Back in October 2012 I had the pleasure of talking to the guys from EIGHT (∞), a Finnish screamo / post hardcore band that you really need to check out. The interview was conducted right before the band’s very own Kalle Rasinkangas decided to get on his bike and go for an amazing trip to… Poland!
Yup, that’s right. He’s not mentally ill and he wasn’t doing it for money! :) Surprisingly, our recent innocent chit-chat turned into a full story summing up his adventure. Read it carefully, I promise you won’t regret it.
Hi Karol! How has the winter treated you? It’s cold up here in Finland, but now is the perfect time to plan European tour for the coming summer. Would you have any ideas where to ask for gigs in Warszawa? At the moment our plan is to go first to Germany and France, and the drive back through Poland and the Baltic countries. We have tight schedule due to our jobs, but since we’re going through Warszawa anyway it would be nice to play a gig there! So if you know anyone or any place that we could play in, please let us know.
Great, man! It’s getting colder and colder here in Warsaw. Anyway, it’s been great so far, I love winter, to be honest.
I’ll let some people / bookers know! Thanks for the tip. I’ll spread the word via IDIOTEQ, too!
Is it the full info? Any desired dates?
That’s great, thank you so much! we don’t have any exact dates yet, but I guess we would be in Warsaw somewhere around the middle of July. I’ll get in touch as soon as we get some dates confirmed! I hope you guys have a proper winter there, at least in Finland it has been pretty perfect winter so far! well, sometimes it might feel a bit too cold since I don’t have an indoor toilet…
Wow, no shit, bro. How’s that??
Why don’t you have an indoor toilet?
Oh sorry, I forgot to check these messages my house is quite old and not that fancy, I don’t have any plumbing. I get my water from a water post that is at the corner of my yard, and do my “business” in an outhouse. it took some time to get used to, but now it’s just fine! it’s nice to have own yard and own house, we have our rehearsal space at my living room so that’s neat too. plus this house is dirt cheap, my rent is 150e per month. usually you would have to pay at least 400e for just a studio apartment in Jyväskylä!
So you moved, huh?
Yeah, I had to find a new place to stay because I gave my last apartment away when I left for my biking trip. but I busted my knee just before Krakow so I had to come back to Finland early, otherwise I would still be cycling, probably somewhere in Spain by now!
Wow, man. How was this trip anyway? How did you even decided to go for such a ride?
The trip was nice while it lasted, of course there were some bad days and even more bad moments, but overall I enjoyed myself very much. I really liked Poland, I’ll definitely come back there! I just needed to do something, needed to get away from some things and from myself. I haven’t really traveled recently so I felt that it might do some good. somehow bike just felt the right way to travel for me, I’ve cycled quite a lot since I was little so I’m used to it. also going at my own pace and sleeping where ever I could find a place for my tent sounded like an tempting idea. I’ll most definitely do it again in the future, I would have gone to Norway in the spring but I don’t think I’ll be able because i just started a new job. maybe some day though.
You’re a brave man.
Was it all by yourself? You alone?
Thanks I don’t know if it needs bravery or just stupidity… but yeah, I was alone. I think it’s actually easier that way, I could set my own pace and go where ever I wanted. and besides, I don’t know anyone who would come to this kind of journey with me. I guess it was one of those things you just have to do alone. maybe some day I’ll do it with someone else, I’ve already made a promise to my ex-girlfriend that if she wants to come with me I’ll buy a trailer for my bike and she can sit there for the whole trip, just watching the view and stuff… but we’ll see about that one happening.
Great! I’m really stoked you did such a thing.
What caught your attention the most when it comes to the places, landscapes, and all the sightseeing you experienced?
There are too many to remember right now, so I’m just going to list a few memorable ones! first comes to mind this huge hydroelectric plant in Aizkraukle, Latvia. it was raining hard for the whole day and I wasn’t feeling so good, then this huge structure made of steel and concrete came before my eyes and I had to ride through it! it was really something, reminded me a bit of half life 2 if you know the game also in that same day the sunset was amazing, like I said it rained the whole day but just before it got dark I crossed the border to Lithuania, and all the roads were completely dry like it hadn’t rained at all! I think the forests were most interesting in Poland, some were green like a rainforest and some were already completely leafless, but the ground was bright yellow from the leafs. one morning in Poland was quite breath taking, I woke up in a spruce forest (I love spruces!) and the morning dew was shining in thousands of cobwebs. I really liked southern Poland, because there was hills and you could see far away. all the Baltic countries are so flat. and of course all my animal sightings, I’m a bird guy so i was really excited to see so many different kind of birds. one day I could see something like ten different hawks, too bad i didn’t have my binoculars with me! the most memorable building was possibly an old cathedral in Krakow, where Tim Hecker was performing.
