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Cycle from Odense to Ringsted

28 May 2011

In our effort to spend as little time as possible at our dump of a hotel, we rise particularly early and head out on to the streets of Odense for breakfast. The hotelier had offered us breakfast for a fee, but just laughed when I enquired whether this took the form of a buffet. So at 8:45 we're roaming the deserted streets of Odense. Sadly, not a single cafe or bakery is open yet, so I buy a couple of croissants in 7-11, and we get some fruit at Lidl.

After breakfast on the streets of Odense, we return to the hotel to check-out and collect our bikes. Upon emerging back on the street at 9:45, the town is transformed. The empty high street we paraded in search of food barely an hour ago is now bustling with people, all the shops have opened and clothes are on display in front of each one.

We embark on a cycle tour of Odense, the third-largest city in Denmark, and visit Hans Christian Andersen's House, as well as St Canute's Cathedral. It's a pleasant town and the air is fresh. But we must press on, we have another 100 km to cover today.

Today, we must catch a train to get off the island of Funen and on to Zealand, using the Great Belt Bridge. The Bridge, opened in 1997, carries a motorway alongside the railway, with no provision for cyclists. Halfway across the Great Belt, on the small island of Sprogø, the railway dives in to a tunnel while the motorway stays above sea level all the way to Zealand.

We arrive in Nyborg at about 13:40 and buy tickets for a train departing one hour later. The short hop to Korsør costs an astonishing 286 DKK (£35, €40), although this incorporates the fare, as well as seat reservation and bicycle carriage, and possibly a bridge toll. After a quick lunch at McDonalds (we can navigate the promotional signposting now - follow the chip), we return to the station.

We struggle to understand the tickets, or the high-tech platform signage, but we eventually find our position on the platfarm and wait for the InterCity to pull in. Triple surprise upon boarding: Firstly, the space "reserved" for our bicycles is already occupied. Secondly, occupying the space are our friends who we met at Harwich. Thirdly, these people are surely cheating on their ride to Copenhagen, as they have taken the train all the way from Odense.

Interestingly, our fellow cyclists also remain on-board as we disembark in Korsør 10 minutes later. We've only taken the train for the minimum distance required in order to complete the trip.

As we ride away from Korsør, a light rain starts to fall. We check the route map and realise that there's still a huge distance to go. However, 15 minutes later we suddenly find ourselves cycling alongside a lovely beach, and it all seems more bearable. A further 15 minutes later, disaster strikes, as I get another flat tyre, on the rear wheel again.

A short while later, we've barely started up again as some local people cheer us on, believing us to be part of a cycle marathon taking place that day. The following three hours bring us total misery, as three further punctures blight my rear tyre while we battle through the open countryside in patchy rain.

By puncture number four, I realise that the tread has totally disappeared from my rear tyre, presumably because of the extra weight of my panniers. Meanwhile, my front tyre is in much better condition, as there is very little pressure on it. Indeed, the front of my bike has been almost lifting off the ground with so much luggage weighing down the rear. So I decide to swap the tyres around, in the hope that the increased tread will prevent further punctures to the rear tyre.

As I remove both wheels and get to work on the innertube, it becomes apparent that puncture number four was a perfectly-timed misadventure. First, an elderly gentleman emerges from the country house that we find ourselves in front of, and offers us some much-needed cycle maintenance tips. Minutes later, as we prepare to get back on the road, we are invited in for a Danish dinner! It turns out this is the 60th birthday party of the man who originally came out to help us, and there is a wonderful spread of hotdogs, salads and beer. It's slightly surreal but a wonderful thing to meet such nice and welcoming people.

Half an hour later, we must make our excuses and get going once again, as there are still at least 25 km to go for Ringsted. As we pull away, one of the party rushes out with some chocolates for us to take with us. So kind! The party is already winding down somewhat (Danish people eat early, as we've found throughout this trip) and over the following few kilometres we get a few honks and waves as guests we met overtake us.

We've been reinvogorated by our surprise meal and we make decent progress down the long straight road. However, within 10 km, I get another puncture, in the same tyre (although I have now swapped that to the front wheel thankfully). So that's five flats in just five hours. This one is easier to fix, and I do so with even more haste as we're surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes. I manage to snap my pump in the process, but luckily Gareth also has one (although he now seems somewhat reluctant to hand it over).

After 20 minutes, we're back on track, and we soon see distances marked on the signs to Ringsted. Each kilometre seems never-ending as dusk descends on us, but we finally reach the small town at 21:30 and head straight for our hotel, on the edge of a very quiet commercial district. Just as we approach, I have one last slow puncture, but I manage to make it to the hotel regardless - I'll fix this one in the morning.

The chain hotel we've chosen for tonight is modern and spacious, a totally different experience to last night. We take our bikes through to the conference room to dry them off overnight and then we head to Burger King, the only place still open at this time of the evening. It's still raining heavily as we return to the hotel for bed.


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Cycle from Ringsted to Copenhagen >

Esbjerg to Copenhagen by bike

Article location

Gareth and Paul

Gareth and Paul in Odense

Port in Nyborg

Nyborg

Bicycles on train

Train packed with bicycles

Day three stats

  • Distance: 95 km
  • Time in motion: 5h10m
  • Average speed: 18.5 km/h

Beach

Beach near Korsør

Paul fixing bike

Paul fixing one of many punctures