Archive for September 2008
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Race Report: Tawast MTB Marathon

Last week all eyes were on the weatherman - I was looking for at least a nice "sprint race" after a wet summer. It looked pretty bad throughout the week, but the last weather forecasts were looking better. It rained the night before the race but on race day (yesterday / Sunday) the sky was blue and sun was shining, a little bit cool and very windy.

This was my third participation in the race. The first time was in 2005 when it was also a MTB Marathon National Championships and the course was also longer. The next was in 2006. This race has been many years the final for the marathon cup, this year the SIGMA Super Marathon Cup.

The 60 km race course is really nice and super fast... actually it is "stupid fast". A good warm up is really helpful but I didn't have much time for that this year. So, the start was from a sport field and there was a neutral start, we had to ride behind an ATV for the first km and after that the free speed starts. Well, the ATV rode insanely fast, my bike computer showed speeds of 40 km/h! My engine was cold so I decided to ride my own pace and trying to find my rhythm.

The first 30 minutes felt pretty bad but after that my engine started to warm up and I felt a lot better. I was also riding with the new shoes, they felt really good and they support foot really well. My feet were accustomed to the old shoes so this wasn't a super good idea but it was nice to test them right in the race situation. After the first 30 minutes I rode pretty hard, and it was somehow a funny feeling that the course was so fast and technically easy. I haven't regarded myself as a technical rider, my road background should be good for this kind of race, but it seems to me that I have been "transformed" to a more true singletrack rider.

I caught some riders and closer the midway point I was joined by one rider. At one point I chatted with him and it proved out that he had actually ridden in Kangasala 24h this year and placed second! So we talked a lot more and rode reasonably good pace at the same time. For some reason I didn't have any urge to eat anything but I had a couple of gels in my yersey pocket. I ate one after 2 hours of riding but it was a little too late. I bonked somewhere 2h15min, not badly but I didn't have the same energy level I had earlier in the race.

My finish time was 2:44:45,80 (just a little slower than in 2006) and 44th place out of the 72 competitors. Not bad but this years Finlandia was better performance. My average heart rate was 160 bpm (max. 182 bpm) so this was definitely a good exercise. I was well aware that this isn't my kind of race - the top riders have awesome fitness and are serious racers - but these marathon races are still really nice for recreational riders as you don't need a racing license.

Some photos to be posted later.

By Toni at 20:00 | Permalink |

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Excellent training

Wow! After my illness I wasn't so sure how I would feel when I would do a harder training ride. This week I rode pretty easily on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and on Friday with Jan the singlespeeder). The plan was to do a longer and harder ride on Saturday or Sunday. It rained slightly yesterday and I wanted to ride in the daytime. So I did it today... the weather has been cold for the last week but today it was sunny and a lot warmer, about +14...+15 Celcius.

I headed to the trails of Paimio's Revenge, as they are pretty much the best for me at the moment. When I reached the trails I started to feel pretty good, but the suprise was that after one lap I felt awesome! For some reason I was riding all the technical parts really well and I rode even some places where I have always got off the saddle. There is definitely more confidence in my riding. On the other hand, these trails are getting very familiar to me so I know how to ride there. But also my physical condition is still pretty good. My goal was to simulate the racing situation coming next Sunday at the Marathon Cup Final in Hämeenlinna. In other words to ride pretty hard for at least 3 hours. I did just that and there is a reason to believe that I can ride a good "sprint race" next Sunday.

Some notes on my gear. The bike with XT group and wheelset with Schwalbe Racing Ralphs feels really great. I was also using the new CamelBak H.A.W.G hydration pack and have to say that it is awesome, stays in my back really well even on hard technical riding.

Just a one photo this time as it really was more about riding hard.


By Toni at 17:16 | Permalink |
Category: General

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back in training!

Yes, back in training tonight. And for Kangasala 24h the best way to start it is to ride in the dark. This was the first time using Sigma Mirage Evo/Evo X Pro Endurance Kit lights on the handlebar and Evo X on the helmet. These lights are enough and I can survive the night with these but the problem is with the batteries that last only about 1,5 hours. I have already 4 NiPack batteries but for 24-hour racing I will need two more, as the charging of the batteris takes much longer time than they last. Another option would be to use Sigma Mirage Evo lights only as a handlebar lights and buy a better light for the helmet. A good light, like Lupine Wilma 5 is pretty expensive. A much less expensive option would be to build a helmet light by myself. Whatever I choose to do I should do it well before the race.


Riding felt pretty good tonight. More to follow this week...

By Toni at 0:39 | Permalink |
Category: General

Monday, September 15, 2008


Oh man, the organizers of Kangasala 24h were fast! The 2009 event date has been decided and it is 4th and 5th of September 2009. And of course I immediately registered for the event.

