Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Year in Review

The outdoor year 2014 started miserably. There was still no sign of winter, but that suddenly changed about a week into the new year. The temperature fell rapidly and the sea ice started to grow in thickness. While the lack of snow didn't allow any skiing, the skating was great and culminated with the Vigu Nordic Skating 1 course.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice and the End of a Season

The winter solstice is actually on Monday, but I chose to celebrate it on today on Sunday, since Monday is a workday for me. The days will now start to get longer again. This is worth celebrating because currently the time between sunrise and sunset is only 5 h and 44 minutes, which does limit you a bit on workdays. A good way to celebrate the solstice is to do something outside.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Waiting for the winter

We are now well into December and there is still no winter in sight in the weather forecasts. Two weeks ago we at least had snow for a few days, which was really nice in the middle of the November misery (November had only 5.1 h of sunlight in Turku).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sixth Annual Vajosuo Beer Ride

November means mostly depressing weather and darkness in Southern Finland, in addition to the annual beer ride to Vajosuo. This mountain biking event was now to take place for the sixthtime. The concept is still simple: Ride the bikes for a few hours on very demanding trails, stay at the Vajosuo shelter for the night drinking beer and eating and then ride for another few hours in the morning after a few hours of sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Aquarius Sea Lion kayak initial review

I'm really not interested in doing product reviews, since the web is already flooded with them. They are usually also of rather poor quality, since people use them to draw traffic to their websites, without having a long enough experience with the products being reviewed. Since this blog is maintained on a pure hobby basis, I have no need to resort to that trick and hence have only done the occasional first impression post. My new kayak, which is of a brand rather unknown outside Eastern Europe, has however generated some requests to review it, so I'm doing an initial review post about it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vigu First Aid Course

A week before the Mammoth March I participated in the four day Vigu Outdoor First Aid course, which gives the Red Cross First Aid 2 equivalent certification needed by Finnish law for providers of outdoor program services, e.g guiding.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Mammoth March 2014

It was again time for the Mammoth March, in my opinion the best cycling event of the year. The idea is to navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint starting in the evening when it is already dark. There are several different distances and you can go either by bike or by foot. We naturally chose the longest bike distance with 25 checkpoints and 170 km (the theoretical best route for runners). Our group consisted of the usual gang, which was complemented by Tommi a year ago or so. Matti opted to run this year as well, and managed to get through the 100 km course. Hence our team, MTB-Turku All Night Long, consisted of me, Toni, Jarkko and Tommi.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Food course and Vigu 20 year anniversary party

It was time for another Vigu (Wilderness Guide) course, this time the food course. This was not a course about how to spice up your freeze-dried food on a Trangia, but rather how to make really good food for paying customers, when you have access to good ingredients. We were also told to enjoy the feeling of being hungry before the course, since there would be no opportunity for that during the course.

Monday, September 29, 2014

First paddle

I had planned to go with Vigu course mate Anna on a kayaking overnighter to celebrate her finishing her new kayak, which she built entirely herself. For different reasons, the overnighter was changed into a day trip, but as an added bonus I had a new kayak myself, bought the day before.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A late summer kayaking weekend

I really got into kayaking again this summer after a long break, so it felt natural to join the local paddling club, Saaristomeren Melojat, to get in touch with more people doing kayaking. The club arranges trips and courses and an interesting one that also fit my schedule was to take place in the middle of September. I got in touch with Kristian, who arranged the trip and he interviewed me by phone to see how I would fit into the trip. A useful thing for a guide to do, though the final truth is revealed on water. The trip promised fall weather, paddling in the darkness and maybe bigger waves.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Vajosuo Beer Ride

It feels like the summer ended when I returned from the kayaking course and the schools started. The temperature dropped and it started raining almost constantly, after a very long period of (too) hot weather and drought. I had some kayaking planned, but for different reasons the plans were not realized, so when JJ asked about any possible overnighter plans, a plan was quickly formed. According to the weather forecast, there was to a brief recess in the raining on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th, so we went for a short overnighter.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vigu Sea Kayaking 1

It was time for the first sea kayaking course of the Vigu Wilderness and Nature Guide education. Having started kayaking again this summer after a long break, I had looked forward to this one. And our main instructor would be Benjamin Donner from Aavameri, who is probably the foremost sea kayaking instructor in Finland.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kayaking in the Archipelago Sea

