Day 1 / 315 km. A rough start to a smooth finish.

20.6.2013

The Arctic Dirt Tour 2013 was a ride I had been planning for some time. The idea was born last year, when I rode the GSX1400 to the Arctic Sea and back. Seeing all the sweet trails and gravel roads, it started dawning in me that real riding begins where the tarmac ends. At least for me. So I started looking into mapping out a route along gravel roads towards the Arctic. I wanted to ride up the eastern border as it has more variable terrain and elevation. The west is flat and wealthy, which makes the scenery less attractive. The eastern side is poorer and more desolate which makes it an interesting area to explore, especially on the back roads. You never know what you will find.

I was at the garage at around 1000. The bike was packed but some stuff still needed some rearranging so I took care of that before kitting up for the ride. I started off at around 1030 in a light drizzle. The weather was supposed to be perfect, but for some reason it was raining. In addition to that I had a mild hangover from the vacation kick off party we had the previous night. Kind of a sour start to the much anticipated ride. I hadn’t ridden more than 20 km in the increasing rain when the GPS started acting up. It kept informing me that external power was gone and asked me if I wanted to shut it down. The message would disappear by itself as external power regained contact. I just shrugged it off as water in the contacts or something and pushed on to a friend’s house who lived along the route. He had a can of WD40 handy and I cleaned up and sprayed the contacts.

After a short chat I took off and the problem persisted. It only came up every two minutes or so for a second or two so I didn’t bother looking into it further. I refuelled and OSCO:d in Sipoo and started pushing east. I got away from the rain and finally hit dry gravel roads. I kept riding in a north easterly direction on various trails and roads. I was feeling a little insecure on the gravel at first, but as the kilometres piled on my confidence rose and I was starting to really enjoy the riding. Another strange thing was the feeling of complete isolation. It must have been the fact that there was zero traffic and no people visible on the farms. Additionally, I’m from the city so the agricultural scene is a bit alien to me. A strange, isolated feeling nevertheless.

It always amazes me how agricultural the surrounding area of the capital area is, along with the rest of Finland. Living in the city really keeps you in a bubble of sorts. Anyway, I was slow as hell in my strange feeling of absolute isolation. I had a schedule of sorts to keep as I needed to be in Taipalsaari to meet some friends. Well I didn’t have a strict schedule but my mind was still very much in work mode where everything rotates around the fourth dimension. Time is of the essence.

Somewhere along the track I hit a dead end, arriving on a private road. It wasn’t really a problem. I was getting hungry anyway so I took back to the tarmac and zoomed off to a petrol station for some food. Most Finns take to their summer cabins for the midsummer’s eve so traffic on the larger roads was heavy and unpleasant. I’m always amazed of the selfish people in their BMW:s insisting on overtaking everything, despite the queue being continuous for dozens of kilometres. There really is no achievement in that, except for risking the safety of everyone around you with the benefit of arriving a minute or two earlier in your destination. I made it to the petrol station and had some food while eyeing out a detour to my original route. Luckily I had an exit from the big road just two kilometres up. Great, back on the horse!

After the break, the game totally changed. My hangover was gone, weather was good and my confidence was up. There were just good trails and interesting scenery. Even so that I didn’t have the will to stop for photos. It was just excellent riding. Smooth, flowing stuff, on the pegs. Gravel roads and dual track. I had made the route with a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth and I was really surprised how good it was and how small trails it would find and route to.

I finally reached the end of my gravel route in good spirits. The last leg was on tarmac, which felt quite nice after the long gravel section. Getting close to the and of the ride, the fuel light finally came on at 275 km. Good, I should have a range of 320-340 km, depending on how much fuel is in the reserve tank. I arrived in my destination at around 1815, so I was in time more or less.

 

Day 2 / 442 km. Midsummer’s eve.

21.6.2013

My friend Jarmo would be joining me today. I got an SMS from him early in the morning stating that he was on his way. It would be a couple of hours before he’d be anywhere around where we had made plans to meet so I was in no hurry to get going in the beautiful morning. I started off at around 1045 and refuelled before taking off to road north.

