Friday, August 31, 2012

Track and height profile

Just found another feature in Mapsource. Each day has a different color in the map.

Track - each day in a different color

Track - height profile

Riding back home

My phone was totally dead by now, so no more diary and no pictures with it. Even with all the tricks I could think off, it did not come back on. The next day we started to ride south towards home. From Saariselkä via Sodankylä, Kemijärvi to Jumisko (about 320km). Nearby Jumisko, we pitched the tent on a lovely place by the water and we had a great view towards the lake.

Evening view from the tent

Camping by the lake
The lake water so warm and felt smooth. It was very easy to go into the lake via the ramp (to put boats into the lake). What else does one need?

The following day, we drove about 270km to Suomussalmi via many gravel roads. I was too tired to build the tent, so we decided to rent a cottage for the night. I was also hoping to get my phone back alive if we were in a dry place (even though I think the power-connector was broken, I hoped that a dry place would improve the situation). The place was full of Russians who seem to collect berries. High season for that job. Anyway, we were lucky and a cottage directly by the lake.

Cottage by the lake

another view to the lake

The place was full of surprises. We saw two donkeys running around - I was not sure about their purpose. And then there was a goose - I think she was the real watchdog on the camping ground (we needed to be careful with our girls). 

what is running here around???
Preferred in form of a dark and cold beer :)

After that, it felt that the nice riding part was over. We had two days left to make it home. So the next day, we headed towards Savonlinna via Heinävesi and Oravi - a total of 470km. Naturally we tried to stay on smaller roads and get some fun on gravel. We had all sorts of weather - sunny and hot.

Sun bathing

And some rain. It must have just stopped raining. The streets were wet and boy- I got a lot of dirt on my bike.

A dirty dirt bike ;)

And we had one short ferry crossing at Haukivesi.

Ferry crossing

It was a long day and once more we rented a cottage. OMG - what a difference in the mökkis. Compared what we got for 70EUR in Ruka to 70EUR in Savonlinna - the difference was as big as day and night.

70EUR - we got much more value for this price in Ruka!

Firewater - is this booze or what? No, it's the modern fire extinguisher in front of the house

The last day on the road. First we wanted to take it easy and then Skippy commented that her chain sounds horrible. So after we drove small roads along Saimaa and Somenjärvi to Ristiina, we decided to take the big roads home. Mäntyharju was next and then number 5 road to Mäntsälä and via road 25 back home. Quite boring, and on the other hand also relaxing. The steering with this sidecar is heavy and this last leg was welcome for me to get a rest. After 380km we arrived safely home. The chain was still holding (it was 2% stretched), and also my bike did the last km without problems.

~ Wolfi

p.s. the phone is now in repair and I hope they can save my pictures, so there might come some more :)

Risks when riding on gravel roads

I guess it's time to share with you the little accident we had.

Besides all my best efforts to have the luggage secured and tight to the bike, one bag got loose and fell off. Of course, it was the bag with all the kitchen gear in. To make things real bad, the bag remained hanging behind the bike on strap. Instead of just falling off and waiting to be picked up, I dragged the bag with few for several hundred meters before I noted it. The results are here:

This is how a bag looks like after pulling behind the bike for several hundreds of meters.

Eating pots were banged together and it took raw force to pull them apart

Even the coffee went

totally demolished Winnie the Pooh SIGG bottle - still tight! (it contained rum to give my new kuksa a proper start)

banged and leaking cartridges

Dismantled mixer

Plenty of more went totally or partially broken. All together the damage was far over 400EUR of value. An expensive and good lesson for me :-o

Of course, Milady tried to hint me that the bag fell off and waved heavily (so she said). I did not noticed a thing as I was focused on the street. Well, since she was waving, she had only one hand on the steering bar and this is not too healthy when riding gravel roads. Now she knows that also. I only look occasionally into the back mirror and if I do not see her, then I stop and maybe I go back to look for her - as I did in this case .... still pulling the bag behind me :D

~ Wolfi

Day 8 - digging for gold and gems

It was time for a day of rest. Since we had the invitation from the two Petris to stay at their camp, we decided to stay for two nights and join them in their mining activities. The campsite had all sorts of peculiar devices and warning signs.

