keskiviikko 26. joulukuuta 2012

An Interview with Pawel Zwoliński from BikePack

This is a blog post idea totally and absolutely stolen from Hendrik,  an interview with a cottage gear manufacturer.

My experiences with bikepacking are mostly from past year but I have had some previous biketouring trips. Always lacking proper bikebags I have stuffed my backbag with too much gear and ended up with a sore back. When the world of bikepacking (riding singletracks with a mountainbike stuffed with overnight gear) really opened up to me it was quite essential to figure how to get the weight off my back.

My current setup with Pawel's seat pack and fuel tank.
My first rig was a cyclocross bike with a seatpost clamp rack and a dry bag. Worked pretty well but still more carrying space was in order. When I got my Surly Pugsley I started really looking for optimal bikepacking bags. I found Revelate Designs, one of the most well known gear manufacturers from Alaska. I got a frame bag from them, and it's a darn good one. Only down side is that after postages, customs and taxes the price went up to about double. I was still eager to get a seatbag and a gastank type of a bag but started to wonder if it was possible to find them from inside EU as you don't have to pay for any extra charges. I guess it was a british site that I first came up with, a cottage bikepack manufacturer from Poland. Reviews for the bags were very good. Wow, you can get bags from inside EU!

Design and quality are superb.

I placed my order and and reply was quick but it would take three months to get them. Well it's a one man business but I would still get them before summer.

Now after several trips with my setup I have been very happy with
Pawel's bags, hence I want to introduce you Pawel Zwoliński!

The man himself.
Hi Pawel, tell us something about you and your bicycling background?

I started my adventure with bike touring when I was 12 years old. It was 20 year ago. At that time we traveled across during summer time on our bikes loaded with panniers, and all that bulky stuff. A dozen or so years later I started riding thru Polish mountains. and when I saw bikepacking bags I thought that was a great thing for multiday trips in the mountains.
Of course when it's possible I race in MTB marathons or MTB stage races.

How and when did you start making bikepacking bags?

I discovered bikepacking in 2008 when browsing forums. And I really liked the idea of such kind of bags and this kind of bike touring. First protobag came alive in 2009. 

Tell us how you design and manufacture your products?

Tweaking design has few steps, first make some drawings in skechup, then I transfer them to cardboard, if all pieces have good dimensions I make plastic patterns. I cut fabrics and sew pieces together all my own.
For example to make a seatbag from few rolls of fabrics to final stage i need almost whole day. Because BikePack is cottage production right now, trying to answer ASAP for any @ that I'm receiving, packing finished bags, shipping them, all those things are in my working day. 

Do you have some new coo products on your drawing board? Do you make custom framebags?

I Have some queries for new products, but it's hard to put them in working day because production queue is still too long even in colder moths, but I'm glad that more and more people ask for my bags. .

I also tweak my current designs from piece to piece If I receive advice form my customer.
Sure I make custom framebags too.

What is your most memorable bikepacking trip and what would be your dream trip? Do you do backpacking also?

The most memorable is the first one in real mountains, that we made with my pal Michal. We were trying to ride thru Small Beskidian Trail, just 150km but almost 3000m in ascent. It was really enjoyable and we learnt new things about bikepacking, many gear related things. 

My bikepacking dream is to have much more spare time to ride these trips:). I really like hiking too but I think backpacking in some kind is wasting of your energy. During bikepacking you can do same trails as hiking but you can go much further and see the same nice places. 
Pawel looking sharp at the mountains.
Tell something about mountainbikiking and bikepacking in Poland. Are they big sports in Poland? What trails and places would you recommend to a bikepacking tourist?

MTB is really popular here in Poland. but bikepacking not so much at this moment - of course I'm trying to change it :). Many people ride their bikes thru nice mountain trails, but huge part of them are using mountain shelters to spend a night in mountains. I think that using your own tent or other bivy gear is more enjoyable. Make some camp fire, bake some food on top of it and drink some beer, that is much nicer.

