cycling

Looking back at my cycling season 2018 so far

Looking back at my cycling season 2018 so far

It's actually great writing this seldom. Well I kind of feel bad about it, but also thinking about my last post in the beginning of February, summing up January feels like ages ago. Back then, even spring seemed far away, and now we've already put behind the midsummer celebrations.

Autumn is here

Autumn is here

It's been a while since I've been talking about training and everyday activities. I also have some race-reports waiting to be written. A lot has happened and it feels like summer really flew past us faster than any previous version. My racing season is over for this year, and preparations for season 2016 have already begun. This summer was twofold in many ways. There were many ups but they seemed to be followed most often by immediate downs. We also lost a great soul this summer.

Sunday on the road

Today was another spring day in Finland. After the last post where I wrote about spring, the next day we had snowfall. Anyhow, I still want to believe spring is here, even though it's only beginning of March. Today for the first time I got company by a friend, he was riding his Bianchi 1885 road bike, whereas I still had my Felt F65X cyclocross. Maybe next weekend I can take out my Canyon, but first I need to do a proper maintenance on it. Today was sunny, +8 degrees warm, so a perfect day to ride a bike even if it was close to storm with winds gusting up to 15 m/s. On today's agenda we had a couple of 15 minute intervals with a moderate workload and some strength training intervals with low cadence uphill. Enough talking, now for the ride-pics!

Bianchi season is opened!

Leg-powered

Uphill, big gear, low cadence

Out of the saddle

2 minutes done uphill, back down and repeat 8 times

Bianchi 1885

Felt F65X

3 hours 20 minutes, first really enjoyable longer ride outdoor this year, and really looking forward for next week, weather forecasts show some more sun and warm weather. Next week will also be pretty darn interesting with Tirreno-Adriatico and much more! I will also tell you some more about new things coming up. But that will be next week, now enjoy what's left of Sunday!



February coming to an end

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.

Eat less, eat frequently, eat properly

Last week I received my Rapha Festive 500 badge. A neat little thing that reminds me of 500 really wet kilometers. Read about my Rapha Festive 500 journey, first half, almost there, completed. Of course Rapha style it arrived in a fashionable envelope.

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. 

The Brikka valve makes the difference

Proper crema

Of course I've been following the Winter Olympic Games in Sotchi as well.

USA-FIN Bronze medal game (Ice Hockey, men)

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...

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and post-ride coffee

So it's soon March, hopefully the month when we can take out our road bikes!

 

Exciting!

Interview with Marko Vauhkonen - Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry

Interview with Marko Vauhkonen – Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry

 

As some of you might remember I wrote about the Finnish cycling project that aims at lifting our road cycling future to a whole new level. We have a strong history in endurance sports such as cross country skiing and running, but in cycling we've never been able to reach a level such as our Scandinavian neighbors Sweden, Norway and Denmark has. One could blame it on the weather conditions, but that doesn't make sense since our neighbors have the same conditions.

I’m really happy and at the same time super excited about this new project that will hopefully have a huge impact in our cycling culture and finally help our young talents to reach the top elite in cycling. Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry (freely translated Finnish Cycle Racing association) was founded by 27 members not just anybody, but by the cycling elite in Finland including such names as current professional cyclist Jussi Veikkanen former professionals Charly Wegelius (directeur sportif, Team Garmin Sharp) and Kjell Carlström (directeur sportif, IAM Cycling Team) who are both still involved in the professional cycling today.

Just last week I had the opportunity to meet one of the founding members of Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry., Marko Vauhkonen. Marko has a strong background in cycling, as one of his best personal achievements as a cyclist he mention the year 1984 and the Nordic championships (track) where he took a bronze medal. He has a strong background in international cycling as well, having experienced both European and world championships in both road- and track cycling.

Marko Vauhkonen - Suomen Kilpapyöräily ry.

