Work-ride balance is an illusion: why I try anyway

Have you ever felt like you're spending too much time working and taking care of other obligations? Like you don't have time to take care of yourself and your needs anymore? I know that feeling all too well. Nowadays, it sometimes feels like you have to be constantly available and do more and more to be successful. But in the long run, this can be really exhausting and endanger our mental and physical health.

I know I'm not alone in feeling like I've lost, or perhaps never found, work-life balance (or as some call it, work-ride balance). Let me be completely honest and upfront: I'd be lying if I said this felt like an achievable goal to me.

Work-ride balance and the seasons

In the summer, it seems more tangible when the alarm clock rings early in the morning and I can throw on my cycling kit and then go for a ride around Hamburg and only then sit at my desk and stare at a screen for the remaining 8 hours until the evening.

In winter, however, only the Indoor Bike is attractive because I do not really like to ride in the dark. I want to be able to see, perceive and enjoy the surrounding nature, in winter this is actually never possible before and after work. In such moments, I feel more attracted to riding on Zwift instead of motivating myself to ride outside in the cold and dark. Riding indoors is no substitute for cycling outside, but it's still better than nothing and allows me to get moving and get my heart rate up. My home office workspace next to it isn't always the best view, though. It's hard to switch off from work sometimes. The disadvantages of a small apartment.

40 hours & countless tabs

Many of us work at least 40 hours a week. So do I. I like my work, and I'm happy to be able to do something that I also enjoy most days and that gives me the feeling of doing something with meaning. But with an 8-hour day in the winter, starting in the dark and ending in the dark, a day then feels pretty darn short. Achieving a work-ride balance like that? I think that's very difficult. I often describe my to-do list in my head with the image of a browser with far too many tabs open. Every time I close and reopen the browser, those tabs are there again, telling me what I still have to do. Housework, cooking, taking care of loved ones, taking time for myself ... and riding my bike. I often get the feeling that there aren't enough hours in the day. To manage everything? Impossible. Something always has to fall behind, something is always left for the next day.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." 

- Albert Einstein

The bicycle as a place of retreat

Cycling is always high on the priority list for me. It is an important part of my life, and I happily leave other things to do it. I love the feeling of being free and alive when I'm on my bike and riding through the countryside. But cycling also means so much more to me. It helps me calm my constant carousel of thoughts and focus on the right here, right now. The impressions, the fresh air, the movement of my legs and the feeling of my pulse picking up speed are soothing for my soul. For a while, I can push my thoughts, to-dos and worries aside and just enjoy the moment. So cycling helps me find my work-ride balance and feel mentally and physically healthy. It's an important part of my life and I would always prioritize it, even if that means leaving other things behind. It's just something that means an infinite amount to me.

Finding and maintaining a work-life balance can be difficult. We all have commitments and obligations that take up our time, and sometimes it feels like we don't have enough hours in a day to get everything done. Add to that the pressure to always be productive and successful, both at work and in our free time. It's no wonder that many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed, and struggle to find a work-life balance.

My tips for achieving work-ride balance:

But there are ways to get closer to and maintain work-life balance. Here are some tips that can help you, which I am also currently trying to implement for myself:

#1 - Prioritize:

It is important to become clear about what is essential for us in life. What are the things that make us happy and give us energy? What are the necessary duties that we need to fulfill? When we know our priorities, we can better decide how to allocate our time and which things we might prefer to exclude to have more time for the crucial things in life.

#2 - Realize that a day has only 24 hours:

It is important to realize that we have limited time and that it is impossible to accomplish everything we set out to do. Each one of us experiences this. But the next day will certainly be different again. So pay attention to the good things and don't ruminate too long about all the things that didn't work out. It is important to remain realistic and to focus on what is crucial and makes us happy.

Female cyclist in the woods

#3 - Accept or change:

When we don't like or feel good about something in our lives, there are two options: Either we accept it, or we change it. If we cannot change something, it is important to accept it and learn to deal with it. If we can change it, we should have the courage to do so, even if it is sometimes difficult.

#4 - Be open:

Every person is different and has different needs and priorities in life. That's why it's important to be open to the possibilities that life offers us, and not just do what others expect of us or what society considers "right". Instead, we should listen to ourselves and do what is good for us and makes us happy.

When I first heard about work-life balance, I thought to myself, "Yeah sure, that would be nice. But who can really manage it?" I'm enough of a realist to know that there are days when I have to choose: Work or play? Work or exercise? Sometimes it feels like I always have to choose one side and neglect the other. But still, every day I try to make the most of it and feel balanced.

Gravel riding in the woods

And you?

