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.

The amount of snow wasn't that large, but it still cheered up everything.

I had my trusty Salsa Mukluk with the typical bikepacking setup, enabling me to ride without a backpack, which is my preferred style. I feel that I still can handle the bike quite well even in rather technical terrain.

The feedbag hides a new beer, the Kukko Vehnä (a Weissbier).

Toni was a bit late and we rode to meet him on a forest road.

Me, myself and I.

Toni and JJ.

The trail was marked, but at places still hard to follow, at least on open sections.

View over the Juomakivenrahka mire.

JJ rode his old Nicolai.

There was surprisingly little storm damage on the trail, but some places still needed a little bike pushing.

Another view of the same mire. Also includes a tire.

A short duckboard section. The duckboards were not entirely visible under the snow, but still not difficult to ride.

The sunset is getting closer. The tire might look familiar by now.

Closing in on the Lotikonkellari shelter.

Much to our surprise, there was firewood at the shelter, meaning that we would stay here for the night. We now took a short break to enjoy the sunset.

JJ x 2.

The time was now a little over six, so we couldn't stop here. After checking the maps we came up with a suitable loop. A wise man would perhaps have left the gear at the shelter, but that would of course have been cheating.

Easy terrain.

We took the trail at the north edge of the mire, a trail I hadn't tried before, since according to my information there would be no duckboards there, meaning that a bike could leave ugly marks in the soft mire terrain, something which should be avoided. This time the ground was firm and frozen, though, so there was no risk for that to happen.

It was now getting darker, but that could to some extent be compensated for.

The riding was very nice and the fatbikes had a clear advantage.

On the way back to the shelter, the riding was very flowy and the speed increased, until Toni rode a bridge at a poor angle and took a nasty fall. He fell down from the bridge on the ice of a ditch and hurt has right hand and arm. The ice broke, which probably lessened the impact, but instead he got a little wet.

The right crank arm also took a tough hit and was bent. As a result it no longer cleared the chainstay, but later at the shelter we managed to bend it back a bit.

We were quite close to the shelter and continued there to make a fire and assess possible further damage. JJ used his small pocket knife, a Varusteleka Skrama, to prepare the firewood. I suspect the knife is more of  a weapon than a tool, but it worked for this as well.

The wind was now rather hard and the fire took some effort to get started, but after a while we could make our food and hot drinks.

JJ had mustamakkara (black sausage) to go with his beer.

Toni tried pizza...

... while I had something really delicious. Chopped beetroots, carrots and turnips with olive oil and some spices in one package and freshly smoked salmon, heated on the fire, in the other.

And so the evening went on. The wind was rather strong and the temperature a few degrees below freezing.

Around half an hour after midnight I withdrew into my sleeping bag. I used my summer sleeping bag reinforced with my summer quilt, which kept me warm during the windy night. My plan was to sleep until seven in the morning, making me the first one to wake up, but a little over six I woke to the others talking. Toni couldn't sleep due to his hurt arm aching, and JJ had found and exceeded the comfort temperature of his DIY summer quilt, which he had finished a few days earlier. For once I woke up to a ready camp fire.

Breakfast in the making.

The shelter is in a quite nice place.

The challenges of hydration...

Toni wasn't able to ride with his hurt arm and took the shortest possible route to the cars, pushing the bike, while JJ and I rode the more difficult route of yesterday.

Yesterday's mire in a different light.

An excellent overnighter cut a little short in the morning. Hopefully Toni's injury heals soon. Thanks to JJ and Toni for the company.

PS. The answer to the question that has puzzled at least some readers. How did the new Kukko Vehnä taste? The answer is that it tasted pretty much as expected, a pretty standard Weissbier with a little watery taste, due to the limited alcohol content allowed in beer sold in ordinary stores. The liquor store version of many beers is usually a lot better. Maybe the ordinary store version is simply made by diluting the real stuff with water?

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