Monday, October 20, 2008

Budget runner

On Saturday, I finally managed to go shopping for a new running jacket. I've been meaning to do so for some time now, because my old running jacket is some four years old now, and it's gotten to smell so bad that I'm ashamed to run around in it. Whenever I do, people I run by tend to stop to retch and gag by the side of the road. Flocks of scavenger animals follow me. My own eyes sting and water because of the smell. Because I often run to work in the mornings, there is much screaming, triggering of fire alarms and jumping out the windows whenever I enter the building, which, I fear, might result to making me unpopular among coworkers.

Washing the jacket does nothing. I've even tried soaking it in vinegar solution, which is supposed to kill the bacteria living in it, apparently, but to no avail. I have no idea how to get rid of the old jacket, because I suspect it's officially classified as a biohazard by now. I guess I'll have to get it transported to WIPP somehow.

Anyhow, I got a new running jacket from a sale. I went for a run yesterday, but as it rained and I got totally soaked, I can't say much of the jacket's properties. It is light, it has nice reflectors and it should breath well. Actually, I'm not sure if I understand what the fuss is about, when talking about running gear. Sure, you need good running shoes, but as for other clothing, doesn't about any tarpaulin or beer tub cover that covers up your private parts do? Do you really have to get expensive high tech technical clothing in order to run? And furthermore, must I start to wear tights? I'm afraid I'll look silly in them. Now bicycling, that's another matter entirely. When bicycling, you must be aerodynamic.

There is one accessory that is essential when running in southern Finland in autumn/winter, though. A headlamp, that is. It makes you more visible and it enables you to see where to put your feet on the patchy, dimly lit, lazily maintained light traffic pathways. It also makes you look cool, in a runner-geeky sort of way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

End of season

After TdH, I've managed to go bicycling only once, and it was too cold, less than 10° C, with a significant wind. My fingers, toes and scalp nearly froze off and it wasn't very much fun. The fun was also lessened because the battery of my bike computer ran out, and when I changed the battery, I set the wheel size wrong so it didn't work properly. I like to know my speed when riding.

It seems that the season is about over for me. The season total is about 1700 km, I don't know exactly because the battery ran out. Winter bicycling doesn't really appeal to me, I like to do my bicycling in a temperate environment, like a gentleman, preferably through Mid-European vineyards. If I had a longer commute from home to work, it would be a different matter entirely, as winter bicycling would be practical. But as the trip is slightly over one kilometer, I can travel by lying down with my face to the ground and wrinkling the skin of my forehead and it still doesn't take too long.

So, sports-wise, I have two major objectives for the inevitable, long, dreary winter:
1) practice running to keep in shape and, perhaps, prepare for a marathon next summer
2) look into purchasing a new bicycle for the next season.

I've ran to work a couple of times in the last few weeks, but have taken it relatively easy because there's been a pain in my left knee. It only appears after about 45 minutes of running, so it can't be worn out kneecaps, right? I'm hoping it's a (minor) strain injury and not a permanent injury, because, damn, I don't want to stop running. I like running nearly as much as I like bicycling.

As for the acquisition of a new bike, my financial situation is about to improve, so it might not be totally out of the question. An Olmo Dynamic Plus would be to my liking, or possibly a Bianchi... now, to rationalize this to my wife...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The cost of bicycling

As everybody knows, bicycling, and especially road bicycling, is an expensive and a shamelessly elitist sport. 400 € for just a friggin' saddle! Does it really matter if it weighs 100 or 200 grams? Can't I just compensate by being 100 grams lighter myself?

Anyway, I'd claim that it doesn't have to be. As an example, I'd like to catalogue the bicycle-related stuff that I've bought over the four years that I've claimed to be a bicyclist. (Three of which haven't been very active.)

First, there's the long-term investments. They include stuff that you can't really go in for bicycling without, like, well, the bicycle. And of course you need real bicycling clothes to be a real bicyclist. You don't want to be mistaken for a commuter. Then there are accessories and sports equipment. These investments should be good for a long time, from a couple of years to forever.

