Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Beskidy Trophy 2021 [UPDATED DURING THE 4 STAGES OF THE RACE]

Stage 4 (final stage):

The situation in the general standings before today's stage was that I was in third place in my category, some 25 minutes behind the second place guy, and the guy in fourth was about the same distance behind me. Now, baring disasters there was no way anything was going to change. This means I could take it sort of easy and not feel stressed during the last stage.

The weather had changed MASSIVELY. Instead of sunshine and 20+ degrees C it had rained all night and the temperature had dropped 15 degrees. We were told that it was 4 degrees C at the top of the  mountain. I dressed accordingly with long sleeves and a wind jacket.

Funny thing about brakes in Beskidy is that they wear out really quickly. At home I can ride on a set of brake pads for most of the year. At Beskidy I had put on new pads before leaving Sweden and the morning before today's stage I noticed that the rear pads were worn out. I had to change them.

The stage started with a really long climb of 15km. I put the power meter square at 280W and held it all the way up. It felt good and this feeling stayed during most of the stage's climbs. I never had to really push it even though I did all four climbs between 260 and 280 average watts.

I was a bit worried about the downhills due to all the rain that had fallen during the night. And it was quite muddy in places but after four days of riding this technical terrain I felt confident and relaxed and descending was easy. I got off the bike in one single place where part of the downhill went through what can only be described as a rockfall. As far as I can tell no one rode that.

It's a good thing that the bad weather and poor conditions occurred at the last stage when I had become used to the extreme terrain.

During the second to last descent I actually caught up and overtook about 5-6 riders from the Classic distance and that felt really good.

The last descent just before the finish line was the same one as we had done in the prologue. The one that I was so nervous about after testing it before the race (scroll down to the bottom of this page to read about it). This time it was also slightly muddy. But it went great! I caught up with a guy at the bottom and he seemed a bit stressed by the fact that I was behind and ended up crashing (very mildly, he was okay). I ended up doing this particular section one minute quicker that in the prologue when conditions were dry!

The final downhill. Entries are from last stage, prologue and test ride



I crossed the finish line for another third place.

This also means that I came third in M50 in the end results of the race. The nice thing is that I get a free start in the next edition of Beskidy!



Stage 3:


Four hills to climb -> four uphills and four downhills.

First hill: I went relatively hard uphill and had my eye on Calle and Per all the way up. They disappeared during the downhill. The downhill was fairly steep and continuous so I managed to overheat the rear brake again (had no problem with overheating at all yesterday). I ended up using only the front brake towards the end of the downhill and so therefor I had to go a bit slower. Got passed by a couple of cyclists.

Second hill: Felt the weakest during this uphill. Don't know why. The downhill however was in a bike park with built track and obstacles and jumps. The first part was okay. But then it got crazy steep and I ended up getting off the bike and walking some of the dangerous stuff. I really hate it when I have to get off the bike because once I've crossed that threshold it's easier for me to chicken out the next time and do it again. By comparison on yesterday's stage I didn't have to get off the bike even once.

Third and fourth (last) hill: Uphills went much better than the second hill and I managed to average about 260W. Downhills went well too and had no problems with the brakes.

Result: Third place in M50


Stage 2


Stage 2 was the first real stage of the race with 56 km of riding and 2400 m of climbing.

Even before the stage even started there was drama. One hour before I needed to be in my box I started riding towards the starting area and I noticed that my gears were not working. I turned back to the hotel, dismantled the shifter and was met with this:


The shift cable had (almost) snapped in the shifter and was all frayed up. I pulled it out (wasn't easy) and replaced it with a new one. My good friend Calle Nelson assisted me and without him I think it would have been really close if I had made the start. Now I was in the starting area with about 15 minutes to spare.

My good pal Per Henriksson leads my class and as the race started I had an eye on him and also on Calle who was in fifth place in M40. Up the first climb Calle and I slowly approached Per and then passed him. I set my eye on the power readout and tried to stay around 300W with a H/R of about 165-170bpm.

As the first downhill started Calle passed me on the right and went downhill like his hair was on fire. That guy can move downhill! I had a minor crash as the trail turned onto a road in a tight left turn; My front tire lost grip in the lose gravel and I bit the dust. Got up, re-aligned the handlebars and I was off again. Per caught up a little later but I was able to get on his wheel and follow him downhill.

