Trike Trails

From Lair of Sorrow

In the summer of 2023 I have fulfilled my long-time dream of owning a recumbent trike. Some say that I entered a midlife crisis and they are most likely correct. However, regardless of the stage of life I am in, I got it because I wanted to move more. Having a sitting job is terrible, so I wanted to offset it with some physical activity. And with the trike now I really have no excuse.

The Trike

The process of choosing a trike was complicated. First of all, there are not that many producers. Basically there are three main companies in Europe:

They offer tens of configurable models and have a really good reputation, but none of them are cheap. Well, trikes in general are bloody expensive, because while they run on regular bike components like wheels, gears, pedals, etc., they require custom frame and custom steering. The demand is also lower, which in general means prices are higher. However, if you are willing to spend the money, the comfort of riding a trike cannot be compared to a regular bike. That is, until you start climbing a hill ;)

For the longest time my bike of choice was Azub's TRIcon GR. It was perfect for my needs - regular commutes to work, but suitable for gravel roads, which there are plenty of in Finland. It is also foldable (which was a must, as I intend to travel to other places) and it is produced locally in the Czech Republic.

That was until I have found out about Dekers. The only drawback was that their models were not foldable. Despite that I decided to pay a visit and discuss potential solutions, and was positively surprised by the energy and passion the entire team had about their craft. Few months later I was told they have figured out a folding hinge and could start working on my bike if I wanted it. There was no turning back :)

All in all, what I ended up with is a Hunter with a folding hinge, suspension, baggage holders and a few other additions. This thing is massive, weighing probably around 40 kg and measuring more than 2 metres (a bit more than two euro-pallets on the short side ;). It has a steel frame, off-road tyres, 20" front wheels and a 26" back wheel with an electric motor. The battery lasts about 80 km in the regular city conditions, but my plan is to use it as the last resort when I absolutely have no power myself ;)

Riding this beast of a trike is surprisingly smooth. The wide range of gears (3 x 9) really helps during climbing and the stability allows taking corners much faster than on a regular bike. My setup also includes two side baggage racks, allowing easy access to whatever I am carrying with me during the rides (as long as I can reach it with one hand, I can do it while driving).

The hardest part of the rides are very steep hills, especially those on loose gravel paths. The e-assist can help in such cases, but it drains the battery really, really quickly. The bike is also quite wide (about 90 cm), so you may have troubles fitting into some areas.

The folding hinge allows the bike to be stored in the back of a van, leaving still room for luggage and even another regular bike. For longer drives I will probably also dismount one baggage rack, which should make the folded bike even more compact and allow more regular stuff to be put inside the car. The folding and unfolding requires two allen keys (one for hinge, one for the steering rods) and takes about 10 minutes (from fully folded to fully driveable). The biggest drawback is the lifting of the folded bike to actually put it in the car - some handle would be needed, but I need to work on the details before making a request to Dekers ;)

The Trails

I use Komoot to plan and navigate the trips. Feel free to follow me there to be notified whenever I upload a trip.

For now most of the trips are in or around Turku, as that is what the duties allow me to do. Turku has really good bike infrastructure and there are hundreds of kilometres of bike paths to choose from. I tend to plan the routes as loops to not make them boring ;)

Littoinen - Lieto

The starting point of this trip is a forest parking near the Littoinen lake. From there it is asphalt bike paths north to Lieto, where a gravel section starts and continues to Avanti. That part goes near the Vanhalinna hill, which is a landmark of the area and has a few hiking trails nearby. The place is really charming during the warmer part of the year. It is also the only part of the tour that takes place on a public road - everything else is on separated bike paths.

From Vanhalinna south it is back to asphalt and suburbia almost all the way until the end. The Liitoinen lake is visible in the final part of the journey and there are options to shorten the trip if you feel like it.

The only part of the remaining trip that is not asphalt is near Tuulissuo, shortly after crossing the Turku ring road. It features an increadibly steep gravel hill that I was unable to climb by bike, even with the electric motor turned on, so I had to push it...

Halinen - Oriketo

This trip starts at a small dam / waterfall on the river Aura in Halinen, where there is a car parking. Be aware that there are very few places available, especially when the weather is nice.

The road to Koroinen is a gravel one, but it is wide enough for a trike. It passes near the ruins of a bishop's residence and church, a place with some historical significance. The gravel ends near the train tracks (Turku-Tampere line) and asphalt bike road follows north-east to Oriketo. Then we turn west to more gravel and uphill to cross the train tracks near an old chocolate factory (the remainings of the cargo depot are still there), where gravel ends and uphill continues.

Upon reaching the (really noisy) Turku ring road we follow it south-east and downhill begins until the city's garbage sorting facility in Topinoja - the smell will guide you for sure. From there the route takes a small detour to go through more gravel and enjoy a beautiful road through some really remote places in the city. If you time it right, the sunset will look spectacular.

The gravel ends near Ravattula, where there is a huge grocery store, and then continues along the river to a pedestrian-and-bike-only bridge. It is quite narrow and somewhat difficult to cross with a trike - but not impossible. From there on - more gravel. The path is narrower than the one at the start, and it features a few small, but difficult climbs (at least for a trike). The difficulty is compensated with beautiful views, as that part of the city is sparsely populated.

