Sports

Fincycling season start - Part one

Fincycling opened the national racing season last weekend in Turku.This is the first part of the race report from the weekend and includes the story from Simo Klimscheffskij’n muistoajo - race on Saturday (and loads of pictures and a video). The second part will cover the following day of racing - TS Kortteliajot on Sunday.

Saturday began with the team arriving to Turku at around mid-day. The team for the weekend was built up by 5 guys, Sasu Halme, Aleksi Hänninen, Antto Tunkkari, Waltteri Lepistö and Arttu Suvisaari. Usually the team consists of 6 riders but this time Jaakko Hänninen was unfortunate to be ill just before the race and couldn't participate.

 Short briefing of things to do before the race

Short briefing of things to do before the race

Fueling for the race

Getting the team kit

Marko Vauhkonen would serve as the mechanic and Charly Wegelius, also known as the sports director of Team Garmin-Sharp would be the sports director for Fincycling during the weekend. So again, the boys would have a highly skilled and experienced team to back them up.

Antto and Aleksi relaxed waiting for Charly to arrive

Arttu and Waltteri

 Charly discussing race tactics with the boys

Charly discussing race tactics with the boys

 Antto paying close attention

Antto paying close attention

 Thoughtful boys

Thoughtful boys

After a proper briefing by Charly Wegelius, it was time to change to race outfit. I have to say this team kit is really good looking. Not to mention it is the same quality Team Tinkoff-Saxo is racing.

 Good spirit within the team

Good spirit within the team

 Charly updating the guys

Charly updating the guys

 Team Fincycling

Team Fincycling

The race would be in Hirvensalo, just outside of Turku, this served as a good warmup for the guys, some 6 km to spin the legs before the race would start.

 Warming up

Warming up

 Team Fincycling arriving to Hirvensalo

Team Fincycling arriving to Hirvensalo

 Charly enjoying great weather just before start

Charly enjoying great weather just before start

 Time to stack up with some PowerBar nutrition

Time to stack up with some PowerBar nutrition

 Final instructions from Charly

Final instructions from Charly

 Fincycling at the startline

Fincycling at the startline

The race would be 73 kilometers long and be ridden on a circuit with a length of 4 kilometers. The finish would be on top of a 800 m long hill, hard after many laps riding it over and over again. 

 Marko ready for action

Marko ready for action

 Charly concentrating on the race

Charly concentrating on the race

 Fincycling staff at the feed zone (Juho Suikkari, Juha Poutiainen and Kadri Õunap)

Fincycling staff at the feed zone (Juho Suikkari, Juha Poutiainen and Kadri Õunap)

The race was pretty hectic. On each lap there was at least one breakaway attempt, and the Fincycling guys did a great job in having at least one cyclist at the front at all time, catching up those breakaways. And on one lap the breakaway was succesful, and there was Aleksi Hänninen working to form a proper gap to the peloton. 

 Marko giving instructions from the team car

Marko giving instructions from the team car

 Aleksi working in the breakaway (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

Aleksi working in the breakaway (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

 Antto hammering (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

Antto hammering (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

 Sasu controlling the peloton (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

Sasu controlling the peloton (picture by Klaus von Wendt)

 Arttu staying in front of the pack (Picture by Klaus von Wendt)

Arttu staying in front of the pack (Picture by Klaus von Wendt)

 Waltteri in control

Waltteri in control

The final climb was hard as expected and blew the legs out of many riders. Aleksi managed to hang in the last hundred meters and finished 10th. The other guys did tried to attack from the peloton in the final lap but didn't manage to create a gap to the peloton, and finished with the main group. All in all, a strong ride by the whole team, the boys were riding like men.

 A solid race from Aleksi

A solid race from Aleksi

 Team Fincycling together after the race

Team Fincycling together after the race

 No win today, but the team worked well

No win today, but the team worked well

 Aleksi took 1st place in the M-18 class, next year the whole race!

Aleksi took 1st place in the M-18 class, next year the whole race!

The next part will cover the Finnish spring classic TS Kortteliajot. Last but not least a little sneak peek in the Fincycling team car where Charly Wegelius gives instructions to Aleksi riding in the breakaway.

Enjoy!

Note! If you do want to use any of the pictures, please contact me!

Ups and downs the past few weeks

It is an awesome feeling being back riding the road bike outdoors. Rain or shine, it beats the indoor training easily. Getting back that feeling of acceleration and the sound of rims humming on the asphalt, wow. It has been really windy lately, but neither has that affected the positive vibes on the bike. Really looking forward for the first races this year, that's the first point of really knowing about the progress made this off season. After a business trip to Stockholm earlier this week I got ill with some really heavy flu and a temperature. Still struggling with that, so no time in the saddle this week. I'll again share what's been going on lately with pictures instead of writing a novel. 

Fixing the bike before first outdoor ride is really important!

Changing all wires on the bike (yea, no electronic shifting here.. yet)

Clean Canyon

Also stacked up with some nutrition, I've changed from Maxim to SIS this year

First longer ride ahead, including Garmin Virb Elite

Klaus arriving

Crossing Aura river

A coffee break on a windy and chilly ride

 Nutrition and hydration is important as well

Nutrition and hydration is important as well

One of the best road cycling books ever, Domestique by Charly Wegelius

Turku evening

We also have some cobbles

Stairway to water

Garmin Virb Elite mounted to the handlebar

It seems even uphills can be fun

Selfie...

Canyon having a break

Spring!

Not all sunshine

Soaking

"Seated" uphill training

Another passion I've had since a kid is aviation. So I do geeky things during my trips on the airports, for instance following planes on an app (flightradar), tune in to the air traffic control radio frequency and watch them land live.

Planes landing on 19L

Back in Turku

There are loads of great things happening in the world of road cycling. Paris-Roubaix this Sunday and many great races have been ridden during the past few weeks. Also the Finnish road cycling project, Fincycling, is progressing with great speed. I'll write more about Fincycling in my next post. So stay tuned!

