Sunday, August 30, 2009
Race Report: Kangasala 24h 2009
My most difficult and very hard race ever, so far. Period.
Kangasala 24h is without a doubt the most challenging 24-hour race/event in Finland. You have technically demanding course. You have physically demanding course. You have long and VERY DARK night. You have everything. The race course is literally pure hell with this years conditions. This year, this race tried to break you down in every way. Did it break me? Almost.
I knew that it would be very difficult if we would have rain. Friday evening was dry but it had rained during the last week and the route wasn't entirely dry...
I had a good start. First 4 laps went well. First lap felt pretty awful as I was just warming up. Second and third lap felt good. But the darkness and night became soon, and so started the difficulties. The air was humid and the course changed to insanely slippery. My Sigma Sport Mirage Evo lights are definitely not good enough for trail night riding. Also, I had Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires with Shimano XT wheelset. Great tires for drier conditions but not for Kangasala-wet-nightmare-roots-and-rocks. Ok, I was prepared for this. I had another Mavic Crossland wheelset with Continental Mountain King 2.2 tires, and backup bike had Michelin All Mountain tires. I chose to go with the backup bike as I have also more upright position with that bike. But not much help, I also fell with the backup bike! (Strange thing also that the front tire burped air). I changed the front wheel of my primary bike. A little better but I didn't have enough vision with the poor lights. I fell almost ten times during the night and early morning I decided to take a break and wait for the sunlight. During my break I took a small nap and guess what, it also started to rain lightly.
My last lap before the morning and the break took over three hours. Now I had both the front and rear with Mountain King tires, and was finally able to see the trail. Much better, but my bottom was really sore.
I soldiered on and was able to ride several laps with a little better speed, but still too slow because of the slippery course. In the afternoon it rained really heavily and the course was a mess after that. A little break and I still rode 3-4 laps. My bottom was so sore that I rode the last lap entirely out of the saddle!
In the end my effort was good enough for 5th place with 24 laps, one lap was approx. 9.5 km so almost 230 km. My goal was to ride at least 30 laps so this is a disappointment.
Hats off to everyone for riding in these insane conditions. The top four rode really well, awesome performances and congratulations to all of you!
A couple of good things: my primary bike worked well and I didn't give up.
Special thanks to my wife for sending supportive text messages from home. Thanks also to my dad for pitting. And thanks for all the blog readers.
I thought many times during the race that maybe I should take a longer break from 24-hour solo racing, but I figured out that I need a good set of lights and more training in wet conditions. 24-hour solo racing is torture, but this torture is suited for me. I will be back.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Race Report: Nissan MTB Finlandia 2009
8th time in all, 7th in the newer course. I really like this event even if it is a "sprint race" for me. This year I had two plans. Plan A was for a good day - if I felt good I try to improve my personal record from last year. Plan B was to just stretch legs and save myself for Kangasala 24h.
I was in the race centre 25 minutes before the start. That wasn't the plan, I was a little late so no warmup. The weather was really good, partially sunny and cloudy, temps about 17-19 C. It took about 30 minutes to warm up. First lap 1:55. Didn't feel too good so it was going to be Plan B. I took the second lap easier, but still rode it in 2:10 and finish time 4:10:04. Bike worked really well. The course was longer this year, and it was really dry and super fast. If I have had a better day I would have definitely done it under 4 hours. My average heart rate for the first lap was 162 bpm and for the complete race 156 bpm. It also seems that average speed was the best so far.
My Finlandia MTB history:
The best thing was the next day. I felt I was really well recovered from the effort.
Next year it could be time to ride this event with a SS, or really focus for this event and try to improve my own time.
Kangasala 24h is very soon, doing final preparations tomorrow.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Event Report: Eteläkärjen ajot
This report comes "a little late". The 20 Anniversary of Etelärkärjen ajot took place on 9th August. This small but one of the best motion cycling event in Finland has been my annual event from 2002 (2007 missed because of Kangasala 24h).
This year I was there with my friend Simone. Great sunny weather this time, althought pretty windy. We tried to catch the front group at the beginning but that was a little too hard for us. Maybe we rode too hard because legs didn't feel good for the rest of the ride. We had at time 2-4 other riders with us. 121.8 km in 3:52.01. A few photos taken by Simone:
Tomorrow is my another annual event, Finlandia MTB. The race course is reportedly dry and very fast, so interesting to see if I can improve my own record from last year.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Race Report: LEVI24 2009
After 2008 without a 24-hour solo race (a DNS with Kangasala 24h) I was finally back to my thing. Before the actual race report, a few words about my “build-up” and a significant change in strategy and attitude.
From September 2008 to March 2009 my “training” was only bike commuting and maybe all that work at my workplace. April and May I did some longer road rides, MTB-Lohja 24h with a team and in late May, two weeks before the race, I did the only long mtb training ride (almost 6 hours) in hot 29 Celcius weather. After that I just kept my motor running with short rides (a 2h45min ride a week before the race). After this kind of preparation I was a little doubtful about my chances in a 24-hour solo race but I felt rather good during that last long mtb training and it gave a lot of self-confidence.
