Thursday, 29 May 2014

A new partner for long hard riding.

Finally! All ready to go for Barkarby 600 km in two days.

Well hello there baby.
Hmm, I wonder if I need one with an Australian flag as well?
A huge thankyou to Roger at Pearl for the brilliant frame, the highlight being the awesome finish, and Jan at Norvelo for spending long hours putting it together. There should be new pictures on their facebook page soon (link above).
The wheels and most of the components are from the previous Pearl. Custom built, 32 spoke, long distance wheels with Royce hub back and a Son-dynamo hub for the front wheel. This is used for powering a light, GPS and phone on really long rides. The group is my old Campagnolo 11, mainly Record, but some Chorus.
The tyres are Continental GP 4000sII, which not only are blue, but are promised to be especially puncture proof. Also a few new parts that were worn out; bottom bracket, chain, cassette.
I'll now make it a bit heavier with a saddle bag and lights etc for the weekend and then sit down, load carbohydrates and look at it for a few hours :-)
With the Edelux light attached.
No comment.
I do hope the promised rain this weekend stays away though, it would be a shame to get it all shitty already on its first ride...

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Even shorter than expected.

The "bitter" reality of living in a house with family caught up with me today and there wasn't a chance to go for a couple of hours' ride. We spent alot of the amazingly sunny and hot day inside cleaning up in the house apart from a short respite in which I sneaked out for the man's job of mowing the lawn.

Luckily I still managed a short, short ride with my son to the lake.

Hmmm, is that what the new bike was supposed to look like?

A surprise attack on the descent to the lake.
Swedish summer freedom. And the water wasn't even cold anymore.
In the end the ride must have been at least 2 km long. And I didn't even win! I'll see what tomorrow has in store for me; we are hoping to go on a boat trip with friends, so an early ride may be necessary...

Friday, 23 May 2014

Really short but pretty hard.

This weekend is going to be a family weekend. This suits me completely; both Pearls are with Jan at Norvelo to put the new one together, it's supposed to be beautiful weather to do some outdoor activities, I feel like I need to catch up on some sleep and also after a sequence of 300 km, 300 km, 225 km (solo, night) and 400 km the last four weekends it feels appropriate to not do any real distance for a change. Then the 600 km rides start next week with the first ever KBCK 600 km from Barkarby!

So I've decided to do a block of short, interval training four days in a row. Although this intensity doesn't often get used on long rides, it is still an advantage to increase the aerobic capacity so that a higher level of work can be maintained for longer without having to exhaust your capacity. Well that's the theory anyway.

So after a series of 4-8-4-3 minute maximum intervals on my ride home from work yesterday, I did 4x4 on the Monark today. I feel great now, a few hours afterwards, but they were pretty sickening for a while there.
Long time no see mate!
Tomorrow I aim to do a short ride with a time trial and some intervals and then hopefully another Monark interval session on Sunday. I think this feels quite clever :-)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Street food?

I recently met Dieter, a German friend, triathlete, cool guy and colleague, in Korea. We talked cycling in a brilliant pub called  the "Fuzzy Navel", which in about three days managed to become our local. He mentioned a fitness/sports nutrition company that works alot with cyclists in Germany and Switzerland called Jentschura and suggested that they could send me some samples of their food and drink to see whether they would suit me on long rides.

What is cool about them is that they not only work with high energy products, but base it all on a theory, or maybe even philosophy, of maintaining an alkaline ph value in your blood. So a couple of weeks ago a box with different mixes both for porridge and salty dinners ended up at home and I started testing.

I started having the porridge "Morgenstund" for breakfasts in the days before long rides and spiced it with their fruity kernel things. Instead of a coffee or two at work I had their herb tea which apparently has 49 herbs in it which is even more than Jägermeister!

The porridge mix can be made into energy bars as well so of course I tried.

Home made energy for the road.
And? Well the last long ride I felt really tired on was Södertälje 300 km, after that I started with this food and the following two rides felt awesome :-) As a scientist that's conclusive evidence, isn't it? No, I'm not convinced that this new dietry tangent was the reason for my form - but this food definitely doesn't seem to be a problem for me. It's nice alternating the normal, sweet, energy gels, bars and drinks with something a bit more "real" anyway! I still have to try the salty dinner options though.
What I haven't quite worked out is a clever way to wrap those energy bars so that they're easy to open while riding. Any ideas?
It's fun trying different things like this while trying to optimise all aspects of long, hard rides! In a few days I should be able to ride my first km's on the new bike as well. Yippeee!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Barkarby 400 km.

