Day 25. Sodankylä – Kiveliön Kala shop, 68 km.

I need to use the rest room at 5, when I go outside it’s mayhem, the festival people are still drinking and shouting. I am so happy that I have an almost sound proof cottage with heating.

Figure 1. Map day 25-28

I feel sorry for the other campers that have their tents and mobile homes nearer epicenter. The camping Nilimela in Sodankylä normally gives a discount if you have the Camping Key Europe card, but has removed the discount during this festival. They pack the camping full, the service building is very dirty now.

This is gold digging at its best, I will try my best to avoid this town and camping when going south. When I have my breakfast at 6 they are still going, crawling around among the tents, also there is big black dog running around and barking. If this is a normal Finnish camping with normal campers, I will rent a car and go back to Sweden.

When I leave just before 7 there are still 2-3 people drinking and smoking. It’s only 5C but the sky is clear and the sun is shining. First stop is the supermarket, I need some more food as I used up the last bread and pasta yesterday.

Next stop is the Neste service station, some breakfast and mental preparation for the day.

Party at neste
Figure 2. Party at Neste oil

Both the supermarket and service station has slot machines, keno and other gambling services. People seems to be seated at them all hours of the day.

Figure 3. Souvenirs

I meet at Finnish biker, he is going from the North Cape to Hanko in the south. He tells med that he brought his bike on the bus called Gold Line. It’s supposed to be possible to bring the bike along without putting it in a box. This is very interesting since I feel less and less interested in biking back the same road I came once I turn.

He tells med that Tankavaara gold village where I was planning on camping is closed, maybe that it went bankrupt or something like this.

Figure 4. Tankavaara gold diggers

Later I find a restaurant that is open, I go inside to see if I can get some food, they are fully booked so I can’t get any food. What are the odds of finding a restaurant far, far away from everything in Finnish Lapland and it’s fully booked ? I am guessing it would have been closed if it wasn’t fully booked. The people at the restaurant also tells med that Tankavaara is closed.

Really amazing if Tankavaara is closed since I asked at the tourist information in Sodankylä. I keep going for a while, thinking about what my options are. The Finnish biker told me he talked to a shop owner in Voetsu and was allowed to camp outside the shop. This sounds unlikely for me and the shop probably would be closed by the time I get there.

If Vuotso fails the next place is Saariselkä or Ivalo, that is another 60-90 km away. I curse Finnish tourist information, so far the best and accurate info is the one telling me that there are no services or things are closed.

The GPS tells me about something with cottages or similar along the road, I find it but it looks well dodgy, I would rather sleep in the woods.

Figure 5. Mökkeja or not ?

Some 10-15 km later I see a neon sign with moving text in the distance, hmmmm, very interesting. When I get closer they seem to have hotel, camping, cottages, cafe and the lots. This looks to good to be true.

Figure 6. Fish shop

I go inside and ask for camping, it seems that they really don’t understand what I am asking for, strange since the exact word “camping” is printed on their truck.

spot the camping
Figure 7. Spot the camping

But it seems very possible to rent a cottage for 40 Euro. I ask them about Tankavaara, they say it’s open no problem, so then I know for sure Tankavaara is closed. So I chicken out and go for the cottage.

I spend the rest of the day with laundry, cooking and reading. I go to bed early, tomorrow might take me as far as Ivalo or at least Saariselkä. It will be fun to see if Tankavaara is closed or not. I am starting to feel that I should use my tent soon, all this indoors living is great but expensive.

Day 26. Kiveliön Kala shop – Saariselkä, 65 km.

Breakfast is some bread and fruits that I have. It’s really cold outside but I get going, I borrow their foot pump and fill up the wheels to 4 bar. They have been getting softer and softer lately, no leak , but just normal dispersion. The sky is blue and it’s getting warmer, there are many mosquitoes and horse flies so long sleeve and pants all day.

After a while I see a bus that is half bus and half truck, it’s the Gold Line, so now I absolutely need to find out how to get on this bus when I go south. Arrive in Vuotso, there is a shop, really small with just the basics. The cashier is the first person since golden goose majatalo that smiles, the Finns in the north seem to be a very serious and grumpy bunch that never smile. There was a sign for visits to Santa’s shop and lunch, I find this place just down the street. It’s too early for lunch, but they have reindeer meat with mashed potatoes. Just 17.50 euro, I decide to go for it anyway. Its nice to be indoors and sit down for a while. So next stop Tankavaara.

Tankavaara is closed, they are changing owners. So glad I didn’t discover this yesterday at the end of +100 km day.

But I am glad that the system works, yes means no and no means no.

After a while I see another biker, it’s Laurent from north east France. We talk for a while, he’s coming from the north cape, going to Istanbul and then to Gibraltar. After this he’s going to Canada and then to Ushuaïa. I ask when he expects to go home, he says he has given up his home and will go on cycling. He does lots of wild camping, I ask him about how wild camping in France works.

He says he just go 200 m off the road and hide. I ask if there has been any problems with police or Gendarmerie, no see – no catch, followed by a big smile. His rear rim is broken, we have a look and I hope he can get it fixed very soon. There is a 10 cm crack on each side. Laurent doesn’t have a blog, facebook, e-mail or a phone so I wish him bon voyage and then we go separate ways.

