Saturday, 22 April 2017

eBike testing: Is it the perfect touring bike?

Trivigno looks great, and the bike fits the scene.
An e-bike was the tool today when I wanted to ride a bit around Potenza, reason being that there were no other kinds of bicycles available. I decided to put it to a test: how useful would it be for touring on a hilly terrain? How would I feel on a motorised bicycle for the first time?

When you start pedaling and the Bosch Active Line system is turned on, it assists you to generate speed. I found that handy in uphill starts.

Surely, this sin-heavy Staiger Sinus BC20 has to stay on paved roads. That was also my intention, but soon after leaving the highway shoulder I found myself on paths ridden only with 4x4 vehicles and tractors.

Came there, had to lift 25 kg over the fence.

I did find back to the roads, for a while. It was hilly and I switched between Eco, Tour, and Sports modes. Very smoothly the motor responded. It also reacted to my gear shifting, assisting more with shorter gears. I felt it working like magic. I had to take several looks on my Garmin Edge 520 that showed gradients of 9-13%. I hardly felt any uphill there.

That is definitely the best part of an e-bike: uphills are flattened and you don't have to reach your HRmax or lactate level at all.

I took a short video on one nice 9% segment. Right after the video I realized I was lost. Half an hour later I knew where I was heading at but that place was all too off-road for cycling with a heavy touring bike.


I spare you from the photos taken in the worst places. It suffices to say that I had to walk the bike every now and then, and I even fell off on one particularly steep downhill paved with loose rocks.

On Google Maps the two roads above were marked with the same thickness and colour than this on the right (below on some browsers). So, if you are not MTBing, trust only on roads Google regards suitable for cars.

I finally met the civilization again in Trivigna. Instead of reaching my picturesque goal Castelmezzo, I had to turn back to make it before darkness.

I want to do faster than 25 km/h when on the road. As the assistance reaches the speed limit, all of a sudden you've got a heavy tractor. At times it was difficult to decide how to ride around and above that speed.

On highway uphills I used as much of the battery juice as I could. One idea was to wear it all before the finish in order to see what happens.

1-2 km before the hotel the battery eventually died. As Potenza is up on the hill, I had to get that tank up 100 vertical metres. To my surprise the motor didn't disengage, and gave me a lot of extra resistance. There's got to be a switch to set it to a "free" position but at least I'm not aware of it.

Not finding a way to disengage the motor was a problem also when I wanted to stop pedaling and let the bike roll free: even on a highway it felt like the bike was on a thick layer of sand or mud.

I can't see myself touring with an e-bike. Then again, for a city bike such would make sense, particularly if you need to go to places without sweating.

Cycling not allowed on E847, but it's the only way here. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Natives and foreigners unite


The road between Maiori and Salerno suits ordinary training even better than those I rode the days before. The climbs are shorter, the road doesn't go above 200 metres, and there are not that much villages as to the West. No wonder that I saw a lot of cyclists, mainly local, doing their dance on the wheels. 


I did a light recovery ride to Vietri Sul Mare. Gentle pedaling and taking breaks to admire the views were high on my agenda. Tomorrow will be a day off the bike. 



Epic ride: 2,700 metres of climbing in Campania, Italy



End of the road at 1,015 m altitude at Vesuvius.
Sorrento peninsula has great roads for riding: from modest climbs on coastal roads to hard ones if you go to the mountains, fairly good surface, and on a workday only modest traffic.

I had planned to stay on the peninsula. Instead, I went also to mount Vesuvius. For that I had to ride in city traffic for 38 km, which wasn't very pleasing. Then again, 1000 vertical metres on an ave 9% climb is something you might call a challenge you can't miss. (see Strava)


The weather was pleasing. 16-20 °C on sea level (0-200 metres) was enough to have a taste of summer, but not too much climbing-wise. On the top of Vesuvius it was 8 °C – actually it was ideal for cooling down the overcooking body.

From Furore to San Michele there is a picturesque 5 km serpentine road segment. It's only 5 % average, so it's also very rideable.

At the top of the serpentine, there is a roadside vista spot with a memorial plate for Il Campionissimo, Fausto Coppi. There I met half a dozen local elderly cyclists who were taking a well-deserved break.

From Agerola to Castelammare there is a whopping 14 km descent. I should warn that take it easy. But if you are like me, keep your eyes open and be prepared for sudden surprises when overtaking cars.

Next section from Castellammare to Torre del Greco via Torre Annunciata has heavy city traffic and poor roads – unavoidable nuisance when you want to reach Vesuvius from South.

Vesuvius. Is. Painful. Particularly for a big guy like me. Long sections of 10-13%. Those rare 4-6% segments felt merciful. Keeping the rhythm. Riding out of the saddle every now and then. Trying to keep cramps at bay. My springtime fitness apparently wasn't on level required by this climb. Phew, finally, done. Nothing to report from the top. Very nice and fast downhill, me liked.

I knew I couldn't make it the second time to Agerola height, and took a detour further to the West, via Meta. There is a 3 km long tunnel before Vico Equense. I suggest you take a good rear light with you, so that you'll be noticed well in advance.