Bike & components:
1988 Peugeot Aravis 12 vitesses bicycle Free
SPD-SL pedals (Shimano) 55 €
SPD-SL shoes (Shimano) 95 €
Saddle (Selle Italia X0) 25 €

Cycling shorts (Newline) 50 €
Kraftwerk cycling jersey 45 €
Cycling jersey (Craft) 30 €
Arm & leg warmers (Campagnolo) 80 €
Cycling/running socks 11 €
Helmet (Lazer) 50 €
Cycling goggles (Biltema) 6 €

Beverage holder & drink bottles (3) 20 €
Tool bag (Biltema) 5 €
Bike computer (Pro) 30 €
Pump 22 €
Various tools 30 €
Heart rate monitor (Polar, bought from a flea market) 7 €
Lock 30 €
Backpack (Deuter, from a flea market) 6 €

Category total 591 €

The other category consists of consumables, stuff that you need to keep spending money on continuously (or every year). Here I've roughly estimated what the basic stuff costs in a season (from spring to autumn).

Spare parts & maintenance:
Tires (2) 40 €
Inner tubes (2) 16 €
Handlebar tape 3 €
Brake pads (2 pairs) 20 €
Maintenance (cheap bike shop) 60 €

Sports nutrition:
Sports drink 24 €
Recovery drink 26 €
Energy gels 40 €
Muesli bars 16 €

Other costs:
TdH entrance fee (incl. T-shirt) 30 €
Helsinki Cyclists membership fee (one year) 10 €
Transport by bus 17 €

Category total: 302 €

That's not too bad, eh? The long-term investments total to about 600 €. When divided by four years, the sum per year comes down to a measly 150 €. And the cost just keeps getting lower the longer the equipment is used. The yearly consumables cost no more than, say, yearly membership fees of a gym.

Ok, I got off cheap, because I got my bike for free, as a graduation gift. However, older bikes can be bought for a few hundred euros. You don't have to get a 3000 € carbon fibre racer to become a road cyclist. In fact, I wouldn't want one because there's nowhere I could store it. I don't have a garage, it would get stolen from the bike storage room of the apartment building and my wife won't let me bring the bike to the bedroom, for some reason unclear to me. I think it's better to have a reasonably priced bike, so you can ride it without having to worry about *gasp* scratching the paint all the time.

TdH pic

Here's a picture (courtesy of Jukka/HePo) of Yours Truly at Tour de Helsinki, after 108 km of riding and 32 km to go. I'm the one who's dressed as the flag of France.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Le Tour

My cycling season culminated yesterday in Tour de Helsinki. Man, what a great event! I had a vague aim of riding the 140 km route in less than five hours, which I achieved by doing it in four hours and 38 minutes.

It was certainly thrilling to ride in a huge group of cyclists. At first I was just looking around at others and enjoying the feeling, so much that I forgot to find the pacesetters of the 30 km/h group that I had planned to ride in. When the real "race" began after a 11 km stretch of riding at a limited speed, I realized that I was behind the 28 km/h group. I caught up with a faster group, which went at 30+ km/h speed, but I never found out if it was the official 30 km/h group or some other group.

Being a newbie, I'm sure my group riding skills were somewhat lacking, but I suppose I didn't cause too much dangerous situations either. I tried to ride straight and at a steady pace, and repeat the hand signs shown by the riders before me. Even though I didn't dare to ride very close to anybody, I was still able to draft enough that riding in a group felt very light. A little too light, even, as I often would have liked to go slightly faster in ascents.

I stopped to eat twice. I ate bananas, pickles, raisins and filled up on sports drink. I had my second pit stop because I had to urinate, but the group didn't stop, unlike I had assumed. Well, there was no time to think, I barely had time to brake and turn when the pit stop appeared behind a corner.

After the second stop I rode solo for about 20 km, until the next pit stop. Some guys left at the same time as I did, but apparently I was going too fast for them, as they were left behind. At times I saw a large group in the distance, but it was just impossible to catch it alone. However, it was exciting to ride alone for a change. I am a bit of a lone wolf kind of a guy, if you pardon the expression. The middle part of the trip had been kind of uneventful, just long stretches of riding steadily in the middle of a group.

I figured that at the final pit stop at 117 km, I'd find some company, and I was right. Four guys, some of which I'd already seen riding in the same group as me earlier, left the pit stop just as I passed it. They were going rather fast, at 35-40 km/h, I suppose, and it was perfect for me as I'd gotten into racing mode myself. I even pulled for a while. It felt good, like I did my part of the work, even though it wasn't nearly as much as the other guys did.

