It was Monday, 5.12. afternoon and I came again where else than to Helsinki. Immediately followed by going to Espoo with scooter wrapped in two garbage bags that the driver did not ask “uncomfortable questions”. And because driver probably wouldn’t take Max (kickbike) into the bus. In the city, we then handled everything necessary, took kicksleds and couple of litres of glöggi and a few other necessities and went to the lake.
As the sun sets about three o’clock in the afternoon, we arrived at the lake in dark. I had asked annoyingly about ten times whether the ice is really safe and will not break even if I fall. Several times I have been assured that the ice is about 10 cm thick, completely safe and the lake was checked. So, the last thing was to mark the race route with candles, which seemed to be impossible due to strong wind.
When I asked whether anyone explain to me how to ride a kicksled, I was told: “you will figure it out by yourself.” Thus, I borrowed one and started to ride very slowly. Compared with the experiences, I’ve read some time ago, I can say that kicksled is very stable. Even more stable than Kickbike and because of the two blades is easy not to hold the handlebars and go just like that.
The problem was, that thing somehow did not want to turn. For a few moments, I thought how irritating it is, it won’t turn as I want. After that, Hannu lent me his one (great kicksled) and began to tell me what to do. Tips were great, even though I’ve somehow figured it out alone (most of it).
Before the start of the race, I circled on the lake and tried what to do and how to do that. I tried “sprinting” and few times I put my foot on the ice instead of on the footboard. When this happens on a kickbike, one probably falls – on this not. But still, I had the problem with turning and I really didn’t know how to brake on it.
After a while, I made my own way in changing direction, for which I was told that I apparently devised a new way to turn – skid. Just lighten the blades, grab the handlebars, and swipe it to the side in the desired direction. Once or twice I nearly fell – I made the turn too strong. During the whole evening, I did not fall even once, several times I was close to it. However, this method of changing direction cannot be applied on deeply frozen ice (during the day was + 4 °C and the upper layer of ice slightly melted and was soft).
Because only about 10 people arrived, the race wasn’t as usual. Rather just a friendly match. At last, we went only about 1500 m. Candles weren’t lit, so I and Miia did candles on each edge of the lake. I must admit that when some passed by me very tightly, the ice beneath me shook, and close to shore I could hear typical ice noise (when the ice is not yet so strong), I was a bit nervous.
If I am not mistaken, the first was Markku Levänen, second Alpo Kuusisto and I don’t remember who was third. Then drove women and children. During the race, I had kicksled which stubbornly continuously ride to the left and when I swapped feet, it started to “fell” on left and go left again. So, I did not do that. On the way back, I underestimated the strong wind in the back and I went a little faster than I wanted. I had run out of kicksled if I did not want to end up somewhere in the woods.
During the second round, Miia went in front of me and my competitive mood has woken up. I tried to sprint, repeatedly stepped off the footboard and while standing on the left side I nearly fell. I forgot that on this kicksled I simply can’t stand on left leg. But I took my position back, so I won… we were two ladies. No big win.
Then someone suggested 10 km race, but that wanted to go only two people, so it did not happen. Instead it, some people have moved to the fire and drink glöggi spiced with wine from “Lepaa distillery”. The rest began to ride on the lake. On this, I’ve got back Hannu’s kicksled. I must admit that just stand with arms raised and tailwind… I can get used to it. Moreover, these routes are no hills. This is ecstatic for someone like me. I have to admit that information about the 100 km route on the river and lakes when it freezes enough, made me start dreaming and shiver with delight.
When we ended on the lake, we all moved to the fire. Missing corkscrew fot the bottle of “wine” was solved in the student traditional way – by pushing the cork into the bottle. I’m afraid that most of the bottle I drank myself. It was good and helped me dilute insanely sweet glöggi. It doesn’t really help because the “wine” was so sweet (black currant and aronia).
