finland

Dude where’s my bike? (Part 2)

Obviously having your bike stolen isn’t the best thing the world to happen to you whilst traveling, especially when most of your trip is focused on MTB. Although later in my travels, the silver lining to this incident became very clear to me.

When I was traveling to and from airports/train stations and onto trams I imagined doing it with my bike [which was in a bike box]. I would have had immense trouble moving my bike around and onto and off trains, trams and buses because they were almost always completely full. As it was, fitting my self and my carrying bag onto transport troublesome enough. It saved me a lot of money on planes as well. I was planning to purchase a lot of additional luggage on this trip for my flights but now I didn’t have to!

Since I had packed mainly summer clothes I had very little clothes for cooler climates like Austria. I had always figured I would just purchase some warm clothes while I was there. I did just that, but after when I had to leave my carry bag was very full and if I had all my bike equipment and bike clothes I would of had so much over flow and extra baggage.

There are a few things I learnt from my bike being stolen is; always try and ask hostels if you can keep your bike locked up inside. I had a problem with the Hostel in Helsinki because there were narrow hallways and very little space to leave our bikes and you had to head up stairwells and go through a few doors. When traveling with bikes always have more than enough money for taxi’s, because traveling with a bike box, a big carry bag and a backpack on public transport really isn’t a viable option. Cheaper, but one shouldn’t rely on it.

Always have insurance on your bike, especially when it’s valuable. The reason my friend Karl and I didn’t really freak out was because we were covered by very good insurance. I have been overseas to 4 of these events now and I have never needed the insurance until this trip. [My friend was covered adequately enough by the insurance claim, I am waiting to do mine until I get back into Australia] So even though it is expensive or an added cost to have your bike+belongings covered, definitely worth the peace of mind. As corny as that sounds. [I had Chubb insurance, I can’t say to what type or cover of insurance since we paid for it through the Australian Team]

There were down sides of not having my bike, obviously. I was planning to use my bike to go for rides in all the places I had chosen to visit, as well as use it to commute to accommodation and avoid paying for public transport in the places I was visiting, also to keep some fitness. But since I planned my trip ahead of time and I have some of the best international friends in the world, they helped me get a bike to ride in their countries or changed the plans so I could have fun off the bike. So the experiences were just as golden. I did feel like as if something was missing for the whole trip. RIP bike, may the new owner have its forks explode and the wheels fold whilst they are heading down hill in to a busy intersection.

Interesting side story to this. My friend was contacted about two weeks ago from the Helsinki Police saying they had found my friends bike but not mine. They caught a criminal and in their basement was the bike, along with other stolen belongings, but my bike wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

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Dude where’s my bike? (Part 1)

How would I personally describe Helsinki? – One massive university with high cost of goods. The city is scattered with lovely forest and rad trails. Nearly everyone spoke English all the time rather than their main language and there were so many people from english speaking countries.

With all this said, it was fairly boring in parts for what I was expecting. Riding around the streets were fun, yet still dangerous (not really dangerous) and I managed to dint my helmet severely after smashing my head into a low hanging branch of a tree that was hidden by a bunch low hanging leaves.

Karl and I road around and found trails close to our accomodation. We met up with a group of some awesome MTB guys that I had e-mailed before coming to Europe. I contacted these MTBers through a bikeshop/forum and told them what I was looking to do some riding in my time in Helsinki. So we met up with them in the Helsinki forest/park and went for a spin.

The trails were absolutely amazing. So many roots and rocks. Slippery surfaces and muddy ruts. Everyone but Karl and I were riding free-ride bikes, they had a nice amount of suspension on the front and rear of their rigs. It was more free-riding terrain but we gave it our best.

There were many steep pinches and damp root covered climbs on this fairly flat bushland, but with the constant up and down we managed to get a fair amount of climb on this 2-3hr MTB ride. We saw these guys ride some insane drops and bomb down some loose chutes.

It was coming towards the day that we were departing Helsinki. We had been locking up our bikes outside this hostel, around a corner and out of site with a decent lock. The hostel was apart of an old stadium in Helsinki. To get into this hostel by car you had to drive for 300-400m in from a road. Drive into a large fenced off gate area. Also there were plenty of other bikes locked up out front of the hostel. So we felt fairly confident of the security.

The day before we are suppose to fly out we went down the stairs and out side and around the corner to get out bikes. That weren’t there. Gone. I was kind of shocked that this actually happened as well as my friend Karl was. Luckily we were still covered by insurance and so we called the insurance company up via the hostel and filed a case. Went to the Helsinki police station and got a police report for our bikes.

To be continued.

In Estonia, Bicycle is Car

So this journey starts in Estonia. The World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships had just finished with the Long Distance the previous day to our departure. This meant there was a heavy night of drinking and partying and celebrating with the winners. It was great fun and I had heaps of fun with all the competitors.