The last 20 km were great as we were riding at speeds I haven't before been capable of, in the middle of the road, as opposed to the side of the road or the cycle path. The road wasn't closed for cars, and there were quite a lot of them, but for once it felt that they were forced to consider the bicyclists.

I passed several cyclists on the last few kilometers. I'm glad that I started the race so lightly, as it was so much fun to go full throttle in the end. The last few corners were a bit dangerous, but I knew what to expect, as the route went directly beneath my balcony. Arriving to the finish at the prestigious velodrome felt ceremonious, the highlight of my humble cycling career so far. There were even a few dozen spectators applauding to the racers. It felt really nice. So did the compliments from an organizer at the finish line, who expressed his approval towards my Kraftwerk cycling jersey.

The whole event was just excellent. A few weak points here and there, but the organizers did a great job. A communal feeling was evident. I can barely wait for next year to do it again!

Distance: 142 km
Time: 4:38
Avg: 30.6 km/h

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Preparing for TdH

On Sunday I had a dress rehearsal for TdH, which is next Sunday. I rode the route counterclockwise about halfway through, then turned back and returned via Vanha Lahdentie. There were several other cyclists and groups of cyclists also riding the route, undoubtedly rehearsing for TdH as well. The countryside scenery in Sipoo is very nice indeed. Why haven't I ridden the route before? There were several harvesters on the road, behind one of which I was stuck for a while, going at about 20 km/h. The road was often littered with dirt, or possibly cow dung, but that should not matter too much, unless you happen to land in it face first.

My wife imposed a strict four hour time limit for my ride, which I exceeded by half an hour. I might as well have ridden the whole route through, as the trip would have been only 15 km longer, but I didn't want to risk getting yelled at too much. Note to self: learn to negotiate looser schedules with the wife.

The wind was blowing from the north, which was okay, because returning back south was light, even though going north was ridiculously hard at times. The weather wasn't too warm either and some kind of a wind resistant vest or jacket would have been appropriate. When I stopped to eat twice, I got really cold in just a couple of minutes of standing still. Note to self: check out if you can find a windproof jacket at a budget price before next Sunday.

I think I've learned the two essential lessons that must be learned when riding long distances:

a) don't ride faster than your resources allow

b) eat often enough.

If I can remember these things, everything should go well on TdH. I guess I'll aim for the 30 km/h group, because I seem to be able to go the distance at about 28 km/h solo, and they keep telling me that it's easier to ride in a group. Unless the weather conditions prove to be ridiculous, i.e. raining s**t and a force 10 gale, in which case I'll opt for the 28 km/h group. Exciting!

Distance: 124.6 km
Time: 4:18
Avg: 28.9 km/h

Monday, August 25, 2008

Replacement action

Last week I did again two 50 km morning rides. I had planned to do a long ride (100 km +) on Sunday, but the weather wasn't favourable, and I wasn't feeling masochistic enough, so I didn't go. Instead, I ran my first half marathon. Or more precisely, according to Google Maps, the route was about 23 km long.

The exercise you get when running differs from the exercise you get when bicycling somewhat. When riding a bike, it's easy to wear yourself out totally by going too fast. Nevertheless, you can still ride for tens of kilometres even though you're nearly exhausted. Running doesn't wear you out totally just as easily, but it is harder on your leg muscles and joints.

Yesterday I was barely out of breath while and after running 20 km, but my legs, especially my left knee, began to ache considerably. I suspect that my cardiovascular and respiratory systems would permit me to run a marathon even instantly, but my legs wouldn't co-operate. Well, there's a long, dreary winter coming up, during which I'll have plenty of time to strengthen my legs. Running the Stockholm Marathon might be a good objective...

Distance: 23 km
Time: 2:20
Avg: 9.9 km/h

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bike pictures

Ok, I admit it, this blog has gotten very boring lately. Well, perhaps it's never been very interesting. Anyway, here are some pictures of my bike to cheer it up. Pictures are nice, and probably much easier to digest than the training diary that this blog essentially is.

Peugeot Aravis, 12 speeds, from late eighties (don't know the exact year). In original condition except for the tires, pedals and a few accessories.

The saddle is original too. I've just bought a newer one, we'll see if it's any more comfortable than this one, which has worked ok for me this far. And, as you can see, it's set quite high, because the frame is slightly too small for me.

