Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Sunday ride.

A short Pugsley ride. Yesterday the temperature was just above freezing and there was a strong wind. As a result all the snow disappeared from the trees and the ski tracks are full of debris. Hopefully we get more snow soon. At least the sun shines today, something which has not been that common during this winter. February and March should see more sunny days, though.

There is still a lot of snow. When I took this photo I stood in about 60 cm of snow.

The bigger trails are nice and hard, but there are still smaller trails that are difficult even with a fatbike.

Greenman. I've seen his tire tracks on several rides before this year, and sometimes missed him by just a few minutes. This time our positions in the space-time continuum happened to converge, just as I took a shortcut home.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Short overnighter on skis

The Kuhankuono ski route, which I tried out last week was so nice that I was tempted to do an overnighter on it. My plans included sleeping in a bivy bag in an open place to fully enjoy the moonlight. The weather was of course crisp and clear in my plans. Despite the usually correct Norwegian forecast, the weather was less than stellar. When I started skiing at 20:50, the temperature was a few degrees below freezing and it rained a little. The darkness necessitated using a light, and it was not possible to take any pictures. I switched to plan B and went to the Lakjärvi lean-to instead, where I got a fire started.

Grilling a sandwhich with lots of Emmental cheese.

At 23:30 I went to sleep, only to wake up one hour later to lots of noise and screaming. A few minutes later two snowmobiles arrived. Two guys had the splendid idea of driving their noisy machines somewhere to do some barbecuing. I probably looked rather unenthusiastic, so they suggested themselves that they could go to Rantapiha instead. They were polite enough, but still I have no respect at all for people using these noisy unnecessary machines in Southern Finland where the forest areas are quite small and the distances small. In addition, they certainly were not allowed to drive where they were driving. There are actually very few places snowmobiles can be legally driven on land in Southern Finland.

A little over seven in the morning I got up, made some coffee and porridge and packed my stuff into the backpack. At 7:50 I was on the move again. The temperature was -4°C. In the beginning it was quite dark due to the cloudy weather.

Nearing the sunrise at 9:08 it started to lighten quickly. My impression of the snowmobilers from the night was reinforced when I noticed that they at one section drove on the ski track, destroying the actual track. At one point one of the snowmobiles ran out of gas or broke down.

This was a nice ski track. Idiots!

Back on the bog again.

Snowshoeing is a perfectly fine activity by me.

A wetter part of the bog.

That's it. A nice small trip, but the fantastic weather from last week's trips would have been nicer.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Still riding

I'm spending more time skiing than riding a bike currently, mostly because the kids want to ski as well, and they are not big enough to go on their own yet. Still, I do some riding in addition to my commute. The trails are in good shape, and for the most part have hardened up enough to be rideable even with ordinary mountain bikes after the thaw we had earlier this week. A fat bike still works better, though. The thaw compacted the snow a little, but the official snow depth is still 43 cm (17 inches).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Canon EOS 60D

In the beginning of January I visited a local Rajala camera shop, to check out the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. While the image quality of my Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 was good, I found myself lacking an optical image stabilizer. Nowadays I mostly move by bike and the photography is not my primary activity and therefore I don't have time to use a tripod all the time, or even bring a tripod with me. As it turned out, by giving the 40D and Sigma 17-70 lens in exchange I did not have to pay much more for the lens and an EOS 60D than only the 15-85 mm lens would have cost.

There I was with Canon's newest DSLR and a rather nice standard zoom with 35 mm film angle equivalent of 24-136 mm, a very usable range. The first test pictures have been quite satisfying.

Though the viewfinder is quite bright and big, I've actually used the live view display a fair bit, since it is quite practical being tiltable and all. Additionally, the live view enables contrast autofocus, which is absolutely accurate, even though it is slow. I have not tested the dedicated autofocus system for front/back focusing properly yet. It seems ok, though.

The low light performance is good. ISO 3200 does not yet show any significant amount of noise and at ISO 1600 there is in practice no noise at all.

