Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Retrospective

It's the end of the year today, so it's time to review it and maybe think about the next year. Although this blog is about my outdoor and cycling related endeavours, it's always hard to look back in the year when there is so much else going on. All in all, the year 2013 was very interesting and a little strange too.

The year started with a nice, little overnighter with Peter.

Although the New Year's weather was awful with rain, the winter continued in January in a good way. Me and Peter had an excellent two-night trip to the Kurjenrahka for the coldest period of the winter.

February. Rovaniemi 150. My first winter endurance race and it was absolutely fantastic experience, and definitely the highlight of the year.

March was surely the best winter month in South-Western Finland. A nice overnighter at Marttila was executed again with the usual suspect, Peter.

Also, there was a great display of Northern Lights on March 17.

The winter continued to April and had a perfect ending with my Archipelago Winter Tour.

May. A short spring.

The highlight of the summer was the trip to Rovaniemi and the overnighter there with Mark.

September saw finally an overnighter with Korpijaakko.

Another S24O in October with Peter...

...and the 'sufferfest', Mammoth March Impossible, which wasn't a sufferfest this time.

No signs of winter in November, but that wasn't a big issue, because there was the arrival of new 9:ZERO:7 fatbike.

And November is always good, because there is the Vajosuo Beer Ride.

The first snow finally arrived on 6th-7th December, just in time for the Global Fatbike Day.

But it didn't last long. The snow melted very fast and what followed is the worst December in recent memory. Christmas saw rain every day.

Otherwise the outdoor year was indeed great.

So, what about the 2014? The weather forecasts are not showing much hope for the first two weeks. Actually, the forecasts looks ridiculous, with plenty of rain and constant overcast sky. The weather nerds are discussing about a very likely SSW and as a result, polar vortex split or a complete disintegration of polar vortex in the best case scenario. There is still some hope.

Anyway, I'm going to Rovaniemi 150 and that is the master plan. Other than that, no big plans.

Thanks to my family for support, and thanks also to all readers. Happy New Year 2014!

And additional thanks for my awesome sponsors and partners: 9:ZERO:7, 45NRTH, Lumicycle, Porcelain Rocket, Alpkit and Pyöristi.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Global Fatbike Day 2013 and Winter Outlook 2013-2014

The very first Global Fatbike Day was last year, but I missed it because 1st December happened to be also 'Little Christmas' with my family. This year, the date was 7th December, hence no conflict with the Little Christmas. This year, MTB-Turku organized a GFBD group ride as the number of fatbikes in Turku area has increased significantly. My plan was to join in and do a long training ride in preparation for the Rovaniemi 150 race.

The weather has been miserable here in South-Western Finland, but the first snow finally arrived on Friday/Saturday, just in time for the Fatbike Day!

My route to Turku followed the nice scenery of Piikkiö and Hepojoki.

I was slightly late so I joined the group at Katariinanlaakso. After a tricky duckboard section and some bushwhacking, we found our way to Vaarniemi shelter for a break for sausages.

Before heading to next part of my training ride, I rode with Peter and Jarmo Järvinen (the other Finnish guy from last year's Rovaniemi 150).

Riding in the darkness to Kimito Island, but the darkness is not an issue with the brilliant Lumicycle Explorers!

Riding felt pretty good and I really loved the slight snowfall on my way to Kimito. The distance for the day was 117.34 km.

But as I'm writing this, it's rather painful to see the current weather forecasts.

The main reason for the mild weather is Arctic Oscillation that has been very positive, and the correlation with Southern Finland is pretty clear. At the same time however, Lapland has very good winter conditions. For example, about 100 cm of snow and close to -40°C temperatures in Kilpisjärvi!

Also, the AO forecast doesn't look good.

The only hope is that these forecasts will fail somehow. Otherwise, two rather depressing weeks are in store here.

What about the late December and rest of the winter, January-March? After a run of very good winters in 2009-2010, 2010-2011, the latter part of 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, I'm afraid of mild, slushy winter. But as always, it will be interesting to see how the winter will pan out.

Friday, November 29, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT: 9:ZERO:7 - The Next Generation

Back in 2010 my eyes were firmly on a fatbike. In 2011, I purchased my first fatbike, a first generation 9:ZERO:7. After one year of riding and adventures, it was clear that it is not just a bike. It's an extension of my body and soul. But like with many things in life, it was just the beginning. This fall I was very excited and proud to partner with the cool guys from Alaska.

In the fall of 2011, 9:ZERO:7 came with a new design for the frame and in addition to 135mm offset frame, they introduced a frame with 170mm symmetrical rear and new hubs too.

