lauantai 30. joulukuuta 2017

Pain Cave setup

Yksi aikuinen lapsi muutti joksikin aikaa "kotiin", joten piti luovuttaa pain cave hänelle. Roudasin säätämön neljä fillaria autotalliin, ja sain ihan kivan sisäpyöräilytilan tästäkin.

My pain cave setup:
  • Bike - Bianchi Oltre XR2 (old road tyres)
  • Smart trainer - Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+ 
  • Sensors - Garmin speed, cadence, HR
  • Connector: Garmin ANT+ (no extension cord)
  • Laptop: Macbook Pro 15" (2010)
  • TV: Old Philips 45" Sony Bravia 40
  • Garmin Edge 520 (occasionally, used for comparing data)
  • Two fans
  • Tacx basic rollers
Bought a new trainer (320 €), ANT+ (40€), and a fan (25 €). 

torstai 28. joulukuuta 2017

Over the autumn, 2017 grew apart from 2016

Up to this autumn, 2016 and 2017 seemed to be very similar, like a pair. Just over 10,000 km ridden both in 2016 and 2017. Commuting a lot. Recreational riding a bit here and a bit there, abroad.

Leisurely riding up to this October. Then, 2017 grew to become something different from 2016. Taiwan KOM Challenge made a change. It was the other of the two big cycling events of my life so far.

After Taiwan, I found virtual indoor cycling. I've done it more in six weeks than all trainer-riding and spinning together in the last ten years. Usually I wind down and even hibernate the midwinter months, but not now.

I'll be ready to ride the hilly Andalucia roads in February. Then add only some harder pre-season training, and there'll be fitness level sufficient for competitive sportives next summer.

What do you think about these Strava vintage videos? I prefer 2016 version.

lauantai 23. joulukuuta 2017

Road Grand Tours app: Riding on quiet roads

In Road Grand Tours you ride real-world roads in rendered 3D environments. It is in beta (Windows/MacOS), and there are currently only five roads to choose from. No specific ERG modes or exercises here, as RGT seems to profile itself different from The Sufferfest or Trainerroad. Nor is there any gamification à la Zwift. RGT simulates your personal rides, in good and bad.

It takes a while to start up, but RGT finds the sensors and the trainer nicely (as long as Garmin Express is not running in background). Menu is straightforward and soon one is good to go.

Two of the roads are majestic climbs (Stelvio and Ventoux), two are undulating Mediterranean roads (Cap de Formentor and Pienza), and the fifth is a one-kilometer oval ride in Canary Wharf.

I feel very natural riding my bike on Road Grand Tours – as "real" as it can be on the cheapest smart trainer on the market. The response to %-change is quick. With 95% difficulty setting I used same gears as riding outdoors. I'd say RGT is on par with BigRingVR, and both of these have felt more authentic than Zwift in this sense.

So, we can be happy about the basics. The startup does take exceptionally long, but when it's done all the checking, the sensors and the trainer are found automatically and we're good to go (as long as Garmin Express is not running in background).

RGT is a bit limited but it surely gives you happy riding a week or a few. Compared to eg. Zwift and The Sufferfest, RGT is more of a prototype to help getting some serious funding for the next phase than a platform/service a cyclist would subscribe.

This app is in beta, which naturally means that there are things the developers should pay attention to: the cadence measuring gets confused when downhill, distance information is missing on some roads/rides, the Formentor lighthouse stonewall lets the rider straight through, into an endless falling to the sea.

Road Grand Tours is a nice app to ride a week or a few. Give it a go – it takes you to great roads and doesn't ask for a dime from you!

Pienza (Italy)

Strade Bianche and L'Eroica are ridden here in the Southern Tuscany. This is the picturesque Toscana, and Pienza is its Renaissance-era city-planning masterpiece. 9 km (230 VAM) lap around the countryside is varying and long enough to ride several laps without getting bored. There are nice hills to do the intervalls.

See also: my ride on Strava.

Passo dello Stelvio (Italy)

I've never been there in real life. Despite this handicap I'm ready to say that the feeling of climbing there was very real. I even felt like getting bored with all those numbered hairpins... now 40... 39... still f#cking 36... but, then, I felt lucky to realize there were others on the same climb.

