Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The last overnighter of the winter

The crust conditions of last week's overnighter were fantastic. So good, in fact, that the thought of doing it again was inevitable. I studied the map and found a good route that would traverse four or five rather large open bogs in a circular manner. The crust is strong enough only in the open areas, hence the need for open terrain. The place is around here. In addition, I would estimate that snow crust strong enough for riding a bike only occurs once per three or four years and then only for a little over a week. The current weather forecast showed a time window of four more days for this. All this led me to take a vacation day off from work and go out riding.

I started from my home in Turku 17:00. Ahead of me was 40 km of mostly roads to the start of the crust riding. This took me almost 2.5 h. I had mostly head wind and the Pugsley is no racing machine on road.

Arriving at the start of the Vajosuo bog around sunset at 20:05 (I love daylight savings), I had some 700 meters of bike pushing through deep snow...

...until the bog opened up and the crust became nice and strong.

At first the back wheel broke through the crust a lot, but after releasing some air from the tire I stayed on top of it.

It got darker.

After crossing the bog there was a short bike pushing section before I arrived at the Vajosuo shelter, where I was to spend the night.

I started a fire to grill my delicious sandwhiches and to melt snow for drinking water.

I was in no hurry and went to sleep some time before midnight. The next morning I started to wake up when it got lighter around six o'clock. The thermometer showed -11ºC (12ºF).

The usual coffee and morning porridge. I always arrange the stuff I need in the morning to be at an arm's length from me. That way when I wake up I just put on the down jacket and keep the lower body in the sleeping bag, and can handle the breakfast while being totally warm and cozy.

My goal was to get going around sunrise (7:05) and I almost made it. The morning was nice and crisp.

I explored every corner of the bog.

Island hopping. I naturally had to check out the small island on Vajosuo as well.

Leaving Vajosuo. First some bike pushing through breaking crust...

... followed by a nice hard field...

... and finally almost 2 km of mostly rather hard bike pushing through deep snow.

Animal trail.

Finally the Laidassuo bog opens up for riding.

After Laidassuo there was again a short traverse to the next open bog.

I'm not sure about the name of this bog. It could be Lammenrahka, but the map is not clear on this.

I found a nice spot for making lunch. This time I tried a Blå Band meal. The list of additives was a bit long, but it tasted quite ok. It still had the freeze dried taste like all the other alternatives (except Real Turmat), but I could eat it again. My favorite outdoor meals are the ones from the Norwegian Real Turmat series, but most shops in Finland have stopped taking it in, since it is so ridiculously expensive. I also melted more snow for water, this time on the stove. The water melted on the open fire tasted rather smoky, a trait I like in a good Scottish single malt, but less so in water.

No lunch is complete without coffee. The filter thingy works great.

Yet another bog. Takaniitunvuori in the background, where many short breaks have been spent when riding in the summer.

The lake Lakjärvi.

Another lake, Savojärvi.

The last bog section, Kurjenrahka.

Only a short bit of bike pushing to a road the leads home.

Just 40 km of road riding back to Turku. The precipitation, which consisted of the entire spectrum between rain and snow, did not bother me much. I did ride a little too hard, in order to get home in time for my wife to go to her Tuesday hobby and not leave the kids home alone. When arriving I was somewhat nauseated and was probably pretty near a total bonk. Nothing that an hour of sleep and some food didn't cure, though.

A slideshow with more picture is found here.

And a video:

This concludes the winter season for me. It has been a fantastic winter, with the highlights being the full moon overnighter in February, the ice adventure and these two crust riding overnighters.


  1. What else can you say, magnificent! I think somewhat similar bog adventure should be possible in the Wilderness of Marttila. Funny thing, but this winter was so fantastic that I'm not so much looking forward to forthcoming summer. The winter 2011/2012 is more in my mind, although I'm sure I will do some great summer trips.

  2. Beautiful photos, and fun story, as usual. But especially those sandwiches cooking over the fire; they started my mouth watering and my stomach growling.

  3. ...although, I have to add, I have no reason to be.
    I have only excuses why I could not do the same.

  4. Life circumstances, everyday life with work, family and all other responsibilities, makes it sometimes tricky to do these kind of adventures.

    Peter, those self-timer shots are impressive. I tried to find your foot prints but didn't see them!

  5. Toni, I actually used the wireless remote this time. It gives a better result than an interval or self-timer, since by hold down the remote shutter release the camera can fire away at a little over 5 frames per second, which increases the likelihood of getting a good shot.

    As for the lack of footprints, I tried, but did not always succeed.

  6. Filter thingy! How come your English is so good that you use thingy? :0)
    Fantastic post. I've been looking in twice a week since discovering your blog and enjoy your writing and pictures immensely.

  7. Thanks for sharing your trips and pictures, I have enjoyed a lot!

  8. Brilliant post!
    You have one of the best written cycling blogs! with its great pics and well made films its always a good read on here!

  9. Fine post, Peter. Wireless remote, good to know! I was wondering the same.