Sunday 17 June:
Today was the earliest I got going! I think I was on the road after 6.30! I was in Vammala by 7.15 and I went round a few caches there (three it was). Markku had checked the weather for me the night before, so I knew I was likely to be cycling in some rain, but I couldn't yet know how much, or how bad it would be. Before I reached Vammala I finally gave in to the cooler temperature of the early morning and dug out a long-sleeved shirt and put it on, after which I felt more comfortable!
Just the other side of Vammala there's an erratic boulder cache I've been wanting to find, and as it was quite close to my route I headed out to it (after a few local caches!). I spent too long there, searching in as many holes under rocks as I could find, even crawling in on my belly almost, and trying to feel round corners and under stones wherever there was space, to no avail! Towards 8.30 am it started drizzling, so I decided to pack it in and head for the Rest Stop cafe back by the crossroads where I would later turn left, or south, only to find it didn't open till 9! Now this is where the story is full of ifs: If I'd skipped the boulder searching, skipped the coffee etc. at the rest stop, I would have been much closer to my destination when the rain started, and wouldn't have needed to cycle in the rain for so long! But we're always wiser in retrospect, aren't we!
So I waited the 10+ minutes for the place to open, had a ham sandwich with coffee, and meanwhile the drizzle stopped. On my way again, the ride was uneventful apart from enjoying the countryside scenery, and seeing some strange place names on the road signs!
I had no more caches lined up for some time, so I don't remember if I stopped for anything, other than for refreshments at a bus stop around 3 pm somewhere between Punkalaidun and Urjala. The bus stop had a bench seat and a roof, so it was nice to be able to spread out my thermos etc. And I soon found out how nice it was to have a roof, as it started raining! I wondered how long it would last, but it looked like it was set to continue for the rest of the day, so I gave up waiting, got out my cape, put the yellow nylon covers (which turned out to be almost useless!) over my side bags, buttoned up and got going.
It wasn't too bad at first, but the longer it went on, the worse it felt. The cape didn't cover my legs and nether regions very well, or the wind/slipstream would just lift it, so I got the idea to put a medium-sized stone on it just between my thighs, and that helped. Every so often though I had to stand up and drain off the pool of rain that formed around the stone! Eventually I reached a major intersection, where I could shelter under a bridge (route 9 and road 230 cross near Urjala). I hung around there for quite a while, trying to get my hands dry, but it proved impossible, and it wasn't very warm either!
I even tried hitching when vans came along, but needless to say nobody stopped! Eventually I realised there was nothing for it but to get back in the saddle, er, driving seat, and press on.
There was one cache up ahead that I particularly wanted to find, at another erratic boulder, just after turning off the main road onto the smaller and quieter 2851 road. When I got there the rain was still coming down as steadily as ever, but I anyway just walked in my cape the 30 metres across a grassy stretch of field to the boulder, and found a bit of shelter from an overhang of the rock. Luckily I found the cache quickly, and with wet hands I opened the container and tried to sign the log without getting it too wet - not easy! I also noticed a geocoin in there, which I decided to move on to another cache.
I guess it was around 5 pm that I reached town and a convenient Rest Stop, where I was able to dry out a little and have some hot food (after some two hours and 35 kms cycling in the rain!). Nowadays so many public toilets have these electric hot air blowers to dry your hands, so no paper towels. Luckily their serviettes were a decent size, so I spread some on the seat when I sat down to eat. I changed them at least twice for dry ones! Even my teeth were chattering at one point! From there on it was only a few kms to the same B&B of the outward leg of the trip.
When I got going again I decided not to bother with the rest stop cache, and headed straight towards my B&B. What a relief to get in the dry, get out of my wet gear and have a warm shower! There was no question of going for a walk after all that, and certainly not in the rain!
Total distance cycled: 108 km, and 4 caches (3 in Vammala and the boulder cache)!
(Author's footnote: Looking back on what a wet summer we had this year, I was very lucky that this was the only day I had rain! Any other week of the summer would have been considerably wetter!)