There’s a ton of other stuff I’m too lazy to write about now, but the most memorable moment in my trip was in this Latvian forest, I had been riding this horrible dirt road for 30km (and it was raining) and had a nervous breakdown. I knew there would be at least 20km of that same road still to come, and it was just so annoying because my bike was literally sinking in the mud all the time. i began to cycle again after gathering myself for a bit, and thought about my ex girlfriend and how she always made me happy. her favorite animal is a deer, so i was thinking that maybe if I saw a deer there, that would give me strength to go on. now I don’t believe in fate or something supernatural controlling the world, so this was even more surprising. the moment I raised my head to see what was on the side of the road, no more than two seconds after I thought about the deer thing, I saw two deer maybe 20m away from me, in a field, eating hay. so that gave me some strength to go on there has been few as strange coincidences in my life, so I’ll definitely remember that one!
The deer story was amazing, man! So what was the route anyway? Where did you end up? What countries have you traveled through?
I started from Tallin, Estonia and ended up in Krakow. i went through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. i wanted to continue through Europe to Spain, but didn’t make it because of my knee. I didn’t use big roads that much, mostly secondary roads and too much dirt roads. because of that I went through little villages and towns, which was more interesting to me than see the big cities. The largest cities I visited (and stayed some nights in) were Kaunas in Lithuania and Warsaw and Krakow in Poland.
I left from Finland 20th of September and came back 26th of October. I arrived in Krakow 11th of October, it took me 12 full and 2 half days of cycling to get there if I remember correctly. The trip was around 1500-1600km long.
Weren’t you afraid of all the scary villages you’ve been passing through?
“Wild wine infested house. I hope mine will look like that in the future.”
I bet there was a lot of sceneries perfect for a horror movie.
I have to add one highlight of the trip, which was the trinity performance in the unsound festival. it was an audiovisual performance about the first nuclear bomb experiments, with visuals made by MFO and music by LUSTMORD and BIOSPHERE. it was presented in this huge cinema, with visuals around the actual bomb site in new Mexico, pictures of the machines and tools used and the people who made those experiments. the day before the performance there was sort of “lecture” about the whole project, with all the three artists talking about their thoughts and experiences they had when doing the project. and as they said, it was just so interesting and to become absorbed in the process of splitting the atom. of course it was a horrible thing what was done with those bombs later, I’m definitely not saying that it was a good or even necessary thing to built the atom bomb. but i understood what the scientists felt when they were trying to master the technology of splitting the atom, it must have felt the most exciting thing ever imaginable to have the most destructive power ever in their hands. i was sweating my ass of in the audience watching as they slowly built the mood with sound and images, it really felt like i was part of the science team using every last brain cell i have to push the a-bomb project forward. and as the performance came to end, with the bomb exploding, i felt so uncomfortable and almost shameful. i was thinking to myself “what the hell have i done?”, i guess in the same way as those scientists back then thought. it’s really hard to explain, but that performance just hit me so hard. maybe it’s partly because i have huge interest in physics and the laws of nature. and also probably because i like biosphere’s music that much, and I LOVE LUSTMORD’s.
Well yeah, some of the villages were quite scary. one morning the first people I saw was this really old dude with a machete at least 1 meter long on his morning walk in this really small village in I guess Latvia. but I was more afraid in the big towns. there were a lot of places that were like straight from a horror movie, if I would have been there when it was dark I would have been scared. but when it came dark in the evening I would just set up my tent, eat something, put my earplugs on and go to sleep. sleeping without earplugs was too difficult for me, especially when it was raining it constantly felt like someone was moving around the tent. actually the last night before Krakow I heard a gunshot just when I got my tent up. I was too tired to be scared, and my leg was hurting pretty much, so I just decided to go to sleep.
So here’s the story of my weirdest night. The day started of normally, nothing special happened before dinner. As i stopped to cook dinner at the side of the road, I noticed my back tire had blown up as I crossed a ditch at the side of the road. I had prepared for this happening with spare inner tubes, so I decided to change it after eating. It took some time but I was able to continue after an hour or so. So the day goes on, and it’s getting dark, so I have to find a place where to put my tent. I’m in the middle of these fields, which are full of cows, so obviously I can’t stay there. There was nothing but the fields with cows in sight, so I had to keep going forward. Just as I was stopping to get out my headlight, I felt how my back tire was going flat again. At that point, some really vulgar words got out of my mouth, very loudly. It was completely dark already and I still wasn’t anywhere close to a place to sleep, so I had to push my bicycle for a couple of kilometres before I found a small patch of forest. I decided it would have to do, and started to erect my tent. I decided I was too tired to chance the tire and I would do it in the morning. So I went to my tent to sleep (just to notice that I had actually put my tent straight on a tractor tire track, luckily my shoulders aren’t that wide so I barely fit to sleep in it). I slept surprisingly good, considering how uncomfortable the ground was. Until, at around four in the morning, I heard a siren go off in a little village nearby. The sound was like straight from some World War II movie, I bet you know the sound of the siren which was used to warn about bombings. I was thinking that must be a dream, so I didn’t get up at first. Then the same siren went off in more and more villages in the area, so that in a moment the sound came in all directions. At that point I accepted that it must be reality, so I got up. All the cows and dogs in the area were going crazy because of the sirens, so the soundscape was pretty creepy. The first thing that was going through my mind was that “nature called”. So as I was doing the “business”, I had the time to think what the hell is happening. I guess everyone knows that your thoughts are not the most rational at night and in pitch black darkness, so first thing I could think was that some kind of war has started. It didn’t help that I heard a sound just like someone talking to a walkie-talkie nearby (later I realized that it must have been someone talking through the loudspeakers in the nearby village). I tried to rationalize to myself that it can’t be a war, why on earth would a war start in this kind of area in the northern Poland. There was no big cities or anything nearby (well, I actually went past some kind of military camp in the day before so maybe there could be some strategic value…). So then I remembered that in Finland a similar sound is used to warn the public about some hazards, like a chemical leak or dangerous fire etc. If you hear that sound, you must go indoors, close all the windows and doors and turn on the radio for more info and what to do. But what are you going to do if all you have is a tent, you’re somewhere in the middle of a foreign country and don’t have a radio (not that you would understand anything even if you had one)? So I was thinking “Great, maybe I’m not going to die by some soldiers shooting me, but suffocating from a gas or something instead”. So at that point I did the thing all grown-ups would do: I called my mom (actually I tried to phone my dad first since he would be up already anyways, he’s not a good sleeper, but his phone was turned off). I asked if she could check the internet for some info, at least I could rule out the possibility of war or some other bigger disaster. She didn’t find anything, she just said that it’s probably nothing and panicing wouldn’t get me anywhere. So after I hung up I tried to stop some cars that were driving past me. None of them stopped, but I can’t blame them, who would stop in the middle of the night when someone jumps out of a forest in front of your car waving hands? So I thought that the sun is coming up soon, so I could as well take my tent down and change the tire. If there was something poisonous in the air, it would kill me anyway so I could do something useful just in case I would live to see another day. The patch of forest I was sleeping in was actually a breeding ground of some pretty impressive spiders. I don’t have arachnophobia, but it was quite unpleasant that they were literally everywhere (in my tent, in my bike bags, in my clothes and actually one had made a nest to my bicycle). I don’t want to kill any living creature, so I carefully removed all the spiders from my gear, so that I wouldn’t accidentally hurt them. So I changed my tire and started another day of cycling. It was very foggy weather that morning, so it was quite beautiful. I had decided in the evening that I would now head straight to Warsaw, which was around 140km away. Originally I was supposed to go through the countryside of Poland to Wroclaw, but since I didn’t have many spare tires left I had to get to the nearest city in case the back tire would continue to brake every 60km. Turns out it was a good choice, since my back break broke about 40km before I arrived in Warsaw (well actually it had broken possibly back in Latvia, but i just hadn’t noticed it until it completely failed). So I had to ride the last part without a working back brake, which almost caused a serious injury just as I arrived in Warsaw.
So that all happened in around 24h, I guess you’ll believe me when I say that falafels haven’t ever tasted as good as that night (I didn’t have the time to eat nothing but some seeds and nuts all day)
Wow, dude! do you remember the name of the creepy village? I know these parts of Poland quite well. Did you finally find out what was the story behind the siren?
It might have been just south of a village called Chorzele, I can’t find my paper map where I marked the route so I’m not 100% sure. I’ll have to check it when I find the real map!
Oh yeah, I forgot to write that! I asked some people in the hostel in Warsaw if they would know what that siren was about. Some of them knew that it’s used to alert the voluntary firefighters in the area that there’s a fire. It makes sense, since there weren’t any cities or fire stations nearby, I guess there was a fire at a lumber yard nearby, there were many of those along the road.
Oh, yeah, the fire alarm sounds reasonable, agreed.
“Nearing Warsaw. That was probably the first real uphill of my trip. Nice view, though you can’t really see it in this picture.”
How was your stay in Warsaw? I really wish I could hang out with you that night. I remember interviewing you exactly at the same time you were here, right?
