Viking Biking

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When we  decided  to  choose  Denmark for  our annual European cycling journey, it presented many challenges. Possible rain,  wind, and cool summer weather could pop up at any time. On the plus side, Denmark is considered to be the number one cy- cling country in the world with bicycle lanes throughout every city, town  and  village. The per capita ownership of bicycles by Danish households is two bicycles/adult! Just as cars stay in the lanes on the roadway, cyclists stay in the bicycle lanes. It is  quite a site to see cyclists riding bicycles that seem to outnumber cars, and a bit shocking to see that almost every adult rider did not wear a helmet. This fifteen-day adventure started in  Copenhagen for one night and ended with a three-day stay in Copenhagen. As it turned out we had exceptional weather, with only one day that  was a  rain-out. The weather was perfect for cycling —  mostly in   the  high  60s and low 70s, although we did have several interesting adventures with the wind (there is a reason they  have  so many windmills).

Most of the routes were flat to slightly rolling with no mountains to climb. Denmark is a country of  more than 400 islands, but only about 100  are occupied. This  trip covered only five islands with a total average of  four to five hundred miles of  cycling over the two-week period. We stayed in Cophenhagen, Hillerod, Soro, Odense, Svendborg, Jyderup, and then returned back to Copenhagen where we spent a couple days experiencing and enjoying  the Tivolli  Gardens, the Little Mermaid, the canal at Nyhaven, Danish design, numerous  museums, Danish cuisine, and the famous “bicycle snake ” bridge that is for cyclists only.

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We cycled through the beautiful Danish countryside which is  dotted with red poppies and wild flowers, farmlands with cows  and  horses, homes with thatched  roofs and  beautiful amber waves of  grain. Our first destination took us  to Bakken, a 431-year-old amusement park. From there we visited the Kronborg Castle, AKA  Hamlet’s Castle, the Fredensborg Castle, and the Fredericksburg Castle on our way to Hillerod. Some other highlights.  Gilleleje is the one of  the oldest fishing villages in Denmark, and a fun  place to stop for lunch. It is also the harbor where the fishermen that saved the lives of  many Jews during WWII  by using their boats to safely get them to Sweden.  Roskilde was once the capital of Denmark. Today you can visit   the  900-year-old  Roskilde Cathedral which is a World Heritage Site and where the Danish Royalty are buried. The Viking Ship Museum houses the remains of several boats that were found and rebuilt near the Roskilde Fjord.Odense is one of the oldest cities in Denmark. While it is about 1,000  years old, it is most famous for being the home of  Hans Christian Anderson. Just out of Odense is the harbor at Kereminde. Another good stop for a nice lunch on the beach with a quick look and a photo op of a historic windmill. One of our most enjoyable cycling destination was our ferry to the island of Aero. Although the island is only 18 miles long and five miles wide, there are 16 villages with hillier  terrain than we found in other parts of Denmark. However, the most beautiful and interesting is Aeroskobing. Cobblestone streets, colorful homes, and several restaurants are near the ferry. Lastly. Several things we learned  about cycling in Denmark. Bikes are allowed on trains. How- ever, to do so you must buy a ticket for your bike as well as for yourself. If you order water in a restaurant, there is  usually a charge for tap water if you don’t order a drink as well.  But  most of all we confirmed what we al- ready knew —  what really makes cycling in Europe so special on these trips is not the European culture and the countryside, but rather the BTCNJ camaraderie and the friendships we make along the way.

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-Barbara Augenblick and Ethan Brook