sunnuntai 11. helmikuuta 2018

Giro de Castelli: #myfirst

Taking part in a sportive or a race brings a rush of emotions. No wonder – for many of us it is the pinnacle of all the pre-season training and club rides. The butterflies in the stomach before the start, the strong feeling of presence e.g. during my first Vätternrundan ten years ago, the marvelous sense of an achievement after the finish.

It doesn't mean they all end up as highlights. My first local race didn't turn out as great an experience as I had expected. My fitness wasn't on the level needed, and my novice tactical mistakes got me dropped from the peloton.

I've gathered a lot of experience, memories and highlights, from Melbourne AUS to Lapland FIN, from Hualien TW to San Jose US.

How do virtual races compare to real life events? The bar of my expectations is set high.

#myfirst virtual sportive

Giro de Castelli is my first virtual sportive. Two of the five stages have been ridden now. My work trip keeps me away from stages 3 and 4 but I anticipate riding the final stage next Friday.

Zwift is a popular marketing channel nowadays. Thousands of cyclists take part in the event that is easy and cheap to arrange. There are some Castelli kits (jersey+bibshorts) as lottery prizes drawn among those completing at least three stages.

It's a bit more difficult to join a virtual race than a real one – unless you leave it to the last hours and use your Zwift Mobile Link app (more about joining here).

I had read that Zwift races start with an explosive burst, riders pushing crazy hard to break away and others doing their best to follow. So, I began Stage 1 well over my FTP and got tired soon. Luckily the event was a short one (5 laps of Watopia Flat, 55 km) which helped maintain a decent power and pace to the finish.

For Stage 2 I chose a more conservative and steady tactics: keep it at FTP for the first minutes. I had joined the event, I did the warm-up properly, the app teleported me to the start area, and I was better prepared this time. Bring it on!

Clock is ticking. 1:12 before the start I try to change to a longer gear, only to realize that my Ultegra Di2 control box is dead. There is juice in the battery but absolutely nothing happens when turning the shift lever, nor in front neither in the rear.

I step off the saddle and kneel down to check if there is a loose contact or other issue I could fix. Meanwhile the race sportive begins and others rocket away. I have to jump on the saddle again, and try to get the gear box working on the go. Just absolutely nothing helps, I've got a single speed now.

I'm stuck with a 34-16. Gradually I find it a rather useful compromise ratio. Surely I can't meet the pace of others on downhill but upping my cadence I can reach a steady 200 Watts and 250 Watts for shorter periods. It's enough to catch the lantern rouge and to overtake some 50 others.

Not bad after all. Average cadence was almost 100 RPM, and it was a good exercise for the legs.

Did the virtual sportive reach the podium place on event roster?

The virtual races are the rookies, the newcomers on the sports market fighting for the attention, time and money of a cyclist. How well do they perform?

Zwift events generate a feeling of riding together with other cyclists, almost like belonging to a group. Knowing that these are real persons pedaling their own bike kept me trying a bit harder. Even though Giro de Castelli is a "sportive", it was clear from the first push of pedal that we are racing.

The routes in Zwift are very rideable. Even Watopia Flat wasn't as dull as I expected. As the smart trainer reacts to uphills and downhills changing the resistance, even small ascends make a difference when you are giving it all.

In Richmond, on Libby Hill cobbles section the resistance of my trainer eases off completely but instead of flying forward like in a downhill the speed slows to 1-3 km/h. Some weird and annoying bug.

Surely there are many things with room to improve in online racing. We are talking about a 'promising rookie', aren't we?

Talking with your riding buddies is very limited. You won't learn to know them as all event participants have the same outfit. As Zwift can't show all riders when the group is big, it gets even more confusing.

As the bike-trainer combo is unnaturally rigid, the race simulates speed but has nothing to do with bike handling, or the nuances of drafting. We don't react together to wind, hills, or taking positions inside a group, and drafting is rudimentary.

The races tend to be short, an hour or less. Doing these short steady FTP efforts is not optimal training, unless you are about to race similar ones later in the season.

So, riding with others online has some of the fun experienced in the real world, but to a limited extent.

