Biking through Estonia, Day 1, The Start
Now that I've had a bit of time to collect my thoughts, and my lazy ass, I'm going to write a bit about how my 600km biking trip through Estonia went and at the end a few things I learned during my trip. Here's the rough route we took. It lacks a lot of resolution so it's only 500km long, but there you can see where we made camp for the nights and get a general sense of the route.
How it all starts
Waking up way too early for my liking, luckily almost everything is packed and I just throw in a few things I remember while showering before heading out to the crisp morning air. My bike seems to have parts from three different bikes, the gear system doesn't lock in properly and you can't actually use all the gears, but it's mine and it's never had a problem so far. To be honest my father grabbed it from the dump while working there so I have no idea of it's history. I am a bit skeptical how well it's going to hold up to this trip, but we'll see what comes our way. It doesn't have saddle bags or anything, just a shopping basked I got from a thrift store zip tied to the rack. I throw my back bag on and start biking towards the harbor, for me it's only a three kilometer journey, but Linda's got about 8 km to go in the morning. I don't really think about it at this point, but this is the last time I'm alone for the next 9 days, I perhaps would've cherished this moment more if I did.
She's there a bit before me and calls asking where I'm at. I notice her pretty much as I pick up the phone and we meet up, beginning our ill conceived and ill prepared journey. We're bit unsure where we should be heading, but since bikes go into the cargo hold of the ferry with cars we start biking towards the car gates and hopefully find info there. The lady at the gates points us towards a certain lane with motorcycles and we line up with them. It's a bit of a nervous wait, but when we get waved in, we just bike over and they show us where we need to put of bikes so they aren't in the way. We head up and settle in for the two hour ferry ride between Helsinki and Tallinn, over the gulf of Finland. Plan is to buy some food from the market in Tallinn and be on our way towards Peräküla by noon. The ferry ride is pretty uneventful and a bit boring, mostly just snacking on grapes and thinking about what kinds of food we should buy and other small practical things. To be honest we have no idea what awaits us and the mood is merry.
We get off the ferry and start heading for the market Linda knows off. However since her last time here it has been renewed and it's pretty upscale place instead of the commoners place it used to be. However we manage to get some smoked cheese and sausage for the trip, stock up on water and buy a bit of fresh strawberries etc. We actually start heading out around two and need to stop a few times to check which street's we should be taking out of Tallinn. It isn't a big city, but since it's an old city the streets can be a bit confusing. One big difference I'm noticing compared to Finland is that the side walks are in worse condition, and at places quite narrow. I guess it goes with the old town charm, but it's quite annoying for someone used to better infrastructure.
You know this isn't so bad
We make it out of the city and start heading out towards west. We know this days ride is going to be around 90km and probably the longest of the trip and we are already 2 hours late. Linda's bikes back brakes are biting in to the wheel since it's a bit wobbly, and I have to disable them all together by turning the brake pads to the side. With more time I could adjust them so that they bite when breaking, but don't drag when riding normally, but due to the schedule we decide to leave that for another day. In the end it never gets done, the brakes are probably the same way now a month later, maybe there's a lesson there for all of us.
We take a break at a gas station, we fill up our water bottles and head on out. So far we've been riding on sidewalks and bike paths that follow the Estonian number 8 road. They snake around and sometimes go through apartment building parking lots, but are taking us in the right direction towards the town of Keila. Now I don't know what it means in Estonian, but in Finnish it means a pin, as in a bowling pin and is a slang word for an idiot, which of course amuses me. Eventually the bike paths run out and we are biking on the curb. Luckily Estonia has quite a small population so the traffic isn't bad and cars can pass us easily.
Actually, this kinda sucks
At this point we are pretty sure this is going to be our first and last bike trip. While we know it's going to be fun, we are already kinda hating the biking and we still got plenty to go. We stop at a shop for water and cookies and continue on. The sun is going down and we still have about 20 kilometers to go and Linda is wondering if we should stop for the day and put up the tent somewhere. I agree that that's definitely an option, but since we are amidst quite small villages we can put the tent up pretty much where ever, so we can just try to go for a bit longer and see how it goes. Linda agrees and we keep riding in the last light of the setting sun.
Now we are so close that giving up now doesn't really make any sense, there is only about 5 km of dirt road to the telkimisala (tenting ground). Riding on a rough dirt road littered with rocks and pine cones in the dark is a bit hazardous especially since you are tired from the ride, but finally, we make it. At this point our thighs are burning up and especially our asses are so sore from the riding you winch every time you sit on the bike. We check the map for the area and I decide we should put our tent up on the sand so it's a bit softer to sleep on, near the toilets so we head up the road a bit and pitch our tent.
It's oh so worth it
This whole time we've been hearing the crash of the waves on the beach behind the dune our tent is next to, and I'm dying to get over it. I start walking up this wooden walk way and I'm greeted by a sand beach hundreds of meters long and the Baltic Sea crashing on to it. Dark and windy it's a welcome greeting and a fitting end to our days journey. Since it's already midnight and the air is getting cold we decide to head to bed without washing up since the cold water will probably make falling asleep a bit too hard. I want to light a fire, and Linda says she'll come sit at it with me if I light it, but is too tired to help. So I light it and go fetch Linda only to find her fast asleep already. I decide to grab a bit of food and sit next to the fire, listening to the crashing waves and enjoying the accomplishment of the day before heading to bed myself.