Cycletrippin – The Lonely Cyclists Tour Scandinavia – Stage 1

Taking a break just outside Kirkenes Norway
Taking a break just outside Kirkenes Norway

This journey that I call going on a cycletrippin, started at my home in Amsterdam the Netherlands, the route took me all the way to Nordkap and back to Amsterdam. During the trip, I cycled through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden. For the most part of the trip I cycled, I also used other means of transportation such as train services, bus services, and ferries when cycling was not possible due to a waterway or the weather caused problems.

When I planned the trip, I divided my trip up into 5 stages, as I would use the break between the stages for rest. The is the first stage of the cycltrippin took me from Amsterdam to Bergen below is how I did that.

Stage 1

Below is a map of the route I took for stage 1, which included a ferry trip from Northern Denmark to Norway and a train journey the last part into Bergen. I had some time constraints on this part of the cycletrippin, as I had to be in Bergen on a specific day as I was going to start a journey aboard a Hurtigruten ship.

Cycling Route Amsterdam to Bergen

You can find the other stages at the following location

Amsterdam to Gasselternijveen

Amsterdam

On the day of departure, I got up early and got on my bike and started cycling through the Netherlands, the weather was great sunny and not to warm around 25-celsius. The route I took out of Amsterdam took me passed Almere, Lelystad to Assen. The ride was very easy as the landscape is flat, the cycle paths at times are very straight. That has an impact on me sometimes, as I often lose speed and go slower than I normally do, it’s just a mind game is also a good exercise training your mind for what coming next.

Assen

Just before Assen, I was on a bike path and came across a heard of sheep, they had all taking cover under some trees, I tough that there was a sign that the weather got warmer, I personally had not felt that. It turned out that the temperature has risen to 30 celsius.

My Stop for the day was in Gasselternijveen In the Netherlands not far from the German border, I arrived in Gasselternijveen late afternoon, found the house with the AirBnB room that I had booked. After talking to the host, I took a shower, ate my dinner, and then went to relax. I had a big nice airy room, with a great mattress. That night I slept really well.

Gasselternijveen to Ringstedt

Stadskanaal

The great thing with an AirBnB booking is that breakfast is included, I got up early, had my breakfast, got my bags on the bike and left Gasselternijveen, my plan for the day was to first visit Fort Bourtange located in the Netherlands close to the German border. On my way towards Fort Bourtange, I passed by the town of Staddskanal.

Bourtange

Fort Bourtange was built in 1593 during the Dutch Revolt and was used until 1851. Fort Boutrange has a star-shaped fortification. Inside the fortification is a museum. I got to Fort Boutrange before 9:00 in the morning, I road over an old bridge into the old fortified fort.

I got off my bike and walked around, Fort Bourtange was worth the visit, and to see how life was lived in the past behind fortified walls.

When I got my full dose of Fort Boutrange I was back on my bike heading to Germany, within minutes from leaving Fort Boutrange I crossed the border to Germany and headed towards Papenburg.

Papenburg

Papenburg is situated on the river Ems and is known for its large shipyard, the Meyer-Werft, which specializes in building cruise liners.

Papenburg has a canal in the city center, and it has large ships that are permanently anchored in the canal, I learned that this due to the cities history of shipbuilding.

Bremenhaven

I stayed a few minutes taking in Pappenburg before heading towards Bremerhaven, on my way to Bremerhaven I cycled across farmlands with some rolling hills. The rolling hills were nice as it been flat up to this point, and it also gave me time to pace myself and getting my legs used to cycling hills. My main concern on the day was were to cross the river Weser to get to Bremerhaven, I decide to do it near the town of Blexen that has a ferry service to Bremerhaven. I got to Bremerhaven in the late afternoon, I was not finished as I had a booked my overnight stay over in the small hamlet of Ringstedt.

Ringstedt

I got to Ringstedt early evening, I located the house where I was going to stay at and rang the doorbell, an old lady opens the door and welcomes me in. She told me that it was her house and that she had started to rent out the spare bedroom after the death of her husband. She rented it out to make some extra money, she showed me her garden where she got most her vegetables from.

Ringstedt to Struxdorf

Ringstedt

The old lady had served up a really nice breakfast for me, I took my time to fill up my batteries. The ride I did on this day was a long one booth in distance and time, it was great that I got a nice breakfast to get through the day. From Ringstedt I headed towards Wischhafen.

Wischhafen

The ride to Wischhafen is really good, lots of hills, I’m talking small rolling hills. When I got to Wischhafen I cycled to ferry station that takes you across the river Elbe. Lots of traffic on this day, the ferry got filled up quickly, I was not the only cyclist on the ferry.

When I was on the other side of Elbe, I continued on my way towards Itzehoe, as I navigated through the German landscape towards Nord-Ostsee-Kanal or in English know as the Kiel Canal, I had to cross the Kiel Canal on a cycle you only have a few choices, I had decided to take the Fußgängertunnel in Rendsburg.

