Friday, 13 October 2017

Seitsemän kiloa myöhemmin

Elokuussa kirjasin Taiwan KOM Challengea varten muistilistaan mm. näitä:
  • elokuun alun 89-90 kg:sta kuusi pois
  • treeniin hiukan lisää intensiteettiä ja mäkitoistot 5...6...7 krt Malminkartano ym
  • Irlannin isommat mäet pari päivää
  • ajovauhtisuunnitelma

Yllättävintä on ollut laihtumisen helppous. Seitsemän kiloa on kadonnut kovinkaan kummoisesti yrittämättä. Vähän vähemmän suklaata, välipalan korvaaminen porkkanalla silloin tällöin, hiukan enemmän aikaa pyörän päällä. Sipsiä ja viiniä on nytkin perjantai-illan iloksi, joten ei tässä mihinkään kurjistelukuurille ole tarvinnut ruveta.

Elokuun alun jälkeen treenimäärä ja -intensiteetti kasvoivat oikealla tavalla, vähittäin. Kun sitten Irlannissa innostuin liikaakin enkä pitänyt sen jälkeen tarpeeksi taukoa, romahti "fitness" eli päivän kunto viikkokausiksi. Nyt alan taas olla ajokunnossa ainakin lyhyiden, parituntisten lenkkien perusteella. 

Pitkille lenkeille olisi ollut tilausta, mutta ne nyt sitten jäivät. Samoin oikeasti tiukat treenit jäivät Sen verran on pohjakuntoa, että uskoisin maltillisen vauhdin suunnitelman takaavan pääsyn maaliin saakka. 

Malminkartanon täyttömäessä ei kymmenen kerran toisto tunnu enää kummoiselta, ja viisi kertaa menee helposti, kun ajaa yhtä rauhallisesti kuin on tarkoitus nousta mäkeä Taiwanissa. Koska tasaisella ajo on samanlaista kuin ennenkin, uskoisin, että parantunut mäennousukyky johtuu nimenomaan painonpudotuksesta.

Pyöräkisaan starttaan usein kuin innostunut sonni kevätlaitumelle päästessään. Olenkin tehnyt hyvin maltillisen kuuden tunnin ajosuunnitelman. Sitä noudattamalla tahti pysyy koko ajan reilusti alle 700 VAM. Teoriassa suunnitelmassa on varaa kiristää lopussa, mutta voi olla, että alkumatkan rasitus ja loppuvaiheen jyrkkyys sekä vähäinen happi tekevät loppumatkasta hiipimistä. 

Tavoiteaikataulun mukaan hengitys vinkuu maalilinjalla klo 12:10. Tuossa varaa vaikka taluttaa, kun 2700 metrin korkeudessa tulee vastaan 27,3 %:n osuus, sillä maali on auki yhteen saakka.

Nyt pitää tehdä vastaava "laihdutus" matkatavaroille: meillä on puolentoista viikon reissuun pelkät käsimatkatavarat. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A ticket! My kingdom for a ticket!

I've tried to get train tickets for two people and a bike from Taipei to Hualien. Taiwan KOM Challenge will take place 170 kilometres from the capital where I will get my rent bike.

First, I was informed to go to a site for passengers with a bicycle, see above. It is not available in other languages. 

Google Translator does help, at least in theory. In practice, several options to choose between remain uncomprehensable to me.

Next, I tried to get passenger tickets from the main booking site that has it in English, too. First one has to know which trains accept bicycles. That's something I found somewhere but can't repeat it now, it was too difficult to locate. Anyways, after that is known, it's rather straight forward.

Finally, I proceeded to online paying. All went fine with my credit card until I had to confirm Mastercard that it is really me who is making the transaction.

The security server informed me that I have to insert the specific code that has been sent to my phone. Only that I've received anything. Next morning I made several calls to my bank.

All my information and phone number are ok in the system and they couldn't say why the code doesn't come through. Only thing they were able to do was to manually remove the restriction for the time we were on the phone.

