It is still summer, but the short nordic road cycling season is eventually starting to near its end. After the trip to Belgium and a 200km brevet pretty early in the spring I had plenty of early season prep. The hockey playing seems to have transferred over quite well and it hasn’t hurt that I weight 5kg less than usually after the winter. There were couple of rainy weeks, but mostly weather has been amazing. So, at least so far, things have turned out alright with healthy mix of riding both on gravel and tarmac. Continue reading
Living up in Northern Europe my only contact with professional road cycling is from television. Pretty much the only race that gets any attention in the news here is Tour de France. With stages taking place during work hours and Team Sky’s boring dominance I haven’t found TdF worth the pricey Eurosport channel. I have found the one day races much more interesting and luckily there are plenty of streams from abroad to choose from. Of all the races my personal favourite is Ronde van Vlaanderen. This spring I had a chance to experience the madness roadside.
I’ve been a big fan of spring classics for a while and this year I finally got a chance to ride parts of Ronde van Vlaanderen myself. April is really early in the season so the goal was just to ride leisurely and do my best in the hills. In advance I was quite apprehensive regarding my form, but everything turned out great and I had one of the best cycling trips of my life. Flandrians are true cycling fanatics and riding the famous cobbled climbs was an experience I’m not going to forget anytime soon.
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 so the trip is clearly going to be an adventure of epic proportions.
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
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.
- Start season early with 170km Ronde Vlaanderen sportive (end of March)
- Pirkan yöpyöräily 140km sportive (night in mid-June)
- Kauhava-Kokkola ride and/or Pukkilanharju 300km brevet (July)
- Turku Touring sportive 240 or 300km (August) or Helsinki Velotour 155km in 36km/h group (End of August)
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 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