BB1500 Iron Butt 22nd- 23rd of June 2006
Although two years ago we swore that we've done our macho drivings and we don't have to prove anything to anybody, we were in the same spot again. Or better yet, in worse spot that earlier, now the miles were more, exactly 500 miles more than in Saddle Sore. Well we'd have 12 hours more time but still, no picnic, 1500 miles (2414 km) in 36 hours, insane!
We thought that we were going to master the road already on 2005 but Leila had a bizarre accident with a lorry. Or have you ever heard a motorcycle move sideways (on its wheels of course)? Well, that's what the "lady" claimed, she reversed her lorry in the middle of the afternoon traffic jam in Helsinki, and said something like "the motorcycle just came out of nowhere!" Ok, the police didn't believe her and the eye witnesses told a different story. But anyway, Leila's miles were through that summer, her clavicle and the edge of her shoulder plate were fractured.
2006 we tried again. Starting plan would be the route Leila's friend drove, to the Arctic Ocean. We did modify the route a bit; it would have taken too long to go so far, it would have taken us more than 1.5 days so we decided that only a tiny curve at Norway's side would be enough. Genimap was genius again, on the left is the route we agreed on.
I started my journey early on Thursday morning. I was determined to enjoy the no-schedule-on-the-road time from Tampere to Helsinki. And I did enjoy riding without checking the time all the time. I spent time to just browse around in Linnatuuli, the rest stop in the middle way of Tampere - Helsinki and gaze the tourists as they were in such a hurry. At Helsinki I was glad that Leila had prepared such a good map for me to get to her office, otherwise I would have been somewhere totally else, as I normally do, even with specific directions. I was there a bit early but again I prefer it that way, no rush.
From Leila's colleagues, Heikki and Anna-Maija, we got the signatures to prove the start of the trip and off we went to tank up. The receipt showed starting time exactly 12:00 22nd of June 2006.
The sun was shining from almost cloudless sky and my new clock-thermometer showed some massive (we're in Finland...) 24 degrees of Celsius. I bet Leila had it nice in her leather driving gear as I was sweating like a pig in my gore-tex, even though the breeze from the ride was very nice, our average speed at that time being quite crispy. It was thrilling, the tension was slowly vanishing and beautiful euphoria of riding came instead.
The average speed was indeed quite high in the beginning but hey, it tasted so gooood. A quick refueling, also to the band members, markings to the log book and back to the road. The traffic was pretty hefty because of the midsummer approaching. Luckily there were only few trucks or camper vans to block the roads. Near Jyväskylä nearly 100 motorcycles were going to totally opposite directions and we guessed they were all going to the same place we were going to end up finally, Kokkoontumisajot, a rally for MC's. I wished I could have shouted out to them that "We're also coming along; we just ride A LITTLE TOUR!!!
At ninish' we started feeling a bit hungry and we decided to find a place where we could actually sit down and eat, not just quick snacks standing on the bike. Almost 700 kilometers behind and time spent about 9 hours so it was already time for the working girl to have a late lunch, or supper or what ever it's called at that time of the evening. Food. But at that particular time, just guess how many places there were open, in the midsummer's eve coming and all? NONE.
All gas stations showing food signs were already closed, even Merihelmi, a place where people go for real restaurant dinners and even sleep at their cabins, that was closed too! We took gas and wasted time thinking whether we should use the pushes (nearly emergency) or should we still continue a bit. We kept on searching.
About 10 km later there was a sign "Vanha Pappila" (Old Vicarage) with fork+knive marks and also a bed sign, which should mean there are people staying, which should mean food (not that we are cannibals or anything, you know what I meant ...) It was about 4-6 km from the main road but we thought we had to check it out. And what a place it was! Beautiful old vicarage with the restaurant having a real waitress, real table cloths and even the tea was brought in a pot not just a mug! It was so nice to warm your fingers and have this most delicious pasta in the evening sun shine of midsummer sun. I warmly recommend the place if you happen to cruise in that neighborhood.
I was leading again. And as a trained the not-believe-directions and anti-compass person, *I couldn't find my way from Tornio to Ylitornio but instead I guided our "band" to Haaparanta. Seeing the sign gave me memories from my childhood as my mom use to go on these "butter-trips" to buy cheap butter from the other side of Finland-Sweden border. HELP, yes, Sweden it really is! I still don't understand how the heck I managed to ride on that side! I found a sing telling "Övertorneå, that's the place (in Swedish…). Nobody asked for passports or visas, as we had been joking about that. (Finnish people can go anywhere in Scandinavia with just an ID, no need for passports).
Arctic Circle, on our way up.
