REVEAL – Unlimited Bike Experience Saimaa Cycle Tour Finland

Hey, are you up for a road bike tour in Finland, 300 kilometres through the never-quite-dark night? 

I'll be honest about that: For the first time, all my alarm bells rang. You should know that I’m a mountain biker from Tyrol and mountains are my thing. I love long, steep climbs and technical trail descents. How can you compare a 300 km road bike tour with a mountain bike marathon? Not at all, my racing bike friends say. What’s more, my energy levels plummet from 9pm at the latest and I couldn’t imagine cycling all night long.

Did the prospect of endless lake landscapes, relaxed sauna evenings and lots of cinnamon buns convince me? Yes!

From sauna boat trips to salmon dinners

A Finnish summer as you would imagine it: During the first few days in Lappeenranta, we explored the unique lake landscape and villages on short road bike excursions and enjoyed first-class coffee (and cinnamon buns, of course) at the local coffee roastery. The temperatures were always moderate, not too hot, not too cold, but enough to use the numerous saunas available. The most special of all sauna sessions and also the best of all evenings was definitely our trip with Emma. Emma is a floating sauna – a sauna boat. We took her on a trip across the lake to a secluded bay. Sauna – jump into the cool water – sauna – cool down.

Totally relaxed, we gathered in the small dining area of Emma and savoured Finnish beer and salmon smoked by the boat owners themselves. Between the pink-coloured sky and the deep blue lake, we were driven back to our accommodation with full stomachs.

Sounds perfect, and it was – evenings like this are hard to forget. 

300 km through the night – Saimaa Cycle Tour

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous in the days leading up to the tour. The mantra 'It's not a race' didn't help much – the racing atmosphere was simply there. I'm used to it from mountain bike races and yet there was this unusual component. I just didn't really know what to expect. We discussed with our new Finnish friends which points would be important for me as a road bike newbie: Don't overpace and don't go hungry.

On the start day we had time until the evening to put the finishing touches to our equipment, eat lots of carbohydrates and, above all, rest. In the early evening, we made our way to the small village of Imatra, where countless cyclists were already milling around the event site. At 7.30pm, a Finnish song sent the first starting block off and half an hour later we were also allowed to cycle off – cheered on and encouraged by the locals.

I felt great. With a large group, we travelled at a brisk pace through beautifully secluded, hilly landscapes. But my over-motivation was soon to be dampened. The first stop at kilometre 40. Off the gas and out at the first food station.

Over the next 50 kilometres, we joined a welded Finnish group. The pace was definitely not comfortable for me and I kept thinking of the well-intentioned words of our Finnish friend Lieven, who is an experienced racer: ‘Speed kills, not distance’. I ignored the doubts. Maybe because it was just the right amount of effort that made it fun, or because the generally enthusiastic atmosphere was infectious.

We decided to stop at almost every food station, so about every 50 kilometres. There we refuelled with coffee and coke, bananas, salty pickles and sweet pastries. At kilometre 120 we took a long break for a hot meal and I looked at my watch for the first time – midnight! It was gloomy, but not dark. The next few hours passed quickly and my legs slowly and surely became sluggish. At 2:30am, the sun rose on the seemingly endless horizon and coloured the lake and the sky blood red. 

What an endorphin kick! Suddenly I was absolutely certain that I would go through with it.

5am – 200 kilometres

It wasn't just my legs that were getting tired. Caffeine and sugar no longer had any noticeable effect, every bite was a pure duty. Now it was time to switch off the head and pedal, pedal, pedal. At the same time, I was completely surprised at how well I was doing. No pain, no cramps, no more thoughts of giving up. And, the confidence I used to have in my body – these 100 are still going!

1 kilometre to go

For the last few metres we were a huge group of very different racing cyclists. A deep male voice rang out: Gas gas gas! Some riders followed the cheers and picked up the pace. I could no longer think about accelerating, I kept my pace and was delighted to finally cross the finish line in Imatra after 300 km, 2800 metres in altitude and many hours in the saddle. Despite the early morning hours, the atmosphere at the finish was exuberant and nobody was interested in times or average speeds – we had made it! And were thus enriched by an unforgettable experience. 

How ROSE came to Finland

In our search for the right bike destination for an adventure with the REVEAL, we were drawn to the most beautiful lake district in the world. Enjoying the magical light of the midnight sun while travelling through picturesque landscapes and villages with the REVEAL. That should be worth a trip. This 300 km bike trip through Finland – the Saimaa Cycle Tour – is a new adventure in our "Unlimited Bike Experiences" series. 

Special thanks go to our co-operation partners who guided us through their home country and provided drinks, snacks and hot drinks along the way.

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