I was really excited to meet him. Since I hadn't heard a lot about the project, but I knew there were many really big names behind it, I knew it would be big. We took a coffee and sat down, I thought it would be an hour, but I guess it took more than two and a half hours at the end. I guess when you have two cycling freaks talking about cycling, you shouldn't assume such things.

The 27 names behind the project are:

Juho Suikkari, Kimmo Kananen, Kjell Carlström, Jari Vanninen, Peter Selin, Patrick Wackström, Sixten Wackström, Marko Vauhkonen, Mika Hämäläinen, Kimmo Karhu, Oscar Stenström, Tauno Hietala, Peter Klimscheffskij, Vesa Rauttu, Pertti Linna, Jouni Hakala, Joona Laukka, Jussi Veikkanen, Harri Hedgren, Veikko Sinisalo, Juha Poutiainen, Kari Myllymäki, Vesa Mattila, Jukka Heinikainen, Christian Selin, Charley Wegelius and Jyrki Tujunen.

Many of you recognize some or most of of these names for sure. So after a "short" introduction of presenting myself to Marko and vice versa, I was eager to know how and why this project got started? It was easy for Marko to answer this question.

“For years we've seen many of our young talented riders struggle to get to the top, and there has been none or little support for these talented young riders. Last autumn I got a phone call from Juho Suikkari and together we decided that this trend can’t continue, we need to do something in order to bring cycling to a level where it deserves to be in this country. And with the current resources and investments, we knew it would be next to impossible to do so. So we decided to act, and more or less, that was the start for this project. Of course it took us a couple of days to send out invitations to a first ever meeting, but we were efficient and in just a few months we had started a project, made clear plans and started our work.”

It struck me how fast everything was built up. This of course is just a sign of how passionate these guys are about cycling and about their will to really do something important and big for cycling. At this point I was eager to know more and tried to take in all information possible.

Q: What are the main goals for the project?

“We want to look at this, not just as a single thing that will take our youth quickly to the top, but as a complete learning experience for our young riders. We have a clear mission to build sustainable, competitive and healthy youth. Money should not be an obstacle for anyone and our mission is to help, support and advice young riders how to be independent and help them gain international experience, which is such a crucial component in being successful.

Cycling races were won by individual efforts back in the 1930’s, but today you win and lose as a team.

All of us involved, we have a strong knowledge in the world of cycling all the way from the early -80’s, and we want to share that experience with our youngsters. We really want to emphasize the fact that cycling is a team sport more than anything else. We want our riders to really feel and internalize that what you give to the team, you’ll have back doubled. A team is as strong as its weakest link. Cycling races were won by individual efforts back in the 1930’s, but today you win and lose as a team.

And it’s not just about cycling, we of course want to prepare the youngsters for a life at the top, but also prepare them for a life after cycling, because we all know there is one. At some point the youngsters will grow older and hopefully they will be role models for the next generation of cyclists. It’s a complete package. Besides this we of course want to encourage everyone to ride their bikes and raise awareness about the sport itself. What also needs to be said, we are not competing with any national cycling clubs or the national cycling association in Finland (Suomen Pyöräilyunioni), we are here to support the youth together with the other clubs and the national association.”

All of that makes sense, right? Think about being a young rider and having a team like that behind you, supporting, sharing thoughts and advice with you. Being together with your role models and having them support you must be a “dream come true” for any athlete.

Q: What can you tell us about the support and visibility of the campaign so far?

“We’ve had a great start visibility-wise. Both Facebook and Twitter have attracted many followers without any big marketing so far. For social media we also have many great things to come when the season starts. We will also have some “visibility” in TV, and some stories will be shared along the cycling broadcasts for instance on Finnish Eurosport. We also have some great sponsors already with us, for instance Solvalla training centre (Solvalla idrottsinstitut - Solvallan urheiluopisto) where we also had our first training camp.”

So at this point, having the backgrounds I really wanted to know more about the cyclists, the team the first training camp, well everything. I tried to hold myself together.

Q: About the team, can you tell us more about the age group, what type of riders you have selected and how is the selection done?

