Fat Viking 175 Winter Endurance Race: Fat Tom K finishes (just)!

So, now that I have had time to rest and reflect and in response to fellow Fat Viking 175 racers commenting on my ‘circumstances’ – here’s my recap: In short, I finished – just!

Fat Viking Winter Endurance Race - Geilo, Norway - Banner

Nina Gassler organized and raced an amazing Fat Viking 175 (181 Kms for me – oops, I followed a few others tracks on a wrong turn section and back-tracked) and was my local encourager to persevere (as was my wife Lori and our two adult sons Brett and Jordan), when I started the race with a low energy/hydration level – my mistake eating a camping meal that was laced with MSG (my personal trigger) which gave me a nasty migraine headache the day before the race and made it hard to hold down food.

Once I got going (after racing back to the ski hut at start time to get my water bottles that I accidentally left behind at a cabin a ways away – mistake two), which lead to some wandering around to find the first trail entrance area after leaving the Vestfalia Chalet start line (GPS issues – mistake three).

From there it was a glorious, icy and challenging route that I started before sunrise and ended after sunrise. The views were spectacular and the soul searching was instructive!

Here’s some pictures to tell my race story:

2017 Fat Viking 175 - Maps View
Nina Gassler had originally planned the FV as a 150 Km route, but with this year being an unusually mild and low snow Dec-Jan, she lengthened the route to 175 and had us riding more up into the alpine areas where the XC skate ski tracks were better.
2017 Fat Viking 175 - Vertical View
So … up up up up and up we went!  Over 8500 feet of vertical assent – a thigh burner indeed!
2017 FV 175 Pic 21
Early in the race we ride up (ahem – push up) the side of a ski hill slope to get to the better alpine XC ski tracks that were a joy to ride.  *This pic was borrowed from a ride earlier in the week.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 1
The race started well before sunrise and I reached the upper alpine area and was rewarded with this view looking back toward the valley east of Geilo.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 2
I am putting on my best ‘smile it’s all good’ look here, but in fact I was already doubting my decision to race as my usual riding strength and energy level was just not there.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - thanks to Nina selfie video
I stopped to record a ‘selfie’ video message of thanks to Nina using my Go Pro on my helmet and here’s a still frame.  Making this message did perk up my spirits.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - View of long track ahead
But this long section that followed was a bit daunting at the time.
This picture is courtesy of Nina Gassler, who was way ahead of me and returning past me from an ‘out & back’ section.  She encouraged me on.  Later she told me I looked ‘white as a ghost’ and did not expect me to finish (neither did I then, but I smiled anyways)!
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - View of Mtn
After completing the Ustaoset out & back section, I returned to this now familiar spot beside the Prestholt Mountain.  It was inspiring and I knew that a long downhill section was just ahead.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - Fat Bike POV
This was my most familiar view for many hours … ‘Mr. Moonie’ my Surly Moonlander fatbike served me very well – not one glitch on this ride! 🙂
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - alone view on XC ski track
I rode most of the race by myself and in the end that was for the best.  I could manage my body’s responses as I just kept pedalling!
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - passing XC skier 1
Occasionally there were opposite direction XC skiers – who were always very friendly! 🙂
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - passing XC skier 2
This skate skier was nice enough to move over almost onto the classic tracks and since I was actually riding fast for a change (downhill), I made sure to greet & thank him with “Hi Hi … Tusen Takk” (Hi – Hi again … Thank You)! 🙂
This is a media released picture of me a few hours later as I rode into Check Point 1 at Havsdalen.  At the time I was considering quitting as my body was fading because my usual race energy foods were not appealing or staying down.  My energy drinks were keeping me going.  Fortunately for me the rest stop (complete with hot porridge) got my body responding, stomach filled and off I went … back to my usual long ride eating/drinking routine. 🙂
In this borrowed picture of Andrew Mucklestone (taken by Ben Shanson – both of whom trained with me this past week), you see what a lot of the race course was like when it was not icy …
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 4
A fair amount of the route on the lower altitude sections was iced up and I was glad to have my 4.8 inch 45N Dillinger 5 tires fully studded!  As it was, you still had to be very careful, especially when the track had a center high-point or any off-camber sections.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 5
