Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's time to wrap up this year. Thanks to everyone who reads and comments on this blog.

This year clearly showed what my real interest is. I had planned to do a bit of racing, but I only participated in two events: I rode the Pirkka 215 km road event in the fastest group in a little over 6 hours and two laps (120 km) of Tahko MTB in 7h 49 min, a result I'm fairly satisfied with.

One of my goals for this year was also to do one overnighter a month, which I mostly did. These overnighters proved to be the real highlights of the year, and I feel that will be my direction in the future as well. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to do some longer outings next year.

We seem to get more snow all the time and currently there is a little over 40 cm (16"). The trails are narrow and semi-soft, expect for the most used ones, which should be rideable with an ordinary mountain bike.

On the last ride of the year I also tested out my new camera backpack (Christmas gift), a LowePro Slingshot 102 AW. As I hoped and expected, it was exactly the right size, i.e. as small and light as possible, and it felt steady on my back loaded with an EOS 40D, 17-70 zoom, extra batteries and a remote cord.

That's it for this year. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

One year with the Salsa Fargo

I just posted a longish retrospective on my first year with the Salsa Fargo on MTBR. The thread should be visible even for non-members, if anyone is interested. Most of it has already been posted on this blog earlier, so I won't repost it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Just when I was about to start sewing my own bike pogies, Harri wrote about the cheap ones available at Biltema (product number 82176). I decided to take a look at them and bought a pair, the idea being to get some experience with them before I design my own ultimate bike pogies. As expected, they need some modifications to be fully usable, but I think that with a little sewing they might actually be great. The handlebar closure needs to be improved with some velcro and fleece to get it more sealed and the arm hole is unnecessary big. The biggest improvement would be to add some velcro to attach them at the outer ends of the handlebar. I also expected to have to add some insulation to them, but that will not be necessary. My hands were very warm with just summer gloves inside during a two hour ride today at -12°C.

Most of the trails were back to fatbike only state after the snowfall. This one would not have been rideable with an ordinary bike even before the latest snowfall.

Gaiters are nice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


My Salsa Fargo, on which I've spent the most of my riding time this year, has been a little neglected lately, mostly because the Pugsley is much better suited to the current winter conditions. The Fargo has mostly served as a commuter lately, and that will likely continue during the winter, except for some occasional longer rides mostly on packed trails and roads. After my very positive experiences with the Rido R2 saddle on the Pugsley, I ordered one for the Fargo as well. I haven't tested it extensively on the Fargo yet, but the feelings after shorter rides (max 1 h) is that it is very comfortable on the Fargo as well, even with the less upright riding position.

Rido R2

Currently the best trails are packed really hard and thus easily rideable with the Fargo, but the Pugsley still feels like the better alternative for this.

The Extreme 294 29x2.1" tires look really narrow now...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some winter pictures

Being away from home for a few days, I don't have the possibility nor the time to go out skiing or riding a bike. I still can't resist posting a few winter pictures. The weather is cold and sunny, which is nice.

Frost flowers on the window.

The days are currently short(5 h 45 min), so one should be prepared to go out in the darkness as well. The Canon S90 is a surprisingly capable camera even in the moon light.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another winter morning

The weather was clear and sunny for a change. We've had a number of days with grey weather now, so the sun is very welcome for the almost six hours it technically is above the horizon. No mentionable snowfall since last Monday has occurred, so the trails should be rideable. The temperature was a refreshing -13°C.

About 30 cm (12") of snow.

Nobody had bothered to walk where I rode last Monday, meaning that the "singlespeed climb" was fully not rideable today

Christmas card landscape.

Some of the larger trails would have been rideable with an ordinary mtb, but not this one.

I'm going for the "saracen assassin from Robin Hood"-look. The heat exchanger is nice, but still not necessary in this temperature. For high intensity training, e.g. xc skiing with skating style, it makes my lungs hurt a lot less in colder temperatures,

The weather forecast for next Thursday is interesting. -23°C during the night and above freezing 18 hours later and then colder again according to the 10 day prognosis.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Independence Day ride

December 6th in 1917 the Finnish parliament declared Finland independent from the Russian empire, taking advantage of the turmoil caused by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. A few weeks after that, the Bolshevik leaders recognised this in a document signed by Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky. During the WWII years, Finland was attacked twice by the Soviet Union. The independence barely survived this, thanks to the great sacrifices of my grandfather's generation. The Independence Day is a national holiday and it was therefore possible to go out for a snow ride in the morning.

It is still possible to get wet, despite the snow.

Even with the Pugsley, the very soft trails were barely rideable.

Outside the trails it riding was impossible, except for downhill sections.

Winter is nice. I think I'll commute to work by skis tomorrow, for a change.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Out playing

The winter is getting better all the time. We now have about 30 cm (12") of snow, with more on the way. I couldn't resist going out to play in the snow with the Pugsley. The temperature was around -4°C which is very comfortable: Not too cold and still mostly dry.

I wasn't the only one who was out playing in the snow.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beer gear

I usually don't geek out too much on gear in this blog, but here comes one gear post. My philosophy when it comes to gear is to by the lightest stuff possibly within some budget constraints. I also don't easily buy new gear to replace what I already have, unless it is broken or worn out. My gear can for the most part be considered lightweight, but not ultralight.

This is what I brought and used during the beer ride.

