Sunday, December 11, 2011

On a thin ice

Walking on a thin ice

After skiing at Saariselkä 5 days, I took a bus to Rovaniemi early on a Thursday morning and joined other students for the 15th school period of Nature Experience Instructor studies. The theme for this 4-day period was firstly to learn safe practices on a thin ice and secondly do couple of courses and exams related to safety and healthy practices at travel business.

Getting out of the freezing water

In addition of subjects already mentioned we had our traditional night shift of kayaking at swimming hall. This time we had a privilege to practice series of crazy and weird tricks with kayaks.

Capsizing kayaks

E.g. we practiced how to move kayaks by swimming with our hands, when the kayaks are upside down. And how to do it with pairs and even with our eyes closed.

Under the water

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Skiing at Saariselkä

Welcome to Saariselkä!

Tampereen pyrintö sporting club has been arranging ski camp at Saariselkä last 10 years at this time of the year. This year I decided to join them and on Friday we headed towards Saariselkä in the hope of snow and skiing possibilities. It has been very warm recently in Finland and thus the snow hasn't fall down yet to Southern part of Finland. We had to drive until Sodankylä to encounter first snow on the ground!

Snow at last

It has been nice to ski first kilometers, but at the same time tough, because body has not been used for it. The muscles on my legs, arms and back are realizing the usage of different muscles than before. We have faced reindeers on the ski tracks, enjoyed smoke sauna and dip onto frozen river after ski exercises. However Santa Claus has been hiding and he has not been skiing at this area. Perhaps we see him during the rest of the week!

Towards Kiilopää - fell

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Prizes and awards

T6d Suunto heart rate monitor

Now it's the time of the year for giving awards and prizes for those, who have succeeded well in races and competitions throughout the year. E.g. paddling club Vihuri remembered the talented and gifted paddlers who have succeeded in world cup and different championships during the summer time. Well, I am not competing, but it was nice to notice that even paddlers, who mostly do it only for pleasure and as a hobby were considered equal to competitors. I was awarded because of paddling Finnish coastline this summer by the "Light on sea" - book, which introduces Finnish Lighthouses during the years 1753-1906. Those lighthouses were guiding my paddling trip and giving safety and shelter on a constantly changing conditions.

At the same time Suunto heart rate monitor, which I won a couple of weeks ago were delivered to me.

Now it's time to take skis from the warehouse and head to the Saariselkä for skiing...

"Light on sea" - book

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Suunto T6d heart rate monitor

It was only about 2 weeks ago when I was lucky and won a sea kayak in a lottery. Well, it seems my lucky days are not over yet...

In the spring I decided to participate a bet organized by Hevoskuuri, which is a site specialized on publishing endurance sport news to Finnish sport lovers. There were altogether 12 different competitions during a year to bet and actually it was a long and tough journey. Especially at the summer time, when I was kayaking on a sea 6 weeks in a row, I had a very few possibilities to focus and participate the bets during that time. I couldn't in my wildest dreams to think I would be competing head to head with the best ones.

When the final results finally came, I was totally surprised. My 122 points were good enough for the #1 position with one another contestant having the same amount of points. Well, the final ranking between us was a draw and I was picked up as a winner of this bet competition. Final results can be found from here.

The first prize was a Suunto T6d heart rate monitor.

Let's see if my luck still continues or will I confront Mr. Murphy at it's worse. I'll cross my fingers, that Mr. Murphy would be staying as far away from me as ever possible...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Days full of ropes courses

Climbing to a swinging beam at 10 meters

It has been mentally and physically challenging visit to Rovaniemi because current school period has been filled with all kind of ropes courses. There has been low and high elements to experience and to overcome own's fears of heights. I must admit I have fear of heights and I have encountered a real fear factor...

Walking on a beam

Absolutely most horrible of the courses were a swinging beam at 10 meters, which you had to reach by climbing small ladders and then walking roughly 20 meters on swinging beam getting support only from the vertical poles located approximately 4 meters from each others. In addition of the quite long distance the poles were covered with plastic tubes, which were rolling when you touched them. Just ultimate adrenaline shot!

Focusing to reach the next pole

The other high elements like Trapeze jump at 10 meters high, climbing Jacob's ladder or abseiling upside down were piece of cake for this swinging beam stuff.

Abseiling face towards ground

The low element courses included several rope courses just 10-50 cm from the ground, which involved trust to others, balance and problem-solving capabilities.

Working on a low rope course "crux"

The third day was a special day for us. We had a possibility to build and test a 50 meter zip wire on Hiidenkirnut cliffs. It took couple of hours to build anchor points for the upper and lower ends of the ropes and to tighten the ropes with pulleys ready for the sliding down the cliffs with the help zip wire.

