I had 260 km with 2 days left of the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. In 4 days I had ridden in cold conditions, and that was about to change. The fourth day of riding was so far the coldest with - 21 as the lowest temperature. Day 5 would be 20 degrees warmer.
It's now a couple of days since the 2014 Rapha Festive 500 was completed. Last year I did the challenge for the first time ever, and due to only a few hours in the saddle during December I decided to give my legs the gift of trying to complete the Festive 500 again this year. The weather would be completely different from last year and that I was to learn that.
It is that time of the year again. It's Christmas and with Christmas Holidays comes the Rapha Festive 500. For you who don't know what the Rapha Festive 500 is, you can read the Rapha article here. In a nutshell, you need to complete 500 km outdoors on your bike between Christmas and New Year's eve.
Today was like yesterday, but the the sun was finally visible! In November in Finland that means it will be colder. And cold it was. On the countryside the temperature was below zero. I was kind of prepared. I had triple shoe-covers, neoprene toe-covers by Castelli, water and wind resistant summer shoe-covers and on top neoprene shoe-covers. Still, approaching the second hour in the saddle my toes started to freeze. But I managed to do almost 3,5 hours without bigger problems.
I'm actually thrilled about the fact that time passes by really fast right now. I have many great things to look forward this year, some of those things I can't tell you now, but many of them will be "game-changers" in some way.
So cycling in February, how has that been? I haven't been able to ride as much as I wanted (sounds like I've said that before as well), but still I've been able to make progress. I've lost some 4 kilograms of body weight and at the same time been able to increase my FTP value. My goal is to lose 4 more kilograms before the season kicks off for real.
First part of pre-season accessories also arrived from Germany. Some small things such as inner tubes and tires.
I've been quiet about coffee for a long time (I guess?). But I also bought a new Bialetti Brikka moka pan. A huge difference to a normal moka pan, and comparable with an espresso at a bar with proper crema.
Of course I've been following the Winter Olympic Games in Sotchi as well.
Sunday, besides a massive game by team Canada in men's ice hockey, I saw the sun for the first time this year (cycling outdoors). It almost feels like spring now, just hope there will be no more snow...
So it's soon March, hopefully the month when we can take out our road bikes!
It has been a pretty busy week. It began with easy training, a business trip to Stockholm and then rounding up with an FTP test, Winter Olympic Games start and beginning of the Tour of Qatar.
Last Sunday I took a spin outside, probably the hardest outdoor workout this winter. It had been snowing a lot and since the temperature was around zero degrees, it was hard to keep the bike straight. In the worst places, uphill with loads of loose snow my speed was around 5 km/h and my heartbeat was around 180 bpm. With every pedal-stroke the rear wheel just kept spinning and the bike was wildly sliding from side to side. And that ride was supposed to be an easy aerobic day...
On Monday I took an easy recovery spin, and then I had to rest for two days because of a trip to Stockholm.
On Friday I had the second FTP test for this year. I was not too confident going into the training. My goal was to raise the FTP value with at least 10 watts, and honestly this time the test felt much harder than before. Having given it my all, I actually ended up with +14 watts, a huge surprise. Having lost 2 kg's weight this year, I actually already nailed my off season W/kg record, which feels good having trained less than I would have wanted to.
On Friday the Winter Olympic Games also finally begun, the Olympics are always a spectacle I love to watch. After the opening ceremony I rewarded myself with Friday-Sauna.
On Sunday the Tour of Qatar started, and what a start. Great breakaway effort by IAM Cycling Team once again, and I'm really excited to see what the team will be able to show during this tour!
On Sunday we also saw Enni Rukajärvi take the first Finnish medal in Women's Slopestyle. Great silver medal, hopefully one of many to come.
Next week I really need to improve my training. Even if I had a couple of weeks with too few hours, I'm glad to see I'm improving and also glad I've been able to reduce my weight without losing muscles. The goal is to still lose some 5 kg's before summer.
A month or so and we are out on our road-bikes!?
After a slow start for the road cycling season 2014, I've slowly managed to make progress in my off-season training. The days at work seem to be way too long and it often feels impossible to find energy for training. Afterwards, once you make that decision to hit that workout, you will thank yourself for doing it.
I often motivate myself by going back in time, thinking about those races and special moments when I just couldn't hold on to that wheel in front of me, or when a breakaway attempt wasn't strong enough and just drained my energy, that feeling when I failed. If there is something I hate in cycling, that's failure, especially failure because I just wasn't good enough. I couldn't execute my plan as I wanted because I wasn't in good enough shape. I have experienced several failures and I remember most of them really well, remember exactly how I felt when those seconds hit me, when I wasn't strong enough to perform as I wanted.