The frame is made of "Reynolds 501 cromalloy", which, I suppose, is a less professional material than "Reynolds 531 professionnel", which Peugeot Aravis bikes are also known to be made of.

White components are nice, but also prone to get dirty easily. The brand of the cranks and some other components is Stronglight...

... and the derailleurs are Sachs-Huret.

I've googled hard to find any information of my bike, but there doesn't seem to be much available. The best pages I've found so far are
And, as it seems, if you google "Peugeot Aravis" today, my blog is the third result. Welcome to one of the leading information sources on Peugeot bicycles today!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Commuting via detour

Yesterday morning I took again a pleasant, yet uneventful ride to Kerava before going to work. The tarmac on Vanha Lahdentie is getting quite rough on the sides of the road. This summer, they've put new surface on the strips where car tires go, so I have to assume that they're not planning to fix the surface properly in the near future. Rats. But luckily, it gets better north of Kerava.

Although I hate to complain all the time, I must wonder about the road to Porvoo. When they've put a roughened strip on the side of the road that's supposed to wake up drivers if they drift too far right, they put it on the right side of the white line, in the middle of the strip where bicyclists should go! Why? There should be bicyclists as decision-makers in whichever instance it is dealing with these things. When I picture in my mind an official deciding on road maintenance, which I often seem to do, it's always an overweight, Volvo-driving, middle-aged bloke who hasn't ridden a bicycle in 40 years.

Ok, maybe I don't hate complaining so much. In fact, I like it somewhat. And I've got loads of complaints left. But not today, let's leave something for other blog posts...

Distance: 61.9 km
Time: 2:05
Avg: 29.5 km/h

Pro gear

On Sunday I rode again to Porvoo and back. I purchased arm and leg warmers (Campagnolo T. G. System) and of course I had to get to test drive them immediately. The weather was warm enough so that the leg warmers weren't strictly necessary, but they weren't too much either. They certainly did make me feel more aerodynamic though. The arm warmers were definitely necessary, because there was a considerable wind. There's just one thing though: the warmers are shaped to fit either left or right arm/leg, and I'm not sure if I can tell how to put them on correctly. Well, I guess I'll get it if I stare at them long enough.

I used to wonder how shops like Velosport survive, because everything they sell is dirt expensive. But I wonder no more, because now I'm one of the many who willingly carry any spare cash to shops like these whenever their limited financial resources allow. Also, I've always refused to wear clothing with big manufacturer logos on them. I'm not going to buy an Adidas shirt with my own money so I can be their walking billboard. But here I am, admitting that I would by a Campagnolo shirt, because they're cool. Even though I don't actually own any Campagnolo bike components or have any experience of them whatsoever, yet.

As for the ride itself, it went rather well, although I did not eat enough on the way. I had a pasta meal shortly before going out, then ate some energy gels and muesli bars on the way, but anyway I was short on energy at the end. I could tell because I had a crazy craving for pizza, ice cream, candy and such, besides the weak feeling, of course.

Distance: 105.9 km
Time: 3:41
Avg: 28.6 km/h

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Withdrawal symptoms

All of a sudden, autumn came and I've caught a slight cold. Lately I've exercised so much that after a four day period without exercise I already feel restless and cranky. Therefore I ran 10 km on the way to work this morning, even though I have a fluey feeling in my throat. Ahh... sweet endorphines.

Sometimes I get the impression that the unenlightened (i.e. non-exercisers) think that exercise is suffering, something painful that you have to force yourself to do, and you get a reward afterwards if you do. They don't understand that exercise already is the reward, and the good feeling and fitness is a second reward. Running is enjoyable, after you've practiced a bit. So is bicycling. Even though it is hard. Or possibly because of it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Less Ullrich, more Armstrong

I rode via Kerava to work again this morning. I felt a bit weak at first, possibly because I've eaten lightly for a while now. I read in a book that the ideal height/weight ratio for a road bicyclist is 184 cm/73 kg, which means that at 180 cm, I should weigh 70 kg, I suppose. Therefore I'm trying to lose some weight, although slimming down to 70 kg might be too much. But we'll see. Anyway, after warming up riding felt ok again.

I tried to work on my spinning technique, and to be more exact, spinning in high cadence. I've noticed that lately I've been grinding up hills in a big gear, Jan Ullrich style. My old bike has the shift levers in the frame and the shifters aren't even indexed, so I often seem to be too lazy to shift gears when going up smaller rises. I suspect that spinning in high cadence a la Lance Armstrong is a better way, so I try to practice that.