The next morning was a little rough and Karl and I were heading to Helsinki by Ferry. So we all jump in the van to head to Tallinn. Boarding the ferry should have of been as easy as walking on board with out bikes that were packed up in their boxes, but no. Instead I went into the ferry terminal area to ask the lady at the ticket booth where Karl and I should board since we have our bicycles with us. She told me to go back out side and go through a side gate where we will head past the booths that allow cars into the area to line up to board the ferry that way.

So we did just that. We walked around and down to the booth where the girl that I was trying to talk to sounded really really confused, asking why we were down here. I explained what the previous girl said in the ferry terminal had told me to do. So she printed out some boarding tickets for us and told us to walk in.

Walking in meant, walking into a huge open ship yard where you had cars lining up in multiple lanes forming a huge sea of cars and then there were cars driving off the ferry. There were many shipping crates everywhere in this huge shipping yard. Karl I were standing out in the open with no one to ask what to do and with the sea of cars to our side just staring at us.

After about 15minutes of standing around looking stupid we noticed some of the cars started to move and driving into the ferry.  We spied the guy directing the cars in. We decided we needed to talk to this guy. So we hauled our bike boxes and baggage in front of the sea of stationary cars that were getting ready to drive on. Came up to this guy and explained everything that we had been told to do. He inspected out tickets and asked where our bikes where. We pointed to our bike boxes and he just laughed and talked on the radio for a couple of minutes and told us to walk up the huge car ramp and walk into the hull of the ferry.

In the hull we were directed into some stairwell with an elevator and told to go to the seating area and just stay there. So it turns out we could of walked out bikes straight in the normal way and avoided this whole situation!

And that’s how the awkward journey to Helsinki started.

Life Experienes

So I haven’t been updating my blog for quite awhile now, and there is are reasons for that. But I can’t list them all at once so I will say  that I think I need to do a quite a large cover of where I have been since WOC. This will be a quick post about places I have been to.

After the Mountain Bike Orienteering World Championships I traveled to Helsinki by ferry with a friend of mine, Karl. Helsinki was certainly a life experience all on its own for many reasons. After that I flew to Berlin in Germany and my mate Karl flew back to Australia.

In Berlin I went on a few guided tour walks around Berlin. Berlin has very interesting history and fantastic vibe to it’s always buzzing city. I did a secret diet in Berlin too! After Berlin I took a short seven hour train trip to Arhus in Denmark. There I stayed with one of my good Mountain Bike Orienteering friends Camilla. I had probably some of the best days on this trip in Denmark.

With a short flight to the UK to stay with some relatives. It was nice to have a bit of down time, which I could of used to write this blog, but I was enjoying not having to move my stuff every second day and not having to be and adult. After my nice break in UK I hopped onto a plane and was flown to Czech where I stayed with another good Mountain Bike Orienteering friend of mine, Vojtěch. I had an unbelievable time in Czech. Definitely a place I would come back to and stay for awhile, there is fantastic riding there in Czech.

Then I spent almost a month in Vienna in Austria trying to learn German. This was a mixed experience and another life experience of sorts. Finally I am now in Nice and hanging out with my parents. My project from now will be writing about each places I have visited and what has been good and bad. Knowing what to avoid and what to do better.

Berlin bicycle love.

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What has been happening Chris?

Flying out on the 21st of July to Italy is what is happening!

I have been fairly pre-occupied with racing and training as well as planning my trip and finalising dates for my overseas trip!

From the 22nd of July to the 17th of August I will be in Italy training with a friend of mine in Turin, then we will head up to Feltre for a final week. We will be close to the Italian alps and MTBO maps as well as some nice single track, if we can find it. I can already feel this trip is going to be great experience.

I will be in Estonia, Tallinn from the 18th of August to the end of August where I will be training with the Australian Mountain Bike Orienteering Team and competing in my first World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships. Since I have turned 21 this year I am not eligible for the Junior World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.

So from the 1st of September I get to travel/holiday with my bike for 30 days – tricky. What I have whittled my options and interests down to is taking a ferry to Finland, Helsinki for a few days before flying to Germany, Berlin. I’ll spend  a few days in Berlin doing some touristy things as well as trying to find some cool trails to ride on. I hope there are some club XC races happening that I could attend while I am there.

After Berlin I will be jumping on a train to the Netherlands and down to Belgium for a week or so. I want to try and do a bit of riding here and exploring. Then I will head up to Amsterdam for a bit then off too Czech to stay with some friends and do more riding.

This should bring me up to the 28th where I have to make my way to Austria to be there on the 29th to start my German Language course. I have wanted to do something like this for awhile because of all the competitors who come from other countries and have learned English to communicate with other people, makes me feel selfish. So I am putting myself through a four week German beginner course and I hope I learn enough to talk to some people in German.

After mastering German in four weeks (haha I wish) I fly down to France, Nice to meet up with my parents and I will spend a couple of weeks there, then heading home. I think the trip will roughly take me about four months. My bank account is going to be feeling fairly empty by the end of this.

While I am over there I hope to blog a lot more and write a race report for each day of the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships.