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.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Test packing

The bike is packed for the beer overnighter. The forecast lowest night temperature is -14°C (7°F).

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It might be childish get exited over snow and cold, but in that case I am a little childish. This is a fantastic start of the winter. I went out for a ride with the Pugsley just before sunset and probably looked stupid with the big smile. We now have 10-15 cm of snow and the temperature is safely below zero.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More winter

I'm away for a few days at the Pyhäjärvi lake some 60 km from Turku, unfortunately without my bike. Currently it feels like winter. Yesterday it was around -7°C with a strong wind from the north.

Today everything looked different. I took a few pictures just before the snow storm started.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We got a few cm of snow a few days ago and the ten day weather forecast promises fairly cold weather with day temperatures between -6°C and -13°C and nights that are a few degrees colder. Is it possible that the winter is already coming? I am hopeful, but it would really be quite early.

I did go out and ride the Pugsley both yesterday and today. There is still no real benefit to the fat tires in the snow. The grip was good, but narrow tires with large knobs would have cut through the snow and given equally good grip. On the occasional half-frozen mud the fat tires did float well without sinking down. When we get more snow the fat tires should be quite nice to have.

Compare this picture with the one from a week ago taken in the same place. A little snow really changes the landscape.

It is really hard to take self documenting pictures with the DSLR. Incredibly enough, the self timer still is as primitive as it was on my SLR:s 15-20 years ago: Just the choice between 2 and 10 seconds. Compare that to my compact camera, which offers a delay of 1-30 s and after that 1-10 pictures. Implementing this would not take more that maybe one work month to program and test. I guess Canon wants us to buy a remote release costing almost 200 bucks. Fortunately, there are cheaper third part alternatives and I have one on the way already.