The second ferry of my cycle trip takes place at a quaint Danish town called Stubbekobing to another Danish town called Bogø. This was a very small ferry route. 15 minutes from one island to another. As I reached the other side, I didn’t see much of Bogø because I got off the ferry and just pedaled on wards.
On the ferry, the wind had been insane. It was like I wasn’t wearing any clothes at all because there was no feeling of protection or warmth from even the wind cheater jacket & jersey cap I had on! Immediately I was thinking of furious ocean winds, and to feel protected in that I would need much heavier duty clothing than my normal urban stuff. Anyway I thought this was because I was on a ferry and crossing a water body. Once I was on land it should get better.
Once I reached Bogø and pedaled on, I think this disbelief in Strong Winds just kept me going. Yes there were some really strong gusts of wind which practically pushed my cycle by many centimeters. I had to keep veering back to my cycling space. Pedaling also got massively difficult. I got down once to adjust my luggage pack and tighten my wind cheater strings… and the cycle just toppled. Thankfully my stand didn’t break.
“Winds don’t really get this strong especially on land. But man, This pedaling is tough!”
So the first section from Bogø turned out to be a bridge! Crazy because again this was on a water body (more winds) and also because this bridge didn’t really have a separate cycle lane. It had a small space at the sides which we cycling folk were cycling on. And the rest of the road was for the cars. If the traffic would have been lesser then it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. School buses, trucks and smaller vehicles kept plying the road every few minutes in high speed. These minutes in between were very important. These minutes were when the wind would push me onto the road, in line of the vehicles. I would cycle back out. The vehicle would pass by. Repeat.
So tiring & scary & crazy!
“Winds aren’t this strong. Maybe I am just tired and not pedaling well. Yes, that must be it. Should have had a heavier breakfast!”
Finally after the bridge got over (I thought I cycled 10 km, but the map showed just 4 km) I took a quick stop and had some chocolate behind Denmark’s important shrine kind-of-thing. The cycle of course just toppled down, it would not stay up at all. That is fine. I just need a bit of space to eat chocolate and not have that wind whacking me in my face all the time.
Two cyclists passed me by – a father and his daughter. They didn’t seem to be struggling so much but I went and asked them whether it was too difficult for them too. They said yes, it was too windy and the bridge was quite risky. When I look at them cycling they don’t seem to be struggling, maybe I also seemed that way from afar.
I wondered whether to take shelter in some of the barns and houses that I came across, but the empty open roads beckoned.
“Winds? What winds?”
Soon after the bridge, the traffic disappeared in bylanes so again there were quiet, empty countryside roads! The situation did get safer as the onslaught from the winds continued. I would cycle at the side of the road and then get pushed well into the middle of the road. There wasn’t much traffic so I would slowly cycle to the side again to be pushed again. It was constantly a struggle but a relaxed one if that makes any sense.
I had the option of taking the shortest route to the next city Stege and just buckling down for the day. But then, where is the fun and adventure in that I wondered. Considering that I had just a few days on the road before I reached Copenhagen made me treasure these moments more. I didn’t want to cut them short. So on wards.
The Fanefjord church was 7 kms away and that is the direction I was headed. The church got my fancy, it was ancient with some interesting limestone frescoes and I would like to see it. But more and more on the road my denial was getting corroded. The winds were bizarrely strong. I was being pushed – 25 kgs of luggage and all from the side of the road to the middle of the road. This was happening all the time!
The wind was also not blowing in one direction. If that was the case then it somehow gets easier, at least I thought it would get easier, but it was moving in every direction – like a mad fury. Hence, which ever direction the road would turn I was being pushed all the time. On rare occasions the push would be in direction of my cycling and I would move forward unusually quickly, but too rare.
“This wind is not normal. I have never been pushed across the road despite pedaling in a different direction!”
But the empty roads beckon!
Fanefjord Church is Lovely
Finally I reached Fanefjord Church. Quite excited to explore it I tried to put my cycle on the stand and take a picture. The cycle toppled. Yes, a very windy day it is! Propped the cycle on the walls of the church and just scurried into this door.
Safety. Quiet. Peace.
The walls were so strong. Only some one who has cycled all these (11) kms in the mad winds would appreciate these strong, old walls! I was thinking how the rural folks in ancient days with rudimentary houses would take shelter in such a church during bad storms or unsafe times. I have seen it in movies often that village people would collect at the church in times of strife but here I could feel why that would make sense. The church is so spacious, feels strong and it gives an aura that everyone belongs here. With God and with our own spirit.