After the initial tarmac section, I was riding on similar gravel roads as yesterday. Very nice stuff in perfect weather. At some point I sent Jarmo an SMS informing him of my plans to ride to Virtasalmi to meet him. I finally made it there, but there was no sight of Jarmo. I checked my phone, but there was no communication. I thought about it for a while and decided to stick to my original route and headed north east on gravel roads.

I stopped in Varkaus to refuel and managed to get hold of Jarmo on the phone. He was far away, enjoying the nice riding on good roads. We agreed on a general direction where we’d meet and decided to check back in two hours. I continued NE and called him. In the end after the two hours we were within maybe a 100 km of each other and we decided to meet in Keihäsniemi, which was only 40km away from where I was.

So I continued there, parked and had a bit to eat. I was feeling a little tired so I took a nap in the sunshine, leaning against the front tire of the bike. About 45 minutes later Jarmo arrived on his KTM 990 Adventure. He was travelling a lot heavier than I was, which is okay for the 990 I suppose. He had three hard boxes and a large waterproof bag and an extra fuel can. I’m more of an enduro guy so I like to keep the bike as light as possible with just the soft Adventure Spec Magadan panniers. Anyhow, it was great to have the team in the same place finally.

We took off in good spirits and headed north east. After ten minutes we got off the tarmac and hit gravel. I was interested in seeing how the big 990 would perform. Jarmo has much more experience in motorcycling than I do, but it’s mostly road riding and not enduro. I was equally interested to see how he’d do on gravel. He was in for a bit of a rough start as we hit very loose sand immediately. The heavy 990 is not the optimal ride for that kind of terrain and Jarmo and the behemoth went down. I turned around and rode back to give him a hand getting the bike on it’s feet.

There really is a huge difference in weight. Anyhow, Jarmo seemed a little shaken up since dropping bikes was probably a new experience for him. Us enduro guys spend most of the time with bike on it’s side than the rubber side down. Having said that, I must confess that the 690 has not taken a fall yet. Anyhow, the bike was fine with some scratches on the crash bars and luggage to give it some credibility.

We kept pushing NE on excellent roads and dual tracks before deciding to call it a day and start looking for a suitable campsite. There were some interesting spots nearby and we decided to go and have a look. We arrived at Lake Säyneinen and the location was incredible. We had a small beach, soft terrain to pitch tents and even a fire place with chopped firewood. And not a punter in sight.
We parked the bikes and started cracked open some warm and well shaken beers. No matter, it was still good. I was feeling sweaty and hot after the ride so I decided to take a swim. The water was cold but very refreshing. Boosted by the cool waters of Säyneinen I pitched my tent at the end of a small peninsula and made a fire.

It was midsummer’s eve but we didn’t get into the whole typical Finnish drunken mayhem that most people do on that night. Instead we enjoyed some roasted sausages, a few beers and Jarmo had brought along some cigars and even a bottle of cognac. A peaceful evening in an incredible setting with some well earned luxuries. It didn’t take too long for Mr. Sandman to appear and we retired into our tents in the quiet midsummer’s eve.

 

Day 3 / 389 km. Pushing north.

22.6.2013

I woke up pretty early and went for a swim in the refreshing waters of lake Säyneinen. That really woke me up and I was drying myself in the morning sun. Jarmo was up too so we broke camp and decided to ride to Nurmes for breakfast. I changed my bike’s luggage configuration, adding a small dry bag with my clothes on top and leaving the Magadan panniers half full.

Our route took us to Northern Karelia, with the distinctive feeling of leaving the south behind for good. The terrain was very good. Sweeping views of valleys opening up every now and then from hill tops, only to change to lush marshlands. Just very, very good riding.

