July 28 – Copenhagen to Gedser, Denmark (145 km, 90 miles)

Bike path between Copenhagen and Gedser, Denmark.

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Today was the first real leg of the trip by bike, from Copenhagen to Gedser, at the southern tip of Denmark, and due north of Rostock, Germany. It was sunny and hot (25 degrees C is hot for an Alaskan) for most of the day. I originally thought it would be about a day and a half ride to Gedser, but since Denmark is relatively flat, I was able to ride the whole way today. As I was approaching Gedser dark rain clouds developed in the direction I had to go. When I was within 7 kilometers of Gedser the rain came down quick and hard. The road ran through wheat fields and there was no shelter except for a clump of trees about a kilometer away, so I pedaled like crazy to get into the shelter of the trees to wait out the sudden downpour. After waiting 30 minutes there was no let up, so I gave up waiting, put on the raingear, and continued on for the final 7 kilometers.

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Have you ever seen a Mercedes-Benz taxi cab in the U.S.? Most likely, not. But they seemed to be fairly common in Denmark.

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A typical Danish thatch-roofed house.

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I thought Gedser was going to be a fairly substantial town, since it’s a jumping off point for the ferry route to Germany. So I was really surprised to find that there are very few businesses, and everything except the one hotel in town was closed. Since there wasn’t a campground nearby, and because I wasn’t too crazy about setting up a rogue camp in some farmer’s field in the rain, I opted for a room in the hotel. So I had good accommodations for the night, was able to shower and do laundry, but unfortunately the one grocery store in town was closed. The only food I had was three plums that I bought along the way. So that was dinner. But on the bright side, the hotel manager told me that the ferry from Gedser to Rostock has a huge, free breakfast buffet. So I’m really looking forward to breakfast in the morning.

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This is one of the blades of a wind-power generator, with my bike shown for scale. These things are huge - about 2 meters in diameter and about 50 meters long.

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I have to say that Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have a superb cycling infrastructure. Nearly everywhere, there are designated bike lanes and trails. In the towns, bike lanes are to the right of the traffic lanes, and are often physically separated from the traffic by a curb. And then to the right of the bike lanes are the sidewalks, which are in turn separated from the bike lane by another curb. Signaled intersections have designated lanes for cyclists, and motorists respect the bike lanes and yield to bikers. Very nice. And a note about the traffic lights in Denmark – the cycle is from green directly to red. Then from red it goes to a one second yellow light followed by green. Completely opposite our lights in the States. Then there are the numerous roundabouts. Between Copenhagen and Gedser, I think there were actually more roundabouts than signaled intersections. And each roundabout had a designated bike lane which made it very simple and safe to get around it. Makes me wonder when we’ll wake up in the U.S. and adopt this efficient method of getting traffic through intersections. The Europeans are way ahead of us in this regard.

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Interesting things to see in southern Denmark.

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Tomorrow morning I’ll board a ferry for the two hour trip across a narrow section of the Baltic Sea to Germany.

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