June 27 – Koge to Copenhagen
There’s a heat wave sweeping through Europe at the moment. It obviously hasn’t reached Denmark. It got cool during the evening, cooler over night and this morning, it was just cold! The wind had also decided to really make itself known and it blew like billy-o during the night and it was still blowing this morning. We huddled in the tent to have breakfast, wearing our layers and jackets and then set about packing up camp, with the added challenge of trying to pack up a tent that was behaving like a parachute in the wind.
We pedalled off, under grey skies, in the blowing wind, to ride through the town of Koge for a look. We pedalled through the Old Town and it was lovely, with its open square, quiet little cobbled back streets and those chocolate box cottages again. Koge also has some of the oldest half-timber houses in Denmark and they were gorgeous in their olde worlde wonkiness. As we pedalled down a cobbled street, we spotted a bakery and Steve went in to get some rolls for his elevenses. He returned with some lovely, grainy sultana rolls that were still warm. We decided, at the first opportunity, we would stop for a Hobbit style “second breakfast” and enjoy those rolls while they were still morning fresh.
We were on our final push towards Copenhagen today and as we pedalled out of Koge, Steve stopped and consulted the map. “We can go straight up here along the main road and it’ll be 42km, or we can follow Route 9.” I looked at the map, we’d been on Route 9 for the last few days and we’d had nice scenery. It would be a little longer than straight up the road, but riding beside a busy, noisy road isn’t much fun. We decided to return to the official route and follow the Route 9 signs into Copenhagen. Straight away we were on a quieter road, with a path that was virtually empty and we pedalled along in the chill and the blowing wind. The first route sign we saw told us it was 48km to Copenhagen. No worries, we can knock that off no problem at all.
As we rode on, it was really, really tough going. The wind just didn’t let up and it was a cold wind too. As far as cycling challenges go, I think wind is the hardest and the worst. Hills are hard but they eventually come to an end, or if we want to, we can always stop on the way up a hill to have a break from the climb. With wind though, there is no escape and no end point. I can’t ride along and think ‘once I get up there, the wind will have stopped’. There is also no rest from the wind. Whether we ride or stop, it’s always there and it’s really tough to deal with. Riding into a head wind, especially a super strong head wind, means I am being pushed around as the gusts shove me around, it slows us down and I sit on Steve’s back wheel as he crunches down the gears to slog on and I crunch down the gears to slog behind him, with the wheels turning painfully slowly. Riding in wind like this also means we don’t tend to stop, we don’t take many photos and we don’t look around us as much, we just put the head down and focus on getting the job done, to get through the ride and out of the conditions we’re in.
We spotted a table on the side of the road and decided to take a short break, to have “second breakfast” and enjoy our warm rolls, before slogging on. The clouds were beginning to blow away and we had some sunshine, but it wasn’t yet fierce enough to take away the chill. Beside our rest stop was a Route 9 sign to Copenhagen. It said 50.9 km. Hang on a minute! We’ve been riding for about 8km and when we left it was 48km and now it’s 50.9! What is going on here?
“That sign says 50.9 now,” commented Steve, as if I hadn’t already noticed this demoralising piece of information on the side of the road.
“I know,” was all I said.
We rode on, through farmland, along roads and paths and all I can say is, that wind was brutal. My head was down, I rode Steve’s back wheel, trying to get a bit of a wind break and we both just slogged it out. Then we saw another Route 9 sign to Copenhagen. This one said 54km. Whaaaaat!! This wind must be blowing us backwards because we should be making forward progress and these signs are just messing with us. We were still on Route 9, we were following the signs, the signs were still appearing, we had not detoured, we had not turned off, yet the distance kept increasing. Definitely not playing fair on a day like today.
On we slogged, into that headwind, with our heads down, just trying to get it done. That wind was unbelievable! The route took us around a corner, down a narrow path and another sign appeared. ‘Copenhagen 45’. We’d already ridden 18km.
“This is ridiculous,” said Steve, stopping to look at maps and apps. I was just happy that the numbers were finally counting down.
“We’re gong to follow Komoot from now on,” he said, looking at a route on one of the bike map apps, “we’ll head back towards the water and then take a different route, the fastest way we can get there out of the wind sounds good to me.”
To get us to this new route though, we still had to follow our current course for a while, so on we went with wind and then the hills as well, just to add to the difficulties.
We began scouting for elevenses locations and saw a table near a park. We walked around trying to find some shelter and although we couldn’t get completely out of the wind, we did get a little respite. I thought about our elevenses yesterday, sweltering and seeking shade and a cool breeze and there we were today, in jackets and layers and fleece trying to keep warm. How things can turn on a dime!
There was another Route 9 sign near where we stopped.
“It says twenty four now,” I said to Steve.
He looked at his map. “That’s about the same distance as the other route. It looks like either way, we just follow route nine all the way in now.”
Twenty four kilometres sounded just fine to me, that’s no distance at all, the end was in sight.
On we went, beside the road, but on our own path and then with about 16km to go it began to warm up, the wind had blown some of the cloud away and there was some blue in the sky. From that point, we also had a lovely traffic-free path that took us through immaculate parks and gardens. I looked around and there were blocks of flats lining both sides of the parks, either right beside us or across the park, on the nearby road. There were signs in the park pointing up access paths to the tower blocks. It seemed that we were riding through areas that in Australia we would consider housing estates, but every one of those tall blocks of flats had a beautiful park in front of it, with rose gardens, playgrounds and immaculately kept lawns. Denmark is consistently named the “happiest country” for reasons such as its welfare system, equal respect for equal work, free education, work life balance and many more reasons. What I was seeing, I thought, was one of those reasons why Danes not only consider themselves to be happy, but enable all to enjoy this sense of happiness as much as possible. As I looked around me I thought how the areas we were riding in, would have been the equivalent to some of the more disadvantaged areas in Australia, yet here, these areas had not been left to become run down, with an air of depression, instead they had been given green spaces, beautiful gardens, benches and tables and direct access from each of the tower blocks into this lovely space that was so superbly kept and maintained. It was so nice to see that those people living in what looked like a version of social housing, had been given this enormous green space, somewhere to spend time outside the confines of a flat within a tower block. It was a really nice entry into Copenhagen and a nice insight into the country’s egalitarian culture and the importance placed on a common responsibility for social welfare. It was just an observation of housing beside parks and gardens, but it seemed to say a lot and seemed to be another feature of a country that we could learn from.
We joined the bustle of the city and the stream of people on bikes, as we entered Copenhagen proper. We found ourselves beside the water and decided to seek some shelter from the wind, in a sunny spot and have some lunch before checking into our hotel. It was nice to feel warm again and nice to feel a little less wind blown.
We found our hotel down a quiet street, the bikes were given a spot inside the hotel as their accommodation and we lugged all our panniers upstairs and collapsed for a rest. It had been a tough day at the office. We decided after a hard ride, we didn’t feel like searching for supplies, so we found a small vegan Italian restaurant a stone’s throw from the hotel and enjoyed the treat of someone else cooking for us instead.
We have a couple of days to see Copenhagen, to roam and explore and see what we can discover. It’ll be nice to spend a bit of time in one place for a little while and set our own pace, to enjoy the place and what it has to offer. So…today we were blown, but tomorrow we roam! Wheels be still, our feet are ready to go!
Distance ridden: 55.2 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 33 minutes
Weather: chilly, then a bit warmer, very, very, very, very, very windy! 21C