Naantali - Paikkari

The parking on Copper Hill in Naantali is perfect for starting any activity within Naantali - it is located close to the city centre and it is free. The problem lies in, well, the hill itself - it is quite harsh to climb.

The first part of the loop goes through the small, but charming Old Town, full of wooden houses. That area has a really cosy atmosphere, except during the peak summer season (which in Finland is in July). After that the charming part continues along the sea and near the entrance to the Moomin World for a brief gravel segment through a seaside park.

From Ruona to Immanen the trail goes through what I would describe as a typical Finnish small town - full of single-family houses, nice and tidy. The path is mostly on asphalt, excluding only a few sections along the sea and towards the Immanen hill. From there towards Paikkari it is not only asphalt, but bike paths along streets and the Turku-Raisio-Naantali road. And more single-family houses in the suburbs, of course.

Shortly after Paikkari the path turns to gravel and continues to Luolala through somewhat remote roads and locations. Few kilometres later however it is back to asphalt and bike paths along purely industrial surroundigs - factories, storage facilities and harbour infrastructure. This part of the path also features a nice descent from Luolala - quite long, straight bike road with good surface quality. Pleasure to ride!

Once the harbour is left behind it is back to the Old Town and its massive Copper Hill, where the trip ends. Climbing it is quite difficult with a trike, but entirely possible.

Vuelta a Kakskerta

The island of Kakskerta is located in the Turku archipelago and it is the furthest island reachable from the city by road (the other two in the region being Hirvensalo and Satava). In the centre of Kakskerta is its namesake lake - and the main road loops around it, making it a perfect and often visited spot for bike rides.

The tour starts and ends on a nearby island, Satava. There is a parking spot in Kaivoinen, near the fire station, and another one a bit along the way to Kakskerta itself. As an added benefit of such start, you get to experience the tiny Satava-Kakskerta bridge and massive climbs on both its sides.

The island can be driven clockwise or counter-clockwise. The former features a brutal climb between the lovely Kakskerta church and the main road (so far it is the only climb on asphalt road that I did not climb and had to use battery to ride up). Counter-clockwise direction obviously goes through the climb in the opposite direction, but in general feels less safe due to riding on the outside edge of the loop road. The southern part of the loop does not have a bike path, so you are mixed with regular traffic and city buses.

Regardless of the direction, the road features quite a few climbs that are short in distance, but more than make up for it with elevation gain. In general, it is both a demanding and a rewarding trail.

Paattinen - Vahto

This is the first trip that I deliberately planned to go over 20 km and it includes way more gravel than my previous tours. Furthermore, the majority of the trip takes place on public roads, both gravel and asphalt.

It starts on a parking near the Paattinen church and then goes north-east to catch a road to Vahto. That road has no bike path, but it has quite limited traffic. After about 5 km the gravel starts - the path leads through some beautiful countryside and forest. The road quality is quite good and the ride is a pleasure.

The halfway point is located roughly at the crossing of roads in Neittessuo. From there - more gravel and forest roads all the way to Vahto (note that there are two possible paths - one to Hemmola and one directly to Vahto). The village of Vahto has a pizzeria/kebab bar (smelled good, but have not tried it) and bike paths within its centre.

Leaving Vahto towards Paattinen there is a short singletrack segment, but it is wide enough to cross with a trike. Its only drawback is that it is really difficult to spot it at first... which you can clearly see in the gpx trail. After that there is more gravel all the way to Paattinen, where the path continues on the Turku-Paattinen bikeway to its destination near the church. And of course, more beautiful Finnish landscapes and countryside.

Kupittaa Park - Krossi

The Kupittaa Park is a beloved place in Turku. As soon as the weather allows it, people gather there for picnicks and outdoor activities. There also is an open-air swimming pool, a track for roller skating, a small bike park, and a dozen or so areas to play various sports. And of course, a free car parking. Which makes the park perfect sport for starting bike trips.

This loop goes through some residential areas going south-east from Kupittaa. The road changes to gravel around the Turku-Helsinki highway, leading through some parks, until it reaches Huhkola, a typical suburb of Turku, full of single-family houses.

The best part of this route starts just outside of Huhkola - the gravel path to Krossi is awesome, as it leads through and near a forest. There are some small climbs and a few sharp turns, but in general it is just fun to ride. From Krossi to Varissuo there are more suburbs, but more sparsely populated and with asphalt bike roads. Near Varissuo the route goes parallel to the Turku-Helsinki railroad and is the second best part of the entire route - the path is mostly straight, wide and the road surface is of very good quality.

In Itaharju the path goes through an industrial part of the city that is (as of 2024) undergoing some changes. Old warehouses are slowly replaced with office buildings, but it seems that the process will last a few more years.

The route ends with a typical city segment near Kupittaa railway station. All in all, a fun ride, just a tad over 15 km.

15k loops from Terasrautela school

In the afternoon the road near the school offers free street parking. There is also a 24h supermarket across the street in case you run out of snacks. The area around has plenty of bike paths and thus is a great starting point for excursions - below are some of about 90 minutes of casual ride, or 15-20 km.

Unless otherwise mentioned, all of the above trails feature mostly asphalt, separate bike paths and eventually small sections of wide and well-maintained gravel.