Anton had had a date the night before and had not come back to the island. I had his keys, and so sat around waiting for him, but after almost an hour and no e-mail back I hid the keys and rowed back to my bike (having to do three trips to let me row to the bike, lock one boat up, swap boats, row back, drop the keys off and then go back to my bike. It also helped that I forgot one of my panniers which I somehow didn’t realise until I landed). I can ride, but I’m a long way from Sir Redgrave
I got off the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki and the reasonably mild weather I’d been lucky to have seemed to have been over. Cold drizzle met me and I happily put my waterproofs on. I hadn’t got all the cold weather gear that I’d need, but had a pile of gear ready at home to be forwarded to me thanks to my mum. On the way to meet Anton, my host, there was a quick visit to a bike shop and the Russian & Estonian sternness had been replaced by joyful people who spoke wonderful English.
The next few days proved an interesting challenge for my rear wheel, with a ridiculous number of potholes that I’d be focused on avoiding and then still end up landing in. It was so bad in parts that it was actually a relief when the surface turned to light sand, although the washboard parts weren’t fun, as at least I would hopefully not worsen the crack. I’d not been seeing many bike shops, although that was possibly partly because I wasn’t seeing much of anything other
Having finished another medical trial, an easy way to make money and break up my trip so I can see family & friends, it was back to the road. I had originally been thinking of flying to Scandinavia, but a quick Google suggested I could be getting quite chilly come mid-September so made the most of being home to get myself a Russian visa. I’d thought for a while that I wouldn’t end up in Russia, because you have to apply for the visa in your home country and then arrive in a window
After a few days of riding the dull flats of Austria, being up in the small mountains of southern Bohemia was rather lovely. There were forests and an abundance of deer too. It didn’t involve long climbs, but enough to keep the tedium away. The area I was riding through had plenty of small towns built on the rivers, reflecting beautifully. The area felt poorer than Austria, with houses looking more dilapidated and several towns where the market was little more than a guy standing in a car