This year I decided to be a little bit lazier: during the five weeks I’ve spent around Italy I managed to cycle properly just for a few days. But the plan for the next year is big, even bigger! Also this time I manage anyway to see really wonderful places, surrounded by both fresh and salty water.
A huge technological help was given by sports-tracker. It existed already two years ago, when I did the Tour of Finlande. If I only knew, I would have spent less time in drawing all those maps for the various stages of the journey. The app works on most mobile phones (even in my old Nokia E52, I don’t like smart phones without buttons) and it uses GPS information to track your route, altitude, time and so on. The only drawback is that you cannot track the real cycling time unless you pause the app each time you stop, which is a burden if you just cycle for fun. However the overall is quite impressive, like having your own big brother who tracks you from the sky.
Different country, same bicycle. This year I moved a bit further to the south and decided to cycle in Tuscany.
Yesterday I cycled 70 km from Florence towards the Chianti area, and I realised that around here the problem is not the distance, but the altitude. From Florence to Monteriggioni there are three hills and the third one (the one of Castellina in Chianti), is more than 500 m. Having a bike with more than 20 kg of stuff on it, I had to walk for some time. And with around 35 degrees, it wasn't the best cycling of all time. But when you're done, you definitely feel happy!
No, I haven't started a new cycling tour in the land of Chianti wine. But yes, I couldn't stop myself from borrowing a bike during my stay in Tuscany and hang around Florence. As a matter of fact, coming back to the places where I grew up, I just figured out that 15 years ago, when I had the chance to do it, I would have never imagined to get by bicycle from Pistoia to Florence and back in one day (70 km all together). Well, now it sounds like a normal cycling day, nothing too extreme.
No, there's no mistake in the title. This stage of my Tour de Finlande has been exactly the Tour the Helsinki, which is a community ride of 140 km around the Helsinki metropolitan area. I knew about the race already the last year, but I was too late to participate, as I read about it the day it took place. So this year I had already enrolled in May, just to be sure I could make it. And it has been really unforgettable, so I'll try to be as detailed as possible about this day.
The history of Ruotsinpyhtää, literally Pyhtää of Sweden, traces back to 1743 when the Kingdom of Sweden – having back then the sovereignty all over Finland – lost the Russo-Swedish War, and had to cede to Russia the part of south-eastern Finland up to the river Kymijoki. This meant that the town of Pyhtää was divided in two, and Ruotsinpyhtää got its name being the part of the town that remained in Finland, that is, under the Swedish crown. Nowadays the places have still different names, and Ruotsinpyhtää is famous for its old ironworks, typical factories especially here in the south. The museum was open until the end of August, so I missed for a couple of days. Have to get back here in the proper summer.
As I did for the mosquitoes, I won't comment anymore on the hardness of a punched air mattress. Can't do anything about it in the middle of the forest. Can't even put it in the water to find the hole, as that's one of the few things I try hard to keep dry. Funnily enough, the last night was dry, but as soon as I got out of the tent this morning to get to the toilet – that is, I walked to the tree about five metres from the tent – the first drops of rain arrived. And again I got stuck waiting for it to stop.
Big changes in just a few days. First of all it seems the hot weather has gone for good. I just took back the long johns that I used in Lapland, as the temperature went down to 14-15 degrees the last week. One month ago it was 35, so the different is not that small.
So, the last time I blogged something I was in Turku. From there I quickly went by train back to Helsinki as time was running out. Basically I had to be in Espoo for the Espoo Ciné film festival, which ended the day before yesterday. During this time I didn't drop cycling, as living in Helsinki I did my 20-25 km per day going back and forth between the capital and Espoo.
And with today's leg I reached 4000 km. I admit I really can't explain the feeling, it is a bit like living in a different dimension. Just to make things clear: the amount of km is really a lot, but this is not an extreme sport, nor a competition. You just need time and not necessarily a pre-training, the muscles will come little by little, you can decide how many km you want to do in a day, and the speed you want to keep. In any case I'm still impressed, as I had never done anything like this before.
It's unbelievable how many people I have met in the Midnight Sun Film Festival: today my big thanks go to Kaisa who saved me from another hard night on a punctured air mattress giving me shelter at hers in Kustavi. I definitely should get a new mattress, no way I can find the puncture.
Today the trip on road has been quite short, as I had to get help by a total amount of seven ferries: this is Saaristo Rengastie, the wonderful Archipelago Trail, which brought me in the heart of the Turku Archipelago.
I had a wonderful sleep last night: a very quite forest next to a not so trafficked road. But maybe I would have slept anyway as yesterday I've been awake for 18 hours. This basically means that I woke up quite late and had everything packed only around 10:30. The first stop was just a few km away: Sauvo is a small town with a huge church in stone. As a matter of fact the roof of the church was huge, almost twice the height of the walls: when I saw it from a distance I must admit I thought it was a castle. It's a pity today was Sunday and there was a mass going on: I just had a quick look as I didn't want to disturb the prayers with my immoral atheist soul.