events

Vauhkiksen Muistoajot

Vauhkiksen Muistoajot

In August we lost a great friend, a true cycling enthusiast who lived and breathed cycling. Marko Vauhkonen (29.10.1965 - 8.8.2015) dedicated his life to cycling and he was a tireless worker. One wish Marko had was that a charity ride would be organized in his name, where part of the income would go to leukemia research and the other half would go directly to support the Finnish junior cyclists. During last week these events were organized throughout Finland and I'm sure Marko would have been proud to see the so many riders participate.

Ready to begin the 2015 racing season

Ready to begin the 2015 racing season

The wait  is soon over, the 2015 racing season will finally begin this Sunday. It will be a short 55 km introduction to lactate overdose for my body that has been sleeping for almost half a year. You can do a race hard despite the shortness of it, and I guess I'm ready to digest the lactate.

Fincycling officially launched

The project launched by Kilpapyöräily ry, to lift the Finnish competitive cycling to a level where it deserves to be at, was finally publicly presented yesterday. Fincycling.com is the site where you will in the future be able to find all about the Fincycling Team and the progress. Of course I will be closely following this team and the project as well. To have such a professional and experienced squad including big names in cycling, both nationally and internationally known names (Carlström, Veikkanen, Wegelius, Laukka, Kananen and the list goes on and on) makes this project really stand out.

Minutes before the press conference

Fincycling is a great example of what passion and will can create. The people involved have invested a lot of their spare time and money to this project, for many it is about giving back to cycling what cycling has given them. It is with great warmth and joy I watch this project progress day by day closer to the season start.

All smiles!

It was also great to see that media had found interest in the project, our national public broadcasting channel YLE also presented Fincycling in the evening sports-news in both Finnish and Swedish. Link to Finnish here and in Swedish here

Kjell Carlström's jersey was handed over to the Sports Museum of Finland 

Marko Vauhkonen telling us about the project in detail

Good stories shared

We also connected with Kjell Carlström, live on stage 6 of Tirreno-Adriatico with 120km to go.

In a couple of months the Fincycling team has taken great leaps forward, and knowing the pace and the passion for the ones working on this project, we are surely going to see some great news in the upcoming months as well. 

Fincycling fact sheet:

  • Builds on the work of Kilpapyöräily ry founded 19.10.2013
  • Includes 27 enthusiasts, 4 Tour de France participants, 11 Nordic Championships medals, more than 600 national cycling medals (and the list goes on)
  • Provide young cyclist with a complete assistance package including for instance; personal coaching and training, tutoring, providing assistance in building relationships with media, fans and sponsors, mental training and much more
  • Begins with boys 16-18 years old, but will grow to support both genders and also other cycling sports such as track and mountain biking
  • First year will consist of 10-12 international races with some 40-60 international racing days
  • The door will be open for all potential boys in this age, there will be a rotation in squads going to the different international races
  • Budget this year 160 000 €

The Fincycling team car

So stay tuned, the season begins in April, I will keep you updated!

Pedalare pedalare!

IAM Cycling - before start of Tirreno-Adriatico 2014

 Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Tomorrow it begins, the 2014 edition of Tirreno-Adriatico "race of the two seas". Together with Paris-Nice it is one of the first really big stage races in Europe for the season. As a fan of this race I'm really looking forward for it to begin. I had the opportunity to talk to Kjell Carlström before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico. This year Carlström is directeur sportif for IAM Cycling together with Marcello Albasini and the expectations are set pretty high.

 Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Picture from www.iamcycling.ch

Teams for Tirreno-Adriatico together with Paris-Nice can be built up by grand tour cyclists targeting Giro d'Italia or Tour de France, but for IAM Cycling the team is built up differently: 

"Our riders consist, for both Paris-Nice and Tirreno, of classics riders, preparing them for upcoming classics as well as GC riders. In Tirreno we also can target some sprints. For us the goal is not to prepare the riders for Giro or the Tour."

Having names such as Haussler and Löfkvist in the lineup, IAM Cycling is a strong team. According to Carlström the team is able to perform well and maybe even surprise some of us watchers, but the main focus is on doing a good race and sticking to the game plan. Even if there are really strong teams and cyclists around, IAM Cycling will not focus on them.

