Finland a couple of questions

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Gunner Graham
Posts: 2
Joined: 5 Oct 2011, 4:18pm

Finland a couple of questions

Postby Gunner Graham » 5 Oct 2011, 4:34pm

Hello all, this is my first time posting so hope this is ok.

I am planning a trip in Finland this summer, for only a week but my plan is to fly in from stagnated to Tampere. Then get on my bike at a suitable point and peddle north till I reach the artic circle then get the train back to the start from Rovanieme.

I have heard a fair bit about long straight roads but I am ready for that. And my admin around kit and equipment is pretty good. So I have no issues on that score.

Here are my questions, can you help.

1. Will it be ok to take my road bike, ie are the roads Tarmac, as I was hoping to not use main highways.
2. If I wild camp will I get eaten by a bear, as I believe there are some. I believe it's more likely to be eaten to death by bugs, it's just slower.
3. Does anyone know of a nice route.

Thanks in advance

Graham

TonyR
Posts: 5390
Joined: 31 Aug 2008, 12:51pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby TonyR » 5 Oct 2011, 11:24pm

My experience touring there is that while the major roads are tarmacked, many of the minor roads are gravel and they can have a horrible washboard surface with ruts. If you get the relevant Karttakeskus 1:200,000 maps for your route, they mark the gravel roads in yellow so you can avoid them.

Being eaten alive by the mozzies is a major hazard of the summer as you go further north.

The Cycling in Finland website has a lot of useful information.

iviehoff
Posts: 2411
Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby iviehoff » 6 Oct 2011, 9:37am

Gunner Graham wrote:2. If I wild camp will I get eaten by a bear, as I believe there are some.

Josie Dew reported having a reindeer or moose stumble into her tent, which is potentially a dangerous incident.

European bears are very shy and the risk of an unpleasant encounter is very low. In Scandinavia (I know that is not Finland, but it gives an idea), there have only been only 3 or 4 incidents in the last century.

BARRACH
Posts: 98
Joined: 16 Mar 2010, 4:47pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby BARRACH » 6 Oct 2011, 10:03am

I recommend reading "KOK AND TVATT, through Scandinavia on a tandem" by Neil Gander. I downloaded it onto my kindle.
Of course it takes in Norway and Sweden but there is still a lot on Finland in the book.

psmiffy
Posts: 610
Joined: 1 May 2009, 1:32pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby psmiffy » 6 Oct 2011, 5:10pm

I have cycled in Finland a couple of times - seen lots of signs beware of moose but the only one Ive seen was a stuffed one at a road safety stand at a local market (and that was in Sweden anyway) - didnt get eaten by mozzies on either occasion
2009psot-30833s.JPG

The main hazard I found cycling in Finland was trees - just too many of them - sick of the sight of trees - they should do something about it - too many trees - too close together - too tall - too green - trees per infinitum - a surfiet of trees - you get the picture? one more -
2009psot-30965s.JPG
TOO MANY TREES


Ditto - the gravel roads - washboard, sometimes with loose gravel out of the trafficked wheel tracks and rutted - the sand roads are smoother but tend to not support a loaded bike very well - I used the main road up to Vassa and was not troubled by traffic

HPFlashman
Posts: 117
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 11:13am
Location: Norway.

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby HPFlashman » 7 Oct 2011, 5:35pm

Cant really shed much light on your questions, but there have been two kills by bear in the Nordic countries in the last decade. The latest in Sweden and the one before that in Finland, when a jogger came between a cub and its mother. There has as well been a couple of incidents with casualties in Sweden and a friend of mine had a bear incident under yesteryears hunting here in Norway - he describes it as a "close encounter of the third degree" but no harm came from it. So the bears is around and they are not cuddly...

I wouldnt be turned off by these incidents, but further reasearch on the bear population in the touring area would be recommendable . :)

Taking heed of the warnings from the outdoor authorities in British Columbia,
Image

and,be adviced that the Nordic bear population is of the black bear variety... :mrgreen:
Best regards

Harry

TonyR
Posts: 5390
Joined: 31 Aug 2008, 12:51pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby TonyR » 7 Oct 2011, 7:16pm

psmiffy wrote:I have cycled in Finland a couple of times - seen lots of signs beware of moose but the only one Ive seen was a stuffed one at a road safety stand at a local market (and that was in Sweden anyway) - didnt get eaten by mozzies on either occasion


We had one ambling up the road in front of us for some time before it decided to go off into the forest. Wierd animals. We also saw a wolverine cross the road in front of us. When we described it to our Finnish friends and finally found it in a wildlife book of theirs they were incredulous. Apparently they are very rare in Finland.

The main hazard I found cycling in Finland was trees - just too many of them - sick of the sight of trees - they should do something about it - too many trees - too close together - too tall - too green - trees per infinitum - a surfiet of trees - you get the picture?


Tell me about it!!! We had a running family joke that I was going to get a chainsaw and create a view for a change. Even places on the tops of hills had their views obscured by bl**dy trees

Gunner Graham
Posts: 2
Joined: 5 Oct 2011, 4:18pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby Gunner Graham » 9 Oct 2011, 7:58pm

Thanks for all your helpful advice.

