|Bike with bags|
I apologise to Joel because I think my phone is playing up - he tried calling me Saturday morning to arrange climbing as we had discussed, but couldn't get through. By the time my phone did ring, I had had enough of sitting inside the house watching the un-forecast blue skies and sunshine and had decided to go bikepacking, so the climbing got shelved. Helsinki has had the wettest September for 150 years or something equally depressing (there have been floods elsewhere in Finland, something that is pretty unusual here), so climbing has been a bit hit and miss this summer anyway. The Finnish Meteorological Institute also seem to be incapable of getting their forecasts right more than 24 hours in advance anyway, which makes planning if and where to go climbing difficult in times of changeable weather. So bikepacking seemed the less conditions-dependent option.
|Sausage and beer, what else do you need?|
|slightly damp trails|
|View from my campsite|
Normally that would be enough to feed the biking bug for a weekend, but - oh no - some people just don't have the good sense to know where their very limited limits lie. Having recently become the proud owner of cyclocross bike, in a fit of completely abnormal enthusiasm I had signed up to the Facebook group of VPCX - a (the?) Finnish cyclocross group - and promised to attend a race. If you don't count some sportives I've ridden, I've not done any type of race since leaving school - knowing that I'm just not one of life's natural athletes and generally, even when trying hard, I will suck. Anyway, I tried really hard... and I sucked, but that was almost completely besides the point. All of the other VPCX people were super-welcoming and friendly to the foreign idiot falling down rocky hillside on a bike only vaguely designed for that. Then again, they were doing exactly the same, only faster and in more style.
|Strapping on my race number. Photo courtesy of Jasu. Click here to see the rest of the set.|
The Kivikko track was a horror. When some people started strapping on body armour I should have realised. Before Sunday, I would have been quite happy riding it on my mountain bike and surviving. The evil geniuses at VPCX have even tracked down some utterly horrible cobblestones (built by the Russians a century ago to haul artillery along) to include in the course. There was technical rocky single track, bomb holes full of muddy water, more slippy tree roots than you can shake a stick at and even spectators to applaud/laugh as you passed.
|The fear! The fear! Photo courtesy of Mikko, see the rest of set here.|
It hurt like hell and was ridiculously good fun. Then we all went for sauna and beer, Finland at its best. I didn't come last although only just. Somewhere at the back is my natural place in athletic endeavours though, so I look forward to floating around last place at next race in a few weeks.
|Taking your bike for a run. Photo courtesy of Ville. Rest of the set here.|
Thanks to all the photographers and BTW, you don't need a cyclocross bike to join, any bike will do - so if you're in the Helsinki area and want to get muddy and have a laugh, join up!