Then again – it is -6° C outside. Snow and ice. No road bike events in sight. It is very nice to have at least this virtual option available.

For a fitness game like Zwift events and races is a great feature, also marketing-wise. Currently the events are in their "beta", or "rookie" phase. I expect them to develop rapidly and find their place in the "starting lineup" next season.

Cat. A had over 800 riders doing 3 laps. Results in Zwiftpower.

sunnuntai 4. helmikuuta 2018

Planning the joyrides

I'll take you on a sky ride
I'm feeling like I'm spellbound
The sunshine is a lady
Who rocks you like a baby

Soon me and my magic friend will find ourselves in the sunny Andalucia. It is -12° C here in Helsinki now, so we will be more than happy if the temperature in Spain reaches 15-20° C.

I will take my Oltre XR2 with me. My magic friend a.k.a. my wife will have books and our dog. We will have plenty of time to do things as well together as also separately.

We are staying in Nerja. It is not obvious where to ride from there, particularly as Sierra Nevada is for downhill skiing in midwinter.

Reading about other cyclists' recommendations and checking Google Street view have given me ideas on the routes. Next step is to draw the routes and transfer data to Garmin Edge 520.

There are two handy tools for planning a cycling route:

Komoot is among the most versatile, and I really recommend it to anyone in need of planning a longer trip. Strava, on the other hand, is very basic, but as the UI is familiar to us Strava users and as one needs only few clicks on the map in order to create a route, I found myself turning to Strava again when planning for Spain.

'Cause it all begins again when it ends, yeah
And we're all magic friends

maanantai 29. tammikuuta 2018


More than 300,000 page views during ten years, and 88,940 km ridden. Leave a comment during January if you want to take part in a raffle.

Paljonhan näitä sivulatauksia on, mutta tahti on leppoisa. Maaliskuussa 2008 kirjoitin ensimmäisen tekstin. Vuoden kuluttua on varmaan sata tonnia ajettu blogin aikana.

Jos jätät tähän tekstiin kommentin tammikuun aikana, voit voittaa jotain pientä pyöräilyaiheista.

sunnuntai 28. tammikuuta 2018

Määrä määrää talvella

The key in endurance sports is to build endurance. This winter I've based my training on this, and I'm curious to see if the clock loves it in the spring.

”Kestävyyslajeissa kestävyyden harjoittelu on tärkeintä. Nopeuskestävyysharjoittelulla 'terävöitetään' suorituskykyä sekä harjoittelu- että kilpailukaudella,” tiivistää Antti Mero esityksessään nopeuskestävyysharjoittelusta.

"To Infinity ... and Beyond!" 

Tämän vuoden aikana on virtuaalipyöräilyn ja Röret Runtin ansiosta on kertynyt jo yli 30 tuntia ja matkana yli 800 kilometriä. Joulukuussa ajoin 41 tuntia ja liki tonnin. Kymmenen edellisen vuoden tammikuun keskiarvo on 15 tuntia.

Onhan tämä nyt vanhaan verrattuna kohti ääretöntä ja sen yli! Mikä parasta, joka viikko on tullut ajettua "kesän viikonloppulenkki" eli 3-5 tuntia kerralla.

Kun tätä pohjaa vahvistaa ensi kuussa noin 500 kilometrillä Andalucian teitä, on kiinnostavaa nähdä miten kulkee vaikkapa Rajamäen maantiekisassa toukokuussa.

Kuvassa näkyy sprinttiin nostettu teho ja sillä ansaittu vihreä paita. Sisäpyöräily maistuu miltei samalta kuin ulkona smart trainerin ja Zwiftin pelillisten ominaisuuksien ansiosta.

lauantai 20. tammikuuta 2018

The seatpostal service and 21st century

A watched pot never boils and a seatpost on transit never arrives.

I found the Cervélo P series seatpost for my project bike on Ebay Canada. That was on Tuesday last week.

After my payment, the seller was kind enough to take it immediately to the post office.

Prévost is a small town in Quebec. Still, it took only half a week to get the parcel here. 7573 km in three days – small world, isn't it! Or ”almost here”, as the air mail post office is at the airport, 9 km away.

