Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking back at 2013

It's time to wrap up the year 2013. From an outdoor point of view, this year has been a good one for me. I spent around 35 nights out this year on overnighters and longer outings, which I'm quite satisfied with.

January started with a weeklong thaw after a very wintry December. Most of the snow disappeared, but then the temperature again went below zero. A week into 2013 it was time for the first overnighter of the year.

For some time we had very unusal conditions. The small amount of snow froze solid and with a fatbike you could ride absolutely everywhere. Just in time for an outing on the frozen mires of Kurjenrahka we got a little more snow, which softened the crust enough to make riding it hard. Again I managed to be out during the two coldest nights of the winter with Toni.

February was also a nice winter month. I introduced the kids to sleeping outside in the winter...

... and there was also the annual Vajosuo Beer Ski overnighter.

March was as close to a winter paradise as you can get in Southern Finland. Plenty of light, cold temperatures and lots of snow.

The winter continued well into April and gave the opportunity for one last fatbike overnighter of the winter...

... as well as a ski overnighter a week later.
A long winter meant that a short spring followed, which I had nothing against. Still in April, I went with the kids to check out the Liesjärvi National Park.

In May I had a tenacious flu, but participated in the MTB-Turku Spring Camp before that.

June was, as always, a nice summer month. I went out with the kids on a couple of overnighters.

In July I had a perfect summer night out with the kids...

... as well as some interesting bikepacking.
My plans for a longer bikepacking trip in Lapland were put on ice, when I was accepted into the Axxell Wilderness and Nature Guide education.

In August I still enjoyed the summer, both solo...

... and with the kids.
I also went to look at bears in Kuhmo.

At the end of August I had a major setback when I hurt my lower back. The left leg became rather numb and at least half of the strength in the quadriceps was gone due to some major nerves being pinched. Even walking was difficult for a week. I haven't recovered completely yet, but it doesn't bother me anymore.

The fall went mostly with courses of the Wilderness Guide education. We went to Lemmenjoki in Lapland...

... I finally met Korpijaakko during an overnighter in Kurjenrahka...

... there was the orienteering course...

... and the survival course.
The Mammoth March was again the best biking event of the year and provided fun for a little under 14 hours, most of it in the darkness.

The Vajosuo Beer Ride was arranged for the fifth time.
December was a major disappointment weatherwise. It was a dark and wet misery with temperatures mostly above freezing with only a few nicer days.

At the time of writing, the winter is nowhere to be seen. Looking at the long-range weather forecast, this is shaping up to be the worst winter since the 2006-2007 catastrophy, when the winter didn't start until the end of January.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Independence Day, Global Fatbike Day and the State of the Winter

On December 6th in 1917, the parliament of the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire, accepted a Declaration of Independence made by the Senate of Finland two days earlier. Since then Finland has remained an independent republic. This has not been easy, at first being a neighbour to the less-than-benevolent Sovjet Union and now the Russian Federation, which currently tries to increase its influence in the world. Between 1939 and 1945 Finland defended itself at great cost in no less than three wars, two times against the Sovjet Union and finally driving the Germans out, a condition of the armistice. It could have been worse. South of the Gulf of Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were "liberated" by the Sovjet Union and had to endure 45 years of occupation and oppression, before finally regaining their liberty after the Sovjet Union fell.

Well, that was the mandatory history lesson and a little background to why the Independence Day is important in Finland. In the beginning of the week the weather forecast looked quite good, with a good amount of snow and cold temperatures. The realized weather was a disappointment, though. I did still go on a ride, but didn't find the slow snowfall that slowly turned to rain very inspiring.

On Saturday December 7th was the Global Fatbike Day. I haven't checked out who started this, but it is a good reason to do a relaxed group ride. Eleven fatbikes and a few fatbike wannabees started at eleven in the morning. This was probably a little more than one third of the fatbike population in the Turku region. The going was rather slow, due to the amount of riders and occasionally difficult conditions.

This was a relaxed ride and after a little more than two hours, it was time for a break with something to eat.

I went with real coffee and toasted sandwhiches.

After the break was over, I soon ran out of time and had to head straight home. It was a nice ride, though.

The Sunday had a little colder weather and everything was dryer. I went out for a nice three hour ride.

And the state of the winter? It doesn't look good.

The following few days should be cold, but after that the temperature will rise again. Not good. I really would like the winter start for real now.