Sunday, March 27, 2016

The last remnants of winter

Toni asked for company for a little overnighter and I joined him, as did JJ. The plan was to take the cars to the Vajosuo parking place and then just ride to the shelter close by, be there for the night and ride a few hours in the morning before going back home in time for lunch. I didn't have high expectations for the riding, since the limbo between winter and spring generally is a poor time for riding a mountain bike or fatbike. I was wrong. This turned out to be a truly great outing.

I got there around sunset, a little before the others, and quickly packed my bike to check out the mire before it would get dark

The Vajosuo shelter was already occupied, so I continued out onto the mire, which was in much better riding shape that I thought. The parts with more snow were hard work, but mostly there was only ice, which is easy to ride on.

A view from the bird watching tower.

More riding.

Joined by Toni

We decided to check out the Rettu shelter on the other side of the bog. The distance didn't mean anything when the riding was this easy.

I didn't bring a map, but I do remember the area pretty well and also have maps in the smartphone. The orienteering went pretty well, despite the darkness. We ended up with only very short hike-a-bike to the Rettu trail.

The Rettu shelter was unfortunately out of firewood, so we called JJ and waited for him at Rettu for a short while.

Our next target was the Töykkälä shelter less than one hour away. We started by backtracking for a while.

Despite our noble efforts we came to much to the east and the riding was no longer totally effortless.

We found a ditch taking us in the right direction towards the ski trail, which despite no longer allowing skiing would give a firmer base to ride on.

I had done about two and a half hours of riding by the time we got to the Töykkälä shelter and was quite hungry, so we started with some sausage.

Time for the real stuff, a big piece of meet and vegetables.

A new Kukko beer, Schwarz. As several other Kukko beers it suffered from being restricted to the maximum 4.5 % alcohol limit of the ordinary food shops. I'm not interested in the alcohol per se, but having the fermentation continue a little further usually gives a lot more taste.

A fire is so nice.

We got up at seven the next morning.

Toni has also started to pay more attention to coffee.

The moka pot is nowadays my number one choice, unless I really have to save weight.

Coffee and bread, the perfect breakfast.

We got going again sometime before nine. The beginning was mire with trees one. There were enough stripes of ice and snow to make it rideable. Normally it would be too uneven for riding.

The mire opens up.

I was a little surprised that we didn't hear the black grouse during the night. The time and place should have been right. The tracks were further out on the mire though.

Judging by the size these could be whooper swan tracks.

There was enough snow and ice on the mire to make it rideable, and also enough to protect the bottom from the bikes, something which is equally important. A cranberry picker in the fall makes a lot more tracks or damage to the mire.

There were some spots with weaker ice. I had a wheel go through a few times and on the picture JJ has just had his front wheel go through the ice.

We went on open mire through Kurjenrahka to Savojärvi and continued on a short trail section towards Lakjärvi.


Toni's snacks have become very tough despite the temperature being a little over freezing.

Crossing Lakjärvi. The mire behind it wasn't rideable in its entirety.

The lagg zone proved easy riding again.

Going to the next mire, which again provided easy riding.

Approaching a denser section, the transition to the Laidassuo mire. Even with very strong snow crust I've never been able to ride through, but this time when it was mainly ice with only a little snow on top it was no problem.

Another short break.

The circle is completed. Back on the Vajosuo mire.

We were back at the cars after a little less than four hours. This was the third time I've done this circular mire route, Tour de Kurjenrahka, on bike. I've done it on skis a number of times, but it is a rare treat to be able to do it on bike.

Thanks to Toni and JJ for the trip. It was a great one.

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