There was a whole host of equipment choices that needed to be made prior to the Rovaniemi 150 and I have tried to capture some of the major ones here as well as at the same time acknowledging some of the companies that helped me out.
Ari was a man I was lucky enough to meet while travelling through Israel last year at another event. I was given the tour of his work space and it was clear at that point should I ever look to have a frame built he would be the man to build it for me. The frameset I eventually had made by Ari Cycles embodied so many small details I had carried around in my head for years while riding other brands and it offered me not only the ability to run the fat tyres for Rovaniemi but also to switch out to any other format I saw fit in the future. Even fully loaded the bike rode and handled beautifully the whole event.
Halo Wheels and Tyres
My association with Halo Wheels came as a by product from working with another brand distributed by the same distribution company, Ison. Over the last 2 years I have raced on Halo wheels and tyres and to date have never been let down or left disappointed with the product ... From Trans Iowa to Holyland Bikepacking Challenge Halo has always got me round safely.
Prior to the event I was lucky enough to get the Tundra 80mm rims and Nanuk 4" tyres ... a good balance of weight and flotation.
It would be fair to say and an odd statement that I like my feet ... they afford me both balance while stationary and propel me forward when I want to move .. without them life would be hugely different. so I was keen to make sure they were finished the event in a fully serviceable condition. When choosing a pair of SPD compatible boots that would endure the potentially low temperatures I would face at the event I didn't hold back and contacted Moore and Large to get hold of a pair of Lake MX303 boots. These boots have some serious heritage and pedigree being used by many cold weather event racers in the past. My feet were never cold and they remained perfectly intact so that in my mind is a flawless performance by Lake. Even walking for many kilometres during sections of the route they were comfortable.
Extreme Food - Ultra Fuel
I have never been renowned for my attention to appropriate nutrition during long events simply relying on carrying junk foods I know I will want to eat as they are in my daily life a bit of a treat. This time around and having carried out a successful bench test in the Cairngorms trip conducted previously to this event I went with a more scientific approach. Ultra Fuel quite simply allowed me to take on some useful calories quickly in liquid form and importantly as checkpoints were at times boiling water I could get a comforting hot drink. As the going this year was very quick there was no need for prolonged checkpoint stops so the Ultra Fuel was added to an insulated water bottle (it can be taken straight from the packet with useful fill level indicators inside the packaging) and mixed with hot water then put back in the Alpkit stem cell on my bars and I would carry on riding while it mixed. The hot chocolate was a particular lift as I had that just as it had just got dark with an associated drop in temperatures.
An opportunity to get hold of these lights was presented and while I wasn't able to justify the purchase until not long before I left for Finland I eventually chose to take the plunge and got hold of the E3 Triple 2 front light and associated rear. Dynamo powered lighting offered me one less thing to worry about in regards to charging of lights and though at walking speeds they were not illuminated I was able to continue with just a head torch, as soon as I was able to ride again the Supernova lights took over and illuminated the way. Mounted out front beyond my bar roll and low the spread and throw of light was excellent with the reassuring knowledge that any fast approaching snowmobile from the rear could not fail to notice my rear light.
Comfort is king and I had no desire to ride out the saddle for large sections of this course so the Cambium saddle provided one half of my answer to being comfortable at that end of the bike. The Cambium like other Brooks saddles provides comfort through being very supple and compliant though whereas other Brooks are leather in construction this is synthetic so stands up to a little more abuse in regards to getting it wet. Again as per my feet my backside was comfortable for the duration of the event so a big thumbs up for the Brooks Cambium.
True Mountain Clothing
UK made and UK designed I was lucky enough to get some early support from True Mountain and work with the company to come up with some great clothing items that would work in the challenging conditions. The issue with riding such an event as Rovaniemi 150 is that it can be cold, really cold or extremely cold and you don't know until you are riding there. Add the complication that not only do you need to stay warm but getting too hot and sweating is a huge problem and choosing clothing becomes very challenging.
True Mountain came up with a number of key items that formed the basis of my clothing. Firstly a great medium weight long sleeved base layer that was the interface between my thin base and a cycling jacket. Then a tough waterproof jacket that allowed an additional layer to be added when the temperatures dropped but not so much that I would overheat. Having dispensed with a helmet for the event I used a True Mountain stretch beanie again the perfect balance between warmth and maintaining a good operating temperature. Finally the other half to my previously mentioned two part backside comfort package, a pair of under shorts with no chamois and just a thin liner in its place. The undershorts ensured no undue chaffage from bulky chamois pads deforming when riding and the fit and feel was much more comfortable than regular shorts.
Its no secret I have a long standing relationship with Alpkit. These guys are my go to for so many of the essential items that I need for these events and in this case the luggage I needed to carry all the required equipment and food for the event. A twin stem cell arrangement with fuel pod allowed me to have all the water and food I needed immediately to hand. The frame bag housed spares and additional food whilst the seat pack stored my spare clothing and down jacket. As always I wasn't disappointed and everything performed excellently. Another event completed under the assistance of Alpkit.
As part of the event minimum kit we had to carry a large winter sleeping bag, mine a bulky 3kg affair in a 35l dry bag. Enabling me to transport this load on my bars was a Wildcat Gear Fat Lion bar harness. The harness held on to the bag as though its life depended on it and I was never annoyed by 'bobbing' loads as I moved the bike around. Not only that but some sneaky additional strap loops allowed me to easily attach my sleeping pad to the front on the harness. Thanks Wildcat I am suitably impressed by this very well thought out and executed piece of equipment.
The event as it turned out was completed in a much faster time than I had anticipated due to favourable conditions. The equipment on all fronts was hugely successful and if I had to pack tomorrow to complete the event again I would not alter a single item.
Massive thanks to those who helped me here and again enabled me to gain more life experience within a fantastic landscape being shared with some amazing racers.