Cycling Europe Day 60: One Day to Tallinn!

Today was an absolutely miserable day. It doesn’t easily get more miserable. I loved every last minute of it.

We woke up this morning to the pitter patter of rain on our tent. No big deal. I’ve been in that situation before. I packed the wet tent. We would dry it out once we got the chance. Breakfast at camp was really good and wholesome: oatmeal with cinnamon, bread and jam, boiled eggs, cheese, and coffee and tea. The skies were dark so we put on all our rain clothes. We might as well be prepared for a long, wet today.

It didn’t stop raining all day long.

We got drizzle. We got moderate rain shower. And we got downpours.

None of that would have been a big deal. I’ve cycled in rain before.

If not for the 35 km of dirt roads.

I checked the route the GPS had for us today and it seemed fine. I could tell, based on two-months-worth of experience, that some of the roads were possibly dirt roads. Colin and I decided last night that we’d decide what to do when we reach them.

When we did reach the first dirt road, we both had a what-the-fuck-let’s-do-this moment; except we pretty much stayed in that moment the whole day. Staying on the dirt roads would save us a few kilometers as opposed to going on the main, paved road. As we saw that the dirt road was just going on and on, rather than backtrack, we just kept on it. You see, we had been on much worse dirt roads in Lithuania not long ago. That day, we had no choice but to get off the bikes and pull them through mud. The bikes almost didn’t make it that day. Even with us not on them they kept getting jammed with mud and wouldn’t move. Today, the dirt roads were wet, they had many puddle-filled potholes, there were big gravel stones we had to steer around to avoid toppling over and countless little ones that were unavoidable, and our back tires spit wet sand onto our panniers and backsides. It was an ongoing what-the-fuck-let’s-do-this moment. What can I say.

We actually did pretty good time on those roads. Colin had a theory that they were easier to ride if you cycled fast on them. I’m sure that would have been true if we were on mountain bikes. But we had heavily laden road bikes with us.

And so, some 100 meters just before the dirt roads ended and we were to join a paved road, Colin’s back tire ruptured. That’s the second in two days. Yesterday, his bike fell while we were having fun taking pictures at the border crossing, breaking the air valve. Today, Colin was trying to avoid a big piece of gravel. He managed to save the front of the bike from it but the back went right over it.

“Ahhhaaaaa!” is what I heard Colin yell behind me. I was afraid that he had fallen. Luckily, all it was was a flat tire. We stopped ahead on the paved road and Colin changed the inner tube. It has a big hole in it. We’re planning on repairing it tonight once it has dried out. We came prepared with two inner tubes. That was the last.

I was finding the whole thing terribly fun and exciting. I will not lie. Cycling on the dirt road just made me start thinking I wanted to buy a mountain bike so I could cycle on more of these roads. Getting wet sand on our backsides made me laugh. “Colin, you should see your back! It looks so funny! You have wet sand EVERYWHERE!” “You should see YOURS!” he replied. I laughed. We stopped for a quick lunch and I went to the toilet. “I even have wet sand in my BUTT, Colin!” I whispered to him, giggling.

When the downpours started I laughed again with glee. “Stop, Colin! Let’s take pictures in the rain!” Colin obliged.

As my teenage daughter would say, “It was AWESOME!”

While cycling in the rain on the paved road, some 30 km from our destination today, we saw two other tourers cycling ahead of us. We caught up with them and cycled beside them for ten kilometers, chatting away. They were two men from Lithuania. They were touring for four days in Estonia. Andruas (I made up the spelling) was also, as Colin and I are, an avid hiker, so we had so much to talk about. “It is so nice to meet someone who understands what it means to go on holiday,” Andruas said to me. I nodded understandingly.

We reached the sea-side town of Haapsalu after cycling 104 km in the rain and wet sand. It was an amazing day. We found a small seaside hotel to stay in. We were elated to discover our room had a patio that had stairs right onto the beach. We spent an hour washing all the sand off our panniers; washing our clothes; putting clothes, wet tent, wet shoes, and wet panniers out to dry; and finally showering. In the process, while taking a wet pannier from the bathroom to the balcony, I slipped and fell. My hip and foot hurt like heck, but luckily I’m all right.

One more day of cycling to go. Just one more day. Bring it on, world! Give me all you got!

Actually, on second thought, world, I’d really appreciate it if you were kind enough to keep us safe and happy tomorrow.

Tomorrow, inshallah (God willing), we’re in Tallinn. I am so excited that the whole world can’t contain me.

5 comments

  1. I enjoyed this post. Not everyone likes cycling in the rain. I don’t mind provided I can have a warm shower at the end of the day. At some point once you have recovered, I would like to learn more about the gear and equipment you travelled with and what, if any, changes you would make.

    1. I’m planning a separate post on gear at the end of the trip. I’ve already put it all in a list. I just need to add info to it on what was good and why, etc. I also plan to write a review on my Garmin Edge. I’ll probably do all that in a day or two😉

      1. You are a step ahead of me. I wouldn’t expect anything else. I look forward to your post. When you mentioned cycling on gravel roads on road bikes I wondered what, if anything, you would do differently.

      2. I am in full agreement with PedalWORKS and have enjoyed his posts as well since he has said much of what I have thought. But when you were mentioning what it would be like with mountain bikes I suddenly had a vision of you taking another trip, more rugged, on a mountain mike. They are a lot of fun!

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