Manon Carpenter continues her post race-tape life with a trip to the highest point in Finland, in a 100km bike packing trip that looks like the sort of thing even us mortals could achieve. Though, just hearing about the endless pushing and speed sapping boulders is making us tired and hungry. Who volunteers to carry in extra biscuits?
“Journey to Halti is a four day bike-packing trip born from a slightly hare-brained idea three years ago, that saw us trying to reach the highest point in Finland – above the Arctic Circle, in the middle of winter, on skis. It was my first time on skis (brave or stupid, you decide), -28° C when we set off and at the end of the year when the sun no longer rises in Lapland. We only made it halfway, faced soft snow and a lack of established skiing routes that early in winter, so it’s been an incomplete mission since then.
Christian moved nearby for work in 2020, and me visiting for summer presented the perfect opportunity to try reaching Halti again – this time by bike. We had no idea what the trail would be like, and were aware that it might not be rideable. With a very literal rocky start, and slow-going flat sections and climbs, we were rewarded with descents that we could actually ride to enjoy. Smooth sections in between the boulders felt like the best trail ever! Four days out in the vastness of Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, with everything we needed on us or our bikes, was a great way to complete the mission of Halti, three years on.”
The ride doesn’t look easy – there’s plenty of stop start riding through boulders, which probably frays the temper a little when you’re tired and hungry. There’s also plenty of wind to sap the energy, and whip away any prospect of distracting conversation.
‘In Finland the ‘Everyman’s Right’ allows every person the freedom to go where they like, responsibly, in nature – including by bike – with the exception of national parks where you’re encouraged to stick to the trail, and avoid protected areas. In national parks unlocked wilderness cabins are open to everyone who respects the rules to leave things the way you found them (or better!), and make multi-day excursions into the outdoors so much easier. On this trip wilderness cabins provided shelter, beds and cooking facilities which meant we only needed to carry food, spares and sleeping bags – with pristine water readily available from the many rivers and lakes we passed’.
‘Riding out into a wilderness area and finding no one else around, a wood burner ready to light and a lake to dip in at the end of the day is a pretty special experience, and something that makes you appreciate wilder spaces all the more – and the invitation to roam in them, freely.‘
This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered Finland’s wilderness cabins – Hannah rode out to one on her fat biking trip along the Finnish/Russian border. You can read that here.
With no need for a tent, there’s relative comfort to be had overnight, plus the security of knowing you’ve somewhere to get warm and dry. But, in between the huts it looks like there’s plenty of effort and suffering! Plus, whatever you need, you’ve got to carry. Hmm… we need an online biscuit/calorie/effort to carry calculator!
The video itself has a nice slow pace to it that captures the effort of the ride well. Self shot, there’s just enough effort gone into getting interesting angles and to-camera pieces to make it an interesting and inspiring watch. But if this ride takes a super fit athlete like Manon this much effort, maybe we’d plan to stay in a few extra huts along the way?
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