Monday, January 30, 2012


If you are a disgruntled Pirttimäki cross-country skier, please stop reading now. It wasn't us.

Four brave (read: stupid) riders met at Bemböle last Friday. For Hubert, this sub-24 was to be his last in Finland. For Robin, this weekend was a strange choice for his first experience of overnight bicycle riding and camping. Strange because of the temperature: a chilly -5 at the best of times.

The ride to Pirttimäki went very smoothly, especially when we realised that the asphalt on the road was a much easier surface than the bumpy snow on the cycle path. At Pirttimäki we got our first look at the forest paths that stretched 3 km to our camping place. The recently ploughed ski tracks were beautiful. Until four men and eight wheels started ripping them up. It was impossible to ride on the soft snow in between so we set our bike wheels in the tracks and started pushing, discovering a new form of hardcore exercise in the process. Despite Hubert realising, somewhat amusingly, that the ditch-side snow was soft enough to sink one's entire body into, we managed to make it to the cabin at Sulalampi unscathed only to find three cross-country skiers already there. Luckily, they took the hint and disappeared off to camp elsewhere and we all hope they didn't fall too hard from the new tracks made by our wheels.

Well, despite some inspired frozen wood chopping by Florian, some newspaper and some ethanol, this was the largest flame we could muster. We realised that some hot food from the gas stove and our 5 or more layers of clothes would have to be enough as the temperature dropped further and the smoke and fumes sent us fleeing from the cabin.

Brownish water with mysterious little blobs is the result of melting snow. However, it is possible to heat a can of beans directly on the gas stove.

Who knew?

On a brighter note we went for a walk to keep warm and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. If only the pictures did them justice.

In another crazy bid to keep moving, Florian and Hubert decided to put up their tents. This led to the inevitable: they decided to forgo the cabin (strangely no warmer inside than outside!) and rough it on a bed made of snow. Perhaps they might comment below whether this was actually a good idea. Well, we did survive the night, with varying amounts of sleep. (I strongly endorse sleeping in just underwear, by the way). But the cold encouraged us to get up and out earlier rather than later - someone could hear their own bed calling... 

The interesting thing about winter sub-24ing is that the evening ride happens in the dark. When you ride home the next morning, beautiful surprises might await you. Our nicest surprise was the fact that we managed to escape the ski tracks without bumping into any angry skiers. Oh, and the sunrise.

Honestly, I think that one night of -10 might be enough for me for one winter. But something different might be in store for the first weekend in March. How about a trip across the city to Rastila campsite? A modern cottage, sauna and ice-swimming. And a bar! That would be a different experience indeed...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sub 24, 2012 edition.

Happy new year, riders! I hope we'll all have a great year, fulfilling our cycling projects of all sorts!

Last Sub 24 saw Lee and me experiencing the first sub zero temperatures, the first ice layer on lakes and morning frost. Overall a very wet overnighter. But the Big White has finally come, the rain turned to snow... In other words, real winter is here, finally!

So far I haven't been able to go on an overnighter this January, and no official one has been organised. However, even in these quiet and rather dark times, I know a few of us (Hubert, Lee?) have a strong motivation to get the bikes out for the night.

To keep the tradition of sub 24 alive, we only have 2 weekends left in January to organise the ride/camp. The best option for me is this coming Friday (27th).

After two-digit minus temperatures, the weather forecast now indicates a couple of minus Celsius degrees, and snowfalls:

So if anybody want to join me for a ride on Friday, let's say 6.30 pm at Bemböle as usual. Considering the weather, I think we should head towards the Sulalampi cabin near Pirttimäki where we had already two Sub 24s last year. I don't know if we can cycle as far as there, we might have to push the bikes, depending on the snow layer...

If you're joining us for the first time, I recommend you to have look at this post. I don't bother to make a poll to know how many people are coming this time (quite short notice anyway), but if you're planning to come, you can leave a comment to this post. FYI, I'll bring a gas stove, though I hope we can set a fire there to keep ourselves warm.

So mount your studded tires, pack your down sleeping bag, fix your lights, bring lots of woollen clothes, and let's enjoy the outdoors in Nuuksio NP!

Edit: Sub 24 postponed to next Friday (27th). Same time, same place.