So, things look much better now. I have also decided that I will race the Tawast Marathon (Marathon Cup Final) in Hämeenlinna.

By the way, there is one positive thing that happened due to my illness. I am now SUPER MOTIVATED!

By Toni at 13:59 | Permalink |
Category: General

Sunday, September 14, 2008


To tell the truth, this is absolutely misery. It seems to take a little longer time to come through this disappointment. If there would be an another chance soon it would change things but as writing this, there is still 272 days until LEVI24 2009, and the date for Kangasala 24h 2009 hasn't been decided yet.

For some kind of comfort I have added a countdown clock for the next 24 hour event. At least it tells that it's coming closer every second. It has been also a full week without riding and I suppose that I start to feel better when I resume with training. That day should come very soon as my illness is almost over.

There is still the Marathon Cup Final in Hämeenlinna on 28th of September. It is 60 km and the course is great, but it is a sprint event in my category. But it's better than nothing and it's possible that I will participate, decision to be made in the coming week.

I think that the reason for my misery is that these 24-hour races are way too addicting. The damage was done in my first 24-hour race at Kangasala 24h 2006. Is it good or bad thing? It's good that I have found something awesome to my life, but the bad side comes with these kind of disappointments.

Finally, some good news. Training for 2009 events hasn't resumed yet but other preparation has, and it's going pretty well. I have finally orgazined and cleaned my cycling room. It was a mess but not anymore. During the next week I will also change secondary / commute bikes V-brakes to the old Hayes HFX-9 disc brakes and also gear shifters will be changed to SRAM Plasma twist shifters.

Cycling is a PASSION!

By Toni at 16:58 | Permalink |
Category: General

Friday, September 12, 2008


Here is a review of the past week. The weekend was hard with overtime work, and especially Sunday. I had a sore throat and my feeling was not that good after work, I felt pretty sick. My wife and many others have had a flu this early autumn and I was a little afraid that I could also get it. And it really seems that I got it. From Sunday I have drank a lot of green tea with honey and taken a lot of vitamin C (1-2 g per day). After that I haven't felt too bad but not 100% either. I was waiting that if I feel good on Thursday (today), I could still go and race at Kangasala...

But, the sitation today is that I have still some flu symptoms. I had to make a really tough decision today that it's too risky to take part in the race that is physically way too demanding to do if you are not 100% healthy. I think that you shouldn't even train when you are sick. There is always the next year, and health is more important. Doing a 24-hour race even when you are just a little sick can be so dangerous that your bike racing and riding could be all over after that. I think I have still many good years ahead of me.

I'm really disappointed, because I was pretty well prepared and was ready for a good race. For me, a 24-hour race is a race of truth. It is much more than just a bike race. On the other hand this years race would have been very demanding because of the long night time riding and my lights are not that good.

I have to look at the positive side and start to prepare for 2009 and have a better plan. My tentavie plan is to try to do the double like in 2007: both LEVI24 and Kangasala 24h. And my preparation will start right after this illness is over. I'm still looking for long rides this year and my goal is to do at least one 12-hour ride. And for that I got today the new CamelBak H.A.W.G hydration pack:

The pack looks to be even better than it looked in photos and reviews, really excited to get in the saddle with this.

By Toni at 0:11 | Permalink |
Edited on: Friday, September 12, 2008 14:42
Category: General

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Changing plans again

So, I was planning for a long training ride on Saturday. Not going to happen because I'm doing work overtime this weekend. I would say that it's not all about the money in my life but in this case I'm taking the opportunity this time. And on the other hand, I can't improve my endurance fitness for Kangasala 24h very much as there is only a little over week time left. But I will probably try to do a "shorter" 4-5 hour training ride in the coming days.

This week has been pretty busy again, but I have been commuting by bike everyday, and actually I have been very lucky with it this week. The weather has been berserk all week. On Monday morning temperature was -2 Celcius and after that, suprise suprise, rain rain and more rain. But everytime I have ridden to work or home it hasn't rained, so it almost feels like the weather is thinking for me...

On the gear department I was looking for a new pair of mtb shoes. Those Specialized shoes could have been a great additional "weapon" for Kangasala 24h but I was unlucky this time as my size (41) is not available at the moment.

I have had also a gear plan for long mountain bike training rides. My current hydration pack, CamelBak Rogue, is too small for the all-day-in-the-saddle adventures so I ordered a new one, CamelBak H.A.W.G.

Speaking of gear there is a great post on Jeff Kerkove's blog how he is preparing for a 125 mile mtb race Vaport Trail 125.

By Toni at 22:29 | Permalink |
Category: General