July 27 – Oslo to Copenhagen (676 km, 420 miles)

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Tiger statue in the square at the Oslo train station, with my bike for scale.

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I got up at 5:00 am this morning in order to catch the morning train from Oslo to Copenhagen, which was actually a three-stage trip. The first train was from Oslo to 70 km north of Goteborg, Sweden. Due to track construction, they had to unload everyone – probably 500 people – from the train and bus us all to the Goteborg train station where we boarded a second train for the final leg to Copenhagen. After unloading my 66 pounds of bike and gear from the train, I had to get from the track level up to the street. There were two options – stairs and an elevator. I opted for the elevator and when the doors opened I was greeted by two guys sitting on the floor with drugs and syringes scattered around them. I asked, “Going up?” (kind of a metaphorical question now that I think about it) and they said something about making themselves feel better. But they didn’t mind when I wheeled my bike into the elevator and pushed the “up” button. Interesting.

The trains here are amazing – they’re everywhere, and they’re fast. The two I was on were the high-speed tilting-body type. The cars of the train would automatically tilt, or lean into the curve, like when riding a bike and you lean over when rounding a corner. I had my GPS going the entire trip and the maximum speed reached was 127 miles per hour! Sure didn’t seem that fast, until we’d get to an area where the highway paralleled the train tracks. It was just amazing to be on a train, blowing past all the cars and trucks on the highway. And as high-speed trains go, these aren’t even anywhere near the fastest – the fastest can easily top 250 mph.

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The business end of the high-speed train from Oslo to Copenhagen. This train hit a top speed of 204 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour)!

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Portland, Oregon likes to boast that it’s the most bike-friendly city in the U.S., but it’s nothing compared to Copenhagen. There are bikes everywhere here – I’ve never seen so many people riding bikes. There seemed to be almost as many bikes as cars. There are designated bike lanes on all the roads, so it’s easy to get where you need to go. It seems the biggest danger is not the cars, but the faster cyclists that are always on your tail and whipping around you with inches to spare. It kind of reminded me of a NASCAR race, with everyone all bunched up at the intersections waiting for the light to change, and then jockeying for a more advantageous position in the lineup before reaching the next intersection. Wild times, for sure.

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A sea of bikes in Copenhagen. I've never seen so many bikes in one place at one time.

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A typical bike lane in Copenhagen. The road is on the left, the bike lane in the middle, and the pedestrian sidewalk is on the right. This system works very well to physically separate cars from bikes from pedestrians.

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Intersection in Copenhagen. The bike lane is designated by the blue paint on the pavement. This keeps bikes in view of vehicles, but safely to the right of them, and at the same time out of the pedestrian crosswalk. A very nice system. The U.S. could learn a lot from the Euporeans with respect to bicycle infrastructure in the cities.

On the schedule for tomorrow – from Copenhagen to points south.

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