Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vajosuo Beer Ride 2014

The definite highlight of November for the past two years has been Vajosuo Beer Ride, and this year for a third time was no different. In part of my training for ITI, I decided to choose 'the long form', meaning I would ride from home to start place, Rantapiha at Savojärvi in the National Park of Kurjenrahka, about 51,5 km and also back to home the next day.

The weather wasn't an exception either. Despite the timing of late November, which could offer winter weather, it was wet and overcast again with temps around +2°C.

My 'Arctic Machine 1', 9:Zero:7 190mm, packed and ready. I had easily over 2 kg of food and drinks in there.

I was on the move around 15:30 and it was getting dark. My route to Savojärvi was the usual one, going thru the old Askala hydro power plant.

After 2.5 hours of riding mostly on gravel roads I arrived to Savojärvi. We were seven rides and everyone had a fatbike! Peter had 29+ wheels and tires on his Mukluk.

The first boardwalks are in good shape and riding on them was easy. Water level on the mires were high as expected.

High-powered lights are imperative choice here.

The older boardwalks are in poor shape and going was slow there.

One boardwalk was wider.

Trails are very technical and challenging in many places. I managed to fall once, fortunately without any significant damage.

It's always rewarding to arrive to Vajosuo shelter after three hours of demanding riding. Tommi and couple of others were already there and campfire was burning.

I had pork and potatoes for food and some beer.

Following the traditions, we went to bird watching tower around 02:00 in the night.

Then it was time to sleep under sky in bivi and sleeping bags. I woke up to this view in the morning.

I slept well as I was warm and comfortable in my sleeping system.

My 45NRTH Wölvhammers ready for a tough day ahead.

Campfire in the morning.

After nice breakfast with good coffee, we started riding again.

Vajosuo mire. A magnificent place.

A short break at one of the many shelters around Kurjenrahka. This one is called Laaskorpi.

A very technical and demanding section on the route.

There was also lots of this.


At Takaniitunvuori.

Roots in the last part of the route.

Back at Rantapiha we thanked each other and said goodbyes. I boiled water with my MSR WhisperLite and new Alpkit MytiPot 900 cooking pot for freeze-dried meal.

At the same time, temperature dropped below freezing. A warm meal and hot water was crucial, as my energy level was low and it was getting cold.

I had to ride with my down jacket (Alpkit Filo) for 8 km to properly warm up, but after that everything was under control.

I felt strong in the end of the journey, so my training is in the right direction.

A great weekend indeed, with total of 145,4 km riding. Thanks to Juha Jokila and all the other participants! Next year again!

Check out Peter's report here, and Juha's photos here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Into the Winter Paradise

Every October I start to wait it. Winter. Periodically I look for news how winter has started in Northern Hemisphere. I follow some long range weather forecasts and discussions on the Internet, and especially development of Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation.

Living in South-Western Finland, close to Baltic Sea, usually means that the wait is long. Early winter arrives here rarely. It happened in 2010, and the whole winter was incredible. Last winter (2013-2014) was almost complete opposite. November and December were very mild and wet. It was fairly cold for three weeks in January, but there was hardly any snow. After that we got snow once in early February and once in early March.

The old saying goes here that "years are not brothers to each other", and every year is different some way. Indeed, the fall and early winter has been different so far. We got first snow on 6th November, but it melted away the next day. The temperatures have been generally lower this November, so things have been looking sligthly better.

Friday, 21th November:

We got about 8 cm of snow and paradise was everywhere!

I decided to go for a short overnighter on Saturday-Sunday night, because weather forecasts were looking bad for next week.

After a great day with my family, I rode to a shelter close to my home that I found recently, in the middle of the night:

 It was late, so I prepared my sleeping system and went to sleep.

And a good night it was, as was the morning with coffee and sandwich:

The morning was beautiful:

The new 45NRTH Wölvhammer boots kept my feet warm and comfortable:

And the new 45NRTH Vanhelga is really unbeliavable snow tire. No other tire has been so secure and with so much traction!

It was a great morning in the winter paradise and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Later in the afternoon I went for ride into the nearby woods.

This was a great weekend. Weather forecasts are now looking for above freezing temps and even some rain, so this paradise will be at least partly vanished. Hopefully it will come back soon.
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