The fells around Levi will tempt you to embark on adventures around the year. On a bike tour around lake Immeljärvi you might come across a swamp, some roots and a bit of a tumble.
BLUEBERRY SHRUBS colour the Kätkätunturi fell green. There are pillar-like pine trees, wavy birches, rocks covered with lichen here and there, and fallen trees.
Keijo Alila holds the handlebars of his fatbike tightly and points with his hand straight at the hill.
- When your brain says stop pedalling, you just keep pedalling. That’s the most important rule, Keijo says and whizzes off.
Shrubbery and twigs snap under the oversized tyres as the bike climbs up the woody hill. Then there is a louder cracking sound, a swear word and a noise that occurs when a grown man takes a tumble with his bike.
Keijo sits up and leans against a fallen pine tree. What was a grimace becomes a smile, and then a smirk.
- I didn’t keep pedalling.
An hour earlier Keijo and Tuomas Uusi-Illikainen carry out two fatbikes from the Zero Point rental shop in Levi. The seats of the electric fatbikes are being adjusted.
Keijo and Tuomas have promised to act as guides on a bike trip of couple of kilometres around the Immeljärvi.
- Would you be interested in something different?, Keijo asks as the first hill has been conquered.
The wide running trail turns into a narrow path ending up on the edge of the Lammassuo marshes. There are some tufts of grass and wild rosemary, and two wooden planks in the middle for crossing the wetlands.
- Usually this is knee-deep but we’ve had drought this summer, Tuomas says steering on the planks. You can feel the power of the electric bike in your belly button as the wide tyre hits the wood.
- Don’t stop pedalling, Tuomas shouts and jumps on the next set of planks.
It’s not the first time here at the swamp for him and Keijo. Nor in these woods. Here in these parts they spend actually most of their time when they are not working.
Keijo Alila moved to Levi around ten years ago. The only thing he misses from the city of Oulu is the sea. "I’d had enough with the city streets."
- We fiddle about with anything that doesn’t have an engine, Keijo says.
Last summer Tuomas suddenly remembered he was supposed to get his friend’s Transit van from Ylläs. It was around eight o’clock in the evening. Off to their bikes then.
- The sun was shining above the Aakenustunturi fell and we ate cloudberries straight from the ground. You could hear birds chirping in the bushes and reindeer were wondering what the heck is going on. You cannot but sigh of happiness.
After the swamp, the path grows wider turning into a road that takes you up the Kätkätunturi fell. Sand turns to gravel and then to stones that the wide tyres send flying. “
- Shift to lower gear and switch the power on, Tuomas shouts and pedalling his non-electric bike up the steep hill.
The landscape opens to the Immeljärvi lake and Levitunturi fell. The evening sun dyes the tree tops and summits golden.
Then it happens.
Keijo points at the nearby forest, takes off at full throttle and is soon headed down the hill.
After the initial laughter the men get serious. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs but it’s not the point in all this.
- We might be dumb but we’re not stupid.
Roots on the path slither like snakes between stones. Each step on the pedal defies the laws of physics: the fatbike’s tyre goes over the rocks and electricity gives the pedals a boost.
- Speed makes up for the mistakes”, encourages Keijo over his shoulder.
The stones on this path are nothing compared to the summit of Kätkä. Tuomas rode up there with his friends this summer. They met a couple descending from the top. When they saw the bikes, they warned them that it would be steep and rocky going down.
We told them that’s why we are going up there, Tuomas laughs and balances on the pedals.
The stream bubbles on the way down, dives underneath the moss and surfaces again. Keijo has stopped on the bridge over the stream.
How about some fresh water from the stream, he says, takes a moment and smirks.
Exposed roots adorn the path from the stream up to the last knoll. Tuomas and Keijo remind about the importance of lower gear and pedalling. The bike darts over the roots, the wheels are turning, the still forest echoes the shriek of joy.
It’s easy to understand the fascination in all this.
Today’s trail is suitable for beginners (with a bold streak) but sometimes Keijo and Tuomas ride for hours.
They plod through swamps, sprint to the top, carry the bikes among the rocks and venture into wilderness.
- On a trip like that, the last couple of hours are spent dreaming about making a salami sandwich, Keijo says and goes full speed downhill.
- Ride in the ditches and you won’t need to hit the brakes!
Tuomas Uusi-Illikainen is passionate about cycling. He is from Lohiniva, 70 kilometres from Levi. During the winter, when there is fresh powder snow, Tuomas is first in line. "Frolicking in powder is like when you spent all day frolicking in the snow mounds when you were a child."
REMEMBER THESE IF YOU ENJOY THE COMBINATION OF NATURE AND SWEAT:
1. Visma Ski Classics
The final of the international long-distance ski championship brings together world’s best skiers and more than 1000 non-professionals. Choose between the distances of 70 or 55 kilometres and revel in the beautiful scenery and the excitement of the events.
2. Levi Outdoor Fest
The July event turns the fell into a sports amusement park. Try new sports, develop your skills or participate in challenges and competitions. An event for the entire family!
3. Bike routes
There are loads of bike trails in and around Levi. Some start from the centre of Levi. Download a mountain bike map from levi. fi and jump on the bike. You can also find three downhill trails suitable for all types of cyclists in the Levi Bike Park. There are also five enduro mountain bike trails in the slopes of Levi.