We have nice mountains here but some National Parks dont allow you to ride a bike. Sudety and Beskidy mountains, are those places where you can find nice trails. Some of them are gnarly and full of loose stones, some of them are muddy whole year, but they're all great. 
Thank you Pawel. I couldn't agree more about how to make a ride more enjoyable with your own camping gear. Of course I agree about the beer too.

sunnuntai 11. marraskuuta 2012

Duckboards Are Evil goes megalomanic!

Hopefully it won't be long before we have this much snow again!

As the dae-blog just reached it's 1000th visitor a grand sweepstakes is announced!

You might not have noticed but at the right corner there a follower box has now appeared. Sadly not that many followers yet, don't you agree? (Well none so far) Signup now as a follower to this blog and you'll have a chance to win one of the fine following prizes:

1 copy of ultralight guru Ray Jardine's Trail Life book.
2 pieces of ultracool Duckboards Are Evil cycling caps, in evil black of course.

Winners are randomly drawn at the end of november between everybody who has signed up.

So sign up now and learn all Ray Jardine's ultralight secrets or show those evil duckboards who's the boss with your new cool cycling cap! And hey, no obligation to read or follow this blog!

It seems that the time is up!

It was a tough and even competition but the lucky winners are...

Surprise, surprise... Winners are Toby and Sam!

Since Toby was the first one to sign up I guess it's only fair that you get both Ray Jardine's book and the cap.  And the other cap goes naturally to Sam.
Contact me here with your mailing address and the size of your head. Size chart can be found here.

Congratulations to both of you and thanks for joining!

sunnuntai 4. marraskuuta 2012

Men on a mission

Mountain biking at Sipoonkorpi 20.10.2012

Like they say at a certain radio station promo that men don't have hobbies they have missions. How true. We were on a mission too.

Objective:  To find new trails
Destination: Sipoonkorpi.

Sipoonkorpi is a new national park very close to Helsinki. As I haven't been living around these parts of Finland for too long it is still quite unfamiliar terrain for me. It was only a year ago that I realized that the place even excisted. AK-himself guided me around Sipoonkorpi the first time. I have been back a few times but there are a lot of places and trails yet to be found. A mountainbike is the perfect tool to get to know Sipoonkorpi as the area is not totally connected but more like separate ares.

To me mountain biking is about... hmm... it does seem silly to call this sport mountain biking in Finland because let's face it, we don't have any mountains here. We do have lots of lakes and fine forests and many, many bogs but not a single real mountain. Personally I'd be willing to trade at least some of those bogs away. No wonder that the finnish translation to mountain biking is something like offroad biking..

Offroad but rideable at this point.
Well anyway back to the subject. To me the essence of backpacking, mountain biking and such is the discovery of something new. I am the type who gets bored quite easily and even the thought of riding or running the same routes over and over again is quite unbearable. I was a keen runner for a long while but I finally lost interest in it and I think the main reason was that I couldn't think of new routes to run. Of course seasons and company bring variation also.
My favorite trip planning goes like this: pick a starting spot and an end. Then get moving and try to navigate in between. Also as I consider myself a pretty normal guy, perfecting the gear selection takes a whole lot of time. And you have to remember that it's not just about hiking or biking, it's about executing a mission.
This mission was meant to be an overnight bikepacking trip but due to normal time limitations had to be changed to one full day. And one full day of daylight riding isn't a lot this time of year as the sun rises around 9am and sets around 6pm.

I had pursued Leif to come with me this time with promises that the trails were going to be perfectly ridable. I had my doubts though, well I was actually quite convinced that it was going to be wet and muddy as it had been raining basicly everyday for weeks. This morning was looking like a nice exception with even an occasional glimpse of sun.
I had agreed to meet at Leif's place at 10 am but when I got there he was still half dressed. Leif was quick to point out that this was probably the first time ever I was on time and I had caught him by surprise. We had to get going quickly as riding in darkness was not part of the plan.
About an hour later we were at our starting point, at Helsinki-Porvoo highway rest stop, the one near Landbo road.

