Nina Gassler (Fat Viking Race Director in Geilo, Norway), who I met last year when she was winter fatbike training on Lake Winnipeg near Hecla Island, Manitoba; I became aware of her plans to put on the 2017 Fat Viking Fatbike Race and also partner with Alaskan Iditarod Trails Invitational (ITI) Race Director Kathi Merchant to put on a connected “ ITI Fatbike Winter Training Camp” in Geilo the week before the race.
So with all that fatbiking fun happening in the space of a week in beautiful Geilo and my friend Nina hosting … well, I just had to go for it and sign up for both! 🙂
The ITI Fatbike Winter Training Camp is over now and it was a memorable experience training with and getting to know a terrific crew of Europeans (Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain & Great Britain) and one South African fatbiker adventurists.
As we are now preparing to race the FatViking 175 (Kms) Race,
I will just post some pictures to tell the story of this past week …
Planes, Trains and Automobiles – yup, used them all from Winnipeg to Montreal to London to Oslo to Geilo to our cozy Trg Camp Cabin (as our base locale). Thanks Nina and May-Britt for being to pick me up as I got off the late train arriving in Geilo! 🙂
Our crew of ITI Trg Camp participants and Kathi connected quickly over our first hot meal (and one of the few we had indoors) and then geared up to get riding right away on the nearby Geilo trails and pathways that Nina knows so well and was happy to share.
Geared up and ready for our first group picture.
Out on the trails with Kathi and Nina as our guides.
Here Nina (Germany – now Norway), Stefan (Slovakia – now Norway) and Jarmo (Finland) leading the way. We often rode on XC Skate Ski trails and it was a pleasure to see the Europeans embracing the ‘Multi-Use’ concept!
Conditions were unusually mild (an icy factor I was prepared for with fully studded 45N Dillinger 5 tires – thanks Olympia C&S shoppe for the quick ‘stud-up’).
Stopping to practice an impromptu bivy mid ride. Thanks for the pic Nina. 🙂
Here’s Jess from South Africa (an experienced cyclist – but first time on snow – cool!)
Here’s Patrick (a very nice British chap who lives in Sweden) eating his hot lunch!
Here’s the always smiling Andrew (UK) – an already accomplished winter ultra fatbike racer.
Here’s Jarmo (Finland) and Alejandro (Spain) conferring. Our training days finished with us either riding back to the cabin in the dark or bivy camping at a wooded or lake-side location.
Here’s the always positive and excellent local guide Nina leading us back to camp!
Here’s Ben (UK) leading … the hilly terrain and our loaded bikes definitely made for a few pushed hills and good training.
This was the steepest hill (a ski run) we pushed up and it is part of the FV Race Course – yikes!
Here’s Andrew riding a nice skate ski track toward an upper alpine route.
Here’s Ben pushing again … due to the mild temps, even some of the upper alpine areas were icy.
But the higher we rode the more snowpack there was and more challenging trails.
Mind you riding up into the higher terrain had another benefit … a great spot for a group shot!
Riding back in the dark.
A welcome sight … the main Geilo ski hill and our cabin nearby.
Comparing our personal bike packing gear. Here Nina’s kit is on display.
Here’s mine (with my sleeping bag still on the bike).
Comparing parkas. I left my North Face parka at home due to the very mild conditions, but it was nice to see Patrick Stevens (left) proudly wearing his. Stefan, Jarmo and Nina were also wearing very nice parkas. 🙂
Our 2nd overnight bivy location was lower alpine and I found a grassed spot under a tree.
Boiling water is always any early ‘order of business’ when camping.
I had no idea my bivy spot was so scenic until the morning.
On my ride back to the cabin I found Alejandro’s bivy spot and we chatted as he packed up.
Alejandro and I rode in together and the experience was a bit different for each of us. My tires were fully studded, but Alejandro’s tires were not (he is studding them now for the FV Race)!
More upper alpine riding and fun as a crew! 🙂
Here’s a beautiful picture taken by Ben Shanson (adventure-photographer with a world-wide following) of me riding some single-track into the sunset! Thanks Ben 🙂
Another ride back to the cabin for ITI Race discussions and then out for our 3rd overnight bivy.
Mind you our 3rd bivy location had a wooden lean-to in the area (always good to recon) and it made for a cozy hangout before tucking into our sleeping bags spread out nearby!
Good conversations (we spoke in English mostly) and time to discuss upcoming adventures 🙂
More well marked XC Ski trails (multi-use for us locally).
One of my favourite ‘Pano Pics’. During our training camp we got to know that Constantijn (Netherlands) had a fun-mischievous sense of humour and his ‘alter-ego’ was ‘Connie’. Here I have caught on camera … Constantijn on the left and Connie on the right! 😉
Our last bivy had us riding up into the hills in the dark to this ‘Bivy Hill’ and picking our own spot alone. I almost didn’t join the crew on that night due to getting a nasty migraine headache, ‘losing my food’ and getting dehydrated (my own fault for eating a packaged camp meal loaded with MSG – my personal migraine trigger). But, with a little help from the crew (electrolytes/rest) and a lift up part of the hill in a van (with my bike), I was able to follow the crew who had ridden out earlier.
I rode through a ski hill tunnel following fatbike tracks and then zigzagged up a hill until I saw a few lights moving in the distance … yes – the ‘Bivy Hill’.
I surveyed the snow slope, the gusting winds and chose a spot to dig in and make a windbreak for my sleeping spot.
I really like my MSR WhisperLite (International) stove – very reliable.
I wasn’t able to eat much food yet; but a few caramels and some hot coco helped. I also boiled enough water to fill a thermos and two 1 Litre Nalgene bottles that tucked into my armpits for the night. Result = warm water in the morning 🙂
I packed up my bivy before sunrise after a fairly cozy sleep … except for the gusting winds that were whipping down the slope and just over my otherwise sheltered spot.
My reward for waking early! 🙂
I was still not feeling well and riding rather slow on my way back until I crossed paths with Tobias (Germany) and Daniele (Italy).
We linked up and I appreciated their company as we rode back into the cabin.
ITI Training Camp week complete – time for a selfie. Thanks for the photobomb Ben! 🙂
That’s all for now.
Time to HTFU and give the FV175 Race a go!
I came all this way to train and also to RACE! I may not be at my best, but hey “If It Was Easy – Everyone Would Do It”.
Giddy up – Carpe Diem.
Cheers, Fat Tom K