Two weeks have flown by since our last post. Back then we were struggling with various injuries and starting to get more than a little sick of the cold. Now, we’ve managed to get ourselves mostly right, it’s a bit warmer, and we’ve just strung together 9 days and 450km on the bike to arrive in Kuusamo.
Our week off the bike was made incredibly easy thanks to the wonderful generosity of Bäle and Hannu. First they hosted us in their home for 3 nights, and then they helped to organize and ferry us to a 3 night stay at Hano’s work, which is the equivalent of an Australian sport and rec centre. There we were given a room and had a whole building to ourselves for the weekend, complete with kitchen, wifi, lounge area, sauna etc., but we still paid the camping price because we slept in our tent (the campground was still snowed under, hence the arrangement). We then spent one more night at their home, during which we played a very intense evening of floorball with some locals.
We got back on the road last Tuesday, planning to reach Kuusamo in 9 days. We started very carefully, covering only 80km in the first two days and spending almost as much time stretching as cycling. On the third day we got a little excited and covered 60 tough kms to the small city of Kuhmo. On arrival we spent a hectic three hours shopping, going to the bank, being randomly interviewed by a local journalist, watching Finland progress to the semis of the ice hockey championships, and all the while trying to find accommodation for the night. There were no campgrounds, no hosts, and no cheap Airbnbs, so we were resigned to cycling out of town and camping in the forest again. Thankfully we ended up finding quite a nice spot only a few kms later.
We stayed in the hut all morning as it rained heavily, and despite murmurings of a rest day we started cycling in the afternoon. It was super foggy, which made cycling on the not-too-busy highway a little more tense than it otherwise would have been. We eventually found a dodgy little campsite on a logging road. The following morning we were getting quite far to the east of Finland, and we made a 5km detour to visit a Russian border crossing. It may have been a bit of a let down, except a Finnish border police man saw us taking photos and came over for a very friendly chat, checking our passports and writing some details in his notebook.
The last four days have been mostly without incident. The first two days were fairly tough as Tanya struggled with some soreness and general discomfort. We still managed to eek out over 100km on those days, finding one nice campspot at a community hall in a little blink-and-you-miss-it town. The last two and a half days have been very nice, as we covered easy kms on a very quite road, having to rein ourselves in a little so we didn’t arrive in Kuusamo too early. We spent a night in Hossa, a beautiful hiking/national park area, where we had our first shower and sauna after a week of roughing it. That was very nice.
This morning we reached Kuusamo, where we are spending a night in a cheap Airbnb which we organized two weeks ago so that we could have a package delivered. We also needed a place to leave our bikes for the next 5-6 days while we go and check out Oulanka National Park and the Karhunkierros trail, or ‘The Bears Ring’ (hopefully we see some small Brown Bears!). It is supposed to be very beautiful, but the ground is still covered in at least half a metre of snow, so we’re not sure what is going to be in store for us.
Hopefully another few days off the bike will help our muscles and tendons strengthen further, and the general upward trend of this journey will continue when we return to the road at the end of the week.
T & T