18 kolovoza 2012

Ridereport Vologda-Onega Ladoga 1200km

evo ovako, ako ikoga zanima da provede pola sata čitajući izveštaj sa trke/hepeninga na 1200km (biciklama), ja mu garantujem da neće zažaliti. ionako lično ne poznajem nekoga ko može na nešto znatno zanimljivije da potroši pola sata svog života. dakle ili čitajte ovo, ili idite blejite negde... :-)


In recent years the St. Petersburg audax club, Baltic Star, has rapidly
grown into one of the European powerhouses of audaxing. Their
yellow/blue jerseys are visible during many 1200+ events throughout
Europe. At home they organise a 1200 around two large Russian lakes, the
Onega and Ladoga lakes. Due to the dense traffic situation in St.
Petersburg the start is in the quiet provincial town of Vologda. During
their first edition, in 2008, I had to pack due to a shoulder injury. So
in early july I set out by train from Moscow to the starttown of
Vologda. This time I opted for a quiet preparation, admiring the old
Russian town of Jaroslavl situated halfway between Moscow and Vologda. I
arrived in the early afternoon. The sightseeing in Vologda I had done
allready two and four years ago. By now I know my way around town so
directly out of the railwaystation I went to the bikeshop to get some
last minute suplies. A lavish late lunch in a local eatery later I set
out for the assembly point, a students hostel 14km north of town.
I leave the town throug dense traffic and easily I find the commuter
village north of Vologda. Riding towards the hostel I spot a reassuring
amount of supermarkets and food stores. No need to head back to town to
buy the neede supplies for the first leg of the ride. In front of the
hostel I meet Claus from Hamburg. He is waiting for the van which
transports his bike. The Russian railways don't cause too many headaches
for cyclists so I prefer taking the bike by train. In the hostel I meet
many old friends from previous rides. I quickly settle in and transport
my things to my room which I share with Michael from Switzerland.
A dash to one of the foodstores gets me nearly everything I need. Only
my batterysupply is rather low. There's no restaurant in the village but
a kitchen in the hostel solves all problems. Together with the others I
head out for the pre-ride meeting, in front of another student hostel.
Last time the chief organiser Mikhail did all the registration work,
assited by his daughter. Now she takes over teh job, efficiently
organising the distribution of frame numbers, routesheets (in 3
languages) and brevetcards. And the much coveted VOL shirts of course. A
promising young organiser (still in her teenage years). The van with the
bikes only arrives after the documents are issued. Those who still have
their bikes boxed scramble for them and with some assistance from others
assemble their bikes. Chikara's box is a bit startling. He extracts a
strange amount of tubes and assorted bike parts from it which after some
work form a nice recumbent, the only one in the ride. We all wonder how
he managed to pass airport security with this, disassembled it hardly
looks like a bike.
Back in the hostel we all eat from our supplies. Some riders didn't
manage to download the newest GPS track. Luckily I downloaded it in
Jaroslavl so I can transfer it from my netbook. Some of the younger
riders wonder a bit about my bike, a 1987 Koga Miyata Grantourer. Many
parts are not known to the younger ones. So the old hands explain how we
used to ride back in the old days. I like the comfortable front fork of
it. Tyre clearance is a bit larger as on my PBP bike. That combined it
forms an excellent bike for the rough roads of Northern Russia. I opted
for bar-end shifters. There's no need for quick shifting on this brevet.
Russian roads are rather straigh, no steep hills looming behind sharp
corners here. And a bar-end shifter is repairable by a Russian village
mechanic, in contrast to the more modern stuff.
Only a few riders are still fettling with their bikes when most riders
go to sleep. We need every sleep we can catch now. In the morning most
riders wake up far too early. There is some nervousness in the air.
Breakfast is again a do it yourself affair. Probably better as being
served something which you might not like before the start of a big
ride. Start is at 7. At 6.30 a van is announced for the dropbags. But no
van in sight when we all are outside the hostel waiting for it. 7 is
nearing when there's still no van. A rider's wife volunteers to stay
with the bags so we can set out for the start, 2km from the hostel. We
all arrive after 7. But the organisers are still handing out routesheets
and brevet cards to those who arrived in the early morning. When all of
us are equipped with them a group photo is made and we set out in small
groups, half an hour later as scheduled. I opt for the first group, with
my (lack of) speed I need every wheel I can follow during the first part
of the ride. We're with 80 riders, twice as much as 4 years ago. Looking
around I see many unfamiliar jerseys. A lot of new clubs around, many of
them from smaller towns all over Russia. Of the classic three only
Baltic Star is out in force, Caravan Moscow and Orion Volograd are
outnumbered by clubs from Novosibirsk and Voronezh.
