Looking back at the Nordkapp trip and some practical information for velonauts
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
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.
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.
1 December 2019
I chose not to push too hard and instead stay one extra night on the road before the last day’s ride.
2 December 2019
-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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tent, three sleeping mats, sleeping bag, stove, fuel for one week, torches, spade, saw, spares and more.
You can click on the markers to find out the exact locations of the places where I stayed over night.
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!