Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Luck of the Irish

With many of our sub-24 friends away on summer holiday this month, only three adventurers set out from Bemböle heading in a northerly direction towards Pirttimäki. The Anglophiles little knew what was in store for them on their trip to Hynkänlampi. 

The Irish mountain-biker soon took us off-road on a forest route running parallel to our well-known Kunnarlantie. There were many hazards on this route, but nothing could have prepared us for the numbers of small frogs intent on crossing the path in front of us. We did our best to avoid them but their numbers were simply too great. Not any more, though. The sound of frogs being ground to death between my wheel and mudguard with haunt my dreams forever.

We were relieved to find our camping place deserted (predictions of a thunderstorm had kept the Scouts at bay) and organised ourselves at the top of a ridge looking out over the Hynkänlampi water. Only when we climbed down for a well-deserved swim did we discover an enormous group of young men sitting by the lake. That was surprising enough, but when one of them invited us to sauna, we were not sure what was going on. They quickly flung a cheap tarpaulin over a marquee tent frame and disappeared. Interesting.

Our relaxation was then interrupted by a young man running past us and diving into the lake. He was soon followed by another. And another. And another... In the end, seventeen guys flew past us into the lake leaving only a trail of steam behind them. Well, if you can't beat them, join them. 

So we went in for some löyly. "Don't sit there, that's the hottest place", he says. That sounded like a challenge. Some polite conversation led to the singing of a sauna song which incorporated the throwing of water onto the stones. This song got faster and faster until we had to leave. I think it was a Finn that left first. However, I can still feel my lungs burning...

(I'm not sure whether I should mention this, but...) If that wasn't exciting enough, like the idiot I am, in a sequence of pure comedy gold while trying to put on my t-shirt, I managed to lose grip of my phone right next to the lake. It bounced literally in slow motion down the rocks as I dived after it. I almost stopped it with my foot shortly before I slipped and slid into the lake behind it. The rocks seemed to disappear away into the depths, but luckily the phone had snagged on something. 

I should say at this point that, as a bit of an equipment geek, I had my phone in a little waterproof bag (it was supposed to rain). However, I have carried this bag around with me for some months, it is rather battered and I wasn't even sure if I had closed it properly. Needless to say, I was distraught.

I removed my soaking shoes, towels and t-shirt and dived down to get the phone, not at all hopeful that it would ever work again - what a loss! Well, of course, I wouldn't be telling this story if there hadn't been a happy ending. The phone was fine. The Loksak waterproof bag is amazing. And I've got a nasty bruise on my bottom.

Well, the night couldn't really get any better. Or luckier! Hearing about Hugo's trip to ride the Dunwich Dynamo was a highlight. As was his ingenious use of a bottle cap as a wine glass. Camping up on the ridge gave us a nice view as well as stopping the worst of the noise from the gentlemen below. After some hours, we thought we'd better go and see if they were all okay, so we climbed down - which seemed a whole lot more difficult while carrying gifts of nuts and liquorice - and were treated to a couple of beautiful songs as a lullaby. They were the nicest, politest group of illegally sauna-ing young men you could wish to meet. Then they went home and left us to sleep in peace. 

The following day gave us more glorious summer weather and a relaxed ride home in under 24 hours.

Newcomers are always treated
to tea and biscuits in bed
The scene of the crime
I hope this report makes some holidaying sub-24ers a bit jealous! Any ideas for next month?

Right, that's all for now. Keep riding! I'd better go and wash some mysterious red stains of my bike...


  1. They called the saunalaulu "Siperia", and the löyly was tossed on each "HEI!"

    So I think it might be this one:

  2. Epic! Too bad I missed it! I could have helped you in the sauna as I've been training every summer on this song with Elsa's brothers. And as true Beast, I always won ;) I guess cyclists' lungs help you sing until everybody's out...

    My time (on the bike of course) in Åland was more peaceful, including some nasty hills I'll remember for a while .

    Next time Porkkala?

  3. Sounds like you had fun! Singing katuishka and the sound of the frog ;).

    I also have to skip next time. Argh! Summer time flies so quickly.