This is where it begun, still quite dry.
We started riding towards Kalkkiruukki. It became very soon clear to Leif that my trail condition estimates had been maybe slightly too optimistic. There were parts that were okay to ride but then there were the other parts. Pushing a bike at foot deep mud might not be everybody's idea of fun but that's my cup of tea. Or better yet, my pint of lager. More extreme the conditions, better the experience. To a point of course. Especially when you know you don't have to get up the next morning from a wet sleeping bag and put on those soaking wet shoes.

As there aren't that many glaciers nearby this is all rainwater. 
After some minor navigational mishaps we were getting closer to Kalkkiruukki. I have to say about the Sipoonkorpi hiking map that I don't quite follow it's logic. Some trails are marked on the map and other similar ones might not. It's probably aimed more more for day hikers following well marked trails and not really for orienteering. It does however make navigating a bit more problematic.
Just before Kalkkiruukki we were caught by a cyclocrosser. As the flying mud settled we chatted a bit and he gave us a some route info which changed our destination. I watched this fellow pedal away in deep mud with his barely an inch wide tires, looked down my fatbike tires and felt little bit  less like a superhero.
My idea originally had been to follow nordic skiing trail from Kalkkiruukki to to the northern parts of Sipoonkorpi where I know a very hushus unmarked fire place actually built by a friend of mine for our ex-president. Coolest part of this route was that it would have taken us through rather large bog. Sorry Leif, this kind of plans I had in mind but as condititions were already rather moist I figured I didn't have to take him through that way.  Also the cyclocrosser had mentioned about a kota that was supposed to be at a Brännberg, one of the highest peaks of Sipoonkorpi at 79.4 m.

More mud fun!
Our new route took us to higher ground and bike pushing parts became less frequent. We were too quickly on top Brännberg as it meant also a turning point of our trip. We searched for the kota a while but couldn't locate it. Not a big issue, weather was tolerable so we cooked a hasty lunch at the top.

Pretty self explanatory..

Daylight was fading quickly, we had maybe two hours before sunset so some pavement sections towards car were in order.
Then came the highlight of this trip, we got lost. Not really lost, but more like we couldn't pinpoint our location on the map kind of lost. We had come most of the way from towards car and had taken a turn to smaller trails. What looked like simple route on the map was something quite different, trails got narrow, disappeared alltogether and none of them seemed to go our way.

That way?
We could already distantly hear traffic from helsinki-porvoo motorway so no real worries but it was already getting darker.  With two options, either to follow our tracks and return from where we had come from and perhaps take a longer detour via roads or just push through towards the highway. We opted for bushwacking. I guess Leif's face was looking murkier but my spirits were lifted and I had trouble hiding my smile. These kinda situations turn hiking or biking into an adventure.
The fun didn't last long, maybe after 500meters we were back on the map and just as it got dark we were at the car.
Not really an epic adventure but it was a good ride. We found lot's of new trails and even more mud. And as a cherry to the cake was the minor lost in Sipookorpi episode.

keskiviikko 24. lokakuuta 2012

My Pugsley went 1 X 9 - finally

For the past year I have ridden with my Pugsley I have had constant problems with my shimano deore front derailleur. It seemed that I never got it tuned just right. Maybe it's got something to do with weird fatbike chain lines or just with my bicycle repair knowhow. Anyway I got pretty bored with listening the chain rub the derailleur chain guide and got very pissed after breaking the chain twice last winter. First time it happened I was luckily pretty close to a bicycle shop and I got a new chain within an hour. Second time was worse, I was in the middle of our central park maybe 15 kilometers from home. Well not excatly a live threatening situation but atleast uncomfortable. And believe me it was a very nasty case of chain-suck witch left permanent scars to my poor pugsley's frame. It was totally my own fault though. I was riding happily one moment on a hard packed snow then suddenly got on a soft slush and desperately tried to shift on a lower gear. And the result: Frozen fingers, lots of nasty words but luckily this time I was armed with a multitool and I did got to pedal home.
So I started searching for more reliable options. 1x9 seemed like proper solution since I'm still not anti-gear by no means. After a lot of googling I discovered that single front ring in mountain biking seems to be the new black. Finally I have a chance to be on a front row of a fashion movement.
I came up with the widgit thingy, basically a chain ring protected by two metal plates on both sides to keep the chain from falling off.

