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