torstai 16. toukokuuta 2019

In a quest of a bicycle

1.

I'm reaching Shangri-La, the earthly paradise, and about to meet El Dorado, the Golden Chief there.

I've been walking quite a bit on the difficult pockmarked pavements of Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. Afternoon rush hour when old cars exhaust their smell in queues and push the pedal whenever there is an open lane. I'm checking the direction every here and there, and finally see the lake.

By the lake is Velove, a bike rental. I started to scout for a bicycle already back at home in Finland. I will be working here rather often and don't want to go insane.

I was expecting a bike shop but find a container renting cheap velos for people to ride around the lake path.

I've received pictures and a bid of 130 euro. Unfortunately they have only mountain bikes to sell but roads are bad here, so a road bike may not be as good choice as I dreamed.

The Chief is not there but another guy. We haven't got a common language except Google Translator. With its help we communicate a bit, wait for the Chief who never arrives, and finally I get a bike for a test ride.

BTwin Rockrider is an entry level MTB. I had gotten the impression when messaging with the Chief that they are serviced and in a good condition. He may be the Golden Chief but his way to get the Gold mean raw business. The drive train is in poor condition and tyres bald. No way I could expect this bike to take the miles of a day's ride. Don't want to stop because of a mechanical in the middle of nowhere. 130 de euro pentru asta este prea mult.


I get the Chief on the phone and he says that I may find what I'm looking for at Velopoint. I open the map app and it shows that the shop is nearby, only 2 km to walk. There, then.


2.

I was about to miss Velopoint when walking by it the first time. Luckily my conciousness registered those several bikes on the pavement and I started to look around. That garage door opening was actually the boutique I came for!

The mechanic there was quick to get his own phone and reply on his Google translator. First he was like they only rent but then he realized a business opportunity and started to go through his selection.

He found an urban unisex bike that looked big enough for my long legs. It turned out to have too short seat post in order to get the saddle high enough. I felt lucky as otherwise I would have considered this not-so-suitable vehicle.

3.

I had searched 999.md – a local graigslist – already before leaving home and found an old Bianchi road bike for sale. I hadn't heard anything from the seller during my first day in Moldova but now, sitting on a street bar terrace opposite to Velopoint, sipping a beer, I got a message from him.


He was ready to sell and at home. Welcome! Ok, I will walk there, albeit it's on the other side of the city.

Without my jacket, the heavy camera bag with my laptop and all it'd been easier but finally I reached the address which seemed to be at Spitalul Clinic al Ministerului Sănătăţii. Quite odd to like at a hospital address. I waited there for a moment, texting him that I've arrived. Phone battery running out.

I needed my phone also to find my way back to the hotel, so after five minutes I left. Almost at the hotel door I got a message from him. I suggested him to take a short ride to my hotel but he said it's not possible to ride that bike.

Very well. How on earth did you think I could ride it, then? No deal.

4.

Candidate #4 was a BTwin Riverside 500 bike in good condition. A knowledgeable guy with whom I messaged quite a lot and arranged a meeting for next evening. He'd come to the hotel.

Looking strong now! Next afternoon it started to rain. In the evening he texted that he was downtown taking shelter from rain for a moment. We decided he'll come when/if rain stops. And indeed it did stop quite soon.

I waited for two hours and messaged him. Another two hours and he replied: "I sell it today, sorry"

I felt like the medieval Templars or their German counterpart Parsifal in their search for the Holy grail.

5.

Back to 999.md which felt now even more familiar than my favourite tv show.

I found a cyclocross bike for sale. That's actually a great combination of an endurance road bike and of MTB resistance to punctures. An entry level one, Boardman CX Comp, and a bit on the more expensive side. Anyways the best combination so far.

In the middle of the night we chatted quite a while with the seller and he was ok to come downtown to the Triuph Arch next day at noon.

He did come and he did deliver.