I liked Warsaw, it was too big city to my taste but I still enjoyed staying there. You have many fine vegetarian/vegan restaurants there by the way! Food tasted quite good after two weeks of cooking dried potatoes and carrots with soy protein on a Trangia… (well I had some proper food in Kaunas, thanks to my hostel’s owner and the nice girl at a Hare Krishna restaurant who helped me to modify my meals vegan) I really enjoy eating, that’s what I’m good at, so I ate at a restaurant two times per day for my whole stay (also happened in Krakow and Kaunas…) I specially fell in love with the Loving Hut. I know they have this really weird leader cult going on, but the food was just absolutely delicious, and all vegan. I went there maybe seven times total with both stays. I didn’t do much tourist stuff in Warsaw, mostly just wandered the streets. Of course I had to visit the top of the Palace of culture and science. I also visited the archeological museum, and the Centrum Nauki Kopernik. It was really nice place, as I earlier told you I’m really interested in all science. It was also quite depressing, since I was the only person alone there. It felt quite bad to look at all the young happy couples and families having fun, since most of the things they have there require more than one person to operate, and I was too shy to ask strangers to do things with me! Nevertheless, I got to play with cymatics and some magnets, so I’m happy I went there. And I’ll definitely come back to Warsaw some day, so hopefully we can hang out then! Maybe we could get a gig there with ∞, that would be awesome.
No worries, DIY, bro!
You said it!
Ok, you mention the funny feeling of being alone.. So how did you decided to go for such a trip all by yourself? I must say that the fact you did it alone. amazed me the most, definitely more than the fact that you simply decided to hit the road this way and break so many kilometers!
What drove you to such decision? Did you regret it?
No, I’m glad I went alone. I mean, it would have been horrible with someone else. I can get quite whiny if I’m frustrated… Well maybe I could have done it with someone, but I don’t know anyone who would go and who would I like to be with that long. And this was a thing I had to do all by myself. I had to show myself (and some other people too) that I can do at least something. The year before my trip was horrible, I didn’t do much anything that year, just mostly stayed home alone hating myself. Of course I did something, I saw many good gigs and recorded many good records, including ours (sorry if I sound too proud, but I’m actually quite pleased with it. Next one is going to be better, though). But all of those things were done with or by someone else, so I needed something that would involve only me. I didn’t even think asking someone to come with me, it felt right to be alone on the trip from the start. It’s also so much less complicated, since I could drive as slow or fast as I want and change my route on the fly constantly, without having to fight with someone over it. There were times when I wished I wasn’t alone, but I got through them (sometimes with a little help from text messages or phone calls). Being alone does good for your mind (well of course too much is too much), but it would be a lie to say that I have a stronger mind now. At least I know my weak parts better now (including apparently my knee, god damn it!). I have only one person in my mind with whom I’d like to make a similar trip in the future. I guess I’ll have to settle for my own company also in the future, but I’m quite fine with that.
And I wasn’t that alone actually, I met a lot of people on my way. When I left I didn’t even want to meet new people, I just wanted to be by myself and enjoy the nature. But when you’re traveling through countries and sleeping in hostels, you’re bound to meet people. And I’m glad I did, because I met many interesting and wonderful persons on the way. My original plan didn’t include staying in hostel anywhere else but Krakow (since I had to be there at least 8 days for the Unsound festival), but due to some misfortunes, I got to meet people in Kaunas and Warsaw also. I don’t think I was the most social guy all the time, but some people were just easy to approach. I wish to meet many of them in the future, too bad I don’t even know the names of some of them.
“My tent on a field next to the highway, first night.”
Anything you would differently now if you could go on a trip like this again?
Well for starters I would leave some unnecessary equipment behind. And take some other pants as my biking pants with me. I would also prepare myself a little better physically, so I wouldn’t have to cut my trip short this time. I’d consider some of the routes I took again, this time avoiding the dirt roads. Other than that, I don’t think I would change anything else. I mean, next time I’m probably going to some completely different direction and landscape, like Norway, but I’m glad I rode the path I did on this trip. I don’t think I’ll spend so much time in the Baltic countries next time, since they are quite boring for cycling. No hills at all and most of the views are the same. I liked those countries, but after a while you’ve kind of seen it all. Then again, you could find something completely different and exciting next time, so I won’t avoid them in the future or anything.
Oh and one important thing that I would change is that I would take a handheld recorder with me this time. I purchased one from Warsaw, but the most interesting soundscapes were history by then (like the night I described earlier). I was supposed to buy one from Finland before leaving, but I never did. That was bugging me almost every day, there were so many interesting sounds and situations I would have liked to record. Also I could update my camera equipment, since this time I didn’t get almost any proper pictures.
