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.