Thursday, 7 March 2019

Rovaniemi Kit

This year's race was a bit different to that two years ago primarily because of the temperature being 10C or so warmer. Although I've not "raced" on the fat bike at home I was far warmer during the Rovaniemi 150 than on most UK winter rides where I've ridden it.

I'd done some adjustments since last time - , changes are noted in the comments, they are mostly about better cold protection but it just so happens that I'd have been OK with the kit I'd used last time.

I've put links to the manufacturer's pages for some of the items but the standard stuff is easily located on CRC, Wiggle, etc..

The bike

Singular Puffin medium frame with Travers Fat Prong carbon forks. Industry Nine hubs with Sun Ringle Mulefut 80mm rims. Tyres were 45Nrth Vanhelgas set up tubeless. Raceface Aeffect cranks with Absolute Black oval 26T chainring. Shimano rear mech and Sunrace 11-42 10spd cassette. Avid BB7 brakes. Nukeproof Electron plastic/composite pedals. Jones SG Riser Loop bars.

Apart from the Jones bars this is the same setup as two years ago. I'd originally fitted a set of carbon Jones Loop bars to the bike but got nerve damage after the last time. I suddenly realised it was because the previous owner was a little shorter than me and the steerer had been cut to suit so the front end was too low. The only way to lift it would have been to get a new set of forks but then Jones released their riser bars. Perfect!

Bags and Kit

Wildcat Lion handlebar harness with 20L Exped dry bag. Two Revelate Mountain Feed Bags. Wildcat Snow Leopard frame bag.  Alpkit Fuel Pod top tube bag. Wildcat Tiger seat harness and tapered dry bag.

The 20L dry bag held a Rab Expedition 1100 sleeping bag and an Exped Winterlite sleeping mat. I can get the bag in to a 13L bag but it's a struggle. I used the 13L bag last time and wrapped a CCF mat around it.

Revelate Williwaw pogies. A big step up from the Alpkit model but a bit warm this time. Garmin Oregon GPS mounted on the front loop of the bars.

One Feed bag held trail food and the other my goggles and battery from MTB Batteries for one of my lights.

The frame bag came with the bike and is one of the prototypes. It contained a spare inner tube; two spare buffs; three spare pairs of gloves; small pan; more food. GoPro lay along the top of the frame bag and strapped to top tube.

The top tube bag was fitted at the top tube - seat post junction to aid with standover. It held spare batteries for camera and GoPro; tools (multi-tool, Leatherman squirt, sewing kit). I also had a Sahmurai Sword tyre plug system which fits in the end of the handlebars. I had a Topeak Mountain Morph pump strapped to the down tube.

The saddle bag held: a spare thermal top; spare socks; 3/4 length waterproof trousers; lightweight waterproof; PHD lightweight down jacket.

Lights were a Hope Vision 2 mounted on the front loop of the bars and an Exposure Joystick mounted on my helmet (Lazer Revolution). The helmet has an inbuilt GoPro mount so I've an adaptor between that and the Exposure style mount. Generally you don't need a huge amount of light because the snow reflects so much so both lights were on their lowest settings, even with virtually a full night of riding I hardly used any of the battery charge. A small rear light was attached to the Tiger harness.


Mostly nut and raisin mix with a bar of marzipan (doesn't freeze or crumble in to bits). I'd also a packet of precooked rice and grains and a couple of packets of porridge (hence the pan) but didn't use this.

On Me

Bridgedale socks; Scarpa Mountaineering boots with in-built gaiters; Madison thermal bib long; long sleeved thermal top of uncertain make and vintage; Gore Windstopper Jacket; lightweight buff under helmet.

Between thermal and jacket I had a Revelate Wampak drinks pack with a 3 litre bladder.

Camera and a few cereal and chocolate bars in the jacket pockets.


Mostly I got things right with just a few niggles. As stated several times the conditions were somewhat atypical and all the kit I'd bought to supplement/correct the mistakes from last time weren't really needed.

One worry was the chainring getting bent on the flight out. I'd taken a spare but packed the wrong tool to replace it so I ended up (carefully) bending it back into line. It held up for the race and I didn't have any shifting problems so a bit lucky there.

Later on I had problems with the brakes freezing up. I think this is because of everything being so wet earlier on in the race then when temperatures fell that turned to ice. I'm not sure if it was the callipers freezing up or water in the cables. I've seen a blog post about weatherproofing BB7s so will investigate that.

I got tyre pressures pretty much right this time - I was riding quite a bit more of the lake than those ahead of me for example plus on the long tracks heading to CP7 where there was a lot of soft or broken snow I pulled away from Mike Collins who's much stronger than me. It's a bit of a balancing act between having pressures low enough to ride but high enough to reduce drag. The route surface also ranges from soft tracks to ploughed roads so it was a matter of judging whether each section was long enough to justify stopping to adjust pressures, having done the route before made this easier.

I didn't think they were too low until I got off the second lake and the rear felt "squidgy". Whether it was the drop in temperature or I'd caught the edge of an icy rut and the tyre had burped some air I don't know but it needed a couple of PSI adding. I was possibly down to 2psi at that point.

This is how low I got with tyre pressures - probably a bit too low at this point!

My hands were roasting for most of the ride! I had the ventilation zips on the pogies open all the time until after the temperatures dropped well below freezing. I only used one of the spare pairs of gloves. In a similar vein my feet were very warm until the dampness built up from sweating. They only really got cold due to this at the stops, particularly the hut at CP6, but warmed up once I got moving. Constantly wriggling my toes helped.

The Williwaw pogies have their own bar end plugs to use as part of their mounting system. Using the Sahmurai plugs meant that I had to loop the mount on to the bar grips which didn't really work.
A) they would slip off the end of the bars occasionally.
B) the mounting loop sat under the palm of my hand and was somewhat irritating.

I'd wanted to have my sleeping kit at the back of the bike but I've no saddle bag big enough to stuff it in. This meant that I'd 2.5kg or so on the front of the bike affecting handling. One option might be to use a rear pannier rack and strap the bag to that. It would add around 700g over and above the Tiger harness and dry bag. While "soft" bikepacking kit is generally fine, it's intended to be streamlined to allow riding through narrow trails. On events like the Rovaniemi 150 the terrain and trails are much more open so that isn't so much of a problem. Certainly if I had to carry more kit it would be an option.

I'd strapped the pump on the downtube next to the frame bag. When I came to use it after getting off the second lake it was rather icy so it might be better strapping it to the top tube. I'd not had this problem last time because it was so consistently cold.

I'd looked around for a quick release mount to be able clip the GoPro and its "selfie" stick to the top tube but didn't manage to find one so I ended up using Velcro One-Wrap to fix it. As a result it was awkward to release and start using so I didn't get as much footage as I'd have liked.

Of all the mandatory and spare kit I carried on the bike, the only items I used were the pump and one pair of gloves. Of course most of it is for when things go wrong or you are much slower and intending to sleep out.

Ever more learning!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob,

    Sorry for the comment thats not related to this above story, but Im looking for the yorkshie Dales 200 and 300 gpx files to create an updated database of the selfsupported website as most of the files do not go to live pages anymore. I saw on your strava page you have done the Yorkshire Dales 200 and 300. Is it possible to email them to me at Thank you very much!