August 2001

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Saturday September 1st

The daily news are on the September page !

Friday August 31 (Termunten, km+71=5156)

It's a big change and a pleasure to be able, as soon as we are in the Netherlands, to speak to the people using their language, as we had to use english since our departure. We wondered to find out that the Germans in the north speak very few english, but we could manage to be understood, using a mix of english-german-dutch.

Today we went up slaloming between the sheeps droppings, a bit short-winded after the long ride of yesterday, and under a less favourable wind. We have embarked on the most charming ferry in the world, to cross the Ems between Emden and Ditzum, before the dutch boundary. It was a little pretty ship, only for pedestrians and cyclists: we were 5 passengers, two on a tandem, one on a scooter, we on our bicycles.

By the way, has someone a hint for a lodging in Amsterdam ? Friends, nice youth hostel, little inn ? We plan to arrive there on Wednesday night and stay 3 of 4 days, before riding to Louvain-la-Neuve for the meeting of September 15th, the event "Faites rayonner l'Europe" ("make Europe shining", difficult to translate because the french word "rayon" means a ray of light, and also a spoke of a wheel). See you there, before continuing further…

Thursday August 30th (Upleward, km+115=5084)

A beautiful day with the wind against our backs, we fly on the dikes covered with macadam. Tonight we had a beer before dinner, after that Gaëtane had some difficulty to stand up. The connection is poor, I go up on the dike, it is 9:00 pm and almost dark, a mosquito is buzzing around me.

Wednesday August 29th (Horumersiel, km+83=4970)

Gaëtane had a second fall today, while taking a bit too hard a turn on the cycling path. Again, more fright than pain. About the hardware: a broken cat's eye, the front wheel turned 90°, a brake needing a tuning and the rear lock a bit damaged. Concerning Gaëtane: a scratched hand, and a ecchymosis on the left thigh. This did'nt impact our morale which stays high, and we continue pedaling.

After a look on a terrible camping (more than 1000 caravan places…) we have planted our tent at the foot of a dike, amongst our friends the sheeps, and near a natural preserve.

Tuesday August 28th (Sandstedt, km+66=4886)

A strong wind pushed us this morning: on the flat ground, we could ride at 10 km/h without pedaling… We rushed into Bremer-Haven, crossing first a huge containers and cars park. Pretty BMW's model Z3 were aligned on waggons and in a parking.

We have spent 3 hours in a cyber coffee-house browsing in our golden book and the websites of other cyclists adventurers as Fred and Wendy, back from Singbybike, Jean and Anne-Cé who started from Cap Tandem, and Jean-Christophe, ready to begin his raid Brussels - Le Cap.

Monday August 28th (Spieka Neufeld, km+78=4820)

We had a rainy night and a beautiful day, the wind blowed from the west, facing us until Cuxhaven. We did'nt like too much this town, the few nice stuccoed and coloured houses being isolated amongst ill-assorted buildings; the beaches are strictely regulated and the access is charged for some of them. While riding we had to protect ourselves with spectacles against the wind and the biting sand.

Sunday August 27th (Freiburg, km+61=4743)

The visit of our parents ended today at noon after the picnic. Thanks to you, Marie, Philippe, Marie and Alain for these three days together, with our bicycles, the shining sun, the light wind, the panting sheeps, the joyous meals, and the confortable nights. See you again at mid-September…

Today we took two ferries, one of which to cross the Elbe below Hamburg, and we presently ride down the other bank. At a pizzeria in a charming village named Freiburg (how many Freiburgs are there in Germany ?) we find out about the camping possibilities in this country.

Saturday August 25th (Meldorf, km+91=4681)

We can be proud of our parents who, because of an itinerary underestimation, have ridden 91 km instead of the 65 initially foreseen. The Vader (father of Benoît) is delighted and claims a beer. At 70, it has covered that distance like a young man.

The day has been hot, fortunately we went along the sea, with a facing mild wind. No sand beaches: the bronzing people lay on the grass, facing huge mud-banks who are covered by shallowness water at high tide. With our strongly harnessed bicycles we have passed through a beach for nudists, who were not at all concerned by this contrast.