The roads were gravel and sand. There was a particularly soft section and I was wondering how Jarmo was doing on it. I decided to wait for him to make sure he was okay or if he needed some assistance. Quickly he appeared from behind a bend and was cruising nicely. I started off down the road and took a last glimpse in my mirror. Only to see him do a spectacular highsider and land on the soft sand. I turned my bike around and rode back to see if he was hurt. He replied it was just his ego that was hurt and in good humour be picked up the bike and rode on. The soft sand literally ended 20 meters later. It was funny in a way. The trail liked Jarmo’s bike so much that it just had to have one more hug before parting ways.

We ended up doing a bit of tarmac to get to Nurmes. Our morning ride had been longer than expected so our breakfast turned into a lunch. After people watching and eating we refuelled and set off once again to the gravel roads, heading towards Juntusranta where our next fuel stop would be.

The area north of Nurmes was really good riding on sandy roads and trails. My route contained a river crossing, but the bridge was gone so we had to find another route across. This detour threw us on probably some of the best riding thus far. Narrow, overgrown tracks with plenty of ascents and descents. I was stoked out of my mind, feeling good on the bike. The tracks were getting smaller and smaller so I had the nice feeling of not knowing whether this route would have an impassable obstacle or not. Just beautiful stuff, which was starting to feel like what adventure riding is all about.


After a couple of hours, I was starting to feel tired and sleepy. We decided to take a break on the shores of Lake Ontojärvi. Before taking a swim I had some sandwiches and took a nap in the sun.


Refreshed by the waters of Ontojärvi, we pushed on to Ala-Vuokki for fuel. Unfortunately the gas station was closed and the pumps didn’t accept credit cards so pushed on to Suomussalmi. We bought some dinner aka. sausages and beer and refuelled. There was a nice camping ground just east of the village where we rented a tiny cabin for the night and settled in.

I did a bolt check om my bike to find that one of the Rally Raid soft luggage rack bottom bolts had screwed itself out about half way. No big deal. I re tightened everything and went on to have a beer and roasting sausages. I slept like a baby that night.

 

Day 4 / 445 km. You cannot pass.

23.6.2013

I woke up to a day I had long been looking forward to. To clear the cobwebs of sleep, I took a quick dip in Kiantajärvi. Climbing out of the frigid waters, shivering, I realised that we had indeed left the south. Long gone were the gentle warm waters and sandy beaches of the south. The cold north was getting closer.

Kitting up, I decided to ditch the top bag and just cram everything into my side mounted soft luggage. I had hated the top bag from the get go and my dislike for it didn’t change during the day of having it there. The 690 was looking lean and mean again, but I made a mental note to recheck all the gear the next night. If there was anything that could be dumped, I’d mail it back home.


While I was messing about with my bike, Jarmo’s 990 got some new decoration. Looking pretty good to me! We took off for fuel and lunch at the Suomussalmi Teboil, and finally took off to the road at around noon. We did not have to ride long.


We arrived at Raatteentie, or the Raate Road in the common language. I had long wished to ride though it. The Raate Road had played a significant role in the independence of Finland in the Second World War. I will not get into war history, so those who are interested can have a look here.

At the start of the road there is a museum with some tanks and guns and what not. The real point of interest however is the huge Winter War Monument. It is the “Wide Embrace”, designed by Erkki Pullinen. Standing in it’s presence was a humbling experience. Time stood still while I thought about what my grandparents had sacrificed to give me the freedom I enjoy today. I will not a post a picture of it as it’s something to feel, rather than see.


After the quiet moment we took back to the road. We were too stoked to stop at all the war memorials and museums dotted on both sides of the road. If you’re into that stuff, this is definitely the place to visit. The road snaked on through the forest before abruptly ending at the border control station. They had preserved the old gate.


By this time, we had had enough of war memories and morbid thoughts. It was time to hit the good stuff. We doubled back a little, before turning north to a smaller road.

This was awesome terrain and we kept close to the border zone most of the time. It was some excellent riding in perfect weather. The only traffic we saw was a border guard doing his rounds. We stopped to have a chat with him and he told us that this was bear country. We had noticed several tour operators offering bear viewings so apparently they were all here. Luckily the bear is a very shy animal and will keep a good distance to humans.