"Our goal for Tirreno is to do a good team time trial, win a stage and have one rider in the top 10 GC. I'm satisfied if we fulfill these goals and I do believe we can hit it".

The weather for Tirreno this year seems to be rather good, and Carlström does not believe weather conditions will play a great role this year.

"Even if there can be windy sections along the coast, I don't believe it will affect the outcome too much. Probably it can reduce the amount of riders in the peloton, but nothing significant".

Tirreno-Adriatico this year has plenty of time trials. The race begins and ends with a time trial. Stage 1 will be a team time trial and the last stage an individual time trial. In grand tours we've seen time trials have been of key importance for the last few years. As Carlström mentioned, a good team time trial will be important for the team. 

"We've done a couple of extra training days here in Italy and several TTT-specific workouts with the team. We've also ridden the TTT stage several times with the team in order to find the best tactics and technique for the route". 

Cycling in Italy often means cycling in the mountains, Tirreno is no exception. Stage 4 and 5 will be stages for climbers. IAM Cycling has not been doing any specific training for these stages but Carlström admits the latter part of stage 5 with a climb up to Passo Lanciano and an uphill finish will be really hard. Looking at the lineups and the route of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico, there is according to me no doubt that it is a harder race than the Paris-Nice and Kjell Carlström feels the same.  "I agree to 100%".  There are many strong teams and riders, Richie Porte, Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team), Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), Peter Sagan and Ivan Basso (Cannondale), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) just a few to mention. No doubt this will be a great race.

The results so far this season has not been the best for IAM Cycling, but Carlström states that it has still been okay. "Most of the cyclist are building form and are close to reaching the first top form for this year, so we can really expect good things to happen now".

Looking at the IAM Cycling lineup for Tirreno-Adriatico and especially Haussler, Löfkvist and Elmiger one could say they do have a slight positive upswing in results and shape even if they, according to me could still have done more. Carlström admits that this is partly true.

"You might be right with that, but then a little luck could have changed a lot. Many of our riders have shown really good training results, but of course races are races and many things needs to go right in order to win."

As a final question to Kjell Carlström, I wanted him to describe the team IAM Cycling we will see in the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014.

"A really tight team working well together and a team that will fight well against a hard competition"

Tomorrow we will see the first stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014 and the race will be broadcasted by Eurosport starting at 14:30 CET each race day. 

Below some links for more information:

 

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

Web IMG_3026.jpg
 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

Rapha Festive 500 First Half

It's been a couple of long days in the rain. As said earlier, I was able to begin my Rapha Festive 500 a couple of days late, hence I've been spending more time in the rain than what feels good...

festivetrack.png

The weather has been as the forecast promised, rain, rain, wind, chilly and some more wind. After 3 days in the saddle now, every day has been rainy, especially yesterday's 100 km ride, rain from beginning 'til end. And winds have been around 8-10 m/s on average. So really some pretty hard and long days in the saddle for my legs that really aren't i shape. Having said that, I'll let you browse through pictures instead of me complaining about the weather and sore legs.

Warm-up ride

On Wednesday night after arriving home I took a short warm-up ride before the "real" rides.

 Cycling in darkness

Cycling in darkness

 Lights on

Lights on

 Stylish

Stylish

 Foggy

Foggy

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 1

On Thursday I tracked some 85 km. It was windy and grey.

 Ready?

Ready?

 Is that the sun?

Is that the sun?

 Kirjalansalmi

Kirjalansalmi

 View from the office

View from the office

 View from bottom

View from bottom

 Short stop

Short stop

 End of the road

End of the road

 Finnish landscape

Finnish landscape

 Mud

Mud

 All smiles..

All smiles..

 No asphalt around

No asphalt around

 Second stop

Second stop

 At the sea

At the sea

 Ridesnack

Ridesnack

 And coffee of course

And coffee of course

 Black gold

Black gold

 It has been a really stormy winter so far

It has been a really stormy winter so far

 More sand

More sand

 Misty roads

Misty roads

 Find the Felt

Find the Felt

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 2

The second day was all about rain and wind. + 5 degrees, 8 m/s and rain from the beginning until the end. 100 km tracked, I was pleased with that. Actually, once you've been riding for 3 hours in constant rain, you can laugh about it! Some of the pictures are not that great quality, I blame the weather.

