races

Lattomeriajo 2015

Lattomeriajo 2015

Lattomeriajot is the traditional season opening race for the Finnish road cycling clubs. This year the race was ridden in Ulvila and consisted of a 25 km lap that was either ridden 2, 3 or 4 times depending on which group you were riding in. The race (Elite) was won by Roope Nurmi (TWD-Länken).

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 season start - part two

Fincycling season is well on its way, and so far the team has been racing in Estonia, Finland and Poland. Next up is a stage race in Finland this weekend (AHH etappiajot) and Switzerland (46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud) next week. Aleksi Hänninen, Niklas Henttala, Lauri Koski, Erik Relanto, Jaakko Hänninen and Antto Tunkkari build up the Fincycling team in AHH etappiajot and the team representing Fincycling in 46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud is Aleksi Hänninen, Niklas Henttala, Lauri Koski, Erik Relanto, Antto Tunkkari and Marco Tapio Niemi. 

As a small wrap up from the early season start here is a small recap of day 2 in Turku a couple of weeks ago, part 1 you can still find here.

After a great day one and a successful gala-evening Fincycling was ready for day two, TS Kortteliajot in Turku, a real spring classic in Finland. Every team and rider in Finland wants to win this race, and usually it ends up in a bunch sprint. Team Fincycling was having five riders for the race,  Sasu Halme, Aleksi Hänninen, Antto Tunkkari, Waltteri Lepistö and Arttu Suvisaari. 

 Discussing team tactics before the race with Charly Wegelius and Marko Vauhkonen

Discussing team tactics before the race with Charly Wegelius and Marko Vauhkonen

 Heading for the start

Heading for the start

 Aleksi had a great first day in Turku

Aleksi had a great first day in Turku

 Checking out today's menu. The guys are of powered by PowerBar

Checking out today's menu. The guys are of powered by PowerBar

 And off it went, Fincycling at the front, of course!

And off it went, Fincycling at the front, of course!

 The boys reacted to all breakaway attempts, strong performance once again!

The boys reacted to all breakaway attempts, strong performance once again!

 Aleksi was well placed at all time to secure a good GC position

Aleksi was well placed at all time to secure a good GC position

 Who's keeping up the pace and making the race difficult for everyone? Fincycling of course!

Who's keeping up the pace and making the race difficult for everyone? Fincycling of course!

 Marko and Charly watching the guys perform

Marko and Charly watching the guys perform

 Sasu had a super strong day! He was attacking and attacking and closing gaps, working like Voigt one could say!

Sasu had a super strong day! He was attacking and attacking and closing gaps, working like Voigt one could say!

 Marko giving instructions on the go

Marko giving instructions on the go

 Antto was misplaced in the bunch and lost control to the front and was flagged off towards the end.He really fought until the end! Charly giving feedback and support for a good job done.  

Antto was misplaced in the bunch and lost control to the front and was flagged off towards the end.He really fought until the end! Charly giving feedback and support for a good job done.  

 TWD Länken had a stronger team this time and Ilari Kahila took the win after a perfect leadout.

TWD Länken had a stronger team this time and Ilari Kahila took the win after a perfect leadout.

 A superb job all day by Sasu, he finished 7th with the same time as the winner.

A superb job all day by Sasu, he finished 7th with the same time as the winner.

 Fincycling after the finish. Good job all weekend!

Fincycling after the finish. Good job all weekend!

It was great to see the guys executing the tactics set up for both days and they really made the race hard for everyone. Experience is what is needed to win, the boys are on their way on the learning curve, and having seen the attitude the whole team has it is a promising start indeed.

So let's wish our guys the best for AHH etappiajot and the 46ème Tour du Pays de Vaud next week.

 

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!

Matteo Pelucchi wins stage 2 of Tirreno-Adriatico

IAM Cycling has had a great start for the Tirreno-Adriatico 2014. Stage 1 yesterday (TTT) was a solid performance by the whole team. IAM Cycling crossed the finish line having an average speed of 52,7 km/h losing 50 seconds to the winning team. After the stage I spoke briefly with Kjell Carlström and congratulated about a solid performance. Kjell was pleased with the performance, but said that they have room for improvement. I also asked about stage 2, would that be a stage for Pelucchi and is he in good shape. With a smile he gave me a short answer and stated that Pelucchi is in okay form but will face a hard competition.

 IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

IAM Cycling on stage 1 (picture from iamcycling.ch)

 Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

Matteo Pelucchi (picture from iamcycling.ch)

And today Matteo Pelucchi did just that, he won the stage 2 with a really outstanding performance in the last 100 m. The last kilometers were really hectic and with just 10 kilometers to go we saw a crash in the peloton. Fortunately IAM Cycling was already well positioned at that time. I had the chance to talk to Kjell after the stage and this was also the plan for IAM Cycling, to be positioned somewhere close to the front well before the finish line. "We had discussed the importance of being in front and the guys executed it perfectly". With just less than 3 km to go we also saw Kittel go down. I asked about if these are situations that you as a sports director inform the team about. "It was not necessary at that point to inform the riders, even if a stage winner favorite goes down, it's up to the riders to do what they do best and to focus on their own thing. Especially that close to the finish, you don't want to confuse the riders".

There were several teams trying to build up a leadout train, but all of those attempts were unsuccessful. It was almost chaotic at times, as it tends to be close to the finish line at a sprint stage. At a point it looked as if IAM Cycling riders could be trapped on the left side of the bunch. I asked how IAM Cycling had planned the last km and if they tried to do a leadout for Pelucchi. "A leadout was not our intention, we wanted to bring Pelucchi to a good position for the final sprint, and they riders performed exactly as we had planned. Sprints are always hectic and one moment you can be trapped and a second later you might find a perfect gap to break through for a sprint. When it comes to the final kilometer and meters it's all about your instincts and trying to feel how your legs are and to decide when to launch your sprint. We've been close many times this year, but today we finally got all those pieces right".

 Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Crossing the finish line (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Watching the final 100 m on TV, one could see that Pelucchi first had to move sideways from left to right and then round Greipel from the right side. He actually tracked more meters than many other riders in the final 100 m. According to Carlström there was a slight headwind and Pelucchi managed to time his sprint perfectly taking advantage of Greipel's rear wheel. A solid performance by a young sprinter. "It was really well done by Pelucchi and the whole team leading Pelucchi to a such a great position. And of course a great honor to win in front of the home crowd, taking his first big victory in Italy. At the same time it is a big moment for the whole IAM Cycling team, winning on this level". 

You can read an interview and reactions by Matteo Pelucchi himself on IAM Cycling website. This victory he dedicates to Kristof Goddaert.

“This victory is for you, Kristof.  I gave everything I had to have this chance to dedicate a win to you up there, from where you are looking down and watching us.”-Matteo Pelucchi - IAM Cycling website

 "This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

"This victory is for Kristof" (picture from http://www.iamcycling.ch/)

Tomorrow is a new day of racing, but after such a great victory I assumed the team will celebrate the win somehow. "Yes, the riders will have a glass of wine at dinner, but tomorrow will be a new and a hard day in the saddle so no more than that."

About stage 3, how is IAM Cycling targeting that, another stage win tomorrow? "It will be a hard day and the final short hill is really hard. Of course we have several cards to play now, but it will be hard. There might also be a chance for a breakaway tomorrow, if a group of 8-10 riders can build up a breakaway that could go all the way. Of course we will look out for those. But for the final sprint, if there's no breakaway we can have Haussler, Elmiger and maybe Pelucchi to go for it".

So tomorrow will be really interesting. IAM Cycling has now achieved at least one of their goals set up, taking a stage win. A good TTT performance was another, maybe that's already two goals achieved? You can read about the other goals in the previous interview with Kjell Carlström here

So stay tuned for stage 3 tomorrow, live at 14:30 CET on Eurosport. And hopefully we will see some more great performance by IAM Cycling. 


Enjoy!


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.  

 

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!

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! 

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!

Ready to race?

In the last posts before the break I wrote about my training progress and I was actually very pleased by the way my body responded to the gym and trainer exercise. This is how the progress W/Kg was developing from January to March:

 W/Kg progress, blue line is the expected result and the red one is the actual progress

W/Kg progress, blue line is the expected result and the red one is the actual progress

Due to the fact I don't have a Cycle Power Meter on my bike (these calculations were made by the indoor training software) it is quite hard to keep track on this development. That has led to the feeling I am making zero progress. I've now ridden 1000km outdoors (total of slightly above 2000km) this year, which is almost the same as last year at this time. So with the training I've made during winter and the fact that I've ridden slightly more, that should result in me being in better shape. Is that so?

