Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak S-works/Rengade S-works 2.0 - 1.7bar
Billingeracet is the first race in the Swedish Marathon Cup (Svenska Långloppscupen). It's also one of the toughest races in the cup. It's 80km long, contains a bunch of climbing and a high percentage of single track. Being early in the season it's also not unusual that the race is quite muddy. The finish is up the infamous "Strupen" hill climb. I've done this race twice previously and failed both times in a miserable way.
As the race, for me at least, tends to take around 3.5 hours a full suspension bike is the right tool to keep the legs fresh towards the end of this race. So my bike of choice for the day was the Superfly FS, together with the light and easy rolling S-works tires (which turned out to be a mistake)
The race starts with a really long climb (about 7 minutes) which for the first half is on paved road but then transitions into single track. It's important to go hard during this climb in order to get a good position into the single track and also so that, after the climb, you get a good group to ride with. On previous years I have gone "all in" on this climb and have come over it completely exhausted. This year I took it a bit easier. Strava still says that it went 7 seconds quick than 2014.
After the climb I managed to find a good group to ride with, among other riders, my team mate Jerry Olsson. I knew that my other teammate, Martin Wenhov, was not too far behind as he had followed my up a large portion of the starting hill. Our group varied around 4 - 8 cyclist for the first half of the race. The last major hill, before the finishing one, is done just before the 30km mark of the race. On this particular hill, when comparing numbers with 2014, I went almost half a minute quicker. This shows that I was much more successful in planning my riding and choosing good groups to ride with.
Halfway through the race you pass the stadium where the race finishes and here I had placed a bottle which I was able to pick up. This was the first time that I had a home-built bottle holder so that I could take the bottle at more-or-less full speed. This went well. We went out into the second and last loop with Jerry some 20-30 meters ahead of me. I caught up with him and we were a group of about 4-5 riders again.
As the race approached the last 20km my legs where feeling good and things were going well. The group was down to 4 riders now, with Jerry still there. But then my front wheel stopped wanting to turn in properly. I realized that the front tyre is almost flat. My first thought was that it was another burp (of which I had had a few with these tyres). So I got off the bike and used one of my two CO2 canisters to inflate the tyre. It seemed to hold air. I got on the bike and continued, but, of course, my group had gone away from me. While filling up the tyre with air I also noticed Martin Wenhov passing by (as usual he's never far behind when a race draws closer to its ending).
I try to keep up the pace and motivation even though I'm rather upset with the situation. I was having a great race and everything is going fine up till this point. I managed to ride a few more kilometers and then notice that my front tyre is going flat again. Now I realize that I have to start planning: I have one more CO2 canister left and about 15km to go until the finish. I do have a normal mini pump but using that to fill up the tyre would cost me a lot of time. I try to hang on as long as I can with a really badly behaving bike due to the small amount of air in my front tyre. I make it to about 10km left and then use my last C02.
As I mentionen before the race ends in the long climb - 'Strupen'. I go up this climb with barely any air left in my front tyre. The climb is normally really tough and under these circumstances double so. I do however manage to get up it and am surprised to discover that I mamanged to finish in 10th place. Without the mechanical issues I would probably have finished in fifth place
I'm changing to tyres with thicker side walls for the marathon races