But if spinning in high cadence is the way to go, there are two questions that bother me (well, not too much):
1) What do I need the big front gear for?
2) How do I spin fast when going up really steep hills (when I don't have small enough gears)?

Distance: 52.0 km
Time: 1:45
Avg: 29.7 km/h

Monday, July 28, 2008

Confidence grows

I got my bike back from Kajaani last week. Matkahuolto managed to transport my bike undamaged and the cost wasn't too much, only about 17 €. Nevertheless, I could have avoided a lot of hassle had I been able to afford a bike rack for my car.

Last week, I commuted to work by several different means. One morning I took a 50 km detour to Kerava by bike, on other I ran for about an hour and once I rollerskated. It seems that the morning is the best time for me to exercise. There usually is no spare time in the evenings.

Yesterday, I took a morning ride to Porvoo, about a 100 km. For once, the wind was behind my back when returning home. The weather was excellent and the traffic was nearly non-existent (because a stretch of the road was under construction). Riding felt light and blissful, much like in my bicycling dreams.

Distance: 100.9 km
Time: 3:24
Avg: 29.5 km/h

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New sports gear

It's been over a week since my last bike ride. We came back to Helsinki on Tuesday, but my bike is still in Kajaani. I had planned to send it from Kajaani to Helsinki in a train, but guess what: the national railway company does not offer the service anymore. You can't transport a bicycle by train unless you travel in the train. The other option is to send the bike in a bus, but then you'd have to pack it properly so it doesn't get damaged. I'm hoping my parents manage to do that next week.

Anyway, I haven't just slouched on the sofa all week. I finally got around to buying new running shoes. After brief research, I settled for the Karhu M2 model, because the reviews have been positive and it's nice to support Finnish products. Also, I've developed an interest toward the "natural, barefoot feeling" trend in footwear (MBT, Feelmax, Fivefingers and such), which the Karhu M-series shoes are supposed to be an example of.

So, yesterday I ran for two hours, about 18 km. The shoes felt good, much better than my old ones. I did get one blister though, but I don't blame the shoes. I can't tell if the feeling can be called "natural", but I'm definitely satisfied with the shoes. Hmm... next summer, I suppose I could run my first marathon.

If I ran a marathon at the same speed as yesterday's run, it would take about 4 hours 40 minutes. I suppose that's a decent time to begin with. I tried to maintain a low pulse, so the speed felt really slow at times. It's difficult to run slowly and economically, as I've usually just gone at full blast, but I just have to learn to do it. And the same applies to bicycling. Seems kind of obvious as I'm writing this, but isn't, if I just go on a ride/run without planning on what kind of an exercise to do.

After the run yesterday, I wasn't tired at all, but today I've been having problems descending stairs. The thighs hurt somewhat, but it's the good kind of pain...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Natural intervals

Yesterday I did a nice 3 hour afternoon ride from Kajaani to Ristijärvi and back. It has rained all week here, and I finally got fed up with waiting for the weather conditions to improve, so I went for a ride. Even though it was slightly too nippy to ride in short bicycling shorts. I'm not going to even try to find decent bicycling gear on my vacation here in Kajaani, so I'll have to survive without long riding pants.

I tried to maintain a lowish pace, because I've been reading an excellent book on bicycling training (Pasi Ahlroos: Pyöräilyvalmennus), and it has come to my attention that different types of exercises can (and should) be done to improve different areas of endurance. Before this, I've had a single type of exercise: ride as fast as you can, all the time. Well, of course, I wasn't able to slow down enough in some rises, but mostly my pulse was below 80%.

At about halfway I thought to myself that this is the first ride of the vacation when there hasn't been a single drop of rain. Promptly, the rain began. Luckily it was only a couple of local showers, but it would be nice to have a summerish weather during one's summer vacation.

There was an interesting local anomaly: at a lengthy rise, a truck came towards me by backing up in the side of the road. I stopped and tried to signal with my hands "what the hell are you doing?", but I suppose my hand signals weren't universal enough, because the truck just stopped and waited, blocking up the road. I waited until the traffic slowed down, and bypassed the truck, which continued to back up against the traffic.

