Next year, Chester Assistant Manager Simon Bryant is attempting to complete the Rovaniemi 150 Mountain Bike race - a challenge like no other. Unlike the usual terrain of dusty trails, rocky drops and muddy berms found in your normal MTB race, the Rovaniemi 150 is held over 150km of Finland's snowy winter backcountry.
For more information about the race and Simon's initial training plan, head here.
Since my previous blog on the Rovaniemi 150, I have started on my training for the race. For previous races and events, I have not had a structured approach to training and I really do not think this will be any different. My main aim for training will be the old fashioned method of 'getting in the miles', and learning winter camp craft until it becomes second nature using equipment with thick thick gloves on.
My training has taken me to places i would not normally ride. I'm quite fortunate with where I live, the beaches on the Wirral Peninsula and north-western Liverpool are within easy reach. The lack of snow this year, in Cheshire at least, has made training for a winter snow ride interesting to say the least. The beach would appear to be the closest I can get to snow without heading up to Scotland. The beaches are exposed and the soft sand offers good resistance to the tyres, making it a tiring terrain to cycle on, but actually pretty close to the terrain I need.
First training ride
My first ride on the fat bike was 40km, with a nice even split of 20km on the beach and 20km on the road. Nice and straight-forward. I left the train and went straight onto the beach pushing the higher gears on my bike, but it quickly dawned on me that I would have to use something smaller. I dropped onto my 'granny gear' (so called as this would be the pace your Gran would ride at) and things improved. The sand was damp and progress was surprisingly quick.
I made my way past the lifeboat station and carried on along the peninsula, and after 20 minutes of riding I turned into a bitter headwind and onto dry, soft sand. The ride suddenly became much harder, the resistance from the soft sand had turned my pace down to a crawl and the biting winding had made the right side of my face numb with cold. My glasses did nothing to stop my eyes watering (a mental note was taken to invest in some goggles and a facemask for the race).
I carried on past the small seaside town of West Kirby and opted out of stopping for an ice-cream, it was just too cold. I contoured around the small harbour and headed to the old Victorian town of Parkgate, about 10km away. With the winds behind me, I was warmed up and I was starting to enjoy the solitude that the beach was offering. As it was a bitter and soggy day, no-one else was out except a few dog walkers, most of whom gave a double take to see me cycling past them! I navigated my way through the wet, slippery rocks and around the small pools of water and arrived at the end of the beach. After the 20km or so of riding on the beach, I was exhausted.
I could not believe how much harder it is to ride on the beach! It had taken the best part of two hours to complete the beach section and I was in dire need of coffee and cake. I simply underestimated have much effort was needed to ride a fat bike and had not taken enough food (to put it into perspective, 20km is my daily commute to work). Once coffee and vast quantities of cake had been consumed, I had a further 20km to ride but this was along cycle paths and minor roads. With tiring legs and 4 inch tyres dragging, this took a little longer than expected with plenty of road cyclists whizzing past me.
Today's riding equipment
Keen mid shoes. Nice and light, wider fitting shoe enables me to wear thicker socks to keep my feet warm.
Merino wool top. Thumb loops and a high neck provide excellent warmth and merino is just nice to wear!
Osprey bag. More than big enough for all my tubes, bladder and some spare clothing/food. I quickly forget that I'm riding with a pack.