During March I felt the overtraining creeping (read more about overtraining on Trainingpeaks). So I had to take a break in training. Probably that led to a drop in the "good feeling" about training and resulted in actual performance loss as well. It was a pity taking some time off, but that was a must. Together with high expectations that is probably the reason why I feel I am underperforming. 

That's why I will be doing some serious change in my training, I'll let you know more about that later.

This week will bring the first race of the year, Giro d'Espoo. It was a great event last year, 111km of superb riding in great weather (you can read about last year's event here). The weather now looks quite the opposite, +15 degrees and rain. I also heard the roads are in quite bad shape at some sections, so it can become a quite dangerous ride. So maybe I'm not able to beat last year's time, but anyhow, just finishing will probably feel great.

The route will be the same as last year, as mentioned 111km mostly rolling hills. For all you attending, click here to see all the sections which are in bad shape. I really hope there won't be any big crashes, would be really disappointing to have the bike destroyed and a bone broken with the whole season in front of us.

During the spring we have had some rainy rides, which hopefully will help us now. I also bought some new waterproof clothing, that I'll review at a later stage, they've been working great.

 Dirt all over

Dirt all over

 You should always clean your bike immediately after a soaky ride!

You should always clean your bike immediately after a soaky ride!

 Rain creates happy cyclists!

Rain creates happy cyclists!

Hope you stayed awake reading this!

Enjoy the spring!

My Cycling Year 2012

Another new year of cycling is here. This year will be different from the past years, hopefully better than especially last year. Year 2012 was in many ways a year of learning to listen to your body, and learning from failures.

As every year when the snow starts to melt, we take the car and drive around Turku region to scout for any dry roads to cycle on. In 2012 the day was March 11th and indeed we found a dry road in Lieto

 +4 degrees and partly dry roads = season begins here

+4 degrees and partly dry roads = season begins here

We were really excited to get out after a long winter! (11.3.2012)

 Some sections were still covered by ice

Some sections were still covered by ice

The spring was quite cold, and my first +100 km ride (120 km) ridden May 13th had an average temperature of +14 (min +11).  That ride was my preparation ride for the first of two cycling events in 2012, Giro d'Espoo. We also discovered some new routes to Velkua and Merimasku. We also had some great group rides during the early 2012.

 The route to Merimasku even includes a small hill

The route to Merimasku even includes a small hill

 The route to Velkua included a ferry

The route to Velkua included a ferry

 Riding with friends is always nice

Riding with friends is always nice

Giro d'Espoo was the first performance marker for 2012. The weather was perfect and the 110km race was well organized. The race went better than expected and I finished in a breakaway with an total average of 33,5km/h. It all felt pretty easy.

 Even met Alexander Stubb before the start

Even met Alexander Stubb before the start

 At the start-line 

At the start-line 

Then it was time for the summer. A summer that never came it felt like. The weather was bad throughout the whole summer (a couple of nice days), usually heavy winds and a lot of rainy periods made the riding pretty demanding at times. This also affected the kilometers ridden. It was just easier to justify short rides in bad weather. An exception was the day in June when I took my bike around the archipelago. It was one of the hardest rides so far. +12 degrees and it was soaking almost the entire first 144km, not to mention I almost got lost and the heavy winds once again. 

August was the month to test my motivation. My bike broke down in early August, and when I got it back from maintenance my neck and back broke down. A couple of weeks without riding at the most important time felt wrong, but gave me motivation for this year.

A typical Finnish summer...
A typical Finnish summer...

Tour de Helsinki has always been my main goal, and was also the main goal in 2012. Not having spent much time on the bike the end result was just as could be expected. A crash and cramps made sure my time would be worse than the year before. And all of a sudden it was winter again.

As mentioned, the year 2012 was the year to learn new stuff. I learned to lose, I learned about patience, I learned to listen to my body and began going to a sports masseur. I think I became a mentally stronger rider although I didn't achieve some of the goals set up for 2012. What happened in 2012 changed also the way I will be training in 2013 and it also changed the way I will put up my goals this year. So even if 2012 was probably the hardest and worst year for me as far as results are concerned, it still gave me a lot.

