The weather Gods were definitely looking favourably on us as we set out from home on our mini adventure for the Fat Viking Global* v2. The ‘event’ had 3 distance options, 50km, 100km or 150km and we had chosen to go for the longest option. We were 2 grown up kids, 2 fat bikes and with enough kit (we hoped) to survive a weekend away from home.
Neither of us have bike packed before preferring the comfort of car camping instead.
Our route was fairly direct and we had planned it to use as little main road as possible. As we were travelling across the Surrey Hills, we were both aware that there would be climbing involved. The 1st climb took us up Leith Hill and I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to get off & push. Sure the bike weighed far more than I was used to but I was able to select a great gear to just grind it up.
Dropping over the other side, we picked up national cycle route 22. This was a mix of bridleways and tracks which wound along just below the North Downs Way which we joined just before Guildford near St Martha’s hill.
We stopped for a snack in Guildford and then headed up a steep climb up onto the Hogs Back. The rocky, rooty bridleway that descended off was ‘interesting’ with the heavy bikes but they coped with it admirably.
We had only plotted as far as Puttenham common as it would be the point at which we would decide our route into Tilford Woods. The climbs made it quite slow going and so we decided to head for Elstead Spar to pick up a few essentials for the weekend: milk, bread, cheese, ham and doughnuts!
We opted for a soak in a hot bath before heading to the pub next door for takeaway fish & chips and a beer.
All in all, we were pretty pleased with our effort. We had 51km towards the FV150.
Day 2 was supposed to be the warmest of the weekend but the strong wind made it quite nippy. We rode a convoluted route to enjoy as much sand as we could. We know the trails pretty well over there so it was all about making up the mileage. Dinner was courtesy of the frozen food section of the local farm shop and the stop at Craft Brews for a couple of beers was essential on the way back to the cabin. We had added another 61km to theFV150 bank.
Day 3 was gloriously sunny. There had been a small amount of rain which had put the sand in near perfect condition. We did a much wider ride of the area to get the remaining distance complete before dropping into the Crossways Inn at Churt and doing a bit more food shopping. It would have been wrong not to make a second visit to Craft Brews to celebrate our achievement. Another 51.5km gave us a total of 161.5km – more than enough to earn the FV150 sticker. The pub next door provided another great meal for us to eat while watching the CX World Championships on my mobile phone.
All that was left for us was to ride home on the Monday. Once again, we had pre-plotted part of the route after which we would reply on ‘local knowledge’ of the trails for the ride home. The chosen route would also be dependent on the energy left in the tank. Thankfully this included a stop at the Punchbowl Inn at Okewood hill – Vikings drink beer! Right!
I have to say, it was a tough weekend’s riding and definitely out of my comfort zone. I was pretty well spent & took a day or so to recover. The bikes were fantastic and performed flawlessly. Would we do it again – hell yeah! We’re already looking around for options. Maybe 29+ next time or even on the gravel bikes. It’s time to get the maps out again I think.
*What is the Fat Viking? It’s an ultra marathon (& qualifier for the Iditarod) that takes place out in Geilo, Norway at the end of January each year. Check out the full details here. The 2021 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic but the canny organisation, led by Nina Gässler, came up with the idea of having a global race. It was a ‘ride where you are within your local restrictions’ event. The event captured people’s imagination and ‘Vikings’ from all over the globe took part. For the weekend of the event, we were a community of like-minded souls posting our adventures on the FB group and reading of everyone else’s antics. It was so popular that the decision was taken to make it an annual event to run alongside the actual event. Our adventure weekend was our homage to the hardier Vikings.