Mariager, September 21, 72 kilometres

written by bryan on September 26th, 2006 @ 12:46 PM

Today we became acquainted with the full range of our derailleurs.

Perhaps I’ll back up a bit. When last you joined us, we were luxuriating in an expensive hotel room to relax from an “exciting” adventure through the woods south of Aarhus. I guess things must have been too luxurious, because we got off to a slow start. We just couldn’t resist taking another soak in the tub. Bethany then needed to replace her broken kickstand, and I decided to take the opportunity to install my new bike computer, adjust my tiller, and buy some new underwear. Bethany’s errand took a considerable amount of time; first they wanted an hour to install it, and then she didn’t like what they got her and asked them to put something else on. It takes a while to install a computer, but it shouldn’t take long to buy underwear. However, I didn’t want to buy cotton and they didn’t have the sizes I wanted in polyester or wool. But I did find some, and then had trouble paying for them. So after all that, we didn’t get out of Aarhus until 3PM.

Getting out of Aarhus is one giant hill. On cold legs, it’s tough. And with almst 50 kilos of gear between the two of us on the bicycles, hills are tough. The bicyclists in Aarhus must be used to the hills. When you’re overtaken by a lady weaing a zebra skin dress and stilettos, it’s tempting to speed up and not let her past. She’s not packing 26 kilos and does not have 70 km to go, but stilletos? Even more disturbing was when we got passed by a jogger.

We eventually did make it out of Aarhus. Of course, the first thing outside of Aarhus is a steep descent and another long ascent. But this one wasn’t quite as steep, wasn’t quite as long, and our legs were warm. Annoying, but granny gear handled it well.

Unloaded, Bethany can take me on a hill any time. My Rocket is a much better climber than the Burley I took to Toronto with Trina, but no recumbent is a good climber. At slow speeds climbing a hill, there’s little weight on the front wheel, so the bicycle becomes twictchy and hard to balance.

However, adding weight in the midship racks the way I did eases things tremendously. Adding weight to a bike doesn’t make the hills easier, but it shifts the weight forward and lower to the ground, so the bike becomes much stabler and the minimum speed is much lower.

But if you add weight to a conventional bicycle, you’re either shifting weight to the back wheel, or else you’re adding weight to the steering wheel, both making the bike harder to control and balance at slow speeds. So right now I can balance my bicycle fairly well at about 8 kilometres per hour, whereas Bethany starts having troubles below 10.

The whole day consisted of a series of hills. None were as bad as the one out of Aarhus, but some were pretty steep or long. However, on most of them the bottom 3 gears worked well, so as long as you weren’t too impatient and frustrated at the 10-12 kilometre pace, it wasn’t too bad. Bethany may have a different opinion, though!

I hit 65 kilometres on one of the hills. I could have hit more on some of the steeper hills, but visibility was limited. Of course, it’s kind of silly taking a heavy loaded bicycle that fast, but it was fun.

The scenery was wonderful; both of our Dad’s would have loved it. It seemed very rich farmland, and we were up close, especially for the second part of the journey. For the first half, we used a cycle trail that paralelled one of the main roads. But when that ended, we took a cycle trail that essentially took country lanes. In most countries these usually aren’t good cycle trails, but in Denmark many of these are paved, with very nice pavement. They wind through tiny little villages every 3-6 kilometres and right up close to the farms and farm animals. Very little traffic, the main hazard was the clumps of dirt left behind by the farmers who turned their plows right up on the roadway.

Towards the end of the day, we made a discovery: there’s no shame in walking your bikes up a steep hill. If it’s not easy at your slowest stable speed, walk it up. You’ll be going about 4 or 5 kilometres per hour, which isn’t a lot slower than you’d be biking it up, and you’ll reach the top of the hill rested, with your legs shaken out and your butt rested, ready to rumble, rather than exhausted and needing a break. Call it a walking break.

Close to dusk we made a fortunate wrong turn. It was a kilometre downhill at an angle worse than that killer out of Aarhus. There was no way we were going to turn around and go back up that thing, but luckily there was a campground nearby. So we put up our tent, and headed back in to town for pizza.

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