Come with all you need, chainring and two spacers.

Not the cheapest option at 139 australian dollars but it seemed to be excatly what I was after. Simple, yes. No extra pieces like chain guides. Reliable, can't think of a way for it to fail. And light option too but not a big issue in this case as we are still talking about a fatbike and the rider ain't the skinniest dude around the block either. Also it should be simple enough to install but this didn't really go as planned. And the biggest bonus was the possibility to choose a new chainring with a new gear ratio as it is possible to choose from 28t, 30t, 32t and 34t.I went with 28t option. I know it's very close to a granny ring but I'm no super athlete. Anyways the biggest chain ring has rarely been used anyway and I plan to ride where Pugsleys were ment to ride, on snow and mud. As you can see from the from tables stolen from the widgit site I basically lost three biggest gears and two small ones. Fair enough.

After customs and taxes the price went up quite a bit but I was ready to put it in use. As it says on the widgit site just 15 minutes is enough to install it... for everyone else I guess.

Things didn't go like in Strömsö though and  my installation project took closer to three weeks. Lacking a correct crank puller I searched through maybe five local bicycle shops but none had one. I guess they don't want you to do your own repairs so I had to turn chainreaction cycles. Once the crank puller came I was once more ready to get my hands dirty but darn, I just couldn't get the crank puller to fit. Maybe threads on my cranks were err... well, screwed. Next logical step was of course a rubber mallet. I banged the crank as hard as I dared but it wouldn't budge. Buggers! Finally help came in a form of Eppu from hi5bikes, thanks a bunch.

Not much extra space between frame and widgit, maybe more spacers are in order.

 Now my new widgit was ready for a test drive and it seems that the new gear ratio was spot on. More about that later...

keskiviikko 26. syyskuuta 2012

Duckboards Are Evil strikes back

At Hämeen järviylänkö 14-16.9.2012

1. Day

Once again at Loppi and at the Poronpolku trail parking place. With a  different companion as this time it was AK-himself with me. That means our unofficially and unintentionally slightly homoeroticaly named duo Metsäveljet was in it's full line up. After my last trip with Matti I had been bragging about the trails here to AK and he couldn't wait to get going. Luckily we managed to get whole three days off from our families but things surely didn't look promising...
First of all the weather forecast promised bad weather, storm winds and heavy rain for the whole weekend but this didn't worry us too much. A more severe problem was that both of us weren't feeling too good, some flu bug I guess. Neither of us had a fever so we were still going. Also at home front there was trouble. AK's young son had a nastier flu and also my wife was getting sicker.
After work I phoned nervously home and asked how she was feeling, not too good but I still got a permission to go with a promise to return to home if she was getting worse. Watching after two young kids while sick isn't something you'd hope for anyone.

I had packed hastily the previous night and didn't really have time to check over if I had everything but I do have quite a good routine for pulling stuff together. There are two things I usually forgot to pack, kuksa and toilet paper. This time I had toilet paper but no kuksa. Well, a short stop at Riihimäki ABC and I got myself a plastic one.
We quickly unpacked the car and started riding as the weather was promised to deteriorate towards the evening. Already the wind gusts were quite strong. First 6 or so kilometers were once again pure joy. We took a little bit different trails this time and found even more gorgeous sand ridge trails along those pine covered forests and we took our time to enjoy those. 

Pushing and pedaling along Poronpolku.

Once we hit the roads we begun to turn cranks a bit faster. As it really started raining we reached Räyskälä village shop. We took a cup of coffee and a couple necessary first evening celebration beers. I put on my rain shell and on we went again. We were heading towards Kivijärvi lean-to. It was not far, less than 10km from the shop but the pace was fast and I didn't feel too strong and so I was watching AK's back the whole way. This was to be the trend for the most of the trip, I was pacing up when we were ridind trails and AK was furiously leading when riding via roads. 4" tires do make a difference in both ways.
A sharp eye can spot the difference between a regular mtb tire and a fatbike tire. 

