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