XXIX -Bicycling Through Finland, Second Cycle
Previously on our on-going series, Bicycling through Finland, we traveled all the way up north, until we arrived in Nuorgam. Wait a second, oh.. That was two episodes ago. Anyway, we executed the ill-minded plan that’s been in works for two years. For those who don't know the premise and have not, for some inexplicable reason read the previous entries in the series, let me put it into a single sentence:
“I'm riding through Finland (1 360km) on an ancient city bike in two weeks and during the first three days, had myself, my phone, our car and our overall spirits obliterated, none of which is an overexaggeration.”
You're welcome, now you don't have to read the previous entries. You didn't miss anything.
Maintain your passions.
If you’re really passionate about something, you’ll have to be willing to deal with the hardships that comes with it. If you aim for improvement, that is. You see, we’ve all got that little something something we’re really enthusiastic about. Most of our interest end up being short-term. Experiments, if you will. Then there’s the few selected hobbies, fields of activities that we end up enjoying way more than others. These stick through lifetime and eventually define who we are.
These are the things you end up practicing and cultivating. We're all titled with what we're good at and spend our lives doing. Someone who is great at soccer with probably be recognized as a soccer player, famous or not. I discovered my passion for writing back in 2014 when I started doing video game reviews, but fell short for the lack of effort. Keeping up with it was uncomfortable. Although I ended up writing 21 reviews, the blog is abandoned today.
However, I wasn’t willing to repeat that mistake with my current blog. If I told you quitting never crossed my mind, that would be a huge lie. I don’t value dishonesty. Some of my writings are products of intense patience and mental struggle. My energy for writing never stifled, I just got tired of the routine. You reach top quality inspired, which is no exception in my writings.
Posts like “What would you do if you won the lottery?”, “What’s the deal with gender-neutrality”, “Doki doki Literature Club review”, “Narcissu Side 1st review”, “How I changed”, “Teppo”, “The theory of insignificance” and “Best mistake I ever made” are all written out of pure inspiration. Times like that, getting 1 500 words down is no hassle.
Right now I’m having a really difficult time with it, likely because of the Bicycling through Finland –series. There’s just so much to record. That is why I don’t write diaries, they’re boring to write and equally boring to read.
But doing things purely out of inspiration might lead to a rushed outcome. I don’t know about you, but a part of me is too eager to publish my work and skips revising and double-checking altogether. When I start writing in an inspired state and put a lot of effort in making quality checks, the outcome becomes more polished.
The Dude with the Thoughts takes the philosophical side of things and blends his stories into a fine mix. I’m willing to bet most wouldn’t find these entries worth reading if written in a “Dear diary..” format. Like, what is there to tell? I ride my bicycle all day, a lot of cars pass by, I get to witness some neat views and a ton of concrete, have some breaks and spend a lot of time just day-dreaming about various things. The thoughts I get are the sole purpose of this series.
Day five. July 29th, Sunday:
My routine goes like this: The first 20 to 30 kilometers (about 60 to 90 minutes) are just for warm-up. Every single morning I keep thinking about how tired I am. If I have 160 kilometers to go, feeling exhaustion during the first couple dozen is definitely an alarming sign. After that warm-up though, flow kicks in. When you reach the flow, there's literally nothing stopping you. You know what I mean!
Last post, I let you know how much the first three days sucked in terms of conditional suffering. I also dug into how much we had to alter our game-plan. By now, we're pretty convinced about what we're doing. Practical experience teaches you better than anything.
For one, our teamwork works much better with decreased distance between stopping points. Previously I was supposed to have my own little breaks and work on a schedule, while father drives about 50 kilometers in advance to prepare a meal as I arrive. Due to myself getting that phone busted, we had to temporarily shorten that distance to 20-25 kilometers as a precaution. After getting a new phone, we stuck to that plan.
I kept hearing about proper nourishment, which lead me being completely absent of appetite. I was eating something every hour, because that felt like the proper thing to do. However, I believe that eating too much can also be a potential threat. At first I was supposed to have a lunch break every 50 kilometers, but ended up having one when it was most needed. Like regular breaks, you shouldn't keep your focus on the clock but rather on your own figure.