We made to the Kivijärvi lean-to just in time when it started raining even more heavily. The lean-to was a bit more open towards the wind and rain than we had hoped for but it was providing a decent shelter for us anyway. The fire we made did push a lot of smoke to us and made the lean-to feel sometimes more like a smokehouse for fish or meat but we were relatively cozy.  A telephone call to home revealed that kids were nearly at bed but my wife was feeling worse and having quite a high temperature. She'd manage so far but we'd check again at the morning.

We the lucky ones watched the storm from our shelter and started cooking, I had a sudden realization that I had left my brand new plastic kuksa at the car. Bummer. But there's nothing that a lot of ingenuity and skilled handicraft couldn't solve.
My nice new kuksa.

While lying in our sleeping bags and sipping beer we also managed to empty a bottle of brandy AK had brought. Of course there is the matter of weight saving for the rest of the trip if you drink all your liquor on the first evening. I fell asleep and at sometime during the night the storm died away.

2. Day

At the morning things were looking brighter. Mrs. Duckboards Are Evil was feeling a bit better and our friend M would come gallantly to the rescue and take our son out to play for the day. I was also surprised to notice that I felt better too, I guess it was nothing that some fresh air and half a bottle of brandy couldn't cure. Well I did feel a bit hangoverish. Weather was also getting better, there were still thick clouds but no rain or wind. And if you really tried you could see some lighter batches or even blue tones at the clouds. We cooked our Blå Band porridge, packed our stuff and started pedaling. It would be a long day if everything was going to go as AK had planned.

Our route would take mostly along forest roads even some highway sections would be along the way. Our first stop would be Korteniemi heritage farm at the Liesjärvi national park. Ok, our second stop, we couldn't resist a stop at a gas station and a bottle of coke. There was a few kilometers section along Helsinki-Pori highway with 100km/h speed limits. Not the most pleasant part of our trip but it was fast going.

Korteniemi farm is an old forest ranger farm from the late 1800s. It is now owned by our forrest government and it is carefully preserved to its original state. At summer months there are guides and people working by traditional methods.
We weren't really sure if the place was going to be still open but wanted to visit anyway. To our pleasant surprise we were given a tour, got plenty of coffee and traditional rye bred from the staff. All for free. We really wanted to stay for longer but we still had a long way to go. Both of us felt that this was a place for a family trip.
AK enjoying his cup of coffee. At this point he'd like you to notice his brand new cool Warmpeace hoody.

We took a direction towards Kyynäräharju, a narrow sand ridge 2km long, separating two lakes. A recommended place to visit too and we had some trail riding for a short change.
Ridge riding

 At the northern part  of the ridge there was a well to get our water bladders full. This well was going to bring us some double trouble. More about that later. A short lunch brake was in order. AK drank all the water he had left and some more cold water from the well. Perhaps too much...

Our route would take us next towards Torronsuo national park. Along the way around the village of Letku AK felt first small stomach cramps then nastier and suddenly we were in hurry. We made it just in time to the local village shop and he got to use their toilet. I bet they regret it now though.
After taking his time we decided to continue, maybe it was going to be ok from now on. No it was not ok. After AK's several quick rushes to the bushes we made it to Torronsuo bird tower. AK was at this point more interested about the outhouse but we decided to climb to the tower anyway.
The tower..
and the view.

Torronsuo is a large open swamp and from the tower you get a good view. We were in good time to see lots of cranes although from afar. We took a bit longer brake and ate some bred even AK managed to eat something. We didn't have too much time to linger though. If we wanted to be at our planned place for the night, Peukalolammi  lean-to before dark we had to get going. AK wasn't sure how he'd manage so we started slowly. After an hour he quite suddenly started feeling better. No sudden rushes to the bushes anymore and our pace quickened.

What happened with his stomach remains a mystery. If it had been a stomach bug I guess he wouldn't have recovered so quickly. The best thing we could figure was that he drank a way too much water at the well. Then stomach full of water added with stirring motion of cycling mixed his
bowels. Go figure.

