L’Eroica vintage cycling event took place October’s first weekend in Tuscany, Italy. The village of Gaiole is tucked in between lush hills of Chianti and provides a beautiful backdrop for an epic cycling adventure. I had signed up for the 135km route and despite some hard ships along the way managed to pull it off. Whatever distance you ride you need to be prepared for some heroics as the name of the event suggests.
L’Eroica vintage sportive is approaching fast. Reading about epic accounts on the event it is slowly dawning on me that I’m in for a real challenge. Originally the idea was to leisurely stroll around some strade bianca, the famous white roads of Chianti. When the event was six months away riding 137km did not sound too far fetched an idea. Apparently hills in Tuscany are brutal and it will be pretty much impossible to draft behind others on gravel. The only thing working for me at the moment is that I got a proper sized bike. My 55cm Tunturi Professional (fabricated by Paletti no less) should be a good fit. Now I just need to get my butt and the bike to Gaiole.
With the road cycling season ending in a disappointment this month’s physical exercise has mostly involved playing soccer. Even though we have had some fun rides with the kid it seems the only way to really get excited about cycling again is to start dreaming about a new bike. Good engineer starts with a requirement specification so I’ve tried to gather my thoughts. The way it is now I think only a good set of carbon wheels and a power meter can cure the gloom.
It is fall and the time for the off-road season. I’ve been interested in riding CX for a while so either a stainless steel gravel grinder or chinese carbon frame would be the way to go. I think I will start with a smaller investment though and just repurpose my old hardtail MTB and put some 28″ or 27,5″ wheels on it. I’ve been looking into getting chinese carbon clinchers with Novatek 882 or DT Swiss 240s hubs that would be compatible with different axle configurations (QR/15mm/20mm). There seems to be quite a few low-quality chinese rims on the market so I have to be careful and stay clear of ebay.
SRAM’s wireless electronic groupset and power meter have both been in my shopping list for a while now. I’ve been following news from Eurobike and Interbike, but it seems SRAM just doesn’t want my money. I think if I want to be serious about making some improvements next season a power meter is a must have. My idea now is that if I bought power meter cranks I could move the current compact SRAM Force cranks to the CX bike and extend the life of the FM015 by another year. If the electronic grouppo comes available I could move the whole gear train to the CX bike.
It is early in the spec season so who knows how this plays out.
It is horrible feeling when you realize all the training you have done all summer is going down the drain. That happened to me this weekend as I suffered a puncture 100km into the Tour de Helsinki sportive. Of course you got to be thankful to have made it safe to the goal line, but there is no joy when your season goal is in ruins. To be perfectly honest my preparations did no go exactly as planned so I guess you just have to take it as it comes.
I had done several shorter group rides during the weeks before the event so I knew I was capable of sufficient speeds. Previous weekend I rode half the route in an effort to check the route for potholes and other traps. I punctured and broke a spoke on my reconnaissance ride. The rear wheel needed truing, but luckily LBS sorted it out fast. The day before the event as I was fetching my number I noticed a creaking sound. Luckily I managed to narrow it down to loose chainring bolts.
Physically I wasn’t at my best either. I hadn’t really been sleeping all that well during the week. There has been a flu going around and I did have a headache in the morning. It did not help that I did not manage to eat or drink enough during the ride. Tactics wise I think I started too far back and had to spend way too much energy early on catching up the group of fast enough riders. With the head wind the group I ended up in was averaging under 36km/h so I was counting on a strong finish. I was supposed to start my push on the Nikkilä straights, but then the disaster struck.
I think I hit a one inch rock in the middle of the road and the impact caused a slow leaking hole in the rear wheel. Now looking back I could have just pumped the tire and continued on for a while. With the tube change training from week before the tire fixing went quick. Only problem is I forgot to switch to smallest gear and managed to bend the derailleur hanger and drop the derailleur cable in the process. Next time I will be better prepared, but it is still disappointing when you perform 30 minutes under your goal. At the moment it feels like next year I will just go take photos on race day and maybe ride the free TdH by night.