The continuing (too) hot weather still makes kayaking a lot more tempting than riding in the woods. Fellow Vigu students Benjamin and Dani decided to join me on a three-day trip in the eastern part of the Archipelago Sea. The Archipelago Sea is an archipelago with many thousand islands, most rather small. It is quite well suited for kayaking. In bad weather it is possible to avoid larger passages or stay in the inner archipelago, while good weather permits interesting trips in the outer archipelago.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back in the kayak

Longtime readers might remember that I bought a kayak in 2012, in order to start kayaking again. For some reason, it didn't happen in 2013, but now, in 2014, I'm back on the sea. I started a little late, in June, but there is still a lot of kayaking season left.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kimito Island

I thought an overnighter would be a good way to reset myself from the work life and start the summer vacation. A more traditional Finnish way to achieve this reset would be a bottle of vodka, but that's not really my style. Toni was also interested in an overnighter and he had scouted a good location on the Kimito Island earlier in the week. Everything was thus set and I took the car to Kimito to meet with Toni. Around 19:30 on Friday evening we started our ride.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vigu Botany Course

A part of the Wilderness and Nature Guide education I'm currently taking consists of learning more about the nature itself. It is not only about being in the nature, but also actually knowing something about plants, animals, birds, fishes etc. This weekend it was time for the botany course. The requirements were not overwhelmingly difficult with 141 species of plants. Regarding lichens and mosses we only had the main groups to learn, since an exact species determination can be very difficult and sometimes even necessitate the use of indicatory chemicals. The vascular plants are easier to identify and the list was not overly long. I probably could identify over 100 species before the course, since I took some interest in that 15 or so years ago. About half of the plant species on the list was thus to some extent familiar for me, but there was also a lot to learn, especially the (at least previously) less interesting grasses and sedges. And I also needed to refresh things I had learnt earlier, though it is much easier to relearn something than to learn it from the start.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Kid-Sized Mukluk

The kids are getting big enough for real mountain bikes. The 9-year-old boy is somewhere between 145-150 cm long and at 44 kg should be strong enough to ride a fatbike.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vigu Climbing Course

It was time for the climbing course of the Wilderness and Nature Guide education* I'm currently doing alongside my ordinary full-time work. Since I hadn't done any climbing at all, this was to be a very interesting course and four full days should enable a fairly thorough treatment of the basic skills.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Turku All Night Long

Sometime earlier this year we decided to finally do a May through-the-night ride that we had occasionally talked about for few years. May is a good time for this, since the night is short, the trails generally quite dry and there are still only very few mosquitoes out. Turku All Night Long was thus born. The idea was to ride for around twelve hours, starting in the evening, on the trails in and around Turku. Our group of five shrank to three when the date came closer. Coincidentally, the remaining three riders also intend to ride 240 km at TahkoMTB this summer, which should prove a quite demanding challenge for us. The only athete among us is Toni.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Krampluk

What do you get when you cross a Salsa Mukluk with a Surly Krampus? You could get a Mukpus, but the established name seems to be Krampluk. I ordered a 29+ wheelset from my LBS and got it last week. The 50 mm wide Surly Rabbit Hole 29" rims combined with the 29x3" Surly Knard tires sounded very promising for summer use, when you don't need the floatation of fat tires.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Levaneva overnighter

Labour Day was on a Thursday this time and the kids had the Friday off from school. It was thus easy to lengthen the weekend and I went with my family to Ostrobothnia to visit the kids' grandfather. The area around Närpes does not offer that much for a mountain bike rider compared to my ordinary surroundings, but I still wanted to go on a spring overnighter. It turned out that a suitable destination, Levaneva, was found not too far away. There are a few routes around a large mire and also several shelters in the area. I took the car for the 60 km ride there and was joined by Simo at Rajavuoren erä- ja retkeilykeskus.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A new camera and video

I made a radical gear move a few weeks ago. The m43 gear, which I had been very satisfied with for two and a half years, was switched to a Sony NEX-7 camera and a few lenses. The reason for this was that I wanted to simplify the gear, but above all get a single main camera for both still photography and videos. I had the excellent still photography camera Olympus EM-5 and the excellent Panasonic GH-2 for videos, but to do both still and video photography during an outing I would have needed both, which isn't really compatible with my gear philosophy or even the space and weight constraints when doing bikepacking in demanding terrain.

Monday, April 21, 2014


A naive and optimistic person would perhaps have thought that we would get an early spring, when the snow melted two months too early in February. Since I'm only optimistic, I had no such illusions. With very few exceptions, the spring arrives in April, regardless of how long the winter has been.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Vigu Winter Fells 1

This is a long post, you might want to start by making a cup of coffee.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter again?

