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The Tour de Helsinki – we did it! (And notes for the next time)

September 7, 2009
On September 6, the Mr. and I took part in the fifth Tour de Helsinki ( Some 1300 riders took part and about a tenth of them were women. The 140 km course took us to eight municipalities through urban and rural areas. I always forget how nice the countryside is less than 40km from downtown Helsinki!
While the T de H is a “tour,” it is not for people who don’t have some riding experience under their belt. I can say, now that I have done it, that it is tough, but not impossible. Since the Mr. and I have never done any group riding nor taken part in an event this big we decided to be smart and ride with the slowest group. Our aim was to keep the pace over 20 km / h and we actually achieved that because we ended up between the 20 and 22 km / h groups; which is exactly where we wanted to be. We didn’t finish last, and that too was our goal!
Only part of the course was familiar to me and that was Velskolantie in Espoo. With its steep inclines and declines, I was dreading this part of the course the most. Overall I have to say that it really was the hardest part of the course. The rest of it was really quite okay and well within my abilities. A friend of mine who does some racing in the Netherlands advised us not to “stand up” on steep inclines as it is the primary leg killer in long rides. So, we heeded her advice and it was the smartest piece of advice we got – thanks Maryka. Smile
We brought a lot of food with us, which in the end was completely unnecessary because there was plenty of food and drinks available at the four rest stops. Note to self for next year – leave the food at home! All we need to bring are water bottles. Hats off to the organizers for setting up great rest stops with plenty of food!
I had planned to wear a pair of Gore-Tex shoes, but unfortunately they got left on the shoe rack at home. Disaster already, I was not amused! Our clothing otherwise was completely bang on, especially with the rain we got at about 100km. My shoes got soaked! (I am SO glad it didn’t rain earlier in the day as had been forecasted, I think it would have killed me!) Long sleeves were the order of the day, and I was worried at one point that I was under dressed. There were plenty of overdressed people and I wondered how many people were slowed down by too much clothing.
Another important thing to remember is care for those body parts that might suffer from a long bike like this. A stiff neck, sore wrists, painful knees and girlie bits that take a beating on the seat are no laughing matter. Stretching properly is vital, as is protecting those body parts that are especially vulnerable – ahem – end of discussion on this one. Open-mouthed
I’m feeling tired today, and my right knee is sore, but it’s a good feeling to put something like that in my experiences in "life." If my knee hadn’t started giving me troubles at 90km, I’d have finished earlier. Unfortunately it really slowed me down.
But – we did it, made it home in one piece and that is all that matters! Vive le Tour de Helsinki! (Yes, that is me kissing the ground when we finished! Open-mouthed)
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