Next, it took two days before someone picked up the parcel and put it to the proper shelf in the customs. Then, it took two more days as they wanted to send me snail mail that contained the information for declaring the goods.

No wonder that "post office" comes after "post mortem" in the dictionary.

So, I got the letter that had the info needed for declaring the goods on Wednesday. Next step was easy, and the declaration was done online in fifteen minutes. Hey, we DO have this thing called digitalization! I even got an email assuring that Posti will take care of the rest now.

That was late Wednesday evening.

On Friday I got snail mail again, this time a notice of arrival. At last! Just awesome!

Today I took the precious piece of paper and went to the kiosk that provides postal services here. They pointed out that it isn’t available yet.

Indeed, someone had by their own hand written "pickup on or after 22nd January". That is next Monday.

The Finnish Posti has done some initial experiments with automated delivery. It seems there are many phases in the process that should be brought to the 21st century.

sunnuntai 14. tammikuuta 2018

Stravan datasta on moneksi

Stravan käyttäjäprofiili poikkeaa keskimääräisestä pyöräilijästä, joten moni lenkkireitti hohtaa vahvasti, vaikkei niillä juuri kukaan muu fillaroisi. Aika monella on jäänyt mittari päälle Tallinnan-laivalla. (Heatmaps)

Pyöräilydatan kerääminen Stravaan ei ole vain meidän wannabe-urheilijoiden pakkomielle. Strava-tallennuksesta tuli kerta heitolla salonkikelpoista ja yhteiskunnallisesti valveutunutta, kun joulukuussa julkaistiin Helsingin kaupungin ja Helsingin yliopiston Digital Geography Labin tutkimusraportti Pyöräilyn reitit ja sujuvuus

Raportissa tarkastellaan mm. mihin aikaan fillarilla kuljetaan ja kuinka sujuvana ajoa voi pitää keskinopeuksien ja risteysten odotusaikojen perusteella. Raportin aineisto on ammennettu Stravasta.

Tutkijoiden mukaan:
Aineisto osoittautui varsin luotettavaksi ja käyttökelpoiseksi lähteeksi kunhan muistaa huomioida ajalliset ja alueelliset vaihtelut sekä käyttäjävinoumat tuloksia tulkitessa. 
Päähavainnot olivat toki aika odotustenmukaisia:
Suosituimmat pyöräilyreitit Helsingissä sijaitsevat junaradan varsilla sekä useita teitä kokoavilla osuuksilla, joilla vaihtoehtoisia reittejä ei ole. Nopeiten puolestaan pyöräillään pääväylien ja ratojen varsilla, kun taas kantakaupunki erottui hitaampana alueena.

Upeaa Stravassa on mm. se, että Metro-palvelun kautta Strava tarjoaa datan yhdyskunta- ja liikennesuunnittelijoiden käyttöön maksutta. Strava Local puolestaan tarjoaa paikallisvinkkejä niille, jotka kaipaavat juoksu- tai pyöräilyreittejä vaikkapa juuri täältä Helsingin seudulta.

tiistai 9. tammikuuta 2018

A frame, a frame! My paincave for a frame!

The Leftover Box is overfull. There are three Ultegra cranksets, Ultegra brakes, a handlebar from Colnago CX, several Selle Italia SLR saddles, a 3T Funda Pro fork, and a lot of other stuff. 

All we need is a frame to keep all the nice parts together. Thanks to Matti in Turku, I got one as a bargain. Thanks to Ronny in Quebec, I'll get also the seatpost soon. Again, for a lot less than it would have cost in a shop.

Maantierunkoa piti, mutta tulikin hankittua Cervélo P2 (2015) hiukan päälle kahdellasadalla. Omat taidot eivät kasaamisessa pitkälle riitä. Niinpä lähimmäinen palveluliike eli Tammiston Velo&Oxygen saa hoitaa voimansiirron kohdilleen. Enpä kyllä tiedä kannattaako pitää tuo FSA:n keskiö vai vaihtaa Shimano Ultegra 6700 tilalle. Ajatuksia?