MC-stretch, bearer foot straight, other limbs stretch back. Not very bendy, eh…
Some kilometers again on Finland's side and back abroad! Tank up in the sleepy village of Kautokeino, I had worried over nothing about lack of gas stations this far up north. Such a lovely "fjord city" was left behind on the hours of early morning as the sun was shining still so brightly but from quite low. We continued towards Kaarasjoki on this noise-less, bumpy road. It was in its best shape and as there were more signs to warn about bumps, we were thinking 2how bad could it get from this?" It was pretty deadly ride even though in normal circumstances this kind of a curly road would be exhilarating to drive. Resting places were full of shells (=read it as wannabeegas), people sleeping heavily as we drove by. At many P-spots there were neat little toilets which were like luxury in the middle of nowhere. Excellent work, Norway!
The log marks were as important as getting all the necessary receipts, evidence and also memories.
At this phase of our trip, I think it was something around 4 o'clock am, I was getting really tired and sleepy. My eye lids just kept on coming down. I was shouting inside my helmet, I was "talking" to my guy and I was doing exercise moves on the saddle. Nothing helped. I had to announce my ride-mate that I needed a brake. And surprising how even a small pause cheers you up. Some water and a bite of energy bar helped as well. These kinds of stops had to be more frequent now when you should really be in your bed sleeping. Of course it also helped when Leila had this amazing energy to share :)
Strange but me, born in Botnia, near Oulu, I've never seen a "wild" reindeer. There are warning signs for elks but reindeers for me were either on TV or with Santa at the supermarket during Christmas time. Leila had heard stories and warnings about how stupid can the reindeers be but we didn't expect them to be total nut heads! Leila was leading and was alert paying attention to the side of the road, if one of those creatures would jump in front of us, I was just cruising on in peace. It turned out that reindeers don't come to the road as elks do, fast and unexpectedly, they appear like shadows, just jogging along the road. Luckily Leila was awake enough to figure out the situation fast enough, she signaled me with her hand downwards for me to slow down as well. If I wouldn't have done that, I would have been kissing Leila's rear tyre good bye. It would have been the end of our journey. After that I had the brains too to be alert for the antlered things.
But again the bastards sneaked up on us, they were just slowly walking on the other lane, no worries of this world. There were herds every now and then, some of them sneering at us suspiciously and some of them walking in the middle of the road. Hah, if you feel itchy, you must scratch, where ever you might be standing, right? And one couple was jogging in front of us like rabbit in the beam of lights! In the north it is accustomed to flicker your lights to warn of herds on the road and we as tourists were grateful of the gesture. I counted 9 nearly-stops on our way. Now we know how the northern fauna thinks of us, they don't, no reaction what so ever - we're the ones on our tip-toes, or -wheels. Could this be the reason why people call us, Finnish tourists, as reindeers….?
In Joutsijärvi we were served with a capitol S. This is worth mentioning: after fuelling up we wanted to have some tee/coffee at the gas station. But as before, due to the midsummer fest approaching, the station had been already closed. Suddenly the son of the station keeper came and invited us in! With out further explanations, he offered us the drinks and a weather forecast, plus we got the chance to use the toilet! The mother came from the back room wondering who was her son talking to and once she saw us, she didn't question no more "oh, lady biker, now I understand" We thanked them and said we're definitely going to promote their shop/gas station, they were so kind and pleasant people. We recommend warmly Kyläkauppa Kelloniemi/SEO gas station at Joutsijärvi. Even with wet gear on, the ride towards Kemijärvi was enjoyable after that kind of treatment.
At some point there was an angry rain sticking needles at my face. I couldn't lower my visor because the combination of sun glasses + yellow visor is wearing for your eyes even when you're well-rested. I thought that, ok, let's play it rough and take this as positive facial scrub/massage. But when the needles were pouring, I couldn't take it any more. Long beam on, Leila noticed immediately, stop, buff over my nose and back to the road. BAD IDEA! The buff got soaking wet in about 2 seconds! I tore it down and hit the visor down. BAD IDEA nro 2! At the same time the road had turned into this longitudinal coarse aggregate soon-to-be-torn-open road. You had to really focus to keep your tyres on track. My visor got fumed almost faster than the buff had gotten wet. While waiting my next brilliant idea, visor up, sun glasses to my left hand and pondering how the heck I'm going to get the glasses to my tank bag. Well, from experience (we did Saddle Sore two years ago) glasses to my mouth, open the bag, glasses to the bag, close the bag, close the visor and sigh of relief when your eye lashes turn to normal position from the surface of your eyeball, aaaaahhh. Quite of an experience that was, trying to have some kind of vision while at the same time keeping your bike on the road. And it was pouring like in the amazons! Stopping on the side of the road would have been as dangerous, there were no lay-by (after the one where I got my buff up) and the surface of the road was grind coarse from side to side. I would have probably either fallen to the ditch or got run over by a car from behind. Lucky thing was that deadly combination of bad wheather+even worse road was only about 20 or so km. I hope that my insurance company doesn't read this, or the police for that matter!