Wauhtiajot is pretty much the finnish localization of the l’Eroica concept. In August I took part in the 100km option on my pretty vintage Bianchi. The ride tooks us through classic roads around the eastern part of Helsinki metropolitan area. It all started early as we drove behind police escort through the sunny Helsinki centrum. I had some technical trouble and got bit lost on the way, but was caught and herded back to the bunch as the race part started. The route was pretty grueling. In all honesty I was pretty exhausted after grinding on gravel and soldering on in the rain.
After the lunch break the rest of the ride was taken in leasurely pace, but I had some trouble with my italian bottom bracket unthreading itself. All I can say is that I was really happy as bike and I made it in one piece to the finish line. The complimentary beer really tasted great after having to fight for it a little bit. While the arrangements were excellent the best part of the experience was chatting with people along the way. So big thanks to Heikki, Alessio, Jykä aka Inforest, MrVelo and the dude writing the rolling resistance blog.
On a related note I visited the Cykel vintage bike exhibition while on a holiday trip to Stockholm, Sweden. We always stay at Hotel Skeppsholmen, but it was incredible luck to spot the exhibit at the Moderna Museet’s architecture center. Here are some pictures I took.
I had couple of custom Cicli Chinarello merino jerseys made and they arrived today. Both the long and short-sleeved jerseys look absolutely amazing. The design nods towards the golden days of cycling and the quality is great. The wool fabric is bit thick and embroidered text is still little stiff, but I’m sure I will find lot of use for these. I just love the look and I’m really happy all the effort payed off.
TdH sportive is getting closer and things are getting hectic. It has been quite rainy lately so on Sunday I was supposed to do my final preparation for the event. I have been feeling kind of tired so it was good to get the blood flowing. It turned out to be a good learning experience. First I had my first ever flat on road tires. I managed to change the tube pretty fast, but I think I my CO2 inflator will be up for grabs. Luckily I got to loan a real pump from a former elite rider. He also gave me some tips as we took off in the same direction. It was really useful to get some tips. Key take-aways were how to cruise down without drag from freewheel and when to hit the sprint button on the hills. I will be sure to utilize these. We parted ways, but the day wasn’t over. I rode another 40km and a spoke broke in my Ksyrium Elite rear wheel. I managed to limp 30km home, but now the wheel needs to get fixed fast or I need to buy a new one for the event coming up Sunday.
My aim this month is to prepare myself mentally and physically for the TdH sportive taking place at the end of the month. My goal is to ride under four hours or at least give it my best shot. Since first 10km of the 143km distance is equalized reaching the target would require roughly a 37,5km/h for the rest of the ride. It is not impossible, but requires spotting a suitable paced group from the start and hanging on for dear life. Being able play my cards right is going to be crucial. This time I don’t want to waste energy leading the pack for extended periods or getting dropped due to boarding a group that is too fast for me.As part of the training I try to ride one fast short group ride a week. Local cycling club HePo arranges about 35km group ride every Wednesday and it is a perfect opportunity to up the ante. If all goes as planned I should be able to keep up with the group by the end of the month. This far I’ve been dropped twice and ended with average speed around the 35km/h mark both times. Sharp accents up the hills and sudden changes in pace have been the biggest challenge for me, but I have had to fight just to keep up on a non-technical descents. Anyways I hope this kind of interval training will harden me up and I will be able to keep up in a bigger group.
With increasing frequency road cycling is getting referred to as “the new golf” in different media outlets. To some extend it is true. Cycling appeals to that same middle-aged well-off demographic as golf has become more accessible. Also cycling is gaining popularity fast just like golf did in the 90s. Part of me cringes at the thought of being part of a fad or a victic of a clever marketing ploy. On the other hand who cares. Cycling is healthy and a great way to spend excess free time. Continue reading
Cycling is one of those hobbies where there is really no limit to the amount of money you can spend on it. There will always be upgrades as companies are continuously developing enticing new products. Falling into the trap of new and improved, but short lived standards will force you into a vicious upgrade cycle. On the other hand if you have the will power there are ways to get started and even continue your hobby without selling a kidney or robbing a bank. In addition to no-name products other cheap skate tactics include buying second hand and trading up. Most important strategy is separating wheat from the chaff ie. recognizing industry trends that have actual longetivity.