Quick one-and-a-half-day bikepacking trip out of town, or above town.
words: Adam Klimek / photos: Adam Klimek
Now that the decade's frosts are here, Marcin and I went for a quick bikepacking mountain trip. It had been long since I last slept in tent at -15/-20°C, a memory that had since faded.
We set off from Bielsko-Biała town around 8PM, ascended Szyndzielnia peak and rode further towards Klimczok. There, we found a camping spot on a snow-covered road completely, just beneath the ridge. Great spot and while not ideal because of the constant wind, it certainly only made it the more fun.
First you set up the fire. Contrary to what you may think, making fire in such bitter cold is quite easy – frozen twigs break easily and make good firewood. Start off with digging a small hollow in the snow. You'll need it to protect the fire against the wind. If there's no wind, you won't need it – the snow will just melt by itself. Add firestarter and you're done. Yeah, we could actually get busy with starting fire with birch bark and fire striker, but this time we're making a shortcut. We were joined by two of our friends, Roman and Robert, who planned to get home for the night. Party by the fire – fantastic as usual. Few hours later, the fire had melted a circle the size of a tractor wheel. Roasted sausage, improvised hot-dogs from nearly frozen rolls... Hungry enough, we had no time to warm them up. Plus, hot tea with juice, really cool. We deliberately didn't take any alcohol, because according to the forecast the weather was going to wiggle around -15/-20°C. As we all know, alcohol enlarges blood vessels causing the body to cool faster. Therefore, with cold weather like this and with the perspective of sleeping in a tent, prohibition was a good choice.
When we got comfy in our sleeping bags it turned out it was 3AM already... hmmm, all this congeniality took some time. But so it is – any activities in snow and bitter frost take much longer, even though you might think otherwise. It's crucial to put on dry (fresh) thermal underwear before getting into the sleeping bags. Even slightly moist underwear will render warming up impossible and even the best sleeping bag will be useless.
The Suunto said it was -21°C. I wasn't quite convinced as it felt much warmer. But you don't discuss with Suunto. Not to waste time on melting the snow and warm up fast, we had prepared the cooking water and tea in thermos the previous day. Later, we only had to bring the still warm liquid to boil, which saved time. Instead of porridge and millet we had with us, our manly breakfast comprised bigos and penne bolognese from Lyo. This quick treat of substantial food got us prepared for the whole day.
Before pitching the tent, it's good to form a snow platform, which will prevent you from sliding onto your friend or tent’s walls. Forget pegs, actually let's leave them in the pouch. Saddle with seat post will replace them in the powder and your lying bikes will perfectly anchor the fly and the tent.
Gas doesn't burn well in low temperatures, therefore it's useful to warm the can up a little. This time, having bare-handedly checked that the ash was still warm, placed my stove in it and it took wings! Yet, do not betray your common sense. A can left in burning ashes or any other hot surface will take real wings and fly away.
Whether you're going for two days or a week, the amount of gear you take will be nearly the same. With a quantum of experience all our belongings fit perfectly on the bikes. I admit, the operation takes some time.
We managed to hit the road around midday. Throughout the rest of the beautiful sunny day we zipped through the fabulous snowy landscape. Luckily enough, most of the route was passable and apart from some pushing, we were in the saddle 90% of the trail. Further along the route, at the Błatnia refuge house, we devoured second breakfast, or rather lunch, topped with amazing pancakes. Further descent towards the town of Bielsko along the hillside road rutten by traktors and carrying of wood. As it turned out, this technical descent was a true cherry on that day’s cake!
The trip, while very short, gave us awful lot of fun. The more fun it was, after it turned out that it was Marcin’s first night in a tent ever. A day and a half like this may help you recharge your batteries for many days. No matter the distance – 20 or 220 km a day – what's important is the atmosphere and joy.
A final piece of advice – if you have even a single day off, regardless of the weather, pack your stuff and 'hit the road Jack!’.