As I said, I'm trying to implement these tips for myself right now, but I'm sure each of us has found different ways for ourselves. So, I'm curious: What are your tips for getting closer to work-ride balance? You are welcome to share them with me in the comments.

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 8 - From Hirtshals to Skagen

We started day number 8 and with it the last day that we will spend completely on our bikes! Today's stage was a bit shorter: we only have 58 km to go from Hirtshals to the northernmost point of Denmark at Skagen. Plus a few more kilometers grinding on the sand.

That morning started overcast, but dry. With the wind having calmed down and not much to pack up, we were able to start the day relaxed. Our mood was joyful because we eventually reached our destination and at the same time a bit wistful as we knew that our journey, that all these beautiful impressions and being outside, all the time, would soon come to an end.

We had been looking forward to this vacation for such a long time, and now it was almost over. But we enjoyed this day to the fullest once again.

Our route took us a little inland through beautiful dune and heath landscapes.

The sun came out sporadically in between the clouds, but unfortunately also rain. Fortunately, not as heavy rain as a few days ago. Having sheltered under a tree in a patch of heath and waiting out a big shower, we continued to ride along the route on a couple of paved roads. I was still rejoicing and praising that we had made it through all of our stages the last few days without any major breakdowns or flat tires. Then it happened.

Due to the rain splashing up from the tires, you could hardly see it, but then we noticed that one of us had a few white spots on her windbreaker.

Of course, this was not seagull poop, but tubeless milk from Björn's rear tire. After a few stops and multiple inflation, the sealant just wouldn't seal the tire, and still wouldn't. After each kilometer (that's right, we did not make more than 1 km) we had to reinflate the tire. In addition, it was still raining. After what felt like countless stops to pump, Björn decided to "patch" the hole with a tubeless plug. The leak looked pretty small, but obviously didn't seal on its own. However, we then finally rolled on without needing another top-up.

Right before Skagen, we were riding past a sign that said Den Tilsandede Kirke (The Sanded Church). Since it was still early in the day, we decided to take a look at what was behind that name. We realized that if you didn't know this was a church, you might as well think it was just a house in the dunes.

We reached Grenen, the tip of Jutland, where the two seas of the Skagerrak and the Kattegat meet. After we decided not to push our bikes through the sand to the very tip, we took our" finishing photo" and looked for a campsite. Early the next morning we had to get to the train station in Skagen, so we wanted to be as close to it as possible. So, as usual, Björn went to the reception and when he got out he said we might take a cabin again - this time with private shower and toilet. We decided to go for it, also with the thought of not having such a stress packing up in the morning.

Well, what did we get? A cabin for up to six people, with a kitchen, bathroom and jacuzzi! Quite luxury for our bodies after 8 days on the bike.

First, though, we quickly packed our bags off the bikes and rode to the very top once again. And this time all the way to the edge. It's exciting to stand at the very tip of Jutland and the Danish mainland and watch the waves of the two seas meet. We were also able to see seals on the beach. There was even a baby seal. The fact that we couldn't jump into the water wasn't so bad on this gray day, since the waves washed up an unbelievable number of jellyfish. We saw more jellyfish than water.

Impressive and a bit creepy.

Our day ended with a delicious meal, a soak in the hot tub and cozy in a bed.

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 7 - From Blokhus to Hirtshals

It was the second to last day. That wind from the previous day didn't let up on this day either. Following a little breakfast with muesli, we managed to get everything packed up and settled in for the day. It was the calm before the storm, as we were in for a crosswind that day. And a decent one at that. Up to 45 km/h wind speed was announced. I don't remember how powerful the gusts were, moreover. Both our legs and our bodies were barely recovered from the short night, and so we set off tired.

At Grønhøj Strand it literally takes you to the coast because the route leads along the beach with a beautiful view of the sea. After about 5 km along the beach, the stretch ends at the seaside resort of Løkken.

The crosswind demanded all our strength on this day and thanks to our bags, the one or other gust of wind pushed us a little to the side. The effort consisted of not simply toppling over with the bike, which fortunately turned out to be doable, but tugged quite a bit on the nerves.

At Grønhøj Strand it literally goes to the coast, because the route goes along the beach for about 5 km with a view of the sea. After about 5 km along the beach ends at the seaside resort of Løkken.

Cycling along the water was a great experience and fortunately for us, the wind here was bearable and still came "only" from the side. The sand is firm and can be driven well, only on other cyclists, walkers and cars you have to be careful in between. This section was definitely the most beautiful on this day.

Actually, our plan for this day was also to visit the lighthouse Rubjerg Knude Fyr and this was also on our way. At least we had planned a visit and our route led us directly past the lighthouse.

The Rubjerg Knude sand dune has a special meaning for us. It is a shifting dune between Lønstrup and Løkken.

In 2019, we have been to this place before and got engaged. Despite sand in our eyes, this day has remained a special memory for us.

However, there was a catch: Since the lighthouse is located in the middle of the shifting sand dune, we would have had to push our bikes through the partly really deep sand - through which we would never have gotten our packed bikes pushed. In addition, the wind was so strong that we already got sand in our eyes from far away and watched the many tourists walking to the lighthouse with narrowed eyes.

Therefore, we decided not to visit the lighthouse and saved our energy for the rest of the day. We also decided that we would just come back again and then visit the lighthouse. Since this was only moved 70 m inland in 2019, so that it does not fall into the sea, it will certainly stand there until our next visit.

Despite the strong crosswind, we reached our destination faster than we had expected. For the night we wanted to look again for a place on a camping site in Hirtshals. Right next to the place was the Hirtshals Fyr, which is one of the highest lighthouses in Denmark with a fire height of 57 meters.

Since the wind still did not let up and the campsite could also offer us a small hut, we decided for this. So the night should be quieter than the previous one.

The campsite was busy, which is also due to the fact that from there the port is not far away and many take the ferry in the direction of Nordwegen.

After unloading our bags, we got something for dinner and decided to go out again for the sunset. It was just too beautiful that evening, with the wind and the surroundings.

We rode towards the beach along a few trails and roads that were occupied by tiny sand piles due to the strong winds.

After this little excursion into the sandstorm, there was really no part of our bodies that wasn't covered in sand. Days later, it was still trickling out of our clothes. It was a wonderful farewell into the night and soon the last day was coming ...

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 6 - From Klitmøller to Blokhus

After a night that could have been a little more restful, we awoke to day 6 of our tour in our luxury tent in Klitmøller. We had a relaxed breakfast in bed and looked forward to the day because the sun showed up again that day, and we packed and enjoyed our coffee. Then we realized that we had to hurry a little and leave the tent.

Besides the sun, the wind was also on our side this day, as it came mainly from behind and occasionally from the side. So again, we moved forward effortlessly with an extra push from behind.

We wanted to drive 105 km, because we had already considered in the evening that we extend our stage to Blokhus. But we also wanted to make it dependent on how the day would be so and how much strength we had in our legs.

Our route led us from Klitmøller further through a beautiful dune landscape, in which we could catch a glimpse of the sea again and again. We made a short detour over a dune in Hanstholm to have a look at the beach, more precisely the Vigsø Bay. There are about 20 bunkers from the Second World War on the beach and in the water.

The wind carried us along lightly until our next stop, the lunch break. We were particularly lucky that day to be able to make the windy break by chance in Thorup Strand. Thorup Strand is located in a natural harbor between Svinkløv and Bulbjerg Klint. Hidden here is Denmark's last coastal mooring - the largest of its kind in all of Scandinavia - where fresh fish is brought ashore year-round directly from the waters of the Jammer Bay. For us, the aspect with the fresh fish was now less interesting, but could benefit from the fact that there was the Haw'kiosken. A small kiosk or also snack bar that sold burgers and fries - even for plant eaters like us.

We could use a veggie burger and fries all too well now. We looked for a windless spot and enjoyed the salty fries and the burger. Rarely has it tasted as good as it did that day. In addition, it was the perfect refreshment after about 50 km on the saddle and for the other 50 km that were still to come.

After more than 100 km we arrived at our destination for the day, which was Blokhus. On this day we decided again for a campsite, but this time for a normal campground, where we wanted to pitch our tent and spend a relaxing evening.

However, the evening was not so relaxed: We were late and the attempt to get a more wind-protected place did only go semi-well. Once we had pitched the tent in the wind, it slowly began to dawn, we still did not shower or eat, so we decided to take a warm shower first. After that, cooking pasta, directly at the tent, was out of the question because the wind was too strong for our gas stove without a separate windbreak. The plan to simply cook the pasta in the cooking rooms of the campsite didn't work out because the doors were already locked. So, Jana had to cook the pasta in the cold wind, in the outside next to the cooking and common rooms. It was almost impossible, since the wind came from all directions and the water just didn't boil. Also, she forgot to bring a spoon and therefore had no possibility to stir anything.

After what felt like an eternity, we could finally eat pasta with tomato sauce in the dark, with a headlamp in the tent. At least it was halfway cooked.