Having other athletes on the same route makes a difference even if one has intended to have their "own pace". What, how long is he going to maintain that 3.5 W/kg! Aa-haa, I knew that would make you take it easy soon. I'm not affected by others. Of course I keep my rhythm and power at 200W, only that it seems to have ballooned to 270W now... It electrifies one immediately when there are others. I prefer that there are some others over having thousands of others like we have on Zwift.

See also: my ride on Strava, and compare it to the data my Garmin Edge 520 recorded.

Cap de Formentor (Spain)

This road on the island of Mallorca is a very popular route for spring training in the real world. It's an undulating stint leading North-East to the lighthouse.

See also: my ride on Strava.

lauantai 16. joulukuuta 2017

BigRingVR: no podium or hero's reception, but very "real" riding

The bike trainer software market has expanded like the young universe after big bang. All of a sudden we have more products to choose from than at least I have time to test.

BigRingVR has a simple approach: train the big climbs. There are tens of famous mountains and other climbs from Europe and the USA. Select your ride, set a pacer if you want, and start pedaling.

Today I rode Old Road to Jaca (Spain) and Alpe d'Huez (France). Former is 54 km and 600 VAM, latter is 14 km and 1130 VAM. Combined they charged me 3 hours 36 minutes.

It feels very much like you'd be there, on a real solo ride. It is as painfully, truthfully slow as it is in the great wide open. That's precisely how one perceives the situation when it's not a race. When training, one is very conscious of the effort. So, it was relieving to see other riders on the video ascending the same road.

The realism is strong with this one: when I reached the top of Alpe d'Huez, there wasn't any Finish banner or crowds - just a dull part of the road like it happens to be on 364 days around the year. I sort of expected a hero's reception and felt a bit underwhelmed, just like I would've felt in real life :)

BigRingVR videos are of good quality. Unfortunately they've been shot from a fast moving car with a low frame rate (60 FPS is my guess). Thus when I ride 10 km/h, the picture transitions get jagged. It doesn't affect too much when I stare the 15' laptop screen but when I raise my eyes to the 42' TV screen behind the laptop, especially hairpins seem like a collage of Viewmaster images.

Also, as they've been driving fast while shooting video, when I ride 10 km/h, everything that moves on the video, haaaappennns veeeerrrry sloooww. And to be honest, it reduces the "VR" feeling when the video is shot on a highway 100 km/h.

Nevertheless, BigRingVR is currently free, and I have approached it as a "beta" or concept demo. The road steepness % is quite well synchronized with the video, and some odd mishaps don't ruin the ride.

Setting BigRingVR up was easy with my Elite Qubo Digital Smart B+, and Garmin sensors, and MacbookPro laptop (Garmin ANT+ dongle, two meters from trainer).

BigRingVR will hatch out its free concept phase soon. From January on it'll be subscription-based. So try it out now.

So far I've tested Zwift and BigRingVR. They are very different, and it's like comparing apples and oranges. If you'd like to learn about other alternatives, check out eg. Best Turbo Trainer Software 2017.

sunnuntai 3. joulukuuta 2017

Now I know why conquering mountains is so hard

After my Taiwan KOM Challenge I've been thinking a lot about climbing. What actually made it so challenging? What was it exactly?

Also my new experience riding extensively in the virtual world of Zwift has resonated the thoughts arisen after Taiwan.

It is not the climb (altitude change) itself nor the steepness that makes mountains hard to conquer. After all, it's just selecting a shorter gear and keeping power level such that one is able to maintain.

It is the fact that it is continuous work. Go a bit too hard and there's no way getting rid of the lactates (or hydrogen, to be more precise) in the muscles.

Riding a long uphill resembles running: there's no freeriding, no way to stop pedaling and recover. Of course there are other factors as well, like finding the rhythm, but the key is the continuous pressure.

Smart trainer and Zwift have changed my indoor workouts. Yesterday I did three hours. Here's a screen capture of that ride on Strava, first 50 km selected:

One of those lines differs drastically from an ordinary outdoor ride around my neighbourhood: the cadence. During the first 50 km, I've stopped pedaling only twice, each break having lasted about 15 seconds when I first opened the door for ventilation and then closed it.

The ride took 3 hours 12 min. My legs stopped rotating twelve times. Eleven of these were 5-15 seconds, once half a minute.

