Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Midsummer rain

Aland car ferry
I left the little island of Kumlinge on midsummer Friday. For weeks everybody had been warning me of midsummer when life in Finland basically stops. Shops are closed, museums are closed and public transport runs on a limited schedule. I had therefore checked the ferry schedules very carefully and was now taking the last daily ferry to the mainland. Unbelievably there wasn't a single car on the huge car ferry on the last stretch before mainland. Only several cyclists - and all of them foreigners. Finnish people were already in their summer houses preparing midsummer.

Wooden houses in Rauma
I wanted to take advantage of the empty roads and decided to cycle late - and had to cycle even later as there was a big outdoor party going on in my camping "target area" and I had to cycle on to escape the loud music. I finally set up camp at 11 pm but thankfully it doesn't get really dark in Finland this time of the year. Saturday the cities resembled ghost towns and really absolutely everything was closed - even the churches. It was a real pity cycling through World Heritage Rauma and not being able to see anything from inside. And it wasn't much fun to stroll through the old wooden houses in a bitterly cold wind and a balmy day time max temperature of 9° C. But the forecast was the very worst: a lot of rain was predicted for the next day.

Welcome rain shelter
The rain day started better than expected: dry! I quickly packed up and hoped to make it into Pori, the next bigger town with a Lidl, before the deluge started. I didn't quite make it. 10 km before Pori heaven opened its gates and it just poured down. With a temperature around 10 °C, strong winds and summer outfit there was no way I would make it to Pori without getting hypothermia. After seeking a bit of insufficient shelter under trees I struck gold: off the forest road I was cycling on there was a huge kart race complex and right at its entrance was a big open wooden pavilion. This pavilion was home for the next two hours

I changed into dry clothes but was still shivering with cold. Although I was almost completely out of food after the midsummer shopping closures I decided to cook up an emergency meal: spaghetti with powder sauce mix for Spaghetti Bolognese - but of course without any meat. It still tasted delicious. I was out of water as well but this problem was easily solved: I just put my put under the pavilion roof and soon I had enough rain water from the roof for lunch and even a litre of hot tea. After an hour a car with a trailer came by to do some training on the race course (in the rain!), but the the two guys didn't bother me until the rain finally stopped and I could cycle away.

In Pori Lidl was open in midsummer Sunday afternoon and I indulged in a big shopping orgy. Again everything else was closed for midsummer - so no sightseeing. Lidl was the most exciting sight for an out of food cyclist anyway. Next "basic" need was wifi. I wanted to check the forecast - and was in for a shock. The forecast that hadn't looked too bad yesterday had changed into a veritable nightmare: constant rain for three days with daytime temps around 10° C. I nearly started to cry - and in that moment it fittingly started to rain again.

This was a difficult situation and I hated the meteorologists for their incorrect forecasts. It was too late now for couchsurfing and there wasn't any cheap accommodation in town. I checked the forecast for the cities further along my way and found out that the further North, the less rain. Without any real alternative I finally cycled off as soon as the rain stopped determined to make it as far as possible that evening. I was lucky as it didn't rain much and I got another 40 km in before setting up camp.

It started to rain at 2 am and didn't stop. I tried to sleep in but at 11 am I couldn't stand lying in my tent any more. At least midsummer craze was over now. I put on all my rain gear and cycled into the next town looking for wifi in order to check the forecast again. In the local library I found internet and checked the weather. Like yesterday the verdict was: go  North! Only 50 km from here sunshine was promised - hard to believe when it is raining outside but I believed the meteorologists and cycled North. And they were right! Three hours later I was cycling under almost blue sky. Only the bitterly cold strong northerly wind remained - but you can't have it all, can you?


Anonymous said...

Good Luck

I once experienced about 2 weeks of Rain in the summer there!


Chris Roche said...

I hope you will get drier and warmer days. Is no fun after a while. Get some good food and rest a bit