giro d'espoo

Road Cycling Year 2013

As always, I like to look back at the year that passed, it often brigs up things you've forgotten and great memories you really can remember as they were yesterday. In year 2013 I had both good and bad memories, gladly more good ones, therefore a lot different from year 2012. 

The year began with great inspiration and motivation for training. For the first time I really spent qualitative time at the gym and had a good plan on the trainer. And sure, I made some great progress throughout the winter and early spring. For the first time, I also was able to compare watt data to the previous year, thanks to Trainerroad.

Silent gym early in the morning

Silent gym early in the morning

The outdoor season begun March 23rd with taking the car to a place without snow and then cycling that short distance back and forth. In year 2013 the season begun 2 weeks later than in 2012, and it took more time for the snow to melt, hence the season really begun almost a month later. This didn't matter since I had tracked some good hours on the trainer throughout the winter. In March for the first time ever, I had symptoms of overtraining.

First ride of the year, plenty of snow around

First ride of the year, plenty of snow around

The cycling year 2013 was also the year for me to ride hard, in groups with faster riders and great company where the whole group was working in an echelon against various wind directions. I also participated in races, many new for me. 

The first race in 2013 though was the Giro d'Espoo. It was super windy but amazingly fun, once again. The second race was Pirkan Pyöräily. It was the first time I participated in this event, and I'm really glad I did. A really well organized event in Tampere brought my personal record average of 36,1 km/h. 

The weather throughout the summer was really superb, so it was great rides almost all summer around. The biggest factor for me progressing was to start with Resistentia and to finally get a proper bike fit done. I will review the service more precisely at some point, but they really helped me track some kilometers and add quality to my training on the bike.

No doubt summer is the best of the seasons

No doubt summer is the best of the seasons

The third race of the year was Royal Cycling, another new event in my calendar. And yet another superb race. Together with Sebu we worked really good for the whole group and had some sprinting capabilities left at the end as well. And this race showed me how important a teammate really is in motivating you through the downs in your race.

Royal Cycling

Royal Cycling

I also participated in Vuelta Vantaa, Eteläkärjen ajot and Myllyn pyöräily. All for the first time. Probably they will be in my calendar for 2014 as well. The greatest thing about the races this year was that I was able to participate them with my teammates, Sebu and Klaus. It really is one of the best things you can experience, race together!

Some more summer

Some more summer

I was not able to participate in the event that once again was planned to be the main event of the year, Tour de Helsinki. In many of the races I had some minor issues with my knees and my stomach, I hope this is something I can get rid of for the year 2014. Instead of the TdH, I spent a week in Italy, cycling in really beautiful landscapes and also managed to climb up Monte Amiata. Superb ride. I will recap that week for you at some point.

Evening ride in Italy

Evening ride in Italy

At the end of the year I was ill for a long period and really had to stay off the bike for 1,5 months, much more than I would have wanted to. But I was able to complete the Rapha Festive 500 challenge, a new thing for me. And gosh, that was hard for these really untrained legs! I was supported by Huntteri for this challenge, and was able to buy a new Felt F65X for this purpose. A cyclocross bike also means I will be able to track more hours on the bike on the off season, and hopefully I will feel this in summer 2014!

I really have some high hopes for the road cycling season 2014, and I'm sure I will make some great progress together with the support I have!

Some fun facts to compare year 2013 with the previous 2012.

Year 2012 2013 comparison

  • + 72 more rides
  • + 2700 more kilometers ridden
  • + 130 hours more training
  • - 15 bpm average heartrate
  • + 60 000 more calories burned

 

Thanks for reading and following, I hope you'll stick with me for another great year!

 

 

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!

Ready to race?

In the last posts before the break I wrote about my training progress and I was actually very pleased by the way my body responded to the gym and trainer exercise. This is how the progress W/Kg was developing from January to March:

W/Kg progress, blue line is the expected result and the red one is the actual progress

W/Kg progress, blue line is the expected result and the red one is the actual progress

Due to the fact I don't have a Cycle Power Meter on my bike (these calculations were made by the indoor training software) it is quite hard to keep track on this development. That has led to the feeling I am making zero progress. I've now ridden 1000km outdoors (total of slightly above 2000km) this year, which is almost the same as last year at this time. So with the training I've made during winter and the fact that I've ridden slightly more, that should result in me being in better shape. Is that so?