I'll end wrapping up 2012 with quoting Mark Cavendish:

"There's something that can't be replicated that makes cycling so special"

Back in Business

So one week became a month, and a month became two. The race report promised, never came. The Tour de Helsinki 2012 was a hard struggle for me. As planned we began with the 32km/h group, and that should have been an easy task.

2291 cyclists at the start line

All smiles

Everything's checked?

But the race followed the trend that seemed to have followed me the whole summer. In the first 20 km I was involved in a crash. The paceline I was  in, suddenly pulled the brakes in a descent and I had to react. I tried to find a path slightly out of the line, and at the same time i had to pull the brakes too. At the same time the guy behind me didn't react fast enough and he ended up overlapping my rear wheel (if you're unfamiliar with the term overlapping, check the description on cyclingtips.com.au).

He crashed and was followed by a couple of other riders. A very unpleasant sound of carbon and steel cracking and sliding along the asphalt was followed by the crash. Because of this my chain jumped off and I had to make a stop. I was driving in the outer line so it took me a while to get to the side of the road to put the chain back. 

So as the previous year, I found myself chasing my fellow riders. A couple of ambulances along the roads, and it really felt pretty unstable, the pack was nervous. Riders had dropped in the first section of hills, and it was pretty hard to find the others. At the rear of the main 32km/h group I found one friend, and stayed there. But the effort I had made, didn't come for free. I was able to eat and drink as planned, but in the 90th km I found for the first time a cramp in my left thigh. This is nothing you want to have when you still got 50km to go... So I tried to eat what I had left and to drink more.

But it was too late, a moment later I had the same cramp feeling in my right thigh. At the same time we approached the open windy section, the last 30km would be headwinds. This combination was too much. With both thighs and the right calf muscle in cramp I had to ease the pace. The last 20km I just pedaled to get to the finish, and my time was almost 20 minutes worse than the previous year.

Post-ride must-have-snack

It was the first time ever for me to have cramp issues, and probably not the last. Tour de Helsinki 2012 was pretty much like the whole summer. It was also more or less the end of my outdoor season 2012, two months earlier than the previous year. I took a month off cycling and tried to get my back in shape again. A month later, just weeks ago I began the indoor cycling season. I'll give a heads up on that and other training stuff in the next update. This time, within a month ;)

The even more important, post ride hydration

You might have also noticed a slight change on the site. I hope it's now easier to read and hopefully easier to navigate with both browser and mobile. 

Have a good one!

The season grand finale?

Tomorrow, Tour de Helsinki 2012 is upon us. Yet another year of cycling coming to its end here in Finland. There are probably a month left of the outdoor cyling season, before the snow takes over. Sitting here looking out the window would probably indicate less than that. Rain and +12 degrees is not the condition you want to go out cycling. Adding a back ache doesn't make it much better. But nevertheless, I'll be on the starting line tomorrow at 11am finnish time. 

The weather for Helsinki tomorrow looks a bit better though. Between +15/+18 degrees with possible showers and quite windy conditions. Could be worse.

The start is at 11am and our pace should place us at the finish line at around 15:15.

We will jump into a group that will hold on to a pace of 32km/h. I hope I can just ride with that group 'till the finish.

Fueling together with VueltaThe bike is prepared, I hope the fueling is ok, and hopefully the back will last those 4+ hours on the bike tomorrow. I'll probably have to end my cycling season after this race, and get my back in shape so I can start building for the next season. My wish for tomorrow is to finish, nothing more, nothing less.

Preparing the bike. Probably even more important heading for a soaky rideI'll use the Endomondo Live tracker tomorrow, and a link to that live tracking will be posted tomorrow at around 11am via my Twitter and Facebook. If you don't have the possibility to follow either one, the link should be visible on my Endomondo page here.

 

I'll get back to you with the race report next week.

Have a good one!

Giro d'Espoo (link to live tracking)

So tomorrow is the day for my first cycling event in 2012, Giro d'Espoo. It will be held for the first time ever, and I hope it will be a good one. The weather seems to be perfect, some 23 degrees and calm winds. The start will be at 11 am, and the route will pass Kirkkonummi, Veikkola and Espoo. You can see the whole 111km route here. As it seems now, I'll be joining the group that will keep an average of 32km/h. The route is mainly flat and hilly, with just a few "climbs". Giro d'Espoo will also be tracked live online, via Traxmeet. I will be one of 10 riders wearing a gps device, so if you want you can follow me live during the race on http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20120527gde/.