Building zip wire high on the cliffs

And sliding down on a 50 meter zip wire

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winning in a lottery

Pideraq, sea kayak

Today I drove to Welhonpesä store and picked up my prize, which I won in a lottery arranged by Finnish Canoe Federation. Everyone, who were participating this summer Finnish Canoe Federation courses were automatically included into a lottery at the end of the season. The prize was Pideraq, 530 cm long sea kayak made of diolen / fiberglass. What a nice surprise for me, when I got the call from Canoe Federation!

Well, now I have 2 sea kayaks to paddle. Perhaps I should fill lotto for this week as well...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

1 hour each and every day through 8 years

Couple of days ago it started. I got the sore throat and during the previous days it has gone worse. I have a flu and have to rest and stay inside, so it's a perfect time to look back and see what I have been doing and achieving within previous 365 days...

In the end of the last year I decided to list few objectives for this year 2011. The list was
  1. Paddle over 1000 km
  2. Visit at least 10 new lighthouses by kayak
  3. Accomplish 4 sport events at "Kalevan kierros"
  4. Run in a "Jukola" orienteering relay at Virolahti
  5. To become as a certified Paddling Guide authorized by Finnish Canoe Federation
  6. To become as a certified Rope Work Supervisor authorized by Finnish Climbing Association
  7. To become as a certified Rafting Guide authorized by Finnish Paddling and Rafting Federation
All of these goals were achieved, which was a bit surprising! As an extra bonus I even managed to paddle whole Finnish coastline, which wasn't originally planned. Coastline paddling has been promoted and originally invented by Finland's long distance paddlers and everyone who successfully paddles Finnish coastline during one season will be honored (list of all-time paddlers).

Over the last year I have been exercising on an average 1 hour and 20 minutes each and every day, which totals 509 hours. It's more than my average on a longer period. When I was curiously checking the average amount of time per day used for exercise during the last 8 years, I was amazed and shocked! Through the last 8 years I have been training on an average over 1 hour each and every day!!!

Next year's 365+ training hours are waiting and the countdown will start on Tuesday 1.11.11. Thanks for everybody who has been running/paddling/orienteering/cycling/swimming/skiing/trekking/... with me during these marvelous 8 years!

The year 2012 will be the 10th anniversary and so it will be something special. I remember 10 years back when I was in a such poor condition, I had to rest 2 days after I managed to walk 1 km! Since that there has been plenty of memorable moments from the cycling exercise in a cold rain at the beginning of May 2003, when I was just crying together with rain drops cause it felt so damn good to be alive and to be able to cycle. At the end of 2004 I was looking death into it's eyes in Andes, when spending night over 6000 m on a glacier without any camping gear and totally lost.

Monday, October 24, 2011

J.P. Fushi at Sappee

At Sappee slopes

It's hard to understand why the calendar is full of bookings at weekends. It seems that every weekend has been reserved for activities of sport events, school periods, parties, friends gatherings and so on...

This weekend was not an exception. On the contrary there were sport event, friends gathering and concert combined into one weekend long activity planned and organized by Haapis. The spot for the gathering was Sappee - skiing center nearby Tampere. Though we don't have snow yet, there were wet swamps, high cliffs, slippery paths and incredible views waiting us, when we drove to Sappee on Friday afternoon. Right after the arrival we put our orienteering clothes and headed to the forest and steep slopes of Sappee to compete 4 km orienteering track. Already the first control point was too difficult for me and the results tell everything...

This map sucks! Even the champs are confused :))))

However the main point was to spent weekend together with great company and when I had had warm sauna and sausages after it, it was time to enjoy the good start for the weekend despite of the huge mistakes at first competition.

Somewhere at Laipanmaa paths

On Saturday was the big day! On a 20+ km orienteering/hiking/running/walking/geocaching activity throughout the Laipanmaa terrain we were tested with unexceptionally difficult orienteering tasks on a modified maps. The whole story can be read from the blog.It took over 6 hours to complete the mission and get back to cottage in Sappee. What a great feeling after recovering a bit, my legs were absolutely at it's limit with nearly 600 meter total climb at the route. There were huge amount of mushrooms (craterellus, chanterelle) and cranberries at the autumnal forest and swamps.

J.P. Fushi's and Jing Pin's ready for the evening

The finnish rock band "Popeda" were playing and having a gig on Saturday evening at local restaurant, which was full of people in the middle of nowhere.

Popeda, Popeda !

All in all big thanks to organizer and other participants for the highlight of this autumn !

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exercise bike

I bought my third bike directly into my living room. My MTB- and City bikes are nicely at bicycle storage at ground floor, but exercise bike got the good spot in the upper floors. Now it's all about training hard for the long distance cycling events next summer...

At the same time I joined a local long distance running and triathlon club, which gives me a good possibilities to train and exercise swimming at Kaleva swimming center throughout the winter multiple times per week.

