Keravan Kevätpolkaisu 2015 organized by Pyöräilyseura Zeus was the second race in the race schedule for me this year. I had some time off the bike in May and was not sure about my race form, but I was anxiously waiting to get another start after a great ride in Lattomeri earlier in April.
We had to wake up quite early since I'm really not the morning person, I tend to need at least one hour in order to start acting like a human instead of a zombie. Jamie was kind enough to drive me to Kerava and we stayed at our place to save some time in the morning. The weather forecast had first promised us showers and chilly weather, but the morning was really beautiful filled with sunshine, and weather reports in the morning told us we could expect the weather to remain like that for the rest of the day in Kerava as well. At 7:30 we were ready to start driving towards Kerava.
Time passed by quickly, driving towards Kerava. That tends to happen when you share the ride with someone you can talk about cycling. Having good company on your way towards a race also makes it a bit more relaxing, and you actually forget to be nervous about a race.
Arriving at Kerava, Sebastian was already waiting for us and we got our race numbers really swiftly. It all seemed to be very well organized. We geared up and went for a warm-up ride together with Harri, Sebastian and Jamie. It was really nice to see so many familiar faces. The nice thing about going to races is that you actually start to recognize people and it's really great to have a chat with people. The race would end with a small uphill finish and we rode it during our warm-up to get a feeling of the steepness. It wasn't that steep, but I definitely liked the fact there was an uphill finish.
Among the people I met before the race start was Kimmo Kananen and Teemu Ramstedt. They were both representing IBD Cycling and it was clear that Kimmo was the favorite to win the race.
Teemu Ramstedt is the man behind IBD Cycling, and he has already raised significant awareness about the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in Finland. Teemu is a professional ice-hockey player and currently plays for HIFK, but he is also a passionate cyclist. Let's see if we can hook up with Teemu at some point to tell you more about IBD Cycling and the cause.
I also had time to talk with Peter Selin, the man responsible for many people getting in touch with cycling and the voice we all know from watching cycling on Eurosport. Peter would be riding with us and then head to commentate stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia. Peter is a really a great cycling persona in Finland and one could easily say that watching cycling without him as a commentator is like riding a bike with flat tires.
The start went off at 11 am and the weather was as promised, plenty of sunshine and almost no wind. Not having to wear a gilet was really nice. The main group soon formed and consisted of maybe 70-80 riders of about 200 to start the race. As usually, when the free speed begins there is a constant movement in the peloton and people start to struggle at the back. I again, not long after the start, found myself at the back. Not because I felt we were going too fast, but because I wanted to ride safe and didn't want to fight for positions at an early stage. That meant of course I had to work more than staying closer to the front. My legs during the warm-up felt really heavy and I was unsure of how the race would turn out for me, but the legs started working after some 20 km and I actually felt pretty good. The race consisted of two laps, and we would ride 96 km in total. After halfway of the first lap we encountered a really battered and bad road with deep potholes all over the place. It kept going on like that for 5 km, and you saw and heard punctures all the time. Unfortunately Jamie had a double puncture and both Harri and Sebastian got punctures as well during the race. I guess I was lucky to be at the back, being able to avoid the worst potholes. I do not blame the organizers for this, the roads in Finland are what they are and for big parts, the roads for this Keravan Kevätpolkaisu were in fairly good condition.
I kept myself dead last in the peloton, and tried to look if I could see Jamie at any point in the distance and if I could, I would wait for him and work together to get back to the peloton. Unfortunately he was not able to finish the race, nor was Sebastian. Both had several punctures and having no team car available it was not possible to finish. Just after that the peloton came to a wide open field, slightly bending uphill with crosswinds/headwind and I saw from the back of the group that there was a huge gap building. I was slow in reacting to that and had to put in some effort to move up and bridge the gap, 500 w for one minute to be precise. You can actually see part of that effort (at 6:11) shot by Lehto Pro Cycling. You can see the video below (I'm the cyclist in the yellow TuUL kit). You'll find the link to the full video further down.
Fortunately I was able to recover pretty fast and I was back riding comfortable pretty soon. For the second lap, I positioned myself better for the same section and didn't have to work any extra. The pace was comfortable and with 10 km to go I felt good and decided to start slowly moving up where possible. With 3 km to go I was probably among the 30 first riders. Before the final 90 degree right-hand turn towards the uphill finish, I took myself a safe position behind Alexander Stubb, and we had a good line going into and out from it. I felt good so I decided to go for it. The front of the group was already in the hill when I started sprinting from the back, but I managed to overtake some 10-15 riders in the sprint and finally finished 17th. Kimmo Kananen unsurprisingly won having made a breakaway already before the sprint finish but otherwise it was pretty even among the peloton riders.
A good day for me and afterwards, having spoken to many riders with punctures, I realized I was really lucky this day to have survived the race without any troubles. It seems as if the new wheels I rode with had at least something to do with it. They took the potholes well and it also really seems to make a difference having wheels built especially for you, according to your weight and the type of rider you are. Something that tells about I had been hitting some potholes quite hard was the fact that the back of my Garmin Edge 810 had cracked. I will be reviewing the wheels soon, so stay tuned for the review of the Kanata Wheel Works wheels, built for me. If you want to have a sneak peek of what I'm talking about, you can visit the Kanata.fi homepage.
I really like the post-race chatting with other cyclists, and that always gives you a better understanding of how the race was ridden and not just your own interpretation of it. It is also the place to get to know new faces and make new friends.
That was all from Keravan Kevätpolkaisu 2015 this time. A big thanks to Pyöräilyserura Zeus for a well organized event! I hope you enjoyed what you read, or at least the pictures. I will leave you with a picture from where I am writing this just now, and remind you to check back on the website in the upcoming weeks for some updates and wheel reviews. Until then, pedalare!