Beautiful, brazen and blustery Bornholm. The isolated island east of mainland Denmark is known for its vast lavender fields, steep cliffs and its well-known biking paths.

The island itself is small but crowded, with nearly 40,000 inhabitants. But Bornholm’s biking paths seem endless, carrying bikers from historic, round churches to quaint harbor towns. This is why DIS (the Danish Institute for Study Abroad) offers a biking trip to its students during both the spring and fall semesters. The trip itself is extremely popular, attracting over 90 students on its most recent excursion this past September.

[quote]students must take into account fall is the tail end of the fair weather season, and cold rain storms greatly outnumbered eager tourists[/quote]

Aleah George, a fall DIS student who attends Providence College in Rhode Island, has been anticipating the trip for months.

“I saw my friends’ pictures from Bornholm last year and thought that biking the island would be a great way to experience such a unique part of Europe,” she said.

While George admits she’s not the most athletic, she believes seeing the beautiful island with such an up-close view was well worth it.

But students must take into account fall is the tail end of the fair weather season, and cold rain storms greatly outnumbered eager tourists. Another DIS student, Elon University junior Becca Rubin, spontaneously signed up for the trip last minute, attracted by the waterfall and well known beaches.  Unfortunately, her trip didn’t turn out quite how she had anticipated.

“I was really looking forward to seeing the waterfall, but because it’s off season, the waterfall was a bit more of a trickle” Rubin said.

Along with the bad timing came bad weather. The weekend saw glimpses of sunshine but was mostly consumed with sweeping winds, dark skies and occasional downpours.

Despite the grim forecast, bikers were not deterred from the gravel filled paths.  Routes heading towards Sandvig and Svaneke were packed with bikers.  Nevertheless, as the day wore on, more and more weary bikers found themselves huddling for warmth and opting for the sheltered bus.

“We tried to turn the trip from biking in Bornholm to bussing in Bornholm but eventually decided to suck it up and stick out the last nine miles,” Rubin said.  So she took on the challenge and biked the lengthy uphill trek.  Although Rubin and George both thought the island to be full of flat and leisurely paths, Bornholm was anything but that.

In fact, the majority of Bornholm’s rolling fields were just that: rolling.  Steep hills make up the majority of the intimate island’s landscape.

“It wasn’t as much of a leisurely ride as I was anticipating; the hills were definitely exhausting,” George said.

Regardless, despite the grueling hills, chilling rain and intense wind, both George and Rubin felt a sense of overwhelming satisfaction after biking 43 miles in two days.

“I’m tired, but in the end I’m happy I did it, even thought my calves are still burning,” Rubin said, laughing. “But let’s get one thing straight: I might memorize the bus routes next time.”


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