Day 1-2. Odense to Kristiansand. The cycling starts.
On arriving in Alborg we nearly took a train earlier than was on our schedule, but were not sure if we could. We had bike reservations on the later train. This would have been OK we found out later and also the bike/pram compartment was completely empty. Still there was no rush to get up to Hirtshals as we would have a four hour wait in Hirtshals before we could get on the ferry. Instead, we decided to have something to eat, and complemented our the sandwiches we had made the day before with coffee and chocolate muffins. [Sound fx Homer Simpson voice] "Mmmmmmm chocolate muffins."[/fx]
After eating we returned to the platform and noticed that it was fuller than for the train an hour earier. Besides all the people waiting, there were also two other bikes and an assortment of prams all hoping to get to Hjøerring on this train. The conductor came up to us and after working out we spoke English explained that he might not be able to get us on the train although he would try his best. A few mildly anxious minutes passed before the train arrived, and then a few more as our fellow travellers climbed on board. In the end there was just enough room for us and our bikes although we had to take all the panniers off. No problem with the Ortliebs.
We chatted to a lady who was cycling with her nine year old daughter. They were cycling for two days, doing around thirty kilometres a day just to try it out. The daughter had a bike covered with cool new bags and a sleeping mat. The just enough room meant that we had to keep on moving out of the way as the conductor walked up and down the train, and then again as the other two cyclists extricated their bikes and got out at a stop before our stop. We hit Hjørring on time, and despite the conductor suggesting we should hurry to the train to Hirtshals (as it was still standing there) managed to miss that train, the doors wouldn't open when I reached it and then a few minutes later it left. The train we were scheduled to take would leave in an hour. Ho hum. But hang on a moment why ho hum? We had plenty of time, it was a glorious day and even better it was less than thirty kilometres to Hirtshals....by bike.
Damae was initially rather sceptical about this idea, wanting instead to sit in the sun and read one of the four books she had brought with her. She said OK if you can find a map we'll cycle. The Post Office next to the train station did not seem to have any maps, but the shop and train ticked selling kiosk had to my delight a selection of pamphlets and maps for tourists. This included maps that we could use to get up to Hirtshals. I rushed back out to Damae on the platform waving my trophies about. Damae not expecting that I would find anything useful began complaining cheerfully for a few moments before starting to close up her panniers. Our cycling holiday was about to begin and a day earlier than expected.
It was relatively easy getting out of Hjørring, a couple of moments when we had to look for signs and guess which path the sign was telling us to take. We cycled slowly through the outer suburbs of the town and before we knew it we were out in the rolling wheaty sunny Danish countryside. It was fun to be moving again as we made our way up to Hirtshals. A bit further up I decided to go West as I'd seen a sign pointing to the North Sea Route. Damae was all for plugging up the nice smooth main road, but I thought it would be fun to re-do this section. This of course meant getting lost in a housing estate for a few minutes before we came to a junction in the cycle paths. There it was, a small post with several signs on it. We'd been here before.
This was an off-road section of the route, the sort of surface that had been harder going on the old touring bikes. The new ones coped much better being more stable on the gravel and pebble-strewn track and more comfortable. The wider tyres running at somewhat lower pressures took out a lot more of the bumps than the old 28" tyres on the Troll and Moose.