Up the second climb I rode together with Per but just before the end of the climb there was a severely steep section where I made the decision to get off and walk while Per continued on the bike. He got a bit of a gap and I was never able to close it again.

Had a second crash at the top of the mountain where my left pedal stuck on something in the grass and I went flying over the handlebars. No damage done and I was back on the bike in a few seconds.

Downhill went well. I felt brave today and did the downhills quickly so I'm pleased with that. Not once did I get off the bike to walk. I really love the control that the dropper post gives me. I use it A LOT here.

Last climb was soooo slow. I was looking down at my power numbers and they barely went over 200W. The only thing that lifted my spirits somewhat was that everyone around me seemed just as tired.

Last downhill went quickly but I got into another minor crash in a really steep section. No biggie though. Crossed the finish line and saw Calle and Per waiting for me. Had some cake!



Result: Third place in M50






Stage 1: Prologue



Result: Third place in M50



I did the long climb fairly easy. It took 41 minutes all in all at 298W and 169bpm H/R.

What I am however the most proud of is the fact that I did the whole difficult downhill section without getting off the bike!!











Before the race


That's right! It's really happening! Beskidy Trophy is on for 2021. And it starts... TOMORROW!


I packed the Type-R with my two BMC Fourstrokes (and also my Bianchi Oltre road bike)

BMC Fourstroke One 01

Two mountainbikes and a road bike packed inside a Honda Civic!

My kind neighbour, Jörgen, helped me get the car started (out of battery power)

There was a bit of last-minute drama as you can see in the photo; The battery of the Honda had fully discharged and it wouldn't start (I almost never drive anywhere anymore so the car sits for weeks). My neighbor, Jörgen, helped me out however and we got the car started.

The bikes: BMC Fourstroke One 01
I'm going to race on the black one (which has mechanical gears, the red one has electronic)
The tires: Maxxis Aspen 2.2" (weight: 640 gram) 

I'm going to write a complete piece on the bikes... soon...

The nice thing with the BMC Fourstroke is that it has a built-in dropper post from the factory. Only a 70mm drop but it's enough. I think it's going to be very useful in the terrain here.

I arrived in Poland yesterday (Tuesday). With the pandemic going about I had to do a Covid test, of the Antigen kind, in Sweden so that I had a certificate to show at the Polish border. I did the test, got the certificate showing a negative results, and then NO ONE CHECKED IT AT THE BORDER!?


After arriving on location I managed to get my bike ready and then met up with my two friends Calle and Per (who are also racing) for a short test ride.




This year the venue changes racing village from Istebna, which they've used all the previous years (is it 5 now?) that I've participated in the race to a nearby village called Szczyrk. Go ahead and try to pronounce that! The change is good as this village is bigger and more touristy. It has more small shops, restaurant and the hotel that we're staying at is much bigger (nicer buffé).




I'm writing this Wednesday and the race starts tomorrow. The first stage is a shorter prologue stage of 16km with 700 meters of climbing. One big climb and one big downhill. Everyone starts in a single start time trial fashion. Actually three riders start at a time with a pause between groups. There's no seeding and we're just starting ordered by last name. So that will be interesting...

I test rode the stage this morning. The climb is pretty much what I expected: First a short stretch of asphalt, then gravel road, then forest road. However the descent is a bit more extreme than I had expected. There's a section that is extremely steep, has these big stones that move around and the trail is really narrow. I used the dropper on the descent to get nice a low but managed to overheat the rear brake. It's going to be interesting to see if some riders jump of their bikes to walk that section and what kind of congestion that could lead to.








Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Mountain Biking on Gran Canaria in December and January

Gran Canaria Mountain Biking

This was my first time ever riding on the island. So how was it? It was very nice! Lots of nice single track, downhills and big climbs.



