Baltic Sea route
Wow! I just checked progress and see that there is only about 1000km to go until the loop is closed. That really seems like nothing. Finland - which at first glance seemed quite enormous - already has a large chunk to the south.
As a generalisation, much of the cycling has been quite solitary, and I was expecting Finland to offer little in way of company, but how wrong I have been proved. Rather than head straight north from Helsinki, the Finnish windsurfing community has guided me to the west coast: "long distance" (kind of) racing on borrowed gear near Helsinki, then a few days cycling, then participation in the Finnish Nationals at Yytery. Juha Blinnikka was worthy winner with 4 firsts to my 3. Slightly surreal take away memory is of sailors and race committee - male and female - with or without neoprenes - with or without pizza - steaming in the sauna to warm up between races. Different to Clacton.
Massive thanks to Juha to loan of excellent gear, floods of kindness, and alerting contacts along the route. These include an overnight at Anne and Janne's organic farm, and now a stop at Kalajoki surf center where Jarno and (another) Juha are looking after me so well too.
I don't see many cyclists, but a few evenings back exchanged hellos with a small bunch at Jakobstad, and within a few moments Stefan had offered a place to stay for the night, also shower, jacuzzi, food, beer and breakfast...
And then yesterday I was tracked and found - whilst sheltering from the rain at Lidl, Kokkola - by local windsurfer Johan who arranged for BBQ sausages a few miles further on at their local windsurf spot (a wild middle-of-nowhere place, with sauna to warm up in between dropped gybes).
Enjoying the coastal route, and still plenty of forest and lake further north. There is a stiff westerly breeze today so maybe a little sail possible, before heading away. Arctic circle @300km.