 Grey again

Grey again

 Ridesnack for today

Ridesnack for today

 Raindrops keep falling on my head

Raindrops keep falling on my head

 Wet roads

Wet roads

 Finnish archipelago

Finnish archipelago

 Felt waiting to get moving again

Felt waiting to get moving again

 View from the office, more rain

View from the office, more rain

 Naantali sun

Naantali sun

 

 

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 3

Today was a shorter day in the saddle, only 74 km. The weather was slightly better than yesterday, 10 m/s + 5 and rain only the last 1,5 hours. After this ride I've also tracked 57 % of the Rapha Festive 500 total. Great!

 Today's fuel

Today's fuel

 Finnish forest

Finnish forest

 Forest Felt

Forest Felt

 Exit

Exit

 More Finnish landscapes, grey and wet

More Finnish landscapes, grey and wet

Only some 200 + kilometers to go, and no rain tomorrow (they say..). 

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Rapha Festive 500 countdown

It's not many days until Christmas, and same goes for the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. As mentioned earlier I'll be tracking live with Endomondo. To ensure my kilometers will be tracked I will use two phones tracking, one to Endomondo and the other to Strava. So if my Garmin Edge 500 for some reason fails I'll have a backup. 

 2 x Galaxy S3 phones takes care of back-up tracking

2 x Galaxy S3 phones takes care of back-up tracking

 Main device will be my Garmin Edge 500

Main device will be my Garmin Edge 500

I've been closely monitoring the weather as well. It seems I will be riding in some heavy winds, with temperatures slightly above zero and rain mixed with snow and ice. Not the conditions you'd like to have, but then again, with perfect weather conditions this wouldn't be a challenge right? I have added a small weather widget to the left hand side of the page. That will tell you what the weather condition is at the moment here in Turku.

I will also be doing some video from my rides. Hopefully I'll receive my helmet mount for the GoPro Hero 3 before Christmas, I was lucky to be able to borrow the camera from a friend (thanks Antti!), since mine was stolen in Italy.

 I will also record some video with this, GoPro Hero 3

I will also record some video with this, GoPro Hero 3

I hope you all are ready for the holidays, looking at Twitter and Facebook, it seems many of you are enjoying your last day at work today before heading for Christmas.

Drive safe!

Rapha Festive 500

For the first time ever I will participate in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. The challenge is to ride your bike outdoors 500 km or more between Christmas eve and New year's eve. 

I will probably target on 500 km, but if the weather is good, maybe there can be more kilometers ridden, who knows. I've also decided that if I really want to improve my cycling, I need to ride more. Pretty obvious. So I've been on a shopping spree and decided to finally buy a cyclocross bike. Now I'm able to track both hours and kilometers even during late autumn, winter and early spring, not just spinning on the trainer indoors. I'm really excited to be honest. The bike I bought is a Felt F65X 2014 cyclocross bike. It's not the lightest nor the most expensive one, but damn I like how it looks and feels. I've just put the last pieces together and tomorrow I'll head out for a test ride, can't wait! I will surely write a review as I've tracked some kilometers with the bike.

 Felt F65X 2014

Felt F65X 2014

So 9 days until the challenge starts and 9 days 'til Christmas. I just hope the weather will be somewhat okay. According to the weather forecasts, it should be pretty warm, somewhere around +0 degrees and no snow. Would have been nice to ride in white landscapes instead of the grey ones, but you have to take whatever weather you have. 

If you want to read more about the challenge you can do so on:

http://www.rapha.cc/festive-500-2013

http://www.strava.com/challenges/festive-500-2013

 

I'll try to shoot some videos and pictures and you can find them when they're created on:

The Invisible Hill Facebook page  

invisiblehillcycling instagram page

 

The routes will be uploaded to Strava and you will be able to track me live as well on my Endomondo page

 

 

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!

