Just this Friday a German fellow named Timo boarded the ship in Helsinki. Timo was riding a 105 equipped Cannondale roadie, which caught my attention, as there was a sleepingbag attached to the handlebars and a tent fixed to the saddle. When I later saw him sitting in the stairs outside the compartment where my cabin is, I promptly introduced myself as a fellow cyclist. It turned out he had done 6000 km in six weeks! Starting out in the Stuttgart area, he had gone through Germany, Denmark and Norway, made his way to the North Cape and then down to Helsinki, the last stint taking a stunning mere 8 days.
Awestruck I quickly realised I had a lot to learn from my newfound friend. So when he asked me where people without a cabin were supposed to sleep, my couchsurfing instincts kicked in and I offered Timo the spare bunk I usually use to store my clothes. He gladly accepted, and also bought me a beer in the pub after I got off work. To top up the sync we already had going, we also figured out that we both study process control at university.
Community, a sense of beloning and sharing what you have to spare, is a wonderful thing. And I've found that solo (bike) travellers expect the least help, but then also truly appreciate it when they get it. A week from now I will wake up in or near Rostock, about to start first full day of my tour in Germany. Whether I'll be camping alone somewhere or on a friendly couch remains to be seen. I can handle either one without losing faith in my current idea of community.
25.6.2007: Two laps around my standard route in Helsinki (Seurasaarenselkä), a quick stop at the SuperFast terminal and a slow roll along the shoreline at Kaivopuisto, finishing off with a stop at an icecream stand.
46,48 km, 1h54m32s, 24,35 kmh avg, n/a kmh max.
26.6.2007: Two laps around Södermalm, a hilly expedition Nacka Strand, another lap around Södermalm and finally a run down Kungsgatan.
60,01 km, 2h28m39s, 24,22 kmh avg, 59,7 kmh max.
28.6.2007: Started off with my usual warmup lap around Södermalm, then headed towards Älta. Just as I got there I suffered a flat. Walking back into town, I called my friend the mountainbiker who, in intermittent showers of rain, came out to meet me with a spare inner tube. When we finally met the rain had already stopped. But it sure is great to have friends!
25,00 km, 1h2m59s, 23,82 kmh avg, 59,7 kmh max.
2.7.2007: First stopped at my favorite bike shop in Stockholm, Gamla Stans Cykel, to top off the pressure in my tyres. Then cruised along Hornsgatan, explored Långholmen and another island nearby, and rode via Hammarbyslussen to Danviksbro. Headed in the general direction of Saltsjöbaden, but turned around in Östervik as time was running out. Getting back into town I did, however, have time for a lap around Södermalm. Finally I popped in to Vagabond, a travel bookshop, to buy a traveller's wallet for my trip to Germany.
53,00 km, 2h17m34s, 23,12 kmh avg, 47,6 kmh max.
3.7.2007: A Sunday ride on a Tuesday! Simmo the magician joined me for a leisurely ride around Helsinki. We didn't go far, nor fast. But chatting away and actually observing our surroundings and enjoying the atmosphere still made it a great ride. Also shopped around a bit for some more kit for my tour.
15,59 km, 1h21m42s, 11,45 kmh avg, 28,6 kmh max.