In contrast to my previous 24-hour solo races I was going to LEVI24 with a totally different strategy. In the past I had a pit crew helping me in the pit and keeping me updated about my placing in the race. I felt that I want to really race against myself and to see how far I can go. This time we were going to almost forget the rest of the race and I would concentrate on my own riding. My wife was going to support me before the night and after that I would be alone.
I pre-rode the race course on Friday afternoon but it wasn’t completely marked. A lot better than in 2007 (and that wasn’t bad either), some parts were the same as in 2007. The length about 9-10 km. My goal in the race: 30 laps and 300 km.
The morning of the race was cloudy and cold, only 8 C. There was also a small shower but after that the weather improved slowly. I started the race from the back of the field and wanted to avoid the rush of the start. After the first lap I started to get to my rhythm and things went pretty smoothly. The weather was perfect during afternoon and early evening, sunny and 17 C. I knew that the first 12 hours shouldn’t be a problem but after that things would get harder. I rode 19 laps in the first 12 hours. I was well in my target for riding 300 km and I wanted to have some kind of edge at the halfway point.
As the night started, it started also to rain. I really hoped that it would have stayed dry, but no. It was to be an epic ending because it rained most of the night. My riding was really tough. For the first time I used MP3 player and the music really helped me. I fell one time in a technical rock section as it was wet and slippery. Fortunately I was ok and only small scratches to my bike. But even with the music the night was super tough. My back was hurting like hell and every lap was painful. But I just kept going and tried to motivate myself in every way. And somehow it all worked. My pit stops weren’t too long and I was in the survival mode.
In the morning I was close to my goal. 29 laps and just one more and 30 laps completed. I did that and then we had a really hard rain shower. The course was already wet but after this it was flooding. I noticed that a couple of solo rides called it a day. I didn’t know my place, as was the plan, but I had a feeling that I was close to 3rd. I had time to ride at least three laps. I felt really tired after the night but strangely now I felt better. My back was still hurting but I decided to continue and rode two more laps. At 23h09mins with 32 laps I decided to stop my race. I could have rode at least one more lap, maybe even two but I really was in pain. I finished at 3rd, the rider in 4th place rode 30 laps. Full results at ChampionChip Finland website.
Overall I think that this was my best 24-hour solo race. Officially I rode 320 km and broke the 300 km barrier that I have been thinking that I can some day brake, althought the distance in my bike computer was close to 300 km. During the hard night hours I was wondering if this is too much of suffering and riding another 24-hour solo race, Kangasala 24h, seemed really insane. But now as I am recovering rather well I feel that I still can improve and ride even better.
Special thanks to my wife for supporting me, without you this would have not been possible. Thanks also to my parents, wife’s parents, Jan of Pyöristi, Simone Lega, my big brother Tatu, aunt Leakaarina and all you blog readers! And thanks also to the organizers of LEVI24 for putting a great event!
In the morning...
Heading out for another lap.
On the podium with Isabell!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Event Report: MTB-Lohja 24H 2009
It has been said that it rains always at Lohja, at least when the MTB-Lohja 24H event has taken place. This year was no exception, but it only rained lightly in the early part of the event.
Because MTB-Lohja 24H is not a race, anyone can ride the way they want. The whole team of riders can be on the course at the same time if they want. My plan was to get some good training and not to burn myself out.
The course was about 7 km long, maybe almost 90% of it was singletrack. Really nice, technically quite easy and also physically not too hard. The course would have been really good for a 24-hour solo race. I rode one slow lap right after the opening ceremonies but then I took maybe unusually long break, and after that I started to do really fast laps, well... at least for me. I did three laps in the range of 23min30s-23min40s. After every lap I took a good but not too long break. This was definitely a new stimulus to my body, it is more adjusted for riding and riding with a moderate steady pace. This time I did just one lap really hard and took a break, and after that did the same again. This was suprisingly hard.
I did 9 laps before the night. It would have been better if I had ridden 14-15 laps but I was way too tired for that because of the hard week at work. My plan was also to ride 2 laps in the night but that didn't happen. Next day I rode 5 more laps and there was only short breaks between them. On lap 11 my suspension seatpost broke, the cap on the bottom of the seatpost loosened and the spring etc. dropped to inside of the seat tube. This was easily repaired by our team leader Jan of Pyöristi. The last three laps felt really good and I could have easily continued to do more laps. So, I did 14 laps, 106.20 km in a time of 6h32min25sec.
Overall the MTB-Lohja 24H event was really great. Our team had a great time. It was also great to meet and talk with like-minded people. And, it was really great to see children taking part in the event and to see that this is also an event for families!
The tent of Team Pyöristi.