July 1 – Esbjerg to Ribe
I might have mentioned that there’s a bit of wind in Denmark. Did I mention that fun fact? Well there is. As countries go, it’s bit on the blowy side, which when you’re on a bike, can either be great or most definitely not. We had a bit of both today. The wind joined our team, then decided to play against us, then came on board with us again. It didn’t go away though, that wind was with us until the end.
A cooler start this morning, no hot sunshine today, just clouds and wind. I made use of the park next door and set off for a run around the paths that meandered their way through the trees. It was a lovely place to run and I had the whole place to myself. I was on squirrel watch but none appeared, neither did the official running photographer who slumbered on, so no picture and no place to set up a selfie, but the run did happen and it was a nice start to the day.
We pedalled off into the gusts and headed for the water where we saw ‘Man Meets the Sea’, a huge sculpture of four, nine metre tall, figures looking out to sea. It was placed there in 1994 to mark Esbjerg’s 100th anniversary as an independent municipality. Esbjerg is Denmark’s youngest city and until the port was built, it was just a windswept landscape with a few farm buildings. Despite its youth, it’s now Denmark’s fifth largest city.
We followed the signs for the EuroVelo 12 and had a nice bike path beside the road as we made our way out of town. Man-o-man it was windy, but as we pedalled along, it occurred to me that we weren’t doing it too tough. Amazingly, the wind had decided to join our team and play on our side for a change. It was on our tail and we were rocketing along at 24km/h.
Then we turned a corner and that wind left our tail and aimed at our head instead. We had a slog for a while, then we turned another corner and it was on our tail again. It was like that for most of the ride, the wind playing with us and then against us, although I think for the most part, it was on our side. The Jutland scenery was very different to what we’d had over in Zealand with an industrial landscape, then a bit of farmland, then coastal, then some wetlands. We had the wind turbines beside us of course, but also power lines and a highway in the distance, so all in all it was a more urban landscape than the ones we’d had on the east coast.
Just as we were coming to grips with the wind, the rain decided to join the party and it wasn’t on our side at all. We stopped beside a hedge to try to get some shelter, while we put on our coats and then pedalled on, hoping to spot somewhere with some shelter. Of course there was none, so we simply rode on, wheeling off in the wind and wet.
The rain eased and we spotted a table on the side of the path, beside some bushes that gave us a little shelter from the wind, so we nabbed that and stopped for elevenses.
The rain returned, then left us again, then returned and it seemed both the wind and rain were in a mood to play with us, giving us a break, then taking us on, then leaving us, then coming back to make life difficult. We were taunted by the elements!
We pedalled into a campsite right on the route and did a ride around to find a spot to pitch. We did find a space that was a tiny bit sheltered and set about assembling the Nylon Palace while it again tried to impersonate a parachute. We then discovered a camp kitchen with tables and a kettle, so we parked ourselves there for a cuppa out of the wind. It was only midday, but we’d planned to stop here because we wanted to explore the town of Ribe.
We hopped back on the bikes and pedalled out into the wind that was “42 km/h with gusts up to 75 km/h” to have a look at Ribe. After being in Esbjerg, Denmark’s youngest city, Ribe is Denmark’s oldest town. The cobbled market square in the centre of town was developed in 704-710, which takes the town back to the Viking Age. The cathedral was constructed in the 1100’s and in 1580 a great fire destroyed a lot of the town, with eleven streets and 213 houses burning down, requiring reconstruction over the subsequent years. Then more than 900 people died in the plague of 1659 and in 1875 the railroad arrived. It is a little town steeped in history with a story in every cobble of the streets.
What a beautiful little place it was to see. Ribe turned out to be another of those little gems we come across, that we had never heard of and would not have known to come to, had we not been in the area. It was cobbled street after cobbled street of gorgeous little quaint cottages, beautiful half-timbered buildings and that wonderful old wonkiness to the houses.
We walked up the main cobbled street and then took ourselves down side lanes and narrow little cobbled back streets and it was all just chocolate box delightful.
Some of the houses were really something special. There was a row of teeny tiny little houses and I don’t think Steve would have fitted in the door. When I asked him to ride past, to give some context for the size of one of the houses, it does look like he’s a giant compared to it. They must have been a town of folks like me in years gone by!
It was a lovely place to visit and not having our heavy load on the bikes made pedalling into the ever strengthening wind a little more doable.
After gathering some supplies, we rode back to camp and thankfully the tent was still in place and hadn’t blown off to Poland or Lithuania or wherever the gale might have gusted it to. We enjoyed the luxury of cooking on a real stove in a real kitchen with real sinks and a real table to sit at, rather than bending over the little Trangia spirit stove and balancing everything on our laps and we spent some time in the warm and away from the fearsome wind outside. It was a great day that began with the youngest city in Denmark and finished at the oldest. We had some diverse scenery along the way and the ever present wind, although it was helpful at times, when it stuck to our tail. Another day of experiences that put some more in the memory bank. A lovely little town and the challenge of the elements…some things you can only experience on a bike!
Tomorrow the wind is supposed to be even stronger, so we might continue heading south, or we could be blown to Norway, we’re not too sure what the day might hold. Wouldn’t it be spectacular if we were to get the gusts on our tail again and we could choof along, wind assisted! It could happen…or it could be gale force in our face. Only tomorrow will tell. On we go. Power to the pedal!
Distance ridden: 46.7 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 5 minutes
Distance run: 9 km
Weather: cooler, grey with some sunny bits, some rainy bits too, WINDY, 17C