The Bikes where packed. Annika and Johanna’s bikes looked like seasoned touring bikes, what with all the bells and whistles including bike computers, super-low gearing, map holders, and sleek saddle bags. My bike looked comically out of place—the poor specialized allez road bike looked like it had an enormous highlighter-colored tumor growing off the back of it instead of packing. Lena’s bike was just proud of the gears it actually had. All five of them.
And so began our journey up the west coast of Skåne early Sunday morning. The plan was 100 km to Mölle the first day, sleep at Annika’s family’s house, and then 100 km the second day. For the sake of brevity and laziness, I’m gonna spare you the play-by-play on this one and just go for the highlights – is that ok? Good.
1.100 km may sound like a lot, but really it’s not when your averaging 20 km/hr and stopping (what felt like to me) every 30 min to either pee or eat. I have to admit it took me a while to get over my silent frustration at the whole ‘bike tour mentality’, which I didn’t really understand at first. No, I’m not the fastest rider in the world, nor am I the most intense, but when I ride it is often for the purpose of exercise and fun and pain and painful fun. Anyone who has raced a bike or studied a hard science knows exactly what I mean. And sometimes this inexplicable and often unreasonable love of pain makes it inexplicably and unreasonably difficult to enjoy things that are purely pleasurable. It’s weird, but it’s true. But I think after we passed Helsingborg on the first day, I finally began to accept the pace and enjoy the ride. It only took me 70 km.
2.The picture of the swan above is possibly my favorite picture taken yet in Sweden. So odd to see swans in the ocean. I held my own private memorial for Rupert, the Australian Black swan who used to live in the Bay near my house in SoCal and is possibly the mascot of my childhood. Love ya, Rupert.
3. Can I mention again how strange it is to ride through a place that is so, so old? On the same day I rode from the prehistoric cliffs of Kullaberg, through the modern city of Helsingborg, past around 7 castles, and by a viking grave site (which made me very, very happy).
4. We heard several good Cukoos from cukoo birds, or “görk” as the bird is called in Swedish.
5. Landskrona isn’t as boring as I judged from the first two times I rode (and almost got dropped by Lunedi) through there. Yes, it is still boring, but just not as much as I thought. They have a cool water tower at least. Sorry Landskrona, I didn’t mean to hate on you like that last time.
6. Annikas grandparents and Uncle Pele where really sweet people. They fed us cake, suggested walking routes, and let us sleep in their beautiful house full of wonderful and interesting curious from all around the world. Grandma even let me feel the screw in her arm from her operation! Joy!
7. Lena and I hiked out to Kullaberg while the other two slept. We climbed some cliffs and looked for the Kullaman, but only found some German toursits. Lame! Also, I discovered that Lena likes rocks (almost) as much as I do.
8. We walked home and had a delicious carbo-hydratic dinner, followed by more cake. And ice cream. Also, I discovered that I like cake (almost) as much as Lena does.
9. The next day was one of those days that makes me ask God: how could you have made the world so beautiful?
10. Lots of pretty, pretty cows and Raps fields.
11. Coming through Helsingborg again on the second day, Hamlet’s castle, Kronborg, appeared on the horizon. Suddenly I was drawn back to a memory of sitting on the train in Denmark five years ago, when I was fifteen years old and my obsession with Hamlet was still fresh (Although, if you ask my mom, she’ll tell you a story of how I quoted the play at a much younger age). I remember hearing the words “Helsingør” announced on the loudspeaker. I pulled out my copy of the play which I had brought for the purpose of reading in Denmark (for atmosphere rather than authenticity, of course). Then, those five years ago, reading the Bard’s words even in the dimly lit train car seemed so utterly fantastic, simply because I was so near to where the action supposedly takes place. And now it feels like I’m due for another Hamlet reading. Maybe this is why only ever finish my real homework barely on time. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Methinks.
12. Sadly, we didn’t make it to the island of Ven to see Tycho Brahe’s observatory (where Kepler was a student). For someone who likes orbital motion as much as I do, it was kind of a letdown, to be sure. I’ll just have to ride there myself one day. Methinks.
13. Victory: I didn’t speak English for two days! Jeg talade aeven lide dansk…taka Annika (men det blev skånska egentligen)
14. Verdict: No, Skåne is not completely flat. But almost.
15. Can’t wait for Lund-Motala-Vättern-Stockholm, Summer 2010 (yes, that’s happening!).
For more photos, click on “The Sweden Files” on the side of this blog.