Our route took us past the well again and our water supply was getting low. AK wanted to stop but I insisted to keep going as it meant a huge 200m detour. Yup, a smart decision by me indeed. In my defence I have to say that by map there was a decent looking small pond next to the lean-to we were heading. And I had my new Sawyer squeeze water filter I wanted to put in use. So we rode past the well and the remaining 5 kilometers. Lean-to was a pleasant surprise. Nobody there and the evening  sun was making places look golden. I took my water filter and rushed to the pond. Shit, it didn't look good, dirty looking boggy pond. It was no way you could go to the middle where pond was still open. I balanced on few rotten planks at place and tried to get some less humus filled water to the water filter bags. I know I should have pre-filter most of the stuff away. I begun pushing water through the filter and managed to get maybe half a liter through before water flow slowly died away. Sawyer filter does come with a cleaning syringe and you use it to push water back the other way. Of course I didn't pack it along.
At this point still flowing. And it works really well too if you remember to pre-filter the solid stuff.

Well, what can you do but go pack the 5 kilometers with all our water containers to the well. And I guess I played some small part on not stopping at the well so I volunteered to go. Luckily we were not  backpacking but bikepacking so it wasn't such a big deal. But hiking back and forth, man that would have sucked. And it was worth it, well water was something totally different to that foul smelling pond water. Filter may have made it drinkable but not good.
After getting back to lean-to we cooked and crawled to our sleeping bags, we were tired.


We had both made an oaths to our families to return early. So we woke up early as 8 am is still early for me if there is no work or kids to pull me up. We ate Blå Band porridge once again started going. We had some 30 kilometers back to our car.
After a downhill there's always the uphill.

We rode along nice sceneries, forest, fields, you know. Basic finnish country side at it's best as the sky was totally cloudless. We made to the car and we back home around noon.

A very good trip and it was the longest we both have had for a while. It was good to be out for two nights but on a shorter trips you always end up craving for one more day.
I have mentioned much about the kilometers we rode since I'm not 100% sure. Totally it's anyway closer to 150.
I sure hope there's time for one more before the winter.

All photos by me and AK. Spelling mistakes by me.

sunnuntai 23. syyskuuta 2012

A very quick overnighter at Mt. Paloheinä 30.8.2012

As my family was out of town I had a time for a midweek overnighter. Only problem was that I had to be at work 7am the next morning. I have had an idea to sleep on top of Mt. Paloheinä so I went for that.

Mt Paloheinä is situated at the northern part of Helsinki in the heart of our central park which is a neat forest corridor straight from the city central to the northern parts. Mt. Paloheinä is a nice hill with some good views but is actually an old landfill although nicely landscaped. Well it does bring some variation to our flat scenery.

At thursday evening after work I took a nap and started packing, didn't need much just a couple of pieces bred, some cheese and of course two pints of lager. I started pedaling around 8.00 pm and about an hour later I was at Paloheinä just a bit too late to miss the sunset from the top. I looked around for a suitable dry and flat spot to put my sleeping mat where I would be hidden from the passer bys. I didn't really find one so I just spread my gear at the "second peak", the lookout spot. There are some quite popular jogging trails around Paloheinä but only a few people were jogging up the slope and no one came to the lookout spot so I was on my own. I laid in my sleeping bag looking at the airplanes passing by and even some stars through the light pollution from the city. I slowly sipped beer and fell to sleep around midnight.
This trip was not a photofest just this one pic. I'll try to be more active in the future.. promise!

The next morning I had an alarm at 6am and it was really humid. The morning dew was everywhere
but not luckily through my sleeping bag. I had a bivybag with me but didn't bother to use it. But no harm done anyway. I ate my bread and rode to work, maybe a ten minutes ride. Good part about this trip is that I got to sleep half an hour longer if I had ridden from home.  

sunnuntai 26. elokuuta 2012

Hämeen järviylänkö, a trip report 11-12 august 2012

I guess it's kinda ironic that after bashing on maintained trail systems my first trip report is a celebration of one. Story goes like this:
Well, I had been reading about Hämeenjärviylänkö from fillarifoorumi and other sources about the magnificent single tracks there. As a father of two small children my schedule is tight and I usually don't have much saying on how to spend holidays and weekends. However I did manage to negotiate a short 24h leave from saturday morning till sunday. So I needed to go somewhere close by hopefully with some new scenery. To the Hämeen järviylänkö it was.