During March I felt the overtraining creeping (read more about overtraining on Trainingpeaks). So I had to take a break in training. Probably that led to a drop in the "good feeling" about training and resulted in actual performance loss as well. It was a pity taking some time off, but that was a must. Together with high expectations that is probably the reason why I feel I am underperforming. 

That's why I will be doing some serious change in my training, I'll let you know more about that later.

This week will bring the first race of the year, Giro d'Espoo. It was a great event last year, 111km of superb riding in great weather (you can read about last year's event here). The weather now looks quite the opposite, +15 degrees and rain. I also heard the roads are in quite bad shape at some sections, so it can become a quite dangerous ride. So maybe I'm not able to beat last year's time, but anyhow, just finishing will probably feel great.

The route will be the same as last year, as mentioned 111km mostly rolling hills. For all you attending, click here to see all the sections which are in bad shape. I really hope there won't be any big crashes, would be really disappointing to have the bike destroyed and a bone broken with the whole season in front of us.

During the spring we have had some rainy rides, which hopefully will help us now. I also bought some new waterproof clothing, that I'll review at a later stage, they've been working great.

Dirt all over

Dirt all over

You should always clean your bike immediately after a soaky ride!

You should always clean your bike immediately after a soaky ride!

Rain creates happy cyclists!

Rain creates happy cyclists!

Hope you stayed awake reading this!

Enjoy the spring!

Back on the Road

3 Months, really? That's how long it took to be back here writing again, wow. That means I need to summarize my winter training. January and February where superb training-wise, both gym and trainer pedaling went as planned, or even better. March brought some flu that made a small break in the training, and once I got out on the roads it was once again hard to go back to indoor training.

March 15th, still plenty of snow around

March 15th, still plenty of snow around

The winter was longer than usual, and the first outdoor road bike ride was ridden March 23rd with plenty of snow around, and April 12th was the first time I took my bike out without first driving by car to a snowless place. 

First outdoor ride, +1 degrees Celsius and still a lot of snow around

First outdoor ride, +1 degrees Celsius and still a lot of snow around

Even if I was able to get out on the roads later than last year, I have a couple of hundred km more ridden than last year at this time. Having that said, it still feels like I'm a bit behind schedule with especially the legs. All the longer rides have been a struggle in the end. And the first race of the year, Giro d'Espoo will be ridden already on Sunday this week. Not sure if I'm ready for that yet, but we'll see how it goes.

Some of the rides have not been that sunny..

Some of the rides have not been that sunny..

I have a lot to write but I'll do that in smaller fractions, no one's interested in reading a 10 page long story about training. And as usual, just to prove nothing has changed, there is a picture of food...

Great lunch at LaCaffettiera in Turku

Great lunch at LaCaffettiera in Turku

I'll get back to you with more stories during the week. 'Til then, have a great one!

My Cycling Year 2012

Another new year of cycling is here. This year will be different from the past years, hopefully better than especially last year. Year 2012 was in many ways a year of learning to listen to your body, and learning from failures.

As every year when the snow starts to melt, we take the car and drive around Turku region to scout for any dry roads to cycle on. In 2012 the day was March 11th and indeed we found a dry road in Lieto

+4 degrees and partly dry roads = season begins here

+4 degrees and partly dry roads = season begins here

We were really excited to get out after a long winter! (11.3.2012)

Some sections were still covered by ice

Some sections were still covered by ice

The spring was quite cold, and my first +100 km ride (120 km) ridden May 13th had an average temperature of +14 (min +11).  That ride was my preparation ride for the first of two cycling events in 2012, Giro d'Espoo. We also discovered some new routes to Velkua and Merimasku. We also had some great group rides during the early 2012.

The route to Merimasku even includes a small hill

The route to Merimasku even includes a small hill

The route to Velkua included a ferry

The route to Velkua included a ferry

Riding with friends is always nice

Riding with friends is always nice

Giro d'Espoo was the first performance marker for 2012. The weather was perfect and the 110km race was well organized. The race went better than expected and I finished in a breakaway with an total average of 33,5km/h. It all felt pretty easy.

