Monday, 9 October 2017

Benchmark 2x8min, second try two weeks later

This morning I took another shot at two eight minute intervals. This is the session I did two weeks ago. I had actually forgotten about my data from two weeks ago so I just went all-in without any preconceptions.

I went harder this time around and my max heart rate was higher at 182 (180 on the first try). I really suffered towards the end.

The funny thing is that I ended up with the exact same average as last time: 346W. So the 90% formula means that my FTP is 312W



Here's the graph from the first session:



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Summary of 2017 season

With the last of the regular summer races done with it's time to summarize the 2017 season:

NOT SO GOOD

Yeah, I had higher expectations.

Things didn't start off well with the heel injury just prior to Andalucia Bike Race which meant I couldn't train properly (and also gained weight before the start of the race). Then I suffered my catastrophic mechanical failure and had to abort the race during the fifth stage. Well, at that point I didn't care that much anymore.

The next goal was the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). I had a fourth place in the cup from 2016 to improve upon.

The cup started of with my favorite race: Billingeracet. I had trained well before the race and my weight was good. The year before I had come in second place so expectations were high for this year. I finished sixth. A bit of a disappointment but I felt that I had done a good race. Looking at some of the Strava segments during the race also told the same story: I was quicker than the year before. So I guess the opposition was tougher.

Things didn't get much better; In the next race, Lång Lugnet, I came in seventh place. In fact that was the theme for the rest of the races in the cup: Mediocre results. Well, that's when they weren't out right awful, I had a few of those as well.

I finished the Swedish Marathon Cup in sixth place overall. Two places worse than the year before. Also not a single podium finish in any of the races.



The middle season goal was the stage race Beskidy Trophy in June. In 2016 I finished in fourth place, just 60 seconds down on third. Again this year the preparations involved a big push to lose weight and I got down to close to 70 kg just before the race. Pretty much the same as last year. I ended up finishing in sixth place, mostly due to a terrible second stage with lots of punctures. If I deducted the time that I lost during that stage it looked like I might have finished in fourth again. A good result, but not what I was looking for.

There was also the Swedish Marathon Championships: I had a good training period before them, weight was not perfect, but good. But then I suffered a puncture within the first kilometer. The way I was able to catch up and finish in 10th place in spite of this tells me that I was in good shape. Especially as I the day after had my best placing in the Marathon Cup: 5th place.

So what went wrong?

I don't know. I think that I'm going to sit down and have a good think about it. One of my theories is that I don't do enough high intensity training. Someone may say that I need to be more structured in my training. And they'd be right in saying that. I have an idea for a separate blog post about this. Coming up!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Benchmark 2x8 minutes

I thought I'd start the winter training season with a benchmark session on the stationary trainer. I was thinking about what kind of intervals I was going to do and settled on two times 8 minuts.

The average of the first 8 minutes was 345W and the second 348W. I was pleasantly surprised by this.

I have a Stages power meter on the stationary bike so that's where the data is from

My plan is to do these benchmarks at regular intervals this automn/winter/spring in order to have a clear goal.

You can calculate your FTP from a 2x8min session by taking 90% of the average power. So that would make my FTP about 312W


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Västgötaloppet - Worst race of the year



Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin F/B 1.58 / 1.62 bar



Last race of the Cup


The racing season has been long for me this year (my season started with the Andalucia Bike Race in February) but this was the last race. It was also the last race of the Swedish Marathon Cup. Motivation was not the best but I did manage to find the energy to swap the Thunderburt that I had in the back for a Rocket Ron. This seemed more appropriate as there had been a lot of rain and the track was going to be muddy.


Before the start: Still happy. This would change

Heavy legs that got lighter


As the race started my legs immediately felt very heavy but it all changed after just a few hundred meters. All of a sudden I was flying past a bunch of well known faces who I know are strong cyclists. I managed to hang on to the wheels of a small but strong group who went absolutely bananas during the start loop. As the start loop ended we had caught up to a larger group that had the eventual M40 winner, Robert Eliasson, in it. At this point I thought that either I'm going really quickly or Robert is having a bad day.


First half of the race


As we moved into the singletrack I lost Robert but there were still strong cyclists around me and the pace was good. The thing is that I expect the start of the race to hurt a lot and heart rate is high, but I know that it will get easier as people start to settle down. 

Today, however, it was like I didn't have any time to recover. The pace didn't slow, and I just kept getting more and more tired. The well known faces that I had left behind caught up with out group and soon I had Daniel Grass, Lars Hansen and Jerry Olsson with me.




Lights out


At about 30km, with every acceleration and climb still feeling like it took every ounce of energy from me, I started to feel that perhaps all was not well. Then, as we came around the stadium to lap at 40km all energy just left my body. I let go of the group and started thinking about aborting the race. Getting this tired just halfway through a race is not normal. I can't start doing damage control while knowing that I have 2 hours of riding left. After some thinking I decided to finish the race.