Also, I had the intention to listen to all of the albums I have on it on my trip alphabetically, and turned out that my trip was exactly long enough for that, since the last album ended while I was cycling from the harbor to center of Helsinki when I got back to Finland. Of course there were some albums that I listened more than once. And to be honest I had to skip some tracks also, cold and wet morning with thousands of frogs, birds and even a couple of dogs and a kitten lying dead and inside out on the road while listening STRIBORG was a bit excessive.
Sure, the more photos and videos you’ll take, the better your blog will be [smiles].
“Enjoying a peanut butter-paprika bread (I had to eat what I still had left…) while listening to Hidden Orchestra. Maybe 30km outside of Krakow, on top of a large hill. There were short and hard rains going down in every direction, but they all went past me until I started cycling again.”
What happened when you actually reached your farthest goal in Krakow, Poland? How was the feeling?
Well I have to say I felt quite relieved, since the last day of cycling was constant pain. My knee was in pretty bad shape in the night before, when I got inside my tent I couldn’t move it at all without blinding pain. It didn’t get any better over night, but I still decided to cycle to Krakow, not to take a bus or something. I had come that far, so it felt like giving up if I wouldn’t have made it even to my first goal. Plus I had only something like 60km left, so I thought I can make that with only one leg if it’s necessary. But yeah, it was horrible. If you’ve taken a bus or driven a car from Warsaw to Krakow, you know that the last 100km before Krakow start to get quite hilly. It was a welcome change to the flatness of the whole trip before that, but it was also extremely hard and painful to climb the hills, sometimes more than 2km in length, with my knee feeling like there was a burning piece of rusty metal stuck inside. I just tried to forget the pain and concentrate on listening to music, and not falling in front of a truck. But yeah, after the last and the steepest hill I finally got to Krakow. Next problem was to find the centre and the old town, and somehow make my way to a hostel my mom looked up for me. Strangely enough I got there mostly relying on my guts, so I guess at that moment my adventure ended and turned into a city vacation. Well not exactly, that was the end for biking, but I still had some of the most memorable moments of the trip to come. Of course the first thing I did after settling in the hostel was to find some place to eat. It’s funny how I realized during my trip that there are only three things that you really need: something to eat/drink, a safe place to sleep and someone to love. I know those are quite obvious, but when you have all these other things in your normal life distracting you constantly, like computers, TV or your work, you really don’t appreciate those three important things the way you should. I didn’t miss sitting on a computer, having a bathroom (which I don’t have now either…) or any other modern luxuries one bit, I was just worrying if I’d have enough water left or that someone would drive me away from a place I’d set up my tent. And the third thing also, of course. I hope in the future I can get rid of most of the distractions and concentrate my mind solely on those three things. Or actually I’d like to add music to that list, I think that (or rather any creative action, be it art, philosophy or science) would be the fourth thing on that list, but I wasn’t in such a need of it, since I was constantly listening to music. Maybe next time I’ll leave my iPod behind and try to make it without music. Now that would be crazy!
And just for the records, I want to make it clear also that I personally don’t think that my trip was in any way worth of admiration or anything. Compared to many other things people have done over the years, this isn’t even remotely special. But as I have said, it was really personal trip for me, and considering the state I had been in the whole year before, it was quite a victory for myself to actually get out there, even though I didn’t make it as far as I planned or wanted to go. So I’m definitely not trying to promote myself as a “hero” or a better person than the rest of us, I really don’t want people to think that I did this so that I could be cool and brag about it for the rest of my life. But if you want, you can take it as an inspiration. Even if you are deeply depressed and feel like you don’t have the stamina to do anything, you can still achieve something if you try really hard. It might not cure you, but at least you tried and maybe experienced something other than coldness and sorrow.
” Swan in Krakow through a hipster filter.”
What was the correspondence between a certain genre, tempos, etc. and your intensity or style of cycling?