“So a project life-cycle is 4 years and the target age group is 15-18 year old riders. We want to keep the “doors open” for everyone. For this year’s team we've been looking at last year’s results and gathered the cyclists who had the best results in their respective age groups. We will be competing with a 6 “man” strong team in each competition and we have 3 in reserve for each race. We do not classify or categorize our riders, we select them to each race separately and have a rotation on the lineups. We go into every race with a mentality that we can win that race, we give 110 % each time we are competing, as a team and on an individual level. If we see that there are other talented guys outside of our group who are improving and racing well, we keep our doors open for them of course. At that age there are huge differences in how the boys develop, some might develop at an early age, some might show their talent years later. That's why I say we keep our doors open, and that's the only way to go. “

Q: In social media we saw a couple of weeks ago pictures and some stories from your first training camp. How was it, what was the agenda and how would you sum up the training camp?

“Honestly, I’d say it was as good as a training camp can be. No, actually it was even better. It was one of the best training camps I've seen and experienced content-wise in my life. Probably it was so rich in content that the youngsters weren't able to assimilate everything, but if they were able to memorize 30 % of what was said, they already took a great leap forward as cyclists. Besides great lectures and support by Kimmo Kananen, Kjell Carlström and Charly Wegelius, we had an individual bike fit for the guys, surprisingly all had to make some adjustments in their positioning on the bike.

Inspecting the proper positioning (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Inspecting the proper positioning (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

We also had the opportunity to have Jani Paju with us, who introduced Fustra to the guys. Fustra has been a success in many countries and is also used by the top elite as a way to improve especially your core strength. In cycling, Fustra is used for instance by IAM Cycling Team.

Time to Fustra! (picture from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Time to Fustra! (picture from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

We also focused on activities that were not related to cycling where the focus was on building team spirit. And I think we nailed that as well, better than expected.

First training camp at Solvalla (picture taken from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

First training camp at Solvalla (picture taken from https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

The lectures were interesting and practical and our days were filled with action. Basically we got up at 7 AM and had a full schedule until 22 PM. We learnt how to get a bottle from the team car properly, safe and efficiently. We also went through how to take advantage of bad situations such as punctures. As Wegelius pointed out several times, no panic, use your brains!”

Lecture by Wegelius (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

Lecture by Wegelius (picture from: https://www.facebook.com/pyorailynousuun)

As a final question I wanted to know when we’ll see a Finn on the podium, either in a spring Classics race or on a grand tour. Marko didn't need to think for long.

“ 2016, Mikko Paajanen. He has had a really good off season this year, and according to his own words he has never been in as good shape as he is now. I’m confident he will be the next big Finnish cyclist.”

And so, two and a half hours later we realized it was already pretty late. Time goes by so fast when you talk about cycling. I’m really excited to follow this project, and having heard many details I cannot yet reveal here, I’m looking forward to a year in cycling I've never experienced before. It was also really great to meet Marko, such a great person! I will be reporting about the project as it progresses so stay tuned! We will see the new team compete for the first in Finland in Turku, April 26th and 27th. So stay tuned for updates, there will be some great news, I promise you that!

Links:

 

Working on my February legs

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.

Morning glory

A must pay visit to Bianchi Café&Cycles

Stockholm by night

Back in Turku

And it was time for my favorite pastry, Runebergstårta!

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.

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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!

Watching Tour of Qatar while training

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.

Sunday breakfast

A month or so and we are out on our road-bikes!?

Rapha Festive 500, almost there

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.

At my restplace in the forest, I found a boat. Strange place for a boat one could say.

At my restplace in the forest, I found a boat. Strange place for a boat one could say.

Felt F65X

Felt F65X

Amazing light, no more darkness!

Amazing light, no more darkness!

For the first time, may I present, my shadow!

For the first time, may I present, my shadow!

Second stop at 40 km

Second stop at 40 km

Neat little river

Neat little river

Never tired of having sunshine

Never tired of having sunshine

More nice light and river

More nice light and river

Still like the looks of the bike

Still like the looks of the bike

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My new favorite ride-snack, salted and roasted Cashew nuts!

