Cycling from England to Finland

26.04.19 – 14.05.19

Distance: 1704km /1059miles

Duration: 18 days

Nights in bed: 7 – I used the websites warmshowers and couchsurfing to arrange a place to sleep for free. A huge thank you to everyone I stayed with, it was amazing staying with locals and taking a glimpse into their lives and their countries. Warm Showers was so much easier to use than couchsurfing, as people often leave contact information, so you can call or message directly. You have no message limits on warm Showers, whereas you can only contact 10 people a week on couch surfing.

Nights Camping: 10

Cost: Around €220 (There were a few days that I didn’t record my spending, so this is a roughly accurate calculation, I think most of the spending was on ice cream). €120 of that was on ferries. So on average €5.5 a day if you don’t include ferries and €12.2 if you do.

Injuries: Sore butt and sore neck


Earlier in the year I cycled 1704km /1059miles from my hometown of Brackley to Helsinki via The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. I was back home visiting family and friends in April, and decided I would cycle back to Finland. I left on the 26th April in the hope of getting to Helsinki by the 15th of May – in time to start my summer contract. I have included my daily instagram posts below to help tell the story, but overall – other than a sore butt (expected), sore neck and 2 punctures – all went smoothly.


Route


KIT LIST

I tried to keep things quite lightweight, there were a few items that I didn’t use much. Things I would change:

  • Take a lightweight towel
  • Take trousers – there were loads of ticks – I had waterproof trousers which worked, but they’re not that comfortable
  • Would like to try a handle basket or bag – as food and other items can be accessed whilst you’re cycling
  • I probably didn’t need thermals, but they’re always a nice luxury to change into dry, warm, clean(er) clothes when you sleep.

BIKE

Dawes Horizon – Aluminuim framed. I bought it about 5 years ago on ebay with dreams of cycling touring. I used it regularly whilst living in lLondon, but just for commuting. It had been in my mum’s shed, getting used only when I was back in town.

BIKE BAGS

2x Ortlieb classics – 31-40l – An old friend gave these to me years ago – I have used them a shit load. Super tough, waterproof and superbly made

2x Cheap Panniers from Amazon – I’m usually against buying stuff for the sake of it, preferring to take time researching good products that will last. I chose these as they cost like £15 with next day delivery – I was tight on time, and figured I could sell them or donate them to a charity shop after the ride. These worked well, but were pretty poorly made, not waterproof, and the clips looked like they could break at any minute – although they didn’t.

Saddle Bag – I had tools and my repair kit in here – I’ve had this for years and found it in my mum’s shed. Worked well as it meant all the tools were separate from clothes, food etc. And were easily accessible.

Handle bar mounted Phone holder – This was crap, but did the job.

HEAD

  • Helmet – Wearing
  • Wooly Hat
  • Cap – Wearing
  • Sunglasses – Wearing
  • Neck warmer

BODY

  • High viz – Wearing
  • Shell Jacket – Patagonia paclite
  • Artificial down jacket – Rab Xenon-x
  • Long sleeved cotten shirt – Wearing
  • 2x cotton shirt – Wearing 1
  • Thermal top – Merino wool

LEGS

  • Shell Trousers – Berghaus lightweight
  • Shorts – Wearing
  • Cycling shorts – Wearing
  • Thermal trousers – merino
  • 2x underwear – Wearing 1
  • 2x cotton socks – Wearing 1
  • Thick Woolen Socks

HANDS

  • Cycling gloves – Wearing
  • Medium thickness gloves

ELECTRONICS

  • Sony Ax5000 + standard lens
  • Tripod
  • External battery pack
  • Head torch
  • Suunto GPS watch
  • 2x USB cable
  • European plug
  • Headphones
  • Spare aaa batteries
  • Casio watch

BIKE STUFF

  • D lock
  • Thin wire lock for short stops
  • Bike multi tool
  • 2x bungee cables
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Pump