See the "-10" on the right hand side? This is a steep downhill and still I'm pedaling 67 rpm, producing 79 W. So, more or less one does work all the time while on a trainer. No wonder that some say 45 minutes on trainer equals 60 minutes on the road.

I wait the spring with great curiosity. Will this winter bring better results than those based on commuting to work. I expect to have more stamina and to be ready to ride the Sierra de Tejeda in February.

lauantai 18. marraskuuta 2017

Turning the tide in winter training

I wouldn't have believed it last winter. Cycling indoors has felt like a dull duty – until now. Today I doubled what I've previously reached indoors: three hours. This time it wasn't even difficult or boring.

A smart trainer changes the traction depending on the road angle. My trainer is not the most authentic on steep hills but realistic enough to bring variety to pedaling. Also, the Watopia island routes are well designed, and having other people riding there too makes it lively.

This month I've been riding indoors 14.5 hours (two and half weeks). For comparison: last year my total hours on the trainer were 10.

The only reason that makes me wonder whether it'll be Zwift or some other platform I'll continue with in the future, is that they just raised prices 50–60%. It'll be 15 € / month from now on – except for the current members who can continue for the old 10 €/mo. one more year. I feel lucky to have started just in time.

If you did miss the cheaper train, remember that there are many other platforms to explore, eg. Kinomap, Sufferfest, VirtualTraining and BigRingVR, as well as Elite MyETraining and Trainerroad.

sunnuntai 12. marraskuuta 2017

Ride on! Now also indoors

Today I did my typical ride around the airport. It was very different to ride 40k in +2° C compared to the 50k in Watopia – the virtual island in Zwift – in a +15° C room yesterday.

Indoor cycling doesn't end up with punctures as it does every so often outdoors because of all the sharp grave on the pavement during winter time. The toes I froze to black years ago do ache on every outdoor ride in winter. At one tight corner in Hommas I had a close encounter with a car. Such may have severe consequences in real life.

So, there are things that favour staying in a pain cave with a trainer. Only that it has been too dull and tedious for me.

I've bought a new trainer and created a Zwift account. It is the very first cycling platform that has hooked me to include trainer riding to my program. Check out the video I made yesterday if you're new to indoor cycling.

lauantai 4. marraskuuta 2017

Zwift – pyöräilijän Narnia

Välillä tuli seurattua aihetta hiukan nenän vartta pitkin, välillä kuuntelin innostuneen kateellisena. Onko se edes pyöräilyä ollenkaan? Moni kirjoitti teknisistä säätämisistä ja bugeista. Päätin odotella, että tekniikka kypsyy.

Eilen avasin oven "Narniaan" eli virtuaalipyöräilyn maailmaan: yhdistin trainerin tietokoneeseen ja loin käyttäjätunnuksen Zwiftiin.

Tällä hetkellä minulla on perinteinen mekaaninen harjoitusvastus, jossa rulla pyörii takakumia vasten. Sillä olen kuntoillut ennenkin: katsellut CTS:n sisäpyöräilyvideoita vaihtaen välityksiä ja kadenssia saadakseni harjoitukseen vastetta.

Nyt Garmin-nopeusanturin data menee mittarin lisäksi kannettavalle tietokoneelle. Sitä varten piti ostaa Garmin ANT+ "dongle" eli USB-väylään liitettävä vastaanotin. iPadiin ei kuulemma olisi tarvinnut edes tätä lisäkikkaretta.

Pari kertaa piti käynnistellä Zwift-softaa uudelleen, kunnes se vihdoin tunnisti nopeussensorin. Inhoan näitä "inshallah"-tyyppisiä teknologiahämäryyksiä, jolloin pitää tyytyä räpläämään ja toivomaan parasta.

Sainpa sen kuitenkin toimimaan – nyt jopa kadenssi ja syke välittyvät. Tosin laittaessani itseni tauolle softa kaatui ja hävitti treenin alkuosan eli 45 minuuttia. Todisteeksi jäi vain tämä loppuosa.

Nyt sitten ajan kimpassa satojen muiden kanssa virtuaalibaanaa. Onhan tämä kivaa treenata yhdessä toisten kanssa. Vielä kun ymmärtäisi etiketin ja niksit. Kun osaisi edes peesata törmäämättä.