On Friday it was finally time for what I know everybody has been shivering an shaking in anticipation for: KBCK's first 400 km brevet! Not only would it finish in our clubhouse Lilla Barkarby, but the novelty was that it also started there at 11 pm. The main reason for this brilliant plan was that we counted backwards so that the fastest riders would finish just in time for Lilla Barkarby to open on Saturday for well earned after bike beers. Pretty smart, huh?

36 registered was great and really shows what a solid group of randonneurs is building up in Stockholm. I got alot of comments on whether only short pants and shirt were a particularly intelligent choice for a night ride, but even on this point I had a well thought out sly plan, the wisdom of which was at this stage however unsure... We rolled out of Stockholm in the middle of the night and a big group of about 20 riders navigated a slightly chaotic route out of town. Even the bit to Uppsala was a bit messy, but we all kept together until the first control there. The km's rolled along nicely. We discovered that surprisingly(!?) KBCK's planning had a few glitches and two out of the five controls on the route didn't have anything open for confirmation. 

Tierp by night and nowhere to get a stamp in the brevet-card. At least that meant the stops were short and efficient!

Fantastic photo of short sleeves in 7 degrees, a full moon over my shoulder and a bunch of idiots riding through a night.

After this we settled down, it was never really dark and we rode on open, wide roads as straight, big and free of traffic as an airport runway. This would have been irritatingly boring during the day but suited us perfectly at night. A well working group, tailwind and often flying along at 40 km/h, this part was magic. There were a few problems with mental tiredness, but with some chatting between us I think we all managed to stay more or less awake until the halfway, turning point in Gävle.

Halfway. In the illustrious company of the boss, nypan. How he manages to keep his hair perfect and generally look so immaculous after 200 km in the night is beyond me.

If you have had tailwind in one direction and then turn around you don't have tailwind anymore. So from Gävle back was far more selective. The group split up along the way but the sun had come up and there were some beautiful areas, especially the roaring, thunderous rivers to cross just after Sandviken. So the mood was good. The megalopolis Överfarnabo was of course shut, but by now a few in the group were getting tired and decided to lie around on the ground a bit so I had nothing better to do than to take a selfie...

 Looking good in Överfarnabo.

By this stage we realised that there was a serious risk that we would finish before Lilla Barkarby opened with the catastrophic consequence that we would be sitting there without being able to order beers. So to waste a bit of time, we had an extra stop in a sunny kiosk a bit later instead. A great opportunity for some serious energy replenishing.

KBCK's chairman, bigmollo looking fresh with a big, melting icecream on a beautiful morning. That kiosk has never sold as many icecreams and coca colas that early on a Saturday morning before.

The head wind started blowing more and more riders off the back of our group while I started feeling better and better. Bigmollo, Stephan and I took longer and longer turns at the front and I really enjoyed finding a sweet spot in my pulse where I could just keep churning consistently. In Uppsala we were only about 7 left, most of which wanted a bit of a longer break, so we stopped for a last intake of energy to attack the last 70 km's with.

A crap photo of me eating a sausage. (Photo courtesy of bigmollo).

After Uppsala I took more and more responsibility with my rides at the front and there were more and more problems behind me. Even bigmollo's legs forgot what they were supposed to be doing in the continuing headwind, which wasn't extreme but after 350 km's felt brutal. Stephan and me rotated a bit at the front and then we could suddenly smell the beers in Barkarby and all cheered up until we rolled into the finish 18 minutes after Lilla Barkarby opened. 18 minutes of missed drinking time! We will have to optimise the finishing time next time :-)

Ahhhhh.... I wonder if the Brevet Gods in Paris will accept that card with all the missing stamps?

Oh yes. Then there was the clothing question. My plan worked perfectly: I realised that I might be cold for a while at the start, but the plan was that I would be the most appropriately dressed when it got hot during the day! Maybe I got the time-ratio a bit wrong though; the freezing bit was about 10 hours and the warm bit about 4. However, during and after the warm bit you forget the cold bit so I think it must have been successful?!

What shorts on a sunny day do to you. Thanks legs for a good ride!

We sat a while outside Lilla Barkarby talking rubbish, eating a big hamburger, drinking a couple of beers and watching small disintegrated groups of more or less exhausted riders dropping in. Then a train home to my family, some more food and a glas of wine in the sofa and finally a Beautiful, welcming bed.
Thanks all that I rode with and thanks KBCK for a memorable 400 km's!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A new toy.

