Friday, August 29, 2008
Race Report: Nissan MTB Finlandia
Here is finally the report of my seventh Finlandia MTB. This year the event was named Nissan MTB Finlandia and it is part of the Nissan MTB Cup.
Earlier event date could have ment drier race course, but this summer has been pretty rainy. The weather was good for the week prior to the event and Sunday was forecasted to be sunny... well, the weather was cloudy and it seemed that a rain is not out of the queston...
The main 70 km race was scheduled to start 12 AM. Nice change to previous years as then the race started 11 AM. I had a little over an hour to prepare before the start, so everything looked great. This year the race started also on top of the Messilä Camping area, so it ment that there wasn't an uphill to break the field. The start was fast, but as usual, for the most of the first lap I was slowed down by the other riders.
It took about 20-30 minutes to find my rhythm and feel better. My engine is usually slow to start and it was pretty much the same also this time. The new wheelset felt really awesome and I could ride the uphills harder and faster. An hour into the race I felt pretty good and I was thinking that this seems to be a good day... but oohlala! At 1h20min it started to rain! Actually I wasn't suprised, but it ment that this race was going to be brutal again. The rain wasn't fortunately heavy but it made the race course slippery. There is also one horribe clay section at Tiirismaa which will be muddy. On the first lap it wasn't too bad but the there was still the second lap coming and there were over 500 riders riding it...
The time for the first lap was about 1h50min. I thought that maybe today I was finally going to ride under 4 hours. But at times the rain was harder so this was going to be a tough task. I rode the first lap pretty hard and I had to really force myself during the second lap. I had energy drink (sports drink with maltodextrin) in my hydration pack and ate gels, about 1 per hour. Also, my bike worked great. On the second lap the clay section at Tiirismaa was really muddy I had to walk, like many others. After that I put everything I got to the last uphills. In the finish I looked my HRM and the time was 3:59:10! Finally under 4 hours!
Obviously I'm happy with my performance. I haven't trained the way I had wanted to this summer, so in that respect the result is great. I have a reason to believe that some year I can ride this event even somewhere closer to 3h30mins.
At home it took several days to clean all my gear, with my busy evening work shift schedule. But it's worth it, at least once in a year!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Event Report: Eteläkärjen ajot
I woke on Sunday morning at 5.30, and hearing it was raining. I was thinking that "not again", and feared it could be another bad day in the saddle. But the day turned to be a great one...
I picked up friends Simone and Aarne and then it was just a 100 km car drive to Tammisaari. There were a couple of heavy rain showers during the trip, and it rained also in Tammisaari...
The event centre.
Eteläkärjen ajot roughly translates Southend Tour. The distance is about 120 km and the course is absolutely beautiful. The course is also hilly as there is 915 metres of climbing. There are not so many particpants in this event but all things in the event (fee only 20€) makes it one of the best motion cycling event in Finland.
The rain stopped before the start, but the roads were really wet. We decided to ride our own pace, but there was a small group with suitable speed so we joined it. We did the most of the work with Simone and I rode even very little behind his wheel because of the wet roads. For the first hour I didn't feel super good but good enough that this wouldn't be necessarily a bad day. First service point at 1.5 hour, with juice, salt cucumber and bread. After that there were the tough hills of Mustio. Suddenly I felt really good and powered up the hills really well, pulling away from our group. After the hills I waited for our group, but stayed in the front. The roads were also drier after Mustio.
One of the highlights of the event is the passage of Fiskars, it is really beautiful place. There was also the second service point, similar to the first one.
After Fiskars the wind was a little hard but I felt still really good and rode alone in front for awhile. The last part is called Prästkulla loop and the third service point is also there. I rode more with our group, but powered away again in the last 10 km.
Stats of the day: 3.59.32, 122.1 km, avg. speed 30.6 km/h, heart rate avg./max. 146/178 bpm.
In the finish there was the ever great food service with lasagne, salad, bread and juice. Every year there is also a raffle and that was the biggest suprise for me. I won the main prize, a roof mounted bike carrier!!
All in all, a great day in the saddle and a great event as every year. This event will always stay in my calendar.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Event Report: 31st Pirkka Cycling 2008
What a day in the saddle!
Prior to this event I had mixed feelings, because I'm really unfit. I have ridden only a couple of base endurance rides this spring. I have done a decent amount of bike commuting but that doesn't help for a long event like this one. On the other hand I have had the burning desire inside me to participate in this event as the route is so great and beautiful, and despite of my form, to suffer a little bit. So, my goal was to survive 210 km (route a little different from previous years) and to test how the food and drink service would work.
As usual, I was awake late on Saturday and slept only a few hours. Woke at about 3.40 in the night. Left home at 4.30, arrived in Tampere at 6.20. My start time was 7.04. Hmm, this is almost like in a 24-hour race! The weather was looking good. Sunny but also windy.
After start I was looking for a group with suitable speed, and I rode for the first hour in a nice group. But when we hit the first longer hills I had to leave the group because I knew that I would be in trouble if I would continue with that speed. We weren't riding that fast but I knew that my poor form and the other half of the event would not be a such good idea. After the first hour the wind was really hard and was mostly headwind. That hurt. But there was also the first service point at 47 km. Only raisins and all the drinks. Not too bad because this was just the beginning.
Ok, after this the problem was that I was riding alone. I decided to ride with a moderate speed and see if someone would come up behind or at least find some companion in the next service point at 65 km mark. Well, the supply of the service was good, with a banana, chocolate bars and the drinks, and I left the sp with some riders, but couldn't hold the speed in the next longer hill. I was alone again. Then a couple of riders came up behind me and I rode with them to next sp at 87 km. Thanks to them because I had the first feelings that this wouldn't work today at all and I should probably quit. But, the sp in Komi is classic with their meat-potato-soup. There was also blueberry soup, bread and salt cucumber and the usual drinks. No problems in the energy department.
The next section to sp at 114 km I rode completely alone. But I found the will to continue and survive. After 114 km sp I joined two riders and rode with them about 20 kms. Their speed was a bit slow but it was good for me because I saved some energy for the tough parts to come. Picked up the pace a little bit to the next sp at 142 km: a chocolate bar and some coffee and drinks. I continued with a better speed and joined two riders and chatted with them. The other was actually ultra distance road cyclist! Rode with them to next sp at 159 km, where were bread with salt cucumber, blueberry soup, chocolate bar and drinks. We continued together to next sp at 175 km and also after that for a while but I felt so good that I rode to the finish alone with a fairly good speed.
The statistics of the day: riding time 7:44:53.0, distance 210.9 km, avg. speed 27.2 km/h, heart rate avg. 136/max. 176 bpm, sum of ascent 1630 m. In 2006 avg. speed was 30.3 km/h but I was in a much better shape back then. This was probably my best performance in such a bad form, the other was in 2005 when I rode Myllyn Pyöräily after disastrous summer. But in the same time this is the one of the reasons why I like cycling. You can do something even if you are not fit. It is also a mental game. You just have to make a decision in your head, to continue no matter how much you suffer.
Thanks for organizers for a great event, the food and drink service was good again!
Also, what a great way to start my summer vacation!
A view from the route. Beautiful.
From the start/finish area.
Too tired to lift that medal?