Wauhtiajot 2019, Helsinki

Wauhtiajot is a bicycle race in the spirit of past heroes of bicycling of yesteryears, that was held in Helsinki / Finland on Saturday August 17th.

There are two tracks in this race, the long track is 100 kilometres and the other, more modest and shorter track, is 25 kilometres. The riders have even a follow car so they could repair bicycles and take care of riders if necessary. There is a picnic in the middle of the ride for both the riders for the long track and the short track. After the picnic all riders can ride together across the finish line in Helsinki and enjoy some dinner, drinks, company of good friends and listen to great music for the rest of the evening


First time making this trip in the summer

Back in February, when I attended the Helsinki Winter Tweed Run, I got an invitation to join the Wauhtiajot event later that summer. It sounded really fun, after all the bicycle riding I have done in Helsinki in the winter time. Why not try riding a bicycle in Helsinki during the summer?

Wauhtiajot is an event mostly for old racer bicycles. Keepin the spirit of the old heroes of bicycling, like the early Italian and French riders that were really men of steel. Riding bicycles on narrow gravel roads all around continental Europe, while drinking wine and beer as refreshments along the way.


The bar at the start/finish line


An old poster


Number 57

I had not used an racing bicycle since I was 16 years old and crashed my silver 10 speed racer. I was going fast along the road when suddenly the front wheel gave up underneath me. The crash caused me to gracefully slide across the asphalt for a bit, transforming my clothes to shreds. But there was no worries this time, the short track of the Wauhtiajot event was easier and slower that the longer one. It sounded perfect for me and my Crescent from 1928.

Sadly it turned out that the old Crescent had some small play in the crank, most likely an issue with the bearings being worn after 90 years. So, as a final decision, I played safe, and choose the reliable old Hermes bicycle from 1955. Single geared and weighing like an old hospital bed. All other riders would fly pass me all the time. But at least, I would attend the event!

The weekend started all wrong. I was slightly ill, feeling a bit under the weather as they say. While mentioning the weather. The forecast said that on the day of the event, it was going to be rainy and cold. But it turned out to be one of the best days of summer so far, at least that how it felt for me since I am not a friend of to hot weather. So there I was, over dressed and feeling a bit down. The day was going to be a challenge for me.


One of two tandems at Wauhtiajot 2019, this one was heading for the short track..


…the captain makes some final adjustments before the start


Line up for the 25 kilometres riders. We all had numbers on our backs. The great thing with the numbers was that we only borrowed them. After the race was over we signed our number tag with our names and the date and handed them back to the organizers.


The route took us along some lovely scenery along the coast line…


…and along paths in the forest


There is no need for racing bicycles. But gears in general are really nice to have among the hills of Helsinki

After the start at 11 o’clock we took some lovely roads around the outskirts of Helsinki, along the sea shore, into the woods, along winding small roads and tracks. The tempo was rather nice. Going up steep hills, going down even steeper hills. After about an hour we had an short break.

Then about at the 10 kilometres mark, while going up an bridge to cross an road I felt the right pedal stopped to turn. Suddenly the pedal just disappeared from underneath my shoe and struck the ground hard with my foot. Parts of the pedal was flying everywhere on the ground behind me.


Disaster, I had tubes for the tires, tools for nuts and bolts. But no spare pedals with me

That was it, after some quick words with the leader of the short track I decided to walk back to the finish line and join them all there. Sadly I missed the picnic and the rest of the fun going across the finish line. A quick look at my smartphone I started to walk. An hours walk with the bicycle across Helsinki, in full blazing sun.

Finally I walked across the finish line and talked to some of the others there. The two lovely ladies that made Italian soup for all riders to eat. The crew on the vintage follow car, it was very nice and welcoming. After an hour they all came along the road, riders from both the short and long track. All smiling, happy. After some speeches and cheering. We all were handed a beer, specially made for Wauhtiajot.


Italian soup made by KahVelo, what a wonderful soup. Tasty, hot and comforting for me.


The heroes crosses the finish line


Now that is what I call a follow car


The special beer for the event

Later that night Maestro Ruscello e Gruppo Velocitá played lovely music and the party was really going. Since I was a bit under the weather and the aftermath from the pedal incident, I decided to retire early in the evening, thanking all the organizers for a wonderful event before saying say good bye and heading back to the hotel for a long rest.

The day after the event it was time to go back to Stockholm with the ferry. Even if the bicycle was broken, I needed to get it onboard the ferry. What an adventure…


Even with a broken pedal you need to get the bicycle back on the boat.
But that is another story

 

 

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