Trouble In Copenhagen and On The Road In Sweden

Denmark and Copenhagen truly captured my spirit, curiosity and especially my palate—the food is so good.

Yet this morning we had to bid farewell to Copenhagen and Denmark. Though we had quite the drama leaving Copenhagen. Like most cities the parking can be difficult, expensive, and questionable secure. Neither of the hotels we stayed out in downtown offered parking, but all pointed us to various lots in the blocks surrounding the hotel.

The lot we chose to park our bikes took up nearly a whole city block. The building is massive. The upper floors were shared by a hotel and offices. Yet unlike so many parking operations in the USA, there are no attendants. Everything is automated. When John and I returned to the parking garage after three days, we found ourselves locked out. We could not enter the garage. The tickets we had wouldn’t open the doors. And we tried all of them. We banged on the doors, called the two phone numbers listed, and even tried waiting for someone to emerge, or go in.

I felt like my bike Doc, was being held hostage. This was deja vu, too. We had the same issue trying to get out of the parking garage—on foot. We managed to trigger the car entrance door manually and escape. But there was none of that getting inside.

We were losing time, too. We needed to check out of the hotel by 11am, but more importantly we had a long ride heading to Stockholm.

With the aid of hotel personnel, we were finally inside. Yet, we couldn’t get the gate to open as the automated system didn’t recognize that there was a vehicle ready to pay. Through a little creative maneuvering we were able to get the garage door open, but the gate wouldn’t budge. With no other option, we just rode past the gate—we wanted to, but we were unable to pay.

As we navigate our way out of the city to the Øresund Bridge, the temperature begins to soar. Spanning some five miles across the Øresund strait between Denmark and Sweden, the massive bridge also takes railroad across the straits. It’s the longest road and rail bridge in Europe. The bridge was officially opened in 2000, and passes through an artificial island, Peberholm. I try to stop on the island to grab a few photos, but signage is very clear—keep moving.

We skirt the Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmo and stick to the main road to make time, hoping we can make it to Stockholm by nightfall. As I’m navigating a ring road, get lost on a rural road, and seem to pass over the main road twice before I can figure out how to get back on, my temperature light flashes on—and holds.

Shit.

After a few minutes of riding, I have to pull over. There is no shoulder, and John has no idea what’s going on. I explain I’ve got to wait. Let the engine cool. My plan is to get off the busy road, find a gas station where I can look at the cooling system and see what’s going on. I fear the fan might have failed. That happened to me in China on Wong Doc (the surrogate bike I used in China, while the right Doc sat in the port of Ningbo).

At the gas station outside of Ästorp, I check the fluids, they seem good. The fan, I’m not sure. I figure if I can keep up to speed, there will be enough air passing through the radiator, I would be okay. I just have to watch it when in traffic, or slow moving roads.

My theory and plan fails. The bike heats up at speed. Something else is wrong. Maybe the thermostat? I can ride the bike for about 5 minutes before it heats up and I have to pull over and wait about 20 for it to cool down.  I need to find help.

Thankfully T-Mobile is offering LTE speed, unlimited and FREE throughout Europe this summer, so I’m able to find a BMW about twenty miles away in Ängelholm in Skåne. It’s already late, and there’s no way I can ride the bike for twenty miles.

The gas station attendant guides us to a motel, just 4 miles down the road. I can do that—barely.

When we get to downtown Astorp, a small settlement with just 3 hotels—all of them are booked. Not a room. After much talking and negotiating with our new friend Ossama at the Hotel Milano, Ossama lets us pitch our tents on the fine manicured lawn outside the cute cottages that make up the Hotel Milano. One catch though: there is no bathroom. The only food is a pizza restaurant that is set to close in an hour.

I’m more worried about the twenty mile trek to the BMW dealer. If I try to push the bike and the engine is under siege of constant heat, I could damage it. That would bring this trip to a quick end.

At the restaurant, we befriend a group of locals who continue to lubricate themselves with beer. One of them is such a huge fan of John Deere, he keeps yelling at me with the little English he knows—John Deere, fuggin the best. I joke with him a bit and ask him about Massey Ferguson. “That’s shit,” he screams, “John Deere, fuggin’ the best.” We are in Swedish agricultural country.

I explain my dilemma to the English speaker of the group and ask if anyone would be willing to truck or trailer my bike to the BMW dealer. After several phone calls and talk about money, one of the group agrees that he and a friend will meet me at the hotel at 8am the next morning.

When they show up, I’m taken back. The trailer is tiny. There’s no way my bike will fit. Yet, it does, as they decide not to close the back gate, so my bike barely squeezes on, diagonally.

At the BMW dealer in Ängelholm, they’re busy. No guarantee that they can get to the bike today, but they’ll try. Just the sight of our two bikes brings out the curious locals. We meet an adventure riding couple, Mats and Ana. Before we leave to grab lunch, Mats has found a copy of my book in Sweden and shows me the order that it will be shipped in two days. Amazing.

John and I walk the small pedestrian mall and try to pick up some of the language—and some local food.

Later at the dealer, my bike is still sitting in the same spot. I worry that we will be spending the night in Ängelholm. Soon enough other locals pick up their bikes, and mine rolls into the service bay.

After about 30 minutes I wander inside. “Look,” the technician points to the hose that feeds from the water pump to the radiator. It’s crimped behind a spaghetti wad of electrical cables, all held together with a couple zip ties.

Could this be the problem? What about the fan?

These cables provide power to my PIAA lights and the GPS unit. It seems that between the two recent services—one in California and the other in Metuchen New Jersey, when the bike was put together this wad of cables was pushed in and forced on top of the hose.

I haven’t touched the cables or hoses since the bike arrived in Iceland about a month ago. And I certainly had no issues with overheating in Iceland. Then again, it was so damn cold.

We check the fan, it’s working. All good. Now here, with rising temperatures the failure point is a simple human error. I didn’t even notice when I pulled the side panels off at the gas station—looking for a bigger problem, this simple fail missed me.

It could have been worse, and costed so much more. In the end, this little debacle cost us a day, but along the way we made many friends, new connections and more ideas of what to do along the journey ahead.