You've got a friend in me

A week ago I was out on my bike again. But not just on any ride, oh no. This time I was on a mission. I had decided to go to a charity concert held in benefit of the Finnish Association for Heart Children and Adults. The "Ilman ystävää et jää" (~You won't be without a friend) concert was in Helsinki on Sunday, so what better way to get there from Turku than to hook up my Yak trailer to my road bike and start pedalling?

I started out on Saturday morning, just after 9.30. As agreed on a cycling forum, a fellow Turku roadie met me on the street corner and together we set out towards Piikkiö. Janne would tag along all the way to Halikko where, after a cup of coffee, he'd turn back to (I believe) go to someone's graduation party.

Before we ever got to Halikko, though, I had a few problems with the trailer. I had waited to take it out of storage until the night before, only to notice that it was missing a pin. Without it, the trailer would not stay on the bike, especially not in a bump or sharp turn. I went through every box and drawer in my flat in order to find an alternative, ending up with a sturdy piece of string as my best option. I was, after all, not going to cancel this mini tour on count of a missing cotter pin. The string held up fairly well, too. I had to retie it once about halfway to Halikko, where I eventually found a hardware store that carried a pin that fit the bill.

As the day wore on, the heat became more of an issue. With air temperatures of around 27°C, I went through a lot of water, and on the inclines the road surface temperature of about 50°C made it self known. It was almost like pedalling uphill in a sauna. Luckily the old saying of what goes up, must come down is still in effect. Cruising downhill at 50+ km/h sure cools you down even on a hot day.

A little before 19 I arrived at my destination for the day, Vihti. The last 20 km were really hilly, but the scenery made it worthwhile. Once in Vihti I made my way to my CouchSurfing host for the night. E and her daughters where waiting for me in the yard, and we soon went over to the neighbours and sat in the garden. After I'd had a shower a while later, I was treated to delicious pies (veggie and rhubarb) and ice cream. E and I sat up talking til around midnight, when it was more than time for me to turn in for the night.

On Sunday morning I headed out again a little after 10, as I was in no real hurry to get to Helsinki. Again, I had to tackle quite a few hills after leaving Vihti. Fortunately I know well enough how to climb with the trailer, slow and steady. Still, with the heat setting in around noon, it was still pretty tough this early in the season. All in all the landscape north west of Helsinki is a lot more rolling than I'm used to here near Turku. Guess I can only blame the ice age..

After reaching Helsinki I went to a friend's place to cool down, take a shower and chat for a while. H also agreed to drive my trailer and bag to the train station after the concert was over, making my life in central Helsinki a lot easier. With the unloaded bike feeling almost unbelievably light, I rode into town and found a kebab with my name on it. An hour before the concert was about to start, I went to the Savoy theatre, the venue of the evening, and convinced the doorman to allow me to take my bike inside the cloak room. The people from the heart association were thrilled that I had come by bike, and supposedly there's now going to be a story about me in the association's magazine. The concert was great, with several nationally, and some internationally, recognised artists donating their time for the charity.

Once the concert was over I met up with H outside the train station, thanked him for his help and caught the last train back to Turku. Mission accomplished.


Saturday: 130km
Sunday: 55km


Åland Runt 2009

This weekend my cycling got a shot in the arm (I know, bad metaphor). Last year I rode my bike(s) only slightly more often than I updated this blog. A lot has happened since my last post, which I won't mention here. I did recover my stolen MTB, but I won't go into that story now either. The topic of this post is, and will be, Åland Runt 2009.

Last saturday, together with 32 other riders, mainly from Turun Urheiluliitto's Harrastepyöräilijät, and a support van, I embarked on a two day light tour of the Åland islands. We met up at the club 'stable' at 7.15 in the morning, loaded our overnight gear in the van and rode the short distance down to the Viking Line terminal. Onboard we had a small conference room booked where coffee and sandwiches were served, and the itinerary of the trip was presented. Later on, before reaching Mariehamn, we also had lunch in the buffet restaurant.

We divided into two groups, with the aim of keeping the average speeds moderate. I chose the 25 km/h group, where I was joined by 18 others. This left the faster, 30 km/h, group with 13 riders. We were to ride mainly the same route, with the faster bunch taking predetermined detours to meet up with the support van at about the same times as the slower group.

We spent the night in cabins at Puttes camping, right next to the ruins at Bomarsund. Both the thai food dinner in the evening and the oatmeel & sandwich breakfast the following morning was literally devoured, to the astonishment of the cafeteria staff. Even with all the food available to us in the van, we had still burned enough calories to be very hungry :)

The weather on Saturday was cloudy, with even a few drops of rain as we disembarked the ship and rolled out of Mariehamn. The sky cleared as the day wore on, ending with a beautiful sunset to crown the evening at the camp site. On Sunday we woke up to a bright morning, not a single cloud to be seen anywhere. Still, we rode almost exclusively in long bibs, as May is not to be regarded a summer month here in Finland.

The scenery afforded to us as we blasted through the Åland countryside was stunning. If you're ever in this neck of the woods and you've got your bike with you, you should definitely make a stop there. Also, on your way back, why not indulge yourself in a celebratory meal in the à la Carte on the ship? We did, and it surely was a feast!

This trip was a great opportunity for me to try out my new wheels and tires. I'm now riding on Mavic Ksyrium Elites wrapped in Schwalbe Ultremos. Before the weekend, I had only done five or six laps on the velodrome on them. Now, with almost 200 km done, I'm very happy with their preformance. I also finally got to use my FRWD on a longer ride, you can check the data from both Saturday and Sunday on traxmeet.com. On top of that, here's a short, poor quality, video to illustrate riding in a chain gang. I've yet to upload any photos, but I'm hoping to get around to doing that soon..


Stats: see the traxmeet.com links above.