Even met Alexander Stubb before the start

Even met Alexander Stubb before the start

At the start-line 

At the start-line 

Then it was time for the summer. A summer that never came it felt like. The weather was bad throughout the whole summer (a couple of nice days), usually heavy winds and a lot of rainy periods made the riding pretty demanding at times. This also affected the kilometers ridden. It was just easier to justify short rides in bad weather. An exception was the day in June when I took my bike around the archipelago. It was one of the hardest rides so far. +12 degrees and it was soaking almost the entire first 144km, not to mention I almost got lost and the heavy winds once again. 

August was the month to test my motivation. My bike broke down in early August, and when I got it back from maintenance my neck and back broke down. A couple of weeks without riding at the most important time felt wrong, but gave me motivation for this year.

A typical Finnish summer...
A typical Finnish summer...

Tour de Helsinki has always been my main goal, and was also the main goal in 2012. Not having spent much time on the bike the end result was just as could be expected. A crash and cramps made sure my time would be worse than the year before. And all of a sudden it was winter again.

As mentioned, the year 2012 was the year to learn new stuff. I learned to lose, I learned about patience, I learned to listen to my body and began going to a sports masseur. I think I became a mentally stronger rider although I didn't achieve some of the goals set up for 2012. What happened in 2012 changed also the way I will be training in 2013 and it also changed the way I will put up my goals this year. So even if 2012 was probably the hardest and worst year for me as far as results are concerned, it still gave me a lot.

I'll end wrapping up 2012 with quoting Mark Cavendish:

"There's something that can't be replicated that makes cycling so special"

Post Giro d'Espoo

So it has been more than a week since the first cycling event this season. I have been much off the bike after that, but I hope to get on wheels already tomorrow! The Giro d'Espoo was held for the first time ever, and I have to say I'm pretty pleased with how the event was organized. The weather was perfect, sunshine, +23 and almost no wind. And of course the wind is not that important when riding in big groups of several hundred riders. 

We started our way towards Espoo at 7am, and did the last fueling with some bananas and white breadWe arrived to the starting area at around 9am, and only half an hour later the place was crowded with cyclists.

After receiving our race numbers and timechips we started preparing our bikesPreparations..All set upI also had the opportunity to get a gps device from the organizers and thus it was possible to follow me live during the race. It is still possible to watch the race and the gps tracks online at http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20120527gde/. Among the other cyclists with this device was the race winner Kimmo Kananen and our Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade of Finland, Alexander Stubb. I actually had the opportunity to have a word with him, and because I had a Nokia Lumia, he was also pleased to have a picture with me.

Despite being in a hurry Alexander had time to chat with usIt amazes me how a busy person, having a family with kids, being a minister and travelling a lot, has time to do all this and have time for training too. And not just being average, he is really good at what he does. Last year he finished as 33rd out of 40 cyclists in the national time trial championships (46,2km), and the day after he pulled out a great time in Tour de Helsinki (140km) with an average speed of 42km/h. In Giro d'Espoo, he was one of the pacekeepers in the 35km/h group. A great personality and truly one who inspires us others! Check out his webpage: http://www.alexstubb.com/

Almost 1500 cyclists lined up for the startWe joined the group that kept a pace of 32km/h, and besides a couple of close calls among other cyclists who seemed to be too eager to get to the finish line, the ride was really pleasant. The weather was perfect and the pace was just a perfect early season pace. The route was mostly in good shape, and in the latter part there were some really nice hills as well. The pacekeepers who led the groups turned aside when there was about 10km to go(this was just before the hilly section). There were several breakaways and I ended up in one of them. As I was unfamiliar with the route, I did not push too hard in the end, but still we managed to keep up a good speed with a couple of other riders. I did the pacekeeping in the climbs and the others kept the pace high during downhills and flats. 

Garmin data from my ride

 

Post-ride snack

There was plenty of people taking pictures from along the road, and here are some links to their sites:

 

 

Fortunately there was a cyclist with a cam in our group, and he put up a pretty neat video from the race:

Giro d'Espoo 2012 from Juha Halikka on Vimeo.

 

It seemed as he was riding behind me somewhere in the middle of the race (4:27 in the video)

 

And the official results you can find here.

 

All in all the race was nice, and I'm sure I'll participate next year again! Pirkan pyöräily is the next event, 10th of June. I'm still not sure if I'm able to pull it, but I'll keep you updated about the event later this week. 

 

Waiting for the summer!

