• Badi
  • Almost Like A Lake Como Holiday

    Before easter I escaped to my secret countryside retreat, which also acted as the base for some intensive German studying. And it was perfect, with private teacher in the form of one active retired teacher, and a weather like in the best summer days up north. (Wasn’t that hot to compare it to the best Swiss summer days, though it was close.)

    Did learn a lot and rest even more. The learning like in those perfect intensive summer courses in Italy for Italian and Spanish in Spain, and the resting like I really needed at this point. More than 8 hours of sleep every night and active resting in the form of easy gravel biking, yoga and walks in the nature.

    Also it was the days for the first cherry blossoms and the white magnolias. And like always, Vierwaldstättersee – experienced this time hanging by the lake in Weggis and Küssnacht – was pure kitsch. Creating scenes way more exciting than home office cubicles. (Sorry, not sorry).  During these days I also noted how the e-bike is very good invention for the lunching ladies over 65 years of age. For everyone else, I recommend an e-less bike, especially in the mountains. Because trust me, the exercise is what you really need and challenges are the best teachers.

    It was a bit bittersweet week also, because I now enjoyed nice spring days near a place I really hoped (without luck) to be my workplace in the future too. Now I just have to keep on biking around Zug, Cham and Vierwaldstättersee only for fun, and not for commutes and lunch break rides. Which isn’t bad, yet not really hygge.

    I mean, who wouldn’t like to have their afterwork look more often like this?

     

  • BLOG
  • Same Same but Different – Obersee Bike Tour

    rapperswil biking

    It’s spring and it’s bike season. And funny how similar they are, my longer – once or twice a week – bike routes in the current home in Switzerland, and the past in Lapland.

    Here in Switzerland, the route goes around Obersee (linked to the Zürichsee, around which goes my a bit longer – max once a week – route). It follows gravel roads by railways and the lake itself; rolls through more or less cute villages and towns; offers detours over hills and through forests; and passes patches of agricultural land and farms.

    In the distance, the Alps show off majestically when the weather is clear, and on the lake and fields swans look like they couldn’t care less. On the Seedamm, from Rapperswil to Pfäffikon SZ, it also lets me ride on a narrow bath of land between the two lakes, and it’s not just one good hot day plunge place I know along the way. 

    The scenes and scents aren’t much different in Lapland, where my usual tour route winds around the lake Kemijärvi. It doesn’t offer a beautiful castle and old town like Rapperswil, and up north the season for these tours is way shorter than in south. But there are the lake and the roads, the damm between the lakes, fells instead of Alps, and water so clean that on a hot day I happily take a midway plunge. And for the summer also the whooper swans return to the lakes of Lapland. (Some of them like to spent their winters as far as in Switzerland.)

    On top of the similarities, the adventures in Lapland also built me a good base for many great adventures; the bike tours in Switzerland included. Without the 20 to 40km tours, the 50km+ tours around lake Obersee wouldn’t go this smoothly. (Especially since in Lapland I biked with a heavy switchless city bike, with rough and wide tires. While here in Switzerland I now bike with the light road bike tuned a bit, but just a bit, to the gravel type.)

    It’s also the tours like these which are the summer version of nordic skiing. Both perfect exercise and meditation, the cycling works as an alternative restorative therapy. The movement itself is a bit monotone, flowing movement which resembles a dance choreography. And with the fresh air, changing landscape and focus on what lays ahead (in seconds and meters, not years and kilometres) it helps to clear the head and root for my surroundings strongly (though extreme rooting in a way of crashing isn’t advisable).

    I can’t say the head clearing is needed for too much work, but I admit that the recent creative sprints and challenging deadlines on top of the pandemic uncertainty (including the fact I still don’t know when I get to visit Lapland again) do built up some extra need for these tours. 

    The best “cure” ingredient though is the coffee or gelato stop (or both) before the last few kilometres. It’s the reason I do my Obersee tour counterclockwise and my a bit longer Zürichsee tour clockwise.

    For the best gelato with the best views one gets from Rapperswil. Just so you know. 

