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Europe by Tandem

From Castellon (Spain) to Northern Cape (Norway) by Tandem supporting the fight against cancer.

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Day 6. Enontekio- Kolari

Posted by admin On Julio - 14 - 2010

163 km, 7:15 a.m.

IVAN: The day started off as expected, rain-drenched; we weren’t expecting such a fucking downpour, though! We could say that it was the only moment since we arrived that it got dark, but at 11 in the morning! What a freezing cloudburst! Not as lukewarm as it falls on our land, no, the rain falls cold here.

The day began like this, we set off around 8:30 and we had the chance to warm up and go for a ride for an hour before it started to deluge. From 9:30 to 12:00, it rained cats and dogs, which caused visibility problems on the road at midmorning. You can’t stop, though! Once you’re soaked, there’s no slicker that can prevent you from getting soaked to the skin; you have a duty to the machine and to your legs; a pinprick, a physical breakdown may complicate the day meanly; a 15-minute stop irremediably leads to a difficult-to-fix muscle cooling and, as a result of that, to injuries, colds, etc.

The thing is that, at 12 p.m., we got to the only place where we could have lunch, Muonio. Today’s stage took place along the border that separates Sweden from Finland, at the valley of the Tornionjoki river. 163 km to go, mind you, where you can only find a spot to have something to eat, just halfway through, if you’re lucky enough; and a stall to have a coffee after 120 km. This is one of the greatest hardships of this trip, the fact that there is nothing along the way, just more kilometers and kilometers in the enormity of the woods, and that’s it. But, well, we were fortunate today: we got to Muonio drenched by the rain so we had to get into a hotel, where we could indulge ourselves with a Finnish sauna, take a hot shower, change out of the wet clothes, and have lunch. At that point, we considered the possibility of staying there, after cycling for 81 km; but it wasn’t enough. Although we knew it would keep on pouring down, we set off hoping it was neither early nor too much.

Only 20 minutes later, our biggest fear came true: the rainfall, and good heavens, it was high abundant rainfall, soaked to the skin for more than 70 km ahead. Fortunately, the rain stopped an hour later; it cleared, alternating clouds and sun, which helped us to dry. Our full stomach made that stretch possible.

We made a stop at the coffee stall, the scenery (see above) was worth it; at a bend of the Tornionjoki river, the longest natural course river in Europe, which flows for a distance of 510 kilometers, rich in wild salmon and in Finnish fishermen. For example, after watching the fish counts in the river, they caught a 14-kilogram fish! Wow!

We set off again and the rotten luck struck back, 2 minutes and PUM, the tandem rear tire went flat, another stop and changes, hard to do this with only one hand, while you’re using the other to kill light-aircraft like Laponian mosquitoes; but well, our bodies resemble a bakery, fraught with buns, haha!

We left Norway a couple of days ago, we went through Finland and tomorrow, as soon as we set off, we’ll be in Sweden. It’s telling but during these 550 km, the landscape has dramatically changed. The current landscape is shaped by roads flanked, at both sides, by tall tree walls. It’s full of firs, since we’re getting closer to the Pallas-Yllästunturi national park, a priceless natural treasure in Finland.

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