Day 7 - Last leg
Monday 18 June dawned clear and bright, and just after 8.00 a.m. I was having a leisurely breakfast of cornflakes and dark bread sandwiches - Finnish style - with coffee etc. I was also once again able to fill my thermos with hot water for (instant) coffee on the road later.
My gear had pretty much dried out overnight in my spacious three-bed room, and I managed to pack everything back the way it was. I got going just before 9.30, and was passing the turn to our friends' cottage around 10.00 a.m. I had no idea if they were back there, but I didn't want to spend time finding out! I just wanted to get home!
To avoid gravel roads as much as possible I intended to take a left turn soon after the big bridge, and though itself a gravel road, it was only about 6 km to a tarmac road that would lead to the main no. 12 highway (Lahti-Tampere) which bypasses Hauho, and that was my destination for a break and a snack before the final push of 12 km to Mustila.
The gravel road came to an end where it joined road 307 (Pälkäneentie), where I was to turn right, but less than 100 yards to the left I noticed a convenient bus stop, where I decided I'd stop for a coffee break. Another cause for celebration was the separate cycle or light traffic path (for bikers, - and trikers! - mopeds, joggers and pedestrians) beside the road.
Fields and forest are typical of Finnish scenery, as well as lakes!
They don't call it "the land of a thousand lakes" for nothing! By some estimates there are around 50,000 lakes in Finland! Wikipedia actually says: "187,888 lakes (lakes larger than 500 m2/0.12 acre)". My route didn't exactly go through the 'lake district' of Finland, but of course I occasionally had good lake scenery, like when I went over the big bridge I mentioned earlier (above). There was not much that I really felt was worthy of a picture on this last day of the trip, until I saw a certain row of post boxes. They are usually the typical green, red, brown or sometimes blue plastic box, but one in the row caught my eye, and you can clearly see a lot of work has been put into making it.
Eventually I joined highway no. 12 (Lahti to Tampere), and a little while after that I stopped at a roadside cafe, a nice log cabin overlooking a lake, beside the road. It was at Parvoonranta (means Parvoo's shore) just before the Hämeenlinna road no. 57 joins highway 12.
This highway 12 can be quite busy on weekdays, with many lorries going in both directions. Although I had a reasonable amount of asphalted hard shoulder most of the time, just enough to get both front wheels to the right of the white line, I must admit I was a little apprehensive when there were lorries in both directions at the same time. In fact it became a reflex to check my mirrors whenever I saw a lorry coming towards me, in case there was also one coming up behind. In those cases I often pulled over to get completely off the road. Otherwise the traffic would mostly give me a wide berth, sometimes driving completely on the other side of the middle line, which I thanked them for with a wave of my hand. Sometimes they acknowledged it with a wave themselves or some back light signal, from which I could deduce that they were checking their rear view mirror!
Having said all that about the traffic, I didn't really feel unsafe, throughout the whole trip! Even when larger vehicles passed quite close, I didn't notice any 'suction' effect, perhaps because of having three wheels compared to two on a standard bike, where wobble can be a problem, and because of the low profile.
I moved on after my coffee break at that nice roadside cafe, and eventually reached Hauho around 3.00 p.m. Feeling quite hungry I decided to treat myself to a pizza from the pizza-kebab kiosk in the centre. After that there was just 6 km of tarmac followed by 6 of gravel road to Mustila and the farm. I no longer remember what the time was when I got there, but it must have been tea time and I was thirsty, as I had three or was it four cups of tea (they were small cups!) kindly supplied by my sister-in-law Leena, and I was so tired I could hardly move! I hadn't realised how tired I was until I'd completed my trip! I had my daily goal to drive me on. Now it was over, finished, done, almost 500 km behind me, and no need to pedal another inch! Otherwise I wasn't at all in bad shape; surprisingly my legs weren't feeling too tired or my knees too sore.
All in all it was a great experience, thanks in part to the fact that there is usually very little traffic on Finnish country roads, and thanks to good weather which I was lucky to get! I couldn't imagine doing this kind of trip on British roads, nor it being as enjoyable! My next challenge is to plan a similar trip for next summer!