;

The roads were excellent but in the end we needed to get some coffee and a few litres of fuel for the bikes. We stopped at Juntusranta, where we found a really cool old Teboil petrol station. I think time had stood still there for a while as the fuel pumps were still in not in Euros.


From Juntusranta we had to stay on tarmac for a while before getting back on dirt roads. We were still close to the border.


We ended up in Salla and were the only guests at the local Hotel Takka-Valkea. They give a discount for return clients on the way back south from the north. Provided of course that you had stayed with them on the way north.

Anyhow, despite the slightly Bates Motel feel, the owners were fun and talkative. No complaints on the rooms. I was pretty beat but still decided to do a little laundry before turning in.

 

Day 5 / 436 km. Fumes, magic and a beer or two.

24.6.2013

I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to carried equipment. I was more or less happy with what I had but I would be riding solo in a few days so I decided to ditch some of the kit. Here’s what got mailed back home from the Salla post office:

  • Leatherman holder.
  • Fleece jacket
  • Small tarp
  • Three nylon straps
  • Two T-shirts
  • Sealskin socks
  • One pair underwear
  • Gaffer tape roll
  • Short rope for tarp
  • Road map of Southern Finland
  • Waterproof top bag.

Altogether 4.2 kg and more importantly several litres of more space in the soft luggage. The bike felt even more perfect than before. Jarmo did the same reduction operation on the Behemoth.
Also, my back tire was getting pretty worn. It was clear that it would not survive the whole trip. I called around Northern Finland. Not TKC-80’s anywhere, but I managed to find an Enduro-3 in Rovaniemi. Too bad it was a bit off our track, but hey, the Hobo rolls where he must. Not before some great trails further up north though.

This was another day I had been expecting. We were headed for Tuntsa, a large wilderness area. We had a long way to go so we were riding the tarmac slow on shallow throttle to save fuel. The route would be 315 km and according to my calculations I would have enough fuel for 330-370 km depending on the throttle. We would be riding on fumes before the next petrol station but we should make it.
The beginning of the ride was extremely dull and we stopped at Tuntsan Pubi. An outdoor activity centre of sorts with accommodation, food etc. I asked the owner if he had any fuel to sell and we were in luck. We got a few litres each and had now enough to surely make it through this leg.

I was super happy and we even had a cup of coffee before leaving. The 690 was feeling really nice with the smaller luggage.

The road to Tuntsan Pubi had been very boring but just beyond it the fun started. Once again in perfect weather and now we didn’t have the fuel issue to worry about. It was time to drop the hammer and blast though the excellent roads. The keeper of Tuntsan Pubi had warned us about reindeer calves which were moving at this time. I remembered the horror stories he told and kept a wary eye on any bushes close to the road.

Pushing through the route we found some reindeer gates, a normal sight in Northern Finland. Be sure to close them if you find them.

The roads were very dusty hard pack, covered with loose marble sized stones so you had to ride with confidence. Fast and on the pegs worked for me. I noticed that my confidence in the bike and my riding skills had improved in the last days. I was thoroughly enjoying tearing through the empty roads in the back country. Jarmo was keeping his distance or just not keeping up. I totally understood as the dust cloud I left behind the 690 was massive.
I was in a real flow state, riding very confidently. I stopped to wait for Jarmo and took a call while waiting. Jarmo caught up and passed me. After finishing the call, I started after him thinking I’d catch him easily. I was dead wrong. All my confidence was gone as well as the magic. The road just felt loose, slippery and dangerous. It’s a funny bit of kit the human brain, eh?


The lovely road soon spat us out on some boring, wide and straight dirt road. We took a brake by a river and Jarmo took a swim. After that we continued on a smaller road and the magic suddenly came back. Very nice high speed cruising. We hit tarmac after 200 km on dirt and decided to ditch the rest of the road and take the fast route to Sodankylä. We had some lunch there, before the last fast leg to Rovaniemi.

Every time I visit Rovaniemi, I always stay at The City Hotel. They are biker friendly with MC only parking, a free wash site and have a nice terrace too. Highly recommended. It was nice to be back in civilisation and we enjoyed a few well earned beers.

