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Through Finland by motorcycle
On the way: Finland
Motorcycle tour through Finland
Once a year, the best motorists in the world meet in the Finnish province for the largest sheet metal acrobatics show in the world. And there is nothing better to accompany the Finland rally than on a motorcycle.
Ari is mad. It is generally not easy to unbalance the rather stoic disposition of a seasoned Finn, but this is different. The sauna is too cold. The inexperienced Central European, whom he invited to his rally party, would consider the weather in the wood-paneled cabin to be a mixture of tropical sultriness and desert afternoons that challenges the circulation, but the native is already afraid of getting a bladder infection at 70 degrees. Ari goes out to complain.
How ridiculous does the Teutone who has traveled here feel to himself with his microfiber oilskin. The weather report suggested the German summer low on the way north. Instead, the thermometer in Helsinki showed 29 degrees. Sauna was already announced during the ride to Jyvaskyla. For six weeks a more or less stable high pressure area has been lying over the north-easternmost tip of Europe. It is the warmest summer up here on record.
Outside by the lake, the children plop into the lake after nine. The sky stays red until late in the evening. On the way to the rented log cabin, ground fog comes in, the lakes are as smooth as cast in synthetic resin, a young bull elk jumps away over a meadow when the roar of the two-cylinder comes too close. Perhaps instead of fidgeting music one should have put something quiet from Sibelius on the iPod.
In general, Finland exudes calm in all corners. There is something meditative about the long journeys through deep forests. People tend to move slowly, this also applies to their voices, which always sound a little deeper than we are used to. Evil tongues claim that Jyvaskyla goes well with it, it is a sleepy nest that only comes alive on weekend evenings when hordes of young people with Finnish handbags (ten half-liter cans of beer in a cardboard container) strive for the next party.
Around 100,000 people live here, the most famous son in town was the architect Alvar Aalto – if you ignore the athletes. Matti Nykanen comes from Jyvaskyla, the most legendary of the flying Finns, who once ruled all the large hills in the world until alcohol began to dominate him.
But then there are the other flying Finns, slim little boys with milk-faced faces, who sometimes have to show their ID before the disco even when they are 30. But be careful: these boys are giants in their world. When she was eight, she was sitting on Papa’s lap at the wheel for the first time; when she was twelve, she rolled over in Papa’s tractor, and when she was 14, she was faster than Papa on private forest roads for the first time. At the age of 18 they have a driving license and a motorsport license to legally zoom through 200 things between man-sized spruce trees and bear-fat rocks, clay with a thin layer of pebbles stuck under the wheels, or often just air. If there is no drift, flying is on the program. An engineer calculates that the cars will be in the air for more than 20 kilometers after 1200 test kilometers.
The last ice age pushed the otherwise flat land together like a corrugated iron roof. The many natural roads wind and hump through the area and form an endless collection of knolls and valleys. Most of them ran full of water. Finland is 85 percent covered by forest, the rest are lakes. “Land of a Thousand Lakes” is the understatement of the century, in truth there are 180,000, in Central Finland alone 65,000 stagnant bodies of water.
Thousands of bikers combine a trip to the country with a visit to the rally in summer.
The landscape is pretty impassable because of all the trees, rocks and water, and there are only a few access roads to the special stages. Even the mighty Russian army failed in the Second World War with the plan to tear the relatively freshly independent Finland under the nail because the tanks were stuck in a traffic jam on the narrow forest roads. If you stop the first one, everyone stops.
Nowadays there is a real migration of peoples on the rally weekend, a quarter of a million of Suomi’s sons regularly go to the rally. In addition to cool boxes full of beer, some also drag music systems or entire sofas into the forest. And so the Finns are jammed on the way to Leustu today, and when the first rally car has already started, not everyone will have found a parking space by a long way. In the foreground are friendly young girls who, however, are mercilessly cashing in. Some people simply park their car on the side of the road beforehand and walk on foot. The green party grumbles that it is all a pointless burning of resources and also unhealthy. The organizer counters that this July weekend is the only one for many Finns where they can walk a dozen kilometers.
The best of all solutions, however, has an engine and two wheels. The calculation is very simple: if you are not stuck in a traffic jam, you can take more exams. In 80 percent of all everyday situations, the motorcyclist may be at a disadvantage compared to the car, but in the Finland rally he is king. In addition to the Rally Mexico, the Finnish organizer is the first to offer a special ticket for knights of the tunnel. Jarmo Mahonen, head of organization, is an enthusiastic biker himself, and first of all he proudly presented his new six-cylinder BMW to the delegation of the FIA world motor sport federation who had traveled to the temporary hub of the world.
The slimmer F 800 GS effortlessly makes its way past the sheet metal avalanche. The small blue sticker on the windshield lets all cashiers step aside quickly and wave the two-wheeler through. Special parking spaces have been reserved for holders of the Biker Pass – of course, as close as possible to the rally route, sometimes even at the front of the flutter belt. While many fans still have kilometers ahead of them, the rider has long been standing at the grill kioski and has already strengthened himself with the first Makkara, a floury sausage of which more than a million are sold at this march.
The reason for the annual hype lies in the tradition. Sliding through the area with cars is part of everyday life for every housewife on gravel roads in summer and icy in winter. Furthermore, it is about the chance of success: The Finns love winners, but such a small people doesn’t have too many of them, not even in winter sports. In motorsport, however, puny Finland is a world power that has won every third World Rally Championship title and has already produced three Formula 1 world champions.
