Archive for June 2007
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday ride in photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Toni at 23:22 | Permalink |
Category: General

More LEVI24 aftermath

The participation fee included this cool shirt...

 

Some LEVI24 2007 vs. Kangasala 24h 2006 observations:

- LEVI24 course "easier", but a lot tougher conditions
- 12-12 format clearly harder than 19-19, despite the midnight sun
- cold is my enemy (but I can fight it), warm/hot is my friend
- chamois cream helps but is not enough
- Ergon grips are great!

By Toni at 22:58 | Permalink |
Category: General

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LEVI24 Aftermath

I've been at work for two days after LEVI24 and yesterday I was pretty tired, today it was better. Today I did a short mtb ride to figure out how I feel. I have still pretty awful saddle sores but otherwise I feel suprisingly good. After the ride I put my prize, Fizik Gobi saddle, from LEVI24 to my bike and shortly tested it. Feels really good despite the sores, should be much better than Selle Italia Flite.

 

While surfing the net I found the blog of Team Kona International/Buena Vista Racing Club, they placed 2nd in the team competition of LEVI24 and updated their blog while the race was on. Nice stuff.

As you can see I'm changing the outlook of my blog, and I'm excited to tell that I have a new partner, TalliPro products by Hiven Oy! There will be a new cycling/racing jersey with the logos, it will look cool...

By Toni at 22:47 | Permalink |
Category: General

Monday, June 18, 2007

LEVI24 - Kona G24 Global Series - Race Report

What a race and what an event!! There is so much to tell...

Let's start with Thursday evening when I and my pit crew started our travel to Levi. We packed our car with a little hurry but it was ok, then we rode to Turku's train station, loaded our car to train and then we had time to eat in a Chinese restaurant. The train to Rovaniemi left at 20.46. The train trip was good, I was able to sleep and in the morning we had a nice breakfast in our cabin.

The car trip from Rovaniemi to Levi was also good. We ate a good lunch in the Hullu Poro restaurant and after that we accommodated in a small cottage. Then we headed to Gondola area which was also the race center, and I prerode the 14 km long course. It was a mix of everything. Some nice singletrack, gravel/fireroads, asphalt and exercise track. The few singletrack sections were technically easy, gravel roads were really hard. There was one steep hill and after that a really tough exercise track.

After the preride we pitched our pavilion. It was a little challenging because we didn't have the assembly instructions with us and we were also greeted with a rain shower.

Back to cottage, some eating and planning, sleeping... up at 8:00, to the racing venue about at 9:50...

The weather looked fine in the morning but during the racers meeting it changed rapidly and we had a short hailstorm! In the meeting we figured out that our pit tent wasn't in the race course and would not to be, but all supporting was of course allowed everywhere in the race course. This was to change a lot of our pit strategy...

The race started at 12:00. The first lap was a shorter prologue lap. I was in the front but the whole prologue lap felt pretty awful. Well, I was just warming up but it was like telling my body that "hey, remember, this is bike riding". It definitely felt in my body that I haven't ridden my bike for a couple of weeks. The good thing was that my leg that was injured in the accident was holding up well. After the first/prologue lap I was 2nd or 3rd and started to feel much better. Things went good during the first 5 hours. The pit stops were fast and my pit crew was awesome! But at the 5.5 hour mark I started to make a fast death. For some reason riding didn't feel too good. In my mind I was saying that "no no, not yet, it's only 5.5 hours in to the race... you are dying, but you have to reborn". I think it helped, because somewhere at 6 hours I felt a lot better and I was back to my rhythm. Things stayed this way for several hours, but in the evening the weather changed to worse. It started to rain and the temperature was going down. At times the rain was heavy. The race course changed to even harder. My riding was slowing down because of the cold, but I changed some dry clothes at some point and it helped a lot. These were really tough times. Riding a 24-hour solo race in these conditions was new to me.

At around 02:00 I changed warmer clothes and my bike was rinsed by the race crew (great service!). We decided that my wife was going to cabin for a couple of hours of sleep and I tried to keep going. It was still raining but it was calming down. The midnight sun was there but the clouds made it gloomy. At 04:30-05:00 the rain was over, but I felt extremely tired. The temperature was only +4 Celcius!! It felt like my body was shutting down. I decided to rest/sleep for about an hour and then continue. It helped a little but my feeling was more like I wanted to stop my race. I was in 2nd place, Paksukumi Team/Karjalainen was in 1st and had a good lead (several laps), and I had a good lead on 3rd place rider. They also had longer breaks but continued racing in the early morning. I wanted to keep my 2nd place so I continued, but man it was hard! After lap 17 we decided that probably I need to ride two more laps to secure my placing. My pace was slow and pit stops longer but it didn't matter. The service in the race center was excellent. There was a big Nissan tent where you could get a light recovery massage. I took it after lap 18 (if I remember correctly) and headed out for lap 19. The sun was shining riding felt a little better. After lap 19 the time was 10:30 and so there was 1.5 hours time to left. I decided to do my final lap and there was no way that I could lose the 2nd spot. For some reason, the final lap, lap 20, didn't feel too bad.