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!

Le Tour de France 2013

So we've seen the first stage of the Tour de France 2013. Hectic chaos would probably be the best words to describe what happened yesterday. First we saw Johnny Hoogerland crash (again..) and then we heard about the Orica Greenedge bus that had created a chaos at the finish line. 

 The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

The famous Orica-Greenedge bus (photo from www.steephill.tv)

This gave organizers a headache and they had to make a decision to have the finish already at the 3 km to go line. At this point the riders were only 10 km from the original finish line and hence the teams started immediately to line up for sprint. Moments before the "new" finish at 3 km sign the bus was removed and the organizers decided to move the finish back to the original one. This lead to immediate change in pace from 100 % to less and this disorganized chaos led to a big crash.

 The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

The big crash before finish took down both Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan (picture from www.steephill.tv)

When the big sprinters were away, Marcel Kittel had a pretty easy job to take the stage win. Only the Norwegian Alexander Kristoff from team Katusha gave him a decent fight.

 Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Marcel Kittel the first to wear yellow in Tour de France 2013 (picture from www.steephill.tv)

Today will take the riders to mountains already. Hopefully everyone who crashed yesterday are able to start. The mountain stage should make the bunch a bit more relaxed. Let's at least hope so. 

I also found a great graphic that visualizes the development of the Tour de France (picture by Bikeraceinfo.com):

Enjoy the greatest sport event of the year!

Pirkan Pyöräily 2013

A week later, Pirkan Pyöräily is a great memory. It all started with waking up at 3:50 am. Porridge, bananas some bread and coffee was my fuel for the morning. I was eager to start driving towards Tampere. 

 4:15 am, heading towards Tampere

4:15 am, heading towards Tampere

The weather was perfect, and a couple of hours later I arrived in Tampere and the area where the start for Pirkan Pyöräily would be. In half an hour I had everything prepared for start. 

 Bike set up and ready to go

Bike set up and ready to go

 My number

My number

Alexander Stubb was also on the starting line. He started in the first group with other "triathlon cyclists". He was interviewed, and told he would take a run after finishing the 134km course to prepare for the Iron Man competition.

 Alexander Stubb before start

Alexander Stubb before start

In Pirkan Pyöräily, every 1-2 minutes there is one smaller group of 20 cyclist heading out to the course. This makes the ride much safer as you thereby avoid huge groups of several hundred riders. We also were to keep our pace as fast as possibly by ourselves, so I was to take part in the pace-keeping as well.

 Pirkan Pyöräily at the start

Pirkan Pyöräily at the start

My group started at 8:07 and we decided to keep up a pace of 34km/h. Soon we passed a couple of groups who started minutes earlier. From the first kilometers I felt this would be fun. And it was. The weather was perfect, almost no wind, perfect for a good pace-keeping. In the video below (by jraipala) you can see my group with me as pace-keeper passing a group of riders:

After 50km I felt a really nasty pain in my hip, and a couple of times I actually thought about giving up. Glad I didn't. As the kilometers passed I still felt pretty strong. I several times helped other riders to get back to our group. This was because I myself went to the back of the group each time I took a snack. People were thanking for the help, and everyone was really, despite being tired, all smiles. Some 20km before finish I worked for 1,5km at the front of our group, and went again to the back of the group because I felt I needed a longer cool-down. At that time the group for some reason fell apart. Me, being at the back reacted too late to this. Having my heartbeat steady just a bit, I made an effort to close the gap of 150m. My heart was pounding and I felt my legs and lungs burning. 30 meters away from the group I had to give up. Ridiculous. But that was 30 meters too much to close down to ensure I still could ride 20 km to the finish.

The last 15 km we rode together with 2 other cyclists and got an average speed of 36,1 km/h. I was really surprised by the time, being almost half an hour faster than I initially had expected. Had a talk with the other guys from the group, and once again we were all smiles. Superb cycling event for anyone, even beginners!

My hip was aching like hell, but the euphoria of a superb ride just made me laugh about it. After spending almost an hour talking to others I jumped in the car and headed for Turku. And that feeling when you open a cold beer, 12 hours, 400km (by car) + 134 km later, and collapse in the sofa, no words!