You mean the music I listened to while cycling? I guess there was some correspondence between the music and my cycling, at least at times. One good example was listening to “My War” by BLACK FLAG while climbing a hill with my hurt knee, at the moment that was my war and the music really gave me a boost of strength. Sometimes I tried to cycle to the rhythm of the music, sometimes it just came naturally. But as you can imagine, it can be quite tricky to cycle to the rhythm of some screamo band, and at least as hard to the “rhythm” of some drone or noise artist. Sometimes I really didn’t feel like listening to some album at that time but did it anyway because it was the next in alphabet. Some albums just happened to hit just the right spot of my mood, like when I was feeling like listening to something a bit “lighter” and albums by DIRE STRAITS and THE CRANBERRIES happened to be the next ones, or when I wanted something really cold and bleak and the next album was something by the likes of PAYSAGE D’HIVER or XASTHUR. It gives you a real boost when the music fits to your current mood, so it makes the cycling easier and faster. One of the best musical moments was when I crossed the border to Lithuania, after the whole day of rain the sun was setting really beautifully painting the clouds deep red and setting the horizon on fire, and The Great Gig In The Sky by PINK FLOYD started to play. I stopped there and watched the daylight die, listening to the rest of Dark Side Of The Moon at that spot. But back to the original question, overall I think that fast and intensive music makes you go faster and gives some extra strength, as more moody and slow music helps you enjoy your surroundings and think stuff through in your head. So both have their own benefits.
You mentioned that it took you about 12,5 days to reach Krakow. Wouldn’t you prefer to cycle slowly and take your time a bit more? You’d have a chance to do some sightseeing and feel all those places you went through. Also, it means more time of listening to music [smiles].
To be honest, I’m not that good in savoring the moment. At least not when I have some goal I want to reach. I just wanted to make my way as fast as I could. But then again, every time I saw something really interesting, I stopped. Like I said, most of the landscapes in the Baltic countries were all the same, so after a while it didn’t feel exciting at all and I wanted to get to some different place. I was really looking forward of getting to some real mountains, I guess there I would’ve stayed longer periods at same places. At the start of the journey I had no idea how long it would take to get to Krakow. Turns out that you can easily make it in two weeks. Next time it would be easier to take my time, since I already know how fast I could do it. I don’t consider myself very competitive, but I always try to best myself. So I kind of feel that I have a race against myself going on the whole time, I feel like I have to ride faster and further than I actually have to. And when you’re traveling alone, it doesn’t matter that much. It would be different if you had someone who you could talk about all the things you’re experiencing, it would be a lot fun to squeeze every bit of excitement out of every place. I do enjoy just going slowly and appreciate every little detail in things, but it is just hard for me, partly due to my short attention span I guess. I’m planning to do some kind of trip just by walking, I think then I’ll be able to look around and feel even more. If I have the time in summer or autumn, I’ll go to Lapland to wander for sure. Nothing beats the feeling of total tranquility while wandering there. So there are two very different kind of trips I like to make, one as fast as I can to fight against myself, and one where I actually concentrate on the trip and the places I’m going rather than myself. This trip was obviously the first kind, maybe my next trip will be the other. But either way, I still think that at least for me cycling is much better way of experiencing a trip than taking a train or a car, even if you are going as fast as possible, you’re still out there alone, armed with only your own physical and mental strength. That way you get to experience the places much more intimately and thoroughly. I’m not saying that Interrailing or road trips are for losers, those are really good things to do. But if you want the full experience, I think you have to make all the work by yourself. For me it’s the same thing with recording music, it would be a lot easier just to go to a studio and let some professional do the work, and the quality would no doubt be much better. But it’s not about getting the best possible outcome with the least amount of work. When I do the recording and mixing by myself, it will sound as good or as bad as I can make it sound, so it’s reflecting the state that I’m in at that moment with my life. It will sound personal, probably not good, but personal. I guess many who read this have similar kind of DIY ethics, so you know what I’m talking about. And again, I don’t think that I’m a better person for recording our albums myself or that your band’s music is not personal enough if you don’t make it from start to finish all by yourself. Not at all. That is just the way I want to do my things, I don’t think it’s the only “right” way or that everyone should think like I do.
So to sum up, I don’t care if you travel by bicycle or by train or if you record your own albums yourself or let someone else handle that, as long as it feels the right way to do it, it is. I got pretty far from your original question, sorry! I’ll blame my short attention span.
“Dinner time at the side of the road”
You said you had some goal you wanted to reach. What happened when you reached Krakow? How did you travel back?
My big goal was to be away for the whole winter and reach Spain, but obviously I failed both of those. I guess I had some mental goals too, but I can’t remember what they were or did I reach them.