Ever heard of thalassophobia? Perhaps (most likely) I've written a segment on it. Anyway, I'm terrified of underwater. Not so much in an artificial pool, but outdoors. The fear of the unknown, the large bodies of non-transparent water that could gobble you up at anytime. Everytime I dive underwater, the thoughts of something large just below renders me in a state of panic. Did you know that phobia is a synonym for irrational fear? The thought of a giant submerged creature catching me in a familiar neighborhood pond alone is ridiculous enough. Like any unreasonable fear, exposing yourself is pretty much the only solution.
One of the most important and appreciated highlights of my days are to be able to dip myself in a lake or a stream of water. This summer being exceptionally hot, traveling in midst of a heatwave doesn’t leave us surprised. Trying to avoid sunburns and desperately cooling myself, every chance to dip in is a chance I take. Many of the “beaches” haven't been that enjoyable to tread on. Walking on mud makes me extremely uncomfortable. But you know, being uncomfortable is growing. Or that’s just something I heard from the smart boys..
Our planned route, the straightest one possible, cuts through provinces (North-Pohjanmaa, Central-Pohjanmaa, some of Central-Finland) with minimal amount of lakes. Thus far, I've been able to pretty much swim whenever I feel like it. Starting today, those opportunities will be decreased in number. Just a few days into the future, I'll have to cool myself down with our water reservoir. Still better than nothing. Someone has to refill the bottles, though. At least it gets father busy aside from drinking coffee at various gas stations.
Handy traveler trip: Have you been trekking and lack a place to wash up? Not to worry. As long as you have an extra water bottle on board, there's always a chance to shower. “But I'll run out of drinking water if I do that, then what?” Well, if you poke small holes through the cap, you've got yourself a portable shower head. Best of all, you're reserving on your water supply and still getting an efficient wash! Showering with a hose rather than a shower head just wastes water. Pretty neat, huh?
Jokes aside, a huge part of my journey to change myself, not as a bicyclist but as a person has been getting used to everything. Getting rid of being selective. I’m talking food, shelter, basically any variety making you uncomfortable. I highly recommend not letting your selectiveness get in the way of things, for it's much easier to just go with what you're offered.
I know many people lacking willingness to expand but burden themselves with favoring few things. The best example to pop in mind would have to be; we’re about to have a party or a group meeting and that one guy decides to not participate because he would rather sleep at home. I mean, sure, most are comfortable like that, but when you let it limit yourself, it's time to re-think about priorities. That happens way too often. Perhaps I'm just surrounded with the wrong people.
Do you know the feeling when you've been working in direct sunlight for multiple hours. For one, it's unpleasant as fuck. Two, there's the constant worry of whether your skin will burn. Three, it makes you sweat a lot, which can potentially lead to dehydration and drowsiness. Four, it's unpleasant as fuck. On the average day, I consume about four liters of beverages while riding. That's way more than your average person indoors will consume during the entire day.
My personal best riding a bicycle in a single day is about 120 kilometers. Now, after seven hours, already getting there and I'm not even that tired. I feel like going forever. That's the power of the flow! Approximately two hours later, I arrived at the edge of Rovaniemi, the Arctic Circle. I'm already about 153 kilometers in and still got lots and lots of energy to go. At least that's what my body keeps telling me. I might as well collapse the moment I stop.
Statistics of the day:
-Left at 8:10 and finished at 18:40.
-Journey length of 10 hours and 30 minutes,
of which 7 hours and 40 minutes were riding.
-Clocked a total of 160 kilometers and skipped none.
-Today I learned the true meaning behind having a flow.
-Went to sleep feeling like I've done a shit-ton of exercise.
Day six. July 30th, Monday:
Yesterday while preparing dinner, we had a short conversation with a woman. She and her family were from Central-Finland and she responded to our story with “Oh yeah, I heard about you bunch from our daughter!” I found that hard to believe. Awkward me tried to passively inquire the validity of this statement but got no response from the daughter. Ah well, should probably stop being so passive and awkward.
