Category 2007 Race Reports
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Race Report: Finlandia 2007

Finlandia MTB has been by far my favourite race/event. This year it was my 6th participation. My first was in 1999 when it was organized by the same people who organize Finlandia-hiihto (cross country skiing), and the race course was different and easier from the course of previous years. I returned in 2003 believing that the course was still the same but it wasn't, and it was a huge suprise. I wasn't prepared at all, I only had hydration pack with water and probably one gel. The result was the biggest bonk of my life. I was so out of it that I had to lay on the ground at one point of the race, but I forced myself to finish. That experience was so special to me that it is probably one reason why I like to suffer and I like long races. The course is also really hard with steep hills, and I like it a LOT. No wonder why I have participated in every race after that killer race in 2003.

2004 the course was really wet and muddy. 2005 it was a lot drier but I wasn't in form. Last year the course was super dry and fast, and I was in form, but technical problems ruined my race.

This year it was time for another mud fest, very much like in 2004. Also, this year it was first time with my wife as my support person.

The course was also changed but not too much. In fact, the course had some old parts from 1999. This years course is probably the best so far. I had a pretty good start to this race and found my own rhythm quickly. It took about 2:02 for the first lap. That was a little too fast for the second lap, my time in the finish was 4:30:45 in 74th place. I didn't take any risks on the technical and slippery sections. But it was so great to ride this event again, I'm really happy man.

Some photos:

The start.

Another photo from the start.

In the group... (courtesy of Jari V.)

Another shot... (courtesy of Jari V.)

A happy man in the finish with the medal.

My bike after the mud fest.

Thanks for my wife for supporting me, and thanks also to TWD and volunteers for organizing a great event! Next year again!

By Toni at 22:38 | Permalink |
Edited on: Sunday, October 07, 2007 21:12
Category: 2007 Race Reports

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Event Report: Myllyn Pyöräily / Skandinaviamylly 240 km

I did a final last minute decision to participate in Myllyn Pyöräily, as the weather forecast looked pretty good. Only a risk of some rain showers.

On Saturday morning I was just in time in Raisio to enter the event. My preparation for the longest version, the 240 km Skandinaviamylly, wasn't ideal but the drink and food service was good in 2005 so I thought that this wouldn't be a problem. Also, my plan was to stop in almost every service point because the enter fee is really high, 65 euros (normally 45 euros), when you register so late. But, I should have read the participant's guide carefully because things had changed after the 2005 event...

I decided to ride with the lead group and see how fast it would go, and stop to the second service point, as the first was only 36,5 km (Lieto as.) in the course. After 1.5 hours in a strong crosswind I let the lead group go away because my heart rate was pretty high. I had some energy/cereal bars and gels with me but I had already eaten some of them. No problem, I was thinking, because the next service point was in the 86 km mark in Pöytyä, and there should be something to eat. I was riding alone for awhile but then I was joined by another lonely rider, probably from Estonia. We rode together to the second service point. The suprise was that there were only water and really watery sports drink available...

I had two gels and one energy bars left so maybe finally there would be something in the third service point. I joined a small group of riders in the second service point and rode with them to the third point, Paattinen / 118 km. Well, there was a hot oatmeal, sports drink and coffee. Better than nothing, but the oatmeal wasn't such a good idea. When I contined riding with two others, I felt like I was hitting a wall or something. I was simply going nowhere. In Vahto I was also riding against freaking headwind, so this was a horrible combination. Fortunately the course turned to right after about 5 or some kilometres, and there was the fourth service point in Rusko / 132 km. Again, only water and watery sports drink, but I didn't expect anything else because the fifth point was in Nousiainen / 146 km, and in 2005 it was a good service point. I was riding alone again, and met the really strong, freaking headwind. I stopped in Nousiainen, but what?! Only water and that thin sports drink! You are killing me!

The Nousiainen - Lemu section was the windiest and I was close to bonk. I had one gel, ate it, and thought I should do just fine to reach the sixth service point in Naantali / 172 km. I was joined also with one rider and talked with him. Really nice fellow, thanks to him. We stopped in the sixth point - only one energy bar and the same drinks. Better than nothing but so far, the overall food service was clearly really bad.

