Out of the cycling’s spring time classics the Ronde van Vlaanderen has always fascinated me the most. The absolute carnage of each race and the relentless course with cobbled hills is the ultimate test of rider and bike. In the autumn it felt like a good idea to start the season early by signing up to the We Ride Flanders sportive. The plan is:
- Fly to Bryssels and rent a car
- Ride the 170km version of the sportive
- Watch the race and drive to France
- Ride parts of Paris-Roubaix and practice my religion
Usually by this time of the year I would have had a chance to do at least couple of leisurely rides. This year there is still snow on the ground and I haven’t ridden on road in five months. Even my bike is currently still in pieces. I acknowledge I’m awfully ill-prepared for this cycling monument and the trip is clearly going to be an adventure.
It is Thursday so here are few unedited videos of your truly cycling in Gran Canaria. The first two videos riding down GC-200 (close to Tasarte and Veneguera) is probably the best downhill riding I’ve ever done on road. Although the magazines always praise the smooth roads in Canary islands on the videos you can clearly see cracks on the roads. Despite the risks involved it was much more fun that coming down constant switchbacks on Serenity (GC-605) for example. Coming down from Pico de Nieves in rain and cold was not much fun either.
Riding up to Roque Nublo (GC-600) From Ayacata was probably the hardest uphill I’ve ever done and you get the sense of the gradients involved in the last video below. You can see the beginning of Serenity climb at the end of second video, but in all honesty that wasn’t too bad. I have a video of riding up Soria still somewhere, but this time I will spare you from the slow torture of shaky videos of me weaving uphill. This time it will just be the noise rattle and wind that will annoy you. Feel free to put on some good background music… Continue reading
Living in Finland half of the year is dark and gloomy. Some kind of lighting solution is thus paramount to staying safe while cycling. In the town there is sufficient light to see where you are going so you just need to stay visible. I have had plenty of different lights over the years and they always fail sooner or later. What I hate most is having to change the batteries all the time and I was really happy to find Reelight‘s offerings.
- No batteries or dynamo needed
- Fairly expensive and all models were not available locally
- Light is not all that bright
- Combo-pack includes both rear and front light
I decided to buy the City Supreme Reepower kit for my son’s bike so I don’t need to worry about him forgetting to turn on the lights. The lights were easy to mount and have stayed sturdily in their place despite hitting the trails multiple times. So all in all the lights have served our family well and I can recommend them. There is lot of promise in the self-powering technologies.
Even though I’m still not all that serious about cycling I have found it a good idea to plan ahead a little bit. The upcoming events help me motivate myself during the long off-season.
So next year the idea is to up the ante a bit. No official goal for distance, but 5k would be great and I would still consider 3k a good accomplishment. If the local hipsters are up to it I will surely attend their track races and fixed-gear crits.
For a number of years now I have dreamed about extending the summer by arranging an off-season training camp for myself. This November I finally managed to persuade “la familia” to join me for a trip to Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria. This was going to be my first real to chance to tackle mountains so I was bit apprehensive. In the end everything worked out more or less like I had envisioned. The village was nice, the mountains challenging and everybody is willing to do it again next year. Continue reading
I spent another season churning away. It wasn’t the warmest of summers, but there were plenty of sunny days to still achieve noticeable tan lines. In addition I managed:
- Riding 3500km / 194 hours (excluding commutes)
- Pirkan klassikko sportive in good company
- Rode from Karstula to Kauhava on my route to Lappland
- 6th place in Hellsinki fixed gear crit race
- 33km/h group at Helsinki Velotour sportive
All in all it was another successful season with the sport I love. I spent lot of time on the saddle, but cycling did not start to feel like a chore. Plenty of variety (gravel, long, short, fast, slow) kept things interesting. To save the best for last I still have the training camp coming up in Gran Canaria. Continue reading
The best part of cycling has been the simplicity of it. There has been no need to prepare, just go ride. Now that does not mean things could not get more interesting by enhancing the experience with some sauce. Electric derailleurs have already been around for a while, but only now battery powered bikes are really starting to make a splash. I confess I’m a fan of e-bikes, but it does not mean normal bikes are in any way obsolete. In the end it is a question of choosing right horses for respective courses. Continue reading
I got a new Android phone recently and I’ve been curious if the Strava app can replace the aging Garmin 500 altogether. As it turns out the app does 90% of the things I need.
- Starting recording is dead easy with the record widget. There is no annoying wait for catching the GPS signal either
- I can record ant+ data from my power2max via Viiiva bluetooth heart rate strap
- There is no more need to spend time uploading files to strava.com anymore
- If I run out of phone battery the recording stays and the app really does not use that much energy anyhow so battery life really hasn’t been a problem
- The app keeps running in the background even if I take mid-ride photos
- You can pause the recording, but there is no minimum speed option so it keeps recording during breaks if I walk around
- I never had need for turn-by-turn navigation anyway so I haven’t missed that. I can use Google Maps if I need help with navigation
- I’m missing some kind of audio warnings for exceeding power threshhold or heart rate zones as I’ve just kept the phone in my back pocket
- In the app there should be some countdown (not just a beep) for start and end of Strava segments and I should be able to choose segments in advance
- In general there is lot of promise. In the future the app could give instant feedback and encouragement based on virtual coaches data.
So all in all I’ve been pretty happy with Strava app and already sold my Garmin 500.
Storage space is always a scarce commodity. I decided to build a wall rack I can hang my vintage steel bike on. Basically the construction consists of two 30cm long table legs mounted with screws on a brick wall. It is nothing fancy, but I’m quite happy with the sturdiness and end-result in general. I already have some pipe insulation as padding, but I might still wrap some tape or cloth on top to pretty it up.
The old wisdom is you can only improve something you can measure. I had the opportunity to measure myself at the HULA ergometer lab last year. I got lot of fancy charts on lactates and CO2 levels, but the main recommendation was that I should be riding more light endurance training (under 135bpm) instead of constant Strava segment induced intervals.
The three key metrics were the following:
- Aerobic threshold (AeT) 130W 127bpm
- Anaerobic threshold (AnT/LT) 210W 170bpm
- VO2max 292W
Essentially the key take-away was that I can ride little over 200W for extended periods without worry as AnT translates to FTP pretty well. I was bit disappointed in the numbers, but it is good to know the baseline. Knowing you are going too easy or hard is important especially on longer hills or doing time trials. I don’t do much of either so it is more a question of pacing myself in right training zones. Continue reading