Hope you had energy to read through the whole post. Next week I'll get back to you with more updates about what's happening training-wise!  

 Relax!

Relax!

Pirkan Pyöräily

The second race of the year will take place tomorrow. Pirkan pyöräily takes place in Tampere, and the distance I will participate in is 134km. You'll find the route here. I will join the group that will chase the fastest times below 4½ hours. Will be interesting to see how I'll hang in that group. 

 Fueling up

Fueling up

In Pirkan Pyöräily there is no one taking care of the pace keeping but the group itself. This will mean I need to work partly during the whole race which is something totally new for me in a race.  

 A couple of easy rides behind to get the legs ready for tomorrow

A couple of easy rides behind to get the legs ready for tomorrow

The start is at 8 am, which means I need to start driving towards Tampere already at 5am, the latest. That's why I'll keep this post kind of short, and head for bed now. As before you can watch me live on Endomondo  here. And I'll try to post some photos to the facebook page also as it happens. 

 

 All set up

All set up

So hope you'll stay tuned.

Enjoy your Saturday evening!

 

Post Giro d'Espoo 2013

Giro d'Espoo 2013 is now behind. I tried to keep this post as short as possible, but you know, sometimes that's difficult. I hope you don't fall asleep or bounce back to browsing through your facebook feed, at least not straight away. I also had a cam with me during the race so there's both video and pictures from the in-race, so you'll get a picture of how it is cycling in a bunch.

We needed to wake up quite early to get from Turku to Espoo in time. That time was 5.50am. Due to "whatever that thing in my knee was", I slept poorly, waking up every now and then to check how the knee felt. I managed to pour in some porridge and bread in me and 7.30 am the bike was in the car and we were traveling towards Espoo. Before packing the bike in, I took a short ride with the bike to feel how the knee felt while cycling. It didn't feel good at all.

 7:30 am, ready to go

7:30 am, ready to go

Nervous we arrived to Espoo well before the start. We got our stuff from the organizers and went back to the car to prepare. Not only was I nervous because of my knee, but also because of the wind. I'd say it was around 10 m/s and winds gusting up to 15 m/s. Having probably many beginners in the group, these heavy wind conditions could be a dangerous thing to have. The only thought at this point was to be able to finish the race.

 My number today

My number today

It was sunny though, and when we lined up for the start, I'd taken a short warm-up, and the knee felt a bit better. Hope started crawling upon me. It was again nice to see that cycling brings so many people together, and in a country like Finland where the public opinion is that you shouldn't talk to strangers, those barriers were all of a sudden removed. Had a nice talk with other cyclists and the mood was  good.

 Bike ready for racing

Bike ready for racing

 We, ready to race

We, ready to race

 Cyclists lining up

Cyclists lining up

 This picture might give you an idea of the wind...

This picture might give you an idea of the wind...

 10 minutes before start

10 minutes before start

And then we rolled. The start was somewhat hectic as usual, but all in all the first kilometers went pretty okay. But the wind. I already felt we were in for a  pretty tough 3 hours in the saddle today.  

 Passing the start/finish gate

Passing the start/finish gate

 First unfortunate to have a puncture in the first 10km

First unfortunate to have a puncture in the first 10km

111 km is not that long a race, and in just a couple of hours we were well on our way to approach the finish. Passing 70 km we had some rain, but for me that was only a nice "refreshing" shower. The knee had functioned pretty ok, but I could feel the legs were already a bit tired. As usual, even if I had started in the front of the group I again found myself at the back of the group. And every 2-5km there were some gaps I had to close down when the cyclists in front of me were not able to follow the pace anymore. A bit frustrating situation. The idea is to ride in two lines, but in the very beginning people who for some reason think the will finish earlier at the front of the group will pass you who follow this principle of riding in two lines. They pass you on both left and right, making it sometimes pretty dangerous. And at some point, these cyclists find out the pace is too high and the fall behind. And this is where the "close down the gaps" begin.

