Nove Colli

I’m clearly getting into road cycling. This time drove Nove Colli 170km in and around Cesenatico. The event sounded like Boston marathon of Gran Fondos and it probably was. Again close to 10.000 participants, mostly around Italy. Guests included Grande Miguel Indurain who I saw while picking up the number bib. Took also a pic at Pantani’s statue. Grande heroes.

The ride was tough as expected because of weather. The rain stopped for a moment before the start and the hopes went high. But it started to pour down again just after 15 mins of driving and continued for like 2 hours without a stop. I saw plenty of flat tires, broken chains and even fallen drivers in the middle of the course.

My bike worked this time perfectly. After climbing Barbotto at around 90km the clock ticked 3.29 or so, the sun broke in for the moment, and it felt like I might finish in under 7 hours.

After just 100km stopped for the first and only time to eat. When I tried to kick the left foot out of the pedal got a major cramp in the left calf and fell down to the pavement. That was painful! I was struggling for the next hour or so with what felt like half power in the left side. I could not push the pedal and feared another cramp is on the way. But luckily it started to fade and after a couple short showers the skies started to clear out. The roads dried up and the last tens of kilometres went flying again.

Time was 7:05 total with c. 24 km/h average speed and total 2500m of climb or so. Garmin stats here.

Enter Dolomites

Signed a week ago the papers to purchase a property in Italy. A late 1800s stone building to be renovated in Selva di Cadore, Belluno province, in the heart of Dolomite mountains. Four stories with basement and attic included. An attached garage and some land. I’m obviously pretty excited at the moment but at same time I do understand the extent of attention this property will require right now and in the long term. It needs some serious renovations and tons of TLC. I’m okay with all that.

I have been looking at properties in Italy for quite some time, ever since teaching at local universities and living in the middle of Piemonte vineyards back in 2009. My interest meant initially just occasional online searches through, and until a good friend bought a pretty nice property down in Molise a few years ago. Since then I’ve been to Molise, Piemonte and Dolomites to see tens of different properties from modest single family homes to medieval castles.

Why mountains and not vineyards or beaches? I’m certainly not the only one looking for a vacation or second home in Italy. The web is full of property guides how to find and buy your dream home in Italy. Everyone has heard about one euro homes and there are so many stories of people buying and renovating old rustic buildings in Tuscany and other popular areas. Usually close to the vineyards or the Mediterranean Sea. In pictures it always looks sunny, warm and cozy.

After some soul searching and talking with my family it became clear the Alps and Dolomites in particular is the sweet spot in our case at this point in our lives. Beautiful, unique nature. Four seasons. Year around activities and options for sports. World class skiing, including cross-country. Road and mountain biking. Hiking and running. Clean air. Not too hot. Still in Italy with rustic, traditional villages where the church is in the middle. With local cuisine and wines. But not too far from other central European countries and cultures. Interestingly this place is even in between Italian and German speaking villages, and the local language is called Ladin. Of course you can’t win them all. Mediterranean beaches are a few hours away. Property prices are not dirt cheap. On balance though this place took over in my mind.

I went to the Dolomites four times to check potential properties out. Met a number of local real estate agents and talked with local geometras and architects. The first thing I did was to take a detailed look at the map and sort out an ideal micro location. Where would you be kind of close to everything, however still outside the main tourist resorts? I soon narrowed the search down to the communities of Alleghe, Rocca Pietore, Livinallongo del Col di Lana, Colle Santa Lucia and Selva di Cadore. I was determined to buy an independent, traditional building on its own land. Something older, rustic, that has stood the test of time. Most of the reasonable priced properties which checked these boxes looked ok in the pictures and many had gorgeous views. But way too many were just too remote from any services starting from a grocery store and basic restaurant and a bar. And after seeing them in person many were in really poor shape with structural damage, significant moisture in the basement and so on.

What I ended up finding next to the 1500s cathedral in the heart of Selva di Cadore cleared the last hurdles. Solid, straight stone structure and some, but not too bad looking damage over the years. If you look at the map the place sits literally in the crossroads and in the middle of the Dolomiti Superski system. Google Maps says the closest ski lift to Civetta area is 6 minutes and 3.7km away. Closest lift to Cinque Torri and Cortina areas is 14 minutes and 7.8km away. Closest ski lift to Marmolada and Sellaronda areas is 21 minutes and 14.5km away. Falcade and San Pellegrino area is 31 minutes away and so on. There is even a proposal that might connect Civetta to Cortina with a ski lift through this village — though I’m not so sure if that would be a good thing or not. During summer some of the lifts are open for hiking and mountain biking. Selva di Cadore is right in the middle of the popular hiking route Alta Via 1 passing through just above the village. I’ve signed in to Maratona dles Dolomites road bicycle race to drive through all the main mountain passes next July, also passing by Selva di Cadore on the way.

