Day 36 – Tuesday 30th of July – 5km north of Ruka to 10km north of Ivalo (429km)
I woke up shortly before 6 am, and even though I took my time to have breakfast and pack everything up, I was on the road fairly early. I had removed the thermal layers from the suit the day before as it was boiling hot, but today the day started cloudy and chilly, so at 10 am, seeing that it was not getting any warmer, I stopped, put them back on and switched to the winter gloves.
I had chosen a route close to the border to avoid main roads again, and rode all morning on my own, on narrow deserted country roads that took me through lakes, woods and swamps. The landscape was beautiful, but in the cold gray morning it was also desolate at times, and I could very easily imagine how hard it must have been in winter for the ill-equipped soldiers that had to make their way across these lands.
By midday I had covered a lot of distance, and the day had improved a bit. I stopped at a café to have some lunch and had a short chat with two Swiss bikers coming down from Norway. They told me that the weather there had been miserable for the last few weeks. That worried me a little, as I was counting on camping all the way in Finland, Norway and Sweden…
Seeing that it was early and I was making very good progress, I started considering the options I had. It was too early to call it a day and stop for the night in Finland, so I could keep going and get as close to the Nordkapp as possible to be there early the following day and camp already on my way down along the Norwegian coast or I could keep going straight north instead of taking the main route to the northeast and then ride along the northern coast of Norway to reach the Nordkapp in the evening in time to see the midnight sun. In the end though, a sharp muscular pain in my chest, possibly from a bad sleeping position the previous night, meant that I decided to get to the last big town in Finland and find a place to sleep.
I was going to go a bit further before starting to look for a place, as it was only 6 pm, but then I saw a sign indicating a campsite by a lake, and I had a feeling that it would be a good place. I have always trusted my gut when it comes to finding a good place during the trip and it has normally turned out to be right. This time was no exception. The campsite was more expensive than the previous one – 15€ a night – but the much better facilities made up for the price, especially the fact that despite basically being a forest by a lake, they had wifi, which meant that I could write this post while lying in my sleeping bag.
As it was early, I decided to take the evening to relax, and went down to the lake for a swim. The water was crystal clear and very cold, but it felt wonderful. I sat for an hour in the sun, drying off and reading my new book: Fahrenheit 451.
Just before going to bed I was heading down to the lake again to take some pictures, as the sky was a very nice shade of violet with the midnight sun, when I saw a man arrive on a bicycle and stop next to my tent. I noticed that he had something written on his back, and when I got closer to say hi I saw that it said ’10,000km’. I told him that was the distance I had covered so far on my motorbike, and he told me that he was riding around Scandinavia in 8 weeks, doing as much as 260km a day. Or rather a night, as he preferred to ride nights. Or days, as it never gets dark here. Oh well, it is a bit confusing…
I told him where I was going and he recommended a couple of places to see, one further to the east than the Nordkapp, the other, 9km on foot from the Nordkapp, which is the real northernmost point in Europe. It all sounds very tempting, tomorrow I will decide how I plan my route for the day.