By bike to Paris – my journey

I’m Saku, a thirtysomething year old ALM Partners employee, and I’m a member of Team Rynkeby Helsinki’s 2023 cycling team. I’ve been with Team Rynkeby Helsinki since last fall when I was selected to join the team, and this is also how I got my first experience with road cycling. Since then, as a team, we’ve gotten to know each other, trained together, and collected sponsor donations for children with critical illnesses and their families. The project culminated in a cycling trip to Paris in July, covering approximately 1100 km. We completed the journey by cycling from one hotel to the next during each day.

Our journey to Paris began on Friday, July 7th, with a departure celebration at the Bolt Arena, where our loved ones gathered to send off all the Finnish teams (a total of over 200 cyclists). Some of the teams had already cycled hundreds of kilometers to reach Helsinki by that point. We set off on bicycles in a police escort to Vuosaari Harbor, where we boarded a ferry bound for Travemünde, Germany. During the 1.5-day ferry ride, we had plenty of time to relax (fortunately, there was a sauna on board) and get to know other Rynkeby teams from Finland. Upon arriving in Travemünde on Saturday evening, we had a short city bike ride to our first hotel in Lübeck, where our actual cycling journey began the next morning.

Over the next six days, our daily routine was mostly as follows: we started cycling at 7:20 in the morning, covering 150-196 km depending on the day. The journey was punctuated by breaks where our fantastic support team made sure we cyclists stayed fueled. The day’s route and destination were always planned by the day’s lead navigator, who had mapped out the route and rest stops in advance. Upon reaching our destination, maintenance for both the bike and the cyclist was required (possibly even in that order) and a communal dinner before bedtime and preparation for the next day.

On the seventh day of riding, we completed the final leg of our journey to Paris, where Team Rynkeby’s closing celebration awaited us, with over 2000 Rynkeby cyclists and support team members coming together to celebrate our arrival to Paris.

Before the trip, I wasn’t worried about individual daily rides, as we had already cycled similar (and even longer) distances together. Instead, I wondered how I would handle the cumulative strain of multiple consecutive days. However, the group training and practice in riding as a team since the fall had done their job, and we managed the challenge well. The most amazing part of this experience was how this kind of intensive, week-long collective effort brings people and teams together, creating a bubble that you don’t want to burst. Even though everything eventually comes to an end, the event left us with wonderful memories, a new hobby, and many new friends, with whom I’ve stayed in touch and continued cycling actively after the trip.

Although the team for the next year has already been selected, our season is not yet completely over. We still have a gala event in September where the total amount raised for charity during the season will be announced. In addition to all the fantastic things mentioned above, it’s now time to realize the season’s most important goal: raising funds for children with critical illnesses and their families.