Rock, paper, telephone!
If I had to plan this journey now and had the freedom of choice to not go, I think I would pass. I've got another 130 kilometers today to push through. You know, a mere stone’s throw. No biggie. I'm kidding, of course. The rough schedule makes all of this feel more or less like a performance. I enjoy bicycling, but obviously in smaller amounts. The weather also makes it difficult to enjoy the days themselves.
Days one through three were a disaster. Yesterday was such a fortunate day, I was already ready to put my guard down. Considering the series of misfortune during the first few days, it was a breeze of fresh air to be able to somewhat enjoy myself for a change. That said, I was reminded of and punished for my naive thoughts.
It was an early morning like any other. Being mostly done in regards of our morning duties, I was finishing up preparing. I was dressing myself and was putting on shoes when suddenly, a loud bang accompanied with intense pain caught my attention. Did I get shot?! My attention was caught immediately. My brains quickly registered the pain, that seemed to be originating from my right hand. Turns out, father had dropped the trunk door, unwise of the fact my fingers happened to be right in it's mechanical path. Anyone with a similar experience can immediately sense the throbbing.
Unable to form intelligible words, I found myself shouting in pain. Thankfully he understood the situation quickly and yet again, opened the trunk door. I was lucky to have my fingers intact. Has it been a newer car with tighter sealing, my fingers would have crushed under the door's metal weight. In fact, if the gap was even a couple millimeters narrower, I would now own three broken fingers, at the least.
On the bright side, my dominant hand, the left hand remained completely unharmed. You can fix nearly anything with a surgery nowadays, but fortunately it didn’t get to that.
What did we learn? Watch your members where you leave 'em!
We’re very fortunate to be able to continue this journey, considering we could be queuing at a hospital right now. Before we could begin for today, we had to drive the car to maintenance for tire realignment. There’s huge wear inflicted on the tire to the point of being a huge safety hazard. I wasn’t needed there, so I left early and made my way towards Kemi, Finland. I’m sure he could catch me in a few hours.
Today was the first 6AM rise. I don’t even know how to feel, you don’t really feel sleepiness while exercising. Considering it’s summer in Finland, the large amount of sunlight we’re getting throughout the day could prove potentially dangerous for me. Leaving so early, I’m glad to be able to spend so much time in the shades. In fact, I get to ride about 60 kilometers before getting exposed to the sun overhead. A huge relief.
It just so happens that today’s route is shrouded in mystery. Father printed a Google Maps route showing today’s shortest possible route, 130 kilometers. On closer inspection, seems that route is partly smaller roads. A no go! Riding on unpaved roads is much tougher that voluntarily going around it. Taking a detour through Kemi, the distance should jump up to about 144 kilometers. Still, totally doable.
Ahh… Water, the source of life. Also a savior for trips like these. If I were filthy rich, I’d have servants toss a bucket of ice cold water every two kilometers. Minus the bucket, of course! But filthy rich I am not, but getting filthy desperate for refreshment. I’ve got means to hydrate myself internally, but that’s about it. I asked father to drive ahead to Kemi, a seaside city, in search of a good place to swim. I eventually arrived to the designated spot, clocking 119 kilometers in total.
“What the hell? I’ve still got 45 kilometers to go!?”
“Well, yeah, the camping site itself isn’t located exactly in Kuivaniemi. It’s a bit farther away.”
“Hell no, this is getting beyond my tolerance. I’m done for today.”
“It’s your decision. Shall we mount the bicycle?”
Remember how I told about the importance of keeping your spirits up? Having expectations and reality differ up to 35 kilometers is very discouraging, to say the least. In this heat, for the first time during the trip, I gave in to my desires for ease. People sometimes tell me that I’m being too hard on myself. Perhaps because right now, I’m metaphorically whipping myself for giving in so easy. That instant-regret, dude!