Let’s see how this turns up. The next step is to get the renovation planned out.

Remembering my dad Pertti Välimäki in his own words

My dad passed away three weeks ago. After the initial shock and emotional rollercoaster I feel now both thankful and peaceful. I could not have asked for a better dad who lived to see so many things over his almost 72 years of run here. He witnessed my life through all the turbulents years and saw his grandchildren grow up. We all learned so much from him.

Obituarities in Helsingin Sanomat and Asianajoliitto summarize his career accomplishments as an attorney, professor and Supreme Court justice in Finland. Those are the things he was publicly known for.

For me he was still first and foremost a dad with whom I had an open and candid relationship until the end. We talked on weekly basis. There wasn’t a topic we wouldn’t have chatted about. The best ones were lengthy conversations over dinner or a bottle of wine about sports, law, society and politics. We disagreed from time to time and our political views differed but the next morning it was all forgotten.

I picked up from him the love for all kind of sports and outdoor lifestyle. We went together trekking, running and fishing. Just two weeks before his time was up we had a great overnight fishing trip in Kirkkonummi where he caught a Baltic Sea white fish and prepared it for our dinner. This post’s headline picture was taken on that moment.

He influenced my life in numerous ways. I entered and by chance passed the law school entry exam mainly because he happened to be a professor there at that time and the exam books were lying on our shelves. I had to prove him I can get there too. Eventually I went on to do other stuff, build new tech and other businesses. He had an open mind and was curious and supportive in whatever I did in my life checking always “how’s the business?” and “how’s the kids?”. But the most often he still opened with “have you been running lately?”

My dad used to say you learn to write only by writing. (And you learn to run only by running.) Even if he published only legal scolarship and judgments he did write about much more. So here’s his recap (in Finnish) of our road trip across the US back in 2010: Isä ja poika Ameriikan raitilla keväällä 2010. That was kind of a trip of the lifetime we talked about time and again whenever we got back together…

Getting Tesla Model S P85D from Germany

I’ve been following the development of battery electric vehicles ever since I got my first Tesla back in 2014. Some two years ago its AC broke down and the only option to fix it was Tesla’s own service. The waiting time was over six weeks and of course this happened in early June so the following two months were kinda annoying. I also noticed the local superchargers had more and more cars plugged in so I decided to sell the car and wait for some of the other upcoming electric vehicles from other brands to come into the market. As a placeholder I bought an old 2002 Audi A6 2.7 biturbo with manual tranny with an idea to teach my kids to drive but it soon became my daily driver too.

Audi went again a week ago to a shop for repairs, which are obviously frequent for a car with over 300.000 km on the dash. I’ve had enough for that and as I had the Covid pass in hand decided to make a move. I had concluded that all the other electric cars were just not there and besides, third party repair shops had started to offer Tesla service as well. So I decided to get another used Tesla for now. Not just because it is the smart money but also because you can’t get a new Plaid or Long Range in Europe as the first shipments have been postponed all the time and are currently listed as Q1/2022… It must be Model S again as that looks coolest and is the original, historically significant, and actually already kinda retro thing in my mind. Criteria: performance model P85D or P90D with max 100k on the dash and the cheapest money can buy, ideally about the same price I got from selling my old one two years ago. Threw out emails and made calls to about dozen sellers or so on and

The first car I agreed to buy was in Portugal but as I got the VIN back turned out it was a salvaged import from the US. Pass. The next one sounded much better on paper, a real EU specs car first registered in France, and I took a flight to Amsterdam this past Monday morning to check it out. Turned out it was in Polish plates and visually in a pretty rough shape. The seller was willing to negotiate the price further down but I had to give it another pass. Moved on to the third cheapest I could find, took a train to Germany, and that was mine. Black on black 2015 P85D with all the options at the time, in nice shape, and with just one previous owner with all history in Germany. Got the plates under my name Tuesday afternoon and started the drive back north.

Some findings:

– On autobahn speeds over 120km/h the wind seems to come in through all the seals. Over 150 km/h is not pleasant, like you would be in a cabriolet. As it was raining almost all the way back it became clear the car does not leak water in, just wind and the noise with it. Curiously there is almost no wind noise under 100 km/h speeds.