Distance: 90.8 km
Time: 3:03
Avg: 29.6 km/h

Against the wind

Last Sunday I rode from Lieksa to Valtimo, about 80 km, in a constant headwind and light rain. The temperature was only about +11 degrees Celsius. I wore short bicycling shorts, because I don't (yet) own long ones. During the ride it became obvious that I was underdressed. There were times, when I asked myself, "Does this make any sense?" and "Is this fun?"

Then I replied to myself "yeah" and, with stiff legs, went on.

Distance: 81.6 km
Time: 3:03
Avg: 26.6 km/h

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer vacation workout

Last week I and my family moved to another apartment and I didn't ride a single kilometer the whole week. Well, I suppose carrying about 100 000 boxes of our personal belongings up and down two sets of stairs is rather good exercise, so hopefully my scientific training programme was not set back too much during the week.

Now I'm on summer vacation and cycling in Kainuu. Yesterday and the day before that I did nice two-hour rides. Well, the first one was a bit tedious, because the scenery was very flat and uninteresting. Long, straight stretches of road and uneventful forest scenery. Excitement was provided a couple of times by large trucks, which bypassed me at a very close distance on the narrow road. The adrenaline rush and the suction improve the speed slightly, but still I'd rather maintain my safety and not have the trucks so near me. I wonder if there indeed are more civilized countries, where truck drivers respect cyclists, like actually slowing down a bit, if it isn't safe to bypass.

The other ride was nicer, because the road was wider and there was enough room for both the trucks and myself. It rained at first, and the road seemed to have been rather dusty, so I became quite sooty and grimy on the ride. I'd just bought nice, white running socks, which had turned black after the ride.

I also did some bicycle maintenance yesterday. I replaced the old handlebar tape, which was sloppily installed, with new, supposedly more hi-tech one. When I opened the tape package, I realised that I didn't know how it's supposed to be done exactly. This instructional video was helpful, and the result is fine. The new tape is slightly more comfortable on the road, I suppose.

Distance: 61/61.5 km
Time: 1:55/1:58
Avg: 31.8/31.1 km/h

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Endorphine morning

This morning I outsmarted the forces of nature by going on a ride at 6:45, before the wind had risen. I cycled about 40 km to one direction, then came back. Riding felt light. Well, of course there was some headwind on the way back, there always seems to be, but this time it was not a spirit-defeating, hope-crushing one. On the way out the average speed was slightly above 30 km/h, on the way back slightly under. But when I got home, I felt I could easily go on cycling. I wasn't totally spaghettied out as I've often been. Maybe riding in the 30 km/h group in Tour de Helsinki isn't a totally impossible objective...

Today I rode mainly on the side of the road instead of the cycle path. It was much nicer, even though the surface of the road was often quite uneven. And the traffic was nearly non-existent at the hour, so the road was all mine. I say, it might not be a bad thing if the oil ran out altogether...

Distance: 81.7 km
Time: 2:49
Avg: 28.9 km/h

Thursday, June 19, 2008

As good as new

Got my bike back from the bike shop a couple of days ago and went riding today. Oh boy, the difference in speed was indeed noticeable. Because the rims were straightened, the brakes didn't drag anymore. Energy was not wasted on heating the brake pads and rims and unnecessary wobbling. The crank hub bearings felt better too as they'd been a little loose earlier. I did not notice any difference on the efficiency brake pads though. The cheap ones felt the same as the new more expensive ones.

Again, there was a strong headwind on the way back. I'd prefer going against the wind on the way out and returning in a tailwind. It'd feel like a reward for all your hard work. People say that the there is more wind nowadays than before and it's because of the climate change. That's a major drag for us cyclists, if that is the case, I suppose. The wind does make cycling a bit less fun, even though it does help you half the time. Well, if you take round trips, that is.

The guy at the bike shop told me that my bike is a bit too small for a guy my size. Yeah, I kind of knew that already. When I got it as a present, I didn't know anything about racing bikes. I wasn't even properly aware that there are different sizes. Now I am, and if this hobby gets any more serious, I will have to invest in a modern bike that's of the right size. But not this season. Next spring, possibly. And by the way, I've read somewhere that some professionals intentionally ride slightly too small bikes, because when you do, you can use the muscles of your upper body more efficiently to squeeze out strength to your legs. Or something.

