Riding from Estonia to Vienna, through the Baltics in a little over a week. Halfway we get some news that will change our lives forever.
We left Finland to go back to the European mainland. We have a good time exploring Tallinn by foot and having an apartment to ourselves.
At arrival, we had a small argument with the manager of the apartment, which was in the middle of the old town, that there was no parking available even though I was 100% sure I searched for an accommodation with a parking spot to put the bikes and remembered that there was a picture of a beautiful courtyard where the bikes would be happy but the said that was for the more expensive apartments at a different location. So we found a payed parking lot and rode around the boom and parked in a corner. Not knowing 100% if we needed to pay we took our chances and left them there. On our morning run we checked and the bikes were still there and no fine was to be found. Later we found out that bikes don’t have to pay for parking but we found out too late.
After 2 nights there we packed up and headed for the start of the TET in the Baltics. Asta told us that the Estonian part was the nicest and since we though it unlikely that we would be able to complete the whole trail we set off for a few days of fun after which we would find a straight road to get us to Vienna.
Yet our first day we were feeling tired and not in the right mindset to tackle the more technical terrain that lay in front of us so after an hour of riding we left the trail in search of a campsite.
That was a little harder then expected but and we had 2 failed attempts until we found a place that would let us pitch the tent for a reasonable price. As soon as we crawled into our tent we both fell asleep and dozed off for a good 2 hours.
The next day we were feeling better and ready to try it again. We found the trail and it led us into the forests of Estonia. It was still a little muddy and this was turning into a challenge for us since we had only ridden on good quality gravel roads.
Especially Jojo is struggling, he falls over in a big mud pool and is instantly dirty all over. We pick up the bike together and continue on. The trails turn out to be rather technical and narrow, quite different from the stuff we did in Finland and Sweden. We ride slower and take more time to cover distance. It’s also more complex to follow the right trail since there are many to pick from.
We encounter a small but steep hill and I stop, it looks fun so I ride up and as soon as I reach the top it goes straight back down. A little surprised I ride down again and have a big smile on my face. This is so fun! Jojo also makes it and we continue the ride. We hit another one of those hills and this time we stop and film each other. It doesn’t look that cool on camera but we enjoy riding it. We take it slow but steady and the vstroms do what we asked them to without complaint. It’s such a versatile bike.
We ride for another hour or so when I look back and don’t see Jojo behind me. He was there 5 minutes ago so I stop and wait to see if he catches up with me. Nothing.
For 5 minutes I wait in the middle of the woods but he doesn’t show up so I summarise that he must have fallen over again and is picking up the bike so I turn around to track back.
I ride through the corner and feel the back tyre slide away but before I can do anything I’m on the ground. I roll off the bike and land on the side. A quick self check and I’m okay, I wasn’t going that fast so the bike looks fine too. I just have to pick it up by myself... that might be a problem since it’s quite heavy fully loaded and with a full tank. I give it a go but to no avail. I decide to take the luggage off when a mountain biker comes by. I stop him and ask to give me a hand.
He helps me lift the bike and is off again. He passes Jojo only a few 100 meters down the trail. He must have thought that these stupid bikers do not belong in his forest.
I find Jojo in the ditch. Yes, on the side of the trail 5 meter into the forest. He is smiling but I’m really wondering how he must have gotten there. Was he flying?
We pick up the bike together which is made particularly hard because he has landed on a tree trunk, he was struggling by himself even though he is so much stronger than me, but together we manage and get the bike back onto the trail. We laugh as we repack the bike, we are both sweaty and tired and decide to find a supermarket and call it a day after that.
So we do just that and find a nice cabin on the side of the trail with a fire pit and a view of the forest. We sleep in the open air and get woken up by a mouse who wants to eat our food. We sleep quite bad because we feel exposed not being in the tent but also because we keep waiting for news. Jojo’s sister sent us a message that she was going into labor and we haven’t hear anything yet.
So when we wake up first thing we do is check the messages and are delighted when we read the good news. A baby boy is added to the family and Jojo is now officially an uncle. So happy that everyone is doing good we make breakfast and discuss our plans. The baby came early and we want to go home now to meet him but it’s still another 1700km and 4 countries to cross before we would reach Vienna. We decide on a 4 day timeframe of every day riding but at a 425km per day pace so we hurry but don’t rush so stay safe.
Changing plans is part of overlanding and even though we planned to visit the baby we never knew the exact day of his arrival so we could only hope that he was born around the due date. We jumped off the trail and onto the provincial road and made our way to the highway which is still rather small in the Baltic’s but good connected so we can finally make some progress. Riding 400km per day like this can still be quite a task and tiring since we camp or stay with locals we need to find a place, pitch the tent, find food and so on every day.
We were lucky to hook up with some friends on the way to Vienna. We met up with Asta in Vilnius who just finished her round the world trip with her boyfriend and we were welcomed in her parents home. It’s so easy to stay with other overlanders and sharing stories over dinner makes us instant friends.
Next up was Kinga in Warsaw and after 2 days riding we found her at her sisters apartment still recovering after breaking her leg in Mongolia. We talked into the night but were so tired after riding through the cold weather that we didn’t make it past midnight.
We woke up for our final day of riding, a big dash from Warsaw to Vienna. We had been a little delayed because we could only stay with Kinga from Monday on so we had saved the last 700km for 1 day. From Poland, through the Czech Republic into Austria. We hated the idea but stretching it out over 2 days wouldn’t make it any better. At least we would be home after this so we headed off south.
It was cold, it was boring, it was miserable but the thought of our little nephew kept us going. We were dying to meet him. We rode for 8 hours with every hour a short break to eat or to fill up. The highway was long and straight but after the hours we finally arrived home. The long ride was awarded with dinner and a bed. Tomorrow we will meet our nephew, but that is for the next piece.