The camping is gated so it has been a quiet night. There is a constant noise from road 5, I am hoping that road 13/15 has less traffic. The sun is burning and already at 7 in the morning it’s more than 30C in the tent.
I pack up and get going. I find a big shopping center and have breakfast there. There is a bike road going south, next to the road 13/15. The traffic on the road is intense. Spoke number 4 breaks, happy days, but at least I have CO2 cartridges now so no pumping required.
When I am done with fixing the spoke I notice that the skies are very dark to the north and west. The bike road ends and I have to bike on the road, not nice, it starts to rain a few drops when I find Ristiina and stops for lunch.
It’s a pub and they have pizza or pizza for lunch, it’s about midday and there are 15 people or so in the pub. They drink, smoke and play the poker machines. They all look very happy and healthy.
Back on the road the traffic is increasing, painful but there are no real options, none of the small roads seem to go north-south. The weather is sauna like, 30C and sometimes some rain, weak tailwind and some hills.
I arrive at the camping in Tommolansalmen, they have no prepared space for tents, just a patch of forest. The kitchen is outdoors, no windows or walls to keep insects or animals out. No Internet, No washing machine, no flush toilet. All of this for only 17 Euro, fantastic.
When I scout the forest for a spot big enough for my tent, I notice a very familiar modus operandi, there is a bunch of tents where all their stuff is spread out across the ground, clothes, toys, food, this could only mean one thing. I hoped that they had forgotten their walkie talkies, but later in the evening there was about 5-6 cars full of people and the screaming and shouting started.
The night was really cold, the camping is nice and quiet when all the little piggies are sleeping. There are still lots of traffic on the road, and lots of up and down. It was a smart move to not try and make it to Kouvola yesterday.
When I get closer to town I cycle through quiet suburbs that look exactly like Stockholm suburbs. Very familiar. I use Garmin to find accommodation, after some riding around I find a pub/hotelli. It’s a bit run down but I get to park my bike indoors in the fire escape.
I have dinner and make GPX tracks that I load in to the GPS so that it will be easier to find my way now that I am in the city. I make a reservation for the ferry back to Sweden.
I have breakfast buffet at the Hotelli, I navigate out of Kouvola, I am not used to bike in cities, so many roads and so many cars. There is a sign “Helsinki 129 km”, I am getting really close now. I am uncertain about the roads, so if my short cuts work I will go to Borgå, if they don’t work I will go to Lovisa.
The first 50 km or so to Lappträsk is a mix of small roads and gravel roads, then I have to ride 12- 14 km on road 6. This is not fun but it will save me hours of gravel road. I make it to the old Helsinki road, it’s a very small nice road with little traffic. I keep going until I reach Borgå. This part of Finland feels like home.
When in Borgå I use the Garmin to find accommodation, the first stop turns out to be an interior decoration shop, the fourth stop was a nice hostel. When I check in at the hostel I have to fill out the standard form, they want to see some kind of ID and I show them my Swedish drivers license. They say something like “Ah, you are Swedish, you are one of us, you don’t need to show ID” but in Swedish.
I am so close to home now I can almost feel how it will be in Stockholm when I arrive, I decide to celebrate and have a 300 gram entrecote for dinner, when I am back at the hostel I go in to coma and wake up the next day.
I wake up fully rested, maybe I should have a 300 gram entrecote every day. I search my bags and find some bread and crackers for breakfast. I am in no hurry, the ferry doesn’t leave until next day and I have 50 easy kilometers to bike.
When I leave I stop at the town square to have breakfast at the outdoor cafes. When leaving town I find a bike lane with a sign “Helsingfors 49 km”, I start to bike the small roads, it’s very flat and full of cyclists. It seems the ride Helsingfors – Borgå and back is very popular in the summer.
The closer I get the more cyclists there are. When I stop for lunch I call a hostel just next to where the ferry departs and make a reservation. Two cyclists join me towards the center of Helsingfors, they have bought their carbon racers from Rose and picked them up in person and rode them to the ferry in Rostock. They are very happy with their bikes. When we get closer to town they head to the northern parts and I continue to the center.
When I cross the last big bridge there are hundreds of cyclists. Finnish cyclists seem very well behaved and patiently waits at every red light, even if the streets are empty. I arrive at the hostel early, I lock my bike in their backyard and move in to my room. Both here and in Borgå the prices are really reasonable and I got a discount with my STF/HI-hostel card.
If just the rest of Finland had been sunny, reasonably priced and nice accommodation like this.
This is the final day in Finland, I don’t have to check out until 12, so I hang around and repack until there is 3 minutes left. Then I locate the gate where I am going to board the ferry and set up camp in a park next to it. I do nothing except sit around and listen to Swedish radio for the rest of the afternoon.
At 15:30 the check-in opens, I just bike past all the cars that have parked in front of the check-in, it’s really inconsiderate of them to park where I am going to ride my bike. I check-in and get my own lane and to stand in the front of all cars. After a while boarding starts, I get to ride on to the car deck and park my bike in the front.
Since I repacked my bags I only need to bring one to the cabin and I got the key at check-in. So I take the elevator up to deck six and find my cabin. Since I booked very late there were no cheap 2 bed cabins, I opted for the window as it wasn’t very much more expensive. I spend the evening listening to my MP3 player and read my book, watching the archipelago pass outside the window. I am sure the boat was full of karaoke and other mayhem but I was too tired to take part in that.
Sometime during the night I wake up when they use the bow thrusters during a quick stopover in Mariehamn. I wake up at 6 Swedish time and go out for a look, it’s really cold.
Then I arrive in sunny Stockholm, I bike through town and head for home with a big smile on my face. There will be some downtime in Stockholm to catch up with everyone and service the bike. The wheel definitively needs new spokes and the Rohloff needs new oil.