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.

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