On Saturday I rode from Helsinki to Tampere. As the crow flies the distance between these two towns is just 170km. With little planning I managed to extend the route to a 204km long squiggly path on the map. I planned for some control stops in advance so that I could qualify for a 200km brevet. I gathered receipts along the way so that my feat can be acknowledged by the Audax Club Parisien.
Starting is always the worst. It is a hassle to remember take everything you need. Getting out of the city takes at least half an hour. Of course this time I forgot my phone and had to turn around at 5km mark. Once back on the bike getting onto the quieter roads took a while. Cyclists flew by and I had to use all my strength to keep my speed in check. One dude stopped to take of his gilet and it turned out he was heading the same way towards Valkeakoski. It would have been easier to ride together sharing turns, but we had a different route in mind so we parted ways in Klaukkala. This first part would have been uneventful, but by luck I ran into the route of the Nurmijärvi ajot cycling event. I was caught by surprise by the runaway lead group, but managed to capture the clip below as the main peloton passed.
After making it to Loppi I was supposed to follow the shortest route to Valkeakoski. The challenge was that there is very little road infrastructure in that part of the country. The road I had planned turned out to be gravel, but looking back I’m happy I took the chance. Despite some navigational errors I made it through in one piece. Being pretty much in the middle of nowhere I was surprised by getting passed by a gravel grinding dude that ended up giving me some valuable route advice. The darnest thing happened as his whole crank fell off. He was supposed to be close to home so I left him to fend on his own and continued on.
On the pictures the hills don’t look too menacing and in the end the gravel short cut was not all that long at all, but after making it to Vähikkälä it felt I had deserved a break. The next part of the ride was good fun as I followed smaller roads to Hämeenlinna. I spotted some deer and noticed that even gravel would have been easier to ride than asphalt plagued by potholes. This time I road up the the Hattelmalan harju hill instead of going along the lake. The hill wasn’t too punishing and I hill down was long. It felt good to be half-way so I had a lunch break.
The third leg of the journey was by far the most beautiful. Close to Valkeakoski there are lot of lakeside views and the weather had been improving all day. The endless false flats and road shoulder did curb my enthusiasm. When I finally made my way to the first cycle paths I wasn’t dead tired, but I was glad I knew I had made it. Overall the whole trip went pretty much according to plan. The bike worked, I drank enough and gear gave enough alternatives for changing temperatures. I’m especially happy about my decision to put on some plastic bags on my feet. It seems they warmed up my cramped thighs and not just my toes.
Despite the somewhat metrosexual looks my fluero-pink randonneuring gilet seemed to work well. First of all it seems cars give much more berth to potential female cyclist on the road. Secondly I had some funny encounters with people. A young lady had exactly same colour arms on her jacket so I asked her where she got it and we had a laugh. Later a car full of lads road by showing me pictures from a nudie mag. Tampere is a hockey town and I was close to the final destination so I just gave a thumbs up sign. The final stroll through town was uneventful and I ended on a high note, a portion black blood sausage and lingonberries from the Tammelan tori grill kiosk.