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New wheels!

Bike There’re many plus sides to living in Finland, one of which is the insanely great public transport. As a life-long car owner and general hater of UK public transport, or at least, UK trains - busses were fun in the 90s, when I last used them - it’s taken me a little while to get over the fact that sharing a journey with other people might not be utterly shite. The commuter trains where I live can whisk me into Helsinki’s downtown in 13 minutes, all for the princely sum of sweet-fuck-all a month. With the exception of the L [ol] Train at night, which stops at every bush between Helsinki and Espoo, it’s quick, clean and zero fuss. Exactly as it should be.

‘Proper’ trains are also pretty sweet. Mostly double decker carriages, with assigned seating (unless you’re in a rush and hop on) and WiFi that actually works! In the two years I’ve been commuting to Tampere they’ve been late 3 or 4 times and the worst thing I have to say about them is that most of Finland seems to be incapable of reading the number on their ticket, so keeps sitting in my place. And get this, the price of a fare actually dropped this year. By 50 fucking percent! The 110 mile journey from Helsinki to Tampere now costs me £14.

FOURTEEN FUCKING EARTH POUNDS.

I’ve never lived in a world where the price of public transport actually falls, until now.

Tampere and Helsinki have another little travel-trick up their sleeves, and that’s the cycle path. They’re fucking everywhere. And they go to places some of the roads don’t. You wanna see that bit of forest, or head to a lake? There’s probably a little cycle path that’ll get you there a bit quicker, and via a more scenic route. I’ve been scoping these out on the map for a while  but have been too skint to actually buy a bike, cos here’s the downside; bikes are stupid money over here. I’m used to the £100 quid, Halford’s special, and that’d be what I consider to be ‘expensive’. One with disc brakes and spokey dokeys - the fucking lot. I’ve seen mountain bikes over here that cost 800e, for, well, I have no idea why. Import tax? Anyway, a bit of local knowledge (thanks Teemu) pointed me in the direction of Biltema and I’m now the proud owner of a little trail bike. It’s by far the most expensive bike that I’ve ever bought, but it’s the cheapest bike I’ve seen here (go figure), so I reckon I’m winning.

I’ve been out and about this week, making little brake and seat tweaks so me and bike can become one. I even found a lake (like, the easiest thing you could possibly do in a country with 187,888 lakes)…

Lake Ride

I’ve been trying to work out how long its been since I had a bike and I think it’s about 22 years, so I can confirm that you never forget how to ride one. Your legs - apparently - forget how fucking hard it is to keep peddling though…

So yeah, finally, I have some wheels. I’ve been here for 3 years and the only time I ever want a car is when we travel to the in-laws. Maybe we’ll get something someday, but right now it’s looking good for a summer of pedal power. We’ve had 3-4 weeks of non-stop sunshine, so fingers crossed it stays this nice…