It's got only Shimano Sora group set and tank-heavy wheels but the seller had taken good care of the bike. Brakes were non-existent but maybe it was due to entry-level disc brakes and rainy weather.

It's a deal! Indiana Jones found the lost Ark! I found the bike, and I'm able to ride from now on every time I visit Moldova in this project which will take place rather often. With some brake adjustment it's now ready for my whole-Saturday ride to the countryside and some neighbouring city.


sunnuntai 20. tammikuuta 2019

Power meter based indoor training

Me and my avatar in virtual Innsbruck.
Cycling indoors at +14 °C (57F) riding on Zwift is currently way more pleasant than riding outside at -14 °C (6F).  As I've got a power meter only on my trainer, the other major advantage is know how I am riding.

It makes a world's difference to ride when you can access live power data. When the going gets tough, my mind tends to tell I'm trying push too hard. As I can check the current and average wattage and heart rate, I know whether I'm giving it all or it is just mental weakness.

Riding up Alpe du Zwift yesterday felt difficult with tired legs. Nevertheless, I believed I can sustain my FTP level (300W) and told my legs to do some more. Every time when my power output was dropping below 300, I knew to push harder. Without the exact numbers I would have given in and settled for less.

299 W average - exactly my FTP.
With the help of Strava and Cycling Analytics I've learned to read the output and understand my strengths and weaknesses. The next example is from Cycling Analytics.

Below are two graphs. The upper is a few weeks old, the lower is fresh.

Both show that I am weaker than the average Joe on short bursts (less than 5 seconds), and around 1-5 minutes. I'm about average for 10-20 second bursts and around an hour (FTP equivalent).

There's a difference between these two graphs. On the right hand side the line turns higher on the lower graph. It means that the power level sustained over one hour is above average now. It's a visual proof that my winter training has paid off.

When Tour de Zwift will be over, it's time to start some interval based training plan, most likely Crit Crusher. I expect to get the line higher, away from the blue area altogether.

maanantai 31. joulukuuta 2018

No onkos tullut kesä! Talvitreenin määrä ja laatu harjoitusvastuksella


Tämän joulukuun aikana olen treenannut innokkaasti kevättä varten, kuin pieni orava tammen juurella.

Eipä ole ikinä ennen kertynyt 1700 kilometriä kuukaudessa kuin sydänkesän loma-aikoina. Silloinkaan tekemisen laatu (tai intensiteetti) ei ole ollut tätä tasoa.
Strava Fitness Score
Ensin puolitoista viikkoa Kanarialla, jossa ajoin voimaa kehittäviä nousuja enemmän kuin millään aiemmalla reissulla. Jo ennen matkaa tein valmistavaa treeniä, niin että jaksaisin polkea vuoria katkeamatta. Iloinen yllätys reissun loppupäivinä olikin miten jaksoin vielä siinäkin vaiheessa, kun ennen olisi pitänyt antaa periksi.

Kun kestävyys ja voimatasot olivat sitten etelän leirin myötä nousseet, saatoin jatkaa kasvaneen kunnon hyödyntämistä ja edelleen kehittämistä kotona trainerin parissa.

Zwift on ollut minulle suuri innoitus sisäpyöräilyssä. Pari tuntia menee virtuaalimaailmassa kevyesti, eikä 3-4 tuntiakaan ole harvinaista.

Olen ajanut melkeinpä pelkästään Free Ride -moodissa. En tee valmisharjoitteita (workouts), ja kisoihinkin osallistun vain harvoin. Eilinen L'Etape du Tour Sportive oli poikkeus, jollaisia tulee varmasti nyt enemmänkin, kun Tour de Zwift starttaa pian.

Eipä siis ihmekään, että Zwift kertoo FTP:n eli tunnin keskitehojen nousseen 252 watista 294 wattiin.  Parinkymmenen prosentin lisäys on melkoinen.