Friday August 24th (Harstettermarsh, km+47=4590)

This morning at 10:00 am we have all 6 together bestridden our loyal mounts and pedaled along the dikes circling a huge bird sancturary, the Wattensee reserve.

It's marvelous to speak and speak with my daugther, while admiring a imposing landscape, and guided by super birdwatchers. Hurray for the bicycle, especially after a beautiful ride through a flat land, and no wind !

See also birdwatching.

Thursday August 23th (km+72=4543)

We are now in Germany, in an hotel facing a dike, the North sea being on the other side. Yesterday we rode along the Baltic Sea, and had our picnic on a hulk above the clear water. Today we pedal at low tide along huge mud areas and have our picnic at Schluttsiel, a small harbour.

Near a small village named Bordelum, we had an appointment with our parents in an hotel, and we have met them with joy for a three days bicycle ride. For them it's like we left yesterday, for they followed us every day on the web.

Wednesday August 22th (Groengard, km+89=4471)

Beat the drums ! Tomorrow we will leave the Denmark and with it the Nordic Countries, and not only the Scandinavia, because Finland is not part of it, as we have learned. It is therefore the end of the first big part of our adventure; we will come into more familiar countries for a short month, the encounter with our parents tomorrow, and the 15th September event which approaches quickly.

We had a beautiful day, under the sun and with a light wind in our back; we rode alongside the german border, in a flat and calm landscape. In a village Gaëtane found herself blocked behind a Corsa which progressed very slowly, in spite of her frantic rings. That noise was vain: we saw that car farther, two charming aged ladies went out of it, on the parking of a clinic for deaf people…

We have planted our tent near a biological farm; on the horizon wind-mils tirelessly revolve, without any concern for the last scandinavian night of bike800

Monday August 20th, 2001 (Simmerbolle, km+83=4284)

After a sunny morning the wind brought us clouds from the west. We have crossed numerous cyclist travelers, at least 20, including two families with children.

Gaëtane comes back all smiles from the shower; she suffers a crick in the neck for the first time in her life, but regularly put off the scarf I have recommended to wear.

Last but not least she stands on her gard, because our third "overnattningspladser" is a farm with many classical animals, as cows, horses, hens, unfortunately a dog, and worse: cats (a white one, a black, a gray, two reddish-brown…).

Sunday August 19th, 2001 (Guldbog km+61=4201)

We continue to follow road 9, and went through the nice little town of Praesto, then attended the mass a bit farther in the beautiful church of Skibinge, a village dated to the end of the 17th century. The priest was a lady, wearing the soutane with a stylist ruff. A pretty baby has been christened during the ceremony.

The "primitive overnatningspladser" system worked very well yesterday: we have been welcomed by a former farmer and bus driver. A tent was already planted in the mowed part of the nearby meadow, with a couple of cyclists, students from Copenhagen. Tonight the place is less enjoyable, a thunderstorm is approaching, besides that everything is ok in the Danish Kingdom.

Saturday August 18th (Baekkeskov, km+101=4140)

On the road again, after a week of small urban rides. We will follow the Danish national cycling roads nb 9 then nb 8, about 400 km till Flensburg, the german boundary, then about 50 km to Husum where we will rejoin our parents on Thursday evening for 3 days together. Road 9 turns to be excellent, very well signposted. The day is beautiful, the sea is shining.

Wild camping is forbidden in Denmark, but they have a list of 700 locations allowed only for pedestrians, cyclists or horsemen, the motor vehicles being forbidden. Moderate prices, rudimentary premises but ecological formula: we have bought the booklet and are interested to test this "primitive overnatningspladser" system.

Friday August 17th (Copenhagen, km+37=4039)

Like the London docklands, some districts of Copenhagen are changing: daring office buildings, original housing, a superb architecture school implemented in several old shipbuildings and harbour installations. Even Christiania spreads farther than you think, on small experimental houses along the lake.

Tonight we celebrate the theoretical first half of our trip (we will probably ride more than 8000 km) at the Sun Circus, its great white big top being for the first time implemented in a scandinavian country.

