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The FatViking - Global Edition

Updated: Feb 5

So what the heck is the Fat Viking??? Ya, good place to start...


Well, in short, the FatViking is a winter endurance mountain bike race held in Geilo, Norway. Usually the last Saturday of January, I think. It offers 50km, 100km, and 150km route options. So that is it...very ‘in short’.


For the real details visit their website at www.fat-Viking.com , and the facebook event page, and the facebook discussion group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/fatviking/?ref=share Or just accept my shorty explanation (don‘t do this...check out the info...it’s a very interesting event!)


However, due to the covid related restrictions to travel, social gathering, human interaction, and all around fun things, it looked like the race would be cancelled. But the organizers of the event, especially one NinaG, had a brilliant idea; they would still hold the event but make it a global ride. That is, you could enter...for free...by indicating so on their facebook event page, and ride your chosen distance in the time allotted (over 3 freaking days!) in your own chosen route in your own country/area, and post proof of your ride on the facebook discussion group page (Strava file, pics...). Genius!!


So...the indomitable SarahC joined this challenge, and dared me to join. Ya...like daring me to do anything is gonna work on me?? It did.



So I joined...the 150km route/distance. And I put the word out within my circle (or do we have to say ‘bubble’ now???)...for anyone silly (stupid??) enough to join me. Well PowerPaul, and Rick signed up to join....and RobT offered to start out but only wanted to ride 50km...and AllanG would start but only wanted to ride 100km tops. (I also tried to organize a hide and seek tournament one time...but good players were too hard to find...OK, sorry for the very bad dad joke...)



Artwork cred to @petebreakers on instagram.


So 7am Jan 30 we set out to conquer the Fat Viking...lights required as it was still dark. I had a route half-cooked in my head, that included fun single track...faster double track and rail trail...and gravel and pavement only where necessary to make up time or connect trail options. Luckily, there are so many options here for a loop like this...yes, even a 150km loop.




The loop had us mostly on single track for the first hour...then we ducked into rail trail...the Hamilton to Burlington rail trail for about another 40km. At the 28km mark Rob said good-bye and headed back...for his 50km.





At Brantford we enjoyed a long stretch of punchy steep, rocky/rooty tech single track along the Grand River from Brantford up and through Paris. Then onto the Paris to Cambridge rail trail.


Rail trail is a faster, straighter, flatter option...however it is very bumpy. So many hikers this year...with the covid restrictions keeping people at home for extended periods...months...people are discovering/re-discovering and enjoying being out in nature and out hiking the trails which is great to see. However, the foot prints in the snow and ice are a veritable mine field and make for a rough go on any bike.




It was at the beginning of the Paris to Cambridge rail trail where Al realized we hit the 80km mark...and his plan to ride 100km was now blown up. We were at 80km and at the furthest point from our start/finish...even a straight shot back would be at least 40km on road/gravel...so he found himself in for the long haul to do the 150km with us. It was also along this rail trail where I hit my wall.


On all of my more epic rides, endurance races, ultra races I tend to hit a wall at the 5 or 6 hour mark...and struggle to work through this wall. Just have to be stubborn, keep riding, eating, and drinking and I eventually work through this wall and am fine afterwards (or at least as fine as one can be after 6 or 7 hours of riding/racing...). However, as I struggled along this time I realized that I had failed to take account of the effect of pushing studded 5 inch tires in sub-zero temperatures. So much more work and effort. (PowerPaul suggested I try dried grapes, cuz he is all about raisin awareness...). Anyways, I took every opportunity to stuff my face with food and drink...and eventually worked thru the wall somewhere around the 90-100km mark, and found my ‘second wind’. Thankfully...otherwise I might be living somewhere out in the woods along the Grand River right now...




From the rail trail we headed onto gravel and pavement onto the single track at the Hyde Tract to catch the winter loop there. By the time we hit the 120km mark we were very, very ready to be done...and decided to hit the quickest route back. It was starting to get dark, so lights back on...then head-down blast back with stops only for nature-breaks and to stuff food for fuel to get done as fast as possible. And it felt so very damn great to see the lights of home. I was so done.





This challenge felt very much like a solo 8 hour mountain bike race. I was so beat up at the end. Such a worthy challenge...a well earned finish. A HUGE thank you to the NinaG and her group of organizers at the FatViking for all of the work put into making this challenge happen in these strangest of times.


And big thank you to Rob, Paul, Rick, Al for joining and pushing me through this nasty challenge...



Sorry....it just seemed like time for a random cat meme...


And it was so great to see so many friends/acquaintances/mtb colleagues jump on this challenge in our local area. I can’t name them all without fear of missing someone. Except to mention that SarahC, who got me into this finished her 150km in her own locale....and must mention JeffS did what Jeff does, amaze us all by riding 250km.


It is obvious, as a collective we are hungry to get back to mountain bike races/events, to reconnect in person with our ‘communities’...and to push, and challenge ourselves. Let’s get back to normal as soon as possible, please. I miss my mountain bike family.


All we can do is look forward. That said...what is next??


Stay posted.









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