Now, the Taiwan Railways system found my reservation with my passport number and reservation number. I entered all the credit card info and was to click to accept it, but all of the sudden the page refreshed and emptied all the fields. Maybe the form was open too long while I had the line open with my bank?

When I tried to redo the process, this time the system said that the reservation had been paid already. Only that it wasn't and no tickets were gotten. And no way to try paying it again, even though I tried with another browser.

I tried to do another reservation but now there are no seats available on that Thursday morning train that would allow bikes as well.

Photo from CC Yee's Blog

Our son studying currently in Taipei tried to help. He visited two railway stations in order to buy tickets there. On the main station he couldn't find anyone speaking English. On the Songshan station he found but the clerk's opinion was that it is not possible to take a bike to any train going from Taipei to Hualien on that day.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) has buried a very comprehensive bicycle policy beneath mountains of rules and red tape that makes accurately understanding it almost impossible. Nobody wants to translate it because nobody, not even the locals, can make heads or tails of it. I have even been to train stations where the person at the ticket counter and the person at the ticket gate have wildly different interpretations of the bicycle policy.
Of course, I'm not alone with this problem. Andrew Kerslake has written a blog post about this (quote above), giving very detailed information how to tackle this issue. That would have been godsend for me, if the site still had the same options to choose as in 2011 when Andrew wrote his text. Of course it has changed.

If I had the time, it'd be awesome to ride that 170 km, then to have some rest, and take part to the Challenge and ride back. It goes without saying that it is not possible.

Any help available? Comment or email me esko [at]

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Kamera kengässä

Kun tässä nyt pitää kevennellä harjoittelua, tuli lähdettyä lenkin sijaan testaamaan mihin muualle action-kameran voisi kiinnittää kuin ohjaustankoon tai kypärään.

Terveiset teille kahdelle läskipyöräkuskille, jotka myös olitte etsimässä Slåttmossenia. Minulla piti olla ohjaustangon iSaw Extremen asetuksissa video, mutta olikin näköjään timelapse. Lisäksi GoPro Hero 4 Sessionin kuva näyttää nyt Youtubeen tuupattuna alkuperäistä heikommalta, mutta en jaksa katsoa missä vaiheessa prosessia mulla oli väärät asetukset.

Muuten, ne lähimmät pitkospuut eivät mielestäni ole samat, joilla ajoin muutama vuosi sitten. Eli saattaa siellä olla toisetkin.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

One of the deadliest sins of a cyclist

Kuusijärvi CX race in 2015.
You and I most likely share one trait. It usually leads to a certain – and inevitable for most of us – training mistake that Joe Friel, the author of The Cyclist's Training Bible describes in this way:
"This may be the most common mistake cyclists make. Nearly everyone who is even slightly serious about training ends up doing it sooner or later. (...) They learned at an early age that hard work produces results. So when things are going well, they work hard. And when things aren't going well, they work harder." (p.283)
Cyclists with a set goal ignore the symptoms of fatigue and don't rest enough.

After the Ireland hills, I took some days off the saddle and thought that'd suffice. And most likely it would have been enough, had I not taken first a 10x hill climb repeat on next Saturday and then a club ride in the fastest and longest group on Sunday.

Next week I did almost my weekly average in hours, but reduced intensity to some extent. Same this week. Only that the reduction hasn't been enough. I feel myself tired and hungry all the time. My legs aching and muscles are spastic.

As it normally takes some warming up to get legs working properly, at times it is difficult to realize when they reach the desired fitness and when they don't. So, only gradually I've realized that these heavy legs do not need more warming up but more recovery.

Of course, overtraining does not result only from exercising. Other ordinary life hassle and health issues take their toll. Age is one factor here too. I'm 51 now, and it does take longer to recover than it took ten years ago when I started cycling more seriously.

"As the stress of training increases, the need for rest also accumulates. Most cyclists pay lip service to this commandment; they understand it intellectually, but not emotionally." (p.18)

My Kuusijärvi CX race BPM.
Usually my resting heart rate in the evening is around 41-46 bpm. As long as it is less than 52 bpm, I consider everything's fine.