 

Have a great weekend!

Off-season 2013-2014 officially over

It has been a busy week, therefore a week of silence. Besides a busy week, this week has finally ended the off-season 2013/2014. An off-season that was really different from my previous years. More time in the saddle and less gym. This was the first off-season with Resistentia, and may the stats speak for themselves.

I did 27 more workouts, tracked almost 1 100 km more, in total 54 hours more time in the saddle. My training was slightly less stressful. On average my rides were almost 20 minutes longer in duration. This can be partly explained with the new Felt F65X cyclocross I bought in November. Thanks to Huntteri.fi for that opportunity. I will write a review about the bike during spring. I also managed to reduce weight and increase my watt/kg ratio. For these results I have not only thank myself for, but especially Resistentia and Huntteri.fi. Resistentia for providing me with coaching and a well structured training plan and Huntteri for giving me the opportunity to get a proper cyclocross for the winter.

I also managed to stay healthy and had no influenza this year. I feel really good and confident for the upcoming season. Can't wait to hit the roads and challenge myself beating my current records.

Last weekend was the last time I was out with the cyclocross. Really spring already

Behind the camera

What's left of snow

On Tuesday this week I finally did a proper maintenance on my Canyon roadbike, cleaning, oiling, changing wires, handlebar tape, things you need to do before the season can start. And on Wednesday it finally happened. And wow, that difference from an aluminium cyclocross bike to a full carbon roadbike, stunning.

Thumbs up!

The forecasts promise great weather for weekend, can't wait to track some big hours in the saddle trying out all my new gadgets and nutrition etc. 

 

Have a good one!

Sunday on the road

Today was another spring day in Finland. After the last post where I wrote about spring, the next day we had snowfall. Anyhow, I still want to believe spring is here, even though it's only beginning of March. Today for the first time I got company by a friend, he was riding his Bianchi 1885 road bike, whereas I still had my Felt F65X cyclocross. Maybe next weekend I can take out my Canyon, but first I need to do a proper maintenance on it. Today was sunny, +8 degrees warm, so a perfect day to ride a bike even if it was close to storm with winds gusting up to 15 m/s. On today's agenda we had a couple of 15 minute intervals with a moderate workload and some strength training intervals with low cadence uphill. Enough talking, now for the ride-pics!

Bianchi season is opened!

Leg-powered

Uphill, big gear, low cadence

Out of the saddle

2 minutes done uphill, back down and repeat 8 times

Bianchi 1885

Felt F65X

3 hours 20 minutes, first really enjoyable longer ride outdoor this year, and really looking forward for next week, weather forecasts show some more sun and warm weather. Next week will also be pretty darn interesting with Tirreno-Adriatico and much more! I will also tell you some more about new things coming up. But that will be next week, now enjoy what's left of Sunday!



Spring is in the air

This week has been warm (well not warm like Italy, but warm comparing to the average temperatures in Finland this time a year). This week has also been great for cycling. On Friday it was time for yet another FTP test, this time a proper one. Having done only a few hard strength training workouts I was a bit nervous. But gladly I managed to perform pretty close to what I expected I could. Felt really strong at the latter part of the 20 minute interval and that gave me a nice boost in self-confidence on the bike.

Post FTP workout

After the FTP test, since it was Friday I rewarded myself with sort of "junkfood" and Sauna.

This morning I woke up well rested having had troubles sleeping during the week. And what a great feeling it was to wake up when the sun was shining! This winter has probably affected me more than the previous winters for some reason, and I realized it today feeling great, energized and really happy. Can't remember the time when I would have had all those 3 feelings at the same time. So the sun was shining and Kjell had planned a 2-3 hour easy outdoor ride for me today. Great!

I prepared myself some morning coffee with my Bialetti Brikka (that is by the way working flawlessly and makes a tremendous crema!). While having my espresso and porridge, I had all the time in the world to read the news, twitter feed and update myself with the latest in the cycling world.

After an easy and relaxing morning it was time to change the studded tires for normal cyclocross tires and head out. And folks, that makes a difference!

Look ma, no spikes

"Oh please, how long can it take to take that pic?"

Today's ride-snack, nuts

Nice fog on the lens

Goodbye winter!

One more, still, like the looks!

All the asphalt roads were dry, and almost 100% ready to ride with a roadie! I returned home just in time to watch the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, and what a race that was! As a hockey fan, I also watched the "Winter-classics" Talviklassikko between HIFK and Jokerit, a pretty close game, and a nice ending to the rivalry of being the best one in Helsinki.

Yum!

Tomorrow is one of my favorite sporting events of the year, Vasaloppet where almost 16 000 skiers, both elite and amateurs participate. 90 kilometers on skis and what's interesting is that you usually see tactics in this race, similar to the ones in road cycling races. I've been following this race ever since a kid, and I'm excited every year to watch it, brings back good memories. Also a couple of friends of mine will participate, so it will be interesting to follow them! Tomorrow also Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne will be ridden. So a great day of sports!

 

Have a good one, enjoy your weekend folks!

February coming to an end

I'm actually thrilled about the fact that time passes by really fast right now. I have many great things to look forward this year, some of those things I can't tell you now, but many of them will be "game-changers" in some way.

So cycling in February, how has that been? I haven't been able to ride as much as I wanted (sounds like I've said that before as well), but still I've been able to make progress. I've lost some 4 kilograms of body weight and at the same time been able to increase my FTP value. My goal is to lose 4 more kilograms before the season kicks off for real.

Eat less, eat frequently, eat properly

Last week I received my Rapha Festive 500 badge. A neat little thing that reminds me of 500 really wet kilometers. Read about my Rapha Festive 500 journey, first half, almost there, completed. Of course Rapha style it arrived in a fashionable envelope.

