77% of all the roads in Finland are gravel - according to a map Graeme found on Reddit. Paved roads would require such frequent, costly, repair, that roads outside cities (bar the freeways) are all smooth crushed gravel.
I’ve never raced gravel before and to maximize my time in this new country, I thought I better tune up the legs a bit, so, fueled mostly by tasty Korvapuusti, I rode my bike 165km from Helsinki to the race site in Lahti, on perfect smooth, gravel roads and paths. I rolled into Lahti, in as much light as when I left that morning. This was my first experience of visiting a country with ‘the midnight sun’ and living in a sort of Forever 2 pm was strange.
The countryside is clean, bright, and like many things in Finland, other than Helsinki’s parking apps, is simple to navigate. While never climbing for too long, the rolling hills can still add enough elevation to keep the rides interesting. Farms with small bright red barns and dopey looking ponies stood out in picturesque contrast to the fields of vibrant green while lakes or rivers dotted, but never interrupted, the route.