Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Tour de Helsinki 2010

Yesterday I rode the Tour de Helsinki, a 140 km (actually 145 according to my computer) sportive that circumnavigates the Greater Helsinki area. I rode once again with Aussie Simon, my trusty compadre from our earlier cycling adventure doing the Kallaveden Kierros early this summer. The TdH was on something of a different scale with over 1700 taking part. We lined up for the start in 32 kmph group which was about midfield and it was pretty cool to see cyclists stretching as far as I could see up the street in front of me, and the same behind me.

The first 11 or so kms was easy as we were lead out by the police in a massive convoy through Espoo, a TV helicopter hovering above. Once the ride got going we found sticking in the peleton of our speed group pretty easy and we were cruising along at a good rate. Our group stormed straight past the first drink and food point about 40 kms in. I was pretty well stocked up in my pockets with snacks and had 2 ltrs of drink on my bike so was happy to keep riding, but Simon wanted to stop at the next service point to grab some food and use the loo.

The crowds waiting for the start

We must have only been stopped for 3 minutes but of course our 32 kmph peleton were well gone by then, and the 30 kmph field flew past as well. We set off between groups, and caught up with or got caught by various other riders who were no longer in one of the bigger packs, so started to form another little peleton. I thought we might be able to put a bit of effort in and catch one of the big packs up so kept going to the front and trying to up the speed a little, this led on my first unintentional staging of a one-man breakaway when I turned around to see the others hadn’t matched my speed and I was now 50 mtrs clear of them!

Out on the road - Simon is no. 85

It seems everyone goes through a “hard moment” on rides like this – Simon had his at about 80 kms and we needed a quick break for him to eat some more and get rid of the dizziness. Unfortunately a couple of the other speed groups came past us at that point. Once back on the road I was still feeling strong so he could slipstream me when necessary, but my hard moment was still to come. About the last 30 kms out from the finish, any uphill became really agonizing and trying to ‘push through it’ just led to cramping in my thighs. But Simon was feeling strong again by then and kept with me encouraging me on up the hills. I guess that’s just how a team should work, but thanks Simon!

We crossed the finish line just a few minutes after the 5 hour mark, although our bike computers – that stop when your bike stops, i.e. at the drinks stations – registered 4.57. And it was fun in a painful sort of way. Next year, I’ll get in one of the speed groups and stick with it – riding in the pack is just so much easier than being out on your own.

Self-portrait whilst I was still going strong and could be bothered to get the camera out!

Congrats to the winners who did amazing times: 3.39 (men) and 3.42 (women). When you do the same course yourself you really start to understand just how fit and hard the top guys and girls are. We will be better organised for next year!

145.78 kms at the finish in the Velodrome

I also want to thanks all the volunteer marshals out on the route keeping us all safe and on route and the people, particularly the super enthusiastic little kids, all along the route who clapped and yelled and waved flags or rattles - it really makes you feel good when you're not actually feeling so good!


Zzzzzz said...

Oooh. My undaercarriage aches just reading that. I did the South Downs randonne a few years ago. (11 hours in the saddle !) It's one of those retorspectively pleasurable things that will doubtless one day see me back on a bike.

obtw. Well done.

Juha (Team ABC) said...

Simon told about your ride today, great ride! Unfortunately, I couldn't join you as I was still enjoying Lisbon heat but actually found a few tricky and steep uphills there.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks Juha. It was good fun but I bet the weather has been better in Portugal. Simon told me how well your training has been going - including your fast time up to the top of the Kuopio hill! - so I'm sure you would have got bored riding it with us anyway! :-) You should do it next year though. We met a lad on the train into Helsinki before the start who had come down from Kuopio to do the ride.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Zzzz - 11 hours of riding sounds like hell. Good effort sir!

Ed said...

I think you are turning into a mamil:

happeningfish said...

Brilliant time anyway - I was out of town so I'm settling with 2011 as my first TdH ride. Did a few 100km+ days this summer but man, those under four hour kids are hardcore. :)