WHILE the arrival of takatalvi has predictably come along to take the wind out of the sails of springtime celebrations, nonetheless it’s soon time to dust off your neglected bike from your basement storage and gets to enjoying the multitude of bike tracks that weave their way around the country. Finns love to cycle, and in the Capital Region alone there are around 1,000 kilometres of well-maintained cycling paths intersecting the city. In fact, when entering even the most remote of cities, towns and villages around the country one can find a well maintained path for two-wheelers alongside the road leading in and out of town.

However, the joy of taking your bike out of storage this time of year is often met with the disappointment of having forgotten you still have to take it to huolto (maintenance). Now, although it may seem to be too much of a financial hit to shell out around 80 euros for someone to merely tighten brakes, oil your chain and align up your gears, you’ll be grateful later in the summer when your bike is still rolling smoothly.

But brace yourself for another whopping disappointment after being slugged for maintaining your two-wheeler: getting a flat tyre. Now, with all of the rubbish that has been accumulated under the seasonal snow, it’s only a matter of luck if your path is not met by a stray piece of glass or nail. Also watch out for the well-preserved thawing dog turds that abound this time of year, lest you have the misfortune of riding through the middle of a deposit and have it sprayed across your back by your rear tyre.

Actually, speaking of which, a Swedish company has developed the appropriately named Ass Saver, which works a treat in this context. A small piece of plastic that can be easily attached underneath your seat, here all matter of springtime junk is prevented from decorating your tail in spectacular fashion, acting as a cheap and easy alternative to arriving at your chosen destination looking like you have soiled yourself.

Otherwise, before you head off, be on alert for the unfortunate prevalence of mopeds when you cycle, typically driven at breakneck speed by teenagers who have been given the legal green light to use the bike paths for their vehicles. And finally, be aware that around 4,000 bikes are stolen each year in Helsinki alone, so be sure to carry a securely lock up your steed!

Phew, after all of this, you are ready to go…well, almost. One final thing to keep in mind is using a helmet. Sure, it looks a heck of a lot less siistii to cover your scone and deny the summer breeze blowing in your hair as you pedal, but take a moment to consider the devastating damage caused by relying on your skull to take the brunt of impact should you fall off your bike. BTW, what’s up with the usually sensible people of Finland have not enforcing helmet use as a law?

For those short of cash but still seeking to keep the insides of their head on the inside in the Capital Region, helmet hire has previously been available from Virka Info inside Helsinki’s City Hall.

James O’Sullivan