Now you would think that this was the end of the day, and we could finally sleep - but this turned out to actually not be the case. The wind pressed so strongly against the tent that we wondered whether the tent would withstand it for long. So Björn, in the middle of the night outside the tent, had to pull the wind lines, which we had never used until that day.

After that we could finally sleep. At least the night still had a few hours for us and then we were already approaching the last two days ...

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 5 - From Thyborøn to Klitmøller

On day 5, the first look out of the tent did not bode well. The rain was dripping along the rusty tin roof of the bunker, or rather it was running in streams. Our towels, which we had hung up to dry in the evening, were really soaked. We, the tent and the bikes were dry. After all, we were still in the shelter of the bunker and the wetness did not reach there.

That morning we didn't have breakfast at first, because our plan was to go shopping on the way to the ferry, which was only about 3 km from where we slept, and have breakfast later. We were pretty happy to be able to pack up our tent in the dry, even if we did pack in some sand. Sleeping on sand just has advantages and disadvantages.

While we were packing up our stuff, the rain stopped and the sky got a little brighter. So, our start that day was at least halfway dry. Our timing was good, so Jana did the shopping for our breakfast, and we got directly on the ferry. This ferry should bring us from Thyborøn to Agger Tange, which took just about 12 minutes.

After the short ferry ride, we continued north. Before we actually arrived in Agger, we had to ride for a while on a straight stretch of road. The sky had become overcast again, and so it got darker and darker above us. Also, the forecast did not look good because according to it, there should be a big downpour soon, which would last for about 1 hour. We hoped to find a place to sit out the rain and have breakfast beforehand. But the rain came faster than we would have liked, and so we saved ourselves into a bus stop after the first raindrops. And we stayed there until the rain was over. We had breakfast, watched little toads jumping out of the meadow behind us as soon as the rain let up a bit and crossing the road in front of us. We worried about them, whenever cars drove up.

For this day, we had only planned just under 60 km, and therefore we rather took the time to sit out the rain, before we would be completely soaked all day on our bicycles.

Exactly on time according to the weather forecast, we finally went on. Our route led us through the National Park, Thy. Its nature is exceptional, the area is also called Denmark's largest wilderness. The national park stretches from Agger Tange to Hanstholm, which means we had this wilderness around us all day. And as expected, the scenery and varied nature was beautiful that day as well.

After the rain came the sun and then came the fog. On this day, weather showed us what it had to offer and how the atmosphere of places changes with the weather. The landing place in Stenbjerg is certainly also beautiful when it is sunny, but in the fog it was really special.

Our destination was Cold Hawaii (also called Klitmøller) and a big camping site. After all, we were in dire need of a shower. A real hot shower and a relaxing night, with all the amenities that a campsite has to offer.

In fact, we reached our destination faster than expected and then Björn came across the glamping. Actually, we just wanted a place for our tent ... but then there were these luxury tents that include a real bed, a refrigerator and even a heater. I wonder how it would be to sleep one night in between, in a real bed? Wouldn't that be much more relaxing and wouldn't we be able to recharge our batteries for the next few days?

Björn did not think long and booked such a tent for us. For excessively much money, but we didn't think too much about it. After all, this was our vacation, and we had not yet spent much money (except for food).

After a refreshing shower we felt like newborn, enjoyed the sunset, which shone again that evening with the most beautiful light, enjoyed a delicious dinner and dried ourselves, aired our sleeping bags and clothes. And then it was off to bed. And the next morning coffee and croissant were waiting for us ... and more kilometers.

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 4 - From Hvide Sande to Thyborøn

Following the rainy and short third day on the bike, we were welcomed by sunshine immediately in the morning on the fourth day. Fortunately, our clothes and bags were dried overnight. This meant that we could pack everything in a relaxed manner. We wanted to start early and make the most of the day.

We had originally planned to ride about 70 km on this fourth day, but we definitely had to add the kilometers from the previous day, which we were unable to complete due to the rain. Despite everything, this decision turned out to be the only right one.

But then this happened: when we were almost ready to leave, the binding on Björn's bike shoes completely disintegrated and the shoe fell off his foot. What options did we have to fix the shoe? Duct tape it up? Wrap cable ties around it? Of course, all this could have worked, but it would not have been a permanent solution for the next few days on the bike.

Again, luckily, we were still in Hvide Sande, which meant that there were a few stores selling outdoor accessories and clothing. New cycling shoes? No way. It was going to be weatherproof outdoor shoes. No problem thanks to Björn's two-sided pedals. The only catch? The stores didn't open until about an hour later - which meant we had to wait.