SLEEPING

  • DD hammocks superlight tent (Outer and inner)
  • Walking pole (needed to put up the tent)
  • Lightweight sleeping bag – Cumulus X-LITE 400
  • Sleping pad – Thermarest neoair
  • Thin butt mat

COOKING & CAMPING GEAR

  • 2X Compasses
  • Lighter and matches in ziplock bags
  • Thermometer
  • Waterproof storm matches
  • Repair kit
  • Mirror
  • Paracord – 10m
  • Stove – Pocket rocket 2
  • Gas
  • x2 Aluminuim cooking pots (Nesting)
  • Cooking pot handle
  • Wooden spoon

EXTRAS

  • Bumbag (Kept my passport and wallet in here)
  • European road map
  • Tin whistle – good for scaring away bears, but might also attract hippies
  • Passport
  • Notepad & pen
  • Washbag
  • Small first aid
  • Selection of dry bags
  • 3 x Bottles

DAILY TRIP REPORT

 

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I'm currently cycling from my home town back to Helsinki. I've got a few weeks off before my summer contract starts so thought 'why not?' . I've never done a cycle touring trip, but I have always wanted to… I've got just under 3 weeks to make it. Here's a few pics from yesterday, which was my first day on the bike. Day 01 – 91.36km / 56.8 miles – 6 hrs 37mins cycling I meandered along disused railway lines, river sides and canals and many small roads, most of them quiet, some of them busy. I took it slow. I took long breaks sat on benches in the sun eating peanut butter bagels. The warmth, smells and sounds of spring surrounded me as I cycled. I pitched my tent off the track in a secluded pine forest. As I sat eating my dinner I saw a few deer in the distance. Nice start to the trip, hopefully many more spring days to come.

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DAY 02 – Forest nr. Cole Green to Ye Olde Cherry Tree pub garden, Little oakley Distance: 111.4km / 69.2miles Started: 09:05 Finished: 17:43 Cycling time: 7hrs 11minutes It was a similar kind of day to day 01 in terms of cycle routes. I snaked through vibrant fields of rape seed, lush green woodland and undulating farmland. It was mostly on idillic country roads, old railway lines and bridleways, but a few sections were alongside duel carriageways (with good cycle paths). The track condition varied loads, some of it was being smooth asphalt, and other bits being rocky and bumpy. Inspiring road kill today, 2 dead rats, a fox and a handful of pheasants. Road kill stew…? Maybe next time 😂 Met my Dad just before 6 at Ye Olde Cherry Tree in Little Oakley, just outside Harwich. We had a meal there and a couple of pints before he drove home and I set up my tent. Thanks for coming out of your way for a pint dad, great to see you. I asked the waitresses if they knew a good place to camp nearby, and they kindly let me pitch my tent in the pub garden, thanks guys. Got a relatively early night as I needed to be at the ferry port for 7am this morning. Currently on the boat to the Hook of Holland, just in time for King's day! 🇳🇱 👑

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Day 06 -127.8km 6hrs 26 cycling – Woods Near Beerze to Cloppenburg I think I've started to find my cycling legs, or maybe it was the 2 cups of coffee and a waffle..I felt like I was on rocket fuel. Either way, my ass was hurting a little so i made the desicion to cycle faster, meaning less time in the saddle. I cycled into Germany today without even realising. I saw no sign and only realised after a going into a petrol station to fill up my water bottles, and they all had moustaches and were wearing lederhosen. Nice to be able to cross borders so freely. Northernly winds made it a little nippier on the bike to start with, but it cleared up and the sun was shining hard all day. Stayed with Nadja and her daughter who I found from the warmshowers website. Amazing host who fed me up good and proper. Fruit and veg were very welcome to my recent diet of mainly bread and peanut butter.