It was on one off these sections that ‘Ziggy’ rode up from behind me (much to my surprise).  I said: “Hey there, I thought I was the ‘Lantern Rouge’ [last rider]?”  Turns out Ziggy got held up getting to the race start and he had successfully made up a few hours on me already!
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - follow Ziggy 1
So off we went together – for a while anyways.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - follow Ziggy 3
It was on uphill sections that I quickly realized I was working way too hard to keep pace and wished him well to press on at his own speed.  Thanks for the company Ziggy! 🙂
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 6
Chatting with this dogsled musher, who was training his dog team was a nice distraction.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 7
Fading light on the long section from CP1 to CP2 (& also CP3) at the Dagali Hotel.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 8
I took this picture after a difficult section.  I ate some more solid food and paced around for a while then hoped on and rode.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 9
A welcome sight – CP2/3 at the Dagali Hotel.  I recall thinking – ‘if only the race was just 150 kms’!  Thanks for the extra 25 Nina! 😉  Btw, notice the wheel from another bike … there were riders there who were heading back from the next out & back section.  Really nice to chat with them, get advise on the next section ahead for me and the optional ‘ride on a lake’ or ‘ride a path beside it’ and then turn around at the end.  They all (including Kathi Merchant) advised not riding the lake (Andrew had fallen in!).
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 10
This is what the next out & back section along Seterdalen Road to and along Ossjoen Lake to Aan-Turisthytte (turn around point).  I was glad I put fresh batteries in my GPS at CP2, because there were more than a few spots where some tracks went in different directions!  Also, I just kept riding until the tracks stopped on the road and then for a bit – then panned my GPS view over to see that I was past the end of Ossjoen Lake.  Time to follow my tracks back to Dagali and CP3.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 11
Back at CP3, I was the last racer to arrive.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 12
Fortunately CP3 was staffed by wonderful volunteers (Members of the “Fat Viking Society”) Margit and May-Britt!  They were like ‘Guardian angels’!  They insisted that it was okay for me to nap for 30 minutes (the most I would agree to – I resisted, but they insisted!) and I awoke feeling like I could eat (unlike when I arrived).  Thank you both – Tusen Takk! 🙂
2017 FV 175 Pic 8
The long dark ride back from CP3 was along a reverse route partially and an especially hard long uphill section I am sure many racers imagined ‘it must end soon – no really?!’  I was pleased that I was able to pedal on for long periods and small breaks to feed and drink.  This was the spot (at 170 Kms) that I felt I was going to finish; but also where I realized that with 10+ kms to go; that my mistake of following the wrong tracks at one point (and back tracking) had resulted in bonus kms … no awards for that though! 😉
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 13
This sight I only captured only because I stopped to pee and look around.  Glad I did!
Definitely my favourite view of the 2017 Fat Viking 175 Race!  I knew from my training rides during the week that I recognized the spot and that it was now all downhill to Geilo!
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 15
From this intersection, the route was well travelled and solid all the way to the finish line.
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics - Finish Line
A borrowed picture, but this sight was very welcome after 25+ hours!  Having Nina Gassler, Kathi Merchant and few others there to congratulate me was a bonus – very classy! 🙂
2017 Fat Viking Race Pics 17
Back at our ITI Fatbike Training Camp group cabin, it was very quiet until I tiptoed in (I tried) and was warmly welcomed and congratulated by fellow sleepy racers who had finished many hours ahead of me.  I was the ‘Lantern Rouge’ and my bike’s colours matched.

A big shout out of thanks to my fellow ITI Trg Camp Participants – Nina Gassler (our local Guide, Race Director and Top Female FV175 racer), Patrick Stevens, Jarmo Jarvinen, Stefan Chmel, Tobias Bos, Constantijn, Andrew Mucklestone, Alejandro Garcia Wolfrum, Daniele Andriano and Jess Dicks!  It was great to get to know you all – you are Top Notch!

Another shout out to Kathi Merchant (ITI Trg Camp Guide and ITI Race Director), who raced the FV175 well and finished long before me; yet was awake and present at the finish to welcome me in – classy act!

That’s all – time to work on a race video.

Cheers, Fat Tom K