 

Day 6 / 10 km. A short one.

25.6.2013

Nothing much happened today. I had the rear tyre changed at Lapin Kumi and rode back to the hotel. I had originally decided to push on today. As it was Jarmo’s last day on the same track with me, I decided to have another beer or two with him.

 

Day 7 / 437 km. The Hobo Rolls Solo.

26.6.2013

I wished good luck to Jarmo and headed back to Sodankylä. On much smaller roads than on the way here two days ago. I thoroughly enjoyed Jarmo’s company but I was equally happy riding by myself too. The riding is more consistent and you don’t need to eye the mirrors or ride in dust all the time. The route turned out to be very nice. It seemed to have sections of water here and there too. Some of the pools were pretty deep and I ended up getting wet.

I stopped in Sondankylä and refuelled up to the brim. I also picked up some food for later. This was another area I had been looking forward to riding.

The route NW from Sodankylä was just awesome. It was a shame that Jarmo missed these trails. For me it was more exciting as I never knew what I was going to find. One road ended up in a river. I didn’t have the confidence to cross it, although it didn’t look that bad. Ending up in the middle of nowhere with a drowned bike all alone didn’t seem very tempting.

The roads were very variable with extremely good parts and very boring ones too.

I ended up refuelling in Sirkka, before making camp maybe 45 min up the Muonio river. The mozzies were around in swarms so I didn’t bother cooking. Corn and tuna. I was beat and fell asleep quickly.

 

Day 8 / 566 km. New friends and an unexpected ending.

27.6.2013

I woke up to another fine morning in a light drizzle. It was the first bit of rain I had seen since the first day. Beside that, it was a very light drizzle and didn’t really bother me at all. I packed up quickly and headed for Hetta. This, as always, was a day I had been looking forward to. Today my path would finally take me to the old postal road from Kautokeino to Alta. It’s a bit of a classic.

I was looking forward to refueling and having a bit of breakfast and coffee in Hetta. Pulling in to the gas station I saw a dude smoking beside a 990 Adventure. I went to say hi and it turns out that the dude was actually a guy called Tuomas, and headed north. He wasn’t sure about riding the postal road so I invited him to ride with me. It’s be easier to take care of problems with the two of us as opposed to going solo. I was happy to have the company.

We took off to the boring tarmac section before finding the turn off north of Kautokeino. The trail became immediately interesting with water ruts, large stones, roots, mud, puddles and pretty much everything. I was really enjoying myself. Tuomas turned out to be a proficient rider and his 990 Adventure was steadily making good progress.

The scenery turned from overgrown bush country to fell highlands. The scenery opened up to treat us with sweeping views over the barren country. The feeling of emptiness and remoteness was sobering. I thoroughly loved every second of it.

We crossed a river over a good bridge at least once or twice. Further on we came across a section where the bridge had long since disappeared. There was a good crossing on the eastern side of the bridge and that was the only way across.
Tuomas went in first and took the 990 over without too much effort. I went in after him. It was a little tricky keeping the line on the large polished underwater boulders. Well, the throttle is your friend and I crossed without incident.

Pretty much in the middle of the road, there is a crossing with the new road. The northern section was in much better condition. Despite the awesome scenery it just felt a boring after the more technical southern section. We stopped high on the fells to enjoy the peace over a cup of coffee.
Further north, close to the end, the terrain kept climbing and became rockier. We stopped to admire the view and snap a few pics. There was a big parking lot close by with a sidecar Honda and even some camper vans. The adventure was over and we headed to Alta.


We refuelled in Alta and I asked Tuomas what his plans were in terms of the route. He said he’d ride to the North Cape and I decided to tag along. I had been in this area a couple of times but never actually made it to the North Cape. This was as good an opportunity as any.

The road was actually a lot more interesting than I had expected. We rode through beautiful coastal scenery in perfect weather. We stopped to brew some beach side coffee before pushing the final leg.


The final leg was equally impressive with great scenery. There were a couple of tunnels, which were very cold and damp. One of them went 230 m below sea level. We finally arrived at our destination.

