Danish cyclists roll into Solvang after pedaling from San Francisco

Sep 16, 2016
Danish cyclists roll into Solvang after pedaling from San Francisco

Just before Danish Days filled Solvang with music, dance, food, parades and thousands of people, a group of Denmark natives quietly swept into town Wednesday on a mission to help children in need in their home country.

Their arrival was quiet — at least until they reached Solvang Park — because they rode in on bicycles after pedaling all the way from San Francisco, the fifth year Hans Tjornelund has led the ride known as Tour Solvang.

Twenty-eight riders left the Bay Area for the 600 mile journey, but 30 riders rolled into Solvang Park to cheers and a banner of flags stretched above their heads by representatives of the Conference and Visitors Bureau.

The group grew by two in Cambria when they were joined by Solvang residents ElseMarie Petersen and Marna Bramsen, who both moved to the city from Denmark about six weeks apart some 30 years ago.

For Petersen, general manger of Copenhagen House, just the two-stage ride from Cambria was “a challenge” because she just started bicycling six months ago.

“It was OK,” she said as other riders grinned and congratulated each other with hugs. “I did better than I expected. This was my first really long ride.”

Bramsen, a stylist at True Beauty Hair Studio who’s been mountain biking for 30 years and road biking for eight, handled it a bit better.

“For me, it was OK,” she said. “I could still continue to ride. But they’re strong riders.”

Petersen joined the ride because she’s known Tjornelund since she was very young and is good friends with his sister, who helped arrange the trip.

I didn’t have time to train for the whole trip, so Hans said just ride the last two stages,” she said.

Petersen and Bramsen didn’t know each other before coming here — Bramsen lived in the north, and Petersen lived in the south. But now they’re close friends, which is why Bramsen decided to join Petersen for the last two stages.

Again this year, the tour got a boost from Dr. J’s Bicycle Shop and Wine Country Cycling Tours, which providing staff, bicycles and other support.

Tjornelund launched Tour Solvang in 2011 for several reasons — to raise money for needy children in Denmark, to celebrate Solvang’s centennial and to raise awareness of the city among the Danish people.

“We always like Danishness to grow in America,” he said.

To date, 100 riders

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