Arctic World Tour, Omar Di Felice and the cold loneliness of Greenland
It’s time to face Iceland for Omar di Felice, who is now cycling towards the end of his Arctic World Tour. After crossing, during the cold season, Kamčatka and Lapland, the ultra cyclist from Rome first moved to Svalbard, the northernmost point of his trip, and then to Greenland, where he cycled in total autonomy and loneliness for a week.
Omar, let’s talk about Svalbard. Did you met any polar bear?
“No, but I faced an incredible environment. It makes you really feel in the heart of the Arctic.”
How did you manage the security restrictions?
“There free camping is forbidden, so every evening I had to go back to sleep in a small structure. From there, every day, I set out to explore, returning to the starting point every evening. It was an important first test, before facing Greenland, in order to test the fat bike and the sled. I immediately understood that I would have to revise my concept of speed and change mood, no longer thinking about the kilometers traveled, but about the number of hours that I would be able to stay on the saddle.”
You then moved to Greenland and everything changed…
"I covered more than 200 kilometers through the Arctic Circle Trail. A route that changes its shape in winter, crossing frozen lakes and following the course of frozen rivers. There is nothing around and you have to manage everything on your own.”
How long did it take?
“A week, with a delay of a few days on the schedule.”
“In the last part of the trip I found blizzards, snow and days of complete whiteout. I was forced to stop and wait because it would have been impossible to find the route and the right direction where to go.”
A real intense experience...
“Certainly different from those I'm used to live. I was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere. I had to take care of food supplies, fuel. I had to think about how reaching the small bivouacs along the way, where I could sleep at night. Physically it was certainly the hardest part of the journey.”
What temperatures did you face?
“Even minus 35 Celsius degrees. At night, when I managed to warm up my bivouac, I reached minus 20 or minus 15 degrees. The Ferino high altitude sleeping bag and inflatable mattress that I had with me made the difference and allowed me to withstand the nights.”
You mentioned before that you chose a fat bike for this journey, right?
“Yes, it was the only possible choice for snow-covered slopes. Very different from what I usually do. The twenty kilos of the bike, plus the fifty kilos of the sled, made the difference. In the last few days, the heavy snow that fell forced me to get off the bike and push it. For a whole day I was unable to cycle and on the hills or on the hardest climbs I had to do double the effort. First I pushed my bike up, then I went back down to take the sled and went up the slope again. What an adventure.”
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