 Here's a visualization of a gap taking shape

Here's a visualization of a gap taking shape

The heavy wind made it extra difficult, especially when the wind was blowing from the side. Cycling in 50+km/h in some sections and suddenly getting a blast of wind from the side easily throws you 1-2 meters sideways. Fortunately I managed to hold on and avoided crashing. There was 3 small crashes in the bunch during the whole race. Those were all in uphill sections and caused by stupidity. The big picture though was pretty clean riding.

 This is what causes problems, never do like this when you can not be sure there are no cars coming. And anyhow when you're riding in a pacegroup, you win nothing by taking the left lane.

This is what causes problems, never do like this when you can not be sure there are no cars coming. And anyhow when you're riding in a pacegroup, you win nothing by taking the left lane.

 First almost crash

First almost crash

 The problems seemed to build up towards the end

The problems seemed to build up towards the end

 Same section just moments later

Same section just moments later

I knew there was a big hill at the 100km mark. Legs were slightly tired but I felt the effect of having that number on my back. When we got to the bottom of that climb I got out of the saddle and from the back of the bunch I got to the front, and kept on attacking. I was joined by a couple of other cyclists and together we kept a pretty good pace. The last 10 km are mostly downhill, only 3 hills to pass. I did the job in those climbs, otherwise the other guys kept the pace high. I was really enjoying cycling! My legs felt really good, I was able to follow all sprints easily and felt strong. I also tried to cheer the others to try to hang in. In the last km I still felt strong, and took the lead. Shouted out to the others to follow and made an increase in pace. Unfortunately the others were not able to follow, but still they had almost the same final time as I did. Breakaway groups are the best thing in cycling, and having a strong group is so motivating. There are no words to explain that.   

 At the bottom of the hill where I made the attack. The front of the pacegroup is already at the top of the hill.

At the bottom of the hill where I made the attack. The front of the pacegroup is already at the top of the hill.

 At the top of the same hill I've passed the front and was chasing down a breakaway

At the top of the same hill I've passed the front and was chasing down a breakaway

 A moment later there was another hill, and I managed to pass the breakaway and started chasing the next group that would then be the breakaway that kept 'til the end

A moment later there was another hill, and I managed to pass the breakaway and started chasing the next group that would then be the breakaway that kept 'til the end

 This guy, I assume his number was 625, was super strong and made a huge effort!

This guy, I assume his number was 625, was super strong and made a huge effort!

I arrived to finish with a time that was 4 minutes "worse" than last year. I was not disappointed, quite the opposite. The last 10 km was super strong riding, the time was worse because the group could not keep the pace quite as high as last year due to the heavy winds. 

 Crossing the finish line

Crossing the finish line

At the finish we chatted with the "breakaway" guys and everyone was all smiles, me included. I also received a big thank you from a guy that was riding in the same start group. He had been riding behind me almost all the way, and thanked me for a steady and safe riding, that made his journey much more pleasant. It's always really nice to get this kind of feedback, and made me even more pleased with my race. It usually is hectic with braking and sprinting in a big group, but you can always minimize this by looking over the shoulder of the guy in front of you. By doing this you know what is happening and this minimizes sudden braking and situations usually does not come as surprises when you know what's happening in the group a couple of rows in front of you.  

At the finish, I also had some time to chat with Alexander Stubb. A great person who also enjoys cycling a lot. Always cheerful and happy to talk with you even if he would be busy (even if I had a Samsung to take this picture with, and not a Nokia).  

 At the finish with Alexander Stubb. He had beaten my time, again.

At the finish with Alexander Stubb. He had beaten my time, again.

I waited at the finish for my friend to arrive, and during that time the muscles had cooled down and I could feel the pain in my knee, back and hip. I had probably unconsciously been careful with my knee while cycling, and hence probably did not ride in the best possible position. But that didn't matter at that point, I had finished, I didn't crash and it had once again been a superb race!

 Klaus arriving

Klaus arriving

 Recovery snack

Recovery snack

And here's a 20 minute video from the last 10 km and the breakaway (available in HD):

So if you ever doubt taking part in any cycling event, read this post again and just do it!

 

Hope you managed to stay awake all the way 'til the end.  

 

Have a good one!