The first group settles rapidly into a reasonable pace. Even during the
first rise there's not a single rider tearing off. I'm happy with this
situation. For the first 10k we keep this reasonable pace. Then
something uncommon happens, something I've never seen during the 5 other
audax rides I've done in Russia so far. The Voronezh-club passes us in
an excellent paceline, several other riders in tow. Up till now most
riders I've seen during brevets overhere were riding rather
individually, this is the first time I see a proper road men's paceline
during a Russian audax ride. Immediately the front riders in my group
increase speed and not much later the group rips just in front of me. I
try to keep the gap small but hardly anyone wishes to help or is capable
to do this. Most are quite happy to sit on my wheel for a long time. For
a few dozen kilometers I ride with this group untill I stop for a call
of nature.
I resume the road alone, something I'm quite used to. And it doesn't
bother me at all. I quickly find a steady rhytm and roll along through
the usual Russian countryside of endless forests interspersed with
scenic lakes. Ocassionally a sideroad veers off to a distant riverside
village. In this part of Russia the villages were founded along the
rivers. The rivers were the old roads. Only in the age of motoring the
asfalt roads took over and were built on the high grounds. Not far
before the turn-off to the Fillipovo Monastry the first control is
located by the roadside. Nothing fancy, just a car, some food and water
and a few controllers. Not that anyone needs more. The only thing to be
desired could be more water. It's a hot day and not everyone took enough
water with him. I started out with 4 liter of drinks, most of it used
allready. I top off at the control. There are still riders out when I
resume my ride, I've allready built a comfortable time-cushion to the
closing times.
We don't visit the Fillipovo Monastry this time so I keep on heading
north. Temperatures start to rise, it should be around 30 degrees now.
Normally I would enter the disaster zone here. Before I started using
sports drinks my stomach would gradually shut-down above 30 degrees.
After some experimenting I found some sports drinks I can still drink in
the heat and which keep my stomach working. Not that I would enter rides
were much higher temperatures are expected though. In fact, I choose
this ride because usually temperatures are in the 20-ies here, my
prefered range of temperature for long distance cycling.
Now we've passed the Fillipovo Monastry traffic gradually deminishes to
a few cars per hour. One feels quite lonely here. It's my second time on
this road so I know that I can expect some services at the second
control. Here a road leads to the small town of Lipin Bor. We continue
on the main road but not before checking in at the 2^nd control. Just
next to it is a service station. I stop there for a hot meal. Els is
allready sitting there, enjoying some of the local pastries. I stock up
with supplies. No-one knows if the next shops will be open or not, they
only cater for the villager's needs. There's one halfway the next stage.
I leave the route and to my surprise it's open. That's perfect, it's
still hot and an icecream would be great. And stocking up on drinks
again. During the first days I'm drinking about 15 litres a day so I
need a regular supply of water. Last time the shop was allready closed,
I had to use my emergency rations to reach the next control.
Just after resuming the route I meet Vadim and Elizaveta from Moscow.
It's their first big brevet and they're still equipped as proper
roadies. Shiny carbon fibre bikes and neat kit. They don't speak English
so my basic Russian has to do for conversation. Sometimes we ride
together, sometimes alone. But still to ocassional stretches of riding
together are enough to reach the 3^rd control in good spirits. Last time
I was struggling here and needed some sleep. I remember that this
control is midge-infested so one of the first things to do is using the
midge-repellant. Industrial strength is needed in this part of Russia. I
eat and drink the usual mugs of tea (staple drink at Russian controls).
There's a 4^th rider at the control, Aleksey. He suffers from a nasty
crash and has to retire. When I'm about to leave Vadim and Elizaveta
also pack. Vadim has kneeproblems and Elizaveta joins him in packing.
Quite a shame, she's still in good form and there are enough riders near
us to ride together for the remainder of the ride. I'm back in my usual
position, last man on the road.
So I settle out alone again. The next stage is far more scenic and
populated as the previous ones. Several times I'll cross the great
waterway from the Volga to the White Sea. But first I have to negotiate
some bad roads near the village of Depo. The main road veers to the left
but I continue straight on, up ahead I see a cloud of dust in the
evening sun. The asfalt disappears as I cross the small gauge railway
track. This is a logging village. Last time I was here at dawn, now it's
still evening. It's still scenic, the white nights are something to
experience. Near Beluosovo the white nights are especially spectacular.
