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Angst-Ridden Finnish Youth Seek Expression, Spandex

By Jeff Karr, Photography by Bob Clarke

HELSINKI, June 21-Expressing the hormone-addled anguish of youth is never easy, particularly in a glacial deep-freeze that essentially has just two seasons: winter, which lasts about 11 months and is as dark as the inside of a cow; and summer, which is a solid month of brilliant sunshine and lush green growth. Swiftly followed by decay, frigid darkness and unspeakable depression.

Little wonder, then, that summer in Finland has something of a festival nature, as pale-skinned Finns venture forth into the blinding sunshine with high spirits and squinty eyes. Starved for excitement-and the thrill of horsepower-Finlandic youth has historically spent much of summer cavorting about on unmuffled sportbikes and slurping up great vats of Koskenkorva (Finnish hootch, to you and me). But an inevitable government crackdown recently pulled the plug on rampant open-pipe sportbikery.

Thus, the youth of this Nordic worker's paradise has taken matters into their own hands. An out-of-tune inline-four with open pipes ceases to be a motorcycle when it's dropped into a wheelbarrow and jump-started to life. No law is currently on the Finnish books regarding noisy wheelbarrows; perhaps by next summer there will be. But for this summer at least, the shriek of 130-horsepower wheelbarrows echoes across the glacier-swept landscape. Take it from Spandex-Boy: Plug your ears, this is gonna be loud!

By Jeff Karr
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