These moments I remember so well, will help me move forward. To hit those intervals on the trainer, to go out cycling even if it's freezing and dark or to head for the gym early in the morning. I want to be better. I want to progress, I want to be better than last year, last month or even last week. I want to outperform myself, surprise myself. And most of all, I do not want to give up, at least not without giving it my best. Limits are created by your mind, giving up before giving it your all is not an option. If you then however fail, that's ten times better than a "what if".
During the weekend I had a great, almost 3 hour outdoor workout, mostly just easy pedaling. Made some minor adjustments on my position on the bike, and darn those changes were good. The position now feels perfect and no pressure on the knees anymore. Below some pictures from the weekend:
It's already Wednesday tomorrow, almost weekend that is. Try to hang in there, not more than 5-6 weeks left of the winter!
After a long period without snow here in southern Finland the really cold weather is back. The temperature has stayed between -10 and -20 degrees, hence I've stayed inside doing trainer exercises all week. But today since the sun was finally shining, I decided to take a ride despite some -15 degrees celcius. It was also a perfect weather to try out my new winter cycling shoes, the Northwave Fahrenheit GTX (Gore-Tex) Winter Road Shoes.
I also had suffered many punctures lately and made a thorough check on the tires. And it struck me how bad that gravel they shovel on the icy roads really are for tires. They're sharp as glass and really cut through those tires, had several smaller pieces that had made some small damage already, and one that had cut through and caused the punctures.
I repaired the tire, changed the inner tube and headed out. I wore several layers of warm clothing, breathable and windproof. That's a must do if you are riding in temperatures below -10 degrees.
After 10 kilometers I had to stop because my feet were freezing. Fortunately I had a pair of neoprene shoe covers with me, so I just put those on and continued. I would estimate that the Northwave Fahrenheit GTX Winter Road Shoes will be able to handle some -5 degrees but if the temperature goes below that, you probably want to add another layer on top of that. I'll review the shoes when I have more hours on them.
After one and a half hour I made a short stop to take some photos. At this point it was - 15 degrees and a sign of cold weather could be seen as a layer of ice on my collar.
Even if it was cold, I didn't freeze. But I guess my body still reacted to the freezing weather. I had a pretty high average heart-rate even if i didn't put much effort into pedaling. The sun was setting just before I got home. Have to admit it was pretty nice to watch.
I had one bottle of warm water with me when I left home, but after 20 minutes it was already so cold I didn't want to drink it, and after one hour it was all frozen. When I got home the bottle looked like this:
It seems we won't see much of the sun during next week, and the temperatures will continue to stay below - 10 degrees. Good thing I went out today and enjoyed the weather.
Enjoy your weekend!
Having days 1-3 done, with almost 300 km ridden, I headed towards day 4 and 5. I started feeling myself a bit tired already, but wasn't prepared for what awaited me early on from day 4...
Rapha Festive 500 - Day 4
The day began with mixed feelings. The weather was good, the sun was shining for the first (and apparently last time) during this challenge, but I was tired and could have slept for a couple of more hours. But because the day is so short in Finland, I needed to get going. Immediately as I started I felt pain in my knees, both of them. I hoped it would just go over after a few kilometers, but it didn't. It was quite nasty, both knees felt as there would be a needle inside, and that needle picked the knee from inside with each pedal-stroke. Some 10 km in the ride I started thinking about abandoning, and made a stop at 20 km to give the knees a rest. After the short pause, I started pedaling, and it felt bad, maybe not as bad as moments before, but still bad. I decided to go on, the sun was shining and if my knees would collapse, I would call a taxi. Well I made those 107 kilometers, after many ups and downs.
Rapha Festive 500 - Day 5
I was afraid I wouldn't be able to continue today due to my knees. They still hurt but I decided to go for it. Putting on my legwarmers i realized what could have caused the knee-pain. I've been riding with both knee- and leg-warmers and this causes high pressure on the knee and forces the kneecap tighter to the knee. That would also explain why the whole knee is kind of tender to the touch as well. So today I rode without the knee-warmers. The ones I use are the Castelli Nanoflex warmers. The knees did hurt, pretty bad at times, but I managed to finish today's 65 km ride as planned. It was really chilly and windy, the coldest day so far, almost froze my feet. Luckily I had a pair of SealSkinz Winter Handle Bar Mittens with me. Perfect gloves!
So one day to go, only 40 kilometers planned, but with my knees being sore, hard to even walk with, I won't party until I've really ridden all 500 kilometers. But if I make it, I just might celebrate the new year's eve with one for this one!
Let's keep our fingers crossed
It's been a couple of long days in the rain. As said earlier, I was able to begin my Rapha Festive 500 a couple of days late, hence I've been spending more time in the rain than what feels good...
The weather has been as the forecast promised, rain, rain, wind, chilly and some more wind. After 3 days in the saddle now, every day has been rainy, especially yesterday's 100 km ride, rain from beginning 'til end. And winds have been around 8-10 m/s on average. So really some pretty hard and long days in the saddle for my legs that really aren't i shape. Having said that, I'll let you browse through pictures instead of me complaining about the weather and sore legs.