Björn entered the outdoor store right after it opened and walked out a few minutes later with new shoes, he said goodbye to the old ones, and now we could finally really set off.

We were in high hopes that from this moment on, the day could only get better. After all, we had tailwind and a sense that the landscape would be particularly beautiful on this day. In addition, we had also selected an exciting shelter site for this evening.

Due to the tailwind, we made really good progress and quickly made up for our kilometer deficit. Due to the longer break the day before, we felt additionally full of energy.

In the small harbor town of Thorsminde we took a short lunch break. Here we had a great view of the Nissum Fjord and the North Sea, which meet there.

As we had already expected: with every pedal stroke and every kilometer we covered, the nature became more and more beautiful. The paths took us very close to the coast of the North Sea, so that while riding we could watch the waves on the sea again and again and absorb the fresh air deep inside us.

The strong wind that day was pushing the waves with great force against the rocks and beaches. The sky was darkening again and the atmosphere was breathtaking.

Our route took us right along the edge of the impressive cliff Bovbjerg Klint, which is part of the UNESCO Global Geopark West Jutland. The impressive cliff shows traces of the Elster, Saale and Vistula ice ages.

From a distance, we could also see the lighthouse Bovbjerg Fyr and the small coastal village Ferring. One thing we can say, this was so far the biggest highlight on our route on the North Sea Coastal Cycle Route. In retrospect, we were even glad that the sky was not blue or the sun was shining because so everything got a much more impressive mood.

We were getting closer and closer to our destination for the day and gradually the sky was clearing up. Just in time for the evening, even a sunset was waiting for us on this day. How beautiful it would become, we could not even guess at this point.

We also met and said hello to the family from Belgium, whom we had already met the previous day, several times that day. No surprise, since they had about the same destination as us.

Our destination on this day four was set for the first time even before we had left: Thyborøn. We reached it after about 94 km.

Thyborøn is a small town in the Danish region of Midtjylland. It is located on the North Sea coast on the northern tip of the headland Harboøre Tange, which is separated from the headland Agger Tange by the Thyborøn Channel. From there, we also wanted to take the ferry the next day.

The beach in Thyborøn is quite impressive and at the same time quite thought-provoking. The former fortification in Thyborøn was part of the historical Atlantic Wall, the defense line of the German occupying forces during World War II. Today, the historical remains are partly covered with sand, others can still be visited.

While there were bunkers all along the coastline of Jutland, Thyborøn is a special location. There are more than 60 bunkers spread all over the sandy beach.

For this night, we had chosen a special shelter - between the dunes, directly by the sea in the protection of an old bunker. This is officially used as a shelter, but due to its location it does not have toilets, a water connection or a fireplace. For us, this was no reason not to use this shelter for the night. About 1 km away there were toilets and water, and so we had everything we needed.

We had been worried that this particular spot might already be taken by other fellow bike travelers, but that wasn't the case. However, since the bunker itself was a bit too scary for us to simply spread out our sleeping bags in it, we pitched our tent in the entrance under the roof. So, we were protected from the wind and could make ourselves comfortable for the night.

The sun was slowly setting in the sky, and we were only a dune away from seeing the sun set on the horizon. We also didn't miss the chance to finally enjoy some seawater on our skin on the fourth day. The temperatures and the sun allowed for it, and so we had a refreshing swim in the cold waves.

We didn't cook that night because we had some leftovers that we ate and then we fell into our sleeping bags with our heads full of impressions that now had to be processed ... the end of the day was perfect.

We didn't know then what would await us the next morning ...

Vestkystruten - Travel log day 3 - From Kærgård to Hvide Sande

We quietly put down our tent and enjoyed the peace and fresh air of the morning. When everything was stowed, and we were dressed, we enjoyed another breakfast composed of chocolate soy milk, cereal and pickles.

We quietly dismantled our tent and enjoyed the peace and fresh air in the morning. When everything was stowed and we were dressed, we enjoyed another breakfast of chocolate soy milk, muesli and pickles.

Then, it was finally time to leave before the teens woke up to this place. They were still pretty quiet as we headed out, though.

We had a great start as we had a good tailwind. The best conditions to easily cover many kilometers with little effort. However, we knew, from looking at the weather report, that we were heading for a thick rain front that was supposed to spread over the entire North Sea coast. That meant pushing the throttle (at least by our standards), as we had about 70-80 km planned for the day.

From here, the landscape opened up and we rode mostly on small gravel roads and cottage roads along the dunes. The landscape was hilly and offered a beautiful view of the Ringkøbing Fjord in several places.

Around us the nature and the landscape was very varied: small beautiful gravel paths among trees in small forests and asphalt bike paths directly through the dunes, an up and down and almost always the sea in the background.