First part of pre-season accessories also arrived from Germany. Some small things such as inner tubes and tires.

I've been quiet about coffee for a long time (I guess?). But I also bought a new Bialetti Brikka moka pan. A huge difference to a normal moka pan, and comparable with an espresso at a bar with proper crema. 

The Brikka valve makes the difference

Proper crema

Of course I've been following the Winter Olympic Games in Sotchi as well.

USA-FIN Bronze medal game (Ice Hockey, men)

Sunday, besides a massive game by team Canada in men's ice hockey, I saw the sun for the first time this year (cycling outdoors). It almost feels like spring now, just hope there will be no more snow...

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and post-ride coffee

So it's soon March, hopefully the month when we can take out our road bikes!

 

Exciting!

Working on my February legs

It has been a pretty busy week. It began with easy training, a business trip to Stockholm and then rounding up with an FTP test, Winter Olympic Games start and beginning of the Tour of Qatar. 

Last Sunday I took a spin outside, probably the hardest outdoor workout this winter. It had been snowing a lot and since the temperature was around zero degrees, it was hard to keep the bike straight. In the worst places, uphill with loads of loose snow my speed was around 5 km/h and my heartbeat was around 180 bpm. With every pedal-stroke the rear wheel just kept spinning and the bike was wildly sliding from side to side. And that ride was supposed to be an easy aerobic day...

On Monday I took an easy recovery spin, and then I had to rest for two days because of a trip to Stockholm.

Morning glory

A must pay visit to Bianchi Café&Cycles

Stockholm by night

Back in Turku

And it was time for my favorite pastry, Runebergstårta!

On Friday I had the second FTP test for this year. I was not too confident going into the training. My goal was to raise the FTP value with at least 10 watts, and honestly this time the test felt much harder than before. Having given it my all, I actually ended up with +14 watts, a huge surprise. Having lost 2 kg's weight this year, I actually already nailed my off season W/kg record, which feels good having trained less than I would have wanted to. 

On Friday the Winter Olympic Games also finally begun, the Olympics are always a spectacle I love to watch. After the opening ceremony I rewarded myself with Friday-Sauna.

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On Sunday the Tour of Qatar started, and what a start. Great breakaway effort by IAM Cycling Team once again, and I'm really excited to see what the team will be able to show during this tour!

Watching Tour of Qatar while training

On Sunday we also saw Enni Rukajärvi take the first Finnish medal in Women's Slopestyle. Great silver medal, hopefully one of many to come. 

Next week I really need to improve my training. Even if I had a couple of weeks with too few hours, I'm glad to see I'm improving and also glad I've been able to reduce my weight without losing muscles. The goal is to still lose some 5 kg's before summer.

Sunday breakfast

A month or so and we are out on our road-bikes!?

Stepping up off-season training

After a slow start for the road cycling season 2014, I've slowly managed to make progress in my off-season training. The days at work seem to be way too long and it often feels impossible to find energy for training. Afterwards, once you make that decision to hit that workout, you will thank yourself for doing it.

I often motivate myself by going back in time, thinking about those races and special moments when I just couldn't hold on to that wheel in front of me, or when a breakaway attempt wasn't strong enough and just drained my energy, that feeling when I failed. If there is something I hate in cycling, that's failure, especially failure because I just wasn't good enough. I couldn't execute my plan as I wanted because I wasn't in good enough shape. I have experienced several failures and I remember most of them really well, remember exactly how I felt when those seconds hit me, when I wasn't strong enough to perform as I wanted.

These moments I remember so well, will help me move forward. To hit those intervals on the trainer, to go out cycling even if it's freezing and dark or to head for the gym early in the morning. I want to be better. I want to progress, I want to be better than last year, last month or even last week. I want to outperform myself, surprise myself. And most of all, I do not want to give up, at least not without giving it my best. Limits are created by your mind, giving up before giving it your all is not an option. If you then however fail, that's ten times better than a "what if". 

Doing intervals while watching ice hockey, easier said than done!

During the weekend I had a great, almost 3 hour outdoor workout, mostly just easy pedaling. Made some minor adjustments on my position on the bike, and darn those changes were good. The position now feels perfect and no pressure on the knees anymore. Below some pictures from the weekend:

Cashew - Tea break

Sunday morning

Sunday morning coffee

Orange juice in the making

A Finnish breakfast?

Sunday evening

It's already Wednesday tomorrow, almost weekend that is. Try to hang in there, not more than 5-6 weeks left of the winter!

Road Cycling Year 2013

As always, I like to look back at the year that passed, it often brigs up things you've forgotten and great memories you really can remember as they were yesterday. In year 2013 I had both good and bad memories, gladly more good ones, therefore a lot different from year 2012. 

The year began with great inspiration and motivation for training. For the first time I really spent qualitative time at the gym and had a good plan on the trainer. And sure, I made some great progress throughout the winter and early spring. For the first time, I also was able to compare watt data to the previous year, thanks to Trainerroad.

  Silent gym early in the morning

Silent gym early in the morning

The outdoor season begun March 23rd with taking the car to a place without snow and then cycling that short distance back and forth. In year 2013 the season begun 2 weeks later than in 2012, and it took more time for the snow to melt, hence the season really begun almost a month later. This didn't matter since I had tracked some good hours on the trainer throughout the winter. In March for the first time ever, I had symptoms of overtraining.

  First ride of the year, plenty of snow around

First ride of the year, plenty of snow around

The cycling year 2013 was also the year for me to ride hard, in groups with faster riders and great company where the whole group was working in an echelon against various wind directions. I also participated in races, many new for me. 

The first race in 2013 though was the Giro d'Espoo. It was super windy but amazingly fun, once again. The second race was Pirkan Pyöräily. It was the first time I participated in this event, and I'm really glad I did. A really well organized event in Tampere brought my personal record average of 36,1 km/h. 