We remained one day more in Copenhagen to finalize our road book and the time table till the appointment of September 15th, prepare our departure tomorrow, and write a report on the cycling paths status.

Thursday August 16th (Copenhagen, km+37=4002)

4000 km at my counter, thanks to a super ride down town, amongst the flow of the cycling people: in Copenhagen, 1/3 of the active population goes to work on bicycle, 1/3 by car and 1/3 with the public transportation. I am afraid thinking about the proportion in Brussels… Nevertheless, they are rising, good friends cyclists, you have the wind aft !

We went by chance through an extraordinary district : old workmen houses, all alike along paved streets, many bicycles resting against the façades. This St Paul Kirke district, alongside the Borgergade is not mentioned in our guides, nevertheless we have loved it.

The Rosenborg castle has charmed us by many amusing points, horses hovering above the landscapes, laughing fellows, a painting similar to the one Gaëtane has restored.

We bought a road-map and a booklet of the bivouac sites at the Dansk Cyclist Forbund, a nice office and an enthusiastic welcome.

Wednesday August 15th (Copenhagen, km+40=3966)

I feel much better this morning, ready for a cycling day in the sunny Copenhagen.

First the Glyptothèque of Ny Carlsberg, the beer boss was also an advised meacenas, he gathered an incredible collection of Egyptian statues, antics, romantics, all in a superb building.

Then we have visited the free town of Christiania, born in 1971 in a place of barracks left by the army, facing a lake, and immediately occupied by youngsters who refurbished all that to inhabit in that place. Now Christiania is a "baba cool" town inside the town, with many visitors; in the first street they are a dozen small shops where it is unofficialy tolerated to sell soft drugs; then more or less tumble-down booths, bars, workshops, as the one where the well-known Christiania bicycles are build.

After that we had to run to be on time at Piet's appartment; he is a diplomat at the Belgian embassy in Copenhagen. We have enjoyed an excellent evening with him.

Tuesday August 14th (Copenhague)

After a two days throat pain, I suffer a heavy cold that leaves me sleepy, resting in bed or on a sofa, sorry not being able to come with my beloved wife for a bicycle ride through the center of the Danish capital.

Here I am for a ride into Copenhague, leaving my patient. Practicing bicycle in Copenhague is a sport, I mean the rules to observe. The cycling tracks are spread everywhere, just broad enough for two bicycles. You have therefore to keep your right, and to remain careful, because you are not alone, by far. At the stop lights, we are an average of a big dozen to wait. Afterwards another rule applies: the ones who intend to start before the others keep themselves on the left, but in general you are better to stay on the right. Then any respectable cyclist starts at the orange light without waiting for the green one. Last but not least, when you intend to stop, you have to wave your hand, a bit like a Pope greeting. By the way, you have to know it: Benoît issues the same signal when you must stop immediately to watch some birds…

Copenhague delighted me with its beautiful coloured houses in Nyhavn, its many pedestrian streets (bye bye bike!), the bustles in the streets… A very nice experience: cycling along the seaside, the ships and sailing boats up to the Little Mermaid, as lovely and small as touristic.

Monday August 13th (Copenhague km+17=3926)

We came here this morning via the new bridge linking Malmö in Sweden to Copenhague. Bicycling is forbidden on it for security reasons, therefore we have put our bicycles on the train, thanks to a very convenient room designed for them. We are in a bicycle country, we will come back about it.

We enjoy a charming home during the few days we will spend here. Anne-Marie, a teacher in french we met more than a month ago in the Tarnaby camping, sent us a mail and proposed to live in her appartment while she is on holiday ! The appartment has wooden doors and floor, and is located in an area dating about the 1930's, it is charming, especially thanks to the common garden within the houses.

We have to leave now for an organ concert taking place in the nearby church of Valby.

Sunday August 12th (Lund)

You would guess to be already in autumn, this gray and rainy weather being more favourable to visit a town or read a book in an hotel room, rather than cycling as braves.