Special mining devices
Girls had a lot of fun. They could be running around free all the time. Plenty of things to sniff and explore.

Girls enjoying their freedom
The mining happened where-ever. The mud is carried in buckets to those water cleaned in those sluicing systems. Pretty impressive for a first-timer.
Sluicing system
Watch the video with the sluicing system in action:

Gold panning

Lyra guards the kitchen

The creek was very idyllic and chilly 


That was a great experience. In the evening we went to Sauna to the neighbor's place at "Rainbow's end" in Saariselkä. We had our first warm wash since Rovaniemi ;)

By the way ...

... please don't think that we found anything remarkable during that day .... it was still fun :)

~ Wolfi

Monday, August 27, 2012

Camping wild

It was Saturday morning and after the tire change, it was time to hit the road. We took a couple of bigger roads, to get still some mileage done this day. Our plan was to stay overnight in Ylläs. We found a place with a free mökki and then surprise surprise - NO DOGS.

What a disappointment and the owner gave a pretty lame excuse why dogs are not ok in their cabins. Well, the hint to some neighbor did not lead to anything either and so we just drove on until we found a suitable place in the middle of nowhere.

Camping in the wild
Note: About 1.5l of water are required for a quick wash.

The next day we went to Inari. Skippy's chain started to become troublesome now and required frequent adjustments. Of course we had again plenty of gravel roads in between and this seems to require significantly more maintenance in respect to greasing and cleaning the chain (Folks - remember I am a "shaft" guy (Kardan), never have owned a motorbike with chain!)

Maintaining Skippy's chain besides the road

Reindeer's are everywhere and sometimes they pop-up surprisingly. Luckily they are not quite as jumpy as a deer.

"Albino - reindeer"

The two Petris did move north also in the meantime and they arrived at their camp nearby Saariselkä. Since the distance between Saariselkä and Inari is about 70km, we accepted their offer to come and stay at their place. This would also allow us to have one resting day which we would use for finding gold and gems ....

Most stunning road - or shall I say forest-way

In Ruka I realized that my back tire wears off really quickly when riding my sidecar on the gravel roads. It was seriously time for a new one. Of course it was Friday and no tire in Kuusamo area before Monday. We did not want to hang around for an entire weekend in Ruka because of the tire. So we thought whether we can continue more north in hope to get a tire there off the shelf or - if ordered - the tire would be there by Monday. Good plan and then reality hit. I called some shops in Inari and Sodankylä and the answers were always similar. If ordered today, the tire would be there for mounting earliest Wednesday. What a disappointment!
Worn out back tire

So we turned West and checked the situation in Rovaniemi. Great they had one tire for me in the shelf, so I reserved it. We made it to the shop 10 minutes before closing and I got my tire. Now the only problem was to get it changed. Remarkably I just bought all the tools from RM Heino so that I would be able to change a tire by myself. However, I left all those tools at home, since I though that the tire will last this trip. Porkana!

Lucky for us, Petri & Petri (one Petri is Ilta's friend) had rented a cottage in Rovaniemi and granted us some shelter in their 5-star deluxe cabin. They also had good connections to other folks in the town and they tried really hard to help us. All the best intentions did not open up any shop, always the same answer - come back on Monday. So not much difference to Ruka. Then they found a friend who had a big metal work repair shop and there were plenty of tools, so Jussi became the hero of the day as he sacrificed his Saturday morning and help changing the tyre. It was quite an act to get the tyre of the rim, the rest was easy. After two hours the new tyre was mounted and we were good to go. It felt great to be back on the road without worrying about the worn-out back tire.