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Day 07 – Cloppenberg to Stemmen 120.8km – 6hrs 39mins riding Nadja told me that there would be lots of drunk people cycling around today, as that was the mayday tradition for the area. I saw lots of cyclists, but the didn't seem that drunk, at least for 11am. Me, Nadja and her daughter cycled for 45 minutes together before I continued alone. Thanks for having me guys. 😊 Nice day overall, but by the end I was counting down the kms. After feeling like I could cycle forever yesterday, I think my ass and legs were a little more tender today. Cycle paths in Germany feel like cobbled roads compared to the Netherlands. No offense Germany, I'm exaggerating slightly, mostly your cycle paths are actually pretty good. But nothing can compare to those super smooth dreamlike cycle paths in NL. I heard some live music whilst cycling, so thought it good excuse to stop for a beer and try the drink cycling tradition, (and top up my water bottles of course). I stayed with Schlingel and her family in tiny Stemmen, and again received amazing hospitality, thanks guys. They had a snake, 4 cats and some dogs. I didn't manage to get a photo with them as they needed to leave early. But they said I could stay as long as I liked, and could leave when I woke up. 😊

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Day 08 – Stemmen 🇩🇪 to Lübeck 🇩🇪 115.9km – 6hrs 31mins riding Felt like I was cycling stronger today after feeling a bit beaten yesterday. The route varied so much and was a combination forest tracks, country lanes, bumpy cycle paths and big cities. HILLS! Hills have started to return, small ones, but I had started to forget what these were. I met a nice guy cycling with his child in Hamburg. He was curious to know where I was going and where I came from, what type of bike I was on and how long it had taken to plan. He wants to undertake a similar trip. We cycled for 10 mins before out paths changed. I stayed with Ludwig and his wife who were amazing hosts. (and I remembered to add a photo this time). They were curious, talkative, insightful and philosophical. We drank beer and chatted all evening around the kitchen table. Thanks for having me guys. 👍

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Day 09 – Lübeck 🇩🇪 to a field nr Rødby 🇩🇰 Distance: Around 104km – roughly 6hrs 40mins riding I made it to Denmark today! I caught the last ferry and cycled into my 4th country 😊 I spent a couple of hours looking round Lübeck's old town this morning, before realising I had left my gloves at Ludwig's place. I improvised and bought some cheap ones from mountain warehouse, cutting off the fingers, making them better for cycling. The wind was blowing hard from the North, when the sun was out it was pleasant, but when it cloudy the weather was pretty harsh. Again, a huge variety of terrain, similar to yesterday. Some of it was next to beaches, and on tiny dirt tracks. Nice to have long views over the Baltic sea. Met a Russian and Polish couple who were touring on bikes through the Baltic. After a short chat I continued ahead as I was on a relatively tight schedule to catch the final ferry to Denmark. Crossing the bridge to Fehmarn island was crazy. It was so windy I had to ride leaning sideways to the wind. I got my first puncture today, 20 mins before I was due to arrive at the ferry. Not ideal timing, but luckily it was a slow puncture and a few top ups with air meant I could keep cycling. Made it to the ferry with time to spare, and did a little fist pump as I rode through. Always an exciting feeling to board a ferry alongside all the HGVs and cars. Was greeting with quite heavy rain as I cycled off the ship.The rain stopped whilst I fixed my puncture under a petrol station forecourt. I then cycled around 7km to my camping spot for the night.

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Day 10 – Field nr Rødby 🇩🇰 to Ore Camping 🇩🇰 Distance: 50.17km – 3hrs 45mins riding It was a relaxed day today. I got up slowly and left my campsite around 10. I then cycled a few kms before spending an hour or so in a cafe, had a coffee and charged my camera and phone. Then maybe after another hour I stopped for an ice cream at another cafe. Later in the day I met two other cycle tourers – Dominic and Mona from Germany. I caught up with them and we ended up cycling the rest of the day together. It was nice to have some company and interesting to see their bikes and equipment. They had cycled from Hamburg a few days before. We stayed at Ore Camping grounds, just over the old 153 road bridge from Falster Island to Zealand. It was bright and windy, and we had headwinds all day.

