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What you really need to know about winter cycling adventures

SuuntoRide — 3 February 2017

Last week we introduced you to this total nut job (and we mean that in the most complimentary fashion):  Omar di Felice , a passionate (deep) winter long-distance cyclist. We know you’re impressed with your colleague who keeps biking to work even when temps drop below freezing and ice coats the streets – Omar’s rides make that look like a leisurely summer spin. And right now? He’s doing  a 1600km trip across Finland from Suunto HQ to Nordkapp . Regularly logging 200+km days in ice and snow, we asked the world’s most experienced winter cycler to tell us a few things about sub-zero cycling.

I train 5–6 days/week for a total amount of 5–600 km/week

Not so impressive if you consider the normal activity of a pro rider, but that's winter conditions, under the rain or the snow, and usually includes about 8 - 10k of ascent per week. Last year I did 31.000 kilometers, between training, races and solo adventures.

My coldest ride saw temperature of -20 to -32°C. 

It was the last stage of my 2016 Norwegian adventure. It was by far the coldest ride I’ve ever done. 

Spikes and disk brakes are the way to go.

You need spiked tires – and disc brakes

For winter rides like the one I will do in Finland I use a Wilier Triestina Cross Disc Carbon, equipped with a Shimano Ultegra Disc Groupset and Mavic Disc Wheelset. I will use two kinds of tires: normal tires in case of standard conditions, and spiked tires in case of very icy roads. On my stem I will put my Suunto Spartan Ultra watch: I love recording the ride to analyse the performance and to see what I’ve done. But one of the most important things is disc brakes – I did my first Arctic adventure with normal brakes, and it was horrible. 

Always listen your body

During my adventures I usually have a support car. They film my ride, and support me in case of an emergency. My girlfriend is an expert in first aid. The most important thing is to stop when you “hear” something strange from your body. During 2016 adventure in Norway, for example, I stopped for two hours because I simply lost all feeling in two fingers. 

"Listen to your body," says Omar.

A standard day is 10–12 hours on the bike

I wake up to a good breakfast at 6. I’m on the road at 8. Somewhere between 18:00 and 20:00 I stop, have a good dinner, then check over the bike. 

You’ve got to eat right 

You need the best possible food to have enough energy – and in cold conditions, your consumption will be higher than ever. It’s a challenge for me -– and my support team too! 

Follow along with Omar during his current Arctic challenge – cycling across Finland from South to North – at his Facebook page! So far he has covered 826 km on complicated icy road surfaces in four days.



Ultacycling man Omar Di Felice is heading straight north

The art of cycling around the world