Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vajosuo Beer Ride Edition V

November. Often just a full month of misery and darkness in Finland, with a few nicer moments, like the traditional beer ride to the Vajosuo mire. This was the fifth time we did it. The concept is simple: Pack your bike with gear to make it through the night and add some food and beer. Ride for a few hours to the shelter / fireplace in the evening, spend the night there and ride for a few hours back to the starting point the next morning through a different route. The difficulties are generally the technically very demanding trail, darkness, rain and once it was even rather cold with -20C temperatures and snow.

This time we had a record number of participants. Another shift in focus, at least for those who had participated before, was that the food had become more important than the beer. I had only two cans of beer, but more food instead. Everything was packed on my new bike and I rode without a backpack.

I arrived with Matti H and greenman a little late to the starting point a little after six in the evening. We encouraged the others to leave before us, since there was no question that we wouldn't catch up with them, but nothing happened, so we started a little late.

The duck boards were now and then covered with ice and with extremely slippery. Almost impossible to walk on and difficult to ride on.

Toni shows his style.

We soon noticed that the tail was nowhere visible and stopped to wait.

Full moon over the lake Savojärvi.

It didn't take long for the first participant to opt out. I followed him back to the parking place with Matti H and greenman. After that we could ride the boardwalks in our own pace and made good speed. After having gotten a little further this time, Pihvi came towards us with another casualty, whose rear derailleur was now useless after having fallen off the duckboards. I escorted him back with Pihvi, which resulted in us being back at our starting point again after one and a half hour of riding. We decided to take another slightly faster route with Pihvi and rode the trails and duckboards pretty efficiently.

Pihvi having passed one of the more exciting sections. I was very close to getting a full bath in the wet bog myself.

A short bit before Töykkälä I flatted my rear tire, something you don't want to do with a fatbike. It took almost twenty minutes to fix it, most of the time being pumping the air into the new tube. We decided to skip the last trail section and ride to the shelter on roads in order not to be too late. We rode for around three and a half hours for a total of around 22 km.

The fire was already burning hot when we arrived. Due to the gourmet nature of most of the food, there was no space for my food yet, so I heated some water for hot chocolate and warmed a sandwhich. My old Trangia coffee pan has now found new life for use with a fire, after having been unused for more than ten years.

JJ and Matti H had a vegetable stew in addition to pasta and big pieces of meat.

All sorts of food in foil, as well as some traditional sausages. I had one foil of vegetables and another one with salmon and blue cheese, which tasted great.

Activities, including beer and glorious plans for the future, around the fire.

Around two in the night it was time for the traditional and mandatory walk to the bird watching tower to look at the mire.

I only had the Olympus XZ1 pocket camera with me. With a real camera the moonlight would have made some real nice pictures possible.

My bivy spot...

and Pihvi's.

Morning again. The night had seen some hard wind, but I slept quite well and got up a little before eight.

Breakfast and coffee.

A few different bikes.

Toni's new 9:Zero:7 with 100 mm rims and Bud and Lou tires generated some interest.

Toni's bike loaded up. It looks really nice, but I do think it could have a little larger main triangle.

And mine.

Vajosuo in the morning.

We got started an hour late and two of us left the shelter to ride back on roads. The rest had some very difficult duckboards ahead of us. I rode most of them without problems, as did the Krampus man.

An alternative technique. The new duckboards still wait to be installed.

The sun doesn't rise high anymore.

JJ masters the duckboards.

A road section.

Filling the water at the Käärmeslähde spring. The water wasn't very clear and tasted mud this time. I didn't get sick, though, but I only drank a little of if.

We rode the Kangenmiekka trails and took a short sandwhich break at the Laaskorpi shelter on our way back.

The next section along the west border of the Vajosuo mire was the worst, but it went quite well. After that we ran out of time because of the late start in the morning and had to ride to the cars on road, all but JJ, who rode the final trails alone. We arrived at the cars a little over one in the afternoon after three hours and around 20 km of riding.

Thanks to everyone for participating. It was fun again.

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