Final Report Nordkapp

Looking back at the Nordkapp trip and some practical information for velonauts

Me with a heat exchanger on the face in Finnmarken, Norway.

I’m back at home and would like to share some of my experiences from the winter trip with velomobile to the north of Europe. You can also see an interview made by Saukki about my solution to cold feet in freezing temperatures.

But first a short report from my ride Stockholm to the Swedish West Coast.

30 November 2019

213.8 km +1402 m / -1479 m.

-4°C

After a week’s rest in Stockholm, I had become used to not doing any physical activities and had to force myself back into the velomobile. I chose to leave in the middle of the night a Saturday to avoid as much traffic as possible. It was dark and cold, but I was able to ride in the middle of the road where there was no hard-packed snow. As soon as I saw a car in my mirrors, I had to drive to the roadside where the cars hadn’t melted the ice. The more traffic that came, the more I had to drive on hard rough and bumpy ice by the roadside.

Swedish countryside.

When riding out of Stockholm early in the morning I thought of all the fantastic comuters who get into their velomobiles every day regardless of the weather conditions.

Close to the town Kumla.

1 December 2019

172.1 km +916 m / -905 m.

-4°C

I chose not to push too hard and instead stay one extra night on the road before the last day’s ride.

Kvistbro, a small village on the countryside.
The village Åtorp.
Velomobiles are new to many, even to the police. I have been stopped several times before and this is the second time the excuse was an alcohol test. But in Sweden one is allowed to ride bicycles after drinking spirits. We had a laugh together when they realised that I had a bicycle and a cheerful time in the middle of the road while the blue blinking lights where on.

2 December 2019

110.5 km +618 m / -693 m.

-9°C at start and -1°C at the end of the day

This was a short ride and instead of going directly home I chose to celebrate with a caffeine free cappuccino in town. I made it!

Resting area at the road side with an old Viggen plane.
Almost home.

Looking Back

Would I have made the trip if I knew the conditions?

Although I like challenges, I am hesitant to answer yes. I am used to hiking in mountains under harsh conditions and know how to cope in extreme cold. But cycling velomobile in winter is completely different. I had to learn this the hard way by doing it.

A normal and relatively good road during the nordic winters. Only the wheels on one side of the velomobile fit on the asphalt. The other wheels have to run on the uneven icy snow.

Why not camping more?

I was prepared for camping and did so during the first part of the trip but not north of the Arctic Circle. When it got cold, I wasn’t able to dry wet clothes in the tent and it is almost impossible not to sweat when driving fast with a velomobile. There may be new materials to use on the upper body to avoid getting wet clothes from sweat, but I haven’t tested them and don’t know if it would help in the long run.

Roads in the north are often closed in the winter, only allowing cars and trucks to drive in convoy. I would not have been able to follow the convoy fast enough before the blowing snow would have closed the road around me. Due to weather contitions I had to be prepared to camp by the side of the road for several days until conditions made it possible to cycle.

I was prepared for the worst possible scenario. But the heavy equipment made it difficult to ride uphill without electric assist.

What clothing did I use when riding in very cold temperatures?

On my feet
Check out this interview made by Saukki (Sauli Nurila) on YouTube.

On my legs
I had a pair of thin long underwear in merino wool, a couple of thicker long underwear in merino wool and a couple of really thick pants in fur fibre.

On my upper body
I had a merino wool net sweater plus two thin merino wool sweaters. When temperature was below -20°C I covered my chest with a thick sweater.

On my neck and head
I had a bid shaped neck collar that can be attached to the top of the velomobile or warm my chest, a wool cap, a wool balaclava and a head and neck warmer.

The bid shaped neck collar from above and from underneath the top cover of the velomobile.

Extra clothing
Down socks with covers, down trousers, down jacket, down vest, thick long trousers in merino wool, extra wool sweaters, several types of mittens, extra socks and caps.

Checking my riding clothes before leaving Gällivare at latitude 67°08′00″N.

Equipment
Tent, three sleeping mats, sleeping bag, stove, fuel for one week, torches, spade, saw, spares and more.

Closing the foot-holes underneath the velomobile before leaving Östersund at latitude 63°9′29″N. These foot-holes are normally used for reversing like the Flintstones.

Overnight locations
You can click on the markers to find out the exact locations of the places where I stayed over night.


Nordkapp in the middle of the day.

I want to thank everyone who has cheered and supported me. If not for you, I probably would have given up before I reached Nordkapp. My wish is that more people will be inspired to ride velomobiles. Doing that is a pure pleasure when the temperature is a few degrees above zero. 😉 Best regards!

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11 svar på Final Report Nordkapp

  1. RulleRolf skriver:

    Fantastisk Alve.
    Det eneste jeg lurer på er sko/sokkevalget ditt? Er det ikke litt overkill med så mye sokker. Jeg padler mye om vinteren og min løsning er 4 nummer for store padlesko og kun ett sett med raggsokker, har aldri fryst på bena i kajakken, sitter stille med bena i en kajakk i motsetning til en velomobil.
    Nok en gang det har vært en stor glede å følge deg på dette eventyret.
    ps lag et velotreff i gøteborgs området til våren ;ø)
    RulleRolf

    • Alve Henricson skriver:

      Hej Rolf!
      Kul att du gillade bloggen.
      Angående skor så är min variant absolut ingen overkill, tvärt om, det är på gränsen att det fungerar.
      Tror det är en stor skillnad mellan vanlig cykling, paddling och liggcyklar. I en velomobil har man fötter i samma höjd som hjärtat och det går åt mycket energi i benen. Blodet som kommer till fötterna verkar inte vara tillräckligt mycket och tillräckligt varmt för att värma fötterna.
      Om man fryser om fötterna när man kör velomobil räcker det med att stå upp några minuter för att få varmare fötter. Det tycker jag bevisar min teori.
      Hälsningar!

  2. Brigitte skriver:

    Hi Alve,
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with all of us. I am not sure if you can encourage any non-velonaut to change to velomobiles after reading this… Maybe a report about a summer trip would help more.
    But I myself feel more obliged to take out the velomobile or the bike when the weather is not so nice. Mind, I am talking about conditions around zero.
    I love reading about trips, your trip is a special one, that‘s for sure. I admire your courage and I am happy that all us followers were able to help you a tiny bit to carry on.

    Heard, that you will come to the OBT on Dec. 28. Fritz and I will be there.
    We will present our pictures and videos from our Scotland tour in April at the Spezi.

    Take care, enjoy the christmas season. We are looking forward to seeing you soon.
    Regards, Biggi & Fritz

    • Alve Henricson skriver:

      Hi Biggi and Fritz, thank you for your comment!

      Maybe my blog will be more inspiring next year when traveling in Europe and having a better camera 😉 🙂

      Your trips are for sure very inspiring and I wish you good luck with your presentations.

      Looking forward to seeing you in Utrecht soon if we find each other among so many velonauts.

      Regards!

  3. Urpo Taskinen skriver:

    It is a trip that will be remembered for a long time! Especially because you did in the winterseason. Great work!

  4. Peter skriver:

    I think you are the first and notmany will follow, Respect Alve high level sport regards Peter

  5. Stevan Olic skriver:

    Hej Alve!
    Urpo nämnde att du har varit hos honom, och först efter det började jag följa din blogg.
    Har fortfarande svårt att försto att du gjorde det. Vilken bedrift! Jag är grymt imponerad, och är inte ensam om det. Respekt! Vilken inspiration för mig och många andra, velonauter. Önskar dig god hälsa och allt gått! Lycka till!

  6. Pingback: Winter or no winter – Velostrada

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