Overseas update - Raid 4 Arctic Ducks

Hello all. Hope you all survived the snow and ice we have had of late. I saw temperatures of -26 on the Raid 4 Arctic Ducks (R4AD). I’m still getting the insulation out of my 2CV so have not had time to write a report but Karsten Schreiber frorn Germany kindly sent me his report so thank you Karsten.

Last month I mentioned that the 2CV club of Brittany are planning to go to the Mehari 50th anniversary in Arnboise but I didn’t give the dates. Its on from 5th to 8th May at the campsite on the Ile d’Or in Amboise. More info can be found here: http://www.mehariclubdefrance.com/spip.php?rubrique76

That’s it for now. Enjoy Karstens R4AD report and stay warm

Drive on the right
Mark sf pr ttr

Raid for Arctic Ducks (R4AD) 2018

The road is barely visible. Heavy gusts of wind drive powder snow over the road like dry ice on a stage. We are heading for the golden sun which is low on the horizon. The outside thermometer indicates -10 ° C, but in the car it is pleasantly warm. The engine purrs nicely, the winter tires give me a safe feeling even at a speed of 100 km/h.

I am commuting to work in my C5 and ask myself: Why did I drive to North Cape with my 2CV7 The weather forecast gives the answer: Today we got the ”used” Arctic cold from Finland in southwest Germany. Maybe it is a bit less severe, but extremely authentic regarding the chill factor.

Yet I am missing the vast snowy Arctic landscapes. This winter, northern Finland got almost three feet of snow. The red wooden houses are covered with thick hoods of snow. We were wondering why they do not collapse under the load. Trees, power Iines, even houses are encrusted with ice crystals like a cake frosting. Even on a clear day, fine powder snow silently falls out of nowhere.

By now, the thermometer shows -24 degrees centigrade. You can hear the temperature: Your shoes make a special squeaking noise when you walk over this icy cold snow. We cross a long frozen lake. On the shore, reindeer peacefully graze in an enclosure. A Sami farmer drives by with his snowmobile. He just came from a hut where he is keeping his reindeer meat in a natural fridge. He stops by and shows us a reindeer haro laying on the dashboard. He is going to deliver it to our hotel where we will get reindeer ragout with cranberries tonight, a delicious speciality of Lapland.

We cannot say much more than a shy ”hyvää” (”good”) – Finnish is a difficult language. A number wakes me up from the endless driving trance. To keep me awake, my co-driver,(my wife Jutta) practices Finnish vocabulary. ”One thousand three hundred eighty-nine7” – ”Ahem … Yksituhatkolmesataakahdeksankymmentäyhdeksän” – ”Bingo!”.

Actually, Finnish is easy. ”Railway Station?” – ”Rautatieasema” – lron-way station. ”Postbank?” – ”Postipanki”. Very easy. To keep our brain’s language center busy, every night we chat with 2CV drivers from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, England, Austria and Germany. Austrian German, English, French, Norwegian , Finnish, Flemish, Dutch … the brain is glowing. Now this is what Europe is ali about: Everyone brought a speciality from their home  country to offer for the ”degustation”. Heaps of international food specialities are produced from 31 frozen 2CV boots and loaded on a hig buffet table. The wine we brought for this occasion we have to drink secretly like school kids as the license of the hotel forbids the consumption of our own drinks. So later we make friends with participants from Norway and Holland in an unobserved corridor of the annex while sampling our French wine. For some, it is their first 2CV raid. They love the uncomplicated 2CV way. The simpler the accommodation, the more we sit together in the evening and enjoy new, real friends, life and not just social media ”friends”.

Still, the organising team of the Finnish 2CV Club brought a taste of modern times to the raid. News and announcements are shared via WhatsApp. Those who decide to do so can load a tracking app to their smart phone to show the actual route they are driving. Films from dash cams are uploaded to YouTube. I however am an old fart and and stick to whats real. I enjoy the landscape passing by, proper conversation and direct contact with people without the use of a smartphone. Luckily that works very well on this raid, indeed.

Although the 2CVs are older than 30 years, there were only few major breakdowns or accidents. Minor damage can be repaired immediately as the organisers spread a list of spare parts each team carries. I was able to help Jean with an oil pressure switch which decided to break and spill his engine oil on the snow within 200 kilometres. A Norwegian team had more bad luck: on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere, their 2CV decided to have a major engine failure. In order not to freeze, they made a campfire while waiting 2 hours in the cold for the tow truck to come.

At our rest day in Hetta they discovered the cause of the break down. One stud holding the cylinder head and the rocker arm had snapped . What could they do now? They had an idea. They unscrewed the bolt until they could provisionally tighten the nut again. With the engine fixed that way, they drove the entire raid and home. 

I daresay that an engine failure on a 2018 Toyota Landcruiser could not have been fixed in the hotel carpark within two hours. Our highlight of the raid was the visit to North Cape. The final access road can only be driven in an official convoy, led by a giant snowplough and another auxiliary vehicle in the end of the convoy. We chose the ”Polar Light convoy” at 2130. Nearly freezing to death , we waited at the barrier that shuts off the last 12 kms of the road. Ice cold wind whips loose snow over the track. Doubts creep up in our minds . Were they really serious about the night trip?

Suddenly a roar, br ight lights, and a monster snowplough appears from the dark night. The driver is extremely cool. He critically inspects our tires (”Even my motorcycle has better winter tires!”). Finally he approves all cars. With due care and keeping our distance, we drive over the extremely slippery frozen one-lane road to the target of the Raid. On a steep uph ill slope I am glad that 1 mounted studded tires which pull me up like a rope.

At the end of the breath taking dr ive you can see – nothing . Yes, it is the northern most point in Europe accessible by car. Yes, we made it here in one piece in a 2CV. So what. The Northern Lights have a day off. Fortunately, they show up in the next night. So we settle for a visit to the Visitor Centre, which has  been blasted into the bedrock of North Cape several levels down . We drive around the building to the actual North Cape Monument to take dozens of selfies in front of our cars and the famous model of the globe.

1,000 km south of North Cape, the Raid comes to an end at the Northern tip of the Baltic Sea . After a be r tasting session in the world ’s (supposedly) northernmost brewery, Henkka prepares the legendary ”Enough Drink”. Th is is a punch made from spirits brought from all over Europe by the teams. It will be a long and happy night. Long after midnight , we call it a day, exhausted but happy . Did we really leave Helsinki just a week ago? The icy roads, the fjords, the endless forests, everything seems already like a dream.

We and a few other teams had some time before the ferry back to Germany so we rented three beautiful Finnish log cabins in the solitude of the north . Together with a dozen raiders, we relax from the Raid. Suddenly my body tells me that 10 hours of driving every day is quite exhausting . We catch up on missed sleep, enjoy the Finnish winter in a smoke sauna, go cross- country skiing under the arctic sun . In the evening we drink the rest of the wine and chat. After three days of relaxation at Syöte, we are ready for the final 1,600 km on the road and 28 hours on the ferry.

The raid can be summarised with a quote from Henkka, one of the Finnish organisers:

”What is the destination of the raid?”- ”Home”.

Karsten , SB-CV6

Overseas update - Raid 4 Arctic Ducks