We visited our third catholic church in Sweden, all of them being a success as far as contemporary architecture is concerned. We knew already the ending hymn thanks to a preceding mass: nearly integrated in Sweden, we leave the country tomorrow…
The outlines museum in Lund is worth a visit, the halls are full of various projects in painting, sculptures, achitecture, with several monumental pulic works.

Sketches of the Electricity Fairy by Raoul Dufy for the universal exhibit of 1939 in Paris, the model of the wrapped Berlin Reichstag by Christo in 1995, appliances by Braün from 1955 to 1980 (radios, turntables, razors…) with functional design by Dieter Rams…

The cathedral was less interesting, except the mosaïcs in the choir, and huge polychrome clocks.

This ends our broadcast "Holidays and Culture", presented from Lund by our special correspondent in Lund. Have a good evening!

Saturday August 11th (Lund, km+64=3909 km)

I have hated this morning, the craizy wind, a caterpillar-like slow pace, bleak countryside: I feel better after saying it. Cycling on long distances becomes our daily task: we generally find it much rewarding, and some days, fortunately very rare, our bicycles become our burden.

A rottweiler standing on the road nearly has paid for these frustrations: my autority succeeded to maintain it at safe distance. I would have beaten it with pleasure, should I have an stick at my disposal; as far as for Gaëtane, she was rather pale. It's the first time that we see an aggressive dog wandering freely in front of a house, up to now we have seen them properly kept on the leash, or staying in an enclosure. Damned Mirza !

We have much better enjoyed the afternoon: the youth hostel, quite unusual, was implemented in a train on an unused track, with the rooms in the compartments, dining-car, sanitation car…, but it was fully booked, and we falled back upon a Best Western, the occidental luxury at moderate price. A sense of shame quickly goes away…

On the other side Lund is an old University town, lovely, we will tell more about it tomorrow.

Friday August 10th (Trelleborg, km+59=3845)

During the night we have been rocked by the waves sound, our tent being planted very close to the waterside. The road to Trelleborg went along the south coast of Sweden, with peaceful views, a calm sea but a rainy weather this afternoon.

We had a feast of Internet: one hour at the library, then another one in a cybercafé to send photos. Then the same winning scenario as yersterday: a pizzeria around 7:00 pm, a French leave from the town, and our camp set up outside. Yep !

Now, it's time to give you an important appointment, a temporary get together, and a feast of cyclism at the European scale. Meet us on the Saturday September 15th at 9:00 am at Louvain-la-Neuve for a bike8000 20 km ride, at the opportunity of an event organized by our partners Pro Velo and Euro Velo "Faites rayonner l'Europe" (make the Europe shine) with a special broadcast of le "Beau Vélo de Ravel"
(translator's comment: play of words on "Ravel's bolero", the word Ravel designates old railways tracks converted into cycling paths).
All information by clicking here.

Thursday August 9th (Ystad km+39=3786)

The island of Bornholm is a real paradise for cyclists, while we were going up along the coast, to the north of Hasle. The track ran along the agitated sea: strong feelings with the wind, the waves, the sprays, the sun…

Picnic on a nice square in Ronne, then back with the ferry to Ystad, a lovely mediaeval town, and goodbye to the Standaert family. We have loved pedaling with you, stop in the youth hostels, and marvel together at discoveries along the road. What a unforgettable experience are these holidays on bicycles with the children !

Their last official comments:
Victoria (nearly 8 years): "I did'nt like the boat because we have been too much shaken".
Henri (4 ½ years): "I hope they have fished good crabs, I am hungry".
Théodore (1 ½, does not speak but thinks for himself): "Why is he boring us with his reports ?"

Wednesday August 8th (Hasle km+36=3757 km)

The excellent breakfast was served this morning in an outbuilding besides the youth hostel. Then our party started towards Kaseberga, a little village at the foot of hills boarding the sea.

We have encountered a german family who travelled with two children in a trailer, then an austrian family with an identical train: this way of travelling seems to be popular in the south of Sweden !

The following stop brought us in a fish-smoking shop, interesting for adults and children. We bought some specialities for the evening meal, then we visited this traditional little workshop. Woodfires smoke during 4 to 6 hours the fishs lined up on the oven railings.