On Wednesday night after arriving home I took a short warm-up ride before the "real" rides.
Rapha Festive 500 - Day 1
On Thursday I tracked some 85 km. It was windy and grey.
Rapha Festive 500 - Day 2
The second day was all about rain and wind. + 5 degrees, 8 m/s and rain from the beginning until the end. 100 km tracked, I was pleased with that. Actually, once you've been riding for 3 hours in constant rain, you can laugh about it! Some of the pictures are not that great quality, I blame the weather.
Rapha Festive 500 - Day 3
Today was a shorter day in the saddle, only 74 km. The weather was slightly better than yesterday, 10 m/s + 5 and rain only the last 1,5 hours. After this ride I've also tracked 57 % of the Rapha Festive 500 total. Great!
Only some 200 + kilometers to go, and no rain tomorrow (they say..).
Note: This is a long post, but has loads of pictures so should be easy reading.
One of the best mornings of the week is Sunday. It's the morning when you have time to read the morning newspapers, drink you favorite coffee and have a proper breakfast. But it definitely does not look like Christmas. It's raining outside and the fact that Christmas Eve is on Tuesday feels kind of distant. But that's the way it is this year. Yesterday was another rainy ride outside, just 60 kilometers, but believe me it felt as 90. Yesterday was also the darkest day of the year, when the day here in Turku was 5 hours and 44 minutes long, with the sun setting just after 3 PM.
It was also the last ride for me before the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, where I need to be doing more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) a day, since I will be away on Christmas Eve. Will be some really hard days in the saddle, at least looking at the forecast now with rain, heavy winds and some degrees above zero.
These were the last ride pictures before Christmas, and next ones will be from the Rapha Festive 500. Because it's not at all like Christmas, I had to make it feel like Christmas, so I bought myself a Christmas tree. I think I found a pretty nice one, and no, I didn't steal it. And no, I do not have a star on top of it.
I also bought some new coffee beans, Arabica blends. It is roasted by one of my favorite roastery, Kaffa Roastery. The Go'Kväll (Good evenin') and Tauko (Break) both have a great aroma and surely have a great taste as well. The Tauko (Break), will be travelling with me on my Rapha Festive 500 challenge as well. Figured out the name fits perfect and coffee is a must have for a cold ride.
So before I take a short break, I want to wish you all a really great Christmas. Remember to eat loads of good food and enjoy just relaxing with your family, friends and close ones.
It's not many days until Christmas, and same goes for the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. As mentioned earlier I'll be tracking live with Endomondo. To ensure my kilometers will be tracked I will use two phones tracking, one to Endomondo and the other to Strava. So if my Garmin Edge 500 for some reason fails I'll have a backup.
I've been closely monitoring the weather as well. It seems I will be riding in some heavy winds, with temperatures slightly above zero and rain mixed with snow and ice. Not the conditions you'd like to have, but then again, with perfect weather conditions this wouldn't be a challenge right? I have added a small weather widget to the left hand side of the page. That will tell you what the weather condition is at the moment here in Turku.
I will also be doing some video from my rides. Hopefully I'll receive my helmet mount for the GoPro Hero 3 before Christmas, I was lucky to be able to borrow the camera from a friend (thanks Antti!), since mine was stolen in Italy.
I hope you all are ready for the holidays, looking at Twitter and Facebook, it seems many of you are enjoying your last day at work today before heading for Christmas.
It's always exciting to try out new things, especially when it comes to bikes. Well this time besides a new bike, it was also first time ever riding with a SRAM groupset. The reason behind buying the Felt F65X was the fact that I needed more kilometers during off season to be able to progress. A part of that was to participate in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, that would push me to ride 500 kilometers between Christmas eve and New year's eve. I also realized I couldn't do that with my current "off season" bike, the Haro Mary SS, 29" mtb. So I had to make a choice, and that choice was the new 2014 Felt F65X. For this project, I was really lucky to get support from Huntteri a company importing Felt Bicycles in Finland. Without them this wouldn't have been possible.
The F65X comes with SRAM Apex shifters and front derailleur and Rival rear derailleur. The frame is aluminium and the fork is carbon, and the bike has Avid BB5 disc brakes. The weight with pedals is roughly 10 kg, so not the lightest out there, but for me riding in quite harsh conditions, it feels better to have an aluminium bike.
The bike would be put to the test immediately, it was +5 degrees, really windy and it was raining. I would also ride in the evening, in pitch dark.
It really was dark, and it really was raining. But fortunately I was well prepared with lights, waterproof clothing and thermal layers, so that was no problem. It took me a few kilometers to gain trust in the bike, tried to listen for any strange sounds, tried the brakes, did a couple of all out sprints and brakes and went through the gears. No strange sounds and everything was working perfect. I also had to make a stop to change to lighter gloves, apparently I had prepared really well.
