Cycle tour preparations: route planning

Planning with paper maps, GPS and notebooks

Hi there! As the first article for my new outdoor activities focused blog I will share some notes about planning for my upcoming bicycle tour.

For this tour I am going to start from Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland, which I will reach with a train from my hometown Turku in Southwestern Finland. From Rovaniemi I will ride my way southwards down the country, spending nights in campsites near smaller towns or wild camping in the woods.

Pre-trip planning this time has meant figuring out the first days of riding and camping in pretty good detail, using multiple sources: paper maps, books, friends, GPS and online scouting. I use paper notebooks to record sights, addresses, phone numbers and other notes. Selected destinations and campgrounds are also marked to the maps and my GPS.

The remaining days and distances I’ve planned only as general outlines, the specifics will be decided en route using whatever sources are available. This allows me to take detours and account for weather, possible tiredness of the saddle and such.

My target is Jyväskylä in Central Finland, with a route of about 650km. This is not the shortest way but it will take me through some nice lake districts and hopefully will give me good views and nice campgrounds.

In Jyväskylä I will decide if I want to take the train home, or possibly ride all the way. The latter would make the total riding distance to about 1000km. I have about a week and a half to use for the trip and it should be doable in that time, but the shorter option would give me some days for hiking and sightseeing.

The route is quite flat and the roads mostly paved so the conditions to ride should be good, but I am expecting headwinds most of the time and the weather can be anything. So the conditions will be a factor in the decision as well.

It is now a few days before the start and the planning mostly over. The days on the move look like this:

1. Night train from Turku to Rovaniemi, ~850km.

2. Cycle from Rovaniemi to Ranua,  ~80km.

3. Cycle from Ranua to Pudasjärvi, ~70km.

4. Cycle from Pudasjärvi to Puolanka, ~97km.

4. Cycle from Puolanka to Manamansalo,  ~90km.

5. Continue cycling to Jyväskylä, probably via Iisalmi and Kuopio, ~354km.

6. Depending on the mood and time, train or ride from Jyväskylä to Turku, ~320km.

Here’s how the whole thing looks roughly sketched on a map:

Route plan on Google Maps

Route plan (trains included) on Google Maps.

The ticket to Rovaniemi is reserved for next Monday, August 10th. So I have a couple days to wait as it is now Friday.

During the weekend I will be busy with gear selection and packing, which I will discuss in the next entry. After that it’s off to the north!

I will likely post some photos and notes on my progress here during the tour as well.

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