I had underestimated the distance between Hasle and Ystad, and at half past twelve we are the last to embark at the very last minute on the ferry towards Bornholm, under an heavy rain. We therefore disembark on the danish ground, still under the rain, and continue in the woods for a short run.

Tonight our youth hostel is very disappointing. Jail corridors, boarding-school dining-hall, covent living-room, holiday-camp dormitory… The answer is given by old photos: these facilities have been army barracks before... you're in the army now !

Tuesday August 7th (Bakakra, km+38=3721)

The family holidays on bicycles are going well; our itinerary leads us to the South, this time along the sea. A few meters on the left of the road the smooth waves of the Baltic sea end up on the sand beaches or on small rocks covered with comorans.
To the right, large meadows and horses, minute villas and some fishermen farms.

Nomads pulling our caravans, we stop at the youth hostel and prepare the so-called "aunt Augusta" pastry to celebrate Guy's anniversary: he is 39 today !

See also the birdwatching heading

Monday August 6th (Baskemölla, km+34=3684)

This morning, our cyclist party looked as follows: head bicycle: Guy with Henri and Théodore in the trailer, secondly Benoît, 3rd Victoria, 4th Gaëtane, and finally Caroline with a luggage trailer.

The word is given to the new incomers:

Caroline: "holidays on bicycle, what an extraordinary discovery, Victoria rides very well, using the full range of gears; Henri and Théodore are lovely in their "caboose", Guy pulls them enthusiastically; Gaë and Ben ride as "pros" on their fully loaded bicycles, they are perfect "G.O.'s" (Note from the translator: Gentils Organisateurs, cfr Club Med). They use to find their way while shopping in the local "Delhaize", which is not evident with these swedish foods, and they have nice tricks, like pic-nicking around churches, very confortable".

Guy: "a feel of liberty, this is my impression while riding through the landscapes and coasts of south Sweden. The most impressive: the organization, quality and numbers of youth hostels".

Victoria: "youth hostels are super: we all 7 sleep in the same room".

Henri: "Benoît trowed the fishing rod, then took it again but it was no fish; then hegave it to me and I catched a fish, this was the best time of the day".

Théodore: "Reuh, zoui, hihi, yaaah, and other onomatopoieas"

Baskemölla by the Swedish painter S-A Svenson

Sunday August 5th (km+102=3650)

Yahoo! We have met Caroline, Gaëtane's sister, Guy her husband and their children: Victoria (8 soon), Henri (4 ½ ) and Theodore (1 ½ years). We will spend a few days together… on our bicycles. We are in a lovely youth hostel, a former farm dating from the XVIIIth century, half-timbered and with a tatched roof.

The landscape has changed completely since yesterday: much less trees, therefore much less wooden houses; coming here we have crossed reddish-brown hills dotted with a few trees. Before these hills we rode along the sea in nearly-meridional pine woods.

We are happy to end these 8 days at an average progression of more than 100 km a day, it was a bit too much for us, and we are delighted to be as a family party for a merry common ride.

Saturday August 4th (Mörrum, km+104=3548)

This morning we had to submit ourselves to a short bus trip till Karlskrona, which we would have reached yersterday night, if we had not decided a detour through Öland: the pleasure of discovery had priority ! We must first negotiate with the bus driver, because the Swedish rules he showed us did'nt allow him to take our bicycles in the bus. Fortunately his huge luggage compartments, the scarce number of passengers and our honest look helped us to convince him .

To confront the wind, we continue our successive relays of 5 km. We try to remain in the wheel of the leader, which is not always easy: Gaëtane uses to zigzag in the ascending slopes, while I tend to shorten these ascents by some accelerations, standing up on the pedals.

Tonight we were so tired on a little road that a jogger nearly passed beyond us: we reacted by pushing firmly on our pedals, and succeeded to avoid that shame. We are installed under oaks (since Stockholm they are frequent, some of them being of several hundeds years standing), and birchtrees.

See also the birdwatching heading

Friday August 3rd (Kalmar km+101=3445)

When this morning, waking up in the tent, Gaëtane wished me a happy birthday, it was a beautiful day, and the passing years offer to me much more happiness than misfortunes.