In the ever classic Naantali - Merimasku section I joined a small group of riders and rode with them to seventh service point in Askainen / 204 km. Finally, there was bread, some salt cucumber and a banana. A good thing was also that the wind was behind my back. In the last service point in Masku / 225 km there were only the same drinks and would you believe, ice cream! I ate it but it didn't too good in my stomach. It didn't slow down me too much and the last 40 kms were probably the easiest of the event.

In the finish everyone got the medal and was photographed. There was also pea soup and dry bread to eat.

Statistics of my performance: riding time 8:14:08.5, distance 240.8 km, average speed 29.2 km/h, heart rate avg./max. 136/176 bpm, ascent 1055 m. I was looking for over 30 km/h average speed but I'm satisfied with this as I rode a lot myself and not so much behind a wheel or group.

Compared to the 2005 event and Pirkka Cycling in 2006, not to mention the absolutely brilliant Marathon Bicycling in 2006, this was the worst motion cycling event I have ever participated. The Finnish version of the participant's guide does have detailed information about the service points, but the Swedish and English doesn't! The foreign riders must be shocked, because it only reads in the guide that "participants will be provided with a comprehensive food- and drink service"!!! If I was a foreign rider in this event I would feel really cheated.

Overall my opionion is that a motion cycling event should have a decent food- and drink service for what the participants are paying for. These events are not races, there are a lot of people who just want to have a good day in the saddle and enjoy the event. This years Myllyn Pyöräily was not like that. The question is, why the organizers of the event decided to do things this way, this year...?

MUCH LATE EDIT: For Finnish speakers, some writing, here and the answer of the organizer, in Turun Sanomat.

By Toni at 18:37 | Permalink |
Edited on: Monday, September 03, 2007 19:37
Category: 2007 Race Reports

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kangasala 24h Race Report

Oh man... really different 24-hour race this time. I was in trouble.

As me and my support crew, wife and father, prepared our pit the weather started to change: thunder! Fortunately it didn't rain and I had time to preride some of the race course. Only little changes to last year's course.

But, when the start was getting near it started to rain lightly. It was just a little shower but it was enough to do the damage to the race course. There is A LOT of roots on this course, and I knew that it will be a nightmare if it rains. I had tires for dry conditions, actually the same tires I used in the last year's race, Michelin Comp S Light Tubeless. Bad choice, and there was more to come problems with tires...

This year the solo category was also really competitive. The winners of the Tahko MTB 120 km, Tiimo Tõnisson (Porter Racing) and 180 km, Kari Veikkolainen (Sekopolla) were there and also last year's winner Niko Tuhkanen. A total of 10 racers in the solo category, this was great, and it's great to see that 24-hour solo racing is growing in Finland.

The start was fast. I tried to start fast also, but I had to slow down after first lap as I nearly fell several times due to slippery trail conditions. After 3-4 laps I was probably in 6th place. After lap 6 (night riding going on) I noticed that I have a puncture with the rear tire. Damn. The same tire that punctured in Finlandia 2006 but I repaired it for this race. So I put an inner tube - a lot longer pit stop. During the next lap, if I remember correctly, I crashed in the very technical root section. I was lucky again as I didn't injure myself. Decided to be more cautious for the remainder of the night riding. The root sections were deadly slippery the whole night as the air was really humid.

Lap 13. The rear tire punctured again! I was a good way on the course and didn't have a spare inner tube. Had to walk/run back to pit. Decided to ride the lap with the backup bike. After this lap I took the rear tire from the backup bike and put it to the primary bike. The problems with tires cost me two laps. Also, for some strange reason, the front disc brake didn't work 100% but worked for the most of the time.

I wasn't the only one having problems. Niko Tuhkanen had some serious problems with his body and was forced to stop in the late morning. I felt tired and exhausted in the morning but tried to keep on. My form was clearly not as good as last year and generally I was also too tired. This wasn't really a suprise for me as I didn't do enough long training rides before this race, and it took almost three weeks to recover from LEVI24.

I felt a little better during the daytime but shortly after that the heat was also a little too much for me. I was in 5th place and I didn't have enough energy to chase the rider in 4th place who was several laps ahead of me. I decided to secure my placing, took a couple of very long pit stops and rode two 38 minute laps. Didn't sit a lot on those laps as it hurt my bottom so much.

Some photos, more later...

 

 

 

By Toni at 20:53 | Permalink |
Category: 2007 Race Reports

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