The 18 megapixels do have some implications for post processing. In addition to using yet another bunch of CPU cycles, an additional step is needed. With the 10 megapixels of the 40D (and S90, which I still use a lot), it was sufficient to do a final sharpening of the full sized image and that would still be sharp enough at a typical web page resolution. Not optimally sharpened, but good enough. This is no longer possible with 18 megapixels, so my workflow will be to adjust the image at full size in Canon Digital Photo Professional and then convert it to a full sized JPEG file with only a very small amount of sharpening. I will then make a resized picture in a smaller resolution (1920x1280 for direct HDTV compatibility) and apply a final sharpening (USM) at that resolution. This process is still not finalized, but I think something like this should work.

The EOS 60D can also do full HD filming with a good quality, and I might actually try out this a little more. The first attempt was quite satisfying, though I did not yet fully know the camera when I made it and made some errors. The film was put together using Windows Movie Maker.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kuhankuono Ski Route

I originally planned to do an overnighter on skis this weekend, but the weather forecast changed to less inspiring weather. I made other plans for Friday night, but the weather forecast once again changed and promised clear and cold weather. I decided to try out the Kuhankuono ski route on Saturday morning. The weather was nice and crisp, -20°C (-4°F), when I got out of the car after driving for 35 minutes. It was still very dark in the forest when I started at 8.00 in the morning.

Getting lighter. It was likely a few degrees colder on the bog, and it took some time for the body to wake up and start to generate some heat.

Some sections are made on forest roads. Not too inspiring, but the other sections make it worthwhile.

The sun is starting to light up the tree tops.


Sunrise was at 9:35, but it took another 30 minutes before the sun got up over the trees.

Forest trail used for hiking and mtb riding in the summer.

Open space again.

More forest skiing.

Coffee break. Weather this nice should be enjoyed without hurry. I felt so warm that I left the down jacket in the bag, which of course meant that the first 10 minutes after the break were very cold.

The sun climbs this high at this time of the year. We've already gained 53 minutes of daylight since the winter solstice.

The rays of the sun can be felt clearly, but it still probably only warms the mind.

When I got back to the car, the temperature was -17°C (1°F). I skied about 20 km.

A slideshow with more pictures.

Hopefully we get the same weather next weekend. If so, I think I will go on an overnighter in this same area to enjoy the full moon.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Overnighter video

I finished the video of the overnighter. It was fairly painless, but still somewhat time consuming, to put together using Windows Live Movie Maker. Using the EOS 60D H.264 MOV file directly was very slow, so I first converted them to an AVI format using MPEG Streamclip.

The video can be found here or in the previous post.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First S24O of the year

Toni Lund got some new gear for Christmas that needed testing, a good excuse for going out on an overnighter. We decided to meet halfway between our homes, meaning Piikkiö.

Packed and ready to go.

Starting out with singletrack.

After this I continued towards Piikkiö on smaller roads. My cheap Biltema pogies are almost to warm. In -8°C (17°F) I was barehanded and still almost too warm.

Meeting Toni in Piikkiö 21:20.

The final section towards the lean-to was a snowmobile trail, too loose for Toni's ordninary mountain bike, but just firm enough for the Pugsley.

And finally some pushing of the bikes...

... until we arrive at the lean-to.

Time to eat.

Starting with some instant capuccino and a sandwich...

... before the main course: Pancakes, the noblest of outdoor food.

We went to sleep at 23:30.

Next morning. I woke at 7:30 and Toni half an hour later.

A familiar pattern: Eating porridge and drinking coffee...

... while the morning proceeds...

... and it gets lighter.

A nice winter morning.

Packing the bikes again.

A snow tire from a long time ago.

On the move again.

Some road riding...

... before the final singletrack section.

Home in time for lunch. This was a nice little overnighter, thanks Toni for the company. Check out Toni's write-up here.

A slideshow with more picture can be found here.

Here is a small video showing the benefit of fat tires.

The full video is here.