Pärnu, Estonia

The best decision, considering both my rather poor shape and lack of riding time, would have been to continue following the coast towards Narva.

So, naturally, I decided to cycle the Swamp Thing Route!

And just how wrong the decision could be was apparent after less than 10 km.

On the first real off-road section, I went around a fallen tree and as I cut through the tall grass I heard a sharp bang followed by a hiss. I had managed to stake a sharp branch through the sidewall of the rear tire!

The cut was too large to be repaired with the tubeless repair kit I carry and I had to put in my one and only spare tube. So much for mounting the tires tubeless in order not to have to repair too many tubes…

I didn’t mind the work repairing the tire so much, but what really annoyed me were the countless horseflies. They have a vicious bite and don’t seem to care one little bit about the insect repellent I had doused myself with.

But I’m glad I continued, the rest of the day was brilliant riding, with all sorts of tracks and ended at yet another great RMK free campsite.

The first half of day 2 was hard work and really put my limited fitness to the test. Rooty, twisty singletrack, going up and down, followed by swampy tracks through the bog. Again, brilliant fun but so tiring..

By lunchtime, I was totally spent but had gotten further than expected. A long, slow lunch at the Green Frog gave me enough strength to continue, at least to the next campsite.

I recovered more than expected and reached Ardu where I invested in a luxurious camping cabin. Complete with cold shower and, well nothing else.

Day three was easier, thankfully, but warm, 29 degrees. Mainly gravel roads, interspersed with the odd stretch through a bog or two. After a late Lunch in Lelle, I was ready for a new campsite.

I found a nice swimming hole at a bog, where I spent some time talking to an Estonian couple and then cycled less than 1 km to another free campsite. Unfortunately, this one was a bit small and there were a few campers there already. I had to pitch the tent more or less in the car park and went to bed as soon as I had forced myself to try to eat some dinner. I could have been a bit more sociable if I wanted, there were plenty of people to talk to, but I just wanted to sleep!

I had more or less decided to head off the route the next morning, in order to cycle to Pärnu, and that proved to be the right thing to do as I woke to find the rear tire flat again the next morning.

It was a slow flat and I could pump it up and it retained pressure for several hours. It was only about 60 km to Pärnu and I had planned an early start as the temperature was supposed to reach 32 during the day.

It was a boring ride along larger, but nice and straight, roads and I was in Pärnu in time for an early lunch. Just as well as it just got hotter and hotter through the day.

I had booked a room for 2 nights, planing to have my first rest day.

Well, not so much rest day as repair day, but at least with time off the bike.

Spent the next morning walking through a grey, overcast Pärnu, waiting for the bike shop to open so I could buy another spare tube.

The beach was empty but as the day wore on, the sun broke through the cloud cover and the temperature rose again.

I did some work on the bike, washed some clothes and had a rest.

Later in the afternoon, I went for another walk and now it was completely different town.

Found an Airstream trailer selling Cuban street food. There are many different restaurants and food vendors throughout the town, it is easy to see that this is very much a resort town.

There are lots of nice older wooden houses, some restored and some, well, not. Mixed among them are modern, architectural design buildings and the odd old Soviet-era blockhouse. All in all a very interesting place.

Ended the walk with a strawberry margarita and fajitas. Not exactly Estonian fare, but just what I wanted!


Tomorrow should see me heading south towards Riga and Latvia, but one never knows what will happen. I am tempted to continue north along the coast and explore the Estonian islands but maybe that is best left for another trip….