Viimeisen viikon aikana olen ajanut kolme kolmen tunnin settiä Zwiftissä keskimäärin 80% FTP teholla.
Cycling Analytics: Power History (vain ne kuukaudet, jolloin olen ajanut tehoa mittaavalla trainerilla)
Nyt siis on tempoajoteho kohdillaan. Harjoittelua polarisoimalla – toisaalta lyhyitä ja kovia intervalleja, toisaalta rauhallista pitkää ajoa – saan ensi kevääksi paremmat jalat kuin minulla on ollut vuosiin.

Hankin muutama viikko sitten suoravetotrainerin. Elite Direto on tarkempi voiman mittaamisessa kuin aiemmin käyttämäni Elite Qubo Digital B+. Ero näkyy selkeimmin lyhyiden, alle 15 sekunnin spurttien mittaamisessa. FTP-tasolla molemmat näyttävät melko samoja lukemia.

Minulle tärkein ostoperuste oli, että Direto simuloi vastuksella mäkiä 14 %:iin saakka. Qubo ylsi vain noin 6 %:n mäkiin. Toisin sanoen Diretolla pystyy tekemään matalien kadenssien voimaharjoittelua huomattavasti paremmin.

tiistai 25. joulukuuta 2018

Maspalomas ja puolen päivän maantielenkit

Aiemmissa postauksissa on juttua parista pidemmästä reitistä Gran Canarialla. Tässä muutama tärppi lyhyemmiksi lenkeiksi Maspalomasista.


GC-500 kulkee pitkin saaren etelärannikkoa. Maspalomasista länteen se tarjoaa kivaa semihelppoa baanaa kumpuilevassa maastossa meren välkehtiessä vieressä.

Rantatiellä kertyy mukavat 60 km polkemalla Maspalomasista Moganiin ja takaisin. Lenkkiä voi varioida vaikkapa pistäytymällä kahvilla Las Filipinasissa.

GC-500 on "periaatteessa" suljettu Tauriton ja Moganin välillä. Vaihtoehtona on ottaa lautta Moganin ja Costa Rican välillä.
Jos on jalkaa ja maittia nousta mäkiä, niin esimerkiksi GC-505:n nousu Soriaan tai GC-605:ttä Moganista ylös ovat todella upeita pätkiä. Näistä saa helposti myös yhdisteltyä lenkin. Tosin osa välipätkästä on varsin jyrkkää ja myös huonopintaista.

GC-60. Linnuntietä tuolta oikealta kuvan vasempaan reunaan ei ole kuin parisataa metriä.
Maspalomasista pääsee pohjoiseen GC-60:tä. Jos on jalkaa, niin vaikka Pico de las Nievesille saakka. Kuitenkin jo Fatagaan polkemalla saa kunnollisen lenkin aikaiseksi ilman että täytyy ihan eeppisiin mittoihin asti mäkeä nousta. Tosin takaisinpäin etelään mäki ennen näköalatasannetta on aika vaativa.

Tästä saa hiukan pidemmän version jatkamalla San Bartolome de Tirajanaan ja kääntymällä sen kulmilla oikealle. Siitä on aika selkeää lasketella GC-65:ttä Vecindarioon. 

Rauhallinen tie Ayagauresiin.
Maspalomasista johtaa kiva pikkutie Ayagauresiin ja takaisin (GC-503/504). Matkaa kertyy 30 kilometriä ja mäkeä on noustavana jokunen sata metriä. Reitti on hiukan helpompi kiertää myötäpäivään.

Rantatie GC-500 Maspalomasista itään kohti lentokenttää ja Teldeä on varsin tasaista, joskin ehkä hiukan tylsää ja suoraa. Muutenkin itäpuoli on sotkuista ja tylsää, ehkäpä El Burreron rantakylää lukuun ottamatta.

Kaikkiaan puolentoista viikon aikana tuli ajettua 9 päivänä noin 35 tuntia. Tuona aikana nousumetrejä kertyi 15000 ja ajokilometrejä 800.

