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Friday, February 27, 2015

Iditarod

The year was probably 2002. It was winter, and I was searching on the internet for tips on winter cycling. The site I was looking is still amazingly online, Icebike.org. At the same time I learned about this race, Iditarod Trail Invitational, in 2001 and before known as Iditasport Extreme (350 miles) and Iditasport Impossible (1100 miles). My first reaction was that, wow, this is amazing, but also that it is completely impossible for me, for many reasons. It felt that there is no way that I could ever take part in it. Back then I was still more of a road racer, but I loved cycling in winter time. Alaska is very far away from Finland. Financially and every other way it felt impossible. 

In 2006 I did my first 24-hour solo race, Kangasala 24h. It opened my eyes, but ITI remained impossible. Somehow, things started to change in 2009-2011 when we had great winters in Finland. In 2013 I did my first winter ultra, Rovaniemi 150, and again last year, which I nearly won. The idea of doing ITI didn't seem impossible any longer.

And in the end of April last year it was confirmed. I was selected to ITI 2015 roster. It's a miracle for me. All credits for this goes to my awesome sponsors, 9:Zero:7, 45NRTH, Lumicycle, Porcelain Rocket, Nextie Bike and Alpkit. Without them, this project would have remained impossible. Also huge thanks goes to my wife and daughter, my parents and in-laws.

This winter has seen lots of training and preparation for the race. If you have followed my Facebook and Google+ pages, you have seen updates about my training. Here are some photos of those updates.









As I'm writing this I'm already in Anchorage and it feels unbelievable that I am here. I never believed that this could happen but I'm here now, and it's only two days to the start of the race.

My expectations? Compared to all the other races that I have done so far, this is going to be different and a lot longer. I will do my best and as always, I have to win myself. Everything else comes after that. Surroundigs are breathtaking here, and this will surely be mindblowing experience.

I did a ride here in Anchorage on Wednesday, in Kincaid and Earthquake Parks, and here are some photos from it. I rode with my 907 teammate Charly Tri in the beginning as he did a bike test shake down ride.














This year you can follow the race in realtime at Trackleaders.com, and like in previous years, check ITI Facebook page for the updates too.

What really draws attention to me in this race is it's philosophy, which is best said by Bill Merchant, racer and co-director of the race: "We go into the Alaskan backcountry to find cracks in ourselves. We go back a year later to see if we've done anything about them". I will find out that soon myself.

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