Rynkeby, here I come

In August during a ride, my buddy Karl told me there is this bicycle team that orders a lot of bicycles, and joining them would be a guaranteed way to get a nice bike for cheap. I was not really excited because the team orders Bianchi bikes and they are not my favorites. Not sure why to be honest, but probably has a lot to do with the color.

A few days later, my sister-in-law Jenni tells me about the same team but then she tells me about the whole story.

Rynkeby is a very special cycling team. It’s a charity team who’s goal is to cycle to Paris in France while collecting donations for children with cancer. The team is not made of the fastest cyclists on the market. It’s made of 50/50 men/women, old and young, all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds. To qualify, one has to be a team player, to be motivated by the cause and of course be able to cycle, a lot.

I joined the Helsinki chapter so we are starting from Finland.

From Helsinki to Paris, there is about 2200km. We’re going to cover parts of that route by boat. From Vuosaari to Travemünde in Germany. Then from there it’s 1200km to Paris that we should cover in 6 days. About 200km per day.

With the COVID-19 situation, the team didn’t get to cycle to Paris in 2020. So instead they went around Finland.

Registration

When Jenni told me about this opportunity, it was the day the cut-off date for registrations. So I thought I would just register without thinking and then see what happens.

The pre-registration took a few minutes, answering a few basic questions. Quickly after that I received an email asking for more details. And then everything went very fast.

The details were mostly about my motivation and what I thought I could bring to the team.

One has to write a cover letter explaining their motivations, how much of a team player you are, how you could potentially help with finding sponsors and what the cause meant to you, and your level of cycling.

I filled up the form and the next day I received a confirmation that my profile was interesting, along with an invitation for an interview. The interview was the following week.

At this interview I met with Lassi. We spoke about life and why joining Team Rynkeby. It went very fast.

A few days later I received an email saying I was accepted in the team and all I had to do was pressing a big fat green button that said “I accept” (or something like that, can’t remember for sure.

By that time, I was really impressed by how well oiled the whole organisation was. Nothing chaotic, very clear, to the point and just working.

Having created and running rugby tournaments and other associative initiatives, I know very well how difficult it can be to run smooth operations with volunteers. So I was all the more impressed.

Getting the bike

Joining Team Rynkeby means committing to a few expenses. We do collect sponsorship from companies across Finland, but we have to pay for our own expenses. All the money collected by sponsors goes straight to the two foundations we are supporting.

Sylva and Aamu Säätiö

Out of the 2000+ riders, everyone is riding with the same yellow Bianchi bike. And it’s a really good deal. The retail price for the bike is around ~2200€ and we are getting it for ~1400€. It’s a Bianchi Intrepida carbon frame, with Shimano 105 groupset. The wheels are entry-level Shimano RS.

Instead of buying a new bike, I did as usual and found a second hand one. A bit after joining I got my hands on a spreadsheet with contact details of people who were selling their bike from previous years. Tero (who is the famous vlogger of the team of 2020) sold it to me for 1200€. The bike is pretty much spotless. Not a crazy good deal but good enough and the satisfaction of putting more kilometers on a good bike, rather than letting it rot somewhere and buying a new one.

Fast forward one month

The team has met many times already in the past month. We’ve gone through a few walking trainings, usually around 15km at about 10min/km. We’ve done quite a few spinning sessions as well.

I must admit that the language is really a significant barrier for me to contribute more and to get more out of the whole experience.

During the spinning sessions, I get some of the instructions, but not always. Luckily, Heidi, our in-house spinning instructor, gets me the program beforehand so I have an idea of what’s going to happen.

I’ve learned already quite a lot about myself and what I am capable of. But I am really eager for the spring to come so we can get on the saddle and see these yellow bikes in their natural habitat. Also really interested to see what the team will look like on the road. I’ve been always interested to see how it’s like in a team that work well together, where everyone is committed and we all care for each other.

In some ways, this is very similar to Rugby where we have to care for and protect each other. Very much looking forward to see this in action.

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