Day 23 – Tour de Finlande 2010: Vuokko – Koli

And another very hot day. This morning I woke up around 7, as the sun was making of my tent a sauna, first time it happened during this journey. Well, in time for a new cycling day, I'd say!

I left the woods getting on road 6 towards Juuka, which wasn't far away, as yesterday I managed to get farther than planned. Puu-Juuka, the old  town, is a well-preserved area of wooden houses, some dating back to the 18th century. Also that town, as the entire region surrounding Lake Pielinen, is a sort of uphill-downhill, something exotic coming from the flat Northern Ostrobothnia.

Leaving Juuka the combination of hot temperature and headwind made me a bit angry. If it's hot you sweat a lot, if you have headwind you sweat even more, so you have to take more water with you, which means more weight, and then you sweat more and more. It's a sort of loop that never ends. However, a few kilometres south from Juuka I visited at the massive Suomen Kivikeskus (Finnish Stone Center), which has also very comfortable armchairs, as you may notice.

Fortunately today I didn't have to go too far. After some 50 km of biking I reached Koli, my destination for today, so I decided that I won a refreshing ice-cream. The refreshing didn't last long, as my plan was to get on top of Ukko-Koli, the highest hill above Lake Pielinen, with its 347 m.

I did three attempts to reach the top. The first one was by bike, on a road with something like 8% gradient. I struggled, I sweated, I swore, I gave up. Too hot, too tired. The second attempt was with the panoramic lift. As I didn't noticed any signs about it, I went to ask to the tourist information, just to get to know that it was 4 km away, two of which on a gravel road, and that it was about to close in 20 minutes. I managed anyway to get there on time, well at the last possible time, meaning that I was allowed to get the lift, get on the top, get out of the lift, get on the opposite side and take again the lift back down. The scenery is really impressive; you can really understand from there why Finland is called the country of a thousand lakes. It was a pity that I could take pictures only from the lift.

The road leading to the panoramic lift went through the harbour, so I decided to go back there and have a coffee at a nice cafeteria over there. It was really nice: just below the cafeteria there was also a beach so I could have a revitalising swim; after all today's sweating, it was a real bliss. Also eating on a table just on the quay was beautiful: the sound of the water, the blue sky, not even one mosquito (sorry, I had to say it!!!), and a perfect temperature. Wonderful.

The third attempt of climbing on top of Ukko-Koli happened on foot, as straight from the harbour there was a 2.5 km long path in the woods. That was much easier than on the bike, I guess because I didn't have that much stuff with me. The scenery was definitely better than what you could see from the lift, since it's possible get to the highest point of the hill, on a white cliff above the trees, with all the lake in front of you. That was the time for a picture… and it was also the time to realise I had left my camera in the bike! Well thanks to today's technology, fortunately there are cameras also in mobile phones. Quality maybe is not the best, but better than nothing.

And on a final side note: with today's leg I did 2000 km since day 1, yeeeeeesssss!!!!

Day 23 – Tour de Finlande 2010: Vuokko – Koli

Trip distance: 69 km
Actual trip time: 4 h 30 m