Perusta varsinaiselle tavoitteelle eli harjoitussimulaatioille on rakennettu. Saksasta on minulle tulossa viime viikolla tilaamani Elite Qubo digital B+ smart trainer. Älykkyys tarkoittaa sitä, että harjoitusvastus osaa säätää vastusta itse: kevyemmäksi alamäissä ja peesatessa sekä kiristää sitä ylämäessä tai kun harjoitusohjelmassa tulee käsky nostaa watteja.

Sillä aikaa kun fillaroin Narniassa, oikeassa maailmassa oli pilvinen tihku vaihtunut lämpimäksi auringonpaisteeksi. Onhan tämä nyt luksusta, kun voi valita missä lihaksiaan piiskaa.

sunnuntai 29. lokakuuta 2017

Recommended: Taiwan

It was great to have a GoPro Hero Session 4 attached. I love to relive my Taiwan KOM Challenge ride, and it conveys what to expect to any of you who consider taking part next year. Above is the standard version. If you'd like to watch it while riding your indoor trainer, check out this version.

Oh yes, I do recommend! At least for me it offered just the right challenge and drama. Up to the Gas Station (2400m) I managed to ride reasonably well. After that the last 10 km was insane, and I was sure that I won't make it. Against all odds, I found myself riding it all the way to the finish.

Here's my ride in Strava.

Taiwan is a great country to bike. Taiwanese are polite and they are used to cyclists both in the countryside and in cities like downtown Taipei. 300 peaks reaching 3k is a treat I can only dream of here at home.

The Parkview Hotel in Hualien offered spacious rooms and the race organizers had put up an inspirational welcome party.

In this picture Scott Ellinger is presenting the big guns like Emma Pooley and Vincenzo Nibali (both to win next day), Cadel Evans, and the GCN duo Matt & Simon.

Even at the start line in the morning, 5.30 am, they had a show on stage to boost the moods and to wake us up. I bet many of us had had only few hours' sleep.

It's fascinating how people felt like belonging to one family. We encouraged each other, and felt we were sharing the burden – and the precious goal of finishing. When I was completely bonking just 100 metres from the Finish, some amazing people were ready to give me a push to get me going again.

Greetings to my great companion in the van going back to Hualien: Scott, Kerry, and Brian!

perjantai 20. lokakuuta 2017

Racing against the broomwagon

Taiwan KOM Challenge was an insane effort for a non-racing cyclist from the flatland. I wasn’t able to follow my plan and started falling behind gradually. The 85 km of pure climbing was very hard. On sections of 18, 22, and up to 28% I had to walk and push the bike. Also, rear tyre kept on emptying and my Lezyne pump got into action several times.

After 70 km I knew that the broomwagon would pick me sooner or later as I wouldn’t make it before 1 o’clock when they’d close the Finish. For the last 5 km I just hoped they’d let me ride all the way. 

To my surprise I managed to avoid the broomwagon and the Finish was still open when I hit it 1.20 pm. The medal earned feels great!

More on this epic challenge next week when I’ll be back in Finland and can edit video clips and transfer Strava data.

perjantai 13. lokakuuta 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. 

lauantai 7. lokakuuta 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]

sunnuntai 1. lokakuuta 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.

lauantai 30. syyskuuta 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. 

tiistai 19. syyskuuta 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.

sunnuntai 17. syyskuuta 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!

lauantai 16. syyskuuta 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.

sunnuntai 10. syyskuuta 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).

What bike to choose for Dublin and Wicklow mountains

Here are some thoughts about what kind of a bike to take when doing rides like this and this. In my next post I'll tell you about the routes and what makes them so fascinating. This one is only about the machines for the ride.

I took my Cannondale CaadX cyclocross with me. 55 € per flight doesn't feel very expensive as I can ride three whole days and do some additional morning rides. Warning: pack it well! The Swissport cargo staff at Dublin airport manhandlet it carelessly. The bike box was brought to me under five other heavy packages, bent on the trolley, torn from the corner. Luckily only the GoPro Hero Session mount was bent and seems still to hold the camera.

Taking my own CX bike was a good decision. Many parts of the more remote areas have quite rough tarmac, and Continental Cyclocross Speed tyres (5 bar) have been fine there. They are a bit slippery though. On a bike lane I had to give way to oncoming traffic and went off the lane. When coming back over a wet concrete/stone lining, I didn't lift enought and fell. Two days after my knee is still bleeding. Luckily no other incidents so far.

