I am not a big fan of driving anything that has petrol in it. Snow mobile was no exception. I was given an opportunity to experience the snow mobile at Levi, Lapland that is in Finland. The event was known as #lumiainlapland
Anyway, I forgot my driving license in the room. So, I decided I would go as a pillion rider with Mark Hindle who works for Nokia. When I asked him if I could go with him, he said sure but he would go fast. I thought I was fine with that! There were about 7-8 snow mobiles all going one after the other. It was cold (-22 when we landed) but I was wearing the right gear (all provided by the Nokia team handling #lumiainlapland event) so I was looking forward to enjoy the scenery.
We had two instructors with the group one riding at the front and the other being the sweep. Mark would let everyone go ahead and maintain just enough distance from the instructor at the end. And then he would accelerate! Soon, I was hanging on for my dear life with both my hands, gripping the handles as tightly I could. He told me I had to scream if I wanted him to go faster. I could have screamed much more readily out of fear but I somehow managed not to. There was no question of me wanting to go any faster.
When the first photography stop came I already wanted the ride to be over.
However, I had no such luck. In this second spell I was suddenly conscious of how many bones there were in my body and how brittle they felt. If I fell off I was sure a lot many of them were going to break. I thought it was a good thing that Nokia was covering all my medical expanses in Finland. But then I was wondering how would my family feel if I ended up with broken bones in a hospital in that part of the world! These were the kind of thoughts I had for the most of the ride.
At the rare occasions when Mark would go slowly (because there was someone in the front and he had no space) I could see how beautiful the landscape was. But most of the time, I was left gripping the handles tightly and praying that I would not fly off. I had to grant it to Mark that he would immediately slow down at the first sign of trouble. But then he would push the snow mobile almost that far too. I cannot count on how many occasions I didn’t like the noises coming from the machine. But then it would almost go off immediately, as Mark would back off at that precise moment.
At the second break I asked him if he had done this before, to which he said ‘yes’ thankfully. Then I asked him if he was a biker to which he said yes again. He told me owned a Yamaha. When I asked him where would he go for biking, he said- dirt biking! Now that explained a bit of his driving. At this second photo break I eyed the other drivers. Some of them were going solo and not at such speed. I thought if I should switch snow mobiles but it remained just a thought.
When we would make a temporary stop I would tell Mark that I had taken off my gloves to click a few picture and under no circumstances he should fly off without letting me know. I did not fancy broken bones in any way. He often asked me if I was good during these breaks and I always grinned and said yes. My brain was in a freeze frame.
By the third stop I was desperate for the ride to end, for all I was thinking during the ride was about being thrown off, broken bones, medical expanses, brittle bones, hospitals, helmets, heads, you get the idea! When the cottages came into the view I let out an audible sigh of relief, we were moving to the civilization and maybe I was going to escape with all my bones intact in the end. I could sense that Mark thought it was over too soon. For me it was all I my nerves could stand!
After I got off I hugged him, in relief of coming out in one piece from this ride. In his defense Mark told me from the word go he would go fast. It was I who could not conceptualize he would go bone rattling, nerve racking fast. Later he mentioned with a grin that we were going at 100 to 110 kmph. Eventually when we were sitting in the bus and driving back to the Levi Spirit villa, I guess I must have had a lost look on my face. Mark asked me how was I doing. I told him and everyone who was listening- slowly my bones were turning back from jelly. I now know what it means when they say your bones turned to jelly.
The two lessons I learned from this experience- drive the snow mobile yourself the next time and go at 30 kmph, enjoy the scenery. I also learned that it makes sense to have a good secondary camera for such trips when a SLR cannot be lugged around. I clicked all the pictures on this ride with my Lumia 1020.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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