Arctic adventures, the path less taken
The stunning golden glow of Autumn as she paints the landscape in a palate of yellows, oranges, greens and reds. This is how the Arctic Circle looks this time of year and it is something that has to be seen to be appreciated. In September Toni Rutanen, a 31 year old Finnish photographer and long term mountain biker took two of his friends Tommi and Jussi to Levi in Finnish Lapland to experience nature at her most vibrant and breath taking. On their trip, the goal was to explore the bike trails at Levi and Ylläs by the Taiga fat bike and have an adventure void of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Time to escape, time to find their sense of adventure.
Tommi and Jussi are both beginner mountain bikers, so our plan was to have a trekking approach to our ride. It didn’t take them long to gain riding confidence, especially when they had a bike was ideal for the upcoming conditions. Even though our plans were to take things easy and to see where the path would take us, we ended riding up Kätkätunturi with ease, inspired along the way with amazing views. Kätkätunturi is a beautiful Arctic hill nearby Levitunturi and once we got to the top it was fun time.
Tommi and Jussi taking a break in uphill at Ylläs.
The downhill trail was over twice as long, as the climb, the trail was steep and technical but the with the big tyres everyone pin-balled their way down. Both novices Tommi and Jussi didn’t think that it was even possible for them to get down in one piece, they were astounded with how the bike gave them a feeling of confidence, a feeling they had never experienced on a bike before. Big smiles and an attitude of accomplishment left the guys hungry and foaming at the mouth for more. The boys reckoned that the bike was so stable that it helped the beginners to be relaxed on the bike and concentrate on essential things like looking ahead when riding.
The rocky trails of Kätkätunturi
On our second day we headed to Ylläs, which was a 50 km ride away from where we were staying at Levi. We would pass through the spectacular Pallas-Yllästunturi National park. We started our ride from bottom of the Ylläs Ski Center slopes, breathing in the fresh morning air of nature and her aroma, we were ready to ride. A look up revealed a climb of 719 meters, a big deep breath and a slight feeling of “do we really have to go all the way to the top?” Right lets GO, lets do this! Was our attitude and after a while we had shaken off our cobwebs and were nicely warmed up. The trail snaked up the hill for four km’s, feeling a little tired we stopped and took in the stunning views that surrounded us, “WOW this is amazing” As the tiredness left our bodies and inspired by the views it was time to blast down this hill, with thoughts of food and hot coffee to greet us at the bottom.
Food and coffee never tasted so good, and after our break it was time to push on. We rode some easier trails with not that much in the way of vertical heights, but for sure these trails weren’t flat. Some parts were super easy and felt like a motorway and some parts were so rough you could hardly call them a trail. Our bikes were working out very well for both novices and experienced riders and we could tackle everything that the trail produced. After riding for four hours, it was time for a real trekking lunch, a moment we were impenitently waiting for. Man need FOOD! I had some kebab stew and Tommi & Jussi enjoyed pasta carbonara. Food just tastes so much better outside.
The last part of the day was wet swamp based trails with wooden boards criss crossing its way across the landscape (think north shore but 10 cm’s high instead 10 meters high) and to top it all off there was a long uphill ride to the ski center, oh joy! There was three exhausted but happy dudes at the end of the day. A beer and sauna later and we all slept like logs.
At Levi there was a bike park with some epic downhill runs and it would be a shame not to give them a try on the Fatbike and put all the new found skills to test. We had blast smashing out some runs on the tracks. What a great day and a good way to end our adventure. Who ever said a fat bike is for riding in snow has never really ridden a fat bike, it’s hard to believe that the one bike took us around some of the most amazing nature and trails we have ridden and then use the said same bike to put in some runs on real DH tracks.
We had just taken a few days out, a few days that pushed us physically. A few days that had bonded friends together. A few days that allowed us to escape. A few days that leave us with a hunger to explore and have more adventures. A few days that we will defiantly remember.
The sense of adventure is something that one should never forget. Why not take your few days out and make adventures and memories, you won’t regret it. Even better, do it on a Taiga where the only limit is your imagination.