I pass a scenic bay where several cruise ships are moored for the night.
The Onega lake starts here.
To my surprise the local shop is still open. I enter it as I make my way
through the cluster of late-evening drinkers at the doorstep. Probably
they think that they've drank a bottle too much as they see me in
reflective jacket and helmet light. I stock up again on food and drinks.
When I resume the road I head north into the sun. A strange feeling for
me, the sun shouldn't be in that corner. In Vytegra I reach the first
turn of the ride. I've been riding straight on for more than 300km.
Still one rider manages to overshoot the turn and log some extra miles.
The small town of Vytegra is asleep. Probably some riders too in the
local hotel. I continue on, not far up is the control of Saminky Pogost.
I reach it without problems. A lot of bikes at the control, I'm clearly
not that far behind. I opt for a short kip before eating and continuing.
I'm not very sleepy but I have enough time in hand to invest in some
sleep. Usually that makes you faster in the next legs.
Less than an hour later I wake up. But it takes some time between waking
up and really being active. It takes an awfull long time before I really
start going again. I sit around a bit trying not to b noticed by the
midges. Wearing full raingear is the best method at this moment not to
get bitten. Luckily my mind kicks in again, I take some extra clothes
from my dropbag and resume my ride. I'm among the backmarkers now. We'll
be seeing eachother regularilly for the next few days. Luckily no
quitters this time, 4 years ago all the riders which I met at the
controls were packing. These are the real riders, determined to finish,
not afraid to balance on the edge of the timelimit. The rest of the
backmarkers are all fairly local, lot's of them from St. Petersburg.
About half of them speak English, for the others my basic Russian has to
do. But it's a good feeling to see some other riders.
Shortly after the control I pass the Karelian border. The rest of the
ride will be held here, in one of the Russian autonomous republics. Not
that I hear Karelian in this part of Karelia. There are more Karelians
living on the shores of the Ladoga lake. There are many controls here,
spaced about 60km apart. Hospitality is superb, a bit too superb in fact
for those who are fighting with the time limits. Controls eat away a
massive amount of time. I'd rather prefer them spaced about 100km apart
Especially since the food is more or less the same at all the controls.
So for variety it's needed to shop at local shops or use the few
roadside restaurants available.
Mostly defined by the circumstances, a lot of the controls consist of a
few tents by the side of a lake. The only solutions if habitation is
nearly failing. Roadsigns informing you that the next hospital, service
station ore other amenities are more than 60km further on are quite a
normal sight. As are roadsigns warning for potholes. It would be cheaper
to point out the roads without potholes. Pudozh is the only place of any
size during daytime. Even large enough to have a mainstreet market.
Police officers guard the entrance and send me via some backroads. When
I'm back at the mainstreet the police officer on duty there allready
knows what's happening and points out the school where the control is.
Another control with dropbags so I change clothes. Opposite to it is a
shop. Finlly a chance to cool down with an ice-cream. The next announced
shop is 80km further on. A village shop so no certainty if it's open.
The only company I have for the next leg are all sorts of insects. A lot
of short sharp hills here, uphill I'm an easy target for them. I could
do without the next control, 60km is far too short. The control is
located in a holiday camp. I arrive here without any water. I could have
asked one or two villages before but knowing there's a control ahead I
simply press on. Several riders are still at the control when I arrive,
eating in a small hut. I'm escorted to another hut where the vegetarian
food is. It's very relaxed here. One could stay here for hours. But I
don't have the time for that, soon it's time to continue. 20Km further
on is the announced shop, not too far away from the route. It's still
open so I can stock up on food and drinks.
When I'm back on the route I see Dima, a young rider from St.
Petersburg. Together with him I continue to the next control. One of the
lakeside contols. We have to dismount and walk through the forest for a
few minutes to reach it. The path to it is very muddy. Over a rickety
bridge we reach the control. One of the controllers arrives, fishing rod
in his hand. The fire is burning, water in the large kettle allready
boiling. A typical Baltic Star control. I eat and drink tea here before
resuming my ride, together with Konstantin and Katja this time. Out of
the blue a good asfalt road appears. We enjoy it, it might not last
long. And indeed, after passing the village of Novaja Gabalja the road
deteriorates again. A sign for a café points to the village. We try to
find it but it's too well hidden. Katja and Konstantin left the village
a bit earlier so I'm alone again. In the next village I pass the
Belomorskij-Baltiskij kanal. One of the many in this region. It's
getting quite chilly so I change clothes after Povonets. I'm not that
far away from Medvezhegorsk but my progress is very slow. I nearly fall
asleep and need a few short kips on the handlebars. Finally I reach
Medvezhegorsk where I find an open service station. I stop and drink
some tea. Finally I start fo feel human again. This is the first place
where I find a proper map of Karelia. I immediately buy it. In the
centre of Medvezhegorsk I easily find the turn to the control, 25km
further away. Immediately I see the first rider returning from the
control. A few minutes later a car stops. A few controllers inside.