After a while as I was exploring the frescoes I quite forgot the winds. It almost felt like a normal day cycling the Danish countryside. Though I think my skin especially on the face did feel a bit raw.
So the thing about the Danish countryside and specifically this route I was cycling – there were really not many supermarkets or cafes. The last cafe/market would have been in Bøgø. This is normal because it was anyway only 15 km away even though cycling it had felt like 50 km. Typically any cafe/market are scattered at least 20 – 30 km away in the countryside of these countries. Or it was possible that there was a cafe but it was not exactly on the route I was cycling and hence I wouldn’t know of it. This was one of the reasons that I decided to cut the route just a tad bit short and from Fanefjord church I didn’t head to the nearby Gronsalen which is a ‘longdolmen’ – no I have no idea what it is, but I would have liked to explore it and figure out what they actually mean by that.
I moved straight into Harbolle road. In hindsight I realize that I should have cycled off to Store Damme which was north from Fanefjord Church for some food. Because in case you missed it, I hadn’t eaten much since morning. I did have a bit of breakfast at Stubbekobing before packing up at the campsite but that was easily hours away. And the strain of normal cycling makes my hungry but this windy day – I could use a full meal right at this time!
After this trip I find myself a bit more reliant on maps and planning. But during this trip I actually used the map just to mark the basic route. And spot other roads in case I needed to cut short. I didn’t really use any guide to figure out restaurants or the even interesting spots to see around the area. I just don’t like relying on technology or digital information sources for such things. Think about me as a nomadic lady who invented a bike and some advanced quality Ortlieb panniers and was just roaming around the lands No google, no technology. Except this bizarre and magical thing called Whatsapp to remain connected to family back home, miles and miles away. Yonder so many oceans and mountains and hordes of barbarian human race.
So cycling ahead.
I did come across a place with a signboard for a campsite (notice the previous picture). I don’t know whether this was an official campsite or whether it was a private farm that invited campers. I thought about stopping but then decided to move on. I really wanted to push on. When I started this day I was hoping to do 70 – 100 km. Here I would be stopping at a measly 15km!
After a while I came to a small forested patch, this was amazing because in the forest the winds did not penetrate through. A few calm moments amongst the green canopy. This was again a place where I could stop and cook a bit of food. However, the foods I had did not interest me much. I made a mistake in the vessels I chose for this trip. I went for full aluminium cooking pots. So it was very light in weight, but the aluminium really mixed with the food cooked in it. So the food wouldn’t taste good, it tasted all metallic like I was eating aluminium.
So no food for me. I did have some snacks which I kept munching. Finished a couple of chocolate bars like the dementors were out to get me. 😉
I passed many houses where I considered asking for some bread and cheese or even water, but I never really saw a human outside. I would have to go a-knocking on doors. Finally when I saw a lady outside a house, I quickly took the opportunity to ask for some water. Ice? No thanks. I would like it hot with turmeric in it, but normal tap water would do, thanks.
So that’s the human interaction until a bit further on.
“There must be some higher purpose to this struggle I am taking on. I could just stop but I am not. Why?”
At this point I started wondering why I kept continuing. Why? Almost as an answer, the roads opened up to the North Sea ahead of me. Beautiful. Pure energy! The blue ocean exuded a sense of raw power and awesomeness. Exhausted I dropped my bike and ran off down the tiny road that led to the sea beach. It was amazing. The strong winds and water roaring away to glory. I was beginning to understand why the fairy tales I had read of these regions always personified the winds and weather. It can be so harsh and enigmatic at the same time. It almost felt like live energy crackling away.
There were another two ladies enjoying the weather on the beach. I was thinking how much better it would be to not be utterly exhausted at this point. But then I thought that my experience was completely unique, and it is experiences like these that allows a person to build intimate bonds with nature. And this is the one thing I truly felt today – cycling makes you vulnerable to every natural change. It creates a bond and an understanding with nature. It makes me keep an eye out on the weather, understand implications, adapt. In our urban jungles we live like nature doesn’t matter. Oh ho – come out here cycling and you will know how every little natural matter affects you!
“Despite all the exhaustion I was definitely loving this at some level, otherwise I would not keep going.”
