Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Last Ride of the Winter...

... I think, at least of you don't count commuting. The excellent winter weather of March continued into April, and at the time of writing, the ten day weather forecast shows no sign of spring. Still, the sun inevitably brings an end to the winter soon.

The open mires a bit north of Turku have a good network of prepared classic style ski tracks. While we didn't get crust strong enough for riding on this winter, which is a bit surprising considering the unusually cold March weather, I've had my eyes on these ski tracks now for a couple of weeks. It would be possible to ride on them with a fatbike without causing any damage by keeping to the narrow hard area next to the ski tracks where the ski poles hit the snow. I've refrained from it since there is the possibility that some skiers would dislike seeing tire tracks there, which would be a totally unnecessary conflict. Also, I wouldn't want to contribute to the steadily decreasing respect for the ski tracks in Finland. I finally thought it would be ok to go after the Easter holiday, when the likelyhood of anyone skiing there would be close to zero. The ski tracks on the open mires were still quite ok, but in the forest they were totally unusable.

On Monday evening 1st April I started riding around 17:30. With daylight saving time finally in place, the sun would go down 20:15, so I had enough time to ride 40 km to the Vajosuo mire.

Leaving the city...

.. riding through the countryside...

.. before finally closing in on the target area. At this point I noted that the water in my downtube bottle was partly frozen, so the temperature was decreasing again.

The crust on the mire was in some places strong enough to ride on, but the packed ski track trail was better.

I continued over the mire...

... until I set up my tent just outside the National Park border. Tents are unfortunately not allowed inside the National Park.

I had brought full winter gear, but had to sleep with the sleeping bag partly open in order not to overheat. Otherwise I slept well. The night was silent, but when it got lighter in the morning I finally heard the characteristic spring mire sound of the Black Grouse.

I got up a little before sunrise at 6:45 and set up a camera for some time lapse photography, though I think I used a too long interval between the pictures to get a usable result. The temperature was now -11C.

Back in the tent, I had coffee and  a half flapjack for breakfast and then went out for some more photography.

At eight in the morning I had packed down my gear and started riding again.

A short forest section showed that the ski tracks were no longer in particularly good shape.

Nice riding on the Kurjenrahka mire.

Signs of spring.

An outdoor paradise on the mire.

The tire tracks are barely visible.

A second breakfast after two hours of riding at the Savojärvi lake.

Continuing on a trail packed by walking.

I don't think a skier would mind me riding here.

Entering the Lammenrahka mire.

Time for lunch.

After lunch I continued for another hour along the ski track trails...

... before running out of time. I then had a 40 km ride ahead of me, of which 15 km was on forest roads consisting of everything between mud, ice, slush and water.

My last hour turned into pure misery, when I had the worst bonk for one and a half year. The plan was to use the opportunity to train riding with an energy deficiency, since it is good training for the long endurance race events, but I hadn't planned to let it go this far. Riding in a zombie-like state isn't fun, but it does teach you something. Hopefully I learned to try to remember some extra energy bars next time.

And finally a small video:

Astute readers will notice that I had a big tent, as well as some other extra gear. I tested bringing everything I would need, except food, for a week-long unsupported solo trip in Lapland*. The new Salsa Alternator Rack  Wide enabled me to put a larger drysack on the rack. My 12 liter seatbag would not suffice for this. I also intended to take a little more food in a separated dry bag strapped underneath the tent, where I now had the Ridgerest ground pad. The ground pad would have gone on top of the dry sack on the rack. However, after arriving home from a visit to my mother I had very little time to pack and could not find any more straps, so I just grabbed a little food and packed it were it fit. I think the original plan would have worked fine, though, and would have been good enough for the purpose. The tent is however unnecessary big and heavy, with space for three persons (two in the winter) and weighing 3.5 kg, including ten snow pegs and some other stuff. I also would take pogies on such a trip instead of just ordinary gloves.

* The Lapland April fatbike trip will not take place this year. This time I'm quite content with the winter so far, and I decided to save my limited vacation time for something else. Maybe next year.

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