Wow, where to start, I guess from home?
So, I left from home on a Sunday evening, I guess around two a clock I think or maybe it was one a clock? who cares (not me, I made it to the boat with a lot of time to spare!)
My Genesis all loaded up with stuff, ready for adventure!
The boat ride went as it usually does, eat, watch kids play, sleep bad in crap beds under car deck, but well, Monday came and off the boat I went, to meet up with Elli, the kids, my mother in law and my bike partner for the trip, Hannu.
My bike waiting for me to ride of the boat, and the two adventures, eagerly awaiting the train to our starting location, Joensuu!
Oh and the trains had a system for hanging bikes that I found rather clever!
So this is how you put your bike up for travel with VR in Finland, neat!
Not going to bore you (who ever you are) with details about the family stuff, we arrived late on Monday, we saw Elli’s Grandmother on Tuesday morning, our trip started in the evening!
Day 1 of the our mini tour, Joensuu – Savonranta
This was supposed to be the “little” edge, to make the rest of the days shorter, we could squeeze in maybe 50-70 km, or so, turns out it’s not as easy as I expected to find a good lake viewed camp site, but well, we got to Savonranta without much issues, did some grocery shopping and kept going for another 20-ish km..
The proud, nay brave adventures ready for the road, then the same ones enjoying some cold refreshments in Savonranta!)
After said grocery shopping we started looking for camp sites, not wanting to pay for our first night, we thought it would be ok to get a lakeview for free and we did get some views, just not camp sports
Starting to see a sunset, the Genesis looks stunning in the scenery, even with all the stuff attached to it!
We kept looking for some time, only to give up in the dusk, and settle for some uneven forest patch a little way from the road..
Tiredness hit after camp was set up, but food was consumed at least!
The tent being illuminated by a lamp, not long after it was pitch black outside..
In the end, this is the map of day 1:
Day 2 Savonranta – Sulkava/Oravanpesät (Squirrels nests, in Finnish)
Woke up, or gave up sleeping, not sure which, but hey, lesson learned, 120kg of man needs more then 0.5cm of foam to sleep on!
I think it was something like 4 am, and we had run out of water, well more like forgot to refill the day before, so the 1.5 liter of breakfast water was used to make porridge and then drink the rest, oh and the mosquitoes was bad, incidentally I might have forgotten to close the tent and slept with my feet outside, they got bitten, a lot!
Camp site breakfast from our trangia kitchen, I am looking awake and dashing with my bug net over the head!
This is to give you some idea of where we camped…
Around six we where on the road again, heading towards Savonlinna, with a stop for supplies and water in Kerimäki (or so the plan was according to the map atleast).
Without much water consumed and nothing in the bottles it felt sluggish to ride, I’m guessing the nights lack of sleep didn’t help either..
But we made it to Kerimäki, got some extra breakfast and water refilled from a K-market store. and headed around the town a bit (there was a church and a nice beach, but the best part comes after that!)
Hannu enjoying the morning, and the best part for us atleast, the toilets we stumbled upon, with running water, real toilets and all!
Before leaving Kerimäki we had a toilet break, complete with a hobo wash and some tooth brushing!
From Kerimäki we started out towards our midday destination of Savonlinna, a town maybe 20 km or so away.
The pizza at PIzza Capero in Savonlinna tasted like heaven after the biking, mine was full of meat and grease, just like it should be, also got a nice view of the castle in Savonlinna! (Hannu went in while I watched the bikes).
The rest of the day was mostly spent getting to Sulkava, a small town 40 km west of Savonlinna, only to find that apart from the grocery store, there was nothing much there, and the campsite from google was actually a school, but a friendly lady told us about Oravanpesät campig, great idea, but further away then expected.
The road was long and winding, from Sulkava to the camp ground!
Our humble lodgings at the camp, the surface was so smooth and flat! walking down towards the water and the showers where just by the lake!
Said lake, with a sign saying, no jumping, it was rather shallow so I guess it’s more of a warning then anything else.
The wood fired sauna, here I sat sweating before getting a skinny dip in the lake, another stamp for the book of me turning Finish!
Simple campground cooking, my sauna smoked sausage and mushroom noodle pot, and Hannu doing some freeze dried vegetarian stuff.
Mood pictures, sun was setting, had to take some pictures!
Feels rather peaceful, my mind was probably elsewhere!
With day two at a end, here is the map of this one!
Day three, Sulkavan Oravanpesät – Imatra, race day!
With day three ahead of us, we (read I) realized we could make it to Imatra before Elli and the kids left from the spa hotel, so race day it was!.
We packed up camp around 8, and we arranged with the camp owners that we could get a ride from the camp and to the asphalt roads, from here destination was Imatra, a small-ish town almost at the Russian border (check the map at the end of this day).
Forgot to take any pictures on the trip really, but we followed something called Vihreän kullan kulttuuritie, or the Green gold culture road, a fairly long, hilly and curving road of green forrest and fairly good roads, one part was so epic that the memory will be with me for some time, sadly, we forgot to put on the GoPro for this, or take any pictures, but it was downhill, it curved, the woods on both side let in just the right amount of light, it was just EPIC!
We stopped about halfway in the small town of Puumala, had some cold refreshments and took headed towards our destination, another short stop before we got there in Ruokolahti to, we made it with one hour to spare, so had a nice little time with Elli and the kids.