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Day 11 Ore Camping, Ore 🇩🇰 – Copenhagen 🇩🇰 102.6km – 6hrs 23 riding I cycled with Dominic and Mona the whole day today. There was a strong, cold wind which was behind us the whole day. Nice to have a tailwind for a change. We started with countryside roads, before following route 151, which went almost the whole way to Copenhagen. There were no dedicated cycle paths to begin with, just a little hard shoulder. But, for the most part we had a cycle lane which meant we could cycle side by side and chat, going single file occasionally to let faster cyclists pass. Once we got to Copenhagen we celebrated with a pizza. The Italian owner was missing a thumb and we conspired that it was probably a mafia thing. I stayed with Yamato, a friend from Finnish language school. Thanks for having me buddy! I also washed my clothes for the first time in 2 weeks.

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Day 12 – Yamato's place, Copenhagen 🇩🇰 – Forest nr Påarp 🇸🇪 Roughly 58km – 3hrs 27 cycling (I left my GPS recording for 5 to 10 minutes on the ferry, so it's a little less) In the morning me and Yamato did a couple of touristy things. He took me to one of the top 3 underwhelming statues worldwide, the little mermaid. I actually thought it was quite good. And then we took a look at the Amager Bakke waste to energy plant. Maybe it sounds like an odd choice, but there's a ski slope that runs down the top of it. Unfortunately it wasn't open, but the building is impressive from the outside also. He also made me try some unusual Japanese food. One was a kind of fermented plum, which was incredibly bitter and hard to eat. Thanks for having me Yamato, great to see you! I still hadn't decided if I was going to leave today. During the day me and my girlfriend planned to meet in Stockholm on Sunday 12.05, to get the ferry back to Helsinki. So, I thought it would be wise to get some distance under the belt. I left at around 2pm. I knew that the Germans had left about 1 or 1.30, so I thought I might catch them. After speaking with them in the evening it seems they were only 20 minutes ahead, catching the 16:40 ferry to Helsingborg. I hopped on the 17:00 ferry 20 minutes later arriving in Sweden, my 5th country! Wahoo! I then cycled the short distance to some woodland that I had marked on the map earlier in the day. Whilst eating my dinner in the woods, an owl swooped down onto a branch about 10m in front of me. We sat looking at each other for what seemed like an eternity before the owl thought better of me and swooped off.

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Day 13 – Forest nr Påarp 🇸🇪 – Ljungby 🇸🇪 127.82km – 7hrs 15 riding Today was a mix of country roads and forest tracks. One thing instantly noticeable about Sweden is that there are a lot more lakes and forest. The countryside and nature here is stunning, it feels like the most wild of the countries so far. It was a picturesque ride. I stayed with Daniel in Ljungby, who I found from warmshowers. He cooked me dinner and we shared stories over the dinner table. Overwhelmed by the kindness shown by complete strangers during this trip. The warmshowers website has been a fantastic way to meet intriguing people of the country I've been travelling in, and also to get a sofa or bed for the night. Daniel left before me in the morning but said I could take it easy and leave when I was ready. Thanks for being an amazing host dude!

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Day 15 – Forest nr. Jönköping 🇸🇪 – Forest nr Egeby 🇸🇪 97.2km – 5hrs 26mins riding It was a lazily start. I woke up at 8, but got going round 11.45. It started well, with a huge downhill to the southern tip of Lake Vättern. It rained almost all day. Another wet one. It was only drizzle, so you didn't get that wet. I had a headwind all day also. Also scared myself shitless as I bombed down a hill only to get a massive side gust that almost wiped me out. I was on big, but, but usually quite empty road that snaked along the est side of the lake. The lake is huge, even after cycling 5 hours I haven't completed it. Lots of open farmland around here. The rain eased off around 8.30pm, where I found a campsite in some woodland. I've got 2 days left of cycling now to stockholm. I'm up early today as I want to cycle 100 miles, so 160.93km.

