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.

The course was to start in Ekenäs/Tammisaari on Saturday morning and end on Sunday afternoon, with a night in the forest. I decided to ride there with my bike, around 105 km on mainly (but not completely) good roads, to get at least some training for the Tahko 240 km race I for some strange reason am supposed to participate in. I started riding on Friday after work.

The rear shifter on my Fargo broke just in time for this trip, so I took my only other bike, the Krampluk. I didn't want to wear down the Surly Knard tires (at least the fatbike version of the tires wore rather quickly), so I mounted some old 29" tires I had around. The Panaracer Rampage 29x2.4 got a rather square profile that really maximized the rolling resistance in the front and the Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29x2.25 in the rear was not much better.

I still made quite good speed for the first three hours, which were spent entirely on road.

The road got smaller...

... and then disappeared. I was forced to move a bit through the forest, since the road had been closed off by a house.

After a while I was back again on dirt roads. Since I wanted to get some additional training from this ride, I restricted my calory intake and only drank 1.5 liters of water with nothing to eat for the first four hours. After four hours I estimated that there was some possibility that I would bonk before I would get to my destination, so I ate some magic candy. The last section again went from smaller roads to trail.

After 4 h 50 min and 105 km I arrived at the camp site and immediately took a bath in the lake, before erecting the tent. The lack of energy made me slightly nauseous and it took some time before I felt good enough to eat something.

The evening was calm and nice and the mosquitoes were not too irritating. I was alone at the place.

I went to sleep a little before midnight. At this point it was very quiet outside, but a little later the nightjars started "singing". A little after sunrise I woke up for some reason and took a photo before falling asleep again.

I slept quite well and got up around half past seven. The morning was slightly cloudy.

I had plenty of time and enjoyed several cups of coffee, while I tried to recollect what I knew about plants.

About half past ten I left the camp and rode to meet with Henrik, our instructor.

We waited for the others at the train station and then went to Hanko to check out the plant life of the sourthernmost part of Finland.

Henrik tastes the sea kale. It is actually quite good.

Sea sandworth.
Enthusiastic students, before the confusion set in.

A sea of cow parsley.

Henrik shows how to tell narrow buckler fern from lady fern.

The sea.

A really strange hybrid? Or just sea mayweed and chives?

You see?


Do you see the sea?
Angelica archangelica.

Late in the afternoon we went for a pizza and after that back to the camp. This time a few course mates also stayed at the camp.

The girls heated up the sauna, but I thought the weather was much too warm for sauna and did not join them.


It eventually got darker and it was time to sleep. It rained a little during the night and the morning was not much better.

I enjoyed my coffee made on my old PocketRocket stove, while the others impatiently waited for the fire to heat the water.

It rained when we started with the plants again.

Henrik shows the bog-bean.

Yellow water-lily.

Bog plants.

Cooling down my feet.

A bisarre hybrid again, a pine with lingonberry blossoms.

Stiff clubmoss.

We now entered the domains of a very dangerous and primitive tribe.

Common hair moss.

We went to the city for lunch and after that it was time for the exam. I passed.

After the course everybody started to travel home. Henrik had to get some stuff to Kimito/Kemiö, so I got a ride with him there and then only had to ride 55 km on my bike to get home.

A great course again, with lots of fun. I learned a lot, but still have a lot to learn.

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. His one year older brother is a little shorter and lighter and will have to wait until next year for his turn. The fatbike itself is probably even a little lighter than the previous Kona Hula, but the massive wheels and tires take some amount of power to get up to speed. Still, I don't think this will be a problem, though we will take it easy in the beginning. The 9-year-old has orders from the doctor not to jump and hurt himself yet, after this thigh bone broke into two pieces in February. At least the first test ride went well.

The bike is a Salsa Mukluk XS 2014, which I purchased as a frameset with a crankset from my LBS. The rest of the components are mainly stuff from previous bikes I've had.

The only color option of the frameset seemed difficult at first, since I had a wheelset with white rims from my own Mukluk. The only option as I saw it, was to have more white components, mainly the saddle and handlebar. complemented with white pedals, stem and some spacers. The end result was a pleasant surprise. In my eyes it is actually quite good looking.

Wheels from my own bike. I'm now into 29+ wheels and tires for the summer and the wider Clownshoe wheels for the winter. I might borrow these wheels for my bike if I go riding in the fells, though.

Rear derailleur from an old bike. I also had front derailleur from an old bike, but it was made for three chainrings up front and looked rather clumsy. My LBS suggested a new one, which was a good idea.

The SRAM X.5 is a reasonably priced and decent crankset for fatbikes.

A framebag is under construction, though it is not of much use with this small a front triangle. There is also very little space for a saddle bag, so when we go bikepacking next week (hopefully), most of the stuff will be transported by me.