tiistai 20. maaliskuuta 2018

400 euron alennus uuteen sähköpyörään

Motocrossia ilman päästöjä?
The Finnish government is proposing a subsidy of 400 € subsidy for buying an eBike.

Saat 400 euron alennuksen 1.4.2018 jälkeen ostamaasi sähköpyörään, mikäli hallituksen esitys sähköavusteisten polkupyörien hankintatuesta vuosille 2018-2021 menee läpi.

Norja taisi olla ensimmäinen, ja ainakin Ruotsissa on vastaavanlainen tuki. Tosin vain Suomessa ollaan päätymässä kiinteään, joka vuosittain yksityishenkilönä hyödynnettävään tukeen. Muissa maissa kyseessä on prosenttiosuus.

Tavoitteena on lisätä pyöräilyn kulkutapaosuutta: vähentää saastepäästöjä, parantaa kansanterveyttä. Veroteknisesti 400 euron tasasumma on helppo toteuttaa, mutta saattaa ohjata ostamaan huonoa ja halpaa, kun tuen osuus on silloin suhteellisen suuri. 

Voisin kuvitella – ja yritin etsiä tutkimusta miten vastaava päätös Ruotsissa on vaikuttanut – että sähköpyörän selkään hyppäävät nekin, jotka eivät tavanomaisesti asiointimatkoja fillarilla tee. Se ehkä myös helpottaa monille hiukan pidempien työmatkojen ajamista pyörällä. Kun ostaa halvan, tulee auton vastaavien matkojen käyttökustannukset kuoletettua parilla tuhannella pyöräkilometrillä. 

Huonon ja halvan kestävyydestä, kestävän kehityksen mukaisesta elinkaaresta sekä todellisesta käyttömäärästä en kuitenkaan olisi niin varma. Korvaako sellaisen hankkinut todella autoilua mitenkään merkittävästi, vai tulee ostettua yksi lisähärpäke varastoon?

keskiviikko 14. maaliskuuta 2018

Bike fitting: Cervelo P2

I'm a pedal stroke closer to ride on my newest project as I had the chance to fit the Cervelo P2 today.

Bike fitting means one is to adjust the five contact points on a bike that is of right size. Saddle position is the key: how high, how much behind the bottom bracket, which angle.

On Cervelo, the saddle height is the same as with other bikes. During the short fitting the height felt – and it seems to be according to the photo – right. I have it 1 cm lower on Bianchi, and maybe I'll do the same here.

The handlebar position seems odd. I like it low. Should it be further from the saddle? As the saddle is already very close to the rear limiter of the seat post, it might mean a longer stem, or one that has a more aggressive angle downwards. Would that put too much pressure on hands and on the front wheel?

I got only two hasty photos taken. I think I've to go back, take a proper posture, ride a bit for real, and ask them to shoot a video clip.

sunnuntai 11. maaliskuuta 2018

Niki Birling: maantie harrastuksena

IBD Cycling Teamiä edustavan Niki Birlingin uudessa blogissa on kivasti kirjoitettu juttu maantiepyöräilyn perusteista. Hyödyllistä tekstiä varsinkin lajia aloittaville.

Toivottavasti Niki ehtii kirjoitella myös treenaamisesta sekä kisakauden ylä- ja alamäistä.

Niki Bianchi-cupissa 2016. Kuva: Esko Lius.

sunnuntai 4. maaliskuuta 2018

N-340 in Costa Tropical: rolling hills and great views

The coastal N-340 must be the Spanish equivalent for the American Route66, or the Australian Great Ocean Road.

N-340 takes you all the way from Jerez to Barcelona, about 1200 km by the Mediterranean sea. What a challenge it would be to cycle it all the way!

I tasted it a mere 80 km around Nerja. I fell in love especially with the section East of Nerja, or Costa Tropical.

The road has a very different nature depending on whether you ride it West or East of Nerja.