By now it starts to be hilly, I feel unmotivated to go to Ivalo. There has been 10-20 horse flies hanging around all day. No stopping without being bothered them. Maybe some kind of bargain could be had in Saariselkä, I want to have a rest day, I want to have a look at my bike, there is a very annoying click-click sound when I pedal. My theory is that one or more links in the chain are stuck. Also, I feel I should check the rear wheel, all the spokes and the rim.

I arrive at Saariselkä, look around, no camping to be found, wont even bother with the tourist information.

Sami birds
Figure 8. Sami birds ?

I find a majatalo and go for it, I decide to stay two nights. I go shopping some Friday treats.

Figure 9. Nami nami

Internet is in the pub/reception, wonderful to have to listen to really drunk Finnish people talking to a poor Japanese tourist for hours on end. When he tells them that Samsung is Korean and Tai Chi is Chinese for the 99:th time I feel sorry for him and a headache coming up. This idea with the bus sounds more and more promising. But then again, those plans seems to always fuck up somehow.

Day 27. Saariselkä – Saariselkä, 0 km

Rest day. Wake up after 8, some breakfast in the room, walk down to tourist info, its closed, go to the service station to get some degreaser. They only have a mega 500 ml can, so now there is even more stuff on the bike. I go to the supermarket to have lunch, a big serving of meatballs and mashed potato with a big plate of salad. I do some shopping.

I service the bike, the click-click sound is still there, - lube&clean chain - tighten crank and bottom bracket - pedals - saddle - lock holder

still click-click. I wonder what this can be, the noise is there when I pedal under load, it goes away when I stand up. It must be the saddle, I will remove the saddle on my next rest day, maybe there is something that needs fixing. I find that two eyelets on the rear wheel seems to have broken a bit off. Doesn’t look to serious, I send an e-mail to Schauff and ask. In the evening I go back to the supermarket and get dinner, a big serving och mashed potatoes and big chunk of grilled chicken.

Figure 10. Dinner

Lunch was 8.90 and dinner 9.90 Euro. I go to the pub/reception/brewery and try their local beer, it wasn’t very good. I use the internet trying to find out more about weather and accommodation, I expect that most of the info is wrong, but in 2-3 days I will reach Utsjoki I hope. I read my book. I really like my Sony e-reader and the fact that I can get books from the library at home for free over the Internet.

Day 28. Saariselkä – Inari, 74 km

I wake up feeling rested, look outside, gray and cold, go back to warm bed and sleep until the alarm goes off. I have some breakfast in the room, pack my stuff and load the bike. After some short uphill there is very long downhill, another good reason to get on that bus south. After two hours I arrive in the outskirts of Ivalo, I see 5 buses parked next to something looking like a garage. I ask if its a bus station but its isn’t, I ask if its possible to take my bike on the bus,

  • yes, no problem !

OK, I know when people say “yes, no problem !” it seems to mean, “yes many problems”. But I will continue to ask and ask and ask.

Figure 11. Options in Ivalo

When I arrive in downtown Ivalo I hear church bells and then I remember that it’s Sunday. I hope that a restaurant of sorts is open, I arrive in front of a grill/pizzeria and one of the signs says it opens at 11, some of the others seems to say it opens at 12.

I go for some sightseeing and come back at 11, it just opens and they have hot food. I go north towards Inari, a few drops of rain, a bit up and down. Quiet roads, nice nature. After a while I see that they have built rest areas with benches to sit on, amazing, haven’t seen those in along while. A bit later I find this place that caters to tourists in buses, amazing, and they have donuts for 1 euro, even more amazing.

Figure 12. What up !

Since I am not in a hurry I sit inside to get warm. During the afternoon I formulate my plan for the rest of the trip until I turn south again. I must find out about the buses, I must be 100% sure if I can bring the bike or not. So I decide that I need to ambush a bus and find out first hand, with the bike there for the driver to see. In Inari there are two camping’s, I decide to go downtown and have a look for food first.

I see the same type of supermarket as in Saariselkä, I am happy, until I find out that this one doesn’t have a restaurant.

I buy some food and head back south to the first camping, it’s a small one and they want 10 Euros.

Again I find it a bit rundown, they really pack people in and it’s general chaos. I set my tent next to a teepee inhabited by a Dutch couple, I ask about their cool tent, it seems they are going to drive the same route as I did six years ago. They seem to be interested in what I can tell them about roads over the alpine mountains and waterfalls. I get on the Internet and make them a map by hand, including Stekenjokk, Flatruet and Njupskärsfallet.

It’s cold and windy so I stay in my tent and read, there are people and cars arriving all the time. Even after 22:30 people arrive with camping cars. Since there are too few power outlets and they are in just one place, people arrive and park their camping car, then they find out that their 20 or 30 meter cable isn’t long enough. Then they have to start the car again and drive closer. I ask in the reception for information about accommodation and food between Kaamanen and Utsjoki, they say that there is absolutely nothing.

So tomorrow I will have to ambush a bus or two, I can choose between going to Kaamanen (shop + camping) 25 km or Utsjoki (shop + camping + restaurant) 125 km. Most likely I will not go 125 km tomorrow.