!
Picnic spot along Kolding Fjord
To leave Kolding, you first head south past the harbor, then head east to follow the road along the south side of the fjord. Soon you turn off onto a foot/bike trail along the water's edge, going by local beaches and picnic areas, the whole time with views of the fjord. There is one big hill to climb, where I had to push the bike, but I was rewarded with an enchanted little woods at the top.
The enchanted forest
From there, it heads east via little country roads to the Stenderup woods, with beautiful trails along meandering streams. It then heads downhill past a lagoon to follow the Baltic coast again, at Bjert Strand and Binderup Strand, then Grønninghoved Strand. 
Beach cottages at Binderup Strand
There are plenty of spots to swim or to rest with a cold drink.
Time for a beer break at Binderup!
At Hejlsminde, there's another little beach before you go inland and, from that point, only see the water from the hilltops.
And at Hejlsminde, time for another swim
When National Bike Route 5 reaches the Haderslev Fjord, it turns west to head along the rise above the water towards the town of Haderslev.
The main square in Haderslev
Enjoy this pleasant town, with the Torvet -- the market square -- lined by outside restaurants. I had a great burger and craft beer at RAS. A great way to end a hard day! I then rode south of town to a horse-farm B-and-B, Louisenlund, where a wonderful breakfast awaited me the next morning.
At the B and B, an ex Danish Army Bedford truck, now used as a party truck for graduating students, pulled up, and the driver stayed the night. The trucks are rented by groups of graduating students, to take a tour through town, driving to each student’s place, one after the other. And at each house, they then have to drink, of course. The driver said he works for a company with 30 such trucks, and they are only used for about 10 days a year, at graduation. Another nice tradition!
Training the jumpers at Louisenlund

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Denmark Biking Route Day 5: Odense to Fredericia

Click here for route map
Length 111 km (69 miles), terrain: light hills, gain 433 meters

Hey folks, it's #SummerFun time! This week, as a vacation from the normal blogging routine, each day we'll publish a short biking route in Denmark. Maybe it will inspire a few people to try something a bit different from their usual workouts!

On this fifth day of the bike ride through the Danish South Seas, I headed north from Odense to the long spit of land at the opening of Odense Fjord, at the northern tip of Fyn island. I then headed west to Bogense, on Fyn's west coast, then further through Middelfart (that's the real name) to the fortress town of Fredericia on the mainland.

It turned out to be the longest day of the trip, 111 kilometers, a day that seemingly wouldn't end. But it had some great contrasts, and I was glad I took the long way west instead of heading directly to Middelfart. I had expected to route to cover just 80 kilometers, but my Naviki app was showing me the distance in miles, so it ended up being more like 120 kilometers that day! I should have used my reading glasses when setting up the app ;-)
Along Odense Fjord
Leaving Odense, you have to follow regional Bike Route 32 directly along the Odense Fjord's western shore. There is a lot of industry in their harbor, but after you leave that behind you, you're biking towards the distant horizons of the widening bay.
Nimbus motorcycles on a tour
At a little harbor along the fjord, a bunch of motorcycles came in, making a lot of noise. At first, I decided to leave to get away from it, but then I noticed that the cycles were all classics. It turns out they were all Nimbus bikes, the only motorcycle brand ever built in Denmark. They had in-line four-cylinder motors, useful when pushing those sidecars that almost all of them had.
Beach houses along Hasmark Strand
Route 32 takes you right to Hasmark Strand, a Danish beach town full of nice Baltic-view bungalows. 
I missed a turn and ended up on this dirt road to nowhere. But it eventually came to a road and I found the way to Hasmark!
At the beach road, turn east and follow the beach trail out to the point of land out at the fjord entrance, Enebærode. 
Enebærode cow beach
This is a beautiful spot, with water to both sides, cows bathing in the Baltic waves, heather and pine woods, then the lighthouse out at the point. It's a great spot for a nice break and a swim. I ended up spending a lot more time there than I had planned, but it was worth it.
The Enebærode lighthouse
Once you head back west along the trail to Hasmark, you get on Regional Bike Route 31, taking you to the market town of Bogense. This route stays inland for the whole way.
Gyldensteen castle
Just before getting to Bogense, you pass a moated renaissance palace, Gyldensteen. Bogense is still a further pleasant, scenic Danish island town, with a nicely restored old-town and harbor. Another good spot for a break: you'll need it on this long day's ride.
Alleyway along a stream in Bogense
You now follow Regional Route 30 westwards from Bogense. This one goes by some nice beaches, so plan for some swimming to cool off. I think you'll enjoy the constant changes from beach to inland along this section.
The bike route went right through this manor farm
When you get to Vejlby Fed, a beach area lined with campgrounds, you'll probably want to switch to the National Bike Route 6, which takes you straight to Middelfart rather than following the coast in a wide bend on Regional Route 30. They just repaved the bike route 6 here, and it's beautiful, like a separate road through the fields and woods, just for bikes.
The new Lillebaelt bridge. The bike bridge is in the background
Middelfart is on the Lillebaelt, the strait between Fyn and the mainland of the Jutland peninsula. The bike trail comes to the water right at the giant modern suspension bridge for the freeway over the strait. But bikes can't use that bridge, so you have to circle the bay to the west to cross on the older railway/car/bike bridge, Den Gamle Lillebaeltsbro ("the old Lillebaelt bridge").
Taking a break in Middelfart on this long, hot day
So you have to bike through Middelfart, which is nice enough, and there are some nice restaurant/pubs along the water to have still another break.
The old bridge. Bridge-climbers were walking above!
Now you just ride up to the bridge, still following National Bike Route 6, and head on into Fredericia. Fredericia is an old fortress town, built to defend Jutland from the Swedes, with a thick dirt wall and moat surrounding the town, and cannons still guarding the gates. Take a look around, it's a pretty interesting place!
Because all the rooms in town were booked, I ended up staying at a motel south of town, the Medio Hotel, near the bridge. When I arrived at 7 p.m. (it had been a long day!), a lot of working men were settling in for the evening after a hot day of working in the sun. The Medio was a down-to-earth place with very helpful owners, who invited me to lock my bike in an unused conference room. They served a tasty dinner to late-arriving guests like me: I definitely didn't want to go hunting for a place to eat, so I was glad to take part. All in all, a great way to end this very long day.