As the 4.8" tires and 100mm rims are coming more popular, more room is needed for them. At the same time, the trend is of course for lighter setups as well. For 2014, 9:ZERO:7 is addressing all these needs, by introducing new 190mm aluminum frameset and 190mm Whiteout carbon frameset for the weight weenies! And of course, a new 135mm / 190mm hubset too.

I have had my new aluminum 9:ZERO:7 for two weeks and it's time to take a technical look on the new rig.

Versatility was the key with my first 907. My goal for this bike project is maximum floatation and lightness, emphasis being on the racing capabilities for races like Rovaniemi 150.

Build specs:

Frame: 9:ZERO:7 190mm 2014 aluminum, ano black, medium size
Fork: 9:ZERO:7 2014 aluminum
Headset: Cane Creek ZS44 inset
Bottom Bracket: SRAM X5 100mm
Crankset: SRAM X5 175mm Fatbike cranks
Chainring: RaceFace Narrow/Wide 30T, black
Shifter: SRAM X0 10-speed GripShift
Rear derailleur: SRAM X7 10-speed
Cassette: SRAM PG1030 11-36T 10-speed
Chain: SRAM PC1031 10-speed
Brakes: Hayes Stroker Ryde
Brake rotors: Hayes V6 160mm
Brake pads: EBC Brakes, green
Brake hoses: Jagwire HyFlow, red
Gear cable housing: Jagwire L3, white
Stem: Thomson Elite X4 31.8, 100mm 0°
Handlebar: Answer ProTaper 685 XC Trail riser bar, 1" rise / 686mm / 31.8mm
Seatpost: Thomson Elite Setback 30.9mm x 410mm
Saddle: fi'zi:k Gobi XM
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Grips: SRAM X0 / ODI Ruffian MX
Rims: Surly Clown Shoe 100mm
Front hub: 9:ZERO:7 135mm
Rear hub: 9:ZERO:7 190mm
Front skewer: DT Swiss RWS 135mm
Rear skewer: 9:ZERO:7 190mm
Front tire: Surly Bud 4.8" 120TPI
Rear tire: Surly Lou 4.8" 120TPI
Tubes: Specialized 24x2.3/3.0
Rim strips: Surly Clown Shoe 75mm, red
Chainstay pad: RaceFace

The original plan was to choose SRAM XX1 11-speed system, but it's just way too expensive, hence ending up with 1x10-speed with a 11-36T cassette. But the great news is that a new company called OneUp Components is bringing an affordable alternative to XX1, by introducing 42T sprocket for most 10-speed cassettes.   

A sweet thing with a single front ring is the simplicity and silence of the drivetrain, and better Q-factor with 'normal' fatbike cranks.

The color coding is pretty much the same as with the old bike, black-red-white, with some minor tweaks.

The new 9:ZERO:7 hubs are sweet. They are constructed of cold forged aluminum, our hubs are assembled with a cold weather grease rated to -45°C / -50°F.

There is plenty of clearance between the chain and tire, and also between chainstays and crankarms.

No issues what so ever with the 10-speed drivetrain.

I'm using pipeline brackets to mount the bottle cages (and Salsa Anything Cages too) to 9:ZERO:7 aluminum fork.

The cockpit.

Trusty bits covering the seatpost and saddle.

Some nice details in there with the lovely Clown Shoe rims.

The 4.8" tires are indeed massive!

The trademark of 9:ZERO:7, snowflake.

The weight of this setup is 14.18 kg / 31.26 lbs, significantly lighter than my old bike, 15.3 kg / 33.73 lbs.

For racing, I will use a rackless system, consisting a Porcelain Rocket saddle pack and a dry bag on the handlebar. These will help further to reduce weight compared to the old setup.

A couple of shots with the red brake hoses.

The frame has all the braze-ons for versatile setups: eyelets for fenders, upper, lower, and dropout rear rack mounts, top-tube and seatstay guides for use with continuous shifter and brake housing and three water bottle bosses. And, the fork and frame are designed to accept 29er and 29+ wheelsets and tires!

I did the recent Vajosuo Beer Ride with it and have done a couple of commutes too, and everything works great with this beautiful arctic machine. Vajosuo provided some very demanding technical terrain and I was suprised how fast and nimble the new 9:ZERO:7 is. The bottom line is that this bike lifts your feeling of freedom to a whole new level. And then there is the carbon frameset with 12mm/15mm thru-axles for ultimate lightness. 9:ZERO:7 has taken quantum leap forward in the fat universe with their next generation framesets.

I want to thank 9:ZERO:7 for the new frameset and hubs. There is no doubt that this 'ultra fatbike' will help me in the Rovaniemi 150 2014 race!

Also thanks to my local bike shop Pyöristi and Jan for building the wheels and helping me with the build!

The next special report will feature the new Lumicycle Explorer lights. Stay tuned.
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