Many of us, including myself, have found our way to cycling watching Tour de France on TV. It has been possible to watch cycling live on Eurosport and national TV channels in some European countries for many many years. Today the services are widespread and it's possible to watch almost any cycling race, anywhere with a mobile device. There has been some exceptions though, including the Finnish cycling races. Fortunately the passion for cycling has brought a change to that.
Yet another weekend behind, a weekend without racing this time. It was a weekend introducing riding in shorties and the first long ride for the year. A long ride means more than 5 hours in the saddle, at least that's what I read, so first one of those this year. Some great weather and first real tan-lines for the seasons are reality.
It's now more than a week ago since the TS Kortteliajot was ridden and I finally got time to put together a small race report. The TS Kortteliajot Sunday started off with slight rain in the morning, meaning the race would be ridden in wet conditions. That would make the hard race even harder. Fincycling had a 5 man strong team for the race.
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.
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)
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.
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..).