As a sidenote, my running shoes are also too small for me. They've always been uncomfortable, but I've just put up with them, because I'm poor. But now when I've ran a bit more often than earlier, it's become more painful. Right now I've got two toe nails that have blackened somewhat. I just hope that they don't come off. I don't need toe nails when bicycling, but I suppose that there are other reasons for having them. Like climbing trees? Well, anyway, running might become difficult if the toe nails start to drop off.

Oh yeah, and about the Cooper test. Sadly, I couldn't make it, as there were other engagements. Which weren't made up reasons or cowardly excuses, no, no, how dare you suggest that. Well, I heard that there is an another instance being arranged in the autumn. I must try to make it then. Perhaps I could practice a bit for that...

Distance: 54.5 km
Time: 1:57
Avg: 27.8 km/h

Friday, June 13, 2008


I finally gathered up the courage to take my beloved bike to a bike shop to get some maintenance. Until lately, I've always dismissed professional bicycle maintenance with a train of thought that's not too well thought out, something like "bah, I can do that myself". But I can't. I don't know how to adjust the crank hub bearings so they are adjusted optimally. I can't adjust the spokes and straighten out the rims. I'm not up to date with the latest advancements in bicycle technology.

But professional bike repairmen are, and possibly, it's not inconsiderably expensive to use their services. The guy I left my bike with seemed very professional and knowledgeable, and promised to service my bike for 80 €, including decent new brake pads, which cost about 10 € a pair. And he told me that the bulge in my front tire was a result of not installing the tires properly. Which was done by me. He also told me that I was lucky that the inner tube hadn't gotten out and exploded. Yikes. Somehow I hadn't really considered that happening, but I guess it might have been unpleasant, had it happened it at 40 km/h or more.

I don't seem to be able to exercise on weekday evenings, but I've run to work twice this week. The distance from my home to my workplace is only about 1.7 km, sadly, but I've circled around the neighbourhood to get more exercise. I think I've dropped a couple of kilograms from my weight in the last couple of weeks, which I think should make climbing up hills easier. Hopefully. Or actually, not easier, but faster. I'd rather maintain the level of pain but get it over with quicker.

And also, a colleague challenged me to a Cooper test next Tuesday, so of course I've had that in mind. The last time I've ran a Cooper test was in college, about 15 years ago. I've no idea how to divide my strength. Should I just go at full blast from the beginning? Well, we'll see next week, but anything less than 5000 metres is a disappointment, I suppose.

BTW, to make this blog slightly less boring, here's a picture for your entertainment. It represents the route I ran to work last Tuesday:

Näytä suurempi kartta

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Yesterday I cycled again (re-cycled, ha ha) the same route as a week ago. This time, however, I brought proper nutrition along. I had 0.75 l of sports drink, 0.5 l of water, a muesli bar and two bags of energy gel. The improvement was slight, but noticeable. Although the total time and average speed didn't improve much, I wasn't quite as spaghettied out as a week ago. This time there was a strong headwind on the way back, as opposed to the light one a week ago, which affected the speed somewhat.

Now I really realized the importance of eating enough during a long exercise. I guess the racks full of sports nutrition in the sports department of your local hypermarket aren't just for weight gain purposes of bodybuilders. Maybe I should join a cycling club or something so I could get information on these things.

Even though I felt quite good yesterday, my bike didn't. The rim of the rear wheel is crooked and wobbles quite a bit. And furthermore, I filled up the tires at a gas station, not too much pressure, in my opinion, but at a traffic light I noticed that the tire on the front wheel bulged out at one place. Why? Are the rims too narrow for 23 mm tires? Will I have to buy new rims? Will modern rims even fit my vintage bike? Questions that could easily be solved by throwing money at them. If only I had the money.

By the way, on Saturday I fetched my weekday bike (a Kona Dew Plus, which I also love) from the bike shop, where it was being serviced for the first time. I must say that I was satisfied with the work. Everything worked fine and the earlier slight crunchy sound from the transmission when riding on a high gear had vanished (loose crank hub bearings?). I rode a 30 km test run, which was bliss, so on the weekend I did about a 100 km of bicycling exercise.

Distance: 62.7 km
Time: 2:22
Avg: 26.3 km/h

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nice ride

Went out on a nice ride yesterday, on Vanha Lahdentie. The weather was nearly perfect: warm, but not too hot, and not too much wind. The route is a really nice one, excellent cycle paths and wide enough shoulders on the road when the cycle path ends. The scenery gets quite country-sideish at only about 15 km from my home (which is located about 10 km from the Helsinki centre).