The North Cape was packed, but the mood was good and the scenery exceptional. I gawked around, taking pics and enjoying the sun. There was a lot of tourists, which was strange after the solitude on the bike. I even visited the souvenir shop for stickers and a sent a postcard home.

We decided to ride back to the first village south and stay at the camp site. The ride back was impressive with the low light. I really hadn’t noticed how remote the setting was. The end of Europe. We bought some food and made a huge pasta dinner. After that I was out.

 

Day 9 / 581 km. End of the road.

28.6.2013

Waking up in the morning, the weather had closed in a little. The sky was mostly overcast with spots of sunlight here and there. We took off towards Lakselv.

We had some food in Lakselv and then went our separate ways. Tuomas was headed back home south. I still had some days on me so I decided to ride toward Tana Bru, as I remembered the scenery to be good from my trip with the GSX1400 a year ago.

After Lakselv I was getting really fed up with the tarmac. There seems to be very little gravel in northern Norway. I was taking detours to any promising turn offs I could spot. One of them led to a small clearing where a Norwegian dude was having some “quality time” with himself. He panicked and I did a 180 and I left laughing.

I was happy riding solo again and even stopped to take some pics of the scenery. Can you spot the bike?


I stopped to make a call in the mountains and had a look at the bolts during the conversation. It was time to tighten the pannier rack top bolts. Everything else was more or less tight.

Arriving in Tana Bru I was out of ideas. I had pretty much ridden everything I set out ride on this trip. So after refuelling I bought some coffee and biscuits and studied the maps. I remember visiting Vardö and Vadsö as a kid something like 25 years ago. It felt like the time for a revisit so I set my sights on Hamningberg. It’s and abandoned fishing village at the end of the last road.

The coastal road was nice but a little dull. The last leg from Vardö to Hamningberg was awesome, tight and twisty.

I finally made it to the end and had a short walk around. I felt pretty tired and it was getting late. I had seen some potential camping spots before the village and decided to double back.

After some looking around I found an impressive location for camping. I must have taken a million photos from that setting. It just looked so lonely, remote and magical.
I ate what little food I had and tried to figure out where to head next. The wind picked up during the night and I had to sleep with my ear plugs on. I had no idea what to do next.

 

Day 10 / 1728 km. The longest day.

29.-30.6.2013

I woke up very early. Up here the sun stays up for most of the night so it was blazing from high up already. I tossed and turned for a while before deciding to pack it in and break camp. I still had no plans, but this was the end of the road. The only way forward would be with a ship. I had to ride the 160 km back to Varangerbotn and make a decision there.

I hate the feeling of turning back. The final decision of going no further. You’re still on the bike but in your gut you know that it’s over. Every kilometre you ride takes you closer to home, away from the adventure. I love the feeling of motion and progress. I do train in enduro and MX tracks but for me that’s just preparation for these trips. I absolutely love being on the bike, with all my kit packed up and ready to go. But the headlight needs to point to “Far Away”. Packing up this morning I had a growing feeling that this would all end soon.


I took off at 0615 still undecided. The ride to Vadsö was uneventful and I refuelled and bought breakfast. The decision was made. It was all over and I headed towards Finland. I wanted to take a new route and decided to ride on the banks of the mighty Teno. The great salmon river that works as the border between Norway and Finland. I rode to Skippegurra and didn’t cross the river to the main road on the Norwegian side. I instead took the smaller road to Utsjoki via Polmak.


I refuelled in Utsjoki and continued to Karasjoki on the southern bank. From there I rode down to Inari on the small roads via Angeli. It was the first proper gravel I had seen for a few days and I was happy. Great to be back in Finland!
I refuelled in Inari and thought about what to do. I decided to take the smaller road towards Kittilä as it gave me a chance to try to find some tracks. After all, I had no rush yet to get back home. With a bit of luck I would find some nice stuff.

