Saturday, October 15, 2016

Vigu Downhill Mountain Biking Course

The blog has seen a bit of radio silence, not because I haven't done anything, but rather because I've done quite a lot, with Vigu courses and other things as well as work. Now my life is slightly less busy again, so I'll start with the Vigu downhill course.

We took the night ferry from Turku to Stockholm on Monday evening September 5. The following day we drove 650 km to Åre in Jämtland county, which took most of the day.

We still had time to go down to the pump track close to the apartment where we stayed for some pumping practice before dinner.

Most of the nights we had dinner together at the apartment.

Åre bike park was closed on Wednesday, but the rental shop equipped us with bike for free for some ordinary mountain bike riding. We took the cars to Vålådalen and started the 12 km Blanktjärnsrundan route.

When the trail forked, we split into two groups, with the more experienced group taking the rather left trail, which was rather technical and also quite demanding since it climbed so much.

A short break and Blanktjärnen.

The descent was easy on flowy and technically easy trails.

My group still had time to do the more demanding Issjödalen-Pyramiderna route, a 22 km affair with half of it being a fairly technical climb and the other part a speedy and technical descent, partly on the same trail in the other direction.

Our second guide, Fredrik from

The landscape opened up.

Outside the Issjödalen cabins.

An fascinating gravel plateau.

The Pyramids.

The descent was rocky and fast, and it didn't take long for Mats to get his first snakebite.

We contined without any more incidents, until Mats got his second snakebite.

After that we had no more problems. Around 35 km or rather technical trails and a fair bit of climbing was quite tiring, though. And I had a 27.5" bike with 150 mm of suspension both front and rear, which isn't really made for climbing. A fair amount of the energy goes to warming up the dampening oil of the suspension...

A short video from the day, unfortunately only with POV material.

The next day it was time for the DH bikes. 

We started with the basics on riding position and moving on the bikes, before doing anything else.

After a while we started with the first easy and careful runs.

More exercises, this time how to get the bike correctly off ground.

We had lunch, the weather was nice and there was really no reason not to take the cabin lift all the way up for a long run.

The view opened up nicely and the Easy rider route down was pure enjoyment. Technically easy, fast and in nice surroundings.

Yours truly.

Mats looks at the landscape.

We still had time for another run, but this time I chose a poor line at one place and got a snakebite on my rear tire. Fortunately we had a spare inner in our group. Most people seemed not to carry one. It was still a fairly acceptable place to fix a snakebite.

The next day we started with the easy lower courses.

Instant banana pancake.

Lone shows the basics of taking curves. Incidentally, this was one of the things I had most problems with doing correctly. I've ridden a lot, but mostly on technical natural trails, where the speed generally is fairly slow. Built trails with berms allow a rather different curving technique, and my ordinary riding technique cost too much speed.

Lunch and coffee.

After lunch we took the cabin lift all the way up. It unfortunately started to rain, which meant slippery cliffs and poor visibility due to mud on the visor.

A broken spoke.

My ride.

My previously clean shirt. Under the shirt I wear a full body armor.

A short video from the top part of Easy Rider, again unfortunately only POV video.

The weather cleared up a little later in the afternoon.

Easy rider was a lot of fun, but my absolute favorite was the forest sections a bit lower, Månskogen och Getrappet. Fast and flowy, fairly narrow forest riding and mostly rather smooth trails, completely different to anything at home.

The next morning started with some bike maintenance, brake bleeding.

As well as some human maintenance. Ironically, nothing happened during the actual downhill sessions, but I hurt my wrist during a slow fall on the first day. A month later it still hurts, but I haven't really had time to let it rest. Less than ten minutes after my fall, Mats took a little fall. A few weeks later it turned out that he had broken a rib.

Saturday morning was slightly foggy.

A bit higher up the weather was clearer. Quite beautiful, actually.

The afternoon was spent just riding and enjoying the riding, no formal instruction anymore. Pure fun.


Eventually, the day ended and we returned all our gear and the next day we spent driving to Stockholm to catch the night ferry back to Finland.

An excellent course was over and I felt I learned a lot. A bike park enables you to ride situations and conditions that occur very sparsely during ordinary riding, so it is a good way to improve quickly in some areas. I think I will continue that. Another consequence of the course was that I have become interested in a full suspension bike again. Something like an all mountain 27.5+ bike suddenly seems quite interesting.

Thanks to the instructors and the participants for a fun and instructive week!

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