Preparing for your trip
Planning your route
Start planning your trip well in advance. You can always take a trip offhand, but good planning translates into a more enjoyable experience, particularly on longer trips. Once you have studied the route in advance and booked your accommodation, there will be more time to enjoy and have fun on your journey. No need to start your day by trying to find the next night's accommodation, and when you have studied the route in advance, it becomes more familiar and you can concentrate on the journey itself.
When planning your route, it is important to be realistic about what and how much you can do in a day. There is little point in doing loads of kilometres, you are there for the experience. There are places along the route where you want to stop at, and having breaks also helps you to regain your energy. Make sure your timetable is not too tight.
Planning your timetable
Daily distances on cycling tours vary between 30 and 100 kilometres. The distance depends on your own physical condition, the difficulty level of the terrain, wind conditions and the number and duration of breaks. Hot days are more strenuous than cooler ones. Keep your daily distances reasonable on each cycling day in order not to make the journey too hard; you need to be able to enjoy it! A common daily distance is some 40–60 kilometres. You can enjoy your trip much more if you take a break at least every two hours. And it gives you a boost when you know that the next stop is right after the next curve.
A pleasant journey speed is 15–17 kilometres an hour. You can easily do 60 kilometres in four hours in several stages. But you also need to remember to add stops and breaks on top of that. You should divide the total journey into several sections. And there can also be unpleasant surprises (headwind, rain, equipment issues, road conditions, getting lost, feeling unwell etc.), so allow yourself enough time and include rest days into longer trips. A good rule is one rest day per week. If you are heading on your first cycling tour, start by trying out a weekend tour and move gradually on to longer tours. As a total journey, four to six days is a good duration for a cycling tour. Cycling tourism can be addictive, and journey lengths also increase as you become more experienced.
Generally, the reason for embarking on a cycling tour is to enjoy the scenery and local culture. You should leave room in your route plan for exploring sights, taking sauna baths and dips in the water as well enjoying the relaxed way of life in small villages and towns. Many cycling tourists enjoy taking detours outside regular routes, visiting farmers' markets, outdoor dance events and sampling the local lifestyle. Good food is also something that gives pleasure to most of us. Nowadays there are quality restaurants in the countryside serving local food, and cycling definitely gives you an appetite! To really enjoy your cycling tour, you need to remember to eat, drink and rest enough on a long journey.
Accommodation and dining
Accommodation should always be reserved in advance. Accommodation is scarce on the Finnish countryside, there may only be a few rooms available, and they are usually fully booked in the summer and often far into the autumn during weekends. Standards vary, and you can pick what suits you best. Cycling tourists tend to prefer accommodation that is slightly different from regular hotel accommodation. Such accommodation includes bed and breakfast places, countryside tourist destinations, camp sites and, particularly in the Uusimaa region, manor houses. Look for accommodation that provides its own bed linen, you do not want to carry your own. Some places provide a washing machine for use, and you can run your cycling gear through a short cycle ready for the next day. Check laundry facilities in advance, not each and every place provides them. Rural accommodation is often individualised and personal, so doing your washing is mostly not an issue.
This site has details of accommodation options at the end of the tour packages and suggestions. They are divided into hotel and other accommodation, and the links take you directly to the accommodation provider's website. The locations are displayed on Google Maps to the right of each tour suggestion. You can also use online accommodation booking tools. Many accommodation providers are now using booking.com to handle their reservations, give it a go!
Dining is an essential part of your trip, particularly when you want to relax and unwind in the evening after a long day's pedalling. And fresh air and physical exercise make it taste all the more better. Culinary tourism culture is increasingly popular in Central Europe, and you can even take a cycling tour with a specific culinary theme.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Porridge, eggs, yoghurt, bread and vegetables fill you up for the day. If your route does not have places to stop for meals, take your own packed lunch and plenty to drink with you. You can even ask your accommodation provider for a packed lunch, and they normally have a charge for this. Sandwiches, fruit and water to drink give you sustenance during the day. Keep one bottle in the flask holder and pack another one in your rucksack. The maps of Fillariopas do not always have the current details of coffee shops, snack outlets and food shops. As services in the countryside have become more scarce, you may not be able to replenish your food or drink supplies during the day. There are also various energy and sport snacks available that are a good idea to pack with your food. Cycling consumes lots of calories, so have a good breakfast and you can still enjoy a substantial dinner with a good conscience.
Cycling with children
You can and should take your children with you on a cycling tour. Children are often keen cyclists and can do surprising distances, sometimes outperforming adults. Even small children can accompany adults in a bicycle trailer, and 6- to 7-year-olds can ride their own bicycle. When travelling with children, start with a shorter tour and keep the daily distances to about 30 kilometres. Over-12-year-olds can do up to 60 or 80 kilometres a day but only for a couple of days. You should divide the daily distance to several sections, and remember to take breaks during the journey. If you are cycling with adults, you can take a break by the roadside, but with children it is a good idea to get away from the road altogether to have a break. Stop at a beach, playground or a place of interest for children. After sweating on the bicycle, ice cream can be a very tasty treat! You can also plan a tour to a children's destination, such as the Heureka Science Centre or Puuhamaa Amusement Park, cycling all the way there. Be conscientious about safety when cycling with children. A small child can often swerve around on a bicycle, and narrow roadsides can be dangerous. Plan your trip mainly along dedicated cycling routes.
Cycling in group
Cycling in groups has increased in popularity in recent years, and it can be a nice idea to embark on a cycling tour with friends. The same rules cover group cycling tours as other group tours. The route, accommodation and spending should be agreed in advance. A day's cycling tires you out and makes you hungry; have a nice shower followed by a good dinner, and you will feel refreshed again. Some rules concerning cycling trips are good to keep in mind.
Transport and maintenance vehicle
If you have a big group, you might want to consider a maintenance vehicle to accompany you. It can also carry your luggage or some of it. Those who feel tired can travel in the vehicle, and bicycle maintenance and repair are easy to do. This way, you can also take more spare parts with you.
The group members should cycle in a chain and not side by side. Distances between bicycles should also be kept long enough. These two basic rules help you to avoid most hazards, both to yourself and others. Group members also have various levels of fitness, and everyone has different needs in terms of the journey. Avoid disagreements by setting the common goals together.
Other things to consider
The national road maintenance authority publishes an annual roadwork map, which is definitely worth a look. Weather details are available at various online sites, for example at www.foreca.fi. You should always check the rain and wind conditions. Rain is not a problem as such, just remember to use the correct clothing and equipment. Strong headwind, however, can introduce unpleasant surprises, so it may be a good idea to consider public transport on such a stretch of your journey.