All seems good I may take my road bike as it is more a touring bike I may just put some thicker tyres on it.

I am a little worried about the tree situation, I have had a long running hatred of trees as they are related to the triffids and they did try to take over the world. So rest assure I will be watching them.

Can't wait I am currently saving up to buy a pint while I'm there.

Thanks again

vjosullivan
Posts: 413
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 12:06am

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby vjosullivan » 9 Oct 2011, 10:32pm

psmiffy wrote:The main hazard I found cycling in Finland was trees - just too many of them - sick of the sight of trees - they should do something about it - too many trees - too close together - too tall - too green - trees per infinitum - a surfiet of trees

I haven't cycled in Finland but I have toured the northern end in winter on a snowmobile. Mostly deserted, silent (apart from us), snow white and beautiful. We came across three guys in the middle of nowhere, sat on logs in the snow around a bonfire having their lunch. Any why were they there? It turned out they were forestry workers, gathering pine kernals... ...so they could plant more trees in the summer!
E23

oompah18
Posts: 2
Joined: 12 Mar 2012, 10:43pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby oompah18 » 12 Mar 2012, 11:20pm

I have just joined this forum & read this message, even though it is a few months old. I am a Brit cyclist living 25km from Tampere. You plan to cycle to Arctic circle from here? It takes 14 hours to DRIVE or 12 on the train (sleeper is lovely!)
Did you do this, or is it for summer 2012? Long distances between towns, VERY expensive hostels & hotels, camping sites for campervans (never seen many tents except at rock festivals!) VERY hilly, even on the bits that look flat. Many cycle routes round towns & cities, but outside them, it´s just wilderness, highways , and of course TREES.
Love living here though, hundreds of km of cycle tracks from my village & excellent cycling maps!

MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT THERE IS NO WORD FOR PLEASE (RARELY THANK YOU) IN THE FINNISH LANGUAGE. How a brit would say, would you mind passing the salt- thank you so much !!!!!!/ the Finn would say Give me the salt, and take it in silence. Love this silent country Good luck

Allie, with Finnish hubby, 4 kids, 14 bikes, 2 trailers & 17 musical instruments

User avatar
SatNavSaysStraightOn
Posts: 23
Joined: 9 Jul 2010, 2:01pm
Contact:

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby SatNavSaysStraightOn » 13 Mar 2012, 11:15am

Gunner Graham wrote:1. Will it be ok to take my road bike, ie are the roads Tarmac, as I was hoping to not use main highways.


Roads - well the gravel roads were hell last year on the route we took and we very quickly learnt to avoid them. It was not the surface that was the problem (we cycled the entire length of Finland from north eastern border with Norway & Russia, down to Helsinki) it is the fact that they are up and down constantly - none of the dips have been filled in at all and the gradients are very short but very steep, zapping all of your speed and you spend your entire day cycling up hill as a result despite the area around you being relatively flat. In places they were too steep to cycle. We were on off road tyres - 26x2.0 on our tourers and if they did turn sandy, we were struggling to even push the bikes along them.

The main roads were on the whole not too bad north of the Finnish Lakeland. But in the south, along the Baltic, they were not nice and once or twice a national cycle route took us onto a road I was not happy with at all. Several times I needed to stop for a rest from the stress of cycling that road and I used to cycle commute a really dangerous road to work for 5 years. I don't know what they were like on the western side of Finland, but I would guess they are similar to the southern end because it is more populated than the eastern and northern ends of Finland.

In the Finnish lakeland the main roads were fine, though we stuck to the smaller tarmaced roads as much as possible. Our route can be found on http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=2&page_id=256241&v=Nv which is accurate. We really liked Finland, though at times the trees did get to us a touch as well... note that you won't want to wild camp in the forests - the ground is often marshland and the woodland refered to as swamp forest. We found small clearings or the remains of the 'old road' were often a better option. there are also dedicated camping options for free overnight use which are marked on the maps I refer to below - note if you get the identical road map, not cycling map, these areas are not shown.

Gunner Graham wrote:2. If I wild camp will I get eaten by a bear, as I believe there are some. I believe it's more likely to be eaten to death by bugs, it's just slower.


Nope - I doubt it, we never even saw evidence of them, let alone them - but we did see a live elk cross the road in front of us, which really brought home the size of them - stay away... they are huge... think horse with massive antlers...
Once into the reindeer area, your biggest problems will be the black fly and reindeer. Reindeer come to the road to lick the salts from the side of the road and there are 8 killed everyday on Finnish roads on average. We found yelling at them at the top of our voice to be the best option to get them to stift before they were a problem. they tend to run into the path of oncoming vehicles which does not help much as a cyclist. We wild camped for about 1/3-1/2 our time in Finland (we spent around 40ish days cycling the entire length down the eastern side).
Last summer was a good year for lack of mossie - we actually had very few issues with them and if you like marmite - then you should be fine if you eat some everyday. Something to do with Vitamin B complex - they hate it and stayed away from us biting the people we were with instead!

