Cyclocross

FTP Test day

FTP Test day

Today was that day, when you know you will go through some pain and desperation. It has been too long since my last FTP test, so I honestly was unsure what to expect. Something less than during summer but more than last year same time. Having had some time off the bike in October and mainly easier workouts lately, I knew this could be really painful.

Off-season 2013-2014 officially over

It has been a busy week, therefore a week of silence. Besides a busy week, this week has finally ended the off-season 2013/2014. An off-season that was really different from my previous years. More time in the saddle and less gym. This was the first off-season with Resistentia, and may the stats speak for themselves.

I did 27 more workouts, tracked almost 1 100 km more, in total 54 hours more time in the saddle. My training was slightly less stressful. On average my rides were almost 20 minutes longer in duration. This can be partly explained with the new Felt F65X cyclocross I bought in November. Thanks to Huntteri.fi for that opportunity. I will write a review about the bike during spring. I also managed to reduce weight and increase my watt/kg ratio. For these results I have not only thank myself for, but especially Resistentia and Huntteri.fi. Resistentia for providing me with coaching and a well structured training plan and Huntteri for giving me the opportunity to get a proper cyclocross for the winter.

I also managed to stay healthy and had no influenza this year. I feel really good and confident for the upcoming season. Can't wait to hit the roads and challenge myself beating my current records.

Last weekend was the last time I was out with the cyclocross. Really spring already

Behind the camera

What's left of snow

On Tuesday this week I finally did a proper maintenance on my Canyon roadbike, cleaning, oiling, changing wires, handlebar tape, things you need to do before the season can start. And on Wednesday it finally happened. And wow, that difference from an aluminium cyclocross bike to a full carbon roadbike, stunning.

Thumbs up!

The forecasts promise great weather for weekend, can't wait to track some big hours in the saddle trying out all my new gadgets and nutrition etc. 

 

Have a good one!

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!



Spring is in the air

This week has been warm (well not warm like Italy, but warm comparing to the average temperatures in Finland this time a year). This week has also been great for cycling. On Friday it was time for yet another FTP test, this time a proper one. Having done only a few hard strength training workouts I was a bit nervous. But gladly I managed to perform pretty close to what I expected I could. Felt really strong at the latter part of the 20 minute interval and that gave me a nice boost in self-confidence on the bike.

Post FTP workout

After the FTP test, since it was Friday I rewarded myself with sort of "junkfood" and Sauna.

This morning I woke up well rested having had troubles sleeping during the week. And what a great feeling it was to wake up when the sun was shining! This winter has probably affected me more than the previous winters for some reason, and I realized it today feeling great, energized and really happy. Can't remember the time when I would have had all those 3 feelings at the same time. So the sun was shining and Kjell had planned a 2-3 hour easy outdoor ride for me today. Great!

I prepared myself some morning coffee with my Bialetti Brikka (that is by the way working flawlessly and makes a tremendous crema!). While having my espresso and porridge, I had all the time in the world to read the news, twitter feed and update myself with the latest in the cycling world.

After an easy and relaxing morning it was time to change the studded tires for normal cyclocross tires and head out. And folks, that makes a difference!

Look ma, no spikes

"Oh please, how long can it take to take that pic?"

Today's ride-snack, nuts

Nice fog on the lens

Goodbye winter!

One more, still, like the looks!

All the asphalt roads were dry, and almost 100% ready to ride with a roadie! I returned home just in time to watch the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, and what a race that was! As a hockey fan, I also watched the "Winter-classics" Talviklassikko between HIFK and Jokerit, a pretty close game, and a nice ending to the rivalry of being the best one in Helsinki.

Yum!

Tomorrow is one of my favorite sporting events of the year, Vasaloppet where almost 16 000 skiers, both elite and amateurs participate. 90 kilometers on skis and what's interesting is that you usually see tactics in this race, similar to the ones in road cycling races. I've been following this race ever since a kid, and I'm excited every year to watch it, brings back good memories. Also a couple of friends of mine will participate, so it will be interesting to follow them! Tomorrow also Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne will be ridden. So a great day of sports!

 

Have a good one, enjoy your weekend folks!

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!

Cycling in cold weather and snow

After a long period  without snow here in southern Finland the really cold weather is back. The temperature has stayed between -10 and -20 degrees, hence I've stayed inside doing trainer exercises all week. But today since the sun was finally shining, I decided to take a ride despite some -15 degrees celcius. It was also a perfect weather to try out my new winter cycling shoes, the Northwave Fahrenheit GTX (Gore-Tex) Winter Road Shoes. 