     

     

  • BLOG
  • In Lapland I Called It Just Biking – Hopping On the Gravel Biking Trend

    sunset ride

    One of the biggest defeats of my childhood in Lapland was related to biking. In the incident, I was denied to cycle on my own to pre-school / kindergarten. Despite being a real “biker kid”. Fascinated by how far and fast I could go with my little bike, I also wanted to get to the pre-school and back on my own. (My first bike was a red tricycle with a registration plate in front. Next came a white/pastel peach coloured Tunturi Poni with pastel coloured spoke beads and a basket in front, decorated with plastic flowers).

    Of course, the far at the age of 5 was the kiosk 1,5 km away. Where I spent my weekly Saturday candy allowance. No more extreme. Though  before the age of 6, I biked also the 4 km trips to my grandparents. Again, highly motivated by the bakings of my grandma.

    The details of the story are a bit blurry. Though I know the kindergarten did not want to allow little kid to take so much responsibility. Basic risk management. Nevertheless I like the story like this, with the cut lines (sometimes fun when riding bikes as well). Because biking on my own to kindergarten would have been the most badass thing ever for a 5 year old. Especially so for the best route between the pre-school and my home included a single track and a gravel road. It also included a detour option, through a sandpit and a wasteland, where I liked to play a lot with my imaginary friends.(My tendency for detours on my ways to and from school hints why in reality also my parents may not have favoured the idea of me biking on my own.)

    tricycle tiina kivelä

    I wish I could have that commute now. Because now I would have the freedom to go for it without permissions, and because I am sure that single track could have been done on a gravel bike as well. Like all those gravel roads and related paths in Lapland, where I biked, ran and wandered a lot in my young years.

    Coming from Lapland, gravel road is the almost every road in the forest and countryside. Sometimes the road is perfectly smooth and velvety, thanks to the high amount of clay in the soil. Sometimes it is windy, with potholes the size of a football (the soccer one). Sometimes it is long and exhausting, with stretches reaching many km’s straight forward. And always the road continues with plenty of wood and bushes on both sides (with plenty of mosquitos), except when these are replaced by rivers and lakes and the vast fell landscapes and abandoned lawns the more north you ride.

    What’s the best thing about the gravel roads in Lapland though is the small single tracks cutting the roads here and there, made by people or in most cases by reindeer. Most of the time their direction do not seem to follow any sense and that is why they are so fascinating. 

    single track lapland

    In Switzerland, one does not find that kind of gravel road so easily. And where it is found in here, it regularly comes with not so fresh countryside smells, steep hills with tricky turns as well as occasional “no biking allowed” signs. Yet, I find gravel biking fascinating here too. Especially since last year – first time in my over 30 years of bike life – I got myself a bike which could be called a gravel bike. Including gravel suitable frame and tires, and a colour scheme of the Finnish frontier guard (my dad is a retired frontier guard and while Covid-19 keeps us far from each other it is even more funny to ride a bike reminding of him, though have to say the colours don’t really fit well with my personal style preferences).

    Thanks to that bike (and my newest enduro one) summer of 2020 was a proper bike summer for me too. (I expect 2021 to contain even bigger global and personal bike boom than 2020.) I did not bike as much as I would have liked to. Nor did I get to bike in every road and bikepark I would have liked to. But I got to bike a decent amount of single track, and some flow trail too. And I got to bike a good amount of sunset rides and gravel rides and ice cream rides. As well as easy summer rides to swim in the beautiful Swiss lakes, and not so easy road/gravel rides around the mentioned lakes. All this with no need for a permission. Except the “permission” to bike freely outside on my own, or with my family and few friends (talking of the pandemic rules here).

    So in 2020 I properly hopped on the gravel trend. Though for me it’s still basically just biking. Biking on whatever road I find leading from my home to new adventures. Or kindergarten. Or work, because what I wish the most for the summer of 2021 is the possibility to return to office.

    Riding my bike, of course. 

    rapperswil biking ice cream

    break biking rapperswil

    cham gravel biking

    gravel adventure tiina kivelä

    zürichsee rennvelo tiina kivelä