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 refueled 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 kilometers 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.
|End of tarmac. Finally.|
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.
Taking a break somewhere along the trail.
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 kilometers. 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 kilometers up. Great, back on the horse!
|Nice and clean bike.|
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.
|The trail continues.|
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.