Itzehoe

In Itzehoe I stopped to eat, Itzehoe is a town in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, located on the Stör, a navigable tributary of the Elbe and 51 km northwest of Hamburg.

Fußgängertunnel unter dem Nord-Ostsee-Kanal

I got to the Fußgängertunnel in Rendsburg which allows pedestrian and cyclist to get across the Kiel Canal, it’s known locally as the Fußgängertunnel unter dem Nord-Ostsee-Kanal. On each side, you can either take a lift down or the escalator. I read that the escalator was one of the longest in the world.

I took the escalator as the lift had just gone down, I went down to where the tunnel is, as you can see from the movie.

I cycled through the tunnel and got the escalator up on the other side. There is a food kiosk at the entrance to the tunnel, where a lady was selling amongst many food items homemade cutlets. They were so damn good, I have three before I continue into the city center of Rendsburg.

Rendsburg

In Rendsburg I found a bike store with an air hose so I could check my tire pressure and fill up. It’s much easier to cycle if you always have the right air pressure in your tyres, and when you carrying extra weight with your cycling bags you need to check every day.

I cycled through Rendsburg, as I still had some distance to go to my overnight location, which was in the hamlet of Struxdorf.

Struxdorf

I had booked my overnight stay in a converted farmhouse in the village of Struxdorf. I got there a little late, I had been in contact with the host by phone, it took me longer than I expected to get there. My host lived there alone, working in an engineering job for a large military contractor in Flensburg.

Struxdorf to Veijle

Struxdorf

My stay at Struxdorf ended with a good breakfast before I got back out on the roads. The navigation from Struxdorf was straight forward, I passed through a few villages on my way to Flensburg.

Flensburg

Flensburg is a town at the tip of the Flensburg Fjord in northern Germany, I came in from the south and cycled along the harbour front before heading towards the border to Denmark.

Kruså

I entered Denmark at Kruså, I was expecting that I would be checked at the Danish border, in the last few years when I travelled by car I been stopped on the border to Denmark. This time they just waved me through.

There are a few border shops on both sides of the border, on the German side nearest to the border there are mostly liquor stores and on the Danish side, there were some clothing outlets. I did some shopping as I had forgotten to take with me a wind-rain jacket and I also withdraw some cash, as Denmark does not use the Euro.

Aabenraa

After Kruså I headed towards Aabenraa, Aabenraa is located at the head of the Aabenraa Fjord, the city had a nice beach area. It was a chilly day, not many people out on the beach. At this time of day, I was hungry. When you cycle you burn a lot of calories, which is your energy you need to resupply as often as you can. I do have three regular meals, and then I eat between the meals while I cycle.

I turned my attention to the Beach Pit in Aabenraa where I had my lunch for the day. I had a great hamburger, probably the best I ever have had, I guess it was the gravy that made it so juicy and great tasting. After my meal, I continued I took it easy, not to much tempo as I normally do as I was really full from the meal. After burning some calories from my meal, I increased my speed on my way to Kolding.

Kolding

I did not stop long in Kolding, what I saw was some nice architecture in the city center area. Kolding is located at the head of Kolding Fjord in the Region of Southern Denmark. On this part of my cycling trip, I’m passing by a few cities in Denmark that are located at the end of a fjord.

What is really a fjord, A fjord is created by glacial activity and is characterized by being closed off on 3 sides with one side being open to the open sea. In Denmark, there are 16 fjords.

Vejle

Vejle was my stop for the night, the reason for this is that the area around Vejle is one of the hilliest in Denmark and I wanted to be rested before I continued on my journey. Vejle is a town in Denmark at the head of Vejle Fjord, where the Vejle River and Grejs River and their valleys converge.

If you have plans to visit Denmark and do some cycling then Vejle is a place to visit Denmarks toughest cycling hills

Vejle – Aalborg

Vejle

I started the day with a big breakfast before heading out of Vejle, I experience a few steep hills, then it became more rolling hills to Silkeborg.

Silkenborg

On the approach to Silkeborg, I passed by a few lakes, one had a really nice beach area, I was thinking it would be great with a batch, after few seconds I had passed by with the argument that it was still a long way to Aalborg.

Viborg

I had chosen the route to Viborg because I have cycled passed Viborg before. Which I wrote about in Cycletrippin – Long ride from Aalestrup to Tonder

Aalborg

I finally got to Aalborg, the Airbnb I was staying in was on the main road into town from the south, I had said I will be there by 19:00, I still had some time so I cycled down to the city center and the harbour area. It was down at the harbour I got my first puncture. Before fixing the puncture I was filming a truck putting a boat in the water.

I fixed my puncture, this is something every cyclist should know how to do, at the same time I fixing my puncture I checked my stock of inner tubs, I thought I needed to get more. I cycled around the town tills I found a cycling shop, while I was there I checked my tire pressure and made sure they were ok for tomorrow’s ride and I bought a few more innertubes.

