Peddling the Dirt
Karala – Kooru forest
We slept in a really comfortable bed listening to a background ensemble of thunder, rain, banging roofing iron and yet more wind. We had no milk for our breakfast so opted to endure a breakfast of more freeze-dried potato. Being unsure of the quality of water and knowing that there was a shop 14kms down the road, we did not fill up our water bottles.
It was a lovely cool morning with a slight tail wind. We cruised along gravel roads as sun silhouetted through the pines. Our first stop was a shop and breakfast in the lovely little town of Kihelkonna. Sharon dashed into the shop whilst I chatted with mingling drunks and pumped up our tires. We sat across the road from the shop on benches with a picnic table. Here Sharon produced her booty of pastries, yoghurt and beer. She had totally forgotten to get water, it was promising to be a good day. Needless to say, I made a second trip across the road and graced the shop with the sound of my cleats padding their concrete floor.
We cycled north through a cute forest along a minor winding gravel road, amidst the sounds of barking dogs, misty brooks and the wind in the trees. After a long 6km, we hit the main road. Perhaps at this point I should point out that one of the great things about an autumn cycle ride on Saaremaa is that there is absolutely no one there, like almost no cars at all. We cycled forever along a wide and slightly uphill road, flanked by yet more gorgeous bus shelters and swaying pines. It was so beautiful it was almost boring.
At the end of this 6km straight, we turned the corner to be overtaken by a roaring Russian registered Citroen. It was the most exciting thing that happened all day. We continued around the corner into Veere and stopped at a closed wine-bar for lunch. This was an exciting meal for us, because it signified our last meal of beans and tortillas.
The wine bar was in front of a wharf and a port authorities building, I saw this as a chance to bug someone for a photo opp. I walked in a door marked ‘passport control’, raised my voice and yelled ‘hello’ into the silence. The silence never responded, I tried a second time, was a little more culturally sensitive and yelled ‘tere’. The silence rustled and eventually walked into sight, wiping sleep from his eyes and smelling of alcohol. I smiled, held up my camera and said ‘photo, photo please’. He bemusingly obliged.
It was only mid-afternoon, but it was time to start looking for a camp-site, so we cycled another 12km before following our map up a narrow very rough gravel road, then right on cue the wind started howling. After about 5km of rough and sometimes very exposed road, we entered a forest and gave up, never finding our camp-site. We pushed our bikes through a beautiful trenched battle-site glade until we found a sheltered spot on a very rocky beach. Resting our backs upon a tree, we tugged the ring-tab off our breakfast beers.
As Sharon was mentioning to me that she had asked God for a camp-site with a table, I butted in and said ‘what is that?’ About 50 metres up the beach was what looked like a table and the camping place we had been seeking. The site was fantastic; free, with a wind shelter, toilet, fireplace, fire-wood and of course a table and benches. Bizarrely the only thing missing was a place to pitch our tent. Ended up squeezing into a spot between some trees. The ground was all stones and rocks and we could not get our tent pegs in. I managed to tie our guy ropes to trees or attach the guys to bungy cords wrapped around boulders. It was not ideal for a windy spot.
After a short day of 46.45km, we spent our cool evening being drawn into another peaceful camp-fire.