– While the car can handle high speeds no problem, autopilot (at least AP1) is limited to 150km/h which is a problem if you’d do autobahns on daily basis. Well, we only have them in Germany.

– The battery does drain on those autobahn speeds lightning fast. The best I had guts to do was about a 200km run between two superchargers in Germany. I didn’t do much faster than that 150km/h. And the battery is rated like almost 400km…

– Total drive from Duisburg up to Stockholm and then from Turku to Espoo was less than 2000km but I did a total of 12 supercharger stops on the way. The great news is there are enough superchargers in Western and Central Europe and they are still not crowded. Actually in Germany I was the only one charging in all three superchargers I stopped by while they had 18-24 stalls available! Time to open up that network… and expand it as well as my route through Denmark and Sweden was dictated by the fact you cannot drive north via Baltics which have zero superchargers for now.

– The charging speeds are far from advertised. With a drained battery I got over 100kw for a few seconds after which the charging settled to maybe 70-80kw and then gradually dropped to 20-30kw level when the battery was about 70% charged. I’d say the average with a typical 20% -> 70% charge was 50kw and it took more than 30 mins, maybe even 45. For example one Model 3 (which has a 250kw charger instead of the 120kw charger in mine) took just 10kw more juice as I did when we charged side by side. I talked with the owner and he confirmed that’s how it works in reality at least with Supercharger V2 stations which I used all the way up (there was just one or two V3 option on the way but I didn’t have the CCS update so couldn’t try those).

– With only using free superchargers my trip took about 48 hours including roughly 20 hours on the road or charging, 12 hours ferry, and two quick hotel nights in Hamburg and Stockholm… not bad but also not Vanishing Point level.

– Tesla’s service wait times are even worse than where they were two years ago. So no news here. The car has a 12v battery replacement nag on and I got Tesla service in Finland booked 7 weeks from now! Based on owner reports on forums the car can die within 3-4 weeks after that nag comes on and I have no clue when it has started. The non-service is location specific, of course. I would have got an appointment in Germany or Denmark within a week or two, just didn’t have time to wait there. So now I called around and got a third party shop to help in Finland in less than two weeks. Let’s see how it works. The other option is I just follow guys on Youtube and do the replacement myself.

– Tesla’s service has also become more automated, standardized and overall less helpful. For some reason my car came with V2 mobile charger (probably v1 had broken down) and lacked the three phase red adapter which I’d like to use in my garage. At the time of buying I thought it won’t be an issue to get but boy how wrong I was… The adapter does exist but is not listed on Tesla’s online store so I wanted to call them to check how to get it. Eventually somebody picked up the phone, obviously in some call center, and that person had no clue what I was talking about. The answer ended up being if what I am looking for is not listed on the online store it doesn’t exist. Ok, thank you for the non answer. I didn’t give up and stopped by at Malmö service center. I got somebody from the showroom to talk with and again she had no clue first what I was talking about. Went to service guys to ask more details and came back with an answer they don’t know if it’s available somewhere, at least they don’t stock anymore any cables or adapters in service centers or showrooms, so sorry about it. Ok. Total self service. Don’t get a Tesla unless you are ready to do your own research. I’m left with hunting that adapter or the original mobile charger V1 through ebay! Meanwhile I also ordered a third party 11kw charger with the red plug through

* * *

With all the above said I am still very very happy with this car. It is the best car I have ever owned. Compared to my previous Tesla this one has all wheel drive, super quick performance, better seats, better audio and that autopilot. It’s not perfect but it is from 2015 and beats what the competition has in 2021. Yeah, Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT might look cooler but their usability and technology are handicapped. They have less interior and boot space. Where do you charge them on the road? And in fact these cars, costing 3x the money, are not any faster than my six year old Tesla. Mercedes EQS might have the range and a supersize screen but just take a quick look at Tetris running on that screen you can see it sucks. Porsche, Audi and Mercedes are fundamentally bringing cars they have always done to the market, just with batteries and electric motors in place of gas tanks and combustion engines. After you have driven enough cars in your life you can conclude that these cars are simply boring compared to Tesla. I know Tesla’s service sucks, okay, and the build quality is not there, okay. However, Tesla offers more value for the money. The car from 2015 still feels like it is the next generation, the beginning of a new adventure. And your kids love it too. Tesla is the only car today where they don’t ask if it supports Android Auto or Carplay to begin with.