Day 9

The day's route (37 miles):

And the ride to date (451 miles):

Memo to self: never, ever say 'Today will be a nice, easy day.'

Over breakfast, I started looking on for accommodation. We had one day where the search for a place to stay gave us a long day of 64 miles, and today the only place with space was just 37 miles away. That was when I made the fateful comment.

We'll gloss over the navigational difficulties we experienced trying to find our way out of the town. That achieved, we were on our way.

The day was rather grey and murky. The forecast said a 60% chance of rain.

We'd kind of doubled-back on ourselves to last night's hotel, so today we were heading north-west, back to the coast. This was going to give us a mix of cross-winds and head-winds, but with a short 37-mile day we weren't too concerned.

The route so far was a mix of rural roads and reasonable cycle paths.

We seem to have a knack for finding ferries. This was just a short hop across a small river.

Hey, hang on a minute ... what's that? I chose a coastal route in these three countries on the specific understanding that it would be flat!

Ok, a headwind, plus a hill, plus cobblestones and bricks is taking the piss.

There was, at the top of the hill, a small town. With a coffee shop. If we'd known what was ahead, we'd have stopped there for a while despite being only 12 miles in.

But we didn't. So we continued.

Shortly afterwards, heading uphill again, it started raining. It was also pretty cold rain. But no problem, we are equipped with the proper clothing for such conditions, so a brief stop and we were on our way again. It was even still shorts weather.

Now, this is where things started to go rather downhill. Not literally, you understand. That would have been a good thing.

First, Eric's GPS was again demonstrating its humorous idea of what consitutes a paved road. Technically, it was correct: the 'road' we were on had two lines of flagstones lining a grass centre. Ok on two wheels, not so good on three.

Second, my rear brake-disc started rubbing. It had chosen a particularly desolate spot to do this, and the rain was getting heavier and colder.

It's just a parking brake, so worst case it could be slackened right off. I tried this. No change. I got out my toolkit and loosened the cable. No change. Eric had a look but couldn't see anything else we could try.

It wasn't a massive problem, though: it wasn't creating much drag, just a bit of annoying noise, so we decided the plan would be to continue on to the next town and visit a bike shop there. And a tea-shop, not necessarily in that order.

Eric's bike had other ideas: he had a puncture in the rear tyre. With a cold wind blowing across the wide open area, it was impossible to hear where the leak was coming from. Eric inspected the surface of the tyre and couldn't spot anything, so we concluded that perhaps it was a slow puncture and pumping it back up might keep him going until we reached a more hospitable environment for investigation.

We set off. The 'road' deteriorated futher until it was, well, basically a field.

My trike was extremely unimpressed with this, and Eric's tyre was again flat. Eric thought 'Sod this for a game of soldiers' and decided to walk to Denmark instead.

Well, not all the way, but with the reappearance of the paved edge that I could get one wheel at a time on, I could only cycle at walking-pace anyway. My GPS said there was a real road about a mile away, and we could see a tree-line there, so we thought that might offer sufficient shelter for puncture investigations.

We got a litle shelter from the wind just short of the road, though listening for leaks wasn't helped by the frequent passing trains.

Eric examined the tube while I checked the tyre. Neither of us found anything.

I then ran my finger around the inside of the tyre to see if my finger could find anything my eyes couldn't. Success! A tiny piece of glass. We worked this out of the tyre, and patched the tube. Can you believe Eric trusted me to do that bit?

Eric then pumped the tyre up again.

It held. The rain didn't: it was getting heavier. I told Eric that next time I was taking a beach holiday.

Wheel back on, onto the road, paying more attention to my GPS now than Eric's, we hoped we'd find a cafe or bar or something in one of the villages we passed through.

Nope. Nothing. Only houses and wind and rain.

We briefly sheltered behind a barn before deciding we were just as cold stationary and sheltered as we were cycling and not sheltered. We could see a town a few miles down the road. It would be a bit of a detour from our route, but by this time shelter, warmth and food was top of the agenda.

We set off. And got about 200 metres before the moderately-hard rain turned into a torrential rain-storm.

I spotted a bus-shelter, and we dived into it.

I decided I was going to sue the tour operator for blatant false advertising.

We were out of the rain, and sheltered from the wind, but it was still pretty cold. And we were 20 miles in without tea or cake! Things were pretty serious. Hypothermia is one thing - we had extra layers of clothes - but cake deprivation much beyond 20 miles can easily turn fatal.

I put on all my layers of clothes: two jumpers over my t-shirt, jacket over that, wooly hat, waterproof trousers and waterproof gloves.

I realised I had a Mars Bar in my pocket. The rain eventually slackened, so with half a Mars Bar each to sustain us, we headed for Meldorf.

The winds were favourable to our detour, so getting there didn't take too long. The town itself was, of course, up a hill. A cobbled hill.

But there we found an eatery. We had two cups of tea, I had a weiner schnitzel and Eric a currywurst. Plus cake, obviously.

I spotted sun out of the window! By the time we'd finished eating, it was like a whole new world out there.

We nipped into a local bike shop to have them look at my rubbing rear brake and so that Eric could borrow a track-pump to fully inflate his rear tyre (a small on-bike pump doesn't let you get it up to full pressure).

A mechanic checked my brake, said all was free and it was just dirt and grit, which would wear away - which we could tell was already happening. When we asked to borrow a track-pump, we were directed round to the workshop, where a mechanic aged about 120 produced an air-hose. Rather bizarrely, he seemed to pay more attention to feeling the tyre pressure with his thumb than looking at the large gauge in front of him.

That done, the route out of town and back onto our revised route was downhill. :-)


Oh, well, can't have everything.

We preferred the products of the new weather supplier.

We had a stiff headwind pretty much all the way now, but after the rain we no longer cared. So long as it was a dry headwind, we'd forgive it.

We were sticking religiously to my GPS route now.

The route was, though, quite exposed.

So we came up with a cunning plan: head right in to the coast, which would put us beside a dyke, which would shelter us from the wind.

No. The dyke merely funneled the wind around into our faces in an accelerated fashion. Ho hum.

So that was our 'easy' day. Very, very windy. Very, very, very wet. Roads that turned out to be fields. One brake issue. One puncture. And we were paying money for this.

But the ride ended, and our hotel was waiting for us.

I had a very long, very hot shower.

Then a quick wander into town for dinner. The nearest place was a fairly generic international hotel, but we didn't care: it was close, warm, dry and pretty enough.

Plus the lemon dessert was excellent.

On to day 10