OpenStreetMap, no dead ends!

I enjoy wandering around the countryside – also without planned route. Would be nice to mark roads, which are less interesting than others? For example, all dead-ends, and in general cut edges of the road graph.

Good that we have OpenStreetMap with open data and tools. I have created software to pre-render a given region (not too large one) with all cut edges marked. This is how it looks like, marking with thick blue dashed line:

Marked dead ends on OSM

Painted dead ends on OpenStreetMap

Storing and providing OpenStreetMap tiles requires a lot of disk space and bandwidth, so for now I only rendered small regions as a proof-of-concept. Welcome to peep at the maps!

Polar Norway 2010, short cyclo-hiking or carry-cycling

In August 2010, I made a fast 4-day cycling and bike-carrying trip over northeast Norway. Varanger peninsula, one of real “ends of the world”, is almost encircled by roads, the gap is “just” some 20 km. Here is the map, with the blue track following the roads where I was riding on my bike, and the red track showing the part where the bike was riding on me:

Route map

Report with photos here. I’m wondering how is it possible that I’ve been to that region already three times and I’m ready to select it for my vacation trip once again.

Me on a plateau

Summary of 2010 ice-skiing season

Spring is coming to our corner. I skied on the Finnish Gulf today, and it might feel like it was last time this year. Steady +5 daily without negatives nightly deteriorates the sea ice.
The picture shows some of my recorded rides. I did not record the shorter ones. Even if the ice skiing season is over (which is a pity), it was a perfect one!

Winter fun plus a survival training

27012010305 We have a beautiful, real winter here in Finland. The weather I just desire: stable negative temperature never creeping to zero, enough snow for any winter fun – about which I may blog more some time later. One of the cool things to do this time of the year is to ski, skate, walk or cycle over the frozen water. For example, last cold (or, better say, just normal) winter of year 2003 we cycled from the Åland archipelago to the continental Finland. When not going this far, I regularly ski around the Suvisaaristo islands next to which I live (recorded route here). Moving over ice is great!

But what if the ice breaks and you fall in the zero degrees cold water?

There is a simple answer: try this before it hits. Your chances to get out alive become higher. Read on for the boring theory and a short report of how I did this recently in a mild -17°C afterwork evening. Continue reading

Trip report from Indian Himalayas – 2008

Lahaul valley
I’ve started writing about my last year bike trip in the Indian Himalayas. Before I had not forced myself to more than one blog post and an unsorted pile of photos. Now I’ve started with a short illustrated text about practical issues, answering questions which I had at the planning stage:

Cycling in Himachal Pradesh: practical issues

My next plan is to publish the daybook with facts and impressions. Stay tuned.

Summer has arrived: family tandem ride

We’ve done a great sunny full-day ride on our tandem with a kidback plus two other bikes. The target was Vanhankaupungin koski (stream and a waterfall), one of the city attractions we had not visited before.

This made 56 km and 10 hours door-to-door. I think it was the first day of the year when it was possible to cycle in shorts – not morning and evening though.
Map of the ride: Continue reading

Cycling in Himachal Pradesh, India

It has been a month since I have returned from solo cycling trip in Indian Himalayas.

Impressions clearly overloaded my brain. This was first time I’ve been to Real Mountains – the highest pass, Kunzum, was at 4500m. And this was my first time I’ve been to a non-Western country (not counting my home Russia, which I’d put “on the border”).

The route was easy: start at Shimla, and follow the National Highway 22 (with some variations in the beginning) until Manali. Oh the highway… Never have seen anything like this before.

Numbers, mostly of interest to cyclists only:

  • 9 ride days
  • 750km covered
  • Total altitude gain is still not counted, although three biggest gains were 1600, 1300 and 1000 meters

What else:

  • Was caught in a snowfall in Lossar, 4000m:
  • In the plains (Chandigarh), the temperature was in +30 range
  • On the National Highway 22, passed landslides three times. Two of them, the bike could just ride through, like this one:

    once had to wait until it’s cleaned (I waited just half an hour, but others were there from the morning to the evening):

  • Stayed in the tent two times, in hotels and various “rooms” 11 times.

In fact the impressions of India as a country overweigh the “mountain-cycling” impressions. It deserves much more than one blog post – even much more than one book. All my perception of the surrounding world is now a little bit different than it was before. Probably such thing is called “cultural shock”. I’m so happy that this happened; now I see how terribly narrow view I previously had.

Of the real India, I have seen only Chandigarh, which is described in all guides as most comfortable city in the country. Still it is, of course, Indian city (just like my home Saint Petersburg is the most European of the Russian cities, but still fully Russian).

I’m feeling own deficiency of not being a good writer to describe my thoughts about these two weeks. So far I have produced a technical report, with details for cyclists such as what tires to put on your bike and how much food to carry.

All pictures (unprocessed) piled here.

Almost a winter day

We managed to get out for an almost real snowbiking on a weekend. Suomusjärvi – Karjaa, about 60 km on gravel roads.


One forest road was not cleaned of the snow, and we had to drag bikes for several kilometers. What a joy! That was the first – and I’m afraid the only – day in this winter when I enjoyed the snow.

All other roads were either clean asphalt, or covered with smooth ice. Good for the one who had both studded tires! 🙂 I’m so much missing the real winter; well now I’ll have at least one memory of it.

Backpacking trip to Polar Ural!

I’m leaving to St. Petersburg today with the intention to take the train to Polar Ural in three days.

I have been there in 2001, six years ago, and longing to get there again.

Polar Ural, 2001

This region is a known touring place. Nowadays there are not so many places on the Earth where you can wonder for several weeks and meet not a single human being. Backpacking there is nothing like “hiking trip from a hotel to a restaurant” along marked route. There is no services – you just go wherever you can. No cellular network (and we don’t take a satellite phone, as it weighs over kilo). All food has to be carried – we plan to fit in 700g/day, which makes 15kg of “consumable” start weight.

More facts:

  • The region is extremely wet. Expect your feet to be wet all the time. There is positively no reason to dry down the boots, as they fill up with the water during first 15 minutes of walk-time.
  • The temperature can be anything between 0°C and 25°C. At 0, the rain with heavy wind makes for a rich experience. Snow is possible starting from beginning of August.
  • If the weather is warm, there can be really much mosquitos and gnats. Normal situation is when you must wear mosquito mesh and gloves to protect. It is impossible to eat with the mesh; so eating becomes challenging and people eat either inside the tent or walking/running around.
  • Mosquitos in the sunset

We’ll have 3 weeks of full autonomy. My heart is already in the mountains.