There were not 36 solutions to join the natural sanctuary of Ottenby, then Kalmar: continue towards the south end through the west coast, by far the most beautiful, then going up to the north along the east coast and take the bus which carries cyclists and their engines to the other side of the 6 km long bridge, forbidden to bicycles, which links the island to the continent.

The sancturary itself is splendid, with landscapes beaten by the winds; its lighthouse, "Lange Jan", is the tallest in Sweden. From the birdwatching point of view however, we could'nt manage to watch 36 species, but someone informed us about a good place on our way back, and there I could watch a feast of stints as never before (as will be reported tomorrow).

The flowers also enjoyed us, 36 species boarded the road, it was a real botanic garden.

Moreover, the wind had turned since the day before and while going back we had to fight against side-blasts and avoid to fall, which would have shown us 36 candles.

In a village we could consult Internet at the minute bookshop. Many thanks for your 36 messages, either private or on the golden book, they warmed us while the weather becomes colder and the rain, which fortunately spared us during these last 15 days, is coming back.

Thursday August 2th (Triberga, km+92=3343)

A romantic, narrow and winding path, calm but in good shape brought us this morning from Oskarhamn to Mönsteräs.

2:00 pm: we embark in the ferry to Öland island, beloved by the Swedish. 137 km long and only 5 to 7 km broad, it is covered by churches, windmills and runic stones; there are also beautiful beaches in the north and sandy moors covered with flowers in the south. We will discover this at the south end, as well as a bird sancturary in Ottenby.

Around 9:00 pm a roedeer runs away from the meadow where we will plant our tent. Curious atmosphere on this island, flat and beaten by the wind.

Thwo unusual encounters in one of these villages. In a little coffee-house a bit dirty, mother and daughter serve us ungraciously. The girl appears to be a fortune-teller, or magician, or sorcerer, according to the newspapers articles displayed on the walls. Antipathetic anyway.

200 m farer, another world: kindness, welcome and commercial sense are at the meeting place in the "Pampas", managed by a retreated Argentine musician, converted by his hobby to become an asado expert. We leave him with food from his speciality, that we will immediately devour, we die of starvation…

Grey Lag Gooses land near our camp, in the rosy setting sun.

Wednesday August 1st (Oskarshamn km+116=3251)

The cykelsparet went today mainly along tracks without tarmac, beautiful, with very low traffic, but after a time, it abrades tires and energy. It's not advisable to gain speed in the descending slopes, which would really help before attacking the following ascending slope ! This path is like a scenic railway.

It has been the day full of dangers. First Gaëtane went into the ditch, (the first time for us) fortunately a grassy, not a deep one. No injury, but the luggages to fasten again. After that she lost a strap after a jump in a pot-hole, then she striked me, because I had suddently derailed in a slope. I have not been spared myself, because when passing under a - powerful - powerline I catched some electrical discharges in my bottom, while the coper rivets of my saddle were crackling !

A very beautiful (and very expensive) camping falls from the heavens for us just before Oskarshamn: we rush into it. Everybody under the shower !

Tuesday July 31th (Segers-Gard, km+133=3135)

Elsy and Rune have offered us an ideal breakfast well fitted to confront a long and windy day. We arrive at 10:00 am at Söderkoping, a nice small town previously near the sea, now crossed by a channel. After that our road was toward south-east, the wind became lateral, or even pushed us in our back: a pleasure !

Gorgious day, because we watched a couple of cranes, symbols for us because they will migrate in November to the south-west of Spain (Estramadure), where we hope to see them again.

At a point we leave the cykersparet for a gain of 20 km, out of which 15 km facing the wind. We ride on very narrow roads, between fields goldened by the evening light and red barns impressive by their dimensions and age and, hurrah ! we retrieve the official itinerary at the foreseen point !

To celebrate this splendid day, the longest too, we send you a few figures. Moreover, the bicycle counter will soon go over the web visits counter… Ok, some of you are on vacation, but you could find a cyber cafee at your place, isn't it ?

See also the birdwatching heading, and also a few figures about the journey, as compiled on July 31th.