The weather throughout the summer was really superb, so it was great rides almost all summer around. The biggest factor for me progressing was to start with Resistentia and to finally get a proper bike fit done. I will review the service more precisely at some point, but they really helped me track some kilometers and add quality to my training on the bike.

  No doubt summer is the best of the seasons

No doubt summer is the best of the seasons

The third race of the year was Royal Cycling, another new event in my calendar. And yet another superb race. Together with Sebu we worked really good for the whole group and had some sprinting capabilities left at the end as well. And this race showed me how important a teammate really is in motivating you through the downs in your race.

  Royal Cycling

Royal Cycling

I also participated in Vuelta Vantaa, Eteläkärjen ajot and Myllyn pyöräily. All for the first time. Probably they will be in my calendar for 2014 as well. The greatest thing about the races this year was that I was able to participate them with my teammates, Sebu and Klaus. It really is one of the best things you can experience, race together!

  Some more summer

Some more summer

I was not able to participate in the event that once again was planned to be the main event of the year, Tour de Helsinki. In many of the races I had some minor issues with my knees and my stomach, I hope this is something I can get rid of for the year 2014. Instead of the TdH, I spent a week in Italy, cycling in really beautiful landscapes and also managed to climb up Monte Amiata. Superb ride. I will recap that week for you at some point.

  Evening ride in Italy

Evening ride in Italy

At the end of the year I was ill for a long period and really had to stay off the bike for 1,5 months, much more than I would have wanted to. But I was able to complete the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, a new thing for me. And gosh, that was hard for these really untrained legs! I was supported by Huntteri for this challenge, and was able to buy a new Felt F65X for this purpose. A cyclocross bike also means I will be able to track more hours on the bike on the off season, and hopefully I will feel this in summer 2014!

I really have some high hopes for the road cycling season 2014, and I'm sure I will make some great progress together with the support I have!

Some fun facts to compare year 2013 with the previous 2012.

Year 2012 2013 comparison

  • + 72 more rides
  • + 2700 more kilometers ridden
  • + 130 hours more training
  • - 15 bpm average heartrate
  • + 60 000 more calories burned

 

Thanks for reading and following, I hope you'll stick with me for another great year!

 

 

Rapha Festive 500, almost there

Having days 1-3 done, with almost 300 km ridden, I headed towards day 4 and 5. I started feeling myself a bit tired already, but wasn't prepared for what awaited me early on from day 4...

 

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 4

The day began with mixed feelings. The weather was good, the sun was shining for the first (and apparently last time) during this challenge, but I was tired and could have slept for a couple of more hours. But because the day is so short in Finland, I needed to get going. Immediately as I started I felt pain in my knees, both of them. I hoped it would just go over after a few kilometers, but it didn't. It was quite nasty, both knees felt as there would be a needle inside, and that needle picked the knee from inside with each pedal-stroke. Some 10 km in the ride I started thinking about abandoning, and made a stop at 20 km to give the knees a rest. After the short pause, I started pedaling, and it felt bad, maybe not as bad as moments before, but still bad. I decided to go on, the sun was shining and if my knees would collapse, I would call a taxi. Well I made those 107 kilometers, after many ups and downs.

 At my restplace in the forest, I found a boat. Strange place for a boat one could say.

At my restplace in the forest, I found a boat. Strange place for a boat one could say.

 Felt F65X

Felt F65X

 Amazing light, no more darkness!

Amazing light, no more darkness!

 For the first time, may I present, my shadow!

For the first time, may I present, my shadow!

 Second stop at 40 km

Second stop at 40 km

 Neat little river

Neat little river

 Never tired of having sunshine

Never tired of having sunshine

 More nice light and river

More nice light and river

 Still like the looks of the bike

Still like the looks of the bike

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 My new favorite ride-snack, salted and roasted Cashew nuts!

My new favorite ride-snack, salted and roasted Cashew nuts!

 Almost smiling

Almost smiling

 Moments later I spotted cyclists in the distance

Moments later I spotted cyclists in the distance

 Rode with them for some 5 km, unfortunately there was one puncture during this time. Great co-operation here! Not to mention the motivation boost you get when you meet fellow cyclists.

Rode with them for some 5 km, unfortunately there was one puncture during this time. Great co-operation here! Not to mention the motivation boost you get when you meet fellow cyclists.

 Then it was time for sunset

Then it was time for sunset

 Last signs of light

Last signs of light

 Arriving home, food awaited!

Arriving home, food awaited!

 I never get tired eating good food

I never get tired eating good food

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 5

I was afraid I wouldn't be able to continue today due to my knees. They still hurt but I decided to go for it. Putting on my legwarmers i realized what could have caused the knee-pain. I've been riding with both knee- and leg-warmers and this causes high pressure on the knee and forces the kneecap tighter to the knee. That would also explain why the whole knee is kind of tender to the touch as well. So today I rode without the knee-warmers. The ones I use are the Castelli Nanoflex warmers. The knees did hurt, pretty bad at times, but I managed to finish today's 65 km ride as planned. It was really chilly and windy, the coldest day so far, almost froze my feet. Luckily I had a pair of SealSkinz Winter Handle Bar Mittens with me. Perfect gloves!

 Freezing weather today

Freezing weather today

 No more sunshine, icy rain and wind

No more sunshine, icy rain and wind

 These saved my hands today

These saved my hands today

 They really are warm

They really are warm

Day 4

Day 5

So one day to go, only 40 kilometers planned, but with my knees being sore, hard to even walk with, I won't party until I've really ridden all 500 kilometers. But if I make it, I just might celebrate the new year's eve with one for this one!

raphaalmost.png

 

Let's keep our fingers crossed

First ride with Felt F65X

It's always exciting to try out new things, especially when it comes to bikes. Well this time besides a new bike, it was also first time ever riding with a SRAM groupset. The reason behind buying the Felt F65X was the fact that I needed more kilometers during off season to be able to progress. A part of that was to participate in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, that would push me to ride 500 kilometers between Christmas eve and New year's eve. I also realized I couldn't do that with my current "off season" bike, the Haro Mary SS, 29" mtb. So I had to make a choice, and that choice was the new 2014 Felt F65X. For this project, I was really lucky to get support from Huntteri a company importing Felt Bicycles in Finland. Without them this wouldn't have been possible.

