Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bikepacking the 7 Brothers Hiking Trail/Seitsemän veljeksen vaellusreitti

Bikepacking the 7 Brothers Trail
I've thought about trying to ride the 7 Brothers Hiking Trail for some time. It starts not too far from home so was a logical target. I think altogether the route is a bit over 50 kms but it depends where you finish. I rode about 40 kms of the trail ending on the Kytäjä road (Kytäjäntie), but I think you can do another 15 kms or so into Hyvinkää. I didn't start riding until mid evening, so rode the majority of the route late in the evening. I got knackered and camped at about half past midnight, just pitching my tarp where I was. Although it never gets really dark in Southern Finland at this time of year, with only a small head torch and riding in forest, the last hour or so had been a little too dark for fun, especially for single track riding, so I had done about 30 kms on the trail before stopping for the night.
Typical forest single track, and a trail marker
Feeling a bit fresher in the morning, I enjoyed probably the most technical part of the route as you leave Nurmijärvi and cross over into Hyvinkää district. It's proper single track mountain biking, I had to dab a few times, and even crashed off once or twice - but then I'm not a particularly great rider. I had commitments in the afternoon and knew I had 50 kms of road riding back to Helsinki, so finished riding the trail a bit before it ends: you are also at this point only a couple of kilometres from Hyvinkää ABC, and the lure of coffee and donuts played its part.

Trail life. Waiting for my morning coffee
There was an article about riding the trail in a recent edition of the Finnish cycling magazine Fillari, but  that was only so much help with my limited Finnish, so for here is some hopefully useful info in English for other mountain bikers. A found a tweet with someone categorically saying the path is not ridable. I presume this person was expecting the good gravel cycle paths you get in Helsinki's forest paths. Actually it is the lack of such path and road riding that makes the 7 Brothers Trail fun for mountain biking. Much of the trail is forest single track - perfect for an XC mountain bike, but probably ridable on a cyclo-cross or tough hybrid. I was glad to have decent, knobbly tyres as it was soft in places despite generally dry weather this spring.

Overnight camp
You can download usable trail maps in PDF format from here. Because they don't show topography, the bits that are just lines through forest or fields aren't much help. Keep looking for trail markers (which illogically change colour from red to blue once you are in Hyvinkää!), and I checked my phone GPS/Google maps a couple of times to check my position. One section of path, perhaps one or two kilometres of trail has been destroyed by forestry work (see my maps below), and is hassle. Around Myllykoski at the start and for a few kilometres just after you cross in Hyvinkää there are duckboards. You need to get in touch with your inner Danny MacAskill to ride the Myllykoski section (lots of steps), but the northern section is easy and flat.

There are normally good signs where the trail crosses the road
I've also taken the free trail maps and have added some of my own comments to them that might be useful for other mountain bikers and put them on a free hosting for PDFs site here (the southern sector); here (for the centre section of the path); and here (for the northern sections). I hope those work OK, as I've not tried that hosting service before.

Trail destroyed by forestry work. Hard work pushing and carrying the bike over the clear cut 
If you started in the morning, the whole trail would be easily ridable in a day, although the road ride back to the start would be a drag. For Helsinki-based folks, getting a train home from Hyvinkää would make sense. I did it with an overnight stop for fun as much as anything; and was comfy with tarp and mosquito net. I had the tarp/net and sleeping bag on my seat post rack, and then got the rest of my gear in a small backpack. For supplies, you ride through Rajamäki, I went to a petrol station there that was helpfully still open at 2330 when I got there. At more civilised times all the normal shops will be open. Otherwise finding a shop would require some deviation of the trail.

Anyway, I hope the above info proves useful to someone and perhaps inspires somebody to point their bike northwards and enjoy some of southern Finland's quiet countryside and enjoy some top quality XC riding. Have fun!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice blog....i enjoy viewing ur pics