A road bike with 28 mm tyres and a mudguard/ass-saver would've also done the job on the roads. But having a CX gave us the freedom to go off the road every now and then, for example at the scenic Glendalough.

Thanks to Leo who adjusted my brakes on the go.
My friend Philipp rented a road bike for the first day from (45 €). It is situated in Ballinastoe near the mountains. It seems to offer even more for a mountain biker, for example there's a singletrack trail just behind their facilities.

For the second day Philipp took a cheaper touring bike from Everest Cycles in Bray (15 €). A tool good enough for our joint coast line riding.

I'm staying in Tallaght. Today after my ride I'll pay a visit to Cycle SuperStore here nearby. A friend recommended it, and according to their website photos they have a nice variety of cycling stuff.

maanantai 4. syyskuuta 2017

Planning and navigating made easy

There's fun ahead! On Thursday me and my CaadX will fly to Dublin. There'll be three days for cycling before a work event.

Most of the fun will take place at the Wicklow National Park South to Dublin. With the current variety of online mapping services it's easy to plan the rides.

First of all, I've gotten useful links to Strava segments, for example this one from Bray Harbour to Kippure Mast - nice steady climb from 0m to 741m altitude - and this one reaching three gaps.

I'll have there great cycling companion who introduced me

Komoot is the first platform that I know of, where you can plan a route and see not only the map and profile but also the road/trail surface along the course.

Online mapping is free. For offline use I recommend you to buy the whole global set at once, as regional maps are relatively expensive.

Link to the Komoot map.

tiistai 29. elokuuta 2017

Weight lost is fitness gained

The first step is to set milestones. The second step is to make them happen.

I set a two-goal plan for the Taiwan KOM Challenge: to get slimmer and to get fitter.

I've limited my abuse of chocolate &c. according to my plan, resulting a 6 kg weight loss during August. That's way better than I thought possible with small nutritional changes! One more (or less) kilo, and I've reached the target that I had for October. Now it seems I can go even a bit lower.

Cycling-wise I haven't taken the races and sportive I intended (except Eteläkärjenajo sportive). So, it is a minus that I haven't ridden enough of those hard rides. Then again, I've started doing repetitive climbs on Zone4. It's not much, though – the biggest climbs here are 65 vertical meters.

Luckily I'll fly to Dublin next week. It's a business trip with the pleasure of three extra days. I'll take my CaadX along, and will ride around Wicklow National Park. There are plenty of climbs too, up to 700 meters. There I can also get those long days in the saddle.

As it is an uphill race in Taiwan, weight lost is automatically fitness gained (W/kg), as long as it is not from muscles but fat and extracellular body fluids.

sunnuntai 13. elokuuta 2017

Eteläkärjen ajot järsi jalat tyhjiksi

Eteläkärjen ajot alkaa Tammisaaresta ja kiertää 120 kilometriä Raaseporin teitä. 94 km pysyin pääjoukossa. Viimeiset kymmenen kilometriä piti ajaa varovasti kramppioireiden vuoksi. Aika tarkalleen tavoitteiden mukainen suoritus.

Kuvattu GoPro Hero Sessionilla.

lauantai 5. elokuuta 2017

The gargantuan climb to Wuling Pass

I have heard the grimpeurs' sirens singing. Their enchanting song is about Taiwan KOM Challenge, a gigantic uphill climb race to be held in October.

From sea level to 3275 meters. 105 kilometres, first 15 flat, then 90 km ascending. That's heavy for anyone, and that's massive for a 88 kg rider.

The two months separating this day and the race are very welcome to get my FTP endurance up and weight down. Long speed spot rides and longish threshold intervals. Some change in lifestyle and training, but to be honest, I'm too lazy to make any major sacrifices. I'm not competing for the podium but to ride it to the top before they close the finish.

Main issue right now is that I can't fly with my Oltre XR2. I've tried to find a rent bike from Specialized Taipei, but no luck yet. Any other ideas?

The vid's taken at the Paloheinä landfill hill that is considered as a major climb here. 

tiistai 1. elokuuta 2017

Kuinka tasamaan tallaaja arvioi nousunopeutta

Tehomittarin hankinnasta olen joskus haaveillut, mutta sellainen on melkoisen iso investointi. Lisäksi olen ymmärtänyt niiden kalibroinnin hankalaksi ja siirtämisen fillarista toiseen jokseenkin hyödyttömäksi. Sitten pitäisi myös harjoitella suunnitelmallisesti tehotietoja hyödyntäen. Näinpä se kaupan ovi on toistaiseksi jäänyt avaamatta.