After I was done in the bike store, I went to the Airbnb room I had booked. The room was located in the attic. It was very nice had everything I needed for that evening and night, a beautiful, comfortable bed, a large screen TV. The 2018 World Cup group games kicked off that evening. I watch a game before tucking myself in.

Aalborg – Sandefjord

Aalborg

In the morning I discovered that Aalborg is a really nice cycling town, they offered cycling air service station around town. The main bridge across the Limfjord, has a display that mentions how many cyclists have passed the bridge today and how many since the start of the year. Cool initiative.

The Limfjord is a shallow part of the sea, located in Denmark where it is regarded as a fjord ever since the Vikings time.

I was heading to Hirtshals to catch a ferry to Larvik Norway, which I had pre-booked so I was on the clock. On my way to Hirtshals, I stopped at Lindholm Høje, a Viking burial cemetery and a museum about the Vikings.

Lindholm Høje

I arrived at Lindholm Høje just before 8:00 in the morning while walking to the Viking cemetery I was meet by Tor the Lindholm Høje sheep.

Tor the Lindholm Høje sheep gave me permission to fly my drone. It was a bit rainy as the weather had gone from warm to cold and wet in two days. It was hard to control the drone with my mobile phone.

After I satisfied my curiosity about the Viking history at Lindholm Høje, I headed towards Hirtshals.

Hirtshals

I got into Hirthals with some time to spare before I had to board the ferry to Larvik Norway. The town of Hirtshals was developed around the artificial harbor which was constructed between 1919 and 1931. In 1966, the harbor was expanded and became one of the largest fishing ports in Denmark.

Hirtshals has several ferry destinations to Norway, as well as you can take a ferry to the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

I was thinking there must be a fishing shop near the harbour where I could pick up some freshly smoked fish dishes. I was in luck, I found a fish shop and they had all the smoke fish choices I wanted to buy.

When I had purchased all the different smoked fish, I went to the ferry terminal to check-in. As a cyclist you will check in as you would be a car, I had to stand in line waiting for my turn. After checking in, I went to the spot that I was asked to stay at tills it was time to start loading the ferry. I walked around and I came across a truck that has a Johhny Cash motive on it.

Larvik

The ferry to Larvik from Hirtshals took 3 hours 45 minutes, on the ferry I meet a Dutch couple in their early 70’th – they were avid cyclists, on this trip they had for the first time taken electrical bicycles, they were going to cycle around the Larvik area and camping out, they were hardcore. On the ferry was also a gang of motorcyclists.

Sandefjord

I stopped for the night in Sandefjord were I stayed in a hotel. Cycling from Larvik to Sandefjord I got a taste on how it would be like cycling in Norway, with rolling hills, and at times very steep hills, short but steep.

Sandefjord – Geilo

Sandefjord

After a good breakfast, I left the hotel and explored Sandefjord before heading to Drammen.

Drammen

The reason I wanted to go to Drammen was to see the course that the Cross Country World Cup Drammen race uses each year in the heart of the city of Drammen. On the way, I started to feel awful so I stopped, I just felt depleted of energy. I found a park bench sat down, and start eating everything I had and took a nap. It helped, I felt better by the time I got into Drammen, I had lost a few hours. My plan was to stay overnight in Geilo, I decide to see how far I could cycle and I also kept an eye on where there were train stations, after Drammen I got to Hønefoss before I jumped on a train to Geilo.

It’s great that you can take your bicycle on trains, you have that flexibility. In all the countries I cycled through on this cycletrippin (Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland). Sweden was the only country I could not take a bicycle on a train if I did not pack in a box and shipped it. All other countries I went through the possibility was there to just buy a ticket for a train and take your bike as is onboard.

Geilo

In Geilo, I stayed at the Geilo Vandrerhjem, I got a whole room for myself. I also had some bad luck I dropped my mobile phone, and the screen broke, after that I was not able to use that mobile phone anymore, what I earnt from previous trips I brought more than one mobile phone, it was not all that hopeless. I don’t use my mobile for more than navigation and to fly my drone.

Geilo – Bergen

Geilo

In Geilo, I toured the Geilojordet which is a collection of houses and buildings from old times, showing how people lived in this area over 100 years ago. I left Geilo and biked to Haugastøl, I had known from when I planned the trip that I would not be able to make Bergen in one-day cycling, so I had pre-booked a train trip from Haugastøl to Bergen.

In Haugastøl, there is a beautiful bike route that is called Rallarvegen, that goes over the mountains and follows the railroad, the Rallarvegen was build to support the building of the railroad. The train journey between Haugastøl to Bergen is one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world in my opinion with mountains, streams, lakes spectacular views.

Bergen

I got in late to Bergen, it was after midnight, I had booked a bed in a hostel, when I got there I could not get in as I did not have the security code. I manage to call a service number and they confirmed I was booked there and send me the code to open the door into the hostel. I share a room with 10 other people both women and men.

This is the end of stage 1.

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