Tanja is among them and tells me that the control opening times are
changed, we have a few more hours. I had expected something like that
since the control times were still calculated on the basis of the 15km/h
average although I've passed the 600km mark allready. So it's quite
normal to get some extra hours. The control is excellently located, 2^nd
night and past the 600km mark. The moment most people need some sleep.
That's also my first thought when I arrive at the control. Especially
since I've eaten in Medvezhegorsk so I don't need food directly. I enter
a tent and fall asleep.
More than 2 hours later I awake. There's still breakfast and there are
still some other riders present. So I take my time to eat and try to get
my body back into working order. During the first kilomters to
Medvezhegorsk I feel that I'm not asleep but not awake either. It takes
ages for my body to get going. Still I have to make some tactical
choices in Medvezhegorsk. I don't know if the next control will stay
open longer and if, for how long. But I do know that after leaving
Medvezhegorsk there are hardly any services untill the turn-off to the
next control, over 60kms with only one truckstop mentioned on the map.
And I do remember this stretch from last time. The map indicates a
service station on the outskirts of Medvezhegorsk. But no information if
it sells food. So I cycle back to the centre of Medvezhegorsk. The big
supermarket is not open yet, they only start at 10am. But a small shop
opposite to it is allready open for business. I stock up for the next
100km, at least with food. No batteries here and I need to restock
somewhere today. It's the first big brevet I ride on battery lights with
an old bottom bracket generator as back-up. So I don't really know how
much bateries I need. And my GPS is slowly giving in, every few
kilometers it shuts off. Battery consumption is rather high, probably
due to the constant restarting of the unit.
When I exit Medvezhegorsk I see that the service station has a small
shop. And indeed, they stock batteries. Of unknown quality. I buy a set
of 4 and continue. This stretch was one of my worst last time. And it is
this time. Only the first bit is interesting. The rest is simply
mind-numbing. A long line of straight asfalt is visible ahead. Next to
it some wasteland and 30-40m later the forest starts. Endless forest
with no human habitation in sight. But there's enough traffic to form a
nuisance. On the busy sections I have to ride on the 70-80cm wide
stretch of asfalt to the right of the actual road. The only distractions
are a logging truck entering the road in the first section and a river
crossing later on.
The truckstop is a welcome sight. I stop and order the food I have been
missing at the controls, scrambled eggs. 2 years ago there were no
services during the White Nights 1200 but enough truckstops serving hot
food. Overhere even the truckstops are lacking for large sections of the
route. While waiting for my food I check the map. The route this time
returns to the M18 after the Girvas control. Last time we took the old
road via the villages. That road looks a lot better to me. I even wonder
if the more northern road from Medvezhegorsk to Girvas would be better.
A simple relocation of the control south of Medvezhegorsk to a lake
along the northern road would solve all control problems. That supposing
that the northern road has a half-decent surface. The first bit after
the truckstop I manage to ride at reasonable pace. Later on I'm back at
plodding. Shortly before the final turn-off to Vladimir calls me. He
asks me where I am. Still 15km to go to the control I report him. That's
ok for him, now he can plan the closing of the control. At the turn-off
a service station looks very appealing. The routesheet even mentions
that it has showers. But I have no time for that luxury, I stop rapidly
to restock on cola. When I'm back on the road I first see Nikolai and
Katja entering the café behind the service station. Not much later I see
the other Katja returning to the M18. So I'm not that awfully far behind
the others. Nothing I couldn't solve with budgetting on sleep. I reach
Girvas without much problems. One of the controllers waits at the
roadside to point me to the school where the control is located. I'm
quickly served with hot food and tea.
With Vladimir I discuss my mental problems with the M18 and my idea of
taking the old road. It should be about as long as retracing to the M18
and following that road to the next control. But I don't know if Mikhail
had a special reason to skip replace the old road. So Vladimir calls
Mikhail. Mikhail sees no problems with following the old road. Releaved
I check the contents of my dropbag and hit the road again.