Nyt tehomittarista sitten olisi erityistä hyötyä.

Vuorietapin ajamisessa olennaista ei ole nopeus vaan nousumetrit tunnissa.

Ylämäessä tehon lisäksi ratkaisee ylös siirrettävä massa. Niinpä teho/paino-suhde onkin käyttökelpoinen suure. Kun teho korreloi sen kanssa, mitä vauhtia pystyt ajamaan tasamaalla, teho/paino-suhde korreloi sen kanssa, kuinka monta metriä pystyt tunnissa nousemaan.

Jos tiedät millä teholla pystyt ajamaan tunnista toiseen, ja jos alla on oma pyörä, on helppo lähteä kipuamaan wattimittaria seuraten.

Tehon lisäksi itselle sopivan vauhdin määrittelyn apuna on VAM eli velocità ascensionale media. VAM on italiaa ja tarkoittaa keskimääräistä nousunopeutta. Sen voi laskea kaavalla
nousumetrit x 60 / aika (minuutteina).

Esimerkiksi Napolin lähellä ajoin Vesuviukselle 110 metrin korkeudelta 1000 metriin 70 minuutissa. Toisin sanoen 890/60x70 = 752.

Strava ilmoittaa ajetuille segmenteille VAM-tiedot automaattisesti. Alla näkyy sekä koko noususegmentin VAM (764) sekä eri osuuksien nousunopeuksia.

Maailman parhaat ajavat grand tourien vuoristoetappien nousuja 1600:n VAMilla. Minä ajoin Vesuviusta alle 800:n VAMilla.

Onko tuosta sitten mitään hyötyä ajatellen Taiwania? Italiassa ajoin huhtikuussa, talven jäljiltä surkeassa kunnossa. Toisaalta nousua oli vain kilometri Taiwanin 3275 metrin sijaan.

VAM soveltuu huonosti loiviin nousuosuuksiin. Esimerkiksi Taiwanissa noustaan pariin tonniin vain 4-5 % tietä. Lähtökohtaisesti silloin VAM on hiukan pienempi.

Garmin Edge 520 näyttää kyllä nousunopeuden, mutta paljonko mittarissa pitäisi olla? Paljonko on paljon – ja paljonko on liian paljon?

Palatakseni teho/paino-suhteeseen. Kun tehon lisäys on hidasta ja hankalaa, voi yhtälön tulosta parantaa yhdellä äärimmäisellä keinolla: seuraavina kuukausina neljä palaa Fazerin sinistä on päivämaksimi. Äärimmäinen yritys vaatii äärimmäiset uhraukset.


Valokuvissa nousua Omaloksen ylängölle Kreetalla. 

torstai 27. heinäkuuta 2017

Haave: pyörällä maailman laelle

Tehtiin kotona lomamatkasuunnitelmaa Taiwaniin ja Filippiineille lokakuuksi. Matkaa on suunniteltu sillä verukkeella, että lapsi menee opiskelijavaihtoon Taipeihin. Näin olisi yksi kiinnekohta siellä.

Mietin samalla miten pääsisi reissussa pyörän päälle ja missä päin kannattaisi ajaa. Vaikka tämä onkin yhteinen reissu, en oikein malta olla harrastamatta.

Muistin sitten lukeneeni eeppisestä pyöräkisasta, jossa kavutaan 3275 metrin korkeuteen Keski-Taiwanin vuorille. Sehän piti heti googlettaa... ja verkosta hyökyi kyllä sellainen innostava virta, jossa oli luettavaa useammaksi tunniksi!

Taiwan KOM Challenge ajetaan 20. lokakuuta. Meidän oli tarkoitus juuri sinä päivänä lentää Manilaan, mutta nyt taitaa suunnitelma vielä muuttua niin että ehtisin kisaan mukaan – onhan tuo yksi näitä "kerran elämässä"-juttuja. Iso haaste minulle!

Perhosia tai jotain varpusia tuntuu lentelevän vatsassa. Kiehtoo ja pelottaa. Ensin parikymppiä saattoajoa ja sitten 80 kilometriä ylämäkeä. Miten tällainen iso, tasamaahan tottunut äijä pärjää tuolla? Kuinka hitaasti saa ajaa? Löytyykö pyörävuokraamo?

