Striving Towards The Next Level
My winter expedition has officially started and as the days went by, the temperatures plummeted, things got tougher, but as things got tougher the bigger my smile became… This was exactly why I chose to cross this region in the Siberian winter!
Some people still thinks I’m on a holiday or that Im just a normal tour cyclist, traveling the world, but this is my job, this is what I do… I’m an adventurer! To push the limits and create new ones. The bicycle is just my way of achieving my goal and make my way across all continents. The challenges I face, challenges I create for myself and the massive goals I set for myself is all about pushing the boundaries. I have plans to cross sea, oceans and rivers… but unfortunately you need big cash investments to make all this possible, so I need to keep focussed and first get companies onboard to achieve my main goal on this five year adventure.
Unfortunately nobody really knows how much I work behind the scenes when im not on the bike. If I’m in the tent I read, write and make plans which I work on when I can sit down and work. When I have to wait for things like visas I work at-least 14 – 20 hours days to plan and prepare for things to come, but also still work on my photos, videos, backups, media and constantly working on getting more sponsors onboard. Staying busy is no problem and when I climb on the bike to continue I always have not nearly completed the things I wanted to.
After a very long wait the winter finally came and after so much planning and preparation I could now face the things I’ve researched for over a year. Before I got started I told my sister I can’t wait for the first time temperatures drop below -25°C (-13°F)!! I just wanted to know how this feels and what I should do to survive. I wanted to know if everything I did to prepare for this leg was done correctly.
I think the winter leg officially started for me when I left Almaty, Kazakhstan. I did not have to wait very long for the harsh conditions I was expecting I would face. The first few days I had snow, strong head winds, icy roads and cold nights. The strong winds made things twice as cold during the day.
I was only one week away from Almaty when the temperature first fell below -25°C (-13°F)! Man it was cold and by far the coldest temperature I’ve ever been in. Then the temps dropped even more to -28°C (-19°F), -29°C (-20°F) and then three nights in a row below -30*C (-22°F)! I had problems with my sleeping bag and struggled to sleep for days on end. I continually made new plans and slowly got things to a point where I managed to sneak in a few hours every night.
One morning I woke up, looked at the temperature meter and thought… thank goodness its just -22°C (-8°F)! At that point I started to laugh at myself and just proved again something I try to keep telling myself… “You work towards certain goals in life and when you reach those goals, you set new higher ones. The previous goal then just becomes normal”
By now I was use to temps below -20°C (-4°F) and slowly got into doing things I need to faster and more accurate. And remember… cycling is only a small part of the whole challenge. The big challenges lie in when you take water and food breaks, pitch the tent, make food and sleep. Staying warm is priority number one and I knew this from the beginning. I made it a nightly chore to make something easier to use in the tent and on the bike.
For two nights I practiced to put on my gloves faster and the process in putting on my face mask. This sounds like basics that should be easy, and it is, but when it gets cold you are starting to rush things and this is the point when you actually makes mistakes. One day I struggled for around ten minutes to put on my face mask in -20°C (-4°F) as the strong wind made it twice as cold. After that scenario I said this is not going to happen again… So I adjusted a few small things and practiced to put it on faster.
Every single day have its challenges!! Repairing things became a daily habit and then making things easier on the bike, in and around the tent. I got use to the plummeting temps and quickly got into the routines of my layers, what to wear when and when to zip-up or zip-down pockets in my bright blue jacket. I had quite the setback when my MSR stove decided to break and had to build a temporarily one that I will alt-least be able to melt snow to be able to have water to hydrate during the days and at night .
I would lie inside my sleeping bag at night and wish for even colder temperatures the next day… I just wanted to get use to the “next level”. When you reach that next level, work your ass off, make things easier for yourself and learn as much as possible, whenever it happens again things are ten times easier… And when it gets easier is the moment when I get some kind of feeling inside myself thats telling me I’ve done things correctly, my planning was worth it and that I’m ready for whats to come!!
The first three weeks already thought me so much and now things will go to the next level… even bigger and much tougher challenges. The rest of Siberia and into the remoteness of Mongolia!
Going to the next level is kind off an addiction to me! It’s an awesome feeling that I now get the chance to do it on a daily basis! This is exactly where I want to be and is facing exactly what I want to face! This is just the start of a very interesting few more years on this amazing adventure and my life as an Adventurer and Explorer!
Cheers for now…