My new favorite ride-snack, salted and roasted Cashew nuts!

Almost smiling

Almost smiling

Moments later I spotted cyclists in the distance

Moments later I spotted cyclists in the distance

Rode with them for some 5 km, unfortunately there was one puncture during this time. Great co-operation here! Not to mention the motivation boost you get when you meet fellow cyclists.

Rode with them for some 5 km, unfortunately there was one puncture during this time. Great co-operation here! Not to mention the motivation boost you get when you meet fellow cyclists.

Then it was time for sunset

Then it was time for sunset

Last signs of light

Last signs of light

Arriving home, food awaited!

Arriving home, food awaited!

I never get tired eating good food

I never get tired eating good food

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!

Freezing weather today

Freezing weather today

No more sunshine, icy rain and wind

No more sunshine, icy rain and wind

These saved my hands today

These saved my hands today

They really are warm

They really are warm

Day 4

Day 5

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!

raphaalmost.png

 

Let's keep our fingers crossed

Cyclists against unsafe city planning

Turku, the city where I live in is not known for great city planning for cyclists. It's far from safe to get around the city center with your bike. Recently the Turku municipal property corporation board voted down a proposition that would have made entering the city center both easier and safer for cyclists. The local cycling association, Turun polkupyöräilijät (Åbo cyclister) organized a demonstrative cycling event through the city center. They managed to gather around 200 cyclists (which is pretty good for a small city like Turku) for this demonstration. Unfortunately I was not able to participate, but I was there with my camera. Below you can browse through them, and if you like to have them in full size, just contact me and we'll arrange that. Enjoy!

Cycling, snow and pigs

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.

Proper breakfast = good ride

Proper breakfast = good ride

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.

Pulled pork on the menu

Pulled pork on the menu

Piggy after half an hour

Piggy after half an hour

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.

Some of the gear

Some of the gear

Ready to rob.. roll

Ready to rob.. roll

Mud-cake works pretty good as a ride-snack

Mud-cake works pretty good as a ride-snack

It's important to be seen, even from behind!

It's important to be seen, even from behind!

Really looks like winter already

Really looks like winter already

Grey..

Grey..

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View from the office

View from the office

Pulling Pork

Pulling Pork

Pulled pork

Pulled pork

Still digesting the good rides and the perfect pork!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Bikes outsell cars in Europe

One would think it's obvious that generally cheaper bikes would certainly outsell the more expensive cars. But this is not true. According to npr.org it was the first time since world war II that more bikes were sold compared to cars (Italy). Actually more bikes were sold in every European country except for Belgium and Luxembourg. 

Picture from  http://www.npr.org

Picture from http://www.npr.org

Picture from  http://www.npr.org

Picture from http://www.npr.org

 

These numbers can probably be explained by the fact that car sales have dropped a lot this year, down to a 20 year low to be precise. Still I think we can make that ratio even better. How? Just go through this scheme from adventure-journal.co:

 

Do you need a bike?

Wrapping up the week

It's really strange to say, it's December. When did that happen? The good thing is that one of the dark rainy months has already passed and only a few to go before the outdoor season starts again (well a few..). As usual, I think pictures are nicer to browse on a Sunday evening, therefore I'll bombard you with them instead of words. I'm also planning to do something I've never done before, a real adventure. I'll tell you more about that next week, or before christmas ;)

After a long day you need to fill up your energy levels

After a long day you need to fill up your energy levels

There is no day without coffee

There is no day without coffee

Besides coffee, beer and cycling kind of goes together. Great source of vitamins. Wine should neither be forgotten.

Besides coffee, beer and cycling kind of goes together. Great source of vitamins. Wine should neither be forgotten.

First hard FTP test done this indoor season. This is when you really feel you are alive, that burning in your lungs and legs. The work for season 2014 has begun!

