An overview of the whole route:
7.1 Sunny Temperature 28 – 42+ °C
Route: Otaniemi, Leppävaara, Vantaa via Route 145 and 140 to Kerava and Lahti, around 130 km
Today is the first day of my trip to hunt Santa Clause (because I haven’t recieved any gifts from him for the last 24 years). We (me and my French friend Gaëtan) started at 8:30 in the morning. The weather was a bit hot: around 28 °C even in the morning. It was until we arrived at Leppävaara when I realized I forgot to bring my bottle and tooth brush with me. Since it was not good to go back and fetch them, I decided to ride on and buy the necessary stuff in
We went via a road close to Vantaa Airport, where we saw planes around 50 meters above us. There were fields full of rape flowers, astoundingly beautiful under the sunshine.
We stop at around 12:30 for lunch, about 75 km from my home. After lunch we rested a bit and restarted at 14:00. It was even hotter in the afternoon; the temperature reached more than 42 °C at 5 pm. There were some slopes when entering Lahti; some slopes as well in the city. One
cyclist encouraged us with a thumb up; while one guy in a car at Lahti downtown showed us his middle finger. I guess some Finns don’t like foreigners. We bought some food in Lahti and refilled our bottles at a bar next to a gas station. At around 6 pm we arrived at a lake and found a camping place among the trees. We put up the tent on a small road leading to a farm field and went to swim, because there were too many mosquitoes in the woods. Unfortunately the bottom of the lake is
covered my mud; but it was OK just near the shore. The temperature of the water is just perfect. So we washed ourselves and then had dinner. There were a lot of fish in the lake. Some of them have red wings and tails and they were standing with their heads down in the water.
It was around 8 pm when we tried to have a rest in the tent. However, it was too hot. The temperature was around 28 °C and the sun was still hanging in the sky baking the tent. Outside the tent it was not
so hot, but there were mosquitoes trying to kill us. I stayed in the tent and it was until an hour later when the temperature was comfortable. Besides the high temperature, the humidity was also high. It was difficult even to breathe. There were kids playing in the water and making a lot of noises till 11:00 pm. Finally I felt asleep after 12:30 am. It was not a good sleep. My sleeping bag kept me too warm and there were mosquitoes in the tent.
7.2 Sunny/Cloudy/Overcast Temperature 28 – 42+ °C
Route: Lahti to Asikkala via Route 24 and Roads 3131 and 313, to Virtaa and Otamo via Road 314, to Sysmä via Road 410, to Luhanka via Road 612, to Putkilahti via Road 610, around 125 km
We started again at
8:30 am today. It was as hot as yesterday. There was a field full of rape flowers again. The road began to be bumping. There were a lot of slopes since we were entering Middle-Finland (Keski-Suomi). There were a lot of lakes as well. On the way to Sysmä there was a part (around 5 km) of a road with water on both sides.
We had lunch on a dock for motorboats near a gas station. There were lotus leaves and flowers on the water. Not surprisingly, the bottom of the water was also covered with mud. Gaëtan didn’t mind and swam in the water twice, once before lunch and once after. There were people driving there motorboats to the dock in order to refuel at the gas station. I noticed especially on old couple in their 50s. When the husband was refueling the tank, the wife stood on the dock and
watched her man with a constant smile on her face. They didn’t speak much but you could feel their love for each other. We rested a bit after lunch and started again a few minutes past two.
In the afternoon it was even hotter. Besides the high temperature, the slopes also made it difficult to cycle. When we were approaching Luhanka, the newly paved asphalt roads nearly melted and it was extremely difficult to move on. Anyway we had to because we have to buy food ahead in
Luhanka. Luckily we arrived at Luhanka 40 minutes before the shop closed (6:00 pm for Saturdays). The price was a bit expensive but we felt lucky to find one shop. The town was tiny: in Luhanka center there were one shop, two restaurants, one gas station, and a parking space for around 10 cars. When we were leaving, one guy in the restaurant waved goodbye and gave us a thumb up.
