Fat Bike, Trails

The Archipelago whiteout

Finally got some time over to write. It´s been busy days, the good kind of busy. We had great conditions for the last weeks and March seams to be as awesome as it should be. Cold nights and warm days makes the snow conditions just perfect. My buddy Kevin came over from England for one week of snow riding. This is his third winter trip to Luleå. The last two we had a bit of bad luck with the weather but this year it was almost perfect. The big plan was to go far out in the archipelago for some bikepacking adventures. We were suppose to go Sunday to Monday but snow and wind made us wait a few days.

While waiting we took a few rides on my local trails. This time of year groomed by the snowmobiles. We crossed the ice to the south side of the river and headed out to the canal that separates main land from Sandön.

Last time Kevin was here we also went riding on Sandön but conditions were quite different back in August.

For a couple of years i´ve been longing to go far out in the archipelago. But the ice has not been thick enough. For me fat biking in the winter is all about getting out on the ice. Due to little snow and a few super cold weeks in February it is finally possible. We have ice roads to a couple of islands but if you wanna go far it´s all about the snowmobile trails.

I picked up the key to the rental cabin on Brändöskär a beautiful little island 27 kilometers off shore. Kevin and i packed up our bikes and set off Monday morning. Kevin brought his lovely custom painted Salsa Blackborrow with fancy Nextie rims. Lovely bike with Bud and Lou front and rear.

First part of the ride was easy. We just followed the ice road for about ten kilometer to Hindersön. After crossing the island we had some lunch before heading out on the sea. The trails for snowmobiles are always red X marked. The archipelago trail is no different. Very handy if the weather decides to change. Pedaling straight out on the sea is really something else. This is how i imagine how deserts are like, only the ice is completely flat.

The last two days snowfall and windy weather made the trails very soft and it was kind of hard in the beginning. We let tire pressure down and kept going. Even if the bikes were a bit heavy with all the packing we manged to keep a pretty good pace.

We arrived safe and happy a few hours later. Our cabin is located in the bay among the summer cabins and boathouses. During summer this island is full of life. Summer guests, yachts  in the guest harbor and summer residents in privet cabins. They even got art gallery. But now dead calm. Just a few carpenters working on the rental cabins for the summer season.

There is no water or electricity in the cabins so after unpacking the beers we had to start a fire to get the heat up and put some snow on the stove so we could get some water for the pasta and coffee.  Pork stew was on the menu and the head light was perfect for chef duty.We tucked in pretty fast and were longing for tomorrow. The weather forecast were promising sun. The plan was to go further out on the sea to watch the pack ice. It´s suppose to really amazing this winter. First thing next morning i got a text message to congratulate us on the great weather. I looked out the window and had about 100 meters of free sight. Apparently the sun was shining over the main land. Out here fog, and lots of it. We had our English breakfast. First time i had custard. It was… interesting.

We decided to wait out the fog a few hours but it only lifted a little. There was no way we were going out on unmarked  trails with no sight so after chopping some wood for the next guests we cleaned out the cabin and set of back to main land again.

Temperature had dropped during night and the trails had become much better. Riding on the sea is like ride in the middle of nowhere. But riding the sea in fog is just nuts. Good thing them red X marks were there because the feeling of limbo was quite significant. It felt more like cloud riding than ice riding. Sure being at sea with blue skies and bright sun is to prefer but this is pretty cool too.

As we were getting closer to Hindersön again the fog lifted a bit more. It´s strange that it can be this foggy when temperatures is -8 Celsius. The moist in the air made our bikes covered in ice crystals. We had a quick stop to refill our energy depots and put some air in the tires before heading out on the ice road again. And guess what. When we were about two kilometers form shore the sun showed her pretty face again.

Even if the weather was against us we had a pretty awesome ride. Next time we´ll do two or three islands. There are plenty of islands with cabins. Kevin was back at his hotel and i made it in time to pick up the kids from school. I love having the adventure just around the corner. That´s what living in Luleå is all about.

Kevin stayed a few more days in Luleå but i had to work for the rest of the week. He´s a big boy and know his way around Luleå, it´s his fifth visit. But on Sunday we managed to take one more ride together on the local trails just behind my house. There is  a little peak and the dog owners, bless them, have groomed the trails here and they are just awesome. I made some coffee and we set of to the wind shelter. Every bike ride is an adventure.

Unfortunately it is melting fast now. But with some luck we´ll get some cold nights then there is no need for snowmobile trails. If the crust gets hard enough the world turns to a fat bike park over night.

I´m already longing for bright summer nights and sandy shores.

2 thoughts on “The Archipelago whiteout”

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