Racing in the wilderness of Finnish Lapland.

RACING IN THE WILDERNESS OF FINNISH LAPLAND

 

As a mountainbiker from a country with only “man-made” nature and mountainbike routes that are as smooth as butter it was a true riding shock when I arrived in Lapland. It was a no-brainer to come to the far north of Finland to compete in the in the mountainbike stage race in Saariselkä after the opportunity opened up. I got to spent a week in Finland and could really experience the wild nature and the thought terrain to ride on. 

 

After three days of racing it was the future of Finish mountain biking, U23 national Champion, Niko Heikkilä who won the overall of the Saariselkä mtb race. I managed to finish second in the overall in this race. For the Scandinavian riders this was familiar terrain but for me it was a complete different ball-game. Wide and fast gravel roads got turned in to extremely rocky and bumpy singletracks which turned into complete swamps and then again in bumpy and rocky single tracks to turn back into a wide and fast gravel road. The race was held in a giant national park which meant that trailwork wasn’t allowed at most of the places. 

So the actual trails we races on most of the time where paths made by the Reindeer after taking the same route for many times. Before coming to the race I’ve been in touch with the organisers to ask which bike I should take, the full suspension or the hardtail. They told me that I didn’t had to think about that and take the full-suspension for sure. To be honest I was doubting a lot as the course didn’t looked so technical and even when I got picked up from the airport and was looking around me I was thinking ”shiiiiiit I could have easily taken the hardtail” . In case you’re looking into doing the Saariselkä mtb stagerace, Tiina from the organisation was right, don’t even think about bringing a hardtail. After the first ride I did on the trails around my hotel it was clear that the full-suspension bike was the best choice. The race is not technical with big drops, huge gaps, or steep downhills but this race is extremely heavy due to the rough terrain. In order to keep your body in bike in one piece the full-suspension is for sure the way to go!

 

Below here you can find a photo report of this awesome trip, besides competing in the race I was extremely lucky to see the northern lights, I found gold at the local gold mines and I got as close to Russia as I possibly could.

If the pictures below don’t already show it…

If you want to return to the basics of mountain biking and ride your bike in rough and untamed terrain this is the place to be! The race is not technical but it is very heavy, bring the thickest tires you can get and you’re sure that you will have an awesome adventure!

 

Ps. please stay at home in case you’re afraid of Reindeer because they are everywhere… 
Pps. Reindeer meat is really nice so make sure to get a Reindeer burger while in Lapland.

 

 

Some useful links if you’re interested in riding bikes in Lapland:

Saariselkä mtb race

Mountain Biking Tourism

Star Arctic Hotel

 

 

Let me take you with me on this trip by scrolling through the following video’s and photos:

Below here you find 3 times a 1-minute video and after that some pictures.

 

In case you’re wondering where exactly I was…. let’s say it was pretty far away from home.

Took the train to the Airport as that is way cheaper than parking the car there for a week.

 

First time flying with Finnair.

I stayed in one of the nice cottages of the Star Arctic Hotel.

 

Selfie with the local supermarket.

The fully was for sure the best bike.

Racing on this rough terrain took a lot from the bike and body.

These kind of swamps had to be passed multiple times during the stages. And you just had to find your own way.

These wide and fast gravel roads brought the needed speed in the race after been struggling to pass some swamps.

 

And of course also many cool singletracks!

Finally time to race.

Every day it was needed to clean the bike.

As I didn’t had a support crew I had to race with a hydropack during the longer stages.

Happy to finish second in the overall classification.

 

When the race was over it was time for some after race activities!

 

 

 

 

Lapland is famous for its gold.

I got a basic training in finding gold.

After some starting problems we got the machine running.

Quite crazy that we actually even found gold!

As I happen to be in the area we decided to pay a visit to the Russian border zone.

 

With such a beautiful sky in the evening my hopes were high to see the Northern lights.  

Extremely lucky to be able to spot the Auroras in August! 

 

It was only visible for 15-20 minutes but it was mega mega cool.

All good things come to an end and I had to travel back home.

I had to spent the night at Helsinki Airport and found this spot.

Luckily I came prepared.

Came with the last flight and the next day I would be on the first one again. Still got 5 hours of sleep in.

During the transit they did an extra check on my bike bag and took away my tire repair spray, despite this spray being on an airplane for the 6th time already…

Back in the train from Amsterdam Airport.

After arriving home it was time to unpack, rebuilt the bike, and start doing the laundry.

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this page and you also got a small experience of Lapland.

Thanks for scrolling all the way to the bottom!