We had dinner somewhere beside Road 612 and moved on shortly, since there were mosquitoes. We did
another 10 km before we found a place to camp. We put up our tent beside a big lake and swam in it. The water was perfectly clean and the temperature was quite OK. It rained before we arrived at the place, as a result, almost no mosquitoes were found. When I was about to go into the tent, there was a motorbike fleet passing by on Road 610. There were almost 50 motorbikes. It seems that Finns are fond of noisy motorbikes.
Overcast/Rainy Temperature 15 – 25 °C
Route: Putkilahti to Korpilahti via Road 610 and Route E63, to Petäjävesi via Road 607 and Road 604, to Multia and Karstula via Route 58 (European Highway E18) , around 150 km
The road became more bumping. There were a lot of slopes
and I reached my top speed in my biking career: around 60 km/h. We were diving more into the country side and around 20 km of Road 607 was not paved. This was the “take-me-home”-kinda country road. There was a lady walking her dogs with her apron on. There were a lot of sings warning uneven road. Gaëtan was half serious: “it’s funny that they don’t know what is flat”.
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We didn’t rest a bit after lunch because it was too cold. I was wearing my jacket and wasn’t sweating. We stopped at around 7:00 pm and put up the tent beside a field. It was so cold that we had dinner in the tent.
7.4 Overcast/Sunny Temperature 15 – 25 °C
Route: Karstula to Kivijärvi, Kinnula, Yli-Lesti Route 58 (European Highway E18), to Reisjärvi via Road 7594, to Sievi via Road 760, around 155 km
It was still cold in the morning and I was wearing my jacket. We did around 85 km before lunch and arrived at Kinnula. This small city even has a small stadium
with less than 100 seats. Two high school girls were teaching a bunch of 5 year olds to play Finnish baseball. We had lunch watching them play and had a rest on the bench for half an hour after lunch. When we were about to leave, one girl came to talk with us. She told us there are roughly 1800 inhabitants in the city and they have a high school as well. Their high school has 55 students. She also told us Finnish baseball is more popular than football in Kinnula, when I asked why the seats
are arranged on the baseball field instead of the football field.
We changed our route to Road 7594 to Reisjärvi instead of following Route 58 to Lestijärvi since we thought that would be a shorter route. It was shorter, but Road 7594 was not paved. The road condition was better than Road 607 yesterday, but it was still a bit bumping. At some point my mattress fell off from my bike, fortunately a truck driver coming towards us saw it and notified Gaëtan with
gestures. Gaëtan didn’t know what the driver meant at first, but he followed back and found the mattress. I was lucky! We were in the country side but there were houses every half a kilometer. Most families have two cars and their houses are mostly made of wood. School buildings are made of concrete though.
Afraid of not being able to get to Sievi in time, we bought some food in Reisjärvi. They are paving roads with asphalt there, and there are people in the
intersections holding “STOP” signs in order to warn vehicles. We arrived at Sievi at around 8 pm and Gaëtan went to buy some more food. He was tired and didn’t want to go further. So we found a place to camp. When I stopped, I felt something on my legs. At first I thought it might be grass, so I moved my legs a bit. It was still there. I looked down and found around 20 mosquitoes on my legs and more were coming. We jumped onto the bikes again and stopped at another place.
There were still many mosquitoes. We were jumping while trying to get our mosquito protection spray. It was better after we had applied the spray. But it was really scaring to think about those crazy mosquitoes. They probably were able to kill someone!
Gaëtan said he was impressed because we were totally one day ahead of schedule and we were already close to Oulu.
7.5 Overcast/Sunny Temperature 25 – 35
Route: Sievi to Ylivieska via Route 63, to Oulainen, Vihanti, and Liminka via Route 86, around 140 km
We started at 8:00 in the morning and had lunch near a gas station in Vihanti. Route 86 was a bit dangerous since there were many cars and trucks on the road. They
generally ran somewhere 80 to 100 km/h. There were also many caravans in both direction to the north and the south. Maybe some people were heading for a vacation while others had finished their vacation. There were a lot of bus stops on every road. I almost ran over a squirrel, but it escaped from death by a 30 cm margin. However, there were usually dead squirrels, rabbits, or even birds on the road. Humans are a great thread to animals’ lives.
