This 18-mile trip shows you the best of this windmill-covered island’s charms. The highest point on the island is only 180 feet above sea level, but the wind can be strong and the hills seem long. This ride is good exercise. Rent a bike in town. While my map and instructions work, a local cycle map is helpful (free loaner maps if you rent from Pilebaekkens Cykler or buy one at the TI). Or it could be fun and easy--though pricier--to rent an electric car from the tourist information office.
• Leave Aeroskobing to the west on the road to Vra (Vravejen, signed Bike Route #90).
Leaving Aeroskobing: You’ll see the first of many U-shaped farms, typical of Denmark. The three sides block the wind and store cows, hay, and people. Gaard (farm) shows up on many local surnames.
At Osemarksvej, bike along the coast in the protection of the dike built in 1856 to make the once-salty swampland to your left farmable. While the weak soil is good for hay and little else, they get the most out of it. Each winter, certain grazing areas flood with seawater. (Some locals claim this makes their cows produce fatter milk and meat.) As you roll along the dike, the land on your left is about eight feet below sea level. The little white pump house--alone in the field--is busy each spring and summer.
• At the T-junction, go right (over the dike) toward Borgnaes.
Borgnaes: The traditional old “straw house” (50 yards down, on left) is a café and shop selling fresh farm products. Just past that, a few roadside tables sell farm goodies on the honor system. Borgnaes is a cluster of modern summer houses. In spite of huge demand, a weak economy, and an aging population, development like this is no longer allowed.
• Keep to the right (passing lots of wheat fields and two Vindeballe turnoffs), following signs to Bregninge. After a secluded beach, head inland (direction: O. Bregninge). Pass the island’s only water mill, and climb uphill over the island’s 2,700-inch-high summit toward Bregninge. The tallest point on Aero is called Syneshoj (“Seems high”).
Gammelgaard: Take a right turn marked only by a Bike Route #90 sign. The road deteriorates as you wind scenically through “Aero’s Alps,” past classic “old farms” (hence the name of the lane--Gammelgaard).
• At the modern road, turn left (leaving Bike Route #90) and bike to the big village church. Before turning right to roll through Denmark’s “¬second-longest village,” visit the church.
Bregninge Church: The interior of the 12th-century Bregninge church is still painted as a Gothic church would have been. Find the painter’s self-¬portrait (behind the pulpit, right of front pew). Tradition says that if the painter wasn’t happy with his pay, he’d paint a fool’s head in the church (above third pew on left). Note how the fool’s mouth--the hole for a rope tied to the bell--has been worn wider and wider by centuries of ringing. (During services, the ringing bell would call those who were ill and too contagious to be allowed into the church to come for communion--distributed through the square hatches flanking the altar.)