This year’s edition of Ruska – The ride across Finland began yesterday at 19:40, at sunset. The start time has been the same for both of the previous editions of Ruska too, but the route changes every time, while keeping the idea of riding across the length of Finland. 18 riders will be adventuring their way across Finland, starting from Tartu in Estonia, to Hammerfest on the northern coast of Norway. The riders will choose their own route, but they do have to pass through three controls and follow a set of associated mandatory bits of route, the parcours. The start, the controls and the finish are all located along the Struve Geodetic Arc.
It was raining right though the first night, forcing some to find rubber gloves and whatnot to stay comfortable. While statistically the amount of rain is higher during the warmer summer months, the latter half of September can be damp. There will be some rain here and there, and with the cooler temperature the roads won’t dry quickly. But with luck, there can be close to optimal long distance cycling weather, as it doesn’t make you sweat and drink as much.
The first obstacle, the Gulf of Finland
As the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki is allowed, that is the most obvious route to use. There is several ferries during the day, so missing one of them isn’t a problem. There are none during the night though, so even for the fastest riders riding through the night, the morning ferries would be the target. The distance from Tartu to Tallinn with the parcours is a bit over 200 km.
As you are free to choose your route though, and it is not a race, you might want to do something different than the optimal choice too, if you are confident you’ll make it to Hammerfest in the time limit. That is what Matti Ainasoja did, opting to go around the Gulf of Finland, via Russia. This will be a longer route and doesn’t give the opportunity to rest for the couple of hours in the ferry. But he does get to ride his bike more.
Many of the riders live in Helsinki, so riding through the familiar streets obeying the event rules and during the first day of the adventure into unknown will be a strange experience for them.
The first riders have now reached the start of the control 1 in Porlammi. From there they will have to ride north to another point that marks the end of the control 1. They have two parcours to choose from to get there, one on the east side of the lake Päijänne, the other on the west side. The western side is mostly flatter than the road along the east coast, but the parcours should make sure they are about equal.
Janne Villikka is not visible on tracker, at least yet, but as we have eyes everywhere, we know he was first to find himself at the control 1. He was in Ruska last year too, but had to cut the ride short, so he might have some unfinished business with the challenge. Very soon after him came Mathias Müller, then Mikko Kainu, followed by Esa Salonen and others. Weather seems quite nice, though there is some small rain clouds here and there.
Krisse and Matti have been cheering the riders on at the first control and took pictures. Thanks for that.
More information about the event and route: https://www.randonneurs.fi/ruska-ride-across-finland-2019/
Link to list of participants and their twitter/instagram: https://www.randonneurs.fi/ruska-2019/