Thursday, November 8, 2012

One Man's Lowride in the Finnish Countryside - 1

The plan: I aimed to cycle from Mustila (Hauho) to Kankaanpää in three days, a journey of around 220 km. Each day's distance was suitably short enough to allow for a flexible timetable, with time to look for a few selected geocaches along the way. I didn't take a tent with me, as the intention was to stay overnight with friends.

The day before my departure I heard that the friends at my first overnight stop would not at their summer cottage, so I had to quickly come up with something! Thanks to the internet, I found a B&B a bit further down the road from my friends' cottage, where I could spend the first night.

Tuesday 12 June:

The weather was warm and dry, shorts and T-shirt weather for sure, and a pleasure to be cycling! I'm not sure now what time I actually started pedalling, but I must have left Mustila village around or just after 10 a.m. (I should have made notes!) Anyway, I had recently put new tyres on the front wheels, and was a bit concerned how they were sitting. They seemed bigger somehow than the old ones, and only just fit under the mudguards. In fact they didn't, or at least the right hand one didn't fit without me adding a couple of spacer washers under the mudguard bracket to raise it a little. That helped, but still it was rubbing against the somewhat broken rubber mudflap on the bottom end of the mudguard, unless I lined it up precisely. Problem was I couldn't get it tight enough and with the vibrations on the road it tended to drift one way or the other and start rubbing again, so I was constantly tapping the mudguard to line it up. Anyway that was a minor problem, and if I had nothing worse than that to worry about, then I'd be doing ok.

I was still concerned that I should have a spare inner tube though, and decided to stop in Hauho (12 kms away) to look for one. That was my first stop, where the hardware store didn't have the size I needed, but another store down the road did, so I took one with me. According to the text message I sent home I left Hauho at 11.40.

I joined the main Lahti - Tampere highway (No 12 on maps) and had a few nice kilometres of tarmac all the way to Alvettula village which is abt 1 km down a left turn (but still tarmac though a much smaller road with no hard shoulder - on No 12 there was almost enough room for the whole trike to be on tarmac on the outside of the white line down the side of the road).

So a little after midday I was having lunch at Alvettula village shop and cafe - the last chance that I knew of for miles! I had no idea when I would find another place where I could get hot food on my route so I thought it best to eat there.

I was soon on the road again, but not for long! It started raining, but luckily I spotted a bus shelter up ahead, so I pulled in there and sat it out. It didn't last long, less than half an hour so on I went again. When I reached road No 57 I stopped for a couple of caches (there weren't many on my route on this first day). One of them was by a large erratic boulder (cache name "- KING OF THE ROAD -": I really felt like the king of the road on these smaller country roads, as there was so little traffic!). There are hundreds of erratic boulders scattered all over Finland by the retreating ice sheet some 10,000 years ago. See attached photo.

This cache meant a short hike through under-growth to get to it, but nothing too thick, even in cycling shorts! And it didn't take me long either! Nice to see yet another of these impressive rocks!

It was soon after crossing route 57 that the tarmac ran out! I now faced some 18 kms of gravel road, which in places was quite reasonable, but sometimes difficult to avoid potholes or loose gravel, with two front wheels! I stopped somewhere on the way for a break and coffee (I had a thermos of hot water and instant coffee with me, and a good selection of biscuits etc). I couldn't know it beforehand, but my chosen route, being the shortest I could do, would include quite many kilometres of gravel roads, so it wasn't as nice as it could have been.

At 3.15 pm I texted home: "A few more spots of rain, but only 22 kms to go to Kievari! (Sun’s shining too!)". Kievari was the place where I'd stay overnight. (See Guesthouse photo) At 35 euros per night B&B it wasn't bad!

There was one more thing of interest I saw on the way, that was worthy of a photo (or 2!) and worth mentioning here: seems the correct term for it is "burl" or birch burl, a kind of growth on the trunk of the tree (photo attached). They're amazing things when you see them, and I've seen a few in my time here in Finland!

I arrived at the B&B around early evening and was welcomed by a big alsation and a much less intimidating hostess/owner, who showed me to my room. After unloading the trike and getting my things up to my room and having another coffee with muesli and biscuits, I went out for a walk towards the town, and to look for the nearest cache. It was called "The Hidden Treasure of Hinkka" (Hinkka being the place nearby) and it was an easy find in the forest not far from the road. And the 3-km walk did me good, after 66 kms cycling!

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