The Western section to Torre del Mar is flat and straight. Between Nerja and Torrox Costa it felt like on a time trial course. The more one goes West after Torrox Costa, the more there are tourist resorts and traffic. Many cyclists are doing their recovery or leisure ride on this "promenade", though.

N-340 is worth a blog post of its own for the winding, undulating part between Nerja and Salobreña. Little traffic, smooth road surface, great views to desolated beaches and the Mediterranean – and, most importantly, a route profile that suits for many kinds of riding.

I recommend the extra 100 m climb to the highway roundabout and back. (Above: 56-59 km)
Fast downhill towards La Herradura.

As the maximum altitude stays below 200 metres, climbs are short, typically less than a kilometre long. The road profile is for heavy traffic too, so it is never very steep. It stays practically all the time under 8% but there's flat nowhere between Nerja and Salobreña.

If you want to combine mountains to your N-340 experience, turn to A-4050 towards Otivar in Almuñecar. I did that on one ride but, as it started raining and I didn't feel comfortable descending in the mountains on wet roads, I quit and returned to N-340 soon. 

I also remembered too well the puncture on my first ride to Cómpeta, and how I destroyed the spare inner tyre while changing, and how difficult (and costly) it was to get a taxi. When wet, sand and gravel stick to tyres and cause punctures easier than on dry.

So, there are interesting roads leading up, between Sierras de Tejeda and Sierra Nevada. They will provide an endless combination for different kinds of rides.

The lowland section around Motril is a bit monotonous. On my ride there was some headwind. Luckily the local cyclists had the end sprint of their club ride. First I joined their group, and we chatted some while riding. Then there were breakaway moves. I found another rider to collaborate with, and we did the final breakaway, pushing quite hard and sharing the work in the wind. As a result, I had my highest heart rate during this flat and easy section. ¡Muy bien!

Double puncture in the mountains.

Turning point of my first N-340 ride.

The Motril beach café – my original destination – was closed, and as I realized I didn't have any money with me anyway, I had to skip other cafés too. The banana and the biscuit in my pocket helped to maintain healthy energy levels in the muscles.

On my second ride along N-340 riding back to Nerja, I found a section from Los Girasoles to Maro particularly nice and suitable for FTP or near-FTP training. The way you ride the uphills (pace, cadence, in saddle / out of saddle) determine the average level. The downhills can be used either to stay as high power/HR as possible, or to take breath.

Even if you stay in Torre del Mar area, you really should head your front wheel to Nerja and go further East. Here's a short video showing how different the road is from the Costa del Sol part:

torstai 1. maaliskuuta 2018

Road cycling on the Andalucian mountain slopes

There are plenty of great mountain routes in Andalucia for every taste. Smooth and clean road surfaces make you feel in control also downhill. Quiet traffic as soon as you get out of the main tourist areas are aplenty, which makes it easy to choose a loop according to your fitness level and the other plans of the day.

My mountain rides looped from Nerja and back. I'll discuss the coastal N-340 road in another blog post. It is a wonderful option too, particularly East of Nerja.

Nerja - Cómpeta - Algarrobo - Nerja (63 km, 890 VAM)

From Nerja to Torrox Costa the flat section of N-340 gives you an opportunity to warm up before increasing wattage for the uphill.

A-7206 and A-7207 roads via Cómpeta offer a classic combination of 15+15 km uphill/downhill. The profile is not very steep, staying below 10% practically all the time. Very "rideable" in every sense, and it is used a lot also for serious training and local races. This route is such that I'd ride it every second day if I lived there. 

If you want to ride light, you can do the climb with one full bottle and have a refill at the water tap up on the Cómpeta panoramic spot.

Nerja - Cómpeta - Corumbela - Vélez-Málaga - Nerja (78 km, 1210 VAM)

Another variant after climbing from Torrox to Cómpeta is to continue A-7207 through the village and towards Árchez.