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Day 16 – Forest nr Egeby 🇸🇪 – Forest nr Sund 🇸🇪 161.57km – 8hrs 35mins riding It was a wet start and rained all morning, but it was warm. I set my alarm for 6 and got going just gone 8. I cycled for an hour before swerving into a petrol station to top up my water and grab a coffee. I got speaking to a local farmer who was having his breakfast and had travelled all over the world. My phone was telling me it was too moist to charge, not ideal. I rode onwards through the wet. Edging closer to Stockholm. I took another break in a cafe where I met Andy, who's been on the road for 18 months! Respect. His bike and set up looked bomb proof. He was an interesting chap and I would have liked to continue chatting with him for longer. But, after about 1.5hours I thought I'd better get going, as I still had 110km to go. The sun came out and the rest of the day was pretty magical. I cycled past clear lakes, up hills and through vast rolling farmland and endless forest. This area had a kind of fairytale charm to it. I'd been hoping to see a moose, but was starting to lose hope. I turned off track to look at the sunset and a big moose was stood a few hundred metres away, silently observing me. Next time I'm going to bring a zoom lense with me. An amazing end to the day.

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Day 17 – Forest nr Sund 🇸🇪 – Naiti's place, Stockholm 🇸🇪 74.47km – 4hrs 54mins riding I made it to Stockholm yesterday afternoon 😊🚲 yehhaaaw! Although Helsinki is my end destination, I think I should really rename this a cycle from Brackley to Stockholm as the last section is just by boat. Either way, I didn't have far to cycle yesterday, and I didn't want to rush. I left camp at 12.45. Somehow, I didn't really take any photos of the landscapes either, I was just rolling through and enjoying the ride. Eagles soared overhead as I waited for a ferry and chatted with a couple in a shiny American car. On the other side Rikard pulled up beside me, and we cycled and chatted for about and hour together. He effortlessly glided next to me on his immaculate road bike, me more out of breath than he. Moments before we bid each other farewell, another road cyclist joined, also called Rikard. Rikard number 1 departed, and Rikard number 2 became my second escort for the day. We got caught in a huge downpour, and sought refuge under an archway. We cycled for another hour or so to the outskirts of Stockholm. I was half expecting another Rikard to pull up and cycle the last part with me into the city. I stayed with @naitids who was on warmshowers. She prepared a meal and we drank some wine and chatted about long distance running and swimming. Thanks so much Naiti, I've been inspired to get the wetsuit back out after hearing about your adventures. For about a week now it feels that my body has found a cycling rhythm. My legs feel strong and fit and my ass looks forward to a day in the saddle. There's a real freedom on the road. Now for a day of touristy things in Stockholm with my girl @hanhiska, before taking the ferry back to Helsinki. 😊 I'm exited for summer adventures and well pleased that I decided to cycle back rather than fly. Highly recommended 🚲🤘

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Total distance on the bike was 1704km /1059miles over 18 days of riding. In many ways, towards the end of the ride it felt like I was just getting into the rhythm of bike touring. I will definitely be doing more of this in years to come. Such an immersive way to experience the landscapes and people of a country. I made it back to Finland with a couple of days to spare before my summer contract started. The schedule didn't turn out to be so tight after all. Goes to show that sometimes having absolutely no plan works out 🚲 I only cycled 10km in Finland from the port to my flat, so I guess technically it is a cycle from the UK to Finland, but the last bit felt like cheating somehow. I'll have to fill in the gap from Helsinki to Stockholm by land on another trip… Hmmmm… Or maybe by kayak… Or swimming… 🤔 OK, scrap the swimming idea, i think that this sunny day has gone to my head. 😂 It feels like summer is already here in Helsinki, and it's been great to get back out on the water. I've already camped on one of my favourite islands (pikkuleikkusaari), the sunset was from there 2 nights ago. Annnd my Eskimo roll still works, even if it's a little bit rusty.

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