Anyway, some people were talking close to the fire, and after a while, they decided to go. For a change, it was determined that this night I will stay at home with Hannu and Miia. There was also Markku. During the whole way to them, we talked about scooters. Then, at their place, it was quite simple. Men’s part decided to go to the sauna. I also did not refuse the invitation. But the ladies part spent there just a few moments, I haven’t had enough time to warm up and I felt after that more cold than before.
We were talking the rest of the evening. I was at a disadvantage because I simply can’t speak Finnish. Because of that, I was often just listening and tried to catch at least keywords – I wasn’t good at it. Fortunately, I’ve sometimes got a rough translation. The problem was, that not everyone could speak fluently English, and with some effort, they put together simple sentences. Sometimes I felt that if I will try to say something in Finnish, we will be on a similar level of knowledge – but because I can barely make up a sentence, I left this idea.
Around 2 am, we all went to sleep. Finally, after many days I slept very well. In Lepaa I have about the same amount of light during the day and night because of the lamp next to the window and curtains doesn’t help.
The next day temperature dropped to -7 or -10 °C. Idea was: “We will go for a walk in the woods, would you come with us?” What else could I do? Additionally, I like to know how it looks elsewhere. The problem was I had with me only sportswear that doesn’t very well isolate. I took on myself four layers of thermo-clothing and two pairs of socks and headed out with them. Until we were walking, it was good. When we stopped, I started to freeze very fast.
In the forest, it was truly amazing. Since all the snow melted last day and froze at night, on the boulders was about 1 cm thick layer of smooth ice. The only way was on those rocks.
Walking was very slow and cautious. Sometimes was safest to give up, sit on the icy crust and slide down. And it was fun. I’ve probably never had ice slide. The sun was shining and it was beautiful. In addition, the sun was very warm.
On the way back, I was expecting to freeze to death, because it should be even colder – the clear sky was even at night. In the train, I was luckily heated up enough, so I haven’t felt cold when got out. After about 200 m suffering I put on crampons. The fact that in Helsinki all the snow had melted, meant that about 100 km more north the snow partially melted, changed in the icy crust, and after that it was covered with a light dusting of snow. Outside was about -15 °C.
I felt warm very quickly. Two backpacks and the slightly hilly path was enough and I soon began to take off layers. I had only one thermal shirt and my light cycling jacket. I have realised it is colder than I have expected after my eyelashes freeze together and I couldn’t open my eyes for a while. Luckily, I could open them and for the rest of the way they were only partially freezing together. On my kickbike has appeared icing.
I felt badly hot and sweaty, but I knew if I unzip jacket only a little I will freeze. When the light of the lamps has ended with a bicycle path, I had last 6 km to go, just to find out I have almost no light. Either last evening my battery went almost dead or during the frost now. The moon was nearly “gone” and on the ground, wasn’t much snow. I hardly saw the roadside and prayed that reflective vest and supportive lights were enough (fortunately was).
The problem was that the headlights I had weak and the reflective vest was behind on a backpack, so lots of cars in the opposite direction couldn’t see me greatly or rather ignored. I regularly received high beam in the eyes. At first, I stopped at the roadside when everything around me turned into one big black, and after that, I was so dazzled that I could not see even the oncoming car.
Whenever I then saw the beam around a curve or over the hill, I stopped preventively, because even if the drivers wanted to be polite, they couldn’t see me earlier than at about 50-100 m and clearly dazzle me.
After all, I managed to get almost blindly into the school campus. When I saw myself in the mirror, I did one picture and cell phone died. Frost took me nearly 50 % of the battery in the tablet. Anyway, now I can imagine being in -20 °C without any difficulties. The big advantage is, that here is all the time humidity around 80-95 %, while in the Czech Republic it is around 50-60 %, and it is clear to me that at cold temperatures around -10 °C it falls to 40 %. This is probably one of the reasons why I still feel here so warm. Dry frost without snow is probably the most unpleasant what a man can have – and here it’s obviously not very common.
P.S.: In Czech also here