It seems I have removed all the obstacles for the development of the swimming and cycling capabilities for the next year. When adding skiing, orienteering, running and gym exercises during the winter time I would say the next half a year seems to be very all-round training period.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Authorization test for Rope Work Leadership

Knots, knots, knots

The weekend was mentally and physically tough one. On thursday I was doing the theory exam of the Rafting Guide authorisation test and on Saturday we had a Rope Work Supervisor authorisation test including a theory and practical tests at the same day.

Rescue operation about to start

Most probably the Rafting Guide test went well, but we didn't get the results yet. On the other hand the result of the Rope Work Supervisor test was known after the long day and for my surprise I passed the test and became as a certified and authorized Rope Work Supervisor given by the Finnish Climbing Association, which is member of UIAA. What a great weekend!

Paddling with the C-6 (6 person Canoe)

During this year I have successfully passed multiple tests of outdoor activity sports and has become an authorized Paddling Guide, an authorized Rafting Guide and an authorized Rope Work Supervisor.

When I was back at home at Tampere at midnight, after 4-day tests and outdoor activities at Rovaniemi I was totally exhausted. The Sunday was a long day with 6 hour school day and 9 hour driving. I was feeling the tiredness of my body on this morning and thought I would be resting the whole day. However my buddies were planning a 3-hour orienteering exercise and I decided to participate it, because of the nice weather and the possibility to enjoy once again the forest and the autumn colors of it. The theme for the run was "pain" and sure it was partly that, but anyhow after running 2,5 hours at forest, having warm sauna after it I was feeling relaxed and ready to jump into my bed and have a good sleep tonight. Zzzzzzzzzz

Friday, October 14, 2011

Case Korouoma

View to Korouoma gorge from the top of the cliffs

The Korouoma canyon is a 10 km gorge in Lappland at Posio. As part of the studies this weekend we had a chance to face mighty rocks and cliffs of the gorge as well as rare caves in Finland. Early Friday morning we headed towards Posio and Korouoma from Rovaniemi with all the gear for abseiling and caving in the gorge.

Building anchor points for the abseiling

Because of the natural reserve, it's not possible to climb everywhere, but you need to follow strict rules for climbing, caving and abseiling at both winter and summer time. The spot for climbing in summer time (or actually during september - october) is called Pirunkirkko. Roughly 50 meter high cliff ideal for abseiling activities. So we did! It was great to look over the amazing gorge and abseil down to the bottom of the gorge at sunshine and beautiful weather.

50 meter Pirunkirkko cliffs at background

There are only few caving possibilities in Finland and Korouoma is having one of those rare caves. This was my first caving experience in Finland, just nice but short experience...

Entering the cave

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Long, wet and cold - Season's end

18.2 km

The weather forecast told all the essentials from the day of 24th of September 2011. Humidity 100%, temperature +7 degrees, occasional showers, wind 5 m/s. It was time to start long distance orienteering competition at Vaajakoski. There were 18 km course waiting us as a last sport event on this year's Kalevan kierros.

Approaching control point

Alltogether roughly 300 participants started at a mass start either for 18 km or 10 km track. Despite of the high number of competitors starting at the same time, the course planner had done a superb job! The parallel courses provided splitted the runners effectively and I was running the whole course after second control point practically by myself.

Punching at control point #9

The terrain was wet and slippery due to constant rain during the previous weeks. It was cold, but as soon I started running I felt warm. The running speed wasn't the best, but anyhow I was happy about my orienteering skills at this race. No big mistakes at control points. There were some not optimal route choices I made between control points, but I was extremely happy after finishing the course at a time of 3 hours and 34 minutes. 

Kalevan kierros completed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

From Tiinanmäki through B-Final to C'est La Vie

Map of B-Final

At last weekend I was attending a Kirmaisu-event at Alavus with 4 other guys. The plan was to enjoy the weekend in a cottage near the place, where Finnish Orienteering Championships in a middle distance was arranged. On a Friday we drove to J's cottage, run a 1 km "Tiinanmäki" test-run and had a relaxing sauna after it.

Early on Saturday morning had a decent breakfast and right after it 3 of us cycled into a race center of Finnish Orienteering Championship and got prepared for the 3.7 km qualification run. I started among the first ones at 9:00. I made a huge mistake at control point #4 and also the running speed wasn't too good for me, cause I haven't had a possibility to run and exercise during summer, when I have been paddling the Finnish coastline.

There were 3 hours between qualifications and the B-final, which we used effectively by cycling back to the cottage, eating a lunch, resting a bit and cycling back to the race center. At 13:00 I was starting again for the second race today, 4.9 km B-final. The running speed wasn't increased from the morning, but the orienteering went much better and smoother than in the morning. This was my first personal national orienteering competition and my first ranking points ever.