Hannu and me decided to find a cheap hotel and get some rest, our hotel was the soviet era, russian occupied Hotel Anna Kern
On our way there we saw the big dam, and someone told us they would soon open it, so we quickly dropped of our gear and went bac!
Empty canyon and closed dam, and me posing, like the poser I was!
My bike unloaded and wobbly, seriously without the weight I felt like I would fall over! and the dam, just opened, before the valley was filled to the brim with water!
After our touristy sightseeing and a shower, it was time for food and alcohol!
Today was Chinese food day! pretty good for a decent price!
We did some more walking about in Imatra, nothing major happening, I saw our Imatra branch office and we had a few more beers/ciders.
End of day 3, here is the map of the day!
Day 4 Imatra – Elimäki, Epic bike road, epic fail in navigation!
So, after Imatra, we realized that we might have taken a slight detour, or the lack of planning made the trip longer, so it was time to push on!
Today’s goal, at least 130 km!
Imatra, Lappenranta, Kouvola, these where some of the major places we where aiming for today, and between Imatra and Kouvola we found some of the best bike roads we ever saw, and I mean bike roads, not car roads at all, they snaked through the landscape following the big road number 6 (one of the main roads between Russia and Finland, sadly though, it’s not got a 100% coverage, and stupid as we where we decided to not follow number 6 when our road ended, costing us a couple of hours of epic fail on some railway service roads and other unmarked roads, but in the end we came back to road 6, at around 120 km we stopped for some cold refreshments in Kaipiainen, it was allready around 5 pm, so not many hours left of light
A refreshment later, and we got the last 50 km of today’s journey done, by random happening, we stopped at Alppiruusu in Elimäki, a small dinner/local produce market/gas station by the highway, Hannu asked if there was any camp sites close by, and we where allowed to camp next to a barn they had, surprisingly enough the land was fairly flat and comfy!
Me doing a selfie while waiting for my Scan burger, tasted good after 160 km or so!
Todays camp site, close to a main road, but still secluded enough to feel safe about it.
Thats the end of day 4, a map (I stopped the gps a few times when we went of track, so there is some distance missing in total).
Day 5 Elimäki to Helsinki, final day!
Woke up from another restless night, really need to get a air mattress, anyway, started our ride home, only planned bigger stop was in Porvoo, a old medieval town outside Helsinki, with some cobblestone streets, wooden houses and other old things by a river/lake.
Biggest problem this “late” in the tour was saddle sores, not nice to sit down, but despite that, still went fairly ok.
Somewhere before Helsinki we came upon the kings road, the same one we did from Turku to Helsinki the year before, it continues from Helsinki to Russia.
Two pictures from Porvoo, so you get some idea of what it is, it’s kind of small though, and if you been to Bergen, Stavanger and other old parts of Norway, you wont see anything spectacular 😛
After Porvoo, it’s a fairly short ride back to Helsinki, and we got a surprise stop just outside, turns out Pekka (father in law) came to meet us and take some pictures, and it was easy to find us since Hannu had live tracking on his phone (Endomondo I think), I’ll add som pictures of that later.
Back in Helsinki we got a reception from our family, with some gifts!
Hannu got some green platter with fruits and stuff, I got some meat! (ribs and chicken drums!)
Siiri got some ribs to, she, like her dad and little sister is a true carnivore!
Apart from the meat goodness I also got some Finish shower soap, with added Sisu!
The end of day 5 map:
It’s been a great trip really, no major problems of any kind, one puncture on Hannu’s bike, some loose screws on my rack and one lost on Hannu’s, but I had spare ones, so to round of the trip here is a complete map of our tour:
After the tour, rest of vacation
I’m gonna keep it short, so here goes, from Saturday, to Thursday I didn’t do any biking, but I saw some old friends, with new kids and generally spent time with my wife, the kids and her family, on Thursday though, I did what I think of as “day 6” of my tour, and the last weekend was spent out with some more friends, walking about Helsinki and checking out the Restaurant day.
Day 6 of touring, solo ride to Evo and the fishy research place!
I spent some time the same Saturday we came from Joensuu to Helsinki with Elli’s cousins, and agreed with Sami (Elli’s cousins husband) that I would visit his workplace, check what he does, have a BBQ, do some fishing and some more Wood fired saunas and bathing!
I think I left around 6:30 am, and it took about 5 hours 30 minutes of biking (6 hours including the stops I had). I only took one picture before arriving
This was from some memory marking, somewhere before Lammi, and Lammi is just another place I biked through..
Well there, and after a shower and change of clothing, I watched the people at Evon Riista- ja kalatalouden tutkimuslaitos (thats the name of the place) count, weigh and measure the fish they caught in the nets, this so they can control how healthy the lake is!
After work, it was time for shopping, fishing, BBQ and Sauna!
I caught a fish, or actually two, small perches and when we got back Sammi warmed up the grill for some beef and Sausage!
The house to the back is the wood sauna, the river is where we bathed, this picture is from the day after, we where not done in the sauna before past midnight and it was dark and full of naked men, so picture would not be safe for life!
I really had a great day with Sammi and the people at the research station, and the next day I got a ride in the car, to get closer to Lahti, biked 25 km and took a train to Helsinki!
The ride on Thursday looked like this:
That’s it, that’s my bike vacation of 2014, Next year who knows, maybe Sweden, maybe Norway, maybe nothing.