This campsite is a delight! A peaceful area on seashore. We got to walk about 30 meters to shoreline, how wonderful! After inquiring about tomorrow’s place of residence, we found out from a website campsite radar that there’s a huge blind spot right in front of us, pretty much all of Pohjanmaa province. Whoa, what the hell? Like last time, I’m not willing to spend a rest day in the middle of nowhere. Be it any other occasion, that would be pleasantly fine. I guess we’re staying here, laying low tomorrow.
Imagine a rough week at work. You know that Friday will be the last day of the week, and you aim for it. Then, your boss suddenly comes over and tells you to leave early on Thursday. Sure, it’s a nice thing, but it could leave you feeling a bit unsatisfied. While running, seeing the finish line in the horizon and working your way to it leaves you feeling like you earned it. If someone were to bring that line closer to you mid-way, it’s bound to leave room for dissatisfaction. In the end, spending another out-of-the-blue vacation in a secured campsite instead of having none at all leaves little choice. We’re staying here.
Anyway! With such a great evening on our hands, why not cherish it with a nostalgic movie? On this fine night, after choosing carefully, The Triplets of Belleville fits our situation. I just hope this isn’t foreshadowing mafia abducting me. Pro tip: Fasten your phone to the ceiling of your tent with some cable ties and you’ve got yourself a DIY camping theater.
Eventually this movie, among other things come to an end and it’s time to go to sleep. G’night!
Statistics of the day:
-Left at 8:00 and finished at 15:20.
-Journey length of 7 hours and 20 minutes,
of which 5 hours and 50 minutes were riding.
-Clocked a total of 119 kilometers and skipped 45 kilometers.
-Today was supposed to be 164 kilometers, with the initial expectation of ~130 kilometers.
-Went to sleep feeling remorseful about today's unnecessary skippings.
Day seven. July 31st, Tuesday:
One week down, one to go. Sun is shining, mosquitos are just a distant memory and my muscles are at rest. On days like these, prolonged exhaustion makes it’s appearance with a bloated desire for luxurious mobile video games.
This morning, I allowed myself to snooze up until the sensation of slumber grew uncomfortable. In other words, I chose the side of the tent with direct sunlight. My morning routines usually consists of wiping the --- condensed exhales and sweat --- from the tent ceiling. It’s disgusting, to say the least. The lower the temperature, the dryer the tent. Sun burning high, I was suffocating in there and was essentially, ”smoked out”, so to speak. So much for sleeping late.
Back in my grade school days, I used to have long hair reaching my shoulders. Anyone with long hair can relate to the trouble of maintaining that amount of hair. For one, greasiness shows. Two, drying takes forever. Three, they tend to get in the way.
Enough was enough and I shaved my head for junior high graduation day. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Five years in, father followed in my footprints. Now we’ve got two marbles on their way to conquer Finland.
So I had the thought of cutting half my beard into the Barents Sea and leave the remainder to await their turn to be tossed into the Gulf of Finland. Don’t even ask me where I got the idea. Needless to say, it’s too late for that. I still have a chance to enjoy half the satisfaction by cutting it right here at the shore of Gulf of Bothnia. Ehh…
I’m seriously regretting skipping yesterday. Heck, I’m sure I would’ve had the energy to get by if I rested. No sense in mourning over it, though. We’re about 650 kilometers away from Nuorgam. Talk about bizarre!
It’s already been two months since the time of these adventures. I’ve had to consult my father to refresh my memory. No, the journey itself was unforgettable. It’s just the things I wished to write about that slowly fade away. I’ve still got two more updates ‘til I can leave this memory to rest. Thank you so much for reading, it means so much to me. After a couple more updates, it’s time for me to focus on other things; education, additional (optional) studies, socializing, resting and writing Mens’est Artifex. Don’t fret, this blog will live on likely forever. Writing is my passion!
Part 3 of 5 in the on-going series: Bicycling through Finland.
What you should listen to right now to feel me: GBA SP Blue Edition Song – The Living Tombstone
September 25th, 2018