I traveled back by taking a train to Warsaw, stayed there two nights more and then took a train to Gdynia. There was a special offer for the ferry from Gdynia to Helsinki, so I took it. The ferry was quite nice, not that many people and really calm. Although it was hard to find anything to eat there, luckily I had prepared for that. I just sat in a jacuzzi (since the sauna of the ship wasn’t working) and watched full moon through the window. When I got back to Finland it was actually the first snow in Helsinki. I also noticed that the ferry didn’t arrive in Helsinki, but maybe 20km away, so I had to cycle once again. This time my knee wasn’t feeling that bad, but I got lost several times. Can you believe it, I got lost only one time before that on my trip, but when I came “home”, I wasn’t even able to get to the centre of Helsinki! All the roadsigns pointed to the busiest highway in Finland, and I didn’t want to ride that in that weather and in the rush hour. So I finally found a longer and safer route, through some woods and fields. I stayed in Helsinki for a couple of days, since most of my friends live there. I didn’t feel quite comfortable being back in Finland, but slowly got used to the idea that my trip was over. There was something positive about coming back, I got to see some gigs I would have otherwise missed (like Scott Kelly and MAMIFFER), I have a nice own house and a job that I love. If I would be still on the road, I would’ve missed my chance with those, but then again, it would also be quite awesome to be somewhere in the southern Spain now…
” Train ride from Krakow to Warsaw. It was foggy almost all the way, I couldn’t see further than a few meters at times!”
Adventure cycling is all about endurance. What does endurance mean to you?
Well for starters, I don’t have enough of it. Not mentally nor physically. I’m trying to train myself better in both. But I think it’s one of the most important things in life. I mean, most of the important stuff you do need lots of endurance. I think that the easiest option rarely is the best one. Doing things differently and trying to bear with being alone with your thoughts most of the time takes a lot of endurance, but in the end it usually is the right way. It’s the same thing with relationships, every relationship has its dark moments, when it feels like it would be easier to forget the whole thing, or when you hope the whole thing never existed. But I think (and this is my personal opinion again, not some universal truth) that every meaningful thing hurts you and makes your life hard at times, and only through that pain and hardness can you actually achieve something true. You just have to endure through the shit to reap the joy. That’s also how I see making music. It is really hard for me, at least when I’m doing it alone, and mostly just makes me hate myself, not to feel better. And when I’m playing a gig, it sometimes feels like I’m dying or at least going to puke and pass out (and I don’t mean because of being drunk, I don’t do that), but through enduring that pain and enduring the feelings I’m releasing on stage I can achieve some calmness and even happiness I can’t get from anywhere else. And compared to strength I think that endurance is more important, since it kind of means not only something lasting for a moment but rather a longer period of time. Maybe I’m just saying that because I’m a skinny kid who doesn’t want big muscles. That was a very good question, it really got me thinking and I only got a fraction of the things that went through my mind written down. I might visit this question again, beware…
Ok [smiles]. Let’s go back to the beginning once again. I’m curious. How did you train for an adventure race?
Well, I cycled a lot in the summer, sometimes on roads and sometimes on small and hidden forest paths, but I don’t know if you can say that was training. I was mostly just curious to visit new places near Jyväskylä. So I didn’t really prepare for this trip physically or mentally. I’m too lazy, even though I’d like to train myself to top shape, I just never get it actually done. It’s quite frustrating, I hope that in the future I will train myself better.
“Getting my bike ready at my parent’s house, just before leaving for my train to Helsinki.”
Are you a sports fan?
If you mean like watching sports and being a fan of some teams/athletes, not that much. I was more when I was little. I do enjoy watching football sometimes, and if there’s some big event like the Olympics, but that’s about it. When I was young I was always watching ski jumping with my dad (that’s the only sports he has ever really cared about) and ice hockey with my cousin. I still like ski jumping, ice hockey not that much. But if there is some game going on TV, be it any sport, I can get interested in it, and sometimes it’s fun to be with friends and watch some match like it was the most important thing in the world, even though it’s just some dudes trying to get a ball to each others net. But usually I’ll rather watch something that is real and really matters, like documentaries and stuff.
Would you like the sport to grow more in Finland?
Well if by that you mean that the government would spend more money on new bicycle roads and lanes, then of course yes. I use bike almost every day of the year, so it’s nice to have good roads, preferably for bikes and pedestrians only. In Jyväskylä things are ok, this is so small town that there aren’t many places where cycling is hard or dangerous. I guess you could say we have kind of a cycling boom in Finland, more and more people choose bike instead of a car for commuting (at least in the summer). That’s good, since less cars is always better for everyone. So I do hope that cycling will grow in popularity, not just in Finland, but all over the world. There are too many people driving some mere couple kilometers with car to work or school, every single day.
Alright, man. It was really nice to learn more about your recent trip. Pure pleasure. What’s the timetable for more adventures?
