Valtteri Heinila was working at a startup when he recognized he wanted to take a sabbatical.
“I saw the time was definitely accelerating,” stated Valtteri, 26. The days began to blur, and eventually the months, he claimed.
He wasn’t content with a typical holiday. Instead, he rode his bicycle 15,400 kilometers (9,600 miles) from Finland to Singapore.
Heinila cycled through 21 countries in eight months with his friend Alvari Poikola, he told CNBC. According to Heinila, the men chose Singapore as their destination because it was the farthest location they could cycle to.
The pair biked the majority of the way but took several flights “when we couldn’t cross by bike,” he explained. He cited the closure of land borders in Azerbaijan and Burma as examples.
“Russia… is a warzone,” he continued. “Afghanistan is ruled by the Taliban, and China is not giving tourist visas.”
Long-distance cycling let Heinila avoid “society’s noise,” he added. “It helps you get into your own thoughts [and] learn about yourself while riding ten hours a day,” he added.
Heinila said that he had no prior experience with long-distance riding, but he was adventurous and enjoyed being outside. “I liked doing things that made me uncomfortable because they made me feel alive.”
There is no training and no meal plan.
Heinila stated he acquired physical strength in the first part of his voyage despite not having a training or eating plan. “We discovered that Eastern Europe is relatively flat. “That was our practice… before we went to the mountains of Georgia and Tajikistan,” he added.
Heinila said he rode through Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan before heading to Southeast Asia, where he passed through Vietnam and Thailand. It was an opportunity to see how “the majority of the globe” lives, he continued.
“In Finland, we are extremely fortunate. “We wanted to gain a glimpse of reality,” Heinila explained.
Breakfast was usually porridge, with banana pancakes on rare occasions, according to Heinila. He stated that after a few hours of pedaling, the two would stop to cook lunch in the shade.
“Our budget was $20 each day. We just went with the bare minimum,” said Heinila. He claimed that when the two ran out of gas to cook, they snacked on raw eggs from the store.
Heinila stated that he focused on obtaining basic necessities such as food, water, toilet paper, and a place to pitch his tent for the night.
“You don’t have time to ponder rubbish like the past or the future. “You’re only thinking about survival, and I think that’s the nicest feeling ever,” he remarked.
Obstacles on the road
According to an Instagram post, by the time Heinila had traveled 10,000 kilometers, he had punctured his bicycle tire 37 times. Besides replacing tires, he claims to have learned how to repair and rebuild other bicycle components such as racks and panniers.
“You just figure it out when you have a need,” he added.
Living on the road may be “hazardous,” as Heinila pointed out when the two guys ran out of water while traveling through Tajikistan.
Heinila said he walked more than 20 kilometers to a road to buy water from a passing vehicle while suffering from diarrhea and dizziness. “Your body goes into survival mode, and you simply deal with it,” he explained.
Despite the difficulties, Heinila stated that he does not intend to give up “even one instant.” When his grandfather died while he was traveling, Heinila pondered returning to Finland to attend the burial, but instead decided to hold his own, he recalled.
“I ascended this little hill and lighted a candle for him under the starry sky. “And it was just as lovely as I had anticipated the funeral service to be,” he remarked.
Heinila said the trials were worth it for the “ten years’ worth” of memories he created in a few months. Cycling through Tajikistan’s mountain valleys and seeing its “amazing” cultural history was the most unforgettable experience for him, he added.
Heinila was also impressed by the Tajik people’s hospitality. “They were feeding us and caring for us as if we were their own children,” he explained. “Since the settlements were so small, everyone felt almost like family.”
Upon arrival in Singapore
Heinila and Poikola’s first stop in Singapore was the Finnish ambassador’s residence, where they held a modest party with other Finnish people, he added. Later that night, the men reminisced about their voyage while sipping Singapore Slings from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, he added.
When Heinila originally embarked on his adventure, he was concerned about the impact it might have on his profession.
“Now I feel like I can obtain any job I desire. “I have a lot of confidence,” he remarked.
Going back to a desk job after “taste freedom for so long” will be difficult, according to Heinila. “It’s a battle to maintain this sense of freedom while yet contributing to society in the most meaningful way possible,” he remarked.
Heinila has plans for more adventures in the future, including paddling across the Baltic Sea. People must welcome discomfort rather than being “trapped into planning for the future,” he adds.
“There’s an entire world out there.”