It has been a couple of really strange weeks, both in good and bad. It feels as if the ups and downs have both peaked in an abnormal way. I won't go into any details about the downs, but I guess you need them every now and then to really figure out what's important in life. I've been fortunate to have many ups as well, and those I'm more than glad to share with you.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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: