Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Kallaveden Kierros - 'the Tour de Kallavesi'

Kallavesi sublime natural beauty, and Italian hand-built classic beauty

Kallavesi is a big lake in eastern Finland, and the Kallaveden Kierros that can be loosely translated as "Le Tour de Kallavesi" goes around. Or at least around a lot of it. It is a 200, 100 and 60 km sportive ride organised by the Kuopio Cycling Club. I got persuaded to join Aussie Simon who is now a resident of the fair city of Kuopio and his mate Juha, to make up a little team to try the 200.

8 am start for the 200 km class; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...

We rolled up to the start line to notice that we were the only people wearing shorts not full tights and almost the only riders without overshoes on as well. Obviously the foreigners were more optimistic about the weather than the locals, or perhaps we’re just harder? But of course it rained; so the first couple of hours riding I mainly remember as a being a shower of muddy water and grit off the tire of the guy in front. By the second feeding station at about 80 kms the front half of my feet were numb – not great. I took my shoes off, wrung out my socks, massaged my feet back to life – but deciding I didn’t want Simon to accuse me of being a ‘whinging pom’ – manned the 'eff up, and got back on bike.

The next 100 kms was much better, the rained stopped, the roads began to dry out and I felt pretty good riding. The last 20 kms were hard going and my riding partners could go up hills quicker than me, but I still doing OK on the flats. The scenery for most of the ride is a delightful – classic East Finnish lakescapes, you just need to get your head up and try and enjoy the view rather than getting fixed on the tire of the guy ahead of you. I started to try and spot as many birds as I could, an eagle and a number of curlews were the most interesting.

Simon and Juha waiting for the ferry at the southern-most point of the tour. Now only 80 kms north back to Kuopio to do!

Some English punter pretending he's having fun

Not doing such a good job of still pretending its fun

Over the big bridge - and enjoying the fine lakeland scenery

On the finish line, 203.28 kms

Overall, it wasn’t actually as hard as I thought it might be. By the end I was crawling up any hills, but it was more that my legs just wouldn’t do any more than it being actually painful. Perhaps lower gearing would have helped on that. So if anyone is looking for well organized sportive type ride to do in an unusual place, consider giving the Kallaveden Kierros a go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post Toby. Kuopio looks like a really nice place! Think I'll encourage all my friends to visit for the great cycling, endless climbing possibilities, beautiful kayaking...