Riding the Rovaniemi 150

By Paul Errington

A number of years ago I completed the Arrowhead 135 winter race in the US, I rode a single speed non fat wheeled bike 135 miles in the snow on snowmobile tracks and it took me over 30 hours. At the time I imagine I thought it was an experience I had no desire to replicate but the lure of a snowy landscape and the vast expanses of the wild is strong.

Not wanting to repeat an event I had already completed and not quite ready for the longer events the US has to offer I chose to stay within Europe and the only real winter race outside of the US and Canada, The Rovaniemi 150 in Finland.

Bike assembled before loading up the kit and heading out for a quick spin the night before down to the start area on the frozen river just outside the city.Once at the start and ready to go the nerves settled and it was simply a case of turning pedals, drinking and eating ... life at its simplest and often most happiest.

It would be fair to say the start was brisk, the leading 6 had gapped the field by a fair distance by the first checkpoint and we were all then left behind strung out searching for a happier more sustainable pace. I found company along the first river section in the form of a wheel to follow though due to the pace no words were exchanged.

In general the riding was slow and steady but every now and then we were treated to brief sections of flowing fun descents, the final of which put us out directly on to another frozen lake which would be traversed before the final wooded section and the final push for the finish along the frozen river upon which our journey had begun many hours before.
Crossing the final frozen lake I caught and passed the first rider I had seen for hours. I had a few hours previously closed in on a flashing red light only to watch it ride away from me again though I was content in my own little world and not too fussed about sharing it while out on the trail.

As we exited the last wooded section on to the start/finish river the effort was increased, I was soon back in to the last checkpoint and a quick refill of my water just in case. As I left the checkpoint I could see another blinking red light in the distance though no matter how hard I pushed the pedals it never seemed to get any closer.
It took what seemed an age to get to the final bridge before leaving the river and riding the short distance to the hotel that housed the finish.

As I entered the hotel looking for the official line Grace was waiting for me, having tracked my progress via my SPOT tracker she had decided to welcome me in, a great way to finish the event.
I had covered the course in around 14.5 hours ... 10 hours quicker than I had anticipated ... an hour quicker than last years winner and 4 hours slower than this years winner. Though this event for me was never about the numbers and what I came for was an experience and I had certainly had that.

Extract taken from my blog.