As I finally internalized that my body needs the rest that my mind is not willing to grant, I decided that the resting heart rate would have the final say. It was 61. It was way too high considering my plans to participate the HelCX race today.

I had planned that this cyclocross race would be the last hard exercise before Taiwan KOM race. Sad but true, it's better to skip this now, or the loss of fitness will be at its worst just when I should be in top form. This is 'limit the damage' tactics.

Instead of plain resting heart rate I've read about orthostatic heart rate that reacts quicker and more accurate to overtraining. In the morning, you take your resting bpm, then stand up and after a minute take another reading. The difference is what you are to monitor on the long term. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Warning – road may be impassable!

If you prefer a shorter route, I recommend the triangle Tallaght – Blessington – Sally Gap – Tallaght (46 km). I did it as my last ride there. (see Strava)

My main point by writing this post is that you'd better pay attention to the (changing) weather conditions.

My intention was to go off-road after Sally Gap, in order to climb up to the Kippure peak. It is about 250 meters above the highlands plateau.

Otherwise the weather was its usual self – sporadic rain and sporadic sunshine – but quite soon after Blessington the wind rose.

On the treeless mountains wind was blowing hard. Whenever it was headwind, I almost came to a standstill even on downhills. When it was side wind, I struggled to keep upright and on my lane.

As my friend had warned me previous evening (thanks, Robin) that the very peak of Kippure is notorious for high winds, I saw the mission impossible and continued wrestling along the road.

Then came also the rain. Being wet and windy, it felt really cold! I'm more than happy that I was able to put on a raincoat, on top of my rain vest. Putting it on must've been a funny sight: the super light coat was very very difficult to get into, as the wind was dragging it to another direction all the time.

So, add to the list of necessary items (this post): a raincoat.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hills and coastal touring – but would I make it safely back before dark?

Are you a Strava user? Did you know that linking your account to will produce recaps like above? I just found out how to embed these to Blogger (as there is no ready-made method available): embed a Youtube video but change the video link to an MP4 link that you'll find on the Relive page source. Then replace the Youtube content to the one you copied from Relive.

My second ride on the green island began with the Woodstown climb up to the summit again. It's such a nice uphill to ride: steady, and long enough (6.7 km) for training. This time the segment from Woodstown junction to the summit took 21 min 58 sec instead of previous 29+ minutes. Knowing the road always pays off.

I turned back to the view point junction and to take the smaller road from there. I thought it would lead me to Bray where I was to meet Philipp. Actually, as I found out half an hour later, it was R116 northwards. Long fast descend – which of course means that it is a nice ascend for anyone coming from Dublin! And accordingly, I saw many riding upstream.

Having gone astray the plan was to meet at a place called Sandyford but we sort of found each other at a further spot by the sea. There happened to be a rounded tower called Martello. Oh, by Jove, what a lucky day – that was the very same martello where my favourite author James Joyce lived and wrote, and where the beginning of his The Ulysses takes places. "That will be worth seeing," as Mr Dedalus said.
Road to Roubaix? No, but similar hell to ride on. Well worth, though.

After a short cultural break we headed North. It is a nice touring route along the coast. We also rode the cobblestone pier to the Poolbeg lighthouse. From there we had to take the shorter route back to Bray where Philipp's bike was rented. 

From Bray I was to ride the mountains again. I thought I'd have plenty of time before the sunset when riding via Glencree. 

Well. Not.

For the first, a local gave me advice how to reach Enniskerry. Only that I couldn't do the suggested road - it went along a motorway. Second, I started to be hungry and tired. Half way between Enniskerry and Glencree during a break I realized how stupid I had been when leaving my front light at the hotel.

For the third, Glencree crossing *was not* the same view point crossing that I thought. I had 6 km more than I thought, of which 3 km climbing. I was losing my faith that I'd make it before dark to the urban areas. Of course there's no road lighting on the mountains. 

