It´s a warm sunny day, 16 degrees celcius (a bit more for the ones using funny units), the spring came early this year. Snow rarely melts in March. The woods are all dry, I think that it´s the time to start the muni season. I take look at the trusty dusty Monty trials with which I had many memorable moments last summer, its tire is empty and black frame dirty. Some day I´ll ride it again, but not today. The new KH 24 is too clean and without any battle scars.
The usual car park is full. The city has been expanding like cancer and what was once a pine forest paradise by the sea shore has been reduced into just another suburban park with noisy teenagers drinking beer, small rabid city dogs running free and hordes of tourists experiencing the true Finnish nature, or what´s left of it. I find a place for the car on a nearby street and hop on the uni. The time spent practicing free mounting has paid of, the very first try is successful and I start cruising towards the forest.
The long dark winter has left the Finnish population blind and hard-of-hearing, navigating through the crowds provides a nice warm-up. I ride the paved streets for one kilometer, and then comes the first possible entrance into the quieter forest. The first hundred meters of the path is rough gravel and the going is easy. I take a right turn to a smaller path leading deeper into the forest. Two older ladies with an old golden retriever are blocking the way and I need to dismount for the first time. I wait for them to move on before trying to mount the uni again. The path is free for almost a hundred meters, then the way is blocked by one old gentleman accompanying two equally old ladies. I kindly ask them to give way, and they let me pass.
The path is covered in pine needles, rays of sunshine fall between the trees. A gentle uphill is ridden quickly, and personal speed records are broken on the following downhill. I dismount at the bottom and walk back up to ride it again. Twice. A narrow rocky path leads left, it seems a little more difficult but should be ridable. The optimism is partly unwarranted, I soon find myself walking up a rocky hill. The path is more even on the top, I cruise between pines, rocks and roots. Unfamiliar terrain is a bit exhausting and a small root causes an upd. I stand for a while, resting and listening to the hum of wind on the trees and the distant sounds of the city.
A smooth and fast single track leads downhill until a fallen tree cuts the path. I can´t jump on this beast yet, so I´ll need to dismount. A couple of hundred meters of smooth single track later I am back at the main path. A lady in her forties walks in front of me, she is talking loudly by herself, hands waving wildly. Back in the day one would have known that she was a lunatic, but this is Finland and year is 2007, so it´s safe to assume that she is speaking on the phone- hands-free sets are quite popular. As I ride past her I see a wire hanging from her ear, suspicion confirmed.
The next couple of kilometers are uneventful. I pass more walkers, a few bikers pass me and all is nice. The path ends and I take a gravel road that runs through a small farm. Small horses and cows are on the fields, the cows are a rare Finnish breed and horses seem like any other horse to my untrained eye. I head back to the forest paths on the next intersection, and up a long steep hill. I have little faith in getting to the top without falling, but a little stubbornness goes a long way, and soon I find myself on the top, panting like I have never panted before. I sit down for a while to rest before going down the hill.
I ride past a family with three children, two of them are riding small bikes. The mother, excitedly, shouts to the children “look at that”. One of them stops when she sees me, the other can´t handle the bike very well and weaves towards me. I avoid the imminent crash by swift manouvres and ride away unharmed.
The next kilometer is very nice, a smooth wide path goes up and down like an old roller coaster. The last hill is steep, and the path is blocked. A middle-aged man is stick-walking slowly downwards and a 30-strong horde of tourists is going up. I don´t want to dismount and try to ride very slowly behind the man. There is a brief pause in the flow of the tourists, and I blast past the man and down the hill. Two hundred meters of gravel road lead back to paved roads, and then I ride slowly back to the car. The first real muni trip on the KH is over. It went smoother than I expected, less upds and a lot more speed. A total distance of approximately 10 kilometers was covered in 1h30minutes.