On the trip away from home the wind was behind my back, so riding felt really light. I didn't fall for the old "it seems calm now, so there must be no wind at all, even though I'm doing about 40 km/h without much effort" trap, though. When I turned and headed back home, I noticed that there was some wind. I was glad that I didn't wear myself out by speeding too much in the tailwind. Instead, I took it easy and tried to work on my spinning technique. Which is probably nearly non-existent, but at least I'm aware that there ought to be a spinning technique.

I cycled for about 30 km, then ate a muesli bar and turned around. I guess I should have eaten more, because when I got home I was really hungry, even though I'd eaten well before I left. I really don't know much about sports nutrition yet. But I know that after 60 km, on the last hors categorie cols (or slight rises, if you will), my legs felt like they had been replaced by bunches of well-cooked spaghetti. Mmm... spaghetti. And I must say, I couldn't have done 80 km more, like I will have to in TdH. I guess there's a lot of work to do before I can go 140 km at one sitting.

Anyway, I was glad to notice that although the average speed on the first half, which felt much easier than the second, was about 27 km/h, the total average was nearly the same, 26 km/h, which means that I managed to maintain a decent speed on the way back. Even though my legs had been replaced by bunches of delicious spaghetti.

Oh, by the way, I noticed that a spoke has snapped from my rear rim. It will have to be fixed, soon, and it's going to cost money. Sigh...

Distance: 63.5 km
Time: 2:26
Avg: 26.0 km/h

Saturday, May 31, 2008


Today I went out looking for a bike rack for my car, because I need to take my bike with me on summer vacation. I don't have a trailer hitch in my car, so basically I have two alternatives:
1) buy a trailer hitch and a suitable bike rack
2) buy a roof rack and and a suitable bike rack.

I'd estimate that alternative #1 would cost minimum 150 € (assembly not included). Alternative #2 might be slightly less, but I can't tell yet, because my car is old and the stores I went to didn't have suitable roof racks for it. I'll have to go to a local parts store next week and ask if it's even possible to find a roof rack for my 1989 vintage automobile.

What's up with the fact that there are about umpteen different ways roof racks are installed in cars? Haven't they heard about standardization? I'd assume that roof racks were a lot cheaper, if there weren't a different model for each car. Not to mention the countless man-hours and frustration spent investigating roof rack catalogues that could be saved for something else, like bicycling. Many old cars actually have a nearly universal system for mounting roof racks: water gutters at the sides of the roof. But not my car, and apparently, all new cars.

I'm beginning to think that I'll probably have to transport my bike the budget way: disassemble it and stuff the parts to the trunk and cabin. It will not be easy, because the car will be filled with other stuff anyway. But it could work, if I wrap the chain and other dirty parts in plastic and tape them up.

Friday, May 30, 2008

An introduction

I'm a bicycling enthusiast. Road bicycling, that is. However, I have two major problems with my hobby at the moment. First, at the moment, I can't afford to use large sums of money on it. And, man, road bicycling is an expensive sport. Second, I rarely seem to have time to actually ride the bike. I don't even know if I qualify as a real cyclist, because I don't ride thousands of kilometres in a year (not to mention during a short Finnish summer). Perhaps I'm more of a Sunday cyclist. And kind of a lazy one at that.

However, just a couple of days ago, I did register for Tour de Helsinki, an amateur cycling event, held in September 2008. So now I have an incentive to practice a bit and get into shape enough to be able to ride 140 km in the autumn. Also, as I'm publicly declaring myself a cyclist here in this blog, I guess I have to try and live up to it somehow. I'll get right to it. Tomorrow. I'm a bit tired right now, and I have to prepare dinner for my family. Yeah, excuses, pathetic, I know.

Anyway, here's a picture of my bike (well, not actually, but the same model).

It's a Peugeot Aravis from 1988 (as far as I know). It's a real budget bike, and actually, it was free, as I received it as a graduation gift in 2004. Of course my vintage bike can't compete with 3000 € carbon fiber high tech racers, at least in the image department, but it's fast enough for me, at the moment.

So, look forward to reports on bicycle rides and (cheap) equipment, and not too rarely either, I hope.