Caution! There is a dangerous crossing in the middle of the village. In addition, the downhill leaving Árchez is steep, over 20%. If wet and if traffic, be extremely careful.

After Árchez take M-116 towards Corumbela. It's a nice and quiet road. Later on the route, I avoided Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar taking the handy Camino de Torrox road to Caleta de Vélez. After that it's along the coast to Nerja, to be taken as a cooling-down or as a time-trial segment.

Nerja - Cómpeta - Salarez - Portugalejo - Vélez-Málaga - Torre del Mar - Nerja (95 km, 1530 VAM)

Fallen rocks.
This route is tougher than the numbers show. First, you take the Cómpeta ascend as a starter.

After Árchez and Venta el Curro café, turn right to MA-4108. You'll be facing the "Up, up, and away" segment of over 10% average (2.2 km, 230 VAM). After the top, there is a nice downhill which propelled me to 80 km/h.

Another sweet punishment comes right after the picturesque village of Salares. It's only 600-700 metres long but for most of it my Garmin showed 13-19%.

The road forwards under several names. It is MA-125 after Canillas de Aceituno. Take care if it's windy, as you'll be storming downwards on a ridge where you might get some sudden (or constant) push of air sideways.

I rode to Vélez-Málaga along the big and dull A-356. Maybe A-7205 would have been more interesting. The dense traffic in and after Torre del Mar is avoidable if you take Camino de Torrox I mentioned earlier. If you still have some spare legs, turn to Algarrobo and Cómpeta to enjoy some further climbing.

Nerja - Frigiliana - Torrox - Nerja (33 km, 670 VAM)

This short loop is OK if you've got a CX, GG, or MTB to ride. I can recommend it in case you want to do sightseeing and visit the beautiful village of Frigiliana by bike.

For a road bike and my 23mm tyres the section between Frigiliana and Torrox was unconvenient. Tarmac is coarse, some parts just gravel, and a lot of holes here and there.


My plan was to ride the epic loop around Sierras de Tejeda (170 km, 3420 VAM) during my vacation. I didn't have the time or the fitness for that – this time.

All photos by me, taken during these rides. 
Licence: CC BY-SA

lauantai 24. helmikuuta 2018

Winter cycling is fun – in Andalucia

View from our roof terrace.

¡Hola Andalucia! You are such a wonderful place to escape the Nordic winter and enjoy riding.

We’re on a couples vacation in Nerja, East of Malaga. She brought her Bichon bolognese and I brought my Bianchi Oltre XR2 down here, so we have both own and joint time in Andalucia.

I bought the EVOC bike box which is well designed and of good quality. It was a relief after all cardboard makeshift boxes I had on previous travels. Easy to pack and drag around, and naturally no damage during the transport to Nerja.

Weather has been pleasant here, around 13-16° C (55-60°F). Compare that to -20° C currently at home in Helsinki. Yes, minus 20.

Costa Tropical – the coast between Nerja and Motril – and the mountainside of Sierra de Tejedas have provided marvelous settings for road biking.

Yesterday I encountered Lydia and Sebastian who happen to stay in the same block of flats as we do. They have escaped the Düsseldorf weather and can testify that winter cycling is more fun in Andalucia :)

I’ll share my top tips in the next blog posts: one will discuss the coastal N-340 road and another the mountain rides. Here are the direct links for the posts:

sunnuntai 11. helmikuuta 2018

Giro de Castelli: #myfirst

Taking part in a sportive or a race brings a rush of emotions. No wonder – for many of us it is the pinnacle of all the pre-season training and club rides. The butterflies in the stomach before the start, the strong feeling of presence e.g. during my first Vätternrundan ten years ago, the marvelous sense of an achievement after the finish.

It doesn't mean they all end up as highlights. My first local race didn't turn out as great an experience as I had expected. My fitness wasn't on the level needed, and my novice tactical mistakes got me dropped from the peloton.

