Bicycle Holiday, Bicycle routes

On the wheels of a Danish højskole (adult education centre) tradition

Honk honk
The bulb horn was squeezed at regular intervals signalling that the cycle route took a turn to the right or the left. Course leader and high school teacher, Ingeborg Raahede, had tried everything from the bicycle bell to a referee’s whistle to guide this week’s delegates but their physiological differences and their very different desires for speed, necessitated a more penetrating sound in order to keep the troops in line.

Occasionally a delegate would find it difficult to tell the difference between right and left and would consistently turn in the wrong direction. Then a loud cry would be heard: “the other left!”. If that was not enough, the course leader would have to honk the bulb horn and at the same time pedal extra hard and like a sheepdog herd the delegate back into the group. The bulb horn was essential, along with coffee, cake and high spirits.

25 cycling-loving women and men attended the annual summer course entitled “Samsø by Bike” at Samsø Højskole. Over a week, the delegates were presented with “the best of Samsø” on two wheels. The course consisted of well-planned routes combined with storytelling and visits to the vineyard in Vesterløkken, the potato grower Tage Madsen in Nordby, who was often the first with the coveted new potatoes. For the brave, a climb to the top of Jørgen Tranbjerg’s wind turbine was a hit. The cycling course was always fully booked and it was exercise, camaraderie and enlightenment at its best.

Every day a new route
Some delegates arrived in tight lycra, ready to move fast, while others were more preoccupied with asking about all the flowers along the roadside and the birds in the air. Ingeborg and her assistant Mogens had the challenging task of creating good group dynamics and trying to infect as many as possible with enthusiasm for Samsø’s nature, culture and history.

The delegates arrived from all parts of Denmark and the first evening would be spent adjusting the hired bikes, pumping tyres and for the delegates with their own bikes, to compare gear – and then they were off. Every day after the morning assembly, the group set out on the day’s route, each around 35 km in length – except on the Wednesday, which offered an afternoon bus ride, so here the morning presented a shorter route. The bus driver, Jørgen Christian, picked up all the delegates who participated in the week’s courses in golf, fly fishing, willow braiding and Nordic walking and took them on a guided tour. Here the delegates heard anecdotes and stories about everything and everyone and there was a stop at Besser Rev.

Bike ride and cake
The week’s routes were organised so that the delegates were introduced to most of the island and with lunch and coffee breaks in some of the most beautiful places on Samsø. It could be by Dyret (the highest point on Samsø), in Brattingsborg Forest or by the sea. After a day in the saddle, the group gathered for afternoon coffee and it was a highlight for most when the car from Samsø Højskole’s kitchen brought out fresh coffee and freshly baked cake. On the last day of the course, it was a highly revered tradition that Ingeborg invited everyone to her home in Nordby for a final treat and not least for the legendary Samsø apple cake. Delegates would typically sign up for the following year’s course, to experience the beautiful cycling routes again. They can cope with repetition.

The routes are designed so that they can be spread out over five days and if you bring coffee and cake, you can complete the Samsø Højskole ‘Samsø By Bike’ course yourself. It is unfortunately not possible to attend højskole courses on Samsø any longer, since the school, which was located in Koldby, regrettably closed in June 2012. But the legacy of the school lives on on the island – here in the form of a ‘do it yourself’ cycling course. Enjoy.

Last updated: 04/01/2024 14:57