Today I started my bicycle trip around the world. At 8:00 I was seen off by some close friends and relatives at my home in Myrskylä. For some days I had butterflies in my stomach and now it was finally going to happen. Some little and not so little presents were presented, but who can travel with a three litre bucket full of cookies? Since my panniers were already bursting at the seams the bucket and its content, sadly, had to stay at home, although they are very delicious.
On the plan for the first day was a lengthy trip from Myrskylä to Helsinki – 86 kilometres , via Askola, Pornainen and Sipoo. The day went very nicely. Although it was on the chillier side (40 C )the constant pedalling kept me warm. A constant medium strong wind tried to prevent me gaining proper momentum for the entirety of the trip. Rain had been forecasted, but did not materialize until later in the day. So I was able to cycle most of my day in dry conditions. Some people think Finland is a very flat country. It is true that there are no really high mountains in Finland but the constant up and down of littler hills sap your strength quite quickly. At the end of the day I had climbed 580 metres during my 86 km.
Southern Finland is agricultural country and so I rode through forests and fields all day long. It was all still a bit bleak since the occasional patch of snow still showed that winter has not been in too distant past. Trees didn’t have any leaves and so the landscape was dominated by varying degrees of brown and grey, but still quite enchanting, in particular in sunlight.
The closer I got to Helsinki the more cyclists cycled the cycle paths. Dressed in well thought out sports cycling attire they flushed past me, probably clocking 100 km routes for their Sunday sport activity. One of those cyclists came to chat with me and recognized me from a picture in Helsingin Sanomat. My first encounter with fame surrounding a world cyclist. Very kindly, he made a picture and sent it to me later.
I arrived at my hosts place at 15:30 h and was able to celebrate with him and his family May 1. May 1 is a very important day in Finland since it is basically the date when Finns take leave from winter and are concentrating on summer. After 86 km, I was ready to go into the sauna, have one or the other beer, and talk with a very old friend. If my journey continues in the same pleasant way I will have a heck of a time.