The F65X comes with SRAM Apex shifters and front derailleur and Rival rear derailleur. The frame is aluminium and the fork is carbon, and the bike has Avid BB5 disc brakes. The weight with pedals is roughly 10 kg, so not the lightest out there, but for me riding in quite harsh conditions, it feels better to have an aluminium bike. 

Web Felt3.jpg

The bike would be put to the test immediately, it was +5 degrees, really windy and it was raining. I would also ride in the evening, in pitch dark.

 The setup with studded tires, front&back-lights and ass savers "mudguard"

The setup with studded tires, front&back-lights and ass savers "mudguard"

It really was dark, and it really was raining. But fortunately I was well prepared with lights, waterproof clothing and thermal layers, so that was no problem. It took me a few kilometers to gain trust in the bike, tried to listen for any strange sounds, tried the brakes, did a couple of all out sprints and brakes and went through the gears. No strange sounds and everything was working perfect. I also had to make a stop to change to lighter gloves, apparently I had prepared really well. 

 And there was light

And there was light

 

Because I've been to a bike fit with my Canyon, I had exact measures on everything, so it was easy to set up the bike to match my road bike, and really, the bike felt comfortable from the first meters and I didn't have to make any changes on the position. The F65X is not as aggressive and stiff as my Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0, but then again you can't compare them because the one is a full carbon bike.

After riding 40 km on the Felt I would say it is a really great cyclocross bike for any beginner or active cyclist. It will probably not be of interest to one competing in CX, but definitely for one that is seeking more kilometers during off season, this is the bike to have. It is comfortable, easy to ride with, and the SRAM groupset seemed to work well. Even for one who never used the "SRAM system" (I'm used to Shimano Ultegra groupset), it felt pretty comfortable and straight forward. After one ride with SRAM, I still would prefer Shimano, but on my second bike that I'm not competing with, it works 100 % fine! The disc brakes, for one who has never set them up, took a while to master to get them straight, but once you have them set up properly, they really do work great. I actually don't know, maybe I would even be ready to see disc brakes on road bikes.. Maybe. 

After only one ride it is hard to write a thorough review ( I will do that once I have more kilometers on it), but the first impression is really good.

Links:

http://www.feltbicycles.com/Finland/2014/Bikes/Cyclo-X/FX-Series/f65x.aspx

http://huntteri.fi/?lang=en&rtn=

 

Now I'm ready for bed and anxiously waiting for the next ride, and especially the Rapha Festive 500! Good Night!

 

Eteläkärjen Ajot 2013

As I wrote last Sunday I'll try to recap the race that was probably the toughest race this season. It was not because it would have been the fastest, but the route was challenging. Eteläkärjen ajot ( Sydspets rundan)  is a 120km race in Tammisaari with only a few flat sections, mainly up and down more or less all the time. 

 Eteläkärjen ajot 120km in Southeastern Finland

Eteläkärjen ajot 120km in Southeastern Finland

 Eteläkärjen ajot elevation 

Eteläkärjen ajot elevation 

Again I had stomach issues the day before and I didn't feel comfortable at all starting in the morning. But off we went, early morning start once again. 

 Pre race good mood

Pre race good mood

 Cyclists preparing

Cyclists preparing

At 10 am the race started. First 10km we cycled behind the pace car, and then the free speed begun. Later I heard there was one cycling team practicing for the Finnish national championships, and they kept the pace really high in the beginning, the first peak went up to 56 km/h. It was really hard to hang in as the roads were narrow and partly in bad shape and cyclists were dropping all the time. It took me approximately 10 km and I had to give up.

I waited for a group to catch me so we could work together, and after a couple of minutes a group catches me and I immediately started keeping the pace as I had a chance to recover for a couple of minutes. As I left the pace-keeping and changed gear the chain jumped off and I was not able to get it back without a stop. It was a quick stop but once again it took me loads of effort to get back to that group.  

The group did a good job keeping up the speed, and the landscapes were really beautiful but at 80 km I started feeling that my stomach issues the day before and in the morning kicked in. I had lost more energy than I had and couldn't fuel properly during the ride. At 100 km my legs were empty, but it seemed I was not the only one. with 15 km to go one cyclist asked if we could work together in a pace just to get everyone to the finish together. I agreed and so did the others. 

And so we rolled to the finish. Great feeling after a really rough day in the saddle. My stomach was upside down and my legs were empty, still I could bring a smile on my face. Sebu had hanged on with the main group almost to the finish and waited at the cars. Klaus arrived some time after me. We all agreed it was really one of the toughest races ever, even if Sebu had a superb day in the saddle, and it was more of a survival for Klaus and me.

One of the best feelings getting home, taking a shower and having pizza and a weissbeer. 

 Well earned post race pizza and beer

Well earned post race pizza and beer

Now a couple of months later I might pick up this race once again to my calendar next year. It is hard, beautiful and a leg killer, just the way we like it!

 

I hope you all had a great weekend! 

 

Myllyn Pyöräily 2013

Race day morning

August 18th was the last race for me this year, even if I didn't know that back then. 136 km in windy conditions, with some stomach issues the day before I still felt I was not 100 % in shape. It had been raining some during the night and the roads were a bit wet in the morning, but the forecast promised some sun during the day. First time ever I was able to roll to the starting line from home, just 700 m away from my door, that was awesome.