After some time with warm weather, the temperature being mostly above freezing, everyone was ready to embrace the spring, including me, after a miserable and mostly non-existent winter. However, this weekend the winter struck back. The change was visible in the weather forecast a few days earlier and we started to talk about a small overnighter this weekend. Not everybody could make it, but I, Toni and JJ decided to meet up at Marttila at 16:30 on Saturday. With the effect of the days getting longer now being very noticeable, we would have more than two hours of daylight before the sunset.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Winter Video

I dusted off my Panasonic GH2 and made a little video about the current winter, or whatever you would choose to call it.

I used the GH2 and the Panasonic 14-42 lens, as well as the Panasonic Summilux 25/1.4 for a few clips. A short clip was also made with the waterproof Panasonic FT4. I tried a new hack on the GH2. The Cluster X Moon T7 in HBR 25p mode didn't work reliably with my Sandisk Extreme 45 MB/s cards, but the Cluster X SpitzZ T6 worked well. These hacks almost triple the bitrate of the video data in the camera, and I think the result is visible when you are editing the video. There is more detail to be pulled from the shadows, something not entirely unusable when filming in high contrast sunny weather and it also helps to maintain the excellent resolution of this particular camera. This resolution makes it possible to do small pans and zooms in post, something which was not possible to do well with the earlier Canon 60D I had.

Unfortunately, this non-winter hasn't provided much inspiration for doing video work. Last winter I managed to make four videos, but this time I probably won't make more than this one.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Non-winter overnighter in March

It was time for an overnighter again. The purpose of this one was to celebrate Toni's almost-win of the Rovaniemi 150, though you don't really need a reason to do an overnighter. This time we decided to go to the Töykkälä shelter, where I've only slept twice before. Since I had been a little sick a few days earlier, I decided to take the car to the Vajosuo parking place and ride from there, about one hour of riding from the shelter of the night.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Just another February overnighter.

This was supposed to be the blog entry where I would write about how good a time I had at the Rovaniemi 150 race. It should also have featured photography from a nice winter landscape. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way. One week before the race, my 8-year old son broke his thigh bone riding a pulk in high speed against a tree. The thigh bone is supposed to be the strongest bone in the human body, but it still broke into two pieces. A surgery and two hospital days later, he came home in a wheel chair, where he was to stay for a month, not putting any strain onto the leg that had been put together again with titanium.  He should be back to normal in four months or so. But, in this situation my presence and help was needed at home and I couldn't go to Rovaniemi, despite everything already being arranged.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Winter overnighter in Teijo

We finally got snow. Some are not that excited, while others are more so. I had the possibility to do an Saturday-Sunday overnighter and wanted to do some snow riding before Rovaniemi 150 as well. It turned that some Vigu (Wilderness Guide) students had planned to spend the weekend in the Teijo area, and I decided to join them for the Saturday-Sunday night and combine some snow training with a nice overnighter in good company.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vigu Nordic Skating 1

It was finally time for another Vigu (the Wilderness and Nature Guide eduction of Axxell) course, Nordic Skating 1. An attempt two weeks earlier was cancelled due to the lack of ice. This time the conditions were ideal, though. It had been very cold for almost two weeks and very little snow. The course was also moved to the Turku region, because of the better ice situation here, which suited me fine.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lakjärvi in January

Finally. After a long wait the winter arrived, at least temperature wise. The snow is still missing, though, but with positive thinking this might not be so bad after all. It means that opportunities might open up out on the sea ice instead, at least if the current conditions continue. The temperature also meant that there was absolutely no reason whatsoever not to go on an overnighter. After some modern communication (like Facebook) three other people would join me: Toni, Bomba and JJ.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Snow version of the Salsa Mukluk

It seems like the winter is finally arriving. The weather forecast shows colder temperatures and snow for a week, which means that the trails will soon be nice and hard after several months of wet misery. Hence there is no reason not to make the Salsa Mukluk more winter capable.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Misery training

During the misery overnighter a few days ago, Toni mentioned that he was going to do a longer (> 8h) training ride on Monday, because he needed the training for Rovaniemi 150. Since I will also participate in the race, that implicated that I also needed training. In fact, I need it a lot more than Toni, who does commute 40 km a day with his bike. The weather was somewhat suboptimal, but there comes a point when it becomes stupid to just complain about the lack of the winter. This is the weather we have and there isn't no alternative but to accept it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January Misery

It was time for the first overnighter of the year, despite the miserable conditions outside. The best thing that could be said about the weather was that it didn't rain much. Rather depressing, when everyone just wants snow and cold temperatures to get rid of the wet darkness. Still, an overnighter is an overnighter and I needed some training.