Copyright

All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Rovaniemi 150 - Arctic Circle Race

A bit later this month, I head off to Finnish Lapland to Rovaniemi for the Rovaniemi 150 winter race, I am competing on bike of course on my trusty Specialized Fatboy Expert.  The race is close to the Arctic Circle has the potential to be brutally cold (despite current temps), the dangers and challenges of frostbite and ice overflow (frigid water overflowing onto the stable ice below it on the rivers and lakes we will cross) not very pleasant.

However, that is the doom and gloom, the race course passes through some remarkable Lapland country and if the sky plays ball, as the race enters the night, the northern lights may come out to put on a show.  Racing under them will be pretty special.

I use the term race loosely, for me this will be first and foremost a challenge against myself and the elements.  There is little navigation concerns as it is a marked course and does have check points to pass through, so one painful component of winter travel/racing is reduce.

The race is organized by Alex from Polarguide and Logistics who is already out working hard and battling the element to mark and bash the course.  Unlike a recent trip to Scotland, the course should be mainly bashed for the event, but heavy unrelenting snow could alter this in a few hours.  Fingers crossed we don't experience that like the did in the first year of the event.

A few thanks in advance go to:

Cycleworks.co.uk for supplying and helping fettle the Fatboy Expert and ongoing support.
Alpkit for providing lots of great kit to keep me warm and bike luggage to to carry the essentials.
Wolf Tooth Components for great chain rings and sprockets that are reliable, no faff and should help me make light work of the snow and ice.
Weldtite for keeping everything clean and running smoothly
Endura for some great products to help keep me warm, dry and comfy.

and of course to Nik for supporting the current bout of stupidity.  :)

Cheers and wish me luck.

S

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Gorrick Merida Brass Monkeys Rnd 2 and 3

After a so so year. I decided over winter to do what I felt like doing.  First came the Morvelo Battle Royale, a great laugh and awesome event.  I avoided the first Gorrick Merida Brass Monkey as I just was that keen.  A good job, it was wet and horrible I am told.  But I entered Rnd 2 and 3 each week before as I felt like it and by then had formulated another plan and entered the Rovaniemi 150 more on that later.

Rnd 2 I decided to ride over and met Amanda (training partner and all round decent Kiwi) :) at the event village after a great ride over with the Fatboy Expert bikepack kitted out carrying my supplies for the race.  It was cold and clear and the track was running fast.  After suggesting I would have a slow start, bang we were off and I went out pretty hard.  But the track was so enjoyable I pressed on, the fatty was just too much fun on this course.

I pushed on as the legs started go heavy, I dug a little deeper, but soon a couple in my cat lapped me, but that was to be expected, all things considered.  With cramp biting a little in the second and a lot in the last lap, I slowed to ensure I didn't give away too many spots and soon hit the finish line in 10th, a pretty good result.

Next would be Rnd 3, a few weeks later and after Christmas.  But I had ridden a bit more in between and had decided not to ride over as the weather had been a bit wetter in between, but on race day, it had cleared up. However, tiredness on entering had caused me to enter the wrong race (first noticed by Sam P, when he popped over to say "Hi"). "You idiot Swalling" a slight panic and a few minutes later that I didn't really have that was sorted and I was in the 4hr Vet Cat again.

I rode around the field about twice and lined up far to far back for a quick start. We started and at the left hairpin the fat tyres allowed me to take an tight and fast line, passing 20+ riders. OK, that is a start. However, the Fatboy does take a little bit of winding up and the next two straights I didn't pass some of the riders I really wanted to by the time we hit the single track, "Balls!"

Calmly I waited and pounced when I could, stealing a place here, nabbing a trail position there.  The Fatboy allowing me to be every more creative with my off camber inside lines. Although at one point my speed was far too high for such a move, but fortunately I only took myself. Remounted and was in front of that group by the next single track.

I was loving this race, I had no idea since about the 3 lap where the hell I was, but everything was going well. However, at race pace the fatty does get heavy and takes its toll on the legs, which started to get heavy in the last lap. I lost one position here and spotting some late chargers, at the last 10 meters and squeezing a final hard turn on the cranks, I finished equal 6th. Damn that was close to being relegated to 7th, but I will take equal 6th.  if I knew they were that close I would have dug deeper earlier.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed both these races and they have a hidden agenda, as does the long fatbike rides, short sharp CX and XC rides in the cold.  They are all training for the Rovi150 mentioned above.

There is more training to come, which includes a Scottish adventure, my next blog.  But for now.

Thanks:
Cycleworks
Wolf Tooth Components
Alpkit
and, Weldite

for the continued support.

2015 will be a little different, but not much. :)

Monday, 12 January 2015

K-Lite Bikepacker 1000

Hi guys as you know I do a lot of night riding and race some silly long races.  K-Lite has been awesome to support me over the last year and I can safely say I am super happy with both that and the light s I have got from them.  I introduced you to the Bikepacker Pro sometime ago, out of that testing and riding came the Bikepacker 1000.

A scaled down 100 gram, no stand-light piece of dynamo light awesomeness pictured below.

The light is the same size and power (1000lumen) as the light from the Bikepacker Pro, but comes without the charging switch, on/off and 600/1000 switch options.  It is designed to be light (which it is) functional and not clutter your bike up for when all you want to do is ride fast into and through the night.

Having no stand light means you do need to run a helmet mounted light, but when trail riding and racing most people do anyway.

I have run the light for a few months now and raced with it at the WEMBO 24Hrs Solo World Champs.  The light was amazing, me not so much, coming down with hyperthermia, such as life.  I continue to run this light for my training rides or rides that start/finish in the dark as it is simple, light and works treat.

Once again the quality of the light is what is staggering, 1000 lumen allows me to ride as fast as any battery light running around 1800, as the light is much clearer and not bright white.

Below is a short video of the light working very well going up hill in a forest at dusk.  K-Lite suggest the light reaches full power around 15kph, but it certainly works well below that.  You will see fluctuations in the light, that is due to the increase and decrease in the angle of the climb.


video

I can highly recommend this light for getting out on the trails at night and for longer rides where charging other devices is not required.  A no fuss brilliant light.