The last one is called Kimi Raikkonen, and at some point he got tired of driving in circles and switched to the rough camp. Kimi has an outstanding driving talent, he skilfully drifts around corners in his Citroen DS3 WRC with all-wheel drive and 300 turbo-hp, jumps bravely over the hilltops, but in the end the former GP star is a modest ninth. This is not a circuit, but something for adults.
The speed cut on the Finnish gravel roads is not infrequently beyond 120 km / h. On the fastest peaks, the jump speed is 170 km / h, the car hops and dances, constantly wants to break out on stretches that are barely more than 200 meters straight ahead, and yet the fifth or sixth wave is usually inserted in the gearbox, you have to then steer a little more.
Most rally stars seem inconspicuous at first glance, but are extremely hard-nosed dogs. Anyone who then announces after rolling six times into the undergrowth: “The pace was okay, only the curve was too tight”, earns the greatest respect. A Finnish young star can scrap a car worth a family home at any time, as long as he was in the lead by then.
Before motor sport greats like Kimi Raikkonen let off steam on the gravel paths, the scenic slopes can also be traveled by bikers.
Rally drivers are considered completely gaga even among motorsport enthusiasts, maybe that’s why there are so many points of contact with Enduro or Motocross. Championship leader Sebastien Loeb is seldom at home, but when he is, he usually roasts the country with a KTM. Former world champion Tommi Makinen switched to a competition enduro for fun after leaving the rally. Regardless of whether it is two or four wheels, the main thing is that it is fast and across.
Christian Loriaux is Technical Director at Ford and has just signed up for the legendary Six Days. With his 250cc KTM he will work his way through the Finnish forests for a good cause a week after the rally. His goal: “I want to hold out longer than Steve McQueen. It was 64th in East Germany, but it took off on the third day. ”In return, the seven-time Enduro World Champion Kari Tiainen regularly travels to the rally weekend on his motorcycle to see what his four-wheeled colleagues are doing in the woods Perform Keuruu, Laukkaa and Jamsa.
And that would seem like a Hollywood movie trick to many, if you hadn’t been there yourself when Latvala slides through the medium-fast right bend in a depression, then jerks the steering wheel to the left, sanding the rear of his Ford Fiesta along a few young birch trees and aiming through the side window, chasing broadside over the next hilltop, where a grown rock on the inner edge levered out the entire car. All of this happens over a width of four meters at a speed of 120 km / h. It would now have to carry him across the rest of the way, where there would be at least a triple rollover, but that doesn’t happen. The chassis compresses gently, and the tires regain grip after a meter of sliding. The Finn is already on the gas again, pelting the lurking photographers in the forest with shovels full of dirt and raging on to the next hilltop.
And yet Latvala is not the winner, world champion Sebastien Loeb is even faster. The French are probably the best car driver in human history, and the Finns subscribe to that too. The former artistic gymnast from Alsace has won the Monte Carlo Rally five times and is on the way to his eighth World Championship title – mind you. But what matters even more is that he wins for the second time in Finland. No other non-Finn has managed that yet.
Beat the Finns in Finland, that is a lot to talk about in the sauna. The same has now slowly reached operating temperature. It is a chilly 85 degrees, and Heikki has just increased the level of unbearability with a good dose of water. Risto comes in and immediately picks up the ladle. “Another one?” “Uhhh.” “I take that as a yes,” he says and throws another gush of water on the stove. When the boiling fog clears, it’s time to devote yourself to the really important topics: So Ari, how was it at the last Sauna World Cup? Was the Russian doped and the Finn passed out, or was it the other way around??
Travel time: 5 days. Distance covered: 1500 kilometers.
The way to Jyvaskyla is long and the trip is not cheap, but the spectacular air show is guaranteed to burn itself into the retina for a lifetime.
Finnlines offers ferry connections to Helsinki almost daily from Rostock and Travemunde (www.finnlines.com). In the high season at the end of July, a single motorcycle ride costs 180 euros. The Baltic Sea crossing takes just under 30 hours. If you want to save, you should secure a recliner for the night in good time, even in a three-person cabin a bed costs 216 euros. From Helsinki it is another 300 kilometers to Jyvaskyla.
The Finnish police are vigilant, carry out regular alcohol checks (also in the morning) and shoot the laser from all positions. Anyone who is more than four km / h above the speed limit (100 km / h on country roads, 120 km / h on highways) has to pay. Caution: The amount of the fine is also based on income for Germans. Many smaller country roads are not asphalted, but the gravel roads are often in better condition than many German asphalt roads. Without studded tires, caution is advised in tight corners. The thin stone coating quickly leads the front wheel astray.
The hotels in Jyvaskyla for July 2012 are almost fully booked. The trip to Finland is most fun when you travel in a group and rent a house by the lake. The price for a week for a house for four people is usually between 500 and 600 euros. If you don’t want to book online yourself, you can contact the tourism authority (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is part of the World Rally Championship and takes place around the rally center in Jyvaskyla on the last weekend of July from Thursday evening up to and including Saturday. There are three stages on around 20 cordoned off special stages with a total of around 340 kilometers. Tickets are available at all Neste petrol stations in the area. The biker pass costs 70 euros, including entry to all exams and parking. In addition to the assessment tests, a visit to the service park is highly recommended. Information at www.nesteoilrallyfinland.fi
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