Sunday, October 20, 2013

A perfect late fall overnighter

The rest of the family went to visit the boys' grandfather during the fall leave, but I could not take an extra leave from my work, since all the extras already go to the Wilderness Guide studies. I hence had two workdays and the weekend all for myself and found no reason not to go on a short overnighter. I contacted Toni, who also couldn't find any reason not to go. We then prompty decided to go to the Marttila area, some 60 km on bike from my place in Turku. With the upcoming Mammoth March sufferfeast a week later, this would also provide me with an opportunity to ride a little longer than the usual commute and get some picture of my current physical fitness, which isn't where it should be after the back problems I've had since the middle of August.

I started from home at five in the afternoon, taking a shortcut through the forest.

I wanted to try a different route to Toni's place this time and printed a very coarse map, not even showing all the roads, as well as a cue sheet from Google Maps. A great idea that didn't work out very well. The route went on very small roads that had no corresponding name in reality, even though everything was clear on the cue sheet. It is also uncertain if the road actually existed in a couple of places, and hence I got a little lost and was almost an hour late when I arrived in Paimio.

I rode through an unusually beautiful evening.

After 42 km Toni joined me. We had 22 km left to the shelter at Onnenperänrahka.

Only the final part was on trails.

The boardwalks were in poor shape and very slippery, so I only rode one fourth of them. And I also had fitted the map holder to be used in the Mammoth March, where I'm supposed to handle the orienteering, in order to see if my lights work well with it.

I immediately started a fire when we arrived at the shelter (first photo by Toni)...

... while Toni made more fire wood.

Water for hot chocolate and toasted bread. Pure enjoyment.

Lunar light.

We enjoyed the fire until bedtime around midnight.

The temperature was a little below freezing, which provided me with a good opportunity to test my almost ten year old ultralight summer sleeping bag (600 g in size XL) after it had been washed. I've heard different opinions about whether you should wash a down sleeping bag or not, but in this case it was certainly worth it. It seemed a little puffier and was more than warm enough during the night. (I did have my down jacket on top of the bag and it probably didn't go (much) below freezing in the shelter.)

We slept well into the morning. I woke up at eight to a very beautiful and crisp morning.

Fifteen minutes later Toni also started to move around.

Time for breakfast and coffee.

A perfect late fall morning with a crisp feeling...
... and tasty cranberries.

We were in absolutely no hurry and didn't start riding back until ten o'clock.

I had a pair of old semi slicks on my Salsa Fargo, to see if that would be a good choice for the Mammoth March. They do roll quite well and will be my choice if the temperature doesn't go below freezing, but they are quite slippery on the duckboards and in the terrain.

Toni had an easier time on the duckboards with the fatbike.

This time I rode two thirds of the duckboards. (Second photo by Toni Lund).

Toni pushes it.

Back on the road again. The next stop would be to get more water at Toni's place 22 km later.

The final 33 km home went a bit slower that I anticipated, but it was probably mostly due to the headwind. The occasional rain and hail shower also put a little extra spice to the riding, but it didn't feel too bad, despite my lack of training. I think I should be able to get through the Mammoth March, though I will surely suffer a lot more than last year. The only uncertainty is my left leg. Due to a pinched nerve, part of the quadriceps muscle is simply not working and the strain on the part that actually works is rather big, which could lead to problems with cramps.

This was an excellent overnighter. Weatherwise this weekend was a continuation to the best fall for a number of years, with the ruska being unusually great even in Southern Finland. Thanks to Toni for his company. You can check out his blog report here.

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