The rest is quite easy. Road reaches 314 m altitude but is not very steep. Then some smaller climbs along the coast. If you still have something in your legs, that's easy. If not... well, for me it was avoiding cramps again and wishing to get back to the hotel before dark. A front light was a practical thing to have, too.

Strava says that the ride was "epic": suffer score over 300. Something you should do on your best days. I slept only four hours last night, and didn't have lunch during the ride. Things that you take care better than me.

Now, instead of Il Campionissimo, I feel like Il Crampionissimo, which makes me avoid bending my legs. Luckily I can do without socks here :)

Sorrento pleases the eye.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Amalfi coast on a holiday: two wheels are faster than four



I chose the coastal road. Lucky me, as here at Amalfi coast even a short 30+ kilometer ride produces 500 vertical metres.

I arrived Hotel Club Due Torri this afternoon and got the Bianchi Mono-Q 928 with Campagnolo Record 10s that I rented from Cycling Amalfi Coast. For Daniele it was no problem to bring the bike to the hotel even on a holiday. 

As it is Easter, all the Italians seemed to be on the move: to or from Easter dinner, or whatever. The result was that they were all standing still or crawling slowly. 

Even though the roads are curvy and narrow, there are opportunities for Vespas and bicycles to overtake: there is usually a metre between vehicles going to opposite directions. 

That means you have to stop quite often, then accelerate hard, keep your pace, stop again... very good interval training, combined with uphills and downhills. (See ride on Strava)

I recommend you do Amalfi coast on a more quiet day. Yet even now it was so delightful that I forgot my hunger and kept going until the sun was about to set. Ed è subito sera, as the poet said. 

tonno e pomodoro sandwich, a cappucino, and time to turn back. Fortunately I had lights (Cateye Rapid X2 rear is excellent), which is a good idea especially if you think about riding between lanes in dim light. 



Thursday, 13 April 2017

There's an Easter egg in this picture


It surely does look like winter today, but this is not an ordinary photo. There is an Easter egg hidden. If you look closely enough and have a vivid imagination, you'll realize that there is spring hidden!

I'm happy to pack my helmet and Sidi shoes soon. I'm looking forward to ride in warmer conditions next week, eg. up to Vesuvius volcano.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

VirZoom: Play & Move

VirZoom is an entry-level exercise bike that syncs with your PC and its HTC Vive VR setup. In short: 

For VR aficionados, VR offers an interesting extension as your pedaling makes you move with your virtual bike/horse/car. Ok for recreational purposes. Get it here.
For athletics VirZoom is not the thing. It pushes you to try and sweat, but you can't adjust your training enough, and there are elements making it too unrealistic.


VirZoom on perustason kuntopyörä, jolla ohjaat HTC Viven avulla pelattavia virtuaalipelejä. Itselle tietysti pyöräilypeli oli kiinnostavin, ja pääsin kokeilemaan sitä perjantaina.

Hiki tuli jo lyhyellä testaamisella, joten kyllä tämä pelaaminen kuntoilusta äkkiä käy. Olihan se koukuttavaa koittaa saada muut polkijat kiinni ja mennä ohikin. Tähän on helppo innostua!

Sanotaan heti, että kyse on kuitenkin enemmän seura- ja ajanvietepelistä kuin treenivälineestä.

Sivusuuntainen vartalo-ohjaus ei aina toiminut pelissä. Voi olla, että sensorit eivät osanneet tulkita matalaa aika-ajoasentoani kunnolla. Peesauksen sanotaan olevan mahdollista, mutta oli se kyllä todella hankalaa ja erilaista kuin oikeasti. Epätodellista (ja epäreilua) oli myös, että pyörä pysähtyi kuin tervaan, kun lopetin polkemisen pari metriä ennen maaliviivaa :) Treeniohjelmiakaan ei voi laatia.

ARVIO: Perheen hupihetkiin VirZoom on ookoo, mutta urheilijalle mieluummin Zwift.
Alla pieni klippi kokeilustani.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Yksi messuosasto on käytössä myös GoExpon jälkeen

GoExpon viimeinen päivä käynnistyy puolen tunnin kuluttua. Fillaripuoli ei siellä ole kovinkaan mittava, mutta jos myös golf, fitness, valokuvaus (kuten itseäni) tai kalastus kiinnostaa, niin kyllä Messukeskuksessa nähtävää riittää.

Perjantaina messuilla julkistettiin Vuoden pyöräilyteko 2016 -tunnustuksen saaja. Sen saivat erittäin perustellusti HKL ja HSL, jotka lanseerasivat uudistetun kaupunkipyöräjärjestelmän Helsinkiin viime keväänä. Siitä on tullut valtavan suosittu, ja se on osoittautunut toimivaksi. Ajatella, että se on minulta vielä testaamatta!

Tänä vuonna en markkinamessuilla käy. Sen sijaan uurastin eilen puolitoista tuntia järjestellessäni omaa "messuosastoani".


Monday, 13 March 2017

Fighting the drag without team help is beating the air

You know how much echelon saves your energy if you've ever dealt with a crosswind in a race or on a club ride. Eurosport has combined computer graphics and real life footage to show us what it means. Watch it here.

There's another one on team tactics in a sprint finish, embedded here below. I like how faithfully the simulation represents the real situation. (Link to original)