Wolvenberg new sponsor by providing Sealskinz gear!

I am proud to be able to state that the Belgium-based company Wolvenberg (www.wolvenberg.com) agreed to supporting me in my challenge by providing me with the following:

  1. Sealskinz socks: beautiful, waterproof socks, knee-high which will prove to be very useful in keeping my feet both warm and dry at the same time. The new design is very comfortable to wear and my experience with them up until now has been very positive. They deliver on their promise with regards to keeping my feet dry! I have had some training sessions already where it was pouring rain, but I could continue without a problem because I stayed dry. Top product!
  2. Sealskinz gloves: I was provided with waterproof early winter and winter gloves by Sealskinz. Even though I was a bit afraid these wouldn’t fit (since my hand size normally exceeds regular gloves, even in the largest sizes), I was very excited to find out these actually fitted very well! I am using both types of gloves on a weekly basis right now (no need for pogies, but temps have been below zero degrees Celsius already). No cold hands thus far, which is good. There is one minor issue though, which is after you’ve washed them in the machine, they take ages to dry on the inside. I have to find a way to overcome this, but it is only a minor issue. It’s more important to me they provide me with dry, warm hands. And that’s exactly what they do!
  3. Sealskinz hats: Two types of waterproof beanies were sent to me. Even though I have a rather small head, especially if you take the rest of my body into account, the size I asked for turned out to be smaller than I thought. If temperatures drop and I am exercising, the hat provides me with a warm and dry head. But I think I will have to ask for a bigger size, since sometimes it becomes a bit uncomfortable to have a tight fit around your head. I’ll post a new message on the new size and the experience with that.

All in all I am very happy with the gear Wolvenberg has provided me with! I will continue using it during my preparations towards Rovaniemi 150 and of course during the race.

Sleeping bags part 2

In my previous post I stated I had opted for a PH Design sleeping bag. That was until I was notified that the Polish company called Cumulus (www.cumulus.pl) did a custom bag as well. I contacted them and they confirmed they could make me a bag capable of withstanding temperatures at a comfort level of -25 degrees Celsius in the length needed for my body. And the very pleasant surprise was the price: 1/3 of the PH Designs bag! Even if their quality doesn’t hold up to the length of years a PH Designs bag would, that would still be a very good deal in my opinion. In short, I ordered my bag and am currently awaiting delivery. As soon as it’s delivered, I will post my experiences.

Sleeping bags

One of the demands of the organization in Rovaniemi is to know which sleeping bag you will bring to the event. It is part of the mandatory gear with which you should start and finish as well.

I started to search the Internet looking for sleeping bags with a comfort temperature of at least -40 degrees Celsius/ -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow, those are not the cheapest of items! But then again, if your life depends on this bag, what does the price matter at such a moment? I started comparing tests of the different big brands, asking around for experiences, trying to assess which bag would be the best bang for the buck. Luckily the Rovaniemi 150 organization has compiled a list of bags which they qualify as being up for the job.

In short: I checked them all out. But then my real trouble began. I found out really cold temperatures could only be conquered or faced by short people! None of the standard-sized sleeping bags were large enough to fit my 2 meters/6ft 7″! I was not a happy unit… I emailed with manufacturers like Rab, The North Face etc and they all answered they couldn’t be of any help, because they simply didn’t make their bags in my size. I was beginning to lose faith I would ever find a fitting sleeping bag…

It was then when I was pointed at the possibility of having a fitting sleeping bag made to my specifications. A custom made sleeping bag! Call me a fool, but I didn’t realize this would be possible. After some searching around in this area, I finally decided the UK company PH Designs would be my choice for my sleeping bag. Not only do they offer the length I need, but they also offer numerous other ways of adapting the bag to my needs. As soon as the bag gets delivered to me, I will post a review of the total process.


Initial search for gear

So I decided on participating in Rovaniemi 150. That’s when I realized this really was a totally different kind of challenge than I ever faced before. Not the cycling itself, I am used to that. But entering into a race where last year’s winner had an average speed of less than 10 km/u (6 miles/hour), where temperatures could drop as low as -40 degrees Celsius and you relied totally on yourself was something new to me.

Knowing my fitness specifically needed for this event would come over the next months (which will include a participation in Duchenne Heroes and possibly a winter training camp in December), I decided I needed to find out what gear I need to successfully complete the race.

In the next articles I will describe the categories I’ve looked into and my findings so far.

bom ijs

The next challenge

So I wanted to challenge myself again. After quite some years of very nice riding events like Duchenne Heroes I wanted a new goal to strive for. After riding my fatbike for the past 2 years, I wanted to ride something specifically for this type of bike.

After looking for events on the web, I stumbled across the Iditarod Trail Invitational. I was immediately caught by the event, which is always a telltale sign for me. But I also found out pretty soon, this wasn’t just an event. It would take some very serious training en preparation before successful completion would be possible. The organization knows this far better than anyone else, that’s why you need to qualify for this event. For a European like myself, the only European possibility to qualify is the Rovaniemi 150 in Finland. Looking at that event, it became clear to me the Rovaniemi 150 also is a very serious race which would require everything from me as well. Therefore I decided I wanted to participate in this event.

So here it was: my next challenge. The preparations could start.