Photo: Alvaria Poikola/YouTube

These Guys Biked From Finland to Singapore and Filmed the Whole Thing

Finland Singapore Cycling
by Tim Wenger Apr 2, 2024

In adventure travel, the journey is the destination. Few documentaries showcase this better than “Curious Pedals,” a 71-minute epic that chronicles a cycling trip from Finland to Singapore undertaken by Alvari Poikola and his friend, Valtteri Heinilä. The film is available to watch for free on YouTube with the corresponding soundtrack streamable via Spotify.

The adventure mantra enters the scene almost immediately. The video starts with the pair discussing their friends and family asking them why they don’t just fly to Singapore, and what they plan to do once they arrive – entirely missing the point that the reason they’re going on the trip is because of the adventure of getting there.

They set off on their journey and cycle through various countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Nepal, and Malaysia. Frequently camping along the side of the road or crashing with people they meet along the way, the pair encounter many challenges including fixing flat tires, scorching heat, and dangerous roads. They are consistently amazed by the beautiful scenery and the kindness of strangers they meet.

The film is lightly narrated, mostly by Heinilä, but largely allows for visual storytelling and the highlighting of the natural interactions that the pair find themselves having amongst themselves and with other people. The drone work phenomenally captures the mountainous landscapes the pair ride through and highlights the varying terrain (and road conditions, ranging from pavement to rough dirt).

Advancing towards the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Poikola and Heinilä encounter armed guards warning them that the border is closed due to conflict. With no cash and hundreds of miles from anywhere, they managed to squeeze through the next morning after camping near the border, accepting some cash and food from a stranger, and pleading their case to a high-ranking Tajik military officer.

“Problem. Tajk-Kyrgyzstan travel, no visa, no Somoni (money), no food. Big problem,” they said to the officer, who took pity on the pair and called ahead to the border checkpoint in their favor.

The cyclists document their journey, including the good, the bad, and the funny. They film themselves cycling through various terrains, fixing their bicycles, and camping. They cycle through a tiger-occupied national park, and in Nepal, Poikola catches Dengue fever. While in Nepal the pair separate for a couple weeks to spend some time alone, with Poikola going to a silent mediation retreat and Heinilä trekking to the Anapurna basecamp.

In the last third of the video, the cyclists are nearing the end of their journey from Finland to Singapore. They cycled through many countries including Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India, and Nepal. They overcame many challenges including scorching heat, dangerous roads, and illness.

One particularly difficult section was in Tajikistan. They cycled for days on end with little water and scorching sun. At one point, they were worried they might not find water and mentioned they were relieved to find a freshwater source.

Another challenging part of the trip was in India. They got caught in a landslide and had to take a jeep to avoid the dangerous area surrounding the slide. They also learned that a person had been killed by an elephant that morning in the area they were cycling through.

Despite the challenges, the cyclists pressed on. They reached Nepal and then cycled through Malaysia. In Malaysia, they were fortunate to stay overnight at the house of a friend Greg met in Thailand. Grégoire Debrix, a Frenchman, joins the crew for the remainder of the trip.

In the end, Poikola and Heinilä reach their final destination of Singapore after 245 days, 9,569 miles (15,400 kilometers), and 323,083 feet (100,000 meters) of elevation gain.

The Curious Pedals team has embarked on further quests, including paddleboarding from Stockholm, Sweden, across the Baltic Sea to Turku, Finland. Follow their adventures on Instagram.

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