Giro d'Espoo (link to live tracking)

So tomorrow is the day for my first cycling event in 2012, Giro d'Espoo. It will be held for the first time ever, and I hope it will be a good one. The weather seems to be perfect, some 23 degrees and calm winds. The start will be at 11 am, and the route will pass Kirkkonummi, Veikkola and Espoo. You can see the whole 111km route here. As it seems now, I'll be joining the group that will keep an average of 32km/h. The route is mainly flat and hilly, with just a few "climbs". Giro d'Espoo will also be tracked live online, via Traxmeet. I will be one of 10 riders wearing a gps device, so if you want you can follow me live during the race on http://www.tulospalvelu.fi/gps/20120527gde/.

Bike ready...

As it is only early season, and there are several races to come, one in just a couple of weeks, I have no greater goals set up for the race tomorrow. I just hope I'm in a shape good enough to enjoy riding in good mood along with almost 1500 other cyclists. 

Garmin ready...

So tune in to the live tracking tomorrow if you have time, and I'll be back with photos and stories from the race later next week. 

I'm ready...

Enjoy what's left of the weekend!

Spring in pictures

The Giro d'Italia is turning towards the end and my first cycling event this year, Giro d'Espoo is only one week away. The spring is once again turning into summer, and in a couple of weeks we are stepping into June, the first real summer-month, at least up here. Every season we try to find new routes to ride here in Turku, and we've found a couple of really nice routes that we've never ridden before. At some point I'll provide you with more detailed workout data on these pages, so you can have a closer look at the routes, but more about that later on. 

Naantali in early MayFishing here seemed to be popularOne new route we found took us to the inner archipelago (click to open in googlemaps)Here we also found a JupiterAnd a great steep but short hill!Bikes need to be taken care of as well, so we took the bikes to the countryside for a wash

A clean Canyon Ultimate CF 8.0And a great example of finnish design, Tunturi PopThe spring hasn't been that warm, hence we've mostly ridden shorter rides (40-90km), but before the Giro d'Espoo, I wanted to make at least one a bit longer ride (120km). So a sunny sunday I took my bike for yet another new route towards the archipelago.

The ferry to Velkua (click to open in Googlemaps)Sunbathing on the ferryTired of looking at my bike? I'm not......neither were the cows!Finnish archipelagoI'm also happy to see our cycling community grow. What used to be just 3 guys, has now turned into a mixed pack of around 10 riders, and even if it is nice to ride alone pushing yourself to the limits, group rides are a great way to enjoy cycling and friends. Today's busy schedules made it pretty hard to find someone to ride with, but this year with more riders, we've already enjoyed a few rides together.

Slipstreaming, or almost slipstreamingEnjoying the weatherRuissalo in Turku offers a really neat scenery for all outdoor activities (click to open in googlemaps)I hope you enjoyed the pictures, I'll be posting more, but for your sake I'll try to keep the posts short and interesting. 

 

Enjoy what's left of spring!

 


Season 2012 taking shape

So we've seen the pro-tour begin, and the first big event Tour Down Under finish with a great start for the new team, Green Edge. The former Team Sky rider Simon Gerrans took the overall win but we also saw great sprints by the german sprinter André Greipel.

Simon Gerrans (overall winner) – Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sprint ) – Jan Bakelants (most aggressive) – Rohan Dennis(KOM). Photo Cor Vos (cyclingtips.com.au)

I also enrolled to what will be the first cycling event for me in 2012, Giro d'Espoo that will take place the 27th of May 2012. A 111km long race along roads in the capital region will hopefully be ridden in good weather conditions. Check out the map here.

Click to read more about the race

I spent my new year in Stockholm and during some hanging-around we went to this awesome cycling café, Bianchi Café & Cycles. The coffee was really good and they even had the stuff I love, Cornetto con Crema. Having good coffee and being surrounded by bikes and likeminded people must be pretty close to heaven for any cyclist. I recommend you all to go there if you ever go to Stockholm. 

 

Both MTBs and Roadbikes were represented

Cornetto, Coffee and Bikes = Heaven

You could easily spend loads of money here, all bikes were for sale (new)

Probably the most beautiful bike I've ever seen, Bianchi Oltre Nero (~10 000€), click to read more about the bikeEven if you wouldn't be a Bianchi guy, this place is really worth a visit. At the same time I'm sorry that we don't have anything similar here in Finland.

 

Spring is here any day now... right?!