Because I've been to a bike fit with my Canyon, I had exact measures on everything, so it was easy to set up the bike to match my road bike, and really, the bike felt comfortable from the first meters and I didn't have to make any changes on the position. The F65X is not as aggressive and stiff as my Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0, but then again you can't compare them because the one is a full carbon bike.
After riding 40 km on the Felt I would say it is a really great cyclocross bike for any beginner or active cyclist. It will probably not be of interest to one competing in CX, but definitely for one that is seeking more kilometers during off season, this is the bike to have. It is comfortable, easy to ride with, and the SRAM groupset seemed to work well. Even for one who never used the "SRAM system" (I'm used to Shimano Ultegra groupset), it felt pretty comfortable and straight forward. After one ride with SRAM, I still would prefer Shimano, but on my second bike that I'm not competing with, it works 100 % fine! The disc brakes, for one who has never set them up, took a while to master to get them straight, but once you have them set up properly, they really do work great. I actually don't know, maybe I would even be ready to see disc brakes on road bikes.. Maybe.
After only one ride it is hard to write a thorough review ( I will do that once I have more kilometers on it), but the first impression is really good.
Now I'm ready for bed and anxiously waiting for the next ride, and especially the Rapha Festive 500! Good Night!
For the first time ever I will participate in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. The challenge is to ride your bike outdoors 500 km or more between Christmas eve and New year's eve.
I will probably target on 500 km, but if the weather is good, maybe there can be more kilometers ridden, who knows. I've also decided that if I really want to improve my cycling, I need to ride more. Pretty obvious. So I've been on a shopping spree and decided to finally buy a cyclocross bike. Now I'm able to track both hours and kilometers even during late autumn, winter and early spring, not just spinning on the trainer indoors. I'm really excited to be honest. The bike I bought is a Felt F65X 2014 cyclocross bike. It's not the lightest nor the most expensive one, but damn I like how it looks and feels. I've just put the last pieces together and tomorrow I'll head out for a test ride, can't wait! I will surely write a review as I've tracked some kilometers with the bike.
So 9 days until the challenge starts and 9 days 'til Christmas. I just hope the weather will be somewhat okay. According to the weather forecasts, it should be pretty warm, somewhere around +0 degrees and no snow. Would have been nice to ride in white landscapes instead of the grey ones, but you have to take whatever weather you have.
If you want to read more about the challenge you can do so on:
I'll try to shoot some videos and pictures and you can find them when they're created on:
A great weekend behind, and to be honest I felt it this morning. Some good kilometers in snow and great food and loads of it. Sunday began with watching Biathlon and eating a proper breakfast with porridge, fruits and freshly pressed orange juice.
Kaisa Mäkäräinen made a pretty decent job in Sunday's competition, still need to work on the shooting, but I'm confident about Sochi and at least one medal. Next up was preparing dinner and heading out for another snowy ride. Today would be a good day of food and cycling. Before heading out I was to prepare the piggy for the oven.
The pig would stay in the oven for 4 hours, meanwhile, I would head out. It was -6 degrees Celsius and I actually could still use the Castelli Nanoflex warmers, pretty good gear I'd say! On top of the Castelli fawesome Gilet I would also have a Craft winterjacket.
Still digesting the good rides and the perfect pork!
The first snow has landed in Turku, and I guess it's here to stay. So it was time to gear up my 29er and head out. -1 degrees and light snowfall, almost perfect conditions for a short ride outdoors and a welcomed change for riding the trainer indoors.
To be honest, that was really fun. Maybe winter is not that bad after all!? Now some hot mulled wine and something good to eat.
Enjoy your Saturday!
As we get closer to the new outdoor season, it's time to go trough the old clothing and update the cycling wardrobe. Time to open up the wallet once again, but saving on clothing will cost you on the road. Freezing, numb toes together with sweaty yet cold torso will make you regret you sorted the price list view from low to high and didn't bother to scroll down. Today I received the first pre-season shipment..
And to once again show you something else than food:
Just a couple of days and it's weekend again!
While cycling to work this morning, I realized to my disappointment that they had been plowing the snow around the church. Yesterday, that place offered a nice challenge to an otherwise dull ride to/from work. Even though I'm more than happy with this snow (read: dislike winter), it was nice to see it had been snowing all day, which meant a hustle on the way home again.
It seems as many are struggling with cycling in snow. A winter cycling tip for all of you, let out some of your tire pressure, not too much so you damage your rims, but enough to be able to squeeze the tire slightly. This will give you a better grip. Another tip is to look out for trails in the snow, they might cause some bumping, so prepare for a slight movement sideways and avoid heavy counter steering, that will throw you off the bike!