Typically when you hit this sort of a wall you notice it by your heart beat decreasing. It can clearly be seen from the graph below

Looking at the H/R curve you can see where I hit that invisible wall of tiredness


Limiting the pain


After I had decided that I was going to continue on with the race I was at first too tired to hang on to any of the riders that went by me. But after a while I took some wheels and managed to hold them at least for some kilometers. Every climb that came just killed me. Each section of singletrack was muddy and there was never an opportunity to just roll along: Everything took an immense effort.


The end


I finished the race in 14th place and that puts me in sixth overall in this year's cup. It's a disappointment as when I was planning the season I was aiming for a podium finish. Last year I came in fourth place in the overall standings for the cup


Tired and not so happy

Picked up some mud on the way


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bockstensturen - Insect bites and cracked saddles

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin, Thunderburt 1.58 / 1.62 bar

Result: 10th place

Bitten by something

I went out the evening before the race just to make sure everything was working on the bike. I didn't get much further than a few meters into the forest before something bit me on the right side of my face. There was a burning sensation but it didn't swell up like a bite from a bee. I kept biking for a few more minutes and then suddenly my whole body starts itching. I turn around and head home and for the next hours I'm itching all over and my skin breaks out in small goose bumps. I take some antihistamine pills and wait for it to pass... although I can't really "wait" because then I go crazy from the itch so I try to keep myself occupied with computer games. At around 1 am I manage to fall asleep.

Reaction from being bitten by some kind of insect

I wake up the next morning feeling "okay" and decide to do the race anyway. I had a bit of a sore throat but I wasn't sure if that was part of the allergic reaction or not.


Bockstensturen


Bockstensturen is the toughest of the races in Långloppscupen: 100km and plenty of climbs. It's a bit different because you have this transport section that goes on roads out into the forest; about 17 km long. Then you have some 60 kilometers of mostly singletrack, before you leave the forest and head back towards Varberg.

Typically, as the race is late in the season, there will have been some rain and the terrain will be muddy. This was the case this year as well and I was covered in mud when I finished

Before the forest


As every year the start is just beside the beautiful castle, close to the sea, in the city of Varberg. It's the most spectacular start of any of the races in the cup.

The first 17 km of the race, on paved and gravel roads, went well. There's always a lead group of Elite riders who set a crazy pace and all I need to do is stay in the group and enjoy being pulled along. I remember that in 2016 the pace out of Varberg was absolutely crazy and I just managed to hang on. This year it was easier.

The forest and the climbs


As the track progressed into the forest there's a few climbs to be negotiated. On previous years I have at times gone a bit too hard here. This year I took it a bit easier but it seemed that the pace was good as I saw some familiar faces around me who I know are quick riders: Stefan Hellman, Daniel Grass and Lars Hansen.

Something went "CRACK!"


At about 40 km into the race there's some sort of bump which pushes the rear of the bike suddenly upwards and the saddle hits my ass rather hard. I hear a cracking noise. I feel that something must have gone wrong with the saddle. I've had a Tune Kom-Vorr before and had it crack on me, at that time I had decided to abort the race. I try to sit on the saddle and it seems possible, however I also notice that my bibs are getting stuck on something that's ripping them appart. It's also restricting my movement a lot: I'm not able to properly stand up. I notice that as long as I just sit as far forward on the saddle as possible I'm able to continue.



Hanging onto the quick boys


In spite of the cracked saddle I manage to hang onto this very nice group that has formed. I notice that I handle the somewhat slippery and technical downhill section better than I have previous years. 

At about 60km I start getting tired and realize that I will probably have to let the group go so that I can make it to the end of the race.





Surviving to the finish


After letting go of my quick group I end up riding by myself for a while. Then another group comes by but they're going really quickly so I just manage to follow for a few kilometers. Towards the end another smaller group of three riders form and I'm able to follow at that pace...

But then, with just 10km to go, my calves start cramping up. With just one cramping at a time I'm able to stretch and get rid of the cramp. But then all of a sudden both of them cramp up at the same time and all I can do is stand up to stretch both as hard as I can, but then I'm not able to pedal. So I let the two other riders go and wait for the cramps to pass while I slowly roll ahead. 

After the cramps pass I'm able to speed up and hold a good pace to the finish line.

I finish in 10th place and do my quickest time ever on Bockstensturen: 04:01:07s

Past years for reference:
2017: 04:01:07 (10th place)
2016: 04:04:06  (7th)
2015: 04:32:25  (12th)
2014: 04:02:29 (5th, 95km)
2013: 03:58:19 (28th, 95km)
2012: 04:10:24 (36th 95km)


My torn bibs from the cracked saddle

Young Jakob Håkansson, who has been my training partner

Monday, 28 August 2017

XCup #6 - Unbelievable mudfest

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron/Thunderburt 2.1 Snakeskin 1.60 / 1.60 bar

Result: Somewhere far behind

I had been sick for most of the week, and spent most of the night before the race in the bathroom. That meant very little training for almost an entire week: I needed a high intensity workout. Had I stayed at home and gone for a ride in the forest I would've just felt tired and cranky. The best solution to get the right intensity was the local XCup race. I had some extra tissue paper with me if I had an emergency...