Reittijälkiä:
Edellisissä postauksissa on linkkejä muutamiin pidempiin lenkkeihin.

perjantai 7. joulukuuta 2018

Gran Canaria Bike Week: Pico de las Nieves climb

I heard on Monday that there is Gran Canaria Bike Week going on. Got the opportunity to take part in  Escalada Pico de las Nieves.

They say there are two climbs that are harder than the others on this island: VOTT and Nieves from Ingenio. The event took place on the latter.

There's no soundtrack on this lengthy video in order to emphasize the solitary and repetitive nature of pushing the pedals focusing only to my own effort.

maanantai 3. joulukuuta 2018

Gran Canaria: first taste of the mountains

Along GC-605 at the height of 1100 m.
Gran Canaria has a lot in common with Tenerife where I rode in 2015. Perfect weather to escape the beginning of the Northern winter. Great scenery and plentiful climbing to do. A lot of other riders too – a bit like in Zwift but here everything is real!

Then again, it seems that this place is quite different from the neighboring island. Whereas the Tenerife climbs are more steady, it is more variation here. There I was happy with my compact crankset and 11-28 cassette. Here I'd be a lot happier with a 11-32 in the rear.

The video below is about my ride yesterday, making a round trip from Maspalomas clockwise to Ayacata and back.

I'll give more detailed recommendations as I get more experience on riding here.


keskiviikko 28. marraskuuta 2018

How to fly with a bike

I prefer to ride my own bike also when travelling. I just packed the apple of my eye, Bianchi Oltre XR2 for the flight. Here's my two cents on flying with a bicycle and how to pack it.

Up to last year I travelled with cardboard boxes. You can get one for free from the nearest bike shop, and it may suffice for an odd trip. It is not as sturdy and not as easy to handle as the real bike travelling bags.


Some airports have it rough when dealing with luggages. I've had some issues with cardboard boxes, so got myself an EVOC Bike Travel Bag.

This trip will be my third with the EVOC. Nowadays it's hard to find that older model as the shops have the newer Bike Travel Bag Pro which is 6 cm longer and suits 29ers better. I prefer the shorter.

Whatever your box or bag, you have to turn handlebar, remove pedals, unfasten the saddle, and detach wheels. Most airlines also require you to lower tyre pressure. The most fragile part is the derailleur hanger, which might get bent. Best to unfasten the derailleur.

One handy source to compare different kinds of bike boxes is this article on Cycling Weekly.


There is plenty of space in the bag for all the cycling gear you need to take along: helmet, pump, spare tyres, clothing, shoes, bottles... everything goes in the same bag. At least with a road bike, it stays easily within the weight limits. Remember the tools, especially those that you need to reassemble your bike.

Putting all cycling gear to the bike bag means that it is the only item I have to drag at the airport: a shoulder bag for some off-bike stuff and a backpack for camera gear.

Attach a name tag and enjoy your (mine 🚴😀 ) trip. Happy riding!

 

sunnuntai 25. marraskuuta 2018

Of mountains and dots on the sky


The majestic mountains glimpsed from the road up to the small villages elevate the vista above the merely picturesque. White houses and narrow lanes, all well-preserved and full of flowers, along with the surrounding valleys, pine forests and palm groves, mean that this is one of the island’s benighted spots.

This is a paraphrase describing the Fataga Valley on the Gran Canaria island. I'm flying there with my bike on Friday.

The Strava Weekly Effort graph looks like a mountaneous horizon. Above is my artistic interpretation and below an actual screen shot.

I kept the intensity high until the end of September. The "valley" in October was a result of an exceptionally low training month. A week-long work trip, a flu after that, another week-long work trip and a stomach bug issue kept me mostly at bay.

The Weekly Effort graph available on Strava mobile app (for paid accounts) is based on the cumulative training stress.

The idea is to stay mostly on the "mountains". To have a recovery week, stay below. A hard week gets a dot on the sky. I guess my week #49 will see a dot at the zenith.