SEO station at Ristijärvi didn't let us in; they were in a hurry to get to their midsummer festivities as expected. There was no choice but scamper to the restaurant across the road to ask kindly whether a mc lady could check on her make-up. Folks were really friendly and the place was not that packed, so I got the pass to visit the toilet even with my goretex on. Pee and curtsy and quickly back on the road. They didn't give me a receipt of my visit to the loo.
It was about 5 pm (we've been riding hefty 29 hours!) Leila started to use the entire lane, going from side to side, so we stopped again along the road for a rest. Leila had so called joga nap, wearing her helmet, sitting on a board across a ditch by the side of the road. Once the helmet collapses, the nap is over. They say it helps, I don't know. I've heard of keychain naps but not about joga naps. And it didn't have the effect as far as we've had hoped for, we were extremely tired because of lack of sleep. Riding itself wasn't that bad but inside the helmet, brain could use some sleep every once in awhile. Here is some proof of our resting pauses for the flower-hat aunties.
Joga nap and stretch
I have to mention Pöljä (a Finnish village name, meaning numbskull). They must have had the most excellent midsummer party ever! On the local gas station's door there was a bouncer. Yes, you got it right, gas station + bouncer! I had to take a couple of steps back when I wondered whether I was allowed inside with my helmet on. Go ahead, he said, in the end of the line, so there we were two biker ladies, helmets on, paying our gasoline while others were queuing beer! WAU, it must be a great place to party, this Pöljä!
Near Suolahti, it was like honey to see the sign "camping Hankala 3 km", so close to rest and peace, we were almost there. Yet we had to do the official way and make a short trip to Äänekoski and get our final receipts. Except, we didn't find any gas stations near the center, either we were just too tired to spot them or there were none on the road where we entered the center. I was already starting to panic that was this going to be the end of the trip, just few minutes missing? Luckily, Leila saved the day, again, she saw a cash automat, ATM, on the wall of a supermarket. That's the goal. Stop ja U-turn. Leila neatly ahead and I neatly…fallen on my side. My hands were already so tired that even when I tried and tried, I couldn't hold Faarao on it's tyres on the turn. You can just guess what I was feeling, I thought "just come and rob me, I wouldn't feel anything on top of this, PRKL (=abbreviation of a Finnish swearword)!" Fortunately one brisk youngster with his moped came and helped me to get Faarao up again. Leila also jogged on the spot, shouting from a distance about what had happened. Well, nothing much to it, just slowly riding to the ATM, get the vital receipt and only after that check the damages on the bike. Custom is always a custom, the only mark for the whole episode was 2 stripes on the end of the rear pivot, and some missing paint, size of a pinky nail, from the front bender. That's nothing. So bravely back on the saddle, there was only a sniff to the end of our trip.
The goal was looming ahead, we've been checking the map for Suolahti camping area but somehow we didn't catch the port of the area. We got some instructions from my guy, tried again but still nothing! It was us, we just had to believe and drive the missing 100 meters onwards. Wau, were one heck of a band in orienteering, came 1500 miles just to loose the way on the last 100 meters! But how sweet it was to fill in the registration form at the gate and to the part where they ask "how many km to arrive...", we put this rough 1500 miles!
Sauna had got cold but that was ok. Quickly something to eat, (real food, I think I won't be eating energy bars in a while) and hit the bed, we had plenty of time to sit in the sauna the next morning. And that's what we girls did! And swam in the lake. And sat in the sauna again. After a sound, good night sleep the stretching at the seat of the warm sauna was like honey, it felt like all the cats in the world would purr in the muscles of our upper backs when we were stretching our arms up. And it felt particularly nice to just chit chat about the ride, especially when some of the other girls in sauna had heard about two ladies going to end their BunnBurner trip here. Well, we were them, ahem, ahem...
Leila left that morning to get some rest at home but I stayed with my huspand and two of our friends, we wanted to stay to hear what would happen in the trophy giving that night. The whether was excellent, the sun was shining and all in all I was feeling relaxed, no need for tension and focusing any more. Even with no recognition at the trophy ceremony, the night was great. We'll probably go there next year as well, a little less kilometers though.
All in all, the trip was amazing, an experience we can remember back when we're old. To others who might be thinking of whether to go or not, I'll give you the advice I heard "if your head is in its place and sane, the rest of the body will follow". This is such an endurance that it shouldn't be done just showing off, or to prove something to someone. Except to yourself. Either way, we are Iron Butts, double time that is, Leila "THE Lady" and Ninnair!
Ride free! With warmest Regards, Ninnair
Here's some statistics for those interested.
|time||km total||gas/ liter|
Carlo used app. 117 liters, worth 146€ and Faarao ate about 110 liters and in money 135€.