First hard FTP test done this indoor season. This is when you really feel you are alive, that burning in your lungs and legs. The work for season 2014 has begun!

Post workout nutrition. You should really try the Sierra Nevada Torpedo as well, superb IPA! Visit Sierra Nevada Brewery at  http://www.sierranevada.com/

Post workout nutrition. You should really try the Sierra Nevada Torpedo as well, superb IPA! Visit Sierra Nevada Brewery at http://www.sierranevada.com/

The Christmas tree has arrived and was lit up this weekend

The Christmas tree has arrived and was lit up this weekend

First signs of freezing water on the Aura river

First signs of freezing water on the Aura river

Sunday mornings, morning paper and proper breakfast. Life.

Sunday mornings, morning paper and proper breakfast. Life.

I hope you all had a great weekend. I'll upload some more stats about training, upcoming events and site updates during the upcoming month. Stay tuned!

A picture I took early Friday morning, I need to admit, there can be nice mornings in November as well..

Project4.jpg

 

Have a great week!

 

 

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! 

 

Enjoying the Evening

Today I took at trip to see my family, was a long time since last time. But likewise nice to be back home as well. I've been planning my winter-training and now I'm just chilling and reading the web. Some great reading from Rapha once again, Part One: The Choice by Rigo Zimmerman. Read the whole story here.

 

There were a million things I could think of in fact that I would rather do than ride out into the barbarity of a winter's day. There always was, there always is. - Rigo Zimmerman

 

Chilling out

Chilling out

 

Chill out!

Forced to relax

Soon  7 weeks with a flu has kept me away from the bike. Well mostly off the bike. Last week I tried to make a few easy rides, but my body responded with a small temperature, sore throat and a drippy nose. Really frustrating as I can feel all muscles turn into jelly.

Early morning ride before work

Early morning ride before work

Well at least I have time to carefully plan the winter cycling season, this time with a coach. Yesterday was my weekly massage day, sometimes I feel those sessions are more mental healing than healing your body. The masseur surely does a better job than any psychologist.

Friday relaxing

Friday relaxing

I also found a neat new Rapha video, and found it to include a familiar theme.  Check out the neat short video Rapha Retreats 2014.

Wednesday chilling

Wednesday chilling

It also looks as if Belgium got some snow. Another really beautiful picture from Jered and Ashley Gruber, this time from Muur van Geraardsbergen, Belgium.

I certainly hope we won't have any snow yet!

 

Have a good one! 

 

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! 

 

Cycling in Rain - Save your Ass

I need to share this with you. Took a short 40 km Sunday ride with my bike and for the first time I used the Ass Saver. It was not raining (at least not much), but the roads were completely wet. As you know, with road bikes that means wet ass and wet back. But not anymore!

So what's an Ass Saver? Ass Savers were invented by five Swedes, actually from Gothenburg, the wettest city in Sweden they say. We've seen the product even in the pro tour peloton, not bad!

Just some weeks ago I decided to try this out as well. It's only 8€:s and if I buy three I get free shipping. So I bought three and gave two to my cycling friends to try them out. 

Ass Savers were delivered in an envelope, neat envelope

Ass Savers were delivered in an envelope, neat envelope

I opened the envelope and found two black ass savers and one blue ass saver, just as ordered. My first thought? Wow, are these really going to keep you dry? A small piece of recycled plastics? Prove me wrong I thought.

Upp till bevis, as a swede would say. So I took the plastic ass saver, clipped it neatly onto my saddle (needed to cut it a bit shorter from the "saddle side", and it was easy, there were instructions to do this, just follow the marks.), and took the bike out to soaky roads.

Ass Saver attached

Ass Saver attached

During the ride I every now and then needed to get out of the saddle and look back whether the ass saver was still in place, and it was, firmly there. My ass felt dry, my back felt dry, the roads were really wet. I even steered into some puddles to really test this little piece of plastics. 

So how did I feel when I got back home? Dry. That's partly because I use Castelli Nanoflex arm and legwarmers and a Castelli Fawesome gilet. But my bibs are not water resistant in any way. Was my ass dry? Yes. 