I immediately feel refreshed when I am at the old road. The scenery is a
lot better, starting with leaving Girvas via a small rivercanyon. The
road winds its way trough forests, lakes and lot's of small villages.
Finally I don't have to stop at each available shop becaue the next one
is hours away but I can simply stop and buy whenever I need something.
In the following hours I see more people as during the first half of the
ride. I'm enjoying my ride again. The last bit of the old roads leads me
through a series of scenic lakes. Lot's of people here, it looks like
half of Petrozavdosk has a summerhouse here. It's Sundayafternoon so
there's a bit more traffic as expected. But still within acceptable
limits. Shortly before Petrozavodsk I'm back on the M18. It's just a
short bit to the control. But it's still an interesting feeling to ride
under and over motorwaybridges.
When I reach the control I see a few known bikes. So I'm back among the
other backmarkers. Claus is sleeping but awakens when I'm eating. We
talk a bit, he was also nerved by riding on the M18. I tell him that
when we leave the M18 in the village of Prjazha there are some amenities
here including a small 24h restaurant. Last time I covered this stretch
in darkness, crossing over 20km of roadworks. So now I expect a very
well kept road. Well kept it indeed is. There's hardly a section of bad
road untill the Kroznozero control. Although this road is mostly at 2
lane motorway standard it has a different feeling as the previous part
of the M18. Here it's the old road refurbished to higher standards, a
road grown naturally, a road following the lines of the terrain. Not a
road designed in a far-away office. Several villages after the control I
see a sign for a watersource. When signposted like this it has to be
good water. Several cars are parked here and people carry jerrycans full
of water to their car. I only refresh myself. Downstream of the source I
hold my feet in the cold water, a welcome treat after another hot day.
Without any incidents I reach the village of Prjazha. Is top here to
eat. That might be the last café food before I reach the shores of Lake
Ladoga. When I leave Prjazha it's dark enough to use my lights. Also
this road is recently refurbished and feels very good in the
semi-darkness. When I reach the Kroznozero control. There's another
control 56km further on, but with tents. Here it's a school. I decide to
sleep here and not to press on. I still remember the problems I had
during the first part of the previous night.
When I awake the control should be closed for hours allready. But over
the next stretch we get another batch of bonus time, 5 hours are
available for 56km. That should be fairly doable, including some sleep.
When I'm back on the road I see that I made the wise choice to sleep
here. The road is wet, there has been a serious rainshower during the
past 2 hours. Later on I see video footage from the rain, it was indeed
quite serious. Sometimes you need a bit of luck. The next control is
with tents again so not the best place to arrive wet. Within a few
kilometers I'm on the refurbished road. Again very wide and superb
asfalt. A complete contrast to the shores of Lake Onega. But again it's
a road designed in a far away office. It completely bypasses all
villages. The roadsigns sometimes have Russian names of villages,
sometimes typical Karelian names. Which could mean that Karelians and
Russians don't live together in the same villages but are separated.
Only the morning sun and light fog create a decent scenery. Somewhere
halfway to the Mandera control I see a controller's car passing with a
bike on the roof. I can't recognise it that rapidly. Later on I hear
that it's Nikolai's bike, he packed due to a broken rear mech hanger.
Shortly before I reach the control the road turns more natural again. A
short stretch of unpaved road and I enter the tent village of Mandera
control. Still some bikes around and riders sleeping in an old box
shaped trailer cabin. The sort used by roadworkers. Within minutes I'm
sipping hot tea and enjoying the stop.
But I don't stay long. A bit further on is a guesthouse where we can
have a shower. I return to the mainroad and 10km further on stop at the
guesthouse. But it's closed, Monday is it's usual closing day. Bad luck.
I check my GPS for possible places further on the road for a 2^nd
breakfast. A café is mentioned in the next village. And indeed, at the
crossroads is a busstop and café just opening for business. I enjoy the
great Russian rolls here. Allways very tasty and filling.
The first bit of the next stretch is via an interesting road. But the
whole middle section is again one of these modern roads, wide,
unappealing and without a single bit of shadow. The sun is out again and
the temperature rises rapidly. For dozens of kilometers I plod on.
There's hardly anything to see, my speed really suffers because of this.
Only towards the end of this stretch a sight merits a short stop. A
monument to honour a few Soviet soldiers who died here, probably
fighting the Finnish army during WW2. A fact which isn't widely known in
the west, the Finnish army supporting Nazi-Germany. Various visitors
left food, drinks and sigarettes for the souls of the fallen soldiers.