I've gathered a lot of experience, memories and highlights, from Melbourne AUS to Lapland FIN, from Hualien TW to San Jose US.

How do virtual races compare to real life events? The bar of my expectations is set high.

#myfirst virtual sportive

Giro de Castelli is my first virtual sportive. Two of the five stages have been ridden now. My work trip keeps me away from stages 3 and 4 but I anticipate riding the final stage next Friday.

Zwift is a popular marketing channel nowadays. Thousands of cyclists take part in the event that is easy and cheap to arrange. There are some Castelli kits (jersey+bibshorts) as lottery prizes drawn among those completing at least three stages.

It's a bit more difficult to join a virtual race than a real one – unless you leave it to the last hours and use your Zwift Mobile Link app (more about joining here).

I had read that Zwift races start with an explosive burst, riders pushing crazy hard to break away and others doing their best to follow. So, I began Stage 1 well over my FTP and got tired soon. Luckily the event was a short one (5 laps of Watopia Flat, 55 km) which helped maintain a decent power and pace to the finish.

For Stage 2 I chose a more conservative and steady tactics: keep it at FTP for the first minutes. I had joined the event, I did the warm-up properly, the app teleported me to the start area, and I was better prepared this time. Bring it on!

Clock is ticking. 1:12 before the start I try to change to a longer gear, only to realize that my Ultegra Di2 control box is dead. There is juice in the battery but absolutely nothing happens when turning the shift lever, nor in front neither in the rear.

I step off the saddle and kneel down to check if there is a loose contact or other issue I could fix. Meanwhile the race sportive begins and others rocket away. I have to jump on the saddle again, and try to get the gear box working on the go. Just absolutely nothing helps, I've got a single speed now.

I'm stuck with a 34-16. Gradually I find it a rather useful compromise ratio. Surely I can't meet the pace of others on downhill but upping my cadence I can reach a steady 200 Watts and 250 Watts for shorter periods. It's enough to catch the lantern rouge and to overtake some 50 others.

Not bad after all. Average cadence was almost 100 RPM, and it was a good exercise for the legs.

Did the virtual sportive reach the podium place on event roster?

The virtual races are the rookies, the newcomers on the sports market fighting for the attention, time and money of a cyclist. How well do they perform?

Zwift events generate a feeling of riding together with other cyclists, almost like belonging to a group. Knowing that these are real persons pedaling their own bike kept me trying a bit harder. Even though Giro de Castelli is a "sportive", it was clear from the first push of pedal that we are racing.

The routes in Zwift are very rideable. Even Watopia Flat wasn't as dull as I expected. As the smart trainer reacts to uphills and downhills changing the resistance, even small ascends make a difference when you are giving it all.

In Richmond, on Libby Hill cobbles section the resistance of my trainer eases off completely but instead of flying forward like in a downhill the speed slows to 1-3 km/h. Some weird and annoying bug.

Surely there are many things with room to improve in online racing. We are talking about a 'promising rookie', aren't we?

Talking with your riding buddies is very limited. You won't learn to know them as all event participants have the same outfit. As Zwift can't show all riders when the group is big, it gets even more confusing.

As the bike-trainer combo is unnaturally rigid, the race simulates speed but has nothing to do with bike handling, or the nuances of drafting. We don't react together to wind, hills, or taking positions inside a group, and drafting is rudimentary.

The races tend to be short, an hour or less. Doing these short steady FTP efforts is not optimal training, unless you are about to race similar ones later in the season.

So, riding with others online has some of the fun experienced in the real world, but to a limited extent.

Then again – it is -6° C outside. Snow and ice. No road bike events in sight. It is very nice to have at least this virtual option available.

For a fitness game like Zwift events and races is a great feature, also marketing-wise. Currently the events are in their "beta", or "rookie" phase. I expect them to develop rapidly and find their place in the "starting lineup" next season.

Cat. A had over 800 riders doing 3 laps. Results in Zwiftpower.