Depends on my job. I have to work quite intensively at least until August, and I’ll try to use my vacation for the coming Euro tour (if it happens). Maybe in autumn I’ll have more free time, maybe not. I have a job now that I really like and that actually makes me feel better (I work at a local organic store with most of the stuff we sell vegan), so I don’t want to lose that. I’ll do some couple night trips in the nearby areas throughout the summer of course, but I guess I’ll have to wait for the longer trips. Or you never know, I’ll have to talk to my boss if I could get a couple of weeks free to go cycling through Norway… But about adventures, I don’t think you have to go to the other side of the world to have adventures. Most of us have never really even seen the places in the area they have been living their whole life. At least I haven’t. So I’d say you can have an adventure in a forest in you backyard if you are willing to. There are so many places I want to visit again in the coming summer that are within a couple of hours cycling distance away, so I definitely won’t have a boring, non-adventurous summer! In winter it’s even easier to have an adventure, just walking knee deep in the snow in the middle of the woods feels quite unique. And the spring is coming, this morning I heard the first time in this year multiple birds singing at the same time. Spring itself is an adventure, the rebirth of the nature and all the birds moving back in. I’ll definitely want to be outside when all that happens, seeing a flock of birds coming back from thousands of kilometers away is all the adventure you’ll ever need. At least for me. So to sum up, longer and further situated adventures are still on my planning table and they’ll have to wait at least until autumn, but I hope to have some kind of adventure every day. Be it with music, people or nature.
Kalle, I couldn’t be more thankful for all the time you’ve spent discussing your trip with me. Thank you so much for this opportunity! I’m really amazed by your adventures.
Make sure to drop me a line as soon as something new regarding EIGHT comes up!
No problem man! It was nice, I hadn’t really written anything down about my trip before this. I’ll let you know, we have a couple new songs coming and two gigs next month, so we’re slowly getting back in business. And a big thanks to you for asking all of these questions!
I’d like to thank my family, especially my parents, for helping me every possible way before, during and after the trip. My band mates for not trying to stop me from leaving. All the nice people I met during my trip, especially those that are still in contact with me! All my new co-workers, who have made my life so much brighter in the past few weeks. And of course Satu. Thank you!
Oh, and you too Karol!
“Just about to board the ferry to Tallinn, photo by Onni Hyöky.”
“These stork nests were everywhere, too bad all the birds had already left.”
“This was what I ate pretty much every day, also a lot of seeds and raisins and stuff. And chocolate, of course.”
“Taking a break. The landscape was still quite green, though the autumn was just around the corner.”
“The second morning in a national park in Estonia.”
“Nice colors, and nice dirt road compared to the ones to come…”
“Crossing the border from Estonia to Latvia I met some local party people (at first I thought they were some border patrol officials…), who wanted me to stay and drink vodka with them. When I refused, saying that I didn’t have time because it was getting dark and I had to find a place where to put my tent, they insisted that I’d at least take some drinks to go. Since I don’t drink any alcohol, nor did I have any free space for the bottles, but was too kind to refuse their offer, I left these at the side of the road a couple kilometers past the border. Maybe some thirsty fellow found them.”
“Sun setting in Latvia.”
“They fight for their right to party in Valmiera, Latvia.”
“Nice road from Valmiera to Cēsis. 35km through a national park, with apple trees on both sides of the road for almost all the way.”
“Once again cocking dinner, this time just after having a nervous breakdown in the forest. It was raining quite hard, I had to stay under that tree to keep myself and my dinner from getting wet. Horrible dirt road.”
“This was the reason for my breakdown. The road also broke my back brake, although I didn’t realize that until just before Warsaw. You can see how the car tires had sunk something like 20cm in the mud, that narrow trail in the upper left corner is left by my bike. This wasn’t even the worst spot in that road, this was more like the average for the whole 50km it lasted.”
“Good morning Lithuania!”
“Same place as the picture before, showing my tent next to a pond.”
“Typical Lithuanian road: straight, flat, going through fields, few cars. Quite easy to cycle, but also quite dull after a while. Some nice views though.”
“Nice cobweb in the morning dew.”
“Packing up in the morning, the sun was shining quite nicely that morning.”
“I found a deer in Warsaw!”
“At the top of the Palace of Culture and Science.”
“Dr. Wallace Breen in some small town in Poland. Every Half Life 2 fan will recognize this! So cool.”
“Nice view. This was just after my knee started hurting, and just before the landscape got hilly.”
“In Krakow. I saw way too many dead animals during my trip, but he was so peaceful and beautiful in his heart shaped figure that I had to take a picture.”
“Busy schedule at the Unsound festival!”
“My favorite car. Finnish people will recognize this, it’s the Groke from Moomins!”
“Krakow through a hipster filter.”
“Back in Warsaw. Nice rastafarian trees through a hipster filter.”
“Enjoying a soda in the jacuzzi of the ferry. There weren’t many people on the ferry, so I got to be there pretty much on my own.”
“Back in Finland! It was the first snow, and I had to cycle 20km to the centre of Helsinki. End of the adventure!”