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European Voices -the Freedom of Movement Tour part 8 – The northern bikes

Alex tells us about the north eastern part of our coverage of the Freedom of Movement tour with Chiara Ginestra and Alexander Colling who are travelling across Europe on bicycle to discover the wonderful right of  freedom of movement within the European Union. Don’t forget to follow them on their Facebook page , Tumblr and their Twitter handle

After spending several days in Helsinki with our friend, Riitta, we decided to stay an extra day following the first two days accessing healthcare (being EU citizens and having EHIC cards were the only things that made this possible and we quickly and efficiently received the care we needed) and touring the bike shops of the city.

My bike was in desperate need of some new parts (this became especially apparent while cycling through Sweden), and they were replaced by Hiltusen Pyörahuolto, after Riitta kindly organised booking us in before our arrival. Chiara’s search for a short stem to ensure she got the right setup almost came to an end, but the stem we were after was sold out when we arrived. We received some excellent advice from bike shops across the city (including Velobia) and the combination of a stem extender and a not-as-short-as-we-had-intended-but-still-short-stem from Shock Therapy has brought Chiara as close as she has been to the perfect bike set up. Flared drop bars may be the next upgrade, but she’s doing well so far. My bike was instantly better and more reliable but it has since developed an unsettling noise around the back wheel which I believe is hub related. Let’s just see what happens next.

As well as all of this we enjoyed some wonderful food, met familiar and new faces, relaxed in Riitta’s sauna and dodged aggressive seagulls until it was time to leave for Estonia.

We spent a little time in Tallinn and met Thomas (@dvlrnr) and his partner. We reflected on the ease of our meeting: 4 nationalities in one place having a bite to eat and talking about bikes and such:

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We met another cyclist, Niklas, from München, who set off on his trip the same day we did. He’s cycling from Greece to Finland and it was hugely encouraging to share stories and tips about our trip. We wish him all the best (gutted we didn’t get a photo with him).

After a night in the woods we cycled across the border into Latvia and met Maty Amaya , who is five years into an eleven year ride around the world:

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He started in his home country, Argentina and he is now turning his sights on Russia and China. His set up was unique and he had an ingenious way of standing his bike by leaning the back end on a stick and fixing the handlebars to the frame with a bit of telescopic mop handle. The flags he has collected on his journey makes him stand out much more than we do:

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We were hosted that night by Clare and Edgars in their beautiful farm, complete with goats, sheep, hens and the most beautiful outdoor toilet I’ve seen:

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Their generosity saw us fed and watered and we even had time for a dip in the river. While thoroughly invigorating I slipped and cut the sole of my foot in several places, which has led to a number of complications since. A week later I struggle to walk without pain, but cycling is manageable. We left their home on the River Salaca feeling like we had been staying there for weeks. Edgars was kind enough to give us a lift along the dirt road outside their home as it was not cyclable and with my foot, not walkable either. Further disaster struck when we realised I had left our ukulele behind. We thought that was the end of it and we’d never see it again but we’ll let you know what happened in week eight!

Special thanks to Riitta, Monika, Clare and Edgars for hosting us in week seven.

Alex

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