On Saturday evening after the competition had a great dinner, hot sauna and concert offered by Anna Puu.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week full of guiding courses

The previous week was full of guiding courses and tests.

As a starter I was doing the final part of the Paddling Guide test, the theory part with written exam. The first part of the Paddling Guide test I had already finished one month ago at the waters of Kotka in a 3 - day course. Now I'm waiting the confirmation and the results from the Finnish Canoe Federation if I made it and if I will be accepted as a certified Paddling Guide.

Right after Paddling Guide test I had 4 - day Rafting Guide course at Rovaniemi, which culminated into a test in a rapids of Vikaköngäs. Everybody had to successfully guide and steer the raft through a pre-defined track in a rapids. In addition of this test everybody had to successfully capsize the raft and re-right it with the help of flip-line. The 4 - day course was a tough one and when I managed to pass the test on Sunday I was really happy, but tired. I have been resting the beginning of the week and recovering the paddling in the rapids. We have still one part of the Rafting Guide course left, which is theory as a written exam. The exam will be made in our next period at Rovaniemi within one month.

All in all this summer has been dedicated to water activities with paddling the Finnish coastline, taking Paddling and Rafting Guide courses and visiting on a 10 new lighthouses by kayak. Despite of the focus on the water activities I have managed to nearly complete Kalevan Kierros with 4 sport events. I have still 2 orienteering competitions / events on the coming weekends. Tomorrow will be running in a Finnish Orienteering Championship race in a middle distance and after one week completing Kalevan Kierros by running 18 km orienteering race at Vaajakoski.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rafting guide course

In the rapids of Raudanjoki

4 - day rafting guide course is now half-way. After two tough days at white water near Rovaniemi, I have found many new muscles on my upper body. Tomorrow we'll be heading to Tornionjoki, where even bigger rapids can be found than in the neighborhood of Rovaniemi.

Safety equipment : helmet, PDF

Vikaköngäs rapids have been ideal for practicing rafting and learning to guide groups, who want rafting experience on inflatable rafts. We have managed to get multiple runs for everybody to learn and practice the behavior of rafts in the rapids. It was even possible to practice raft racing on slalom track, which was built for the race held next weekend.

Slalom track gates

In the end of the day there were a possibility to practice capsizing the raft and re-righting it with flip line.

Capsizing the raft

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Märket dialect has been invented

It has been a typical Märket weather today. A bit of everything like wind, waves, clouds and sunshine. Waves have been increasing during the day and the islet has been shrinking at the same pace. However there has been still enough solid ground to work outside and even do the jogging exercise around the island.
Today we have been doing compulsory maintenance and shift changing tasks like cleaning the places and emptying compost after one week shift of 5 people. So the preparation for tomorrow's change is right on schedule.

The seals have disappeared from our sight perhaps due to strong and intensive waves hitting continuously the shore of the island and making it harder to get ashore. However the amount of ships and ferries sailing between Märket and Understen has not been affected in any ways, there is a constant line of big cubicles on the western horizon moving to north or to south.

We have been enjoying the last day and the evening here by having the final great sauna experience with swim in the middle of blowing wind and wet waves, baking apple cakes and just taking easy and relaxed. We have had a multiple phone calls to mainland to give instructions for ordering more paint for the ceiling, walls and the floor of the first floor rooms.

It's amazing how time flies, cause it feels we just arrived a moment ago, but actually it's already one week since we entered Mats' boat in Eckerö. Most probably the wind is blowing from the north tomorrow and therefore the change will happen from the south side and from the southern harbor. Today when we have looked at the sea and the behavior of the waves it's hard to believe we could get out tomorrow. Waves are circling around the island and meeting each others exactly at the point of southern side and building a pacific like surfin' waves. We are just lacking of surfboards to enjoy the waves. Ride on!

Yesterday we lost the last car tire we had on Märket. Tires have been used as fenders for the boats docking to northern or a southern harbor. So we had to do a phone call to mainland again and make the order of the new car tires. It seems sea is cruel at these stormy waters and swallowing everything which is not bolted firmly onto a strong granite rocks.

It has been an educational week as well for the Finnish speaking crew. Monica and Christer has been teaching for the rest of us many useful Swedish words, sayings and phrases from "gäspande gepard" through "mögel möbel fågel flygel" to "räven raskar över isen". Now we can survive even at the most Swedish speaking part of Åland with these phrases. There's no matter which language the crew members are speaking when coming to Märket, because after one week we all have adapted to new language called "Märket dialect" and everybody can speak and understand fluently this ultimately beautiful new language. As an example dialect includes words like "suklata", "plastrata" and "lorare".

We all wish that we can come back one day and have the chance to feel this special atmosphere again. Goodbye now, but see you soon again!