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Cycle from Esbjerg to Kolding

26 May 2011

In our inside cabin, we have only the glow of a small digital clock below the television to differentiate morning from night. However, our first morning truly starts with a wake-up call from the captain at 8:00. The seas are a bit choppy and we go straight out on deck to catch some fresh air before breakfast. Reassuringly, there are no signs of last night's bloodbath as I scrutinise the neighbouring cabins.

Then we head to the Seven Seas Restaurant for our pre-ordered breakfast buffet. It cost us £15 at the time of booking but that actually feems like good value, with a buffet of cereal, fruit, pastries, bread rolls, meat, cheese, and even eggs and sausages. In fact, we stay in the restaurant until closing time and, embarassingly, they have to take the food away before we leave.

After our long and leisurely breakfast, we head back to the room and spend the final two hours of the crossing relaxing and contemplating what lies ahead. Gareth cracks open a beer and tunes in to a cycle race on television. Inspiring.

All of a sudden, it's 12:45 (we've moved on to Central European Time now) and we're about to dock in Esbjerg. Cue a last minute rush to get ourselves organised and repacked. Within minutes, we're pushing our bicycles off the ferry (the ramp that we struggled up to board is just too steep to descend safely with such a heavy load in the panniers).

We wind our way out of the ferry terminal, where Gareth earns a new stamp in his Canadian passport, and on to the roads of Denmark. We must remember to keep right, as the signs tell us. We will take National Cycle Route 6 all the way to Copenhagen, though unfortunately there's no inidcation of where the route starts. So we head in to central Esbjerg and ask a friendly Dane for directions.

18 km later, as we desperately hop from one village to another in search of the designated cycle route, we finally see our first signpost for Route 6. Our joy is short-lived though, as barely 1 km later we hit a monumental road block. We battle past several fallen trees only to discover that the bridge we need over a railway line has apparently been removed.

We turn back to contemplate alternatives, but there's no alternative crossing marked on our map. As I call London to get some feedback from Google Maps, a young man cycle up to us. He explains that there are few trains on the line below and suggests that we follow him across the tracks. After some hesitation, we climb down the embankment and struggle over the railway line (it's not so easy with the laden bikes).

Moments later, as we struggle up the opposite embankment, a passenger train passes at considerable speed, followed seconds later by a second train in the opposite direction... A sobering experience, but we must press on.

At 15:45, as we eventually make good progress along a now well sign-posted Route 6, we finally pull over for a meagre lunch of bananas, cereal bars and leftover sausage rolls. I sincerely regret not having smuggled any pastries out from the breakfast buffet. We still have not picked up any local currency, but then again, even if we had, there has not been anywhere to buy any food on this rural route.

As we finish our stale sausage rolls and prepare to get going again, four of the cyclists we met at Manningtree pass us. We quickly overtake them and press on towards Kolding.

As we reach the town of Vejen, we're forced to shelter from torrential thunderstorms for ten minutes. At this point, the signposting gets a little erratic and so we head for the town centre and hope for the best. We get totally lost, but we do at least get a chance to finally withdraw some Danish Kroner.

After a couple of laps of the town, we finally pick up Route 6 again and head onwards. The small village of Store Andst provides the next entertainment. Not only do they have more flag poles than streetlamps in this village, but it's also full of teenagers dressed in their pyjamas. I'm guess this is some kind of graduation ritual, but I know no more.

At 19:30, we finally roll in to Kolding, although it takes us another 20 minutes to locate the hostel, which is on top of a hill. The key has been left for us in a secure box outside so we collect that and then head on up to an exceedingly spacious and modern flat.

Around 21:00, we head back out in search of dinner. And for some time, it looks like this city of almost 60,000 people may not be able to provide us with anything. All the nearby restaurants are either closed, or closing. It's a sad state of affairs until we finally stumble upon an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet on the other side of town.

We're the only customers in there and the food is extraordinarily unappetising - but we're forced to overlook that when they're the only option in town. So we select our food from a strange mixture of Mongolia grill, Chinese buffet and Sushi, then Gareth somehow accidentally orders a 75cl Coca Cola (he spends the rest of the meal complaining about this).

After a quick trip to the ice cream bar, we head back out on to the empty streets of Kolding and stumble back up to the hostel. It's a late night, but we've covered 90 km today and it feels good.

< Ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg
Cycle from Kolding to Odense >

Esbjerg to Copenhagen by bike

Article location

Sign at Danish border

Cycling out the port in Esbjerg

Gareth at road block

Road block on Route 6

Day one stats

  • Distance: 90 km
  • Time in motion: 4h35m
  • Average speed: 19.6 km/h

Gareth with money

Our first Danish Kroner, at last

Flag poles beside road

The many flags of Store Andst