This was simply the hardest race of my life. But I think it was because of the injury and the almost 3-week off the bike period. I wasn't ideally prepared for this, but in that respect this was a huge achievement for me and I won myself again. 24-hour solo racing is really amazing, there are so many ups and downs.

I want to thank my awesome pit crew, especially my wife, for their great work. Without you this wouldn't have been possible. Thanks also to my mother, my wife's parents, my brother Tatu, aunt Leakaarina, cousin Niko and all you blog readers! And thanks to Jarno Lehmuslehti and all the volunteers and sponsors of the race for putting up the great event!!

Some photos, more later, and more writing...

 

Our pit.

 

In the start.

 

Heading for another lap...

 

Another short support break...

 

On the hard gravel road...

 

Smiling as sun shines as it is lap 19...

 

On the podium!

 

The top tree: me (2nd), J. Karjalainen (1st) and Suojanen (3rd).

By Toni at 17:36 | Permalink |
Category: 2007 Race Reports

Thursday, June 14, 2007

LEVI24 - Go go!

A quick update. The weather forecast for Kittilä/Levi, friday-tuesday:

 

So it's going to be cool and even cold, possibly wet. Whatever, it will be HARD...

I'm going to do something I'm not supposed to do, because of the recent accident, but what the hell. Can I do it? We will see. Am I mentally ready? Hell yes!!

Back on Monday morning, expect the race report somewhere daytime.

Over and out.

By Toni at 16:32 | Permalink |
Category: General

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Getting ready...

As always, I'm busy, but from tomorrow things will go differently for a couple of days... it's go time, for LEVI24.

Today, in the evening I did a short test ride with mtb. The leg is everyday a little better, and it seems that it will be ok for the race. But it's a bizarre feeling to "prepare" this way for a race this big...

 

Should get the other bike ready tomorrow, a short ride, packing... if I have time, last post to blog... 

By Toni at 23:07 | Permalink |
Category: General

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Six days and counting...

Well, the weekend was hot and sunny, but no riding for me as I'm waiting for Monday to get rid of the stitches. The weekend was more of household chores...

On Thursday I did a short, light mtb ride and otherwise it felt good but riding off saddle wasn't too good. But now after the weekend my leg has been improving all the time.

For Finnish speakers, read this. The article is about a plan to build a 9-hole, 76,5 hectare golf field to Paimio, in the area of Hiekkahelmi and Valkojannummi. That is where my favourite trails are. The plan is completely insane, but my plan is to prevent this insanity from happening....

By Toni at 23:21 | Permalink |
Category: General

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Interim report

Finally time to write what's going on. First of all, my recovery from the accident has been pretty good. My walking is close to 100%, the stitches causes some pain but I think that when I get rid of them on next Monday I'm fairly ok.

Despite the stitches I'm planning for a light mtb ride soon. The weather is unbeliavable great at the moment, sunny and +25 C, daily. Next Tuesday and Wednesday I try to ride about 2-3 hours daily and to tell my body what's coming up.

Yesterday I took care of some bike and equipment maintenance issues. I visited Foxcomp in Turku for tuning my Wheeler's front suspension, Manitou Skareb 100mm. Also got service for my Polar S710i heart rate monitor. The goal of course is that everything works as perfectly as possible during LEVI24.

Today I did some final logistical arrangements for the travel to Levi. Me and my pit crew, my wife and dad, will be travelling by train/with car.

I'm getting excited...

By Toni at 21:55 | Permalink |
Category: General

Friday, June 01, 2007

Keep hope alive!

It has now been five days since my accident, and today I can tell you that I'm very happy how I have recovered. I'm walking pretty well, even in stairs, and I'm going back to work on Monday.

It is not secret that I'm stubborn, obsessive compulsive. I don't think that you can do 24-hour solo races if you aren't a little stubborn. So, it means that I'm going to LEVI24 after all!! Only another setback can prevent this from happening. But I wouldn't probably do this if I didn't know that 24-hour solo racing is also a mind game.

This sick/vacation has done something good to me. I got a much needed rest and I feel very motivated and excited for LEVI24. But I have to be careful, it ain't over till the fat lady sings...

