Monday, February 27, 2012

Overnighter at Hevonpää

The weather started to change last week, this time for milder. Slightly above zero temps and even little rain. But nighttime temperatures were quicly back to subzero. There are definitely some early signs of spring, meaning also that snowcrust conditions are a possibility. I have already some overnighter plans if that happens.

Sunday-Monday night forecast looked good, at least -10°C temperature. But due to some other life circumstances I decided for a rather small, short overnighter closer to home. In the winter of 2010/2011 I tried to find the lean-to of Hevonpää where I haven't been yet. I did two overnighters but strangely I didn't find it, even though the location should be easy to find. Third time's the charm?

I have found a somewhat nicer route to Hevonpää, as there is a smaller country that also takes a shortcut. The night looked good indeed, there was a nice crescent moon.

The temperature was only -8°C, but the wind made it feel a lot colder. I didn't have my facemask with me. I should have, it felt suprisingly brutal.

The good thing is that there are hikers who visits the lean-to, but their tracks can lead to other places too. The start of the trail was very narrow but otherwise rideable with a fatbike.

There was again a false track, but this time I paid closer attention to the yellow bands that have been used to mark the trail.

As I progressed (both riding and pushing) it started to look promising.

There it is.

The clock was already past midnight, so I prepared my sleeping system immediately.

The sky was clear with stars.

The night temperature dropped to close -12°C. Not really cold, but I made a mistake here. I took only one sleeping pad, the Halti Airlite, but it wasn't enough. My feet were cold again, and I didn't sleep too well.

To my suprise, I woke to sounds of some hiker/hikers in the night, but they turned back.

This place is in the middle of a forest, so the morning wasn't visually super stunning. But still nice.

The usual morning chores. 

The new Kupilka kuksa is very nice. Only thing that was missing was true strong coffee.

The campsite.

The bike packed again.

Glorious blue sky and sunshine on my way home.

A nice, cold overnighter. The weather forecast looks promising for snowcrust, keeping fingers crossed...

Monday, February 20, 2012

More snow

It's late Sunday evening as I write this, and I'm again looking back how the week went. The above photo was taken today, and as the title suggests, we got a big dump of new snow today. And actually we got it more already in the past week.

The start of my week wasn't very good. I was sick with a flu, but fortunately it went away fast and I was back to work, and more importantly, back to bike commuting, on Wednesday. 

Also, one of my neighbors happens to own a snowmobile and had driven on the nearby grain fields. This meant a nice opportunity for fun fatbike riding.

On Friday I had a day off from work, and did a short nice ride on the small roads nearby.

Not a bad week after all. And the winterish weather is forecasted to continue at least into end of this month. Good times.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fatbike TV outing - the gear

So, as promised, here is a write-up of the gear that I used on the recent fatbikepacking outing.

About one and a half week before the trip it started to look fairly clear that we will have very cold weather. The daytime temperature was forecasted to be close to -20°C and the night temperature could drop to -26°C. This meant that there were some special requirements on the gear department. Actually, I'm really interested how comfortable I can be in extreme conditions, and this outing was to be a good test.

Move your mouse over the photos, there are more information and links of the gear!

Here is a list how all the gear was packed:

Rear rack:
Front rack:
Frame bag:
  • Revelate Designs custom frame bag
  • Optimus Terra Solo cookset
  • Primus Mimer stove
  • Primus 4-season gas canister
  • Kupilka kuksa
  • Spoon, fork and knife cutlery set
  • Park Tool multitool
  • Leatherman Blast
  • Petzl Zipka headlight
  • TipTop Rema patches
Gas tank bag:
  • Revelate Designs large gas tank
  • Canon PowerShot SX130 IS camera
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone
  • Snickers chocolate bars
Jack Wolfskin dry bag on the Salsa Anything cage:

  • Retki Pro thermos 0.75l
  • SKS pump
  • Extra pair of wool socks
The clothes that I wore:

Upper body: starting with the underwear. I was wearing McKinley Stefan Seamless underwear. This is by the way very comfortable and best underwear I have used! On top of the underwear came multiple layers: ordinary polyester long sleeve cycling jersey, Craft fleece pullover and another Mäser fleece pullover. When on the move I wore my Nalini winter thermo jacket, and Alpkit  Filo down jacket at the campsite.

Legs: first Nalini knicker cycling shorts with padding, then McKinley Stefan long underwear, Craft underwear and then Jack Wolfskin Atmosphere down pants. Normally I wear warm tights, like Performance Triflex Tights, but I wanted something even more warm for the campsite and didn't want to take two separate pants with me. At times all these layers in my legs were a little too much. The Jack Wolfskin Atmosphere pants are suprisingly nice when riding.

Head: Shimano helmet underhat and Outdoor Research Gorilla WS balaclava. At the campsite I wore Willwool skicap. 

Hands: Thinsulate wool gloves, Orso Windproof lobsters and Sinisalo skiing windproof gloves for spare, and on the handlebars Trail's Edge Moose Mitts pogies.

Foot: Sorel Caribou (size 42). A week before the trip I ordered a pair of the best cycling-specific winter boots available, the Lake MXZ302 at size 44. I knew that my current winter shoe system was not enough and with that I was truly in danger for severe frostbite. But the Lake shoes didn't arrive in time for the outing. So, my parents rushed me a pair of Sorel Caribous. This meant that I was going to ride with platform pedals for a long long time. This was however a really wise choice. My feet stayed warm all the time.

Overall the clothing worked really well. I was warm and comfortable. In the end of the first day I was sweating pretty heavily but I changed a dry shirt (Devold Active merino wool) for the night. The key with my clothing was multiple layers. I knew that we would have a lot of breaks during filming sessions so I wanted to make sure that I will be warm. 

In the next photo is most of the gear spread on the bivvy bag:

Now the sleeping system. One of the highlights was of course the night and sleeping in -22°C. Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag is claimed to be warm in -18°C, and the EN 13537 rating is -9°C / -16.4°C / -37.1°C. I had the Multimat Expedition Extreme XL sleeping pad first, then inside the Alpkit Hunka bivvy was the Halti Airlite 450 sleeping pad and Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag. Yes, it worked well. I was warm and comfy. Only my foot were a little cold but that wasn't really suprising. Next time I will use some pocket warmers with my foot.

What about the other gear? Well, I was really suprised with my camera and the Duracell 2000 mAh rechargeable batteries. They worked really well in the bitter cold and I was able to shoot 235 photos without changing the batteries!

Also, my 9:Zero:7 worked flawlessly, and this was a true first long ride on packed snow conditions. I was running a tire pressure of 0.4bar both front and rear. A fatbike is truly a blast in these conditions!

I was riding with these old flat pedals:

But I will purchase definitely something like this:

I test rode the Moonlander briefly and these pedals are way, way much better!

The only problem with the gear was my Primus Mimer stove, or actually the 4-season gas. It had tough time to boil water in this cold air. Also, I rode much of the first day without riding glasses as they fogged and frozed instantly.

Feel free to ask anything, I'm sure I have forgotten something here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Winter brilliance

Another week of brilliant winter, so it's time again to recap it with photos. The first photos are actually from the end of the previous week.

On Thursday 9th, I finally checked out the ice conditions of the river Paimio.

There were only tracks of some sort of ATW going to direction of Kimito Island. But there is a strong chance that some snowmobiles will drive here. When that happens I will ride on their tracks.

It's almost like a fairytale world...

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