Gunner Graham wrote:3. Does anyone know of a nice route.


Pick up the Finnish cycling maps http://www.stanfords.co.uk/Countries/Finland/Finland-Karttakeskus-200K400K-Cycling-Maps_SI00000855.htm - I think there are about 6 of them in the series and although they are not cheap, they are excellent and make camping for free much easier because they mark down tent sites which you can camp at free, as well as 'services' for kayaking which generally include toilets, shelter and somewhere to pitch a tent... For the far north (Lapland) you might think you can't cycle off a 1:800,000 map accurately - trust me you can, there are simply not enough roads in the north of the country to need anything like a 1:400,000 scale. Our directions included things such as "cycle to the end of the road (about 1.5 days), turn left and cycle for another 4 days...."

The Finnish Lakeland is very defintely worth while visiting - the trees get broken up by lakes and you can see more. We were really fortunate to not only see beaver dens, and hear beavers slapping the water with their tails, but also to see 1 of the 250 Saimaa ringed seal, a fresh water seal that is the most endangered European mammal when we wild camped at Kirkkoranta for a couple of nights.

One thing to note - fresh water cane be obtained from a tap outside most supermarkets when you are far enough south for the stuff in lakes not to be good to drink. It can usually be found by the door and is operated from what looks like a lightswitch... We never needed to purchase drinking water.

Oh and finally, if you want to celebrate the arctic circle crossing you will need a main road. In Finland, this was what we had for the Arctic Circle http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=2&pic_id=1055748&size=large, in Norway it was this http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=2&pic_id=968815&size=large&v=3

iviehoff
Posts: 2411
Joined: 20 Jan 2009, 4:38pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby iviehoff » 13 Mar 2012, 5:28pm

HPFlashman wrote:Taking heed of the warnings from the outdoor authorities in British Columbia,

and,be adviced that the Nordic bear population is of the black bear variety... :mrgreen:

No, the situation is quite different in the Americas and Europe. European bears are brown bears. Black bears are confined to the Americas. In the Americas, a brown bear is called a grizzly, and on the whole you don't want to meet one there, but in Europe they are much shyer. No one takes the standard American bear precautions when wild camping in Europe, it is a rare problem.

helsinkifox
Posts: 54
Joined: 27 Feb 2008, 10:51pm

Re: Finland a couple of questions

Postby helsinkifox » 1 Apr 2012, 4:33pm

Sun 1st April 2012
And here's another Brit in Finland, been here for 21.5 years (in Helsinki 21 of them)! I haven't really cycled much in Finland, in 1998 I rode from Helsinki to Mäntsälä & Myrskylä to Nastola and Lahti. And I've often cycled to work and round Helsinki. I moved last August to Himanka here on the west coast between Kokkola & Kalajoki and last thing to bring up was my bike - pedalling! It's 7 hours by car, 530km. I took 6 days to do it:
First afternoon 3 hours Helsinki to Klaukkala, just testing the bike, stayed at a friend's.
1st day - Klaukkala to Karkkila to Tammela (in tent camping site)
2nd day - to Toijala to Lempäälä to Tampere (tent again)
3rd day - to Ylöjärvi to Viljakkala to Parkano (hotel in Parkano)
4th day - to Kihniö to just south of Peräseinäjoki (Kalakoski)(old farmhouse B&B)
5th day - to Seinäjoki, Hellamaa, Ylihärmä, Uusikaarlepyy (140km)(hotel)
6th day - to Pietarsaari to Kokkola to Lohtaja and Himanka

I deliberately swung west because the land is flatter out that way and there are more small roads which are surfaced (asphalt/tarmac - I hate the sand roads!). Distance was proably 600km, driving it's about 530km (Helsinki to Himanka). In the west there are more fields = more scenery. I was mostly on small roads which were dead quiet, it was fun to see Finland from the saddle. I walked a lot, no-one gives medals for 'beating' hills and my bike was over-heavy with luggage. I was lucky with the weather - rained only the last 10km! My bike had no problems, no punctures. It's an old Crescent Competition 309 from a flea market; I'm no bike expert but I can do things like greasing the bearings.
It's a long way between villages/towns here, few shops between, no pubs as in England at each crossroads!
I don't know that it's true that the maps show sand roads. I used pages ripped out of my GT-Atlas which is a road atlas for the whole of Finland. I could recommend my route from Tampere to Himanka anyway.

Here's a good site, and starting with Himanka:

http://www.paramotor.fi/himanka.htm

Will give you a good idea what Finland is like. Forget about bears & mooses. You might see a moose or a deer if you're lucky. For camping ants are the menace! Mosquitoes are evil but won't bother you riding along, just if you stop where they happen to be.
Get in touch if you're still aiming for Finland. It's an unknown destination for cycle touring in my opinion, just never see cycle tourists - I saw 2 Italian cycle tourists as I approached Kokkola, that's all. I have all kinds of advice/knowledge about Finland, and you'd be welcome to drop in for a cup of tea and to pitch your tent on the front lawn :)

helsinkifox