Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Epiphany Day Rogaining

It was time to try something new, or at least something slightly new. Soon after the Mammoth March I stumbled upon an announcement about an eight hour rogaining event on the Epiphany Day, Loppiaisrogaining. It seemed quite interesting and I got Jarkko to join me. We were to do it on bikes, though most of the 300 participants did it on foot.

The weather around New Year was somewhat unstable. After a very wintry Christmas, the weather turned warm and the snow mostly melted. A very uninspiring bicycling weather, but it allowed a very interesting paddle trip on New Year's Day. A few days later the winter returned and when it was time for the rogaining event, the weather was quite crispy.

I picked up Jarkko a little before eight in the morning and we started to drive towards Espoo. After ten minutes Jarkko noticed that he had left all his food behind and we turned back to get it. This led to us being somewhat late and we got started about ten minutes after everyone else. The start was at 11:00 and the temperature was now -17C. It was a crisp and sunny day.

Already when we studied the maps, it became clear that for we would have to leave the bikes and continue on foot for the final approach to most checkpoints, which had several sides to it: It was easy to keep warm when walking, though the clothing needs for biking and walking turned out to be quite different. It was also a little challenging to estimate the distances, since the walking and biking speeds differed a lot, and a more formal method would have been needed for that.

Even at noon, the sun didn't go especially high. Jarkko "punches" the Emit card, which registers the checkpoint into it.

Yours truly. Photo by Jarkko.

Another bike parking place in the forest.

There were also some occasional nice singletrack sections.

Jarkko enjoys the sun.


We continued riding and walking to the checkpoints, mostly without making any real mistakes. Only once did we have to search a little longer for a checkpoint. The maps were topographic maps and not orienteering maps, and were hence not very detailed and in some places rather confusing. At three o'clock in the afternoon we decided it was time for a little break, since we would only have a half hour or so before sunset, and there is definitely a value in seeing the sun in these circumstances. The mandatory space blanket was put to use as a ground cloth. (Second photo by Jarkko).

It probably was a little warmer during the day, but unsurprisingly the break made us very cold. Withing a short while we again had a checkpoint demanding some walking, which again made the warmth return to the body.

We continued riding and walking to checkpoints without problems and soon it became dark again. At this time of the year, the sun is up only for six hours.

About two hours remained when it got dark. The rules also say that if you arrive at the finish too late, you loose one point for each minute you are overdue. Hence we wanted to be done before seven in the evening, but not by much. On the way to the checkpoint which became our last, a thermometer showed that it was -17C again. We arrived at the finish at 18:40, after exacly 7 h 30 min and 61 km, of which 51 km were on bikes. The average speed was hence surprisingly low, which is only partially explained by us being out for fun and not for competition. By riding faster we could perhaps have won up fifteen minutes or so, but the real reason was probably that the terrain was quite slow even when walking.

All in all, this was a very nice event. Having checkpoints to find just is so much more rewarding than just riding around on a ready made course. Thanks to Jarkko for the company. Next year again!

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