Look what turned up in the post yesterday!

Customised Swedish Grace SL.

Finally at home and resting in the sofa. As usual a sexy font, high quality details and a superb finish. Oh yes it's very light (860 g + 360 g fork according to the manufacturer, I'll weigh it later) and stiff and stuff as well :-) Can't wait to get it together, but I don't want to risk having nothing to ride on this weekend on the KBCK 400 km, so I will wait until after that. I have to fiddle with parts lying around in the shed, parts on the old bike and new parts. Jan at Norvelo has promised to help me assembling a long, hard riding machine.

Hopefully we can have a first ride together on a 600 km in two weeks. Wiheee!


Saturday, 10 May 2014

A long, wet, last night with Grace.

After two weekends in a row with brevets, I skipped this weekend's 400 km brevet from Täby because I felt a need to be with my family and help around home. But halfway through the week I started to panic about not fitting in a weekend-ride so I decided to do an overnight ride from Saturday to Sunday. A bit more than 200 km around half the Mälaren, the same route as our Ötzi rides, also known as "flickrundan".

I have done this solo a couple of times. For four main reasons:
  • It frees up both Saturday and Sunday to do other stuff, while still permitting a 200 km ride (the fact that I'm pretty incapable of doing much on Sunday is beside the point! My daughter calls this condition dad's "mashed brain").
  • On Sverigetempotand other randonneur rides it's quite likely that one ends up solo at some stage, so it's good to get some solo km's not only into the body but maybe more importantly in your head.
  •  Although I've ridden through quite a few nights, it's always good to get some more experience.
  • 200 km's is always good training
This time there was a fourth important, sentimental reason: it was maybe a last ride like this with my "old" Pearl Grace and I didn't want any other riders to disturb this for us :-) I do have to mention though, that Roger at Pearl has given me a really good deal for being able to keep both this Grace and the new one that should be here any day now. I'll just have to make sure they get on with eachother.

So. I fluffed around a bit at home yesterday, cooked a big creamy chicken and pasta dinner and enjoyed this with a glas of wine. Once my family was comfortably settled in the sofa with  a big bowl of sweets to watch Eurovision on TV, I quietly slunk out the door with Grace and we departed for our night out just after 8 o'clock.

It was good to practice getting night-stuff ready again; lights, batteries (I was trying out whether one battery and the Dinotte 200 would suffice for the night), clothes, reflexes etc.

Hopefully what I looked like to car drivers.
The first few hours to about Mariefred went like a dream, just the right clothing, fast, good spirits. But it started more and more to feel like riding through a puddle; not really raining, just wet air and continuous spray coning up from the road. Soon my gloves, shoes and  socks were soaked through, but the km's kept drifting by.
What I looked at all night.
If there are no pics, it didn't happen! Nearly halfway, the bridge in Strängnäs.

However, when it started raining properly, the temperature constantly stayed under 5 degrees and a slight headwind started across the top of Mälaren, my hands started loosing sensation and it started to be difficult to change gears let alone to take any more pictures. Apart from a few short, short pee-stops, I just kept ploughing on. Some roadworks coming into Stockholm confused me and I ended up riding a few desolate, unmotivated circles until I was back in familiar territory in Alvik.

I started sensing the end of the ride, but wasn't very fast anymore which I blame on the temperature. The legs actually felt strong all night and I won every single mountain stage and every blue-sign sprint! As per usual there were no mechanical problems with Grace and she looked after me well. After 225 km's I stumbled off the bike at home, cold, tired, fumbling to unlock the door, and very happy.

Getting lost a few times and being cold, meant it took a bit longer than expected.
I had a long hot shower, jumped into bed shivering and slept for an hour or so. Then "jumped" up to get the Brainmash Sunday rolling :-)


Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Toni "Bowerbird" Arndt

The bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) is endemic to Australia and Papua New Guinea. It is known for its nest building and the male's extravagant courtship behaviour. Perhaps their strangest behavioural characteristic is that the males go crazy collecting blue things to arrange in extravagant patterns in their nest to attract females.

A bit like homo sapiens weddings really: something old and something new. Something borrowed. And all of it blue.

Since I've seen pictures of my new frame, I appear to have been reincarnated as a bowerbird.

A Pearl Grace with blue on it.

So. I have started collecting blue things to match the frame and the awesome collection of KBCK clothing. I have some of these coming in the mail:

Continental tyres with blue on them.

I have to choose between a bunch of bottles. I still have some from our previous Duells sponsorship (see here how the Duells sponsored  Conti Test Team is doing in their mission to ride Vätternrundan under 7 hours this year).

Blue bottles. (Not these ones: Physalia utriculus in case you wondered)

Or maybe the stunning new KBCK bottles?

The world's best bottle?
Right colour. But no, now something went wrong here and this has nothing to do with anything.

This is better, but you may wonder what a blue Chimay has got to do with my new bike, apart from being a blue, perfect afterbike beer? I'll get back to that later :-)

I'm going to look ridiculously, embarassingly professional on the road soon and am starting to be afraid my form has to live up to this image. The strange thing is that this apparently works for bowerbirds, but my wife doesn't seem at all as impressed!


Monday, 5 May 2014

The things we do for a ride.

One doesn't strive for excellence in academia for the money. But the fun you can have often compensates for this. We played around with some intramuscular EMG (electromyography - measuring muscle activity) in my thigh today.

8 of 18 holes. A proud doctor in the background leaving me to fend for myself.

Biomechanics is a fascinating area of science permitting amazing discoveries of function in our musculoskeletal system and to participate in the experiments yourself really opens your eyes to how your body functions. That is fun.

Strangely enough pretty much everything I do nowadays ends up on a bike. So after a while I was having this much fun.

A comfortable 20 minute incremental test where Watts and pulse and stuff weren't priority for a change.

The things we do for a ride :-)


Sunday, 4 May 2014

"Chicken legs" Södertälje 300 km

The time had come for another 300 km brevet, this time starting from the, for me, new start in Södertälje. I had felt a bit tired already the day before, so I wasn't too sure what to expect on this hard route.

Once again there was a big interest in the ride with 34 registered riders, which was great! Sitting in the petrol station waiting for the start Danne and I didn't know many of the others, so we realised it would be an interesting day with interesting group constellations. Already on my first lead out of Södertälje I realised that I had chicken legs today. They ached and burned and felt generally like they would have preferred to stay in bed.

Chicken legs, so chicken they hid in shame. 

Åsa and Henrik had really improved the starting 70 km with new bits around Enhörna and Åkers Stykebruk - really pretty, roller coasty roads. Cool! For some strange reason we ended up with only five in the front group by Stigtomta, where we had a short, but not stressy stop.

 A road with trees.

In Stigtomta it was also getting a bit warmer (I think the top temperature even hit 10 degrees!) so I decided to expose the chicken legs to the sunlight. This scared them so much that they suddenly felt alot stronger, which was nice. 

 Ahhh, there you are! Knee warmers down at the ankles felt kind of sexy.

We lost Mattias on the long, frustrating, headwind road by Jönåker and ended up at lunch with only four of us. I continued the chicken theme with a big lunch of grilled chicken with potato wedges at the charming Oscarshäll Café. This fuelled me up for the beautiful roads around Kolmården with beautiful coastal villages and all the small, steep hills.

 The picturesque Strandvägen along Bråviken. Ominous clouds starting to build up.

After Nävekvarn we had finished with all the nice bits though. The last 100 km or so are pretty boring on this ride and soon it was only Danne and me left, which sort of limits the opportunities to talk rubbish. We rode hard, with long, even leads and with some good tailwind we averaged 40 km/h for a long time. Mysteriously the wind turned for the last 30 km, it started to rain and the temperature dropped down to about 5-7 degrees again. But the finish was in sight, we just put our heads down and ground through the last km's.

Thanks everyone for a hard ride. Thanks Danne for the company until the bitter end. For three years in a row now I have ended up this ride with only one partner - it really is a far more selective route than Täby 300 km. Far more elevation, always someone bonking around Jönåker, steep hills and then the psychologically difficult bit at the end. Despite riding alot harder than last week we ended up with a time exactly one minute slower :-)

Not a ride for chicken legs!


Friday, 2 May 2014

Pearl Grace Swedish Style

Roger Tanner at Pearl just sent this photo of a new Pearl Grace frame that he's custom painted for me. We've been in touch for a while discussing the design and he agreed to paint it with a Swedish flag for the upcoming Sverigetempot.


Pearl is known for painting its frames in very high quality and the stunningly attractive Swedish colours complement this brilliantly.

The frame is still in Germany, but I'll hopefully have it next week and can start riding it long and hard in preparation for Sverigetempot in less than 2 months.

So tomorrow's 300 km, brevet from Södertälje might be my last with the green Grace I have come to like so much and that has not had a single problem over all of those 1000's of kilometers. Am I being unfaithful?