There is a form of outdoor adventure where using trails is preferable if not mandatory and that is of course mountain biking or bikepacking as in this case. I have been pushing through swaps and thick forest before but without any trails or rideable terrain you could/should leave your bike at home. And even riding those boring trails you already know well with a bike makes a whole new experience. Also with a bike you can start an adventure from your own doorstep and when the night falls you are somewhere quite far away ( except during winter time kaamos). To me bikepacking has opened a lot more opportunities to have great miniscale adventures.

Bytheway, what is bikepacking? There are some chat board debates about the differences of bike touring and bikepacking but to me it's cycling those same trails you'd otherwise be hiking with a backpack.

Back to the trip report.
My trips are done mostly solo, mainly because everyone else is busy too or my plans seem stupid enough so no-one wants to take part but this time I had managed to persuade Matti to come along. I'm fine with solitude but it was a nice to have company for a change. Matti had some issues with lacking some gear but as a gear nerd I have almost double of everything so I borrowed some stuff to him.

I won't go into gear in detail but I ride Surly Pugsley, the ultimate offroad vehicle with revelate and bikepack packs.

My trusty warhorse
I tried to get an early start but as always the time flies and I don't so it was closer to 2pm when we were ready to start cycling. We had driven with a car from Helsinki to Loppi to the beginning of Poronpolku trail, part of the longer Ilvesvaellus hiking trail. We left car at the Luutalammi parking area. It is somewhat unclear to me whether it is allowed to ride those trails since it goes through nature reserves and national parks but it is not denied anywhere either. The name "poronpolku" means a reindeer trail but we are still about 1000km south to nearest living reindeer, funny.

As it was discussed at fillarifoorumi the trails are perfect. As I'm not the most technically skilled mountain biker these trails are excatly what I like, fast singletracks through pine covered forests. A finnish word would be "neulasbaana". The biggest accents/descents are right at the beginning through the Salpauselkä ridges.

Too steep to our feeble legs
Views from the top
We rode fast, we rode slow and we enjoyed the trails. And we stopped to enjoy scenery and an occasional beer. Whether was magnificent for a change. I felt a bit bad about the comforts of my 4 inch fatbike tires as Matti was riding with his hybrid bike but he did ok.

More nice trails

Some art stuff

After stopping at the Räyskälä village shop for "supplies" and coffee we continued towards Iso-Melkutin lake. It was only a short ride and we found the other lean-to at the lake to be unpopulated and decided to pitch our camp. Iso-Melkutin is a crystal clear lake with sand ridges around. The lean-to we stayed is further away from the road and in tidy condition. However I really like my Halti Pata Fun-laavu/tent so I decided to sleep in that. From the car we had ridden maybe 25km, mostly singletracks but some pavement sections also. My only complain about the trails would be around the lake that all the small trees were cleared so that stumps were very sharp, ala vietcong boobytrap style.

It sure was a clear lake
During the day at the trail we had seen just two hikers and one mountain biker, so these are not crowded trails despite being quite close to bigger cities. Only 1 hour from Helsinki with a car. When the darkness begun to fall we had some company to out fire, two ladies came to the laavu and told us it was going to be a meteor shower that night. After gazing upwards and making my neck stiff I did manage to see some shooting stars, but not really a shower of them. Around 1am it was bedtime for me and I slept great as I usually do outside but Matti spent a chilly night.

It was worth the effort in many ways to get up relieve my bladder.
At the morning the wheather was sunny and perfect once again. Due to time limitations, mainly because it was my better half's birthday we rode in a hurry via roads back to car.
Just a great trip with nicely rolling trails and good company and everything in less that 24 hours.