“We made a mistake,” my roommate, Heidi, said as we dragged our bicycles up the steep hill in front of us.
One kilometer down, sixty-eight left to go.
Last weekend, Heidi and I spent two days cycling on Bornholm, a Danish island located in the Baltic Sea, southeast of Copenhagen. The DIScovery adventure, titled Bornholm Bike Trip, was organized by DIS. Students received a bike, map, and variety of suggested routes, including the feared “Killer Tour.”
Originally, Heidi and I had made a pact to take the easiest route. We weren’t particularly experienced bikers – Heidi’s record was a hilly 15 miles, mine a flat 30 – and to be honest, neither of us wanted to spend our last vacation dripping with sweat.
Guess what ended up happening.
The Killer Tour, a spectacular 68 kilometers of fun and self-loathing, included a stop at Dueodde, a white, sandy beach at the southern tip of Bornholm known for its ultra-fine sand that is exported for use in hourglasses. Heidi and I pictured ourselves running down sand dunes and licking ice cream from a cone in front of blue, sparkling waves.
“We’re doing it,” Heidi said matter-of-factly.
On Saturday, we left the hostel at 8:00 am and arrived back at 6:30 pm, just in time for dinner. We passed through three towns, four if you count our starting location: Gudhjem, Svanke, Nexø, and Dueodde. The tour was exhausting, but also incredibly satisfying (in the I-hurt-everywhere-but-lapped-everyone-on-the-couch kind of way.)
My dad, a cycling enthusiast, couldn’t believe I biked 42 miles. There were certainly moments of weakness and self-doubt at various points during our trip, though. The ride back from the beach was especially grueling.
“How much do you think a taxi would cost?” I asked Heidi.
“Would our bikes even fit in a taxi?” Heidi replied.
Don’t get me wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend, challenges and all. Biking around Bornholm was the perfect way to see the island. Think green, rolling hills, and impressive cliffs with rocky, waves crashing beneath you. Furry ox stared at us as we passed and large rabbits darted across the road in front of us. We even got the chance to explore a cave. To get there, we had to park our bikes and climb over jagged rocks, avoiding the water rushing at our heels.
Bornholm is called solskinsøen (sunny island) and on Sunday, Heidi and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The bright rays and cool air was refreshing. We explored Bornholms Kunstmuseum, Bornholm’s Art Museum, and walked through the forest to Døndalen, Denmark’s highest waterfall. Time moved slowly. We soaked up the beauty around us. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of tranquility. The day’s previous sufferings were forgotten, with the exception of the burning sensation in my quads. I could only see bright sunshine.
What more could you ask for from an island vacation?