Sleeping gear:
  • Marmot Never Summer Long sleeping bag (-37°/-17°/-9°C) and 1814 g.
  • Alpkit Hunka XL bivy bag, 510 g.
  • Ridgerest full-length closed-cell foam pad.
  • Therm-a-rest Prolite 4 Short self-inflating air mattress.
Clothes worn when riding:
  • Think liner socks
  • Plastic bags (VBL, stricly not needed on this short a trip)
  • Thick wool socks
  • Roomy walking boots with a wool felt insole
  • Outdoordesigns Perma eVent gaiters

  • Devold wool boxer shorts
  • Devold wool long johns
  • Bicycle boxer shorts
  • Löffler windstopper tights

  • Devold wool long undershirt
  • Craft synthetic long undershort
  • Haglöfs Intense Zephyr WS jacket
  • Buff

  • Thick no-name gloves

  • Wool Buff
  • Ordinary Buff
  • Helmet
  • Endura Spectrum clear glasses. These were lost somewhere on the bog.
Spare/camp clothes:
  • Warm gloves (Marmot Altitude)
  • Mountain Equipment Lightline down jacket
  • Cheap no-name insulated pants.
  • Thick wool beanie
  • Thick wool socks, not used.
  • Thin wool socks
  • Thin wool gloves
  • Wool undershirt, not used.
Cooking and drinking gear
  • Primus Gravity MF stove
  • Primus power gas 220g
  • Trangia Duossal 1,75l kettle with lid
  • Retki Pro 0,75 l thermos bottle with hot water
  • Zefal Arctic insulated bottle x 2 with warm water
  • Matches
Bicycle gear
  • Surly Pugsley with frame bag and front and rear racks. I switched to flat pedals for this ride.
  • Small air pump
  • Basic bicycle repair kit
  • Spare inner tube
  • Gerber multi tool
  • Two MagicShine LED lights, one on the helmet and one on the handlebar
  • Two MagicShine battery packs and one Silva battery pack. I used under half of the battery capacity.
Food and drink
  • Two 0.5 l cans of Laitilan Kukko beer
  • 0.2 l Jahti Schnaps
  • 3 Twix bars
  • 6 bags of Capuccino powder
  • One package of Wilhelm grill sausage
  • 3 double sandwiches with mettwurst and cheese
  • Canon S90 camera in the chest pock and two spare batteries. I can't praise this camera enough. It gives good image quality in a truly pocketable format and can be retrieved from the pocket and used with one hand rapidly.
  • Small Ultrapod tripod,not used
  • Small LED headlamp
  • Sea to Summit Lightweight dry sacks, 8 l and 20 l. These were not good. The inner surface was sticky enough to make stuffing them difficult and the zipper of the sleeping bag actually punctured a hole in the large one.
  • A few small plastic bags, enough to cover the feet. The bog was not yet frozen, so the possibility to get wet feet existed. Spare wool socks covered with a plastic bag is nice to have if something like that would happen.
For the most part I know this gear pretty well. Some items could still be a little lighter, but this is a working kit. I haven't noticed any condensation problems with the bivy bag, but I still think that could be a problem on e.g. a week long trip.

This was not my full winter gear. I would have taken a micro fleece shirt and my big and heavy Himalaya grade down jacket, a Haglöfs Extreme, if it would have been colder. It would also be nice to have a pair of down pants for occasions like this and some sort of down booties that could handle the outdoors. I also need to make some pogies for the bike, which should be a fairly easy sewing project.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vajosuo beer ride 2010 edition

The time had finally come for the beer ride. It took some time to get a date that suited more than a few persons. This time there were five of us: Me, Matti H, greenman, JJ and HAK. There was in average about 15 cm of snow, but occasionally both a lot more and less. Greenman and I were on Pugsleys, the rest had ordinary 26" bikes. Matti H rode his fully rigid singlespeed Surly 1x1.

How do you fit two Pugsleys in a small car? The answer is barely. I want to have as small a car as possible, mostly since I don't care for cars, but sometimes it could be a bit bigger. The start was 45 minutes away by car.

The ride started around 19:15 with boardwalks. In practice, only the Pugsleys could ride them. It was very hard to see where the boardwalks were, because of the snow. The temperature was around -12°C (10°F), colder than forecasted.

The boardwalks consist of two parallell planks. Often there is room for a tire between the planks, making riding them an exercise requiring precision. To my surprise, even the fat tires sometimes got stuck between the planks.

An animal showed the way.

Pugsley terrain.

Even JJ, who has a very good technique, had to walk.

Some small gear problems.

Not even a Pugsley can handle everything.

Somebody had actually been here, surprisingly enough.

At the Vajosuo lean-to at 21:55 after a hard ride. JJ starts the fire...

... with success.

Time to drink beer, make grilled sausages and toast sandwiches and make glorious plans for the future.

Laitilan Kukko, the preferred beer at Vajosuo. This is one of the very few Finnish beers that actually is good.

My sleeping spot. We went to sleep around three o'clock in the night.

To our (quite small) surprise Matti K showed up in the morning around six o'clock and started the fire. He even brought coffee and donuts. That is what I call service. He came by car and then walked the final bit to the lean-to. Thanks a lot! The temperature in the morning was again colder that expected, around -18°C (-0.4F), but it caused no problems for us.

Making drinking water.

Matti H, greenman and Matti K.

Getting ready to leave.

My bike is packed again. We left at 9:00 in the morning.

Vajosuo in the morning.

Terra firma. JJ riding.

Matti H has a very bad moment.




Short break to catch the breath. It was still around -14°C (7°F)

Refilling the energy supplies. The riding was again hard and we were getting low on energy.

A picture of yours truly taken by JJ.

Just a small bit left. JJ seems happy.

We were done at 12:25. This was a fantastic outing, and I think this is the best way to do overnighters during the dark time of the year.

I will do a post with some equipment ponderings in a few days, but for now I can say that the Pugsley definitely was the right tool for the job.

A slide show with more pictures is here.