Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The yellow brick road

Among the roads we've taken during our bike trips this must have been one of the scariest. Despite no other traffic at all on the lane in question. But I have to say that  especially when trying to balance the bike along with the trailer around the gaping holes in-between the planks there was little room for error.

In the end the only one of us who really dared cycle trough the whole of it was Kaisa. (I think she herself was the one most surprised by this feat!)

Anyway, this shortcut saved us three extra kilometers of pedaling, and allowed us the luxury of riding across a field of white flowers. (Unfortunately not shown in these pictures…)

The ferry

Leaving Paanajärvi requires taking the ferry from the southern side to the northern one. The construction of the ferry left much to worry about for someone brought up with (at times imaginary) western ideas of security and safety. But as we shared the ride with the local mailman and his van we set our misgivings aside, and just enjoyed the trip.

In the end my only complaint was how short the ride was. In retrospect I'm thinking that it might have been a good idea going back and forth a few times. I did mention that the ride was totally free, right?

Leaving Las Vegas

Our feet were itching – it had already been more than a full day off the bikes and we were eager to hit the road once again. Might sound crazy, but that's how it works. It's nice to take a break from the cycling, but the call of the road is to strong to ignore for long.

So many roads out there, so little time. Nothing to do than say our good byes to our gracious host Tamara and hop on our bikes. Here we go again!

Sleeping beauties

Even the strongest soldiers need their rest.

Paanajärvi Pt. 2

Go there yourself. Trust me on this one, just go there. Before it is ruined by mass tourism.

Paanajärvi Pt. 1

And then we were on our own again. Taito left back for Jyskyjärvi, and our path would take us westward. But only after a overnighter in Paanajärvi. So much to take in in just one day.

Someone call the doctor!

Lina, having some minor issues with her stomach takes a trip to the local pharmacy. The miracle cure this time? Fresh rhubarb!

Maintenance work

Our mechanic only works under ideal conditions and in ideal surroundings.

The sherpa

One thing that you don't think about when thinking about bike tours is how much they involve carrying the bikes. You might not believe me, but go on one yourself, and you'll see. You'll see.

The pictures: Arrival at Paanajärvi. Absolutely fabulous!

A small break

On a long journey it is imperative to stay properly hydrated. And what better way to do that than in the finest russian tradition of having some tea.

The man in the wooden house

Now there's one guy who clearly has to enjoy his own company. No other human settlement on a 30 kilometer radius!

Leg 9: Jyskyjärvi–Paanajärvi

We set sail at around ten o'clock with Taito at the helm. The skies are dark, but at least we begin our journey without rain. Kaisa gets the best seat in the house, while Lina and I share the middle bench. The bikes are stacked as carefully as possible in-between Taito and the two of us.

We have been warned that there will be places with heavy streams along the way, and at least one rapid which Taito needs to cross alone while we walk along the shore.

The views are magnificent, and the ship sails steadily. We meet with no other boats for hours.

Distance covered: circa 60 kilometers.


Then came the morning. Taito and Zoya were up well before six, a feat we could not bring ourselves to match. But once awake we quickly packed our gear, had a nice breakfast, and started loading the boat.

The sky looked ominous, and thunder could be heard from afar. But as it was, there was no turning back. The adventure would now continue!

Able sea farers wanted!

Now Kaisa is a girl from the inlands, with a deep distrust for water deeper than what can be found in the controlled environment of her own bath tub. So it takes some convincing to make her hand over her fate in the hands of some random sailor.

Luckily Kaisa's doubts were somewhat dissipated when she realized that here we not only had a captain who had sailed the waters for well over twenty years, but also built his own boats right next to where we were staying.


As long time bloggers we know that attracting an audience can be somewhat cumbersome, and so we stoop to an all time personal low – nudity! If this strategy doesn't work, we don't know what will.

No seriously, after three days in the bush nothing beats a proper wood heated hot sauna completed by a bunch of birch branches to beat yourself up with!

And yes, these are things you really have to experience for yourself in order to fully understand. Or even partially understand, in the case of our prude friends from the great USA. (You know who you are!)

Taking it easy

During long cycling journeys one adapts a very efficient way of functioning: Getting up early, refueling (because it really isn't eating at that point!), packing the gear and hitting the road. One break every ten or twenty kilometers. Remembering to drink once a while. Then in due time setting up camp, cooking and maybe reading a page or two before going to sleep. Over and over again.

Now this might sound like bad thing for those who cherish personal freedom above all else. But really, it's quite the opposite. Indeed, there's something very liberating about this kind of life. It is, I think, an escape from the stress creative work invariably brings along. Now suddenly all of one's capacity is focused on the present. The future is still behind the corner in the most literal sense, and the past, well, that's something already taken care of. No point in dwelling on the steep uphill you just climbed, as you are now free to enjoy the cool downhill.

But, as with everything in life, there needs to be balance. Therefore one needs to find safe havens where one is allowed to recharge and not be all purpose driven. To just sit down and breath. Knowing at the same time that without the effort put in, the recharging would be –and even more importantly feel– pointless.

As in design it is all about contrast. Without contrast life will be nothing but flat and dull.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Going vs. being

You know how it's said that it is not the destination, but the journey. And that's probably true, too. But given a destination like this, there is something to be said about arriving as well!