Petri & Petri - ready to go out

On the way from Ruka to Rovaniemi we found the most stunning gravel road. It was marked grey in the big street map of Finland (1:800 000) and when we came drove there, we saw a welcome sign

Unmaintained street - driving at own risk
The road was really nice, narrow and peaceful - check the video clips: and

In the evening we arrived at the deluxe mökki and girls were so dead :)

Tired girls after a day's hard ride

~ Wolfi

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leppävirta - Ruka (640km in two days)

Rain already announced itself in the evening in Leppävirta. So next day was a day in riding in more or less pouring rain. When we stopped to agree the next break another biker with a frightening looking mask stopped and asked whether we need any help. No, we did not. Anyhow we must have looked miserable, so he showed us the way to next gas station and invited us for a cup of coffee. That was very welcome since we were starting to get cold. So we went and then he told, that his nickname is Waltsu. He is a member of the "Blue Knights", a policeman and he has a Goldwing with sidecar. Time flew and we needed to go on. Great guy :)

This is Waltsu
and his Pingu

Obviously the summer already ended in Kuhmo, as the camping place was already closed, so after some long 30+km more, we found a warm cottage to stay over night.

An attempt to dry our stuff

Lonely roads in Finland


and the first reindeers

The next day was much more friendly and plenty of gravel roads were calling us when we rode to Ruka. Our standards got higher with the weather getting bad and the temperature falling. So we rented a cottage in Ruka with own sauna - it was a luxury place compared to the other places we have been so far.

Mökki in Ruka

Day 2 - the ride through "Pönttövuori" tunnel

The highlight of our day 2 was the ride through the Pönttövuori tunnel nearby Jyväskylä. It's an old deserted railroad tunnel. The track and ties have been removed and loose gravel is left. What a better way to test one's own bravery. I had serious worries whether my better half will manage with the Suzi. The tunnel is about 1.2km long, was finnished in 1918 and used until 1995. Thanx to the BMW GS meeting folks - I had the pleasure to ride this once before.

Inside the tunnel its pitchblack, you have no idea what there will be in the way or in the waterholes. The stones underneath you are moving and make the ride rather wobbly. A few ups and downs have formed over the time ... so enjoy the ride through it:

and BTW, I have Xenon lights at my bike - not the old and sad BMW "pocketlamp".

Ilta made it!

Now Africa - you can come! I thought that if she manages this, she will be able to manage anything. She was a bit shaky. It was a good decision to have the break with food afterward the tunnel and not before :)

Before Pönttövuori 

After Pönttövuori

Milady slightly relieved - it's over ;) - well done!

We ended the day in Leppävirta after riding some 280km small roads and gravel roads. At Leppävirta camping ground the owner had a new type of accommodation - permanently build Laavu. Really cozy inside.

The laavu had even with electricity and a proper light :)

~ Wolfi

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 1 - From Home to Sysmä

Our first riding day started with the usual hazzle before leaving. Watering and fertilizing the flowers, quickly re-arranging plants. Packing the last minute items and so on. I used the space between the sidecar and the pannier carrier system, put a few strings there to create some kind of net and then packed three roles there (see pic). Finally we were ready to go.

The target was to get a feasible distance from home and drive such that we can explore the mystic tunnel the next day. The ride was going pretty well. We drove all the way to Sysmä camping ground via Road 25, Sälinkää and Asikkala - a distance of 196km.

The girls were just sleeping fine went we rode on asphalt roads. As soon as we hit bad roads or gravel roads, they got a little more nervous. I could see Lyra sitting quite often there and watching the surroundings. Hertta and especially Ulpu took it much easier during riding. Every time we stopped and I walked around the bike, the girls knew they will get out and then they naturally got all excited about it.

The weather was really pleasant. It was sunny and temperature was about 25C, what lead to the situation that I left some warm clothes at home which I would have needed later. Well I did manage after all. Ilta's clothes are SO small, that she fits several pants and jackets in the same size as one of my T-Shirt is - a clear advantage of being skinny.

We build our tent right away besides the lake - maybe a distance of 5m with a lovely view. Until the mosquitoes came and forced us to go inside the tent. The nite would have been lovely - just the humming of the bugs and Hertta snoring, if there would have not been the crying baby in the neighbor tent. Even earplugs did not help and so we got up the next morning a little exhausted. Well, the couple came and apologized - even though I think that this happens when you sleep on a public camping place - Still ... no good for mental health and save riding.

The girls were also fine with sleeping in the tent. It took a few days before they understand the concept of a mosquito-net ... the ladies always wanted to go through it.

And so the first day ended.

~ Wolfi