Today I'm going to start building the backup bike...

By Toni at 15:51 | Permalink |
Category: General

Kangasala 24h 2006 Race Report

So let's go back in time to 25th and 26th of August 2006...

It was Friday and I had a day off work to pack all things to car, take care of the usual household chores and be there in time. Things looked good with the weather, it was sunny and warm, the temps a little over +20 C, and it was forecasted to be this way from Friday to Saturday.

I had my dad as a pit crew for me, and we were there in time, but we didn't really have any spare time so it was a little bit hectic... we managed to put together our pit shelter/pavilion and organize all other things too.

All the stuff is out from the car...

...and our pit is ready!

After that I went straight to the start line, I didn't have time to ride the lap to know what is ahead of me...

The start was blindly fast as the most of the racers were part of the teams. The first couple of laps were pretty fast for me too but not too fast. I remember that after first lap I was thinking that this is a really hard course. There were lots of roots and tough hills. You have to be crazy to ride this for 24-hours!! But, quite soon I got rid of those thoughts. I had a plan. I had divided the race in my mind to two 12-hour blocks. The first 12-hours was to get through the nightriding, after that the real battle begins... and actually, that was to be the case.

Before the darkness I was in 4th or 5th place...

I had lights ready on my bike for the night hours, so all I had to do before the darkness was to attach the battery to the frame and connect it with the lights. I was using Sigma Sport Mirage and Mirage X lights (older version) with Ni-Pack battery. The night riding started pretty well but quite soon I had to slow down because it was simply too dangerous to try to ride with the same speed as in the evening. At the same time the first problems started to arise. The cable connection between the battery and the lights were loose. The battering from the trail was so hard that I was losing lights all the time. I had to stop very often to reconnect the cables. I fixed this problem in the pit with electric tape.

But that was not all. I started to have problems with gears and I had to adjust my rear derailleur in the pit. My pit stops were getting too long, but there was a lot of racing left so I wasn't too worried. More problems were coming, the other of my batteries went out of power! Yeah, I was in complete darkness and didn't see a thing. Fortunately, one slower team rider came behind and I rode with him to the end of the lap.

The night riding was almost done (about 10-11 hours of racing behind), but I didn't feel too good. I was in pain. I was hammered from the constant battering from the trail. I had way too high tire pressure during night hours, and that made things so bad. I let off some of the pressure a couple of times, but it wasn't enough. But in the morning I let off some more. I wasn't using chamois cream, so my ass was in fire. My hands weren't too happy because of the hard grips on my handlebar...

The sun started to shine, but I was doubtful to continue. But after night things had changed, I was in second place. Some of the solo racers had decided to sleep. So I continued but riding felt really painful. Then the big thing happened to me. I was in pain, but I started to think my wife who was seriously injured in a horse riding accident over a year ago and was still recovering from it. I thought that my pain is nothing compared to all the pain my wife has gone through. It is only 24-hours... fighting with injury is a lot longer and harder battle. My emotions were really high, but bang, suddenly I was in a spirit of battle. I made a decision in my mind that I can do this, I can ride to the end. I started to put the hammer down and I was riding much faster laps. The rider in first place had a good lead on me, but I was also closing on him...

Things were clicking together now. We had too slow pit stops with my dad in the night hours, but now they were faster. Eating and drinking was working great. The temperature was rising, but I poured cold water on my head. The bike worked great.

In the afternoon I was forced to ride some slower laps due to fatigue but a couple of gels gave me a little extra energy I needed. At the same time the rider in third place was closing on me... can you believe it? We had raced over 22 hours and the battle for the second place was just starting! The last few laps I tried to ride furiously and they were pretty good laps, but in the lap 33 he caught me and I couldn't respond, the guy was simply too fast in the end. After that lap I had ridden almost 23 hours 20 minutes, so I decided that it was enough. I was thinking that there was no way I could catch him, so I ended in third place. But I was extremely happy...

My first 24-hour solo race was an amazing journey. After all, for me it was a mind game. It was mind over matter. After 12 hours I wasn't so sure if I could continue, but then the magic happened to me. At the same time I found things in me that I wasn't sure before that they existed in me. I figured out that in 24-hour solo racing you can learn a whole lot more about yourself and that 24-hour racing is really beautiful.

This was certainly an "once in a lifetime" experience, but I will never ever forget it... it was larger than life.

When I and my dad were back in my home, I had difficulties to get out of the car... I would say that it was funny feeling...

After this, the question is: what will the next 24-hour race hold for me...?

By Toni at 1:29 | Permalink |
Category: 2006 Race Reports