Kodan Spotlight: Jesse’s life in the saddle
Kodan Spotlight is a series of blog posts introducing our employees through their passions. This time in the spotlight is our software developer Jesse Lankila.
"My first memories of cycling are in Itä-Vantaa. My grandparents lived a few kilometres away, so I rode back and forth a lot. My grandfather features heavily in many of my early cycling memories. He was a bicycle enthusiast who enjoyed bike touring and closely followed the Tour de France every year. And whenever one of the grandchildren turned 12, my grandfather bought them a bike for their birthday. He also took me on my first longer bike rides, which taught me that a person can pedal 50 kilometres in a day and still feel fine.
In secondary school I rode my bike almost everywhere. It was normal suburban life in the saddle. During my university studies I didn't ride as much, but at the same time I admired my fellow students’ fast-looking drop bar bikes. I thought it would be great to have one of those! My spouse and friends then had a whip-round for me as a graduation present, and I used that money to buy my first proper steed: a Focus cyclocross bike. And after ten years, I still use that bike. It’s one of my three trusted bikes.
When cycling started to turn into a hobby for me, I ended up with a group of hardcore cyclists. They drew me into road racing competitions and cyclocross. Nowadays I don’t race on the road as much anymore, and I don’t really reminisce about any specific competition or result. The actual best thing about the races was that it was immensely fun and social to participate in and organise them. At cyclocross competitions in particular, I've made some nice little friendships with competitors of the same level as we ride the same short track together over and over again. I’m also part of the Stanga Racing team, which is a great group with lots of people of the same age and mindset. I have made some very long-term friends there.
I have cycled abroad a few times. Mallorca is a popular destination with varied terrain and fantastic scenery. Traffic there has already adapted to groups of cyclists riding past every few minutes. Also, the Stanga Racing team traditionally travels to Nice each year, to the Maritime Alps, where there are lots of iconic hills and routes. There, when you’re pedalling up a mountain road in drizzling rain and picturesque French villages emerge from the fog, buildings half-hanging over the ravines… It’s surreal.
At some point, I’d still like to try the steepest and longest slopes in the Alps. I’d like to know how it feels to climb on a bike for so long and to such elevations. I think it would be a wonderful experience that would be both mentally and physically challenging.
I grew up in a home that placed more emphasis on culture than sport, and I didn’t really get to know my own body as much as I would have wanted to. Through cycling, I’ve been able to do that, and I’ve really developed my mind-body connection. The endurance athlete mentality has also been useful in other areas of my life. When I’ve ridden in a competition or up a hill that felt endless, it prepared me mentally for projects that feel as though they’ll never be finished. You still know that even these things come to an end, even though it feels hopeless right now. I’ve found it particularly helpful when trying to put our baby to sleep.
I just love the feeling of freedom cycling gives me. In the saddle, you alone decide on your routes and timetables. The cold, wind, and rain on your face definitely makes you feel alive. You can feel the environment on your skin, present in a way that you don’t get when sitting in a bus or a train."
Photos: Jesse Lankila
p.s. We’re always looking for new software developers and designers.