It really does work

It really does work

The proof, the ass saver really does collect a big amount of that wet sand. So how about the back?

Result of 40km in wet conditions

Result of 40km in wet conditions

Just a few signs of what passed the ass saver. And really, my bibs were totally dry! Another cool thing for Specialized saddle users as me. When it's raining or the roads are wet, some saddles have that small section that will make it easier for you to sit in the saddle, but when its soaky that little hole will soak you from below. Ass saver not only saves your ass and back, but also those parts you really want to keep dry!

Totally protected from below

Totally protected from below

So do I recommend this to cyclists? Yes, to each and everyone. Save that 8 € from somewhere else. This is the most well spent 8 € in my life, especially being used to expensive cycling stuff. The Ass Savers are revolutionary in many ways, they actually deliver more than what they promise (to keep your ass dry)!

So no longer wet behinds, get your Ass Saver from http://ass-savers.com/ 

 

Tack så mycket Ass Savers, ni räddade min höstsäsong! 

 

Enjoy your rides! 

 

 

 

 

The silent cyclist

August 17th was the date for my last post. That means more than two months. Nothing has happened during that time? Actually there has been plenty of stuff happening, time has been the issue. Workload in my daily job increased somewhat drastically during late August and therefore I haven't been updating lately. Even if the site has been quiet for a while I've been thinking about how to develop the site, and come up with some ideas. Hopefully it will be more frequent and more easy reading in the future. At the same time the Facebook page will me more lively as well with neat stuff posted, even for those who are less hardcore cycling-enthusiasts. 

The latter part of the summer was pretty interesting cycling-wise. Myllyn pyöräily was the first race I actually held the virtual race lead at a point. Tour de Helsinki, the main goal set up was a DNS for me, but I've spent one great week in Italy cycling and did climb up Monte Amiata that really made it up not being able to start in Helsinki.

I will write about each of the steps from the latter part of the summer, but that will be another post, it would be too much to have all written down now. So stay tuned and read the reviews and cycling stories coming up. 

 

Evening ride in Italy

Evening ride in Italy

 Keep on cycling!

July - a great month of cycling

July was a superb month for cycling here in Finland. The weather was mostly great and I ended up spending almost 50 hours on my bike in July, including two bike races, Royal Pyöräily and Vuelta Vantaa. As usual, I rather share pictures with you than describe every ride in great detail.

The weather has been superb. Here riding with Juha in Ohensaari.

The weather has been superb. Here riding with Juha in Ohensaari.

We've just had a few days of rain. Proper clothing keeps you dry

We've just had a few days of rain. Proper clothing keeps you dry

That means washing.. and washing

That means washing.. and washing

Also ordered a new pair of shoes, Specialized S-Works Road shoes. Will write a review on them as I have some more hours on them

Also ordered a new pair of shoes, Specialized S-Works Road shoes. Will write a review on them as I have some more hours on them

One needs to take some hours off the bike as well. Coffee and Calvados is one way of doing it.

One needs to take some hours off the bike as well. Coffee and Calvados is one way of doing it.

Another way is BBQ at the sea

Another way is BBQ at the sea

After rain comes sun

After rain comes sun

Cycling to Ruissalo is easy with proper Finnish bike

Cycling to Ruissalo is easy with proper Finnish bike

Fixie-warning!

Fixie-warning!

Me and my bike

Me and my bike

Klaus with proper ride-snack!

Klaus with proper ride-snack!

We found some new hilly routes, this one in Paimio

We found some new hilly routes, this one in Paimio

11 % steep

11 % steep

Welcome to Finland

Welcome to Finland

I hope August will be as good as July. I will participate in 2 races, Eteläkärjen ajot next Sunday and Myllyn pyöräily the following. These will be the last ones preparing for my main goal this year, Tour de Helsinki 1st of September. I will let you know more about those later. 

 

Enjoy what's left of summer!