While I was standing and enjoying the whole situation, a German girl came along. And I guess curious as to what I was doing in that remote corner of Denmark, started chatting. It was fun, she was amazed at my struggles of the day and curious to know more. There was a guest house nearby, a place for yoga and other holistic activities. Right down my alley. She invited me to stay there for a couple days, until the wind died down. The place was owned by some learned yoga professionals while this girl was volunteering and staying here. Staying here would allow me to just enjoy these winds a bit more because we both felt and loved the high energy that the place was exuding. The winds had picked up just that day. The previous day it was all calm and docile as usual.
I headed to this guest house while chatting with her on the road. Used the wash room and felt a bit more human. And chatted for some more while having some water. The owners weren’t there, they would be back later. There was another Romanian girl who was also staying here. While both of them suggested that I should just stay there (and exchange stories and chill), I was not too inclined. I would love to go back to this place – because it is amazing, no doubt about that. The guest house (here is it’s website) gives you a direct view of the ocean. And all in all it is a brilliant place. It is also very close to the Danish island of Møn – which I have been told is worth exploring and a tad bit more scenic.
There were couple of reasons I actually didn’t take this opportunity to stay here but just pushed on after a while,
Firstly, my yoga activities tend to be a lot more hard core and at a much deeper level than a lot of people at such yoga retreat places and so very often I don’t find talking / doing yoga in such places very useful. Also I am not too interested in learning new techniques, I already have a path which I prefer getting deeper into. So staying at this retreat place would as of now be umm, Easy.
Secondly, my struggle of the entire day to just go on was a journey into self discovery and it was turning out to be hard core in itself. Again just stopping here would be…. Easy.
So let’s not opt for Easy now. So finally saying goodbyes to the two girls, I was on my way. I felt a bit rested as I was indoors for a while, out of the wind but still too exhausted. I also didn’t really eat anything yet.
Just 7 more km to go to Stege. And I thought I could do it.
“What if I just collapsed here in the countryside…. “
I think after a few kms it did get a bit easier. Some stored energy within the system took over and the progress got smoother.
I spent the time thinking of Wind Gods. Pawan dev Hanuman in India and these North wind gods – no idea what they may be called. I wondered if I need to tell the Indian gods to talk with these Norse gods and strike a friendship. Take care of this Indian girl…..
These last few kms just demanded more of me. To a lot of Indian people reading this it may seem so difficult and like madness. But you need to realize that, I was totally safe! If things got too much then I could collapse on to the side of the road and nothing major would really happen as it was a safe place. I didn’t have to worry about someone attacking me while I was so vulnerable. So for me this was like a sand box situation where one can go to extremes but with adequate safety.
And people who are wondering – Why?
Why should we push ourselves to the extreme?
For self discovery more than anything. For yourself. To know who you are. To understand what keeps you going in the tough times. To just keep going because nothing great ever got done when someone just quit midway when things got tough! I may do more such cycling adventures and I need to get the handle on this!
Also part of me felt that the reason this was so difficult for me was because I was just shocked at the natural barrage. Because as most of us Indians, we just don’t live outdoor lives. So this level of interaction with the natural elements was probably more an unusual shock than anything else. It just made me feel – that I cannot go on, while in reality I was strong enough to do this. And this was one big reason I had taken on the cycle trip. Over time I have been realizing that mentally we think we are weak even when we are not. It is easy for us to think ‘Oh, I cannot do this – I am a weak human’. But the reality is that we can do that and a HELL LOT MORE!
This was validated when I finally reached Stege.
This was probably the most welcome sight I had in the entire trip. Town! First building I came across was the very welcome volunteer office which was closed as usual (these people work just a few hours in the day). They had put up various notices outside including one with the wi-fi password. Woohoo. So I just sat here for a while browsing the internet and feeling ‘Calm & Quietly Proud’ of all things. I could make out some cafes just a bit ahead so that is where I needed to head. It was surprisingly easy to head to the cafe, the extreme exhaustion had ebbed. I knew I was really tired but I was also surprisingly Ok. As I said earlier, it is what I suspected. I was physically quite capable of this whole ride, but mentally it was a really big challenge because I just thought I wasn’t!
So all things said and done…..
Even the arugula leaves did not stop me from savoring every bite!
A day that ends in Pizza is after all a glorious day.
“Daijob desu. I am fine.”
With a satiated belly, I was half tempted to explore the town and even ride further, but I just settled for finding the campsite and heading there.