3783 km so far.
Our perfect little campsite was hard to leave this morning. Who wants to get on a bike when you could spend the whole day lying around in a stripy hammock?
But get on the bikes we did, after dithering around making coffee, drying out the tent, and trying to wake me up into some form of human condition.
We succeeded on the first two counts, but on the third, it was a huge failure. I felt entirely yucky as we rode away from the village.
Legs Like Lead
Since we had a 109 km day planned, and we knew headwinds would be coming down the pipe later, the morning was make or break time for the day. We needed to go fast but my legs just didn’t feel like it. I knew Stephen was growing frustrated with me as I lagged farther and farther behind, forcing him to wait for me time and again.
But I just felt rotten. My whole body ached, starting in my stomach and spreading through my legs, back, and shoulders. It was a combination of the grinding day we’d had yesterday, plus the monthly pain-in-the-blank that goes with being a woman. It was a crappy day for this to happen, because the roads were flat, perfectly paved, and emptier than any roads we’ve seen on this trip.
Ideal riding conditions, sans ideal rider.
After what seemed like forever, we finally got to stop for lunch in the one village on today’s route that had a grocery store. We sat in the town’s newly refurbished main street (which was very quiet) eating our sandwiches and chips.
A few minutes after sitting down, we saw a couple of touring cyclists pass by 100 m away. It is still amazing for us to see other cyclists in this part of the world, so we waved, and they rode over to say hi.
The couple, a little older than us and in a little better shape, were from the Netherlands, and had ridden up from Vilnius over the last couple of days. They are headed up the coast to Helsinki on the same route as us, so we will likely see them again. When we turned back to resume our lunch, there was a small boy standing a few feet away just staring at us.
We both smiled and said “hello”. Kids here learn English in school, so we thought he might respond, but he just stood and stared. Oh well, never mind. A staring child does not stop hungry cyclists from eating their lunch.
I felt a little better after lunch, which was a good thing, because the winds had started in earnest. I don’t know what it is about the route we’re taking, but headwinds seem to be the prevailing force everywhere we go. I can count the number of tailwinds we’ve had in three months: it is two. If you ever want to do a similar tour to ours, I’d suggest you do it in reverse, and you’ll undoubtedly get some very favourable winds.
Anyhow, this afternoon was another grind. Just push push push against the wind as the wind pushed pushed pushed us back. Bastard.
What could we do but get on with it? So we did. Stephen took the lead for almost the entire afternoon, protecting me from the brunt of the winds.
Who says chivalry is dead?
The High Note
We stopped at a grocery store in the last town before the campsite and I hung out in the parking lot while Stephen shopped. Our friends from the Netherlands arrived while we were there, as did another touring couple from Germany. I guess we are entering more touristy areas again, and summer has officially started. We have heard from friends farther west that seeing touring cyclists is becoming a little passé for them now. I suppose we’ll experience the same burnout as we ride on.
Our grocery stop was the precursor to reaching a campground 25 km out of town. But as the shadows got longer, and the wind didn’t show any sign of dying, we were open to other possibilities. Three-quarters of the way there, we spotted a hotel in the midst of a man-made wetland. Deciding that camping at hotels is the thing to do around here, we stopped in to see if we could pitch our tent there.
Indeed we could.
So instead of ending our day with a final 6 km slog to a campsite, we ended it with a cold beer, one-pot spaghetti on the camp stove, and a bottle of wine. Even without the extra 6 km, it was still (we think) our longest day so far, at 103 km.
We still had enough energy for a walk and a little monkeying around at the wetland.
We also had our own private bathroom and shower, and a waterfront spot all alone.
Camping at hotels is great. We highly recommend it!
Soundtrack: Crowded House, Crowded House | Crowded House, Temple Of Low Men | Crowded House, Woodface | Tom Petty, A Greatest Hots Selection from The Anthology (Spotify link) | Sivert Høyem, Moon Landing | Sivert Høyem, Long Slow Distance | A.C. Newman, Shut Down The Streets | Efterklang, Magic Chairs | Atoms For Peace, AMOK | JAY-Z, Music From Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby ♥