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Winter bikepacking

December 08, 2016

Winter bikepacking

The Fed by Wild team set off on a bikepacking trip on fat bikes in the Polish Table Mountains. Interview with Adam Klimek about their adventure.

 

What did attract you to fat bikes?

Fat tires. (laugh)
Actually, they are the most universal MTB bikes. Of course, they work well on sandy flats and snowy fields, but not in the mountains.
It is not true that they are heavy and difficult for riding. Against all appearances, rolling resistance is not as big as you could imagine. Good brand bikes weight around 11-13 kg, what is very good for such kind of equipment. (laugh)
Fatbike are great in any conditions: in the summer on dry roots and big stones, in autumn or spring in mud and snow. Although, you have to remember that in snowy conditions Fatbike are not like snowmobiles. In big snow you cannot ride...oh you can, but from a big hill (laugh).
During our trips we use only Farley Trek bikes, which may have tires from 3.8, 4.5 or even 5 inches. It gives a wide range of opportunities for such dumpling. Fatbikes are also very comfortable with in ride with the low pressure in tires, because it is used as redemption.

I would like to describe one rule, which you have to remember. This is a key issue for the pleasure of riding the Fatbike. To avoid the excessive resistance during riding on the gravel road or on the forest path, you have to pump the tires to make them stiff. It minimizes the rolling resistance and the bike rides much more smoothly. If we ride across muddy, snowy or sandy terrain, we need to deflate the tires, which helps in great traction, controlling and minimizing the obstacles for the bike to ride through.



Why bikes in winter?

Lately, there's been a saying that biking season lasts all year around. This is true. For me winter is my favorite season for bikepacking trips. Nature is wilder. In the mountains there is silence and you can hardly see a living soul. You don't have to carry the water, because it is just on the ground. The snow is clean, but you should remember, as an old bear said to his son: „do not eat the yellow snow” hahahhaaa
There is no need to do a lot of kilometers to see a beautiful place. Camping in the snow is easier. In general, winter trips are totally different than in other seasons.


The first time you tested fat bikes on a track was in the Stołowe Mountains. How was it?

It was a fantastic time. To be honest, it was our first bikepacking trip together. Bikes turned up trumps, everything played along. Moreover, it appeared that it was Sebastian's (Rumcajs with the beard) first tent night in winter. (laugh)

Łukasz and I have known each other since many years and we have experienced many winter adventures in the mountains. While most of our friends could have dreamed about fleeces or Gore-Tex jackets, we were experiencing sleeping in a snow cave or in the Chinese tent.  Equipped with special jeans trousers, anoraks, canned meat and scouting ability we were crossing the infinity of the mountains in Poland and Slovakia.
The trip to Stołowe Mountains was a pure pleasure for us. We had the best equipment, clothes, bikes, food and snow conditions were amazing, especially in such a place like Błędne Skały. Let me add that Sebastian got hooked on bikepacking and since then we have been a real „dream team”.


What about the rest of gear that you took with you? What is important on such an adventure?

The answer may be a perfect data for a small book (laugh), but I can tell you about things which cross my mind immediately.  If readers would want more detailed information, they can contact us.

First things first:
From my point of view, the most important are bags for the bike, where you keep all the equipment, namely harness for handlebar and its waterproof sack, triangle bag for bicycle frame and seat bag. During the trips we use trusted -and from my point of view- the best solutions from Triglav Bikepacking.
And, what is obvious, a good and light tent.
The perfect system for stove is the MSR wind boiler- I reckon this is not only the best stove but also the perfect designed device for cooking ever, ever.
Warm sleeping bag made of great down by Pajak Sport.
Sleeping pad, in our case, is Neo Air Thermarest mattress, which is an invention that deserves receiving the Nobel Prize.
Shoes are also the key issue, we use Bontrager OMV. They are very warm and have inner insoles which enable you to walk inside the tent or mountain shelters. The external boot soles guarantee water-resistance in any conditions.
Jacket and trousers should be adjusted to snowy conditions. When it's dry and cold, clothes should be like a wind stopper; when it's wet, the waterproof and breathable material is necessary.
Breathable material is crucial, because when you are sweating in low temperature, the sweat freezes and you're not able to warm yourself up. According to this, the essential thing while riding is to take care about good ventilation and speed.


Do you have some special tricks for packing all the gear?

 It is not pleasant when you're looking for things in the bags, which are compressed by clamps during frosty and cold weather. Triangle bag in the frame and backpack are the easiest to use. That is why we keep all needed equipment there. In the triangle bag we have stove, heavy things like tools for the bicycle. In the rucksack we keep light things as spare hat, gloves, down jacket, headlamps and LYOFOOD meals.



How about food?

          Foooouuuuuuuoodddddddd like Americans say... (laugh)

Napoleon Bonaparte said “soldiers are walking on the stomach”. This French experienced man was so right. The food is the key and it relates to every bicycle trip or other outdoor activities. Tasty and healthy food is the most important. It has to fuel your body, be light and easy to prepare...and the best in one-off packages to eat inside. All those properties are ensured by LYO.
We have our own way to limit the space especially during the long trip. When you need to have more freeze-dried food, you can put the food into small plastic bags which takes less space than original packages. You just reuse the packages. In winter, the fridge is everywhere so you don't have to worry about leftovers- food won't go bad. Maybe this solution seems crazy but it works. The only thing you have to remember is that the food put into another bag must be eaten first. Otherwise, the humidity makes it bad very quickly.
LYO is the best and most basic element during the expedition. Food is the base of bases, and we've got perfect taste and the guarantee of the best balanced quality of food. Let alone the LYO fruits and smoothies!  They are second to none! In the snowy winter you have the impression of being in the tropical island with a golden-haired beautiful lady who gives you the LYO package.



Man shall not live by LYO alone. We have also polish dried beef, raisins and few candy bars and, of course, the most important or almost the most important...everyone has to have a small hip flask with something really strong, because the liquid weights and freezes. The appropriate amount of alcohol is essential. Firstly, to limit the amount of liquid, on the other hand it has to help. Secondly, it can't freeze.

 

Any highlights on such an amazing tour?

Was MASSIVE!!!
First of all, the amazing snow conditions, crazy place like Błędne Skały and permanent joy from the beginning of our expedition till the end.

 

You actually went to Table Mountains to test bikes and all the gear before your big winter project. Could you tell us a bit more about this upcoming expedition?

 Actually, it was one year ago. The biggest and the longest trip in Bieszczady is, so far, behind us. We have also made few other trips during the whole year. We have plenty of interesting and exotic material from many places in Poland and Europe. In the near future, we will overwhelm you with all photos.

Check our blog, where you can find information about us and our projects.





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