When I wake up I am still in the camping from hell, bummer. I gather all my moist clothes and get dressed and pack up, there is nothing here for me.
Today’s specials are rain and headwind – yes, please, a big serving of those. Not that it matters since I am all wet already.
There is nothing along the road, there isn’t supposed to be anything, then I see a small hand painted sign saying something like “Cafe – the silent people”. I think WTF, this sounds outright scary. But if they have something to eat I guess they can be as silent as they want.
After some more kilometers of rain and headwind it starts to lighten up a bit and I arrive at chez silent people, it’s an art installation with scare crows that the Finnish artist Reijo Kela thinks depicts the people living along route 5 in Finland.
I laugh and giggle so hard I have problems steering the bike, but when I see that they have an outdoors kitchen with hotdogs and pancakes I to become an art lover. The whole situation is totally bizarre, but they had a fire and food. I have two of everything and sit down and relax for a while.
So finally I arrive in Suomussalmi, I decide to go to the tourist information and ask them for accommodation. When I talk to them they say they only have one Hotel, I argue – but there was a small hotel just 1 km north of here in the suburbs ? – Yes, but that’s a Hotellii and not a Hotel ! - OK, what’s the difference ? - Hotellii have no breakfast ! I have no more questions at all at that time.
I end up in a small B&B, I go to a restaurant and pay and get the key, the B&B is 200 meters down the road. Nice place and good internet. Tomorrow I really wanted to go to Kuopio to take the train south, but I guess it will be to far with all the hills and wind.
I have breakfast early and the sky is blue, maybe there is a chance to make it all the way. I load the bike and just as I am about to leave I see that another spoke is broken.
So I have to unload the bike and fix it, I tell myself it could have been worse, it’s not raining and I have a place to sit.
But then an older man turns up from nowhere, I am not sure he’s sober, he keeps talking and I try to explain to him that I don’t understand Finnish. He finally understands and proudly announces “Ich sprechen Deutch” and “Jag talar det Svenska språket”, he goes on and on about this Razzia, there is something with petrol and cigarettes and Razzia and Razzia. All my bags are on the ground and the wheel is off, I can’t run and there is nowhere to hide, why me ?
Finally I understand that Razzia is Russia and that he goes there to buy cheap cigarettes and cheap petrol and meet his girlfriend every week. So by now the wheel is fixed and I thank him very much for participating in my Finnish experience and suggest that if he stops smoking he will save tons of money on petrol and cigarettes. I don’t think the message is understood fully.
The traffic on route 5 is much heavier now, drivers seems to not care about keeping their distance so I borrow a snow pole to help them remember to keep their distance. It works just perfectly, I guess it’s a scary thought to scratch ones car.
I have lunch in Hyrynsalmi, it’s a buffet, suddenly a guest starts to play the piano and sing in Finnish, again I ask myself, why me ? After lunch I look south and the sky is black, I decide to go to the camping and have a short day.
No point in pushing forward in to the rain when there is no train. This time I examine the designated tent area before paying, it’s a patch of forest but it’s flat and there are spaces big enough for my tent. I hurry to get my camp set, just when everything is inside it starts to rain.
There is no WiFi or Internet at this camping, but the staff helps me to look up when the trains for Kuopio leaves. It’s 50 km to the train station, the first train leaves at 11:24 and the next 14:28. I go back to the tent and have a siesta and then read my book. I decide to set the alarm for super early and try to catch the 11:24 train.
The alarm goes off at 04:30, I decide that I will catch the next train and sleep some more. It was really cold during the night, I had to use my wool clothes and the sleeping bag. My clothes and shoes are still moist from the last couple of days with rain.
I stop in Ristiijärvi to have brunch, there are lots of hills so the first 30 km is slow going. Once I arrive in Kontiomäki I am 15 minutes late for the train and have to wait for the next one, the sun is shining and there is a bench to sit on.
There is a train going north at 12:59, I have a look and there seems to be no problem to get the bike on the train. It just requires me to lift the bike from the ground up to the conductor caboose, about 1.2 meters.
My train arrives and I get the 3 rear bags off and lift it up to the conductor, then I toss the bags in and crawl aboard myself. It’s just one station to Kajaani where I have to change to an ultra modern Intercity train.
The conductor start to pick up his computer-ticket-thing but then he just says – it’s just one station so you can just pay for the next train at the next station and I get to ride in the caboose for free.
At Kajaani station I have about 20 minutes to buy tickets and change trains, the station is small enough to circle 100 times in 20 minutes so no worries. I get my tickets, one for me and one for the bike, find the correct door to enter through. Once there I find some kind of contraption designed by someone that never saw a bike in their life. I have to unload all bags and but them in coin operated lockers and leave my bike on the floor. It’s to big and heavy to fit the things on the train.
The train ride is very uneventful, there is slow speed Internet on the slow speed train, seems fitting.
When there is 15 minutes until Kuopio I start to gather my bags and load the bike again, getting ready to get out. Once at the station it’s easy to get out from the platforms to the street. Then I realize that I have arrived in the center of the city and that there isn’t any tourist information to be found.
I click find on my GPS and starts to go to some hotels that sounds low price. I arrive at the first one and go inside where I am informed that they do not have any cheap single rooms because it’s the Kuopio wine festival. I can’t be bothered with asking if the rooms are not cheap because of the wine festival or if they are out of rooms.
I ask the receptionist about where I can find a tourist information, he just looks at me like I just asked if they have any UFO’s in Kuopio, I suggest that it’s a place where I can get maps and information about accommodation. No, nope, no such place.