The mood was very special due to the clouds in the sky, even if it became darker and darker and thus looked more threatening. And then came what had to come. The rain, the first big rain on our tour. The sky gave everything and within a very short time we had to make a decision.

Fortunately, we were just before Hvide Sande and could look for us there then a small corner with some protection from the rain. Here we wanted to make a break anyway after about 45 km and then continue.

But, we were torn: Should we continue, should we wait, or should we look for an alternative? The rain was going to last for quite a while. Continuing would have meant that we would have been completely drenched by the time we reached our destination.

Staying under this protective roof was not an option either. Our mood was low, and it was getting cold. So, what next? We scoured the internet - are there any options to make it through the rest of the day and night without getting all wet? Was there any shelter in or nearby Hvide Sande?

Hvide Sande is a small harbor town on the west coast of Denmark, and luckily, there were shelters in the immediate area. All we needed now was to be lucky enough to find a spare one for us. Although it was still early in the day, and we actually wanted to ride about 25 km further, we decided to just ride through the rain and grab one of the shelters. Being completely soaked didn't seem to be an option for us that day.

We were extremely lucky to find that one of three shelters was still available. So, we didn't hesitate and set up camp right away. From the shelter, we had a great view of the Fjord, which was right in front of us, so we snuggled up in our sleeping bags and watched the rain and the waves.

Later in the day, the rain actually stopped, so we were able to explore our surroundings a little bit more.

Well, that was it for this day. We cooked some pasta with pesto and vegan salami and didn't leave the shelter. Even late in the evening when people showed up who supposedly had a shelter reservation. That evening we learned that you can make reservations at some shelters, but of course, you need to know that beforehand, but it seems that no one comes to check. However, after the tiresome day we didn't feel like putting up our tent anymore, and so we stayed in the shelter.

Another day was over and for the next day it meant: make up the kilometers!

Vestkystruten Bikepacking Travel Diary - Day 2 - From Ribe to Kærgård

The second day on the bike started with a beautiful sunrise and wind. After the first day was very cloudy, now bright sunshine awaited us. After a small breakfast, which consisted of a porridge to mix, we started packing up. Although we had not pitched our tent at all, it took us a while to get everything back in the bags. Unfortunately, there was no water connection on this beautiful shelter site, which is why we could only briefly rinse our pot and containers in the river. But you can't have everything.

Since our night camp was directly on our planned path, we continued along the dike. Almost like the day before. Today it should be about 66 km - after all, we had already made up a few kilometers on our first day. We drove past small Danish vacation homes, past meadows with cows and pigs, over sheep fences and finally got to feel the dreaded Danish headwind. Fortunately, however, this was not quite so strong on this day, even though we would have preferred a tailwind, of course.

Once again, as we made our way along Danish roads, we noticed how good the infrastructure and bike lanes in this country were. There were no unnecessary or dangerous road crossings. Instead, there were tunnels and dedicated paths away from the speeding cars. The cars here, however, were also much more considerate and relaxed on the road.

We took our first extended break, which we called an early lunch break or late and second breakfast, in Esbjerg. In addition to the second (and real) breakfast, we really needed fresh water, since we unfortunately could not fill up any at our shelter site.

The nine-meter-high sculpture group, which was located in Esbjerg and is known as" Man by the Sea" (Danish: Mennesket ved Havet), we wanted to see on the way anyway. For our break we looked for a small bench directly at the sea. So we could watch the sea and the sculpture group while we sat at a windy place and ate peanut butter sandwiches. Strictly speaking, the tall sculptures are four seated men made of white concrete looking out to sea. They are supposed to represent man's encounter with nature and, in good weather, can still be seen from a distance of up to ten kilometers. In fact, we were not the only people visiting the port city of Esbjerg, the largest city on the Danish North Sea coast, that day. After all, this was known for its fishing and industrial port, a long shopping street and many museums.

After we had satiated our hunger, however, we continued on our way and refrained from taking a closer look at Esbjerg. Due to the wind, we had to make several stops and decide between long and short jerseys. It was quite fresh and at the same time one was super fast warm, because to arrive against the wind was then but somewhat more strenuous than the day before.

After a few exhausting kilometers we reached our destination for the day. The Kærgård plantation.