Before start

About an hour before start I met Sebu and Klaus at the starting area. Good moods and nice talking to some other cyclist who had cycled the Route 300 the day before in pouring rain. That means 300km in heavy rain. Respect. At 9:45 we lined up for start, among the 50 first cyclists. 

 Sebu, me and Klaus, moments before start

Sebu, me and Klaus, moments before start

 People gathered around stands at the starting area

People gathered around stands at the starting area

 Cyclists lining up

Cyclists lining up

myllyn pyöräily lähtöalue 2013
 Velo Salo cyclists from Salo

Velo Salo cyclists from Salo

Race

At 10:00 the clipping sound from the pedals begun. For 6 km we were following the organizer motorcycle at about 20km/h. Then the bike accelerated and we were off at full speed. Together with Sebu we climbed closer to the race lead and after some kilometers we established ourselves at the front of the pack.  

 Start

Start

After passing the city of Naantali the pace was really not stable, the steep hill at Naantali had cut our group to just some 30 cyclists and some tried to break loose from the group. I instead concentrated on grabbing an energy bar and tried to hang in at the end of the group. I managed to eat and drink and a few kilometers later the pace settled to at around 40 km/h. We started out with a single pace line and everyone worked well. For the first time in a race I was actually cycling behind the organizer motorcycle, being the virtual leader of the race.

After some 40 km we even managed to set up a proper echelon. When we've passed 60 km sign I got slightly worried. I was looking at my Garmin Edge 500 and realized I had a hard time getting below my anaerobic zone. I also started to feel the energy drain that probably was because the pace but also because of earlier stomach issues. Nutrition is everything. I had to start leaving the pace keeping every now and then in the echelon and at 70 km I realized I couldn't hang in a lot more. More than 60 km to go, way too much to do by yourself I thought. I actually got left behind the group a couple of times, but managed to struggle my way back to the back of the group every time. It's really hard to get left behind some 20 meters and then try to take back that when you're at your limits. I told Sebu several times I'm not able to hang in a lot longer. He seemed to be in pretty good shape.  

At 90 km it happened. I was not able to follow the leading group any longer. My body was empty. At the same time Sebu said he'd be okay to ride together with me to the end. At the same time we ran into heavy headwinds. We worked together and soon saw other cyclists that had fallen from the group. Together we worked to close down the gap to the two cyclists and soon we were four. At this point, each time at the front hurt like hell and I started to feel ill. I had to tell the guys I was not able to work for the group any longer. I was lucky to have three stronger cyclists with me and together they did a superb job helping me and us closer to the finish line. Some 10 km before the finish I felt I had regained some energy and was able to work some for the group for the last parts. We were also joined by the Kaupin Kanuunat guy we've met in Vuelta Vantaa some weeks before. And in good mood we cycled together to the finish line. At the end we were among the 15 fastest that day, not bad after all.

 Within the last 10 km, our group of five

Within the last 10 km, our group of five

 Pushing up the last climb

Pushing up the last climb

Post race

Again, it was superb to meet people from previous races and the time below 4 hours was not that bad either. The 90 km average speed of 40 km/h was the fastest 90 km I've ever done, so I can't be too disappointed.

Thanks also to photographers Johanna and Jenni! 

 Next Sunday I will write you about the most challenging route I've seen in Finland, Eteläkärjen Ajot and how that race went for me. 

 

Have a good Sunday, take it easy! 

 

Racing against feeling

Tomorrow is the last race before the main goal, Tour de Helsinki September 1st. Finally I'm able to start from my hometown Turku. Myllyn Pyöräily takes place tomorrow, a 136 km race around the Turku region and the start line is only 1 km from my door, great. Last week I participated in Eteläkärjen ajot, did not go that well due to stomach issues before the race, and still I'm struggling with the same problem. Don't know what's wrong, but fueling with a stomach like this is impossible. So we'll see how tomorrow will go. 

 My number tomorrow

My number tomorrow

The start is at 10 am and I'm looking to finish within 4 hours. You are able to track me live again via Endomondo. My Endomondo page you'll find here.

I'll write you more about the two races next week.  

 

July - a great month of cycling

July was a superb month for cycling here in Finland. The weather was mostly great and I ended up spending almost 50 hours on my bike in July, including two bike races, Royal Pyöräily and Vuelta Vantaa. As usual, I rather share pictures with you than describe every ride in great detail.

 The weather has been superb. Here riding with Juha in Ohensaari.

The weather has been superb. Here riding with Juha in Ohensaari.

 We've just had a few days of rain. Proper clothing keeps you dry

We've just had a few days of rain. Proper clothing keeps you dry

 That means washing.. and washing

That means washing.. and washing

 Also ordered a new pair of shoes, Specialized S-Works Road shoes. Will write a review on them as I have some more hours on them

Also ordered a new pair of shoes, Specialized S-Works Road shoes. Will write a review on them as I have some more hours on them

 One needs to take some hours off the bike as well. Coffee and Calvados is one way of doing it.

One needs to take some hours off the bike as well. Coffee and Calvados is one way of doing it.

 Another way is BBQ at the sea

Another way is BBQ at the sea

 After rain comes sun

After rain comes sun

 Cycling to Ruissalo is easy with proper Finnish bike

Cycling to Ruissalo is easy with proper Finnish bike

 Fixie-warning!

Fixie-warning!

 Me and my bike

Me and my bike

 Klaus with proper ride-snack!

Klaus with proper ride-snack!

 We found some new hilly routes, this one in Paimio

We found some new hilly routes, this one in Paimio

 11 % steep

11 % steep

 Welcome to Finland

Welcome to Finland

I hope August will be as good as July. I will participate in 2 races, Eteläkärjen ajot next Sunday and Myllyn pyöräily the following. These will be the last ones preparing for my main goal this year, Tour de Helsinki 1st of September. I will let you know more about those later. 

 

Enjoy what's left of summer! 