I start to ride towards the camping outside town, once I am just outside “central” Kuopio I press the Find button on the GPS and select Lodging – All categories, and there is a “Hostellii Hermanii” 563 m. Fantastic, I can live without the breakfast (or whatever the ii means), I go where the GPS tells me and it’s a bike lane leading to a road sign for hostel.
I arrive at the door, there is a sign “If the door is locked call this number”, I call the number and ask “room for one person – one night”, the answer is “Yes, no problem”, a woman arrives and opens the door, it’s smells clean, I get to see the room, I decide a day of rest is in order, can I stay two days ? “Yes, no problem”, can I park my bike indoors ? “Yes, no problem”, I get a tour of the facilities, all questions are answered with “Yes, no problem”.
This is technology, tourism business and service mindedness at it’s peak, press find and then “Yes, no problem”. In 4 minutes from pressing find I am liberated of my money and inside my room. Wow, imagine what a little train ride could do. Me like ! Yes, of course there is a supermarket and a restaurant next door, and yes of course they are open 8-22 every day.
Silent morning, the building is made of concrete and it’s sound proofed. I eat some breakfast I bought yesterday. I start to look at the map, now I have to start to navigate, there are multiple roads to choose from.
I make GPX files and preload my route in the GPS. I walk in to the central part of Kuopio, I start to look for CO2 cartridges for my pump. After visiting 4 bike shops I have only found pumps with cartridges, no refills. I can’t be bothered with asking why this is, I throw my empty cartridge away and settle for pumping by hand for the rest of the journey.
I walk around town, there are so many people here, I haven’t seen this much people and traffic since Luleå. It’s exhausting. I have lunch at the authentic viking restaurant (haha), they offer free home made beer for the lunch. Their home made beer smells like my bike shoes so I pass the generous offer and drink water.
There are lots of stores that we have in Sweden also, it almost feels like being in Sweden. For the last 2-3 weeks there has been this vibrating and rattling noise from the chain, so I change the chain for a new one. The old one has gotten about 1.5 cm longer in 2427 km. Not to bad, but not great. I am exhausted by this city life and take a long siesta. There is thunder on the horizon, pressing heat and high humidity.
I wake up at 3 in the morning, the room is like a sauna and there are some party goers coming back from the wine festival. I manage to go back to sleep and wake up to massive rain, I am in no hurry to leave. Once I leave I find nice bike lanes out of Kuopio, they run through industrial areas and many of the big shops are the same as in Sweden.
Then I see a massive Biltema shop, I think to myself that if this was in Sweden they would have CO2 cartridges. So I decide to stop, and they have a massive amount of CO2 cartridges. There is nothing like a Swedish company.
I notice that I am not used to biking in cities, I am used to just one road with no traffic coming from the sides. It’s about 18C-20C and light rain. I stop at a small cafe and once the man there understands that I am Swedish he insists on speaking Swedish and tells me that he’s from Borgå in the Swedish speaking part of Finland.
The day is going slow, I arrive in Suonenjoki, the sky is black and there is another 40-50 km to Pieksämäki where I wanted to go. When I ride through town I see a very shady motel, lots of people standing around in groups staring and drinking. So either a 5 hours shower or stay in this creepy place. Then I remember, there is a train station, I go there to have a look.
There is a train to Pieksämäki in 20 minutes, it’s an Intercity train where I have to make a reservation for the bike. I look around and see this little ticket machine, after fiddling with it for a while I insert my credit card and get two tickets back. One for me and one for the bike.
The train is delayed, once it arrives it’s the old type with the caboose. I find the door and strip the bags, the conductor arrives and helps me. There was some kind of problem and fallen threes so they changed train. Well, when I ride in the caboose looking out I see the rain and the 4.5 million mosquitoes I missed while taking the train instead of biking. Seems like a small sacrifice to do in order not to spend a Saturday evening in that town.
I arrive at the camping, it’s a combo service station, restaurant, supermarket, camping, cottages etc. I get my tent setup and have a Saturday burger to celebrate my wise decision to take the train.
This was my first reindeer free day, no live or plastic ones all day. When I sit in my tent I notice some people walking by, they look like they have just gotten married, I start to think that there might be a wedding party going on. And most unfortunately there is.
So the party seems to start with everyone getting nekkid to have a sauna. Ok, no surprises here, a sauna and a party in a wooden house, that could be expected. A couple of hours and probably many liters later, it starts, KARAOKE, and it goes on and on and on, then it’s sing-along.
Finally everyone is to drunk to sing, I think that they will be quiet soon, but I am wrong. This is when all the good Finnish gangsta rap needs to be played. I start to look for earplugs or cyanide capsules. Didn’t find any but I fell asleep anyway.
There is a breakfast buffet at the restaurant, so I go there to get fueled up. There are two touring bikes parked outside, great I think. In the door I meet two cyclists, there is a quick “Huomenta” and they are gone in 10 seconds, I’m guessing they are Finnish and in a hurry.
Blue skies and sun all day, it’s really hot and tailwind. The road is relatively flat and with the tailwind the 79 km to Mikkeli just flies by. When I get to the camping/adventure bath they insist on speaking Swedish, but they are really friendly and efficient.
I find a spot that gives shade during the evening and hopefully morning sun. At the other end of the camping there were a few tents and stuff spread out all around them, that looked like a very familiar modus operandi so I avoided that place.
Today was so hot that I have to take several salt tablets and drink lots of water to get hydrated again, I also have a small siesta in the tent vestibule.
The adventure bath closes at 19 so after that the camping quiets down. There is no Internet or any other entertainment, so sleeping seems the only reasonable option. I can hear the traffic on route 5, it’s really intense now. I hope that I can escape it and ride on smaller roads to Helsinki.