Old pagan rituals don't die here. But I can't pause for long here, I
have to continue. A while further on I reach the only service station of
this stretch. No fuel to be had here but the café is open, an ice cream
is all I need at this moment.
After the servicestation I turn left, a dogleg to Salmi. I arrive at the
shores of Lake Ladoga. Immediately the scenery changes. There's much to
see and a lot of villages. And I directly gain speed. I need the scenery
to keep on going. My supplies are low when I reach Pitkyaranta. A small
shop has all I need for now. The last bit to Salmi is my favourite
stretch for this ride. I've passed here a few times during previous
Baltic Star brevets. A nice winding road with constantly changing
scenery. And well sheltered against the wind. I see lot's of riders
allready riding northwards to the finish. I had expected many of them to
be further on the road. Either they took it easy or the brevet is harder
as expected. I nearly reached Salmi when a rider stops to give me the
exact location of it. His English is worse as my Russian so we switch to
Russian. I reach the control where Vladimir and his crew are allready
catering the few riders still present.
By now I know that I can finish this ride. But I don't know if it will
be an official finish or an out of time finish.
Vladimir tells me the new location of the next control. Again a lakeside
tent. The original spot was allready taken by other campers. The new
spot is 4km further on. The GPS coordinates give me the exact location.
My batterysupplies are very low again. The next shop which might stock
batteries is down in the village. Pitkyaranta should be a better option.
So I set out again trying to reach Pitkyaranta before the electronics
shop closes. Luckily my legs are good again so I can push it a bit.
Halfway to Pitkyaranta I have to stop to change the GPS batteries. No
new ones so I'll have to rob my frontlight from half it's batteries.
Vladimir passes me when I'm changing the batteries. As does Katja. I
pass her again later on, she's having a bad moment. In the outskirts of
Pitkyaranta a car overtakes me and the driver stops me. He tells me that
there's a cyclist in trouble somewhere behind me. Vladimir shouldn't be
too far away so I call him so he can have a look. Not much later he
calls back, he phoned with Katja and she's tyred but still ok. I resume
my ride to the electronics shop. Before I reach it I see a supermarket.
And this one doesn't only stock food and drinks but also decent quality
batteries. I buy two sets and am relieved. I put the light batteries
back in it's place and finally know that I have fitting batteries again.
An elderly man approaches me while I do this. He has seen a few riders
passing with framenumbers and studies mine. He is impressed and invites
me for coffee at his place. I politely decline, no time for this. I
still don't know if I can finish in time or not.
I continue at a brisk pace and leave Pitkyaranta. But not much later I
must admit that I can't keep on like this. It's very hot again and I'm
overheating. My legs can support the speed, the rest of my system not. I
stop at the last service station before I reach an empty stretch of
road. An ice cream and a long rest in the shadow have to restore my
temperature balance. I gambled and it went wrong. When I continue I have
to ride slower so my body can cope with the temperatures. I'm in
plodding mode again. Luckily the road is quite old and scenic so at
least I have some distraction in the form of old villages and nice views
on Lake Ladoga. I don't stop in Lyaskelya to admire the small waterfall.
I have seen this a few times before.
When I reach the control they are allready packing. I'm short on time
but they still insist on serving me a meal and brewing tea. I've
allready decided not to bother about time anymore, I just ride as fast
as feasible. The next town I reach just before 'darkness'. This was the
finish town last time. But now we have to continue, the new finish is
40km further on in Lahdenopolya. I've done this stretch only once, 8
years ago during the Ladoga 800. In Sortavala I have to make a detour,
the bridge in the central part of town is under repair. The deviation is
well signposted. For the last time I switch on my lights. I hope to be
at the finish within a reasonable time.
But I must have forgot that the stretch between Sortavala and
Lahdenopolya is a beast. It's a complete rollercoaster, mostly between
20 and 100m altitude. But sometimes hitting 200m. The sort of stretch
where you only need two gears. Luckily the temperatures are ok now and
my legs are good. So I don't loose an enormous lot of time. But still
too much. About halfway I have to change from trying to gain time to
trying to finish. I don't barrel downhill anymore with 60+km/h, don't
sprint uphill (ok, sort of sprinting). Even in Lahdenopolya I have to
climb, the finish is in a high part of town. It takes a few minutes
before I found the right building. I'm not sure if I am on time, all
depends on the exact calculations of the organisers. The exact time of
departure (about half an hour too late) and the possible time extension
for overdistance. Even at the moment of writing I don't know if I'll be
pardonned or if it will be an out of time finish.

Ivo Miesen[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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