Bike ready...

As it is only early season, and there are several races to come, one in just a couple of weeks, I have no greater goals set up for the race tomorrow. I just hope I'm in a shape good enough to enjoy riding in good mood along with almost 1500 other cyclists. 

Garmin ready...

So tune in to the live tracking tomorrow if you have time, and I'll be back with photos and stories from the race later next week. 

I'm ready...

Enjoy what's left of the weekend!

Giro d'Italia 2012

 

The spring classics are over and now it's time for the first real grand tour of 2012! The Giro d'Italia will be ridden for the 95th time, and hopefully we'll see a great Giro without accidents and a even battle for the Pink! Giro d'Italia is the main event for most italian riders, and is especially important for the italian teams. The biggest names battling for the win this year are Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Ivan Basso (Liquigas), Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

This year the Giro d'Italia will begin in Herning, Denmark. The first stage is a time trial and the two following stages are flat stages also taking place in Denmark. 

The Giro d'Italia 2012 route (click to open detailed stage information)

 

The route will cover 3503,0 km with an average stage lenght of 166,9km between May 5th-27th 2012. 

The Giro d'Italia will gather a lot of people along the streets of Italy to watch one of the most prestigious sport events in the world. If you're not in Italy, there will be live video coverage from all the stages on several channels. If you don't have access to Eurosport, you can always use the Gazzetta TV or check other live streams from Steephill.tv.

The official promo video for Giro d'italia 2012 

 

 

 

Photo taken from www.cyclingtips.com.au

I hope you all enjoy the Giro d'Italia 2012!

 


Up and Cycling!

Spring, the long waited season has been showing signs already for a month in southern Finland, but ever once in a while, after periods of sun and somewhat warmish days there has been signs of winter as well. But at least now it looks like the temperatures will stay above +0 degrees throughout the night and day. We actually managed to take a ride as early as 11th of March, almost a month earlier than last year, but as mentioned we had several setbacks after that. So nothing more than a couple of soaky chilly rides so far, but hopefully the following weeks will provide us with the weather that would support us getting some miles in our legs. At least so far, riding outside, has taken more on my legs than on my lungs, so the legs really need those miles. I will post some more pictures from those rides next week.

Today we had one of the first finnish spring-classics in Turku, TS-kortteliajot. This race is ridden along the river Aura, crossing it and making it an about 1,2km circular route that is ridden 50 times around. 

Our national road cycling champion, Kjell Carlström couldn't participate due to flu, but he was following the race and we had change to meet him and discuss the race and also about his future career. I really hope to still one day see him in the professional peloton. 

Kjell Carlström discussing the race outcomeThe weather was pretty good, sunshine with some western winds, which meant a headwind on the finish line. The riders began pretty easy, some smaller attacks that were caught up pretty fast. The first serious attack was made by Kimmo Kananen but as the peloton realized a threat they slowly caught up this two man breakaway just a couple of laps later. The real breakaway was launched at halfway the race, a strong 8 man group including among other a couple of TWD länken riders and one Velocitor rider who rode pretty strong as well. This breakaway was strong enough to almost catch the peloton, and for the first time in history the peloton had to be taken out of the race before the end. With some 10 laps to go, the breakaway split up and four riders was now battling for the win. During the last lap it soon became only three riders, and a moment later Samuel Pökälä came first in the sprint for the win, winning the race.

The 8 man breakawayThe group worked well togetherKimmo Kananen tried his legs out on the greatest bike in the peloton, the Bianchi OltreThe peloton tried to catch the breakaway, with Turun Urheiluliitto in the frontTurun Urheiluliitto tried to work together but they were not strong enough this timeThe rest of the peloton followingSome riders were not that lucky, here a puncture halfway the raceTWD länken working hard in the front of the breakaway (Aku Silvénius and Samuel Pökälä)And Jesse Virtanen making the most to catch up the breakaway together with Mika SimolaPeloton (notice the Bianchi Oltre)Samuel Pökälä celebratingPodium celebrationsThe new Cervelo S5 that is said to be the fastest road bike out there. Didn't win today though, but looks like a fast one.

Hope you all survived it 'til here, I'll be back with more stories and photos from our own rides later next week. I hope you all have taken out your bikes already, no matter carbon or steel.

 

Ciao!