The Northwave Fahrenheit GTX (Gore-Tex) Winter Road Shoes

The Northwave Fahrenheit GTX (Gore-Tex) Winter Road Shoes

I also had suffered many punctures lately and made a thorough check on the tires. And it struck me how bad that gravel they shovel on the icy roads really are for tires. They're sharp as glass and really cut through those tires, had several smaller pieces that had made some small damage already, and one that had cut through and caused the punctures.

That "gravel" is like glass

That "gravel" is like glass

 I repaired the tire, changed the inner tube and headed out. I wore several layers of warm clothing, breathable and windproof. That's a must do if you are riding in temperatures below -10 degrees.

Late afternoon

Late afternoon

After 10 kilometers I had to stop because my feet were freezing. Fortunately I had a pair of neoprene shoe covers with me, so I just put those on and continued. I would estimate that the Northwave Fahrenheit GTX Winter Road Shoes will be able to handle some -5 degrees but if the temperature goes below that, you probably want to add another layer on top of that. I'll review the shoes when I have more hours on them.

Felt F65X bathing in sun...

Felt F65X bathing in sun...

After one and a half hour I made a short stop to take some photos. At this point it was - 15 degrees and a sign of cold weather could be seen as a layer of ice on my collar.

Icy collar

Icy collar

Snowy scenery

Snowy scenery

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Even if it was cold, I didn't freeze. But I guess my body still reacted to the freezing weather. I had a pretty high average heart-rate even if i didn't put much effort into pedaling. The sun was setting just before I got home. Have to admit it was pretty nice to watch.

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I had one bottle of warm water with me when I left home, but after 20 minutes it was already so cold I didn't want to drink it, and after one hour it was all frozen. When I got home the bottle looked like this:

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It seems we won't see much of the sun during next week, and the temperatures will continue to stay below - 10 degrees. Good thing I went out today and enjoyed the weather.

 

Enjoy your weekend!

Rapha Festive 500 First Half

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...

festivetrack.png

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.

Warm-up ride

On Wednesday night after arriving home I took a short warm-up ride before the "real" rides.

Cycling in darkness

Cycling in darkness

Lights on

Lights on

Stylish

Stylish

Foggy

Foggy

Rapha Festive 500 - Day 1

On Thursday I tracked some 85 km. It was windy and grey.

Ready?

Ready?

Is that the sun?

Is that the sun?

Kirjalansalmi

Kirjalansalmi

View from the office

View from the office

View from bottom

View from bottom

Short stop

Short stop

End of the road

End of the road

Finnish landscape

Finnish landscape

Mud

Mud

All smiles..

All smiles..

No asphalt around

No asphalt around

Second stop

Second stop

At the sea

At the sea

Ridesnack

Ridesnack

And coffee of course

And coffee of course

Black gold

Black gold

It has been a really stormy winter so far

It has been a really stormy winter so far

More sand

More sand

Misty roads

Misty roads

Find the Felt

Find the Felt

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.

Grey again

Grey again

Ridesnack for today

Ridesnack for today

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Raindrops keep falling on my head

Wet roads

Wet roads

Finnish archipelago

Finnish archipelago

Felt waiting to get moving again

Felt waiting to get moving again

View from the office, more rain

View from the office, more rain

Naantali sun

Naantali sun

 

 

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!

Today's fuel

Today's fuel

Finnish forest

Finnish forest

Forest Felt

Forest Felt

Exit

Exit

More Finnish landscapes, grey and wet

More Finnish landscapes, grey and wet

Only some 200 + kilometers to go, and no rain tomorrow (they say..). 

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

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.

Grey countryside

Grey countryside

Greyscale continues

Greyscale continues

At a distance, the bike looks clean

At a distance, the bike looks clean

The office

The office

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. 

Inspirational?

Inspirational?

Rear view

Rear view

How about a smile?

How about a smile?

The darkest day of the year

The darkest day of the year

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.

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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.

Kaffa GoKväll and Tauko

Kaffa GoKväll and Tauko

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.

Enjoy!

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First ride with Felt F65X

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. 

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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.

The setup with studded tires, front&back-lights and ass savers "mudguard"

The setup with studded tires, front&back-lights and ass savers "mudguard"

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. 

And there was light

And there was light

 

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.

Links:

http://www.feltbicycles.com/Finland/2014/Bikes/Cyclo-X/FX-Series/f65x.aspx

http://huntteri.fi/?lang=en&rtn=

 

Now I'm ready for bed and anxiously waiting for the next ride, and especially the Rapha Festive 500! Good Night!

 

Rapha Festive 500

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.

Felt F65X 2014

Felt F65X 2014

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:

http://www.rapha.cc/festive-500-2013

http://www.strava.com/challenges/festive-500-2013

 

I'll try to shoot some videos and pictures and you can find them when they're created on:

The Invisible Hill Facebook page  

invisiblehillcycling instagram page

 

The routes will be uploaded to Strava and you will be able to track me live as well on my Endomondo page