Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Event Report: Route 300

It's been awhile since I participated in a road cycling event. As part of my training, I decided to ride the longest road event in Finland, Route 300, on 17th of August. It's based on the Mylly Cycling's old Scandinavian Mylly, which was about 240 km long. The new route is 312 km long. The organizer is also basically the same, Turun Urheiluliitto, but it has a very active road enthusiast division as part of their organization.

This kind of event (as not being a race) is probably most enjoyable in sunny summer weather. But for me, everything is fine. Actually, if the weather is bad, it's just better training. Indeed, the weather forecast was looking for some rain. The only question was just that how much rain.

My original plan was to ride the transition sections from home to event center and back, with some additional riding to break the 400 km barrier. But my morning schedule was tight, so I just rode 9 km to catch a bus to Turku. Yes, the event center is in the middle of Turku, at the so called "Spider Site", alongside the Aura River, and the route goes out of the city also by visiting Turku Castle. This is a brilliant move by organizers, and makes the route even more spectacular.

I made it in time to the start, at 7AM. The concept of Route 300 is to ride in groups, and each group has a target average speed. This is a similar concept to the excellent Marathon Cycling event in Northern Finland. The fastest group is 34+ km/h. I joined 30+ km/h group, to make sure that I would have some power and energy left for the 400 km barrier.

It was overcast, somewhat windy and the temperature at the +15°C range. We rode the first two hours in dry conditions. After that the rain started. And so started some problems. Now, the rain itself was not a problem. My only problem was my eyes. My vision is slightly nearsighted, and I wear old Briko Klip double-glass eyewear. They are simply horrible in bad weather, as the drop accumulation makes a poor vision. But if that wasn't enough, the salty sweat from my head infiltrated into my eyes. For a moment, I didn't see much. After the salt attack was over, the vision was still poor from rain. Alone this wouldn't be a big problem, but in a group it is, when the road surfaces are in fairly bad condition. I had to really concentrate hard for riding safely.

There were five service points along the route, at 75, 140, 204, 254 and 292 km. We kept our stops short. The rain was also persistent, so no photos this time. The servings at the service points were good. The 204 km point at Vahto had warm meat soup, coffee and buns.

The only slightly bad moment was between the 254 km and 292 km service points, when I was a little low in energy. I recovered quickly by eating a bar.

As we arrived back to Turku, we rode over the cobblestones of Turku Cathedral, and the feeling was high. And it was still raining!

After 312 km in 10 hours, 23 minutes and 25 seconds of actual riding time with 30.3 km/h average speed, it was easy to smile in the finish:

A good pasta buffet was serviced in the finish.

I decided to not try to break the 400 km barrier because of the rainy conditions. Instead, my great mother drove me back to home. Thanks mom!

All in all, Route 300 is definitely a great motion cycling event, on par with Pirkka Cycling and although being a one-day event, getting closer to two-day Marathon Cycling. It's also part of the Scandinavian Loppet series. If you are a road cycling enthusiast and want to spend a long day on the saddle, I can warmly recommend this event for you.