Paljon selvitettävää, eikä kaikesta edes selviä tietokonetta naputtelemalla. On ryhdistäydyttävä ja otettava enempi treenin kannalta tulevat pari kuukautta, jos mielii Taiwanissa päästä laelle saakka.

Kuva Andrew Gershlaken blogista. Hän osallistui vuonna 2011.

tiistai 18. heinäkuuta 2017

Fiksi tuo tyyliä kesä-cruisailuun

Vielä 1930-luvun alussa Tour de Francessa pyörässä sai olla vain kaksi välitystä. Niitä saattoi vaihtaa kääntämällä takarengas ympäri – vähän kuten nykyisissä singlespeed/fixi-fillareissa.

Jules Merviel tyylittelee kuvassa hiukan isompien juomapullojen kanssa. Ihan ei käy selväksi mistä rypälelajikkeesta energiajuomat on valmistettu. Sen sijaan taka-akseli ja sen molemmat rattaat erottuvat hyvin.

Marraskuussa ostin Magdeburgista PureFix Papan. Sen takarengas on ollut asennossa singlespeed eli se on ollut tavanomainen yksivaihteinen fillari, jossa on vapaaratas. Vapaarattaan ansiosta polkemisen voi pysäyttää, vaikka pyörä liikkuu.

Yksivaihteinen eli sinkula (singlespeed) pakottaa katsomaan reittiä uudella tavalla.

Vaihteellisella maantiepyörällä mikään alle neloskategorian mäki ei jaksa kohota tietoisuuteen saakka, vaan siihen reagoidaan selkäytimestä tulevalla sormenliikkeellä, joka siirtää ketjun isommalle takarattaalle tai tiukemmassa paikassa kevyemmälle etulimpulle.

Sen sijaan yksivaihteisen 44/16-välityksellä pienet kaupunkimäetkin teettävät työtä ja vaativat olemaan hereillä. Toisaalta vapaaratas antaa alamäessä armon olla polkematta ja haihduttaa maitohapot. Ihan erilaista treeniä kuin vaihdepyörällä.

Fiksin eli kiinteävälitteisen sinkulan fillaristani saa kääntämällä takarenkaan ympäri. Tässä akselin toisella puolen olevassa rattaassa ei ole sisäistä vapaaratasta, vaan välitys on kiinteä.

Fiksissä polkimien on oltava oikeassa asennossa, jotta pyörällä pääsee edes liikkeelle. Nopeutta laskiessa molempien jalkojen on vuorottain vastustettava kammen pyörimistä. Kun fillari sitten pysähtyy, ei jalkojen asentoa korjata kuin fillarin paikkaa siirtämällä tai nostamalla takarengas maasta.

Hankalinta fiksillä on reagointi yllättäviin liikennetilanteisiin. Kun ylitin suojatietä vihreillä, risteävää katua tuli auto. Sen kuljettaja huomasi punaiset vasta viime tingassa, ja hänen jarrutuksensa pysähtyi puolitoista metriä suojatien puolelle. Onneksi pyörässäni on myös käsijarrut – jalkajarruilla tuskin olisin osannut pysäyttää yhtä nopeasti.

Paluumatkalla ajoin letkeää kolmeakymppiä, kun olin kääntymässä kotitielle. Tyypillisesti siinä kohdin rullaan hiukan matkaa polkematta, näytän käsimerkkiä ja jarrutan juuri ennen kääntymistä kevyesti. Yritin nyt samaa muistamatta, että ajan fiksillä. Fillari heilahti, kun löysäsin jalkojen rytmin, jolloin polkimet tietysti jatkoivat omaa liikettään pamauttaen kevyesti jalkapohjiin.

Kenelle ja mihin käyttöön yksivaihteinen tai fiksi sopivat? Parhaiten tasamaalle ja rauhallisiin vauhteihin, varsinkin silloin kun on tyyntä. Mikäpä sen tyylikkäämpää kuin karauttaa fiksillä jätskikiskalle. Jopa minä, setämies, sain muutamat katseet kääntymään tänään, kun cruisailin Tikkurilan keskustassa. Hyvin sopi fillarin nimi miehelle: PureFix Papa.