While one of us, provided us with food for the evening and the coming morning, the other already looked around for suitable shelter places. We almost missed our shelter place and after a little search we found the place we were looking for. It was a shelter place between Blochsgård and Oktagonen, which was only a few kilometers away from the North Sea at the edge of the Kærgård plantation (dune plantation). In Kærgård Klitplantage there are many hiking and biking trails where you can explore the fantastic nature. The shelter cabins were booked by youth groups and so the only thing left for us to do that day was to set up the tent. The big advantage, however, was that there was a toilet with water connection. There was also seating and after the young people had come at some point to rest, it was also pleasantly quiet.

This was now the second time that we have set up our tent and we were still thrilled by how fast and uncomplicated the setup was. And then it was finally time for something to eat. Jana cooked spaghetti with tomato sauce, accompanied by pickles (After a long day on the bike, the brine from the pickles can help replenish the body with sufficient fluids and electrolytes. In fact, the brine is rich in sodium and potassium, which can have an antispasmodic effect) and good company. Next to us another bike traveler had settled with his tent and so we cooked, talked and laughed until we were all tired and crawled into our tents.

That was a successful, relaxing end to the day. Dog-tired, we fell onto our mattresses and dreamed of our collected impressions of the second day.

Vestkystruten travel diary - Day 1 - From Klanxbüll to Ribe

Hey you!

Welcome to our travel diary that will remind us of how we embarked on a bike packing trip in August 2022 from the Danish-German border to the northernmost tip of Denmark, where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea meet, through Denmark's beautiful countryside. We chose this trip because it gave us the opportunity to explore the landscape in an active and environmentally friendly way. The distance was just under 600 km, and we did it in 8 days, after all it was supposed to be a vacation and not a physical challenge.

We hope that our experiences will inspire you to embark on a journey yourself and discover the beauty of Denmark. We appreciate you joining us on our adventure and hope you enjoy reading our diary as much as we enjoyed creating it.

So, take a look around, make yourself comfortable and join us on our journey through Denmark.

Warm regards
Jana & Björn

Sunday, August 31, 2022

Getting up - really early, even by our standards. The first train left at 05:29 and that was the one we wanted to catch, after all, we wanted to take advantage of as many hours of the day as possible. The first challenge of the day came quickly. We had to get our bikes including luggage down the stairs from the 4th floor, preferably without falling over the steps. After we managed that without any problems, it was "off to the train station" and a first wake-up in the cool morning air.

At 08:11 we and our heavily packed bikes finally reached our starting point of the tour on the North Sea Coast Cycle Route (Vestkystruten) and our first planned stage: Klanxbüll.

Although we had divided the route into 8 roughly equal stages in Komoot, we wanted to decide somewhat spontaneously whether we wanted to ride more or less of the planned route. Also, we had not planned any fixed shelter or camping sites so that we could be at least somewhat flexible.

For the first day, we planned to ride about 80 km towards Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. The town's history dates back to the early Viking Age, and therefore the town was one of the most important harbor towns in Denmark in the Middle Ages. The old town is said to still look appropriately medieval today.

We rode the first kilometers that day on roads that we already partially knew. Previously, in April, we had ridden to Denmark for a weekend trip and a test of our tent. We camped on Rømø and rode back to Germany on the Danish mainland.

The familiar path took us along a dike and past a lot of sheep, which we greeted kindly, and there was also a lot of asphalt and road on this first stretch of North Sea coastal bike path on Denmark's west coast.

Since our legs were still fresh and fit, we progressed faster than expected. The sky was covered by clouds and there was only a slight breeze. Occasionally, the sun would show itself and sporadically, we got a few raindrops. The light breeze and the cloudy sky made for a pleasant temperature while cycling. In any case, we did not sweat so quickly on this day.

After only a few hours, we reached the beautiful old town of Ribe. It was gray and drizzling from the sky. We made a quick stop to see the Ribe Domkirke (Ribe Cathedral), which is the oldest cathedral in the country, with a five-nave nave.

Driven by hunger and rain, we looked for the nearest supermarket in Ribe and decided to drive a bit further after shopping. On Instagram Lucas Goes Bikepacking had recommended us a shelter place, which was only about 12 km away from Ribe. With a backpack full of lots of edible goodies, we were already on our way out of Ribe and along the North Sea coastal bike path for a bit. Conveniently, the shelter place was directly on the way, so we could continue the next day without detours directly.

The beautiful small nature campsite was located in Hillerup at the Kongeå lake. Isolated in the beautiful and unique marshland and had two shelters, a toilet and was located directly by the water. Here you can also pull your canoe ashore, which we could witness several times while we were sitting in the shelter.

When we reached it, we directly met other cyclists who were in the process of moving into one shelter together. Good fortune for us because it meant we didn't have to pitch a tent that night and could sleep right in the shelter.

