I managed to get into a pretty good shape with the 316 hours of walking up and down in the mountains. Legs feel great and overall stamina benefited also. So after coming back and resting a few days I saddled my mountain bike and took a for a 3 hour ride and felt really good through the ride. I had only about 400km on the clock before the walk, but I felt confident enough to enter the Elion MTB marathon Cup. There had already been four stages and in the end of the week another one was scheduled to take place in Elva. I had never participated on that track, but I knew it wasn’t very technical, but really fast. So before Saturday I had few more rides and then stood ready at the starting line with 1000+ other bikers waiting for the start. As I hadn’t participated much last year and this start was also the first I had the number 1045 and had to start from the last group. Meaning that there would be a lot of people actually slower than me, who would hinder my ride and I would have to walk some ridable ascents. On previous years I have managed to squeeze myself into the 700 group.
So the race was really very fast from the beginning and I even fell back a bit not wanting to make a too fast start, which could punish me in the end. But soon enough I started to gain places again and felt really good. Even on gravel and forest roads I manged to push hard enough to make my average near 30km/h. And as I had thought I soon had to walk two ascents – one because of the other people walking and the other with very soft gravel, where I chose a bad line. Some very long and fast downhill sections where speed went up and over 50km/h. I managed to gain a lot of places when others felt comfortable riding in on line although there was another decent enough line next to it. Maybe they were holding back also. And so it went – constantly pushing quite hard, because others were doing the same. Got to rest in some lines for a while, but towed some myself too. Unfortunately an even-paced group didn’t form, where everyone would work. Tried to eat some Snickers too, but those proved to be too difficult to gulp down. Gels next time. Placed 694 in the intermediate finish. Last 10km were somewhat difficult ’cause I could feel a nasty cramp forming in my right thigh. The last few kilometers proved quite interesting ’cause there were the only decent single of the race and some harder sandy ascents and descent as well. Didn’t have it in me any more to ride those ascents though. The very last kilometer was speeding again despite the cramp outlook and managed to get over the finish line without problems. Felt good. Placed 637. Hopefully it will get me into a better group for the next race in three weeks.
Time: 2:55’21 (Caspar Austa – the winner 2:01 something)
Average/max speed: 23,4/56,9
I’ve driven past the Aravete go-cart tracks and ski-tracks multiple times and noticed a small path marked with tape indicating a MTB singletrack. It was until today I managed to get there and check it out. The markings were old and confusing, but after some scouting I managed to put the most interesting parts together. Still plenty of possibilities for different variations though. Got only 10km on the clock, but rather technical. There have been some competitions, but as it seems not recently, which is too bad.
Went for a spin on Sunday to get out, get some air, check how much snow there is in the forest and also to try out my new tarp/poncho I recently got. The cycling round ended up being 65km in 3hours with a longer brake in the middle. Weather was fine although headwinds and sidewinds still ain’t my favourites. When I got off the tarmac the going was different. There’s still plenty of rotten snow lying around in places where the sun isn’t warming enough and also ice. Both not very comfortable to ride on without spikes or wider tyres. Those occasional spots that get more sun are almost dry. Open spaces facing south are excellent. The water is quite high and also hiding under snow so I got my feet quite wet. Fortunately the sneakers dry up pretty fast. So I had to portage my bike through some water and managed to get knee-deep. It was cold, but as said dried quickly.When I reached the Loobu river and saw the high water it got me thinking about the possibility of a packraft again. That thing would be so great considering the amount of water we have had for some years. Unfortunately they cost nearly 10k in old money. Still that would be about a year’s worth of beer money 😀 Back on tarmac it was easy again although getting tired and with very little to drink. Gotta get the other bottle holder quickly.
Like said the other goal was to test the tarp. More reason for that because I bought a pair of trekking poles the previous day.
The tarp/ponco is SilPoncho by Integral Designs and weighs 280gr without the guylines. With those it would be something over 300gr, but still a lot lighter than the army version (680gr). 300gr itself might not be much, but I have reduced the weight of an item by HALF. The Silponcho also doubles as a raincoat, exactly like the army one does, but it’s longer and possibly wider also. The pro for a poncho is also that it protects your bag also, so you don’t need a pack cover.
The trekking poles are Fizan Compact, weighing 316gr/pair, which is almost as light as you can go. They seem sturdy enough, but have jet to prove themselves.
Also there are tent pegs, which I currently have 7 but need at least one more for the tarp. And possibly4-6 for the bivy bag. Made of aluminium, weighing 15gr each.
Final item in my shelter system is the BPL Vapr bivy bag. I had to replace my old one, ’cause it had kilometers of seams and the y all leaked. Also a huge zipper that counts for a door even when it’s closed. I had a very wet night last year and decided to trash it. Weight 204 gr. It has amesh opening so you won’t completely bag yourself and it also provides protection from bugs. Waterproof floor and breathable topside. I tried it once last week when temperatures went down to zero gerees and had some moisture frozen between the bivy and sleepingbag in the feet area. Still have to test how it keeps out the water coming from the outside.
Last summer I used the poncho for about 2 nights, but really needed for one. As it goes the night I really could have needed the protection from rain I just covered myself with it and spent few miserable hours until my sleepingbag could keep me warm anymore.But for walking in the rain I used the poncho quite a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the case is similar this summer.
So about erecting this thing. Didn’t went as smoothly, ’cause I haven’t practiced it much. And won’t be using anything between myself and the sky if the weather permits. Wind doesn’t bother me and for privacy I just find the suitable spot. What most tarp users love about using one is that a tarp is as versatile as your imagination goes. There are so many ways you can set it up and so many places you can use it. Pitch it high or low, between trees on on open field; one side opened or one corner rised. It doesn’t need even ground like tents, ventilates like hell and so on. Also it doubles up as raingear as mentioned before. Here I have only two dofferent setups – somewhat high and very low. Although the low one is a hassle to get into it still has enough room for me for sleeping and my backpack. When it rains with no wind I can use a different pitch and still be dry.
Of course there are cons when using the tarp. When a hurricane comes then it probably won’t hold. Bugs could be a problem. Rain and strong winds. Rabbits and rattlesnakes invading you boots and female elves sneaking into your sleepingbag.
But I think that this system will keep my satisfied for the month I plan to use it as my primary accomodation WHEN it rains. ‘Cause which hiker or anyone at all in their right mind would climb into a tent when the sky is clear and temepratures are above freezing.