Sunday, January 17, 2016

A real fatbike overnighter

It feels like I've almost manically been pursuing outdoor activities since the winter temperatures arrived just before New Year. I guess two miserable winters in a row causes that. I've been riding my fatbike, I was on a chilly overnighter (-22C) in Paimio and I did a good amount of Nordic skating before the snow came. When it became clear that the snow prevented skating this weekend, the plans to go on an overnighter came naturally. At first I was quite sure that the mires of Kurjenrahka would be rideable, with the mire being frozen solid and the amount of snow suitable, but the snowfall continued and my preference then turned to skis. However, JJ still wanted to do it by bike and on Saturday afternoon, just after sunset at 16:00, we met at the Rantapiha parking to see what actually would be possible to ride.

The scenery was great. We tried to ride the first open mire section, but sooned turned back, since the grassy section had collected too much snow. Barely rideable and very hard work.

We followed the trail for a while, which was easier, since people had walked there and there was less snow in the forest. When we found a snowmobile trail, we started to follow it. It was partially rideable and went in the direction we wanted.

The snowmobile trail soon turned back, but we had only a short bit to more open mire, which was rideable, though the amount of snow made it hard work. The snow did however have the advantage that there would not be any damage to the ground underneath, which in my opinion is an important aspect, especially in a national park. The snowshoes probably caused more damage, though not a problem in these circumstances.

The going was very hard and it was only possible to ride on open and very wet (now frozen) mire, and such a route was not available. We decided to get back on the forest trail at the bird watching tower, but we couldn't find it in the darkness, and had to ride to a place where the trail crosses the mire on duckboards. The forest trail was a lot easier to ride, but the occasional sections on poor duckboards were demanding.

The final section was crossing the Vajosuo mire, which always poses a navigational challenge in the darkness. We arrived at the Rettu shelter after almost four hours of very hard work. The first thing to do was to start a fire. The temperature had now sunk to a chilly -20 C.

JJ noted that a beard is not a clear advantage in the cold.

I didn't bring any beer, since I don't think it tastes that great when it is cold outside. JJ had however bought a sixpack, which was too much for him and it would have frozen solid if left in the car, so I got two cans. It tasted good when heated to something clearly above freezing. The 1 kg steak was a little too much for two persons.

At some point a cloud cover came in and the temperature quickly rose to -16C, something which could be clearly sensed by the body. We stayed up for quite long, but eventually had to go to sleep before Toni arrived a little over three in the morning.

I got up at eight and immediately started a fire and had something warm to drink.

I gave JJ and Toni one more hour of sleep, before waking them at nine in the morning.

During the winter you have to make water the hard way.

It got lighter...

... and lighter.

Though we had a fire going, Toni wanted to practice with his liquid fuel stove.

I could have been ready to go at nine in the morning, but I still thought it was acceptable to start at ten. Time, however, went by and not much happened.

We eventually got going at 11:15, a new record for me. I've never been this slow in the morning. I guess we have to decide on a starting time the next time we are out...

The late start meant we had to skip some interesting sections and we rode straight to the cars, with a short visit to the mire. We rode around one hour only.


Toni still had several hours to ride, so we gave him the last of our water.

My bike still works great, but the new wheelset with 100 mm wide Clownshoe rims, which should be built next week, would certainly have given me an advantage this time.

That's it. A real winter overnighter this time.

Check out JJ's excellent pictures from the outing here and Toni's blog report here.

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