After lunch we had a
rest on the grass. It was sunny and warm and I fell asleep. I even had some dreams in my 30 minute sleep. We bought food in Liminka and planned to camp by the sea shore. However on our way we found a place indicating a swimming place in the other direction. Strangely, there were no lakes or rivers around. Gaëtan went there to figure what that was and came back very excited: “I found a paradise for camping!” I followed him there in Tupos and it turned out to be a swimming
pool. There was even artificial beach and a toilet! But when we arrived there were a lot of kids swimming there. We changed and jumped into the pool. I was too shy to take out my lotion to wash my body, but Gaëtan took his soap, went to the other side of the pool where no one was swimming, and washed himself and even his shirt.
I wanted to wash
myself when no one was there. So I had dinner first. There were a lot of mosquitoes. In order to protect myself, I buried my legs in the sand. Gaëtan thought of something more novel: he had dinner standing in the water! Still there were mosquitoes trying to attack my arms and head. I killed around 50 mosquitoes in half an hour. I waited until almost everyone had left and the washed myself with lotion. It was already around 9 pm and it was a little cold.
style=”background-color: #ffff00;”>7.6 Overcast/Sunny/Cloudy/Rainy Temperature 25 – 35 °C
Route: Tupos to Oulu, Haukipudas, Ojakylä via Road 847, to Ii, Olhava, Simo via Highway 4/E8/E75, to Ranua via Road 924, around 160 km
I woke up feeling uncomfortable in
my throat. We went through Oulu and it was difficult to find our way in the city. We went on Highway number 4 before Ojakylä. There was about 1 meter’s space left for us, but it was not safe since vehicles were running at 100 km/h.
We entered Lapland from Simo and bought food there. After that we went on Road 924 towards Ranua. There
were not many people in Lapland. There was a part of the road where we biked more than 10 km without seeing any houses.
There was a sign showing a plane that confused me. We were far away from any airports and I was like WTF when I saw the sign. After a while the road became extremely wide, to around 30 meters. Then I thought that they
might be building a new airport. (The Finnish sentence below the plane translates to “road will be closed shortly”)
We saw a triple rainbow at the “airport”, though in the
picture only two are apparent, the lower one is actually made up of two rainbows.
We kept cycling because we are afraid of bears and wolves, since there were no people living by the road. We felt extremely tired when we finally found some houses. It started raining immediately after we got off our bikes.
7.7 Sunny Temperature 25 – 35 °C
Route: Ranua to Rovaniemi via Road 924 and Route 78, around 110 km
My mattress was not inflated when I woke up. But fortunately today was the last day for me. I was planning to give it to Gaëtan since
his broke down in the first day of our trip.
My knees were painful but I had to move on. On Road 924 we saw some animal standing in the middle of the road about 200 meters away from us. It was not afraid when a car was coming to it. Finally when the car was just 20 meters from it and was trying to slow down, it slowly jumped off road. We rode forward and found out it to be a reindeer. What was she doing in the middle of the road? Sun-bathing? It was not afraid of us at all. By the
side of Route 78 we also saw many reindeers.
When I was about 50 km from Rovaniemi, I started thinking why I was doing this (biking to Lapland) in the first place. This was my typical behavior. What did this week bring to me? Has all of this been meaningful? Then I became sad, just as every time when I think about what I have been doing. However, as I thought and thought, I realized that there might not be meaning for everything one do, at least for the moment when he’s
doing that. The point is to try to finish the things I have started in a graceful way, regardless they’re meaningful or not. It does not take much to finish something when it’s 99% done. All you need to do is to keep fooling/believing yourself as what you have been doing before. Maybe this is the most important lesson I’ve learnt during this trip.
We did 90 km in the morning and arrived at the railway station of Rovaniemi before lunch. I bought the ticket and paid. Then I realized I didn’t ask for a student discount. So I showed the lady my student card and she gave me back 40 euros. Maybe I was just too tired or too excited.
We had lunch on the grass beside the railway station. Then I handed over my tent, tools, and Gaëtan’s bottle to him. We went to Santa Clause Village
together and took some pictures beside the Arctic Circle – Mission almost accomplished, except that I was too tired to hunt Santa Clause anymore; maybe next time! Gaëtan continued further north. Wish him luck.
The whole route.