Rough Road To Eesti

By Stephen Ewashkiw | July 22, 2013

4422 km so far.

The wind doth blow again today, but at least the day began without any rain. We are at the coast of the Baltic, which seems to mean wind. We need to ride alongside it for at least another two days, regardless of the weather, so we packed camp and headed out.

This is one of the problems with doing things like booking ferry tickets for specific days, or setting up yoga classes for that matter. It sets us to a schedule. And one thing cycle tourists love is the lack of schedule. However, we now have somewhere to stay Tallinn and we have ferry tickets booked for St Petersburg from Helsinki, so our next couple of weeks is more or less mapped out.

To Bike Path Or Not To Bike Path

We decided before we left camp to head straight to the freeway, bypassing the 101 Bike Route that runs closer to the Baltic than the freeway, as we assumed the bike path would have more wind, and would likely be a dirt road.

For some reason, as we got to the turn for the bike path, we decided to take it. For the first 6 km this was fine. It started out paved, and soon gave way to dirt. It was smooth, hard-packed dirt and led us past old farm houses and new summer homes. It was quite pleasant. It was also separated from the sea by a small forest just big enough to cut the wind.

Lovely pine forest, useful for blocking the wind.

Lovely pine forest, useful for blocking the wind.

Then we came to this sign.

Sign for a bike portage, on the Estonian Baltic coast.

Sign for a bike portage, on the Estonian Baltic coast.

Yes, look carefully at that picture. It’s a bike portage for one kilometre. Not really into carrying 60 kg of bike along the beach, we opted to head to the freeway, 3 km away.

This is when our nice dirt road became a washboard-ridged, bumpy as all get-up, deep, sandy, touring cyclist’s nightmare.

This 3 km of road nearly did Jane in. It turned a sunny, if windy, morning into the ride from hell for her. Half-way along I thought she might pack it in and camp right there.

A different sandy bike path, later the same day.

A different sandy bike path, later the same day.

Fortunately, she found the strength to carry on, and we made it back to asphalt.

Comedown Blues

The freeway was busy, and most of the cars were filled with post-Positivus youth heading back to Rīga. This meant our side of the road was less scary to ride on than a few days ago. However, lots of large transport trucks were still going our way, and their bulk going by at 70 kph makes the wind ten times worse.

By the time we stopped for lunch we had only made it 38 km, which is not a strong morning for us. By this point the wind was much worse and we needed shelter. So, we stocked up on groceries in Salacgrīva, the town that hosts Positivus, and then found a restaurant.

Like any town that hosts a festival, Salacgrīva was crawling with the zombified bodies of young adults who have consumed too much alcohol and not slept for three days. All of them were weighed down with sleeping mats, sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks as tall as they were. They were quite entertaining to ride past. I wished out loud that we had several hours to run around shooting post-festival portraits to properly capture it.

Country Ten

We pushed on. And before long, we left Latvija and entered country number 10 of the trip. Hello Eesti (that’s Estonia to you). I was hoping we would cross the border and magically the wind would stop and the sun would shine. Sadly this was not the case. In fact, the weather got worse. It started to rain. And this made the temperature drop.

an old ruin in estonia

An old ruin, on the road to Estonia.

So, not far into Eesti we started looking for camping. We passed several campgrounds, all set in pine trees and close to the sea. Then the rain really started, and with the wind still whipping around it was time to stop.

We decided to splurge and rent a small cabin at Mini Kemping, instead of pitching our tent in the cold and the rain. We still had to cook outside but we had a small porch, which kept the rain off. Nothing could keep the cold wind away, which made cooking a challenge.

We wrapped up Season 1 of Homeland in our sleeping bags on our luxuriously large bed, doing our best to keep the blood flowing all the way down to our toes. With the tap tap tap of rain on the roof, we were glad to be inside for the night, as we headed off to sleep.  

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  1. Comment by Chris

    Chris July 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I feel lucky to have traveled when you got your passports stamped at every border- free souvenir, the best. Although, I did not have the opportunity to go to Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania which were part of the Soviet Union when I traveled with an Intourist guide- required in those days-along with our trip tour guide. I am so enjoying your posts. So looking forward to your thoughts on St. Petersburg. Stay safe.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen July 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      It would be great to have a collection of stamps – we have talked about that more than once. However, the ease with mp which we have been allowed into every country, apart from Russia, so far has been amazing. It’s a shame you weren’t able to visit the Baltic then, but gives you a great excuse to plan a trip now!

  2. Comment by Diane

    Diane July 25, 2013 at 10:25 am

    This post is enought to make a mother weep. Wish I could see you both and give you a lovely bed and all the comforts of home. We are on day 27 of beautiful BC sunshine believe it or not.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen July 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Well, as you now know Diane we are well looked after and warm once again in Tallinn. Here’s hoping Scandinavian summer is a bit warmer than the Baltic one this year.

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