Result: 13th place
Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak Control/Rengade Control 2.0 - 1.7bar
This is was the second race of the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). At the first race I had suffered a tear in the side of the front tyre, so for this race I had the slightly thicker Control version of Rengeade and Fast Trak as opposed to S-works. The Specialized web site says "Casing: 60 TPI for 15% improved cut resistance over S-Works model". 15% is not much but it's something. The weight is still low, they came to about 550g on my scales. As usual I run a tubeless setup and I had "stansed" the tires 4 days before the race so that I would have time to make them bed properly and have them completely air tight. However, this did not turn out 100% perfect and on race day the rear tire was still l leaking ever so slightly. I decided to run it anyway (the alternative would have been to throw in a tube). I did however over-inflate the tires somewhat to compensate for any leaking of air that might occur.
My form in the week leading up to the race had been rather poor. I had a training session with some of the quick guys on the Wednesday before the race and it went poorly. I had however hoped that perhaps two days of (almost) rest would do some good.
The race consists of three loops: The first one being mostly easy riding gravel roads, however this year they had changed the first loop to also include some single track. The second loop is the technical one and has a lot of single track over rooty and rocky sections. Here you want to ride low tire pressure and full suspension. The last loop goes up and down some of the ski slopes in the area and is really hard on the legs.
Results: Långa Lugnet
The race starts with a fairly long paved uphill. Starting from the second row I started to slowly make my way up through the field. However, after just a couple of hundred meters a very strange thing happened: I got extremely dizzy and had trouble focusing my eyes on the road. This went on for just a few seconds (long enough for me to think about if I should get off the road before I lost my balance). It did however scare me and I took it a bit easier for the rest of the climb. At the top of the climb I could see a large leading group just some 30m ahead. I tried desperately to catch them but couldn't get close enough.
I ended up in a group with Robert Elisasson and and Mathias Israelsson along with 5-6 other guys. The first loop went ok and I did catch up with guys that went off the front group. In the climbs I felt week and struggling but still managed to out distance most of the other riders that were around me. But, the feeling in my body, my legs, was just not one of power, it just felt like a struggle all the way.
The second loop started ok but I did feel the high pressure that I had in the tires. I was bouncing around quite a lot on the roots in spite of the full susp. It had also started raining and that made the roots and the rocks slippery. Still, feeling like a struggle I was not loosing any places and I was still catching up with guys dropping off the front group.
Towards the ends of the second loop and at the beginning of the last I did notice that my body was probably not going to last all the way to the end. At the first few climbs of the last loop, going up the ski slopes, I had to start letting people pass me. I also started to notice that my rear tire now probably had deflated some. I prepared my CO2 while still riding and got off really quickly and gave my rear tire a boost of air. I'm starting to get good at this, however it's scary that it has happened so often this season. NOT GOOD. I did only loose seconds, all though it's hard to judge how much time it costs to ride on that slightly deflated tire before I noticed it. Anyway, getting more and more tired I had to let a few more riders pass me. Then we got to the downhill sections with banked turns and berms. I tried to take them as quickly as I could but it was getting very slippery by then as the rain had increased even more. I finished the race ok. 13th place is not good, but I made the best that I could from the poor form that I'm currently in. I wonder how my form will be at the stage race, Beskidy Trophy, that I start on Thursday next week.
Conclusion: I need to learn how to maximize my form before important races