Unfortunately the race turned out to be a real mudfest. It had rained during the night and it rained during the race. The track is built on almost 100% dirt which turned to mud. Large parts of the track were not ridable at all. Lots of riders aborted halfway through.

It turned out to be a good high intensity session anyway.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Snapphaneturen - The old Classic

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.25 / 2.1 Snakeskin, Thunderburt 1.50 / 1.60 bar

Result: 8th place (overall)

Snapphaneturen

This is perhaps the best MTB marathon that you can race in Sweden. Why? There's so much wonderful singletrack! The race is technical and the terrain is wonderful with lots of difference in elevation. Instead of the usual average speed of sometimes close to 30 km/h of some marathons, you're closer to 20 km/h.

The competition


This 60 km race just has one race class and there were about 50 of us starting today. I recognized some of the names from my typical competitors in the Swedish Marathon Cup: Robert Eliasson, Daniel Grass, Lars Hansen. Also some other pals were in the race including young Jakob Håkansson and Robin Stenhöös, a local rider who knows the terrain like the back of his hand. I had noticed that some serious riders had signed up for the race also, two Danish guys and Swedish elite rider Fredrik Ludvigsson.

Tire choice


The weather ahead of this year's race was a bit uncertain. There had been some rainfall in the days leading up to the event. I remembered that last year the race turned out to be really slippery and that I had problems trusting the grip that my tires gave me. The evening before the race I decided to switch from running RocketRon 2.1 in front to 2.25 and in the rear I switched from ThunderBurt 2.1 to Rocket Ron 2.1. The tires that I put on had already been used tubeless before so I had no worries about them holding air right away.

The Start


We started the race behind the pace car but after a short while it went away and the pace increased. The gravel road start loop had an uphill section after just a few hundred meters and here the pace got high right away. I noticed that I couldn't quite respond to the change in pace and was left struggling to even bridge the smallest gap the appeared between me and the guys in front. This was not a good sign.

I saw Robert Eliasson move ahead with a group of riders while I was left in a smaller group with, among others, Daniel Grass and Lars Hansen. This group remained intact for the first 10 km of the race but after we got into some muddy terrain I slowed down a bit as I felt that I just couldn't manage the kind of small accelerations that the terrain demanded. I lost contact with the front part of the group and saw Daniel and Lars move away while I was left with some of the other riders.

Riding with the local guy


After a while I caught up with Robin Stenhöös, a local rider, who is really quick. I let him pick the line and more or less copied it. After a while I moved ahead in a section of singletrack that I knew and Robin was on my wheel. But then we got to a flooded and muddy part with a stream running across the track. I made a split decision to go right but had to get off my bike to get over the stream. In the corner of my eye I noticed that Robin had instead decided to go left where there was a bridge. This was a much better choice and Robin got ahead of me.

Chasing and being chased


I decided that I was going to chase Robin down but instead found myself getting chased down by three riders who got on my wheel. In the next singletrack section I upped the pace and found them drop back. Holding this quicker pace I was still surprised when I wasn't catching up to Robin

The last third


When we started approaching the last 20 km of the race, on a gravel road section a rider from the club Lunedi caught up with me. He was really strong on the gravel road sections so I got on his wheel and we took turns keeping the pace high. It didn't take us long before we saw Robin ahead of us. I noticed by his style of riding that he had gotten tired. In no time at all we had caught up with him and this happened just before a gravel road climb. I went to the front of our three man group and pulled hard up the climb and Robin had to let go.

During the next technical downhill Robin caught up again. Home court advantage for him! But then there was another gravel road climb and he disappeared behind us. It was just me and the Lunedi rider left.

I noticed that my companion was quick in the uphills and gravel road sections but slow in the downhills. As I knew that the next 10 km of the race had a few technical downhills I was pretty sure that I could lose him there. This also happened and for the next half an hour I didn't see him at all. This was slightly dangerous as I was all alone and started thinking of different things than the race - Riding alone in a race is distracting.

With 5 km left I reached a long straight open gravel road and towards the end of it, with just the last part of the race left, I looked behind to see if anyone was following. To my surprise there were two cyclists just a few hundred meters behind. Okay I thought, I guess I won't be able to just easily glide over the finish line.

The trail went back into the forest and upped the pace over the last couple of climbs while all the time looking behind me. I didn't see the two chasing riders again and could comfortably cross the line in eighth place. Not a bad result but I was way too far behind Robert, Daniel and Lars for it to be a good performance.

Photo from Himmelsbacken (thank you Mattias Hedelius)