 

Vuelta Vantaa 2013

It was the first time ever for me to ride the Vuelta Vantaa, a 100 km race last Sunday. Due to the short distance I was expecting a bit higher average speeds than usual. 

Once again, it was an early wakeup and we managed to start in time. The morning was somewhat chilly and rainy. On the road just hours before start we found the temperature to be + 13. 

 Proper breakfast

Proper breakfast

We were among the first to arrive and get our numbers. The weather was getting better as well, perfect. Sebu arrived almost at the same time, and our team of three for today was there. We got our bikes together and soon were ready to start.  

 Cyclists preparing

Cyclists preparing

 And my bike, once again, ready to go

And my bike, once again, ready to go

During the 100 km race I would have two 7 dl bottles of high5 electrolyte drink and one Maxim energy bar together with 3 small energy gels. It was a bit windy, and the first section would be headwinds. 

And so we were rolling. 4 kilometers into the race there was a gap between the main group and us, and we ended up missing the main group after all. The group we rode in was pretty unstable. Apparently many riders with almost no experience made the ride pretty nervous and dangerous as well. Fortunately both Sebu and I managed to stay out of trouble. 

The 100 km route consisted of two 50 km laps. The roads were in pretty good shape, which is not usual here in Finland. A 50 km lap is really not that long, so quickly we found ourselves having already 80 km behind us. I felt confident and went to the front to keep up the pace for some kilometers. Then just 10 km before finish, Sebu took the lead. Together with him we kept the pace high and hence kept ourselves out of trouble. We finished nr 2 and 3 from our group.  

 Sebu at the finish, all smiles

Sebu at the finish, all smiles

A big thank goes to the Kaupin Kanuunat duo from Tampere. Especially the guy who was responsible for the pace keeping during the race. Our time was 2 hours 46 minutes, an average of 36,2 km/h.

 Kaupin Kanuunat duo

Kaupin Kanuunat duo

 The last race for Sebu's Focus, next race will be done with a brand new Girs G Star S

The last race for Sebu's Focus, next race will be done with a brand new Girs G Star S

Klaus had fallen to a slower group and also had a puncture at the end. But still did a good job!

 Klaus after finishing

Klaus after finishing

Getting home was once again great, this time due to the fact that the Tour de France would have its final in the evening. And what a stage that was!!

 Cycling is a lifestyle

Cycling is a lifestyle

I also received something new this week, I'll write more about that next week! 'Til then, have a good one!!

Web 20130726_101513_20130728210335992.jpg

 

Vuelta Vantaa

Tomorrow is the fourth race of the year, Vuelta Vantaa. A 100km long ride consists of two 50km laps. The route has some rolling hills, but is mainly flat.  100 km is not that much, and depending on how fresh my legs are tomorrow I'll see if I'm able to do something more than usual. Last days have been preparing for tomorrow, some intervals and today just warming up the legs a bit.

 Yesterday brought some showers, fortunately the sun came out to dry up the roads and my face

Yesterday brought some showers, fortunately the sun came out to dry up the roads and my face

 10 minutes and the roads were dry

10 minutes and the roads were dry

 Also spent some time sprinting

Also spent some time sprinting

 Today was more of a relaxing day in the saddle. Also met some local teammates on the road!

Today was more of a relaxing day in the saddle. Also met some local teammates on the road!

 It was a bit chilly despite the sunshine

It was a bit chilly despite the sunshine

It will be an early wake up again, and we'll leave at around 7 am. As usual, you're able to track me live on http://www.invisiblehillcycling.com/live-tracking/The start is at 11 am Finnish time.

Tomorrow will also be the last day of Tour de France 2013, and the riders will arrive to Paris and Champs-Élysées in the evening. This is part of the celebration of the 100th edition of the Tour de France. Will for sure be a spectacular event! It will be a lot tougher for Mark Cavendish this year if he likes to win the last stage!

 See you tomorrow!

See you tomorrow!

Road Cycling in Archipelago

Probably one of the most beautiful places you can take your road bike to in Finland is the archipelago. You can ride the whole archipelago trail ( 250 km / 155 miles ), or the shorter ( 100km / 62 miles ). The longer route you'll find here, and if you want to read more about the archipelago trail, you'll find some information here. I did the longer one last summer in really chilly conditions and that was one of the hardest days on the bike in rain and + 12 degrees (read the blog post here).

Last weekend I took my road bike and headed for our summerplace in Nauvo/Nagu, and the weather was very different from last year, + 25 and sunshine. 

 On the ferry between the mainland and Nauvo

On the ferry between the mainland and Nauvo

 Travelling to the summerplace

Travelling to the summerplace

It's so amazing being in the archipelago, no cars, just the sound from the nature. Pretty much the only place where you can completely relax.

 How about waking up to this view?

How about waking up to this view?

We also took a boat trip to Utö, located in the outer archipelago. Superb weather.

 The Utö lighthouse

The Utö lighthouse

 Fishing huts

Fishing huts

 Beautiful landscapes

Beautiful landscapes

I often talk about food. Smoked fish is one of my favorites and that's what we did. What's better than self-smoked fish?

 Yum

Yum

On the way back from the archipelago I had to make a stop. Finnish summer can really be awesome, and a warm day in June has plenty of absolutely fantastic aromas. One of them is the smell from the wild strawberries. It's hard not to make a stop and just pick a handful of them. 

 True taste

True taste

And what's better than coming home, sitting down in the sofa and watching a mountain stage of the Tour de France? 

 Relax

Relax

If you ever have a possibility to take a ride in the Finnish archipelago, please do it!

 

Have a good one! 

 

Royal Cycling, a week later

So a week passed by.  Royal Cycling was a new event in my cycling calendar and I was really eager to be racing again. The alarm sounded at 5 am and the morning procedures are at this point quite well trained. It took me less than an hour to eat and pack the things I'd need during the day. And I had plenty of sleep during the night ( 4 hours), so I was ready to go.

 Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 in the morning light

Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0 in the morning light

The car ride to Lahti took us almost 3 hours, and we arrived an hour before start. The weather was perfect, +30 and sunshine. And soon we found ourselves at the starting line.

 Preparing the bikes before start

Preparing the bikes before start

 All smiles just minutes before start

All smiles just minutes before start

 Ready to go

Ready to go

 Cyclist getting ready

Cyclist getting ready

 Start/Finish line

Start/Finish line

I started at the rear of the main peloton, and at 5 km from start the pace car left the front and it was all out. There was a breakaway immediately and the main group split into several smaller groups. Together with a teammate we started chasing groups and worked our way to a group of maybe 20 riders. Not long after that our group was mislead to take a right turn where we should have taken a left turn. This cost us some minutes and we had to work again. The pace was then settled to somewhere around 36 km/h. 

One hour into racing we faced a pretty strong headwind. This section would keep up for quite a long time and pretty soon the group we were in was slowing down. There was not enough cyclists willing to work in the headwind, and the speed dropped a bit. We made a couple of turns as pacekeepers with teammate Sebu, but really didn't want to kill our legs at an early stage. Somewhere around 70 km I started feeling a bit tired, and for a moment a feeling of maybe having to ease up the speed was crawling upon me. Fortunately the headwind eased as we turned east, towards Lahti again and there was a 10 km section of easy terrain. I managed to recover and somewhere around 100 km I started feeling good again.  

The long hill at 125 km was approaching as we worked as pacekeepers in the group. I looked down at my Garmin computer as I left the pacekeeping and took a couple of steps back in the line. 123 km. And there it was. The pace was easing and I shifted down a gear, then two and three gears, the climb had started. Sebu took the pacekeeping. "we'll meet at the finish line, just do your own speed" I shouted to him as I felt I couldn't keep up his pace. "No way, just hang on!" he shouted. Well, that's what I did. 300 meters into the climb I realized it wouldn't be that bad. Actually it wasn't all that steep and not that long either. We kept a good pace with Sebu and a couple of other guys, and found ourselves quickly at the top. And then the final kilometers. Sprinting, speeding, chasing down, keeping up a high pace. Was fun. My legs felt pretty good actually and it was easy to make fast sprints.  

500 meters before finish I made an increase in speed and took the lead of the group. Seconds later I heard the announcer shouting to the radio for a final sprint. Well, what the heck, lets go for it, i thought. As I rammed the pedals I heard a loud cracking sound. Sh*it, was I hit by a puncture? Looked down at the wheels. No. Started pushing again. Same cracking sound and at that time I was passed by another sprinting cyclist. My chain and rear hub were so worn out that they slipped when I put all in. So, I was not first to finish from our group, but anyhow all smiles at the finish! Superb day on the bike once again. We chatted with the other riders and I thanked them for a great job. 

 Pulla, coffee and drinks at the finish. Superb job by the officials

Pulla, coffee and drinks at the finish. Superb job by the officials

Not all had a great day on the bike. Our third team member had technical difficulties already at the 40 km mark, he had lost his freewheel. That meant he had to ride a "single-speed bike" for 90 kilometers.  

 Despite technical difficulties he didn't give up

Despite technical difficulties he didn't give up

I hope you managed to read all the way down here. I always try to keep the stories short, but as I write I find myself caught in that feeling of being on the bike. My apologies. 

 Energy

Energy

Have a good one, remember to watch the last week of the Tour!

A superb day of road cycling

Some days are better than others, and today was one of those days you'll remember even on the coldest and darkest winter days. It was simply superb. 

Today's schedule was to ride some easy 4 - 5 hours and then get back home to watch the end of stage 2 of the Tour de France. Around 11 am I took the bike out, +23 degrees and sunshine, light winds. Perfect. 

 Smooth

Smooth

I also decided to take a new route section today, took one wrong turn before I found the actual route. And luckily so, it was really beautiful. Idyllic yards, beautiful landscapes and winding roads.  

 Ponies ahead!

Ponies ahead!

 Nice scenery

Nice scenery

 Idyllic neighborhoods  

Idyllic neighborhoods  

 Tour de France colors

Tour de France colors

 Dear Lord, please make the summer last forever

Dear Lord, please make the summer last forever

 Decided to make a stop for a couple of minutes. Just to listen to the birds, the summer breeze and to smell the great tang of summer

Decided to make a stop for a couple of minutes. Just to listen to the birds, the summer breeze and to smell the great tang of summer

 It's sometimes nice to vary the ride snacks. Raisins are great nutrition for your rides with plenty of fructose and energy.

It's sometimes nice to vary the ride snacks. Raisins are great nutrition for your rides with plenty of fructose and energy.

For those who want to have the nutrition facts for raisins, here you have it:

Nutritional value of raisins (100g) 

  • 299 calories
  • 0.5 g fat
  • 79 g carbohydrates
  • 59 g sugar
  • 4 g dietary fiber
  • 3 g protein 

The ride was filled with euphoria. Many great thoughts and ideas as well as just plain enjoyment of the fact that I was riding my bike on a day like this. I will certainly memorize this day, and go back to this day whenever I have a bad one.

 Four and a half hours later I arrived home, just in time for the action on the second stage of the Tour de France 2013. And what a stage that was. I prepared some recovery food and coffee and enjoyed the stage. Superb. Many great strong attacks and no crashes. And once again a demonstration about how strong will and determination can take you far. In the last kilometers there was a small breakaway, and as usual before the finish the group started looking at each other because no one wanted to do the dirty job. Jan Bakelants got rid of that group and barely finished before the main group with Peter Sagan in second. Huge effort by Bakelants, and surely a day he'll never forget. 

 Post ride Tdf with Italian coffee #awesomeness

Post ride Tdf with Italian coffee #awesomeness

Have a good one!