Note to self and note to you as well: on longer rides, have always
  • your phone and an external battery
  • extra energy gel or bar and water
  • lights (battery full)
As said, after Glencree it's some 3 km to the top. Make that feel double on the occasion of headwind like I had. But finally, naturally, after the summit, the descending road shortened very quickly.

Sun was just disappearing below the horizon when I reached Tallaght. Just in time! Great day, and daylight hours well spent!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Souvenirs and shopping in Dublin

Wherever I ride, I want to find a bike shop and something local as a souvenir.

In Tallaght I visited Cycle Superstore. It is a big place, covering everything from MTB to eBikes, from tools to rainwear. I didn't find anything of particular interest, and the price level wasn't any cheaper than in Finland.

For my Taiwan ride I got a 2 LED front light weighing only 15.7 gram. Tiny, and yet it seems to provide ample light (80 lumen) for an hour, or a dimmer beam for a longer ride.

Another nice purchase is the Cannondale Speedster 2 saddle bag. For some time I've been thinking to get a small one in addition to my larger bags, and this is such. There is space only for one tyre, changing levers, credit card and a small multitool. 20 € for it is not too much.

Downtown Dublin I had only one and half hours to explore the city. I opened Google Maps, and it showed that the nearest one is about a mile away. There, then.

I visited CycleWays on Parnell Street. Smaller shop than Cycle Superstore, but they had what I was after: locally branded cycle wear.

They have both their own brand jersey and tights, but also the Team Ireland set. I wanted to get something to remind me of Ireland, so the latter was the way to go. I bought the cap (big enough even for my head) and the vest. I found the vest Windtex membrane of very good quality: both windproof and breathable at the same time. The only con is that the vest has no pockets. Hey! We non-pros don't have team cars assisting us all the time.

PS. I got a 10% discount from CycleWays when I told I'm a cycling blogger and most likely will write about my shopping. Try your luck and see what kind of a percentage you get when you present yourself as a vlogger.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

From the picturesque Glendalough Valley to the rugged Wicklow Mountains

There's a plenty to choose from if you want to ride hills around Dublin. Depending on where you stay, you might ride the Eastern side of Wicklow Mountains, or going first to Blessington and reach the mountains from there.

My first ride in Ireland started from Tallaght. I was about to do a social ride and knew that the weather would change many times, so I had my backpack and Nikon D750 camera too. About 5 kg on my shoulders which actually didn't bother me at all during the ride.

Finding a way out of the city is like using the wrong-hand scissors: easy in principle but confusing. That's untypical for me, and I guess the left-hand side traffic must be one reason.

From Tallaght, R113 (via Woodtown) takes you neatly to the scene. Right after Woodtown hill there is a nice 5 km ascend along R115, starting at 200 metres and ending at 500 m.

After reaching the top there is the entrance to the Kippure peak. A sign at the gate says it's a no-go but one can enter still. I was in a bit of a hurry to meet my friend Philipp at in Ballinastoe, so I left it to be visited another day.

From the Sally Gap crossing it's mostly downhill. Nice views and lakes. Apparently a road used for local races too. Even Tour de France started somewhere here in 1999.

So, we started our riding together: nice, easy winding roads between Ballinastoe and Laragh.

Leo from mentioned among other things that Glendalough is a nice place to visit.

If you happen to be around, you surely want to go to Glendalough valley. Two lakes, medieval monastery, waterfall, hiking trails... very much what the romantic idealistic vision of Ireland consists of. We even had perfect weather there and had very good time.

From Glendalough we headed North along R115. We had to reach Sally Gap again, so it was climbing up some 400 meters. 

Climbs here are very steady which makes them rather easy. Mostly the gradient is between 4-8%. Bear in mind that there is nothing in the mountains: no shelter from the elements, no place to buy snacks or coffee, no other source of water than the muddy ditches. 

Also, the weather up there may be very harsh all of a sudden. I'll tell you more about that later.

Here's one take on our ride:

Read here about the adventures of the second ride (coming next week).