It all turned out pretty pathetic though. I took a wrong turn and had to get back on bigger roads, because I was getting low on fuel. I made it back to Kittilä and refuelled. I also had a look at the weather. It seemed that the long spell of perfect weather was coming to an end. Instead a huge storm front was racing north to meet me. I decided to try to get as far south as I could and then find a place to spend the night.

I took off and rode to Ranua via Rovaniemi. I refuelled in Ranua and decided to push on. I made it to Pudasjärvi, which looked like some weird camper van meet. It was one of the largest religious freak fests in Finland with 60000 participants. I got out of there fast and made it to Puolanka to refuel and have something to eat. I had been on the bike for over 17 hours with 1070 km of riding done.

The weather was getting worse and after Puolanka I got the first taste of rain. I got drenched but pushed on. The OEM headlight on the 690 is a joke. I was still keeping speed but finding a reindeer or a moose parked on the road would have been a disaster.

The weather cleared up after a while and I dried up. I was back on having a great time, buzzing through the dormant countryside. I felt surprisingly fresh and was thoroughly enjoying myself. I ended up riding the small roads all the way to Kärsämäki, where I hit the miserable “Number Four”. It’s a real pig of a road. Wide, straight and boring with plenty of speed cams. The weather was still looking OK so I pushed on and refuelled at Vaskikello with 1270 km and just under twenty hours on the bike. After a while I noticed that the horizon was getting lighter. I was going to make it through the night. That’s what I thought anyway.


The rain came to greet me maybe a hundred kilometres north of Jyväskylä. I knew it would at some point, but I had no idea of the ferocity it had. The lovely light in the horizon was gone. Replaced by a menacing black front that flickered with lightning. I felt extremely small riding into and under it. The the rain fell. In buckets. I was absolutely drenched in minutes. The rain kept on and on for ten or twenty kilometres before letting me pass. Then there would be another cell, and another. Maybe four or five altogether before Jyväskylä. I was absolutely freezing and exhausted. I stopped to refuel myself at Hirvaskangas. Getting off the bike I noticed that I was feeling a bit dizzy. I drank Red Bull, coffee and soda to get some liquids and carbs in. Also a roll and a danish. I felt better and put on every single garment I had before getting back on the road.

At this point I was starting to have doubts. I had kind of gotten into the feeling that I might actually make it all the way to Helsinki in one go. It was a crazy goal, but during the dry section it felt doable. Being wet, hypothermic and exhausted, the reality was starting to sink in. I might not make it and would have to camp.


I stopped to refuel in Jyväskylä and headed for Heinola. This would be the worst part, 133 km of utter boredom. I was beyond exhausted and struggling to keep the throttle on. I kept realising that I was going too slow, twist the throttle again and soon realise I’m slow all over. I knew that I was getting way too exhausted to continue safely so I stopped at a bus stop to do some exercise. I think anyone passing by would have been wondering why the idiot in with the 690 was doing push ups and running around a bus stop. Luckily traffic was scarce.

The rain faded and I made it to Heinola. Another 130 km to. All on motorway. I knew it would be another hour and a half, but I felt that I would make it. It was light and the rain had passed. I would make it. I pinned it and by the time I made it Lahti, with another 100 km to go, I felt a lot better. Throttle on and towards Helsinki. I had to stop to refuel with maybe 40-50 km to go.


In the end I made it to Helsinki. My spirits were high and I thought that the city had never looked so beautiful. I had to make a quick stop home to pick up the keys to my garage and then I was done. I had made it. The ride I never meant to take.

Here it is, back in the garage. My trusty KTM 690 war horse. We had done 1728 km in 25:09 hours. I had refuelled nine times and drank about three litres of coffee.

I changed into dry clothes and opened up the panniers and tank bag. I set everything to dry and had a last look. I felt safe with the bike and myself in the garage. What a great ten days we had had. I took another look before turning off the lights and locking up the garage. I then hobbled home, brushed my teeth, took a shower and crashed on my bed.

One comment

  • Raimo Hyttinen June 25, 2014   Reply →

    Mahtava reissu ja kertomus. Todella nautin sen lukemisesta ja kuvista. Olipa uskomatonta.

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