Race

Great win for Fincycling in The Cup of Zemgale

The Cup of Zemgale stage race in Latvia began today in a great way. The 3,1 km long prologue was won by Niklas "Nikke" Henttala representing Fincycling with an average speed of 47,29 km/h in 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Niklas is one of the talented Junior riders in the team, and he will be wearing the leader's yellow jersey tomorrow. You can find the full result list here.

(note: pictures taken by www.fincycling.com)

 

 
Niklas Henttala after the prologue

Niklas Henttala after the prologue

The race will continue with a 70 km stage tomorrow following by another ITT stage. The race will end on Saturday August 30th. Five stages with somewhat short stages will make the race really explosive. Juniors from many strong cycling countries are represented, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Finland of course. 

All stages listed:

• 27th August – prolog ITT – 3,1 km, starting at 19.00
• 28th August – road race – 70 km starting at 11.00
• 28th August – ITT – 15 km, starting at 17.00
• 29th August – road race – 115 km, starting at 15.00
• 30th August – road race – 90 km, starting at 10.00

What's great about this week's race is that the Fincycling squad is actually "bigger" than usual. Besides juniors who have been competing with Fincycling throughout the season, also juniors who will join the squad next year have the opportunity to race with the team. The only way to become a professional is to compete on a high level, and with Fincycling this opportunity is given to our young talented riders. 

At the beginning of the season talking with the Fincycling people, we heard that the first year will be dedicated to the junior boys aged 16-18 and that the project would aim to support even girls and U23 men in the future, maybe in some years. Well the Fincycling squad has already done something supportive for both of those. Earlier this month in Norway, the Fincycling team introduced girls in their squad in the Arctic Heroes of Tomorrow Race (more of this later). And again, in Cup of Zemgale the Fincycling team is introducing Laura Vainionpää (W U23) to the racing field. It's a great way to gain experience competing with the guys. 

It is with joy I watch the Fincycling team, that began as a project only less than a year ago, grow and do so much good to the sport in Finland. More than any Finnish national organization has been able to do in a long time, maybe ever? Having heard how the boys have learned during this year, and been able to improve as cyclists both in and out of the saddle makes me really feel positive about the future of Finnish cycling. Of course there are lots and lots of work to do and we know the road to the elite is tough, but all the hard work done by the Fincycling team gives a solid ground for our juniors to build on.

Yellow, the color of champions

Yellow, the color of champions

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.  

 

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!

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! 

Giro d'Espoo 2013

So tomorrow it will begin, Giro d'Espoo 2013, my first "race" of the year 2013. The route is the same as last year, 111 km with small rolling hills along the route. The bike is cleaned, the bag is packed, ready to roll.

Giro d'Espoo route

Giro d'Espoo route

Today we took a short easy spin with a couple of short sprints to get the legs ready for tomorrow. Some small issues with my right knee, hopefully it will be fine tomorrow.

Great weather for an easy spin

Great weather for an easy spin

Last year I had a live tracking gps device from the organizers, this year I will use Endomondo to track. So you will be able to follow me live tomorrow as well. A live link will be posted to my twitter feed @mipaulin. A link should also appear on my Endomondo page here. The start is at 11 am Finnish (Helsinki) time (EEST). You can always check the local times from timeanddate.com

I'll be posting photos on The Invisible Hill facebook page as it happens, so if you're interested of how the day is progressing, you can go to the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheInvisibleHill.

I'll get back to you again after the race, with a race report. Meanwhile, enjoy your Saturday evening, let's hope it will be a good Champions League Final! And if you at some point have been wondering how good or bad I am as a cyclist, you at least know I'm far of being professional, below you see why:

The difference between a professional and me. Unshaved Monkeylegs

The difference between a professional and me. Unshaved Monkeylegs

Happy pedaling folks!

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!

Milan - San Remo

Today is the day for the first of the spring classics, Milan - San Remo (La Classica di Primavera). It covers 298km along the northwestern coast of Italy. Milan - San Remo on wikipedia.

gazzetta.it

The final 20km are typically known for attacks and really high speed. There are some climbs in these kilometres, but still the pace is usually above 40km/h! 

steephill.tv

There are many riders who could take this race today, Haussler, Farrar, Cavendish, Sagan, Cancellara just to mention a few of them. 

 

Live video will be available at around 14.30 CET HERE (gazzetta.it). Before that you can follow the live ticker at http://live.cyclingnews.com/

 

Let's hope it will be a good one!

Tour de Helsinki

Last sunday the 5th September 2010 was time for the annual Tour de Helsinki cycling event. The race began at 11am with some 1733 riders at the start line.

Together with two friends we headed out for this event early in the morning from Turku. We first headed for the hotel which was located close to the start-line, to change into our cycling gear. The weather was a bit chilly, some +13 degrees and almost overcast. Fortunately there was only a gentle breeze.

At the start line the riders could choose to join different groups. We decided to join the group that would keep up a pace of 28km/h. Unfortunately one of our group-members had a small temperature so he decided to follow a slower group. Early on we realized the pace in our group was too slow and later on we joined the 29km/h group. We had an easy time following this group, and decided to breakaway at the latter part of the race.

This happened when there was approximately 20km to go. Together with 10 other riders we formed a breakaway-group at the last hilly section of the race. These climbs were HC category climbs, but really didn't feel bad at all. They were neither long or steep so it was easy to accelerate. Together with my friend we kept up the pace in the early stage of the breakaway, some 35km/h for some kilometres. Only a few km later the group only had 4 riders.

Unfortunately my friend didn't have the legs that day to keep up the pace in the hills and a second later the breakaway held only three riders. We held together almost all the way with an average speed of 36km/h. For me this was a really good speed, especially after having already 120km behind. The pace-keeping was shared among us three approx. 45%-35%-20%, with me keeping the pace 35% of the time and mostly in the small uphill sections.

Along these 18km we saw lots of riders who couldn't keep up the pace and probably lost a lot of time in the last kilometers. When we had approx 2km to go this one rider with the most energy tried to break away from our group of 3 riders. He managed to make a gap of 80 meters for a kilometer or so, but during the last kilometer i managed to hang in and reduce the gap. 

4hours and 42 minutes after the start I crossed the finish-line and it felt really good. The last kilometers went really fast and there was a big crowd cheering along the roads, which helped to keep up the pace. A couple of minutes later my friend arrived. 

I am quite sure we will participate next year too, a bit wiser and probably cutting 15minutes or more from the time this year.


 This is the data from the last 20km (left-click to open full-size picture)

 

Link to the route on strands.com