While we made ourselves comfortable in the shelter, set up our air mattresses for the night and widely spread the contents of our bags all over the place, we started talking with the others. One of them was from Bavaria and had been cycling for quite a while, the other was from the Netherlands (actually he was from the USA). Björn did not stop chatting while I started to prepare something to eat. Meanwhile our tummies announced themselves more and more clearly.

Meanwhile, a family of five from Belgium also reached the site and found that they had to spend this night not in a shelter, but in a tent. While we relaxed in our wooden hut, the family cooked spaghetti together.

Slowly it became quiet on the site and all travelers disappeared into their night camps at dusk. So did we. Here it was, the first night out in Denmark. The first kilometers in the legs and so many more to come.

Tired, we snuggled into our sleeping bags and if it hadn't been for the mosquitoes, the night could hardly have been better.

New Bike Day - Ribble CGR SL Gravel Bike Shimano GRX Di2

Let's start at the very beginning of the story. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... Stop, stop! Not so far at the beginning. So... Our "old" Gravel Bikes accompanied us now since the middle of 2020 on the most different undergrounds and some short and a few longer tours.

The reasons for choosing our bikes was "then", as I'm sure it was for many of you: availability. To be precise: the availability in the right frame size and in the right budget. Getting a suitable bike was really a challenge in the summer of 2020 (not that it isn't just as difficult now). Björn was able to secure his Canyon Grail CF SL as a job bike, while I rattled off various stores in Hamburg and online stores for the right bike for me. In the end, it was then a Specialized Diverge Base Carbon, which was slightly above my budget and actually could have been a frame size larger. Except for a few criteria, we had little idea of what we really needed when it came to bikes. We just wanted to make us outside a nice time for two on the bike.

Something we didn't know at the time? How our ideas about cycling would change in two years.

Bikepacking was in any case in the year for us no topic at all and therefore we have not paid attention to whether this would be possible with the bikes at all. After our first bikepacking experience, where we were on the road without tent, sleeping bag and Co, but only with clothes for a few days, it was clear to us: for tours where we want to be completely independent, our bikes are not optimal. Well, especially Björn's not. The Diverge fits there quite well, but that's another topic.

In our search for suitable bikes and / or possible bike partners, we finally came across Ribble Cycles from England or instead were made attentive. So one thing led to another, and we could acquire Ribble as a partner. We are very excited about this.

After a few impatient weeks of waiting, our new bikes finally arrived.

Since we will never be super sporty cyclists and don't intend to be, we chose the bikes according to our needs and purpose. Fortunately, Ribble offers a massive selection of bikes that can be built according to your wishes. The Bike Builder on Ribble's website makes it easy, and in the end, you don't get a bike off the rack as everyone else might have.

The bike of our choice: The Ribble CGR SL

Due to difficult availability, the Ribble CGR (Cross. Gravel. Road) SL is currently the best alternative to the Ribble Gravel (Explore. Race. Escape.) SL, which would be the dream bike for us to bike pack. The frame of the Gravel SL offers more possible bolt-on locations than that of the CGR.

We have opted for 650B tires in a 47 wide. The wide tires are suitable for a variety of surfaces and give us a safe feeling even with a lot of luggage.

Of course, the WTB tires are tubeless-ready, and one of our next steps will be to put this to use. There is still plenty of clearance in the frame of the CGR SL - which means we could even fit wider tires if we wanted to. The carbon frame of the CGR SL has a sporty geometry, so 28-inch wheels and narrower tires could be installed as well. This definitely makes this bike a perfect "all-rounder" for us.

A stable aluminum LEVEL handlebar with plenty of room for bags through a nice flare, a Shimano GRX Di2 shift group 1×11 speed and a Shimano GRX hydraulic disc brake complete the whole.

Especially the electronic groupset impressed us directly on the first ride. We no longer want to do without it. The difference to mechanical shifting (especially the Sram Apex 1 on my Diverge) is gigantic.

Visually, the Ribble CGR SL is also very nice to look at. As soon as we are back home after a ride, we can hardly wait to go again with the new Ribble bikes.

The bike and its components are a lot of fun. Next, we test the bikes for their bikepacking capabilities. We suspect that this experience will also be really good!

Technical facts


Toray T1000/T800 full carbon monocoque


Shimano GRX Di2 RX815 1×11 speed


Shimano GRX Hydraulic Disc


Level Gravel light alloy 6061 31.8 Flared handlebar // Level 1 light alloy stem


Mavic ALLROAD SL DISC CL Road+ wheelset


WTB Byway Road Plus TCS Tires Tan 650 x 47c


Check out our NEW BIKE DAY vlog on YouTube.