Summary


    Total days: 17

    Sunny days / Rainy days: 13 / 4  

    Total distance:          762 km in total, 45 km/day

    Total time:              55 hours,  3.5 hours/day

    Total climbing:          22056 m, 1300 m/day

    Total crashes:           0

    Strava KOMs:             8


The Covid situation


I feel I should write something about this, sort of a disclaimer: I live alone in Sweden. I stayed by myself on Gran Canaria. No group rides. I wore a mask everywhere, except for while riding. I did a PCR test before I was allowed to enter Spanish territory. I feel I took no unnecessary risks and didn't subject anyone else to any risks.
Also, I've been home now for 2 weeks and I'm still alive :)

GC vs Chiang Mai


For the past six years, every winter, for about two weeks, I've been bicycling around the hills are trails of Chiang Mai, Thailand. This year, due to Covid-19, Chiang Mai was not an option. I did some research and came to the conclusion that the Canary islands were a good option: 1. No travel restrictions, all you need to show was a negative Covid test. 2. Nice climate. 3. Good mountain bike terrain. The islands had two good choices: Tenerife or Gran Canaria. I could only find direct flights to Gran Canaria so that became my choice.

The Covid situation was developing and the rules were changing all through the fall of 2020 and that led to a lot of uncertainty. I didn't book my trip to Gran Canaria until late in November. I used AirBnb to get an entire apartment to myself. I didn't want to be in one of the big touristy cities by the shore line, instead somewhere up in the mountains, close to the trails: The village of Valsequillo. 

My AirBnb residence in Valsequillo
My AirBnb residence in Valsequillo

The village of Valsequillo
The village of Valsequillo


Costs


Flight from Sweden (inc. bike):  €500

Apartment:                       €20 per night

Food:                            Cheaper than Sweden, more expensive than Thailand


Pros and Cons (compared to Chiang Mai):


Price: Flight is 1/3 of the price compared to Chiang Mai. AirBnb/hotel about the same,

Weather: On a good day Gran Canaria was almost as warm as Chiang Mai. However there were many more cloudy and rainy days compared to a typical December in Chiang Mai.

Time Zone: No jet lag!!!

Terrain: Same as Chiang Mai. There's both good single track and downhill to be found in both places.

Mountains: Same although the peaks are higher on Gran Canaria.

Food: Thai food is much more tasty.

People: Thai people are so much more friendly.

Traffic: The Gran Canarians drive excellently and overtake bicyclists VERY carefully. I felt 100% safe.


Arriving with a Broken Seatpost


When I had assembled my bike on the first day I noticed that the seat post wouldn't stay put after I had locked it in place. The tightened the bolt that held it in place but as soon as I sat on the saddle it would just slowly lower itself. 

The BMC Fourstroke has BMC's own built-in dropper seatpost making it a bespoke technical solution. I disassembled the whole thing, pulled it out of the frame, and did a lot of thinking, googling and analysis. After many hours I came to the conclusion that the black metal thingy and the white plastic thingy should probably be attached (as seen in the photo). They were both floating around separately on the seatpost.

I fixed it, assembled the whole thing again, and it worked!! 


The BNC 'RAD' Dropper Post

This is the part that 'broke' The black metal part and white plastic part separated


The Long Climb

Benchmark climb
The Long Climb


In Chiang Mai I have a benchmark climb that I like to do each year that I come there. It's 8.6km long and you climb 893 meters all in all. The quickest that I've done it is in 55 minutes with a 300W average.

On Gran Canaria I found a similar climb starting just outside of my village. The climb is called  Haciendas 2.0 (llanetes-caldera) and is 12.4km long with an altitude gain of 1084m


On my third attempt I got the KOM with a time of 1:08:59 and 312W average power.



Hopefully I'll be able to return to Gran Canaria in future years to try this climb again.

Benchmark Switchback Downhill


Apart from the uphill benchmark climb that I mention in the previous section I also found a nice technical downhill just outside of the village called bajada bco. san roque. Unfortunately it took an hour of asphalt riding to get to the top of the mountain in order to do the downhill.

One of the switchback turns

The downhill was a series of switchbacks (180 degree turns) and going steeply downhill. It was very rocky. The first time I rode it it took 15 minutes and at the end I was down to 5 minutes. There were two places that I still had to get off the bike because I found them unrideable. In the end I was fifth out of 45 riders on that particular segment although far away from the KOM of 3.5 minutes.

My progress on the switchbacks segment



Very stony and hard to get around the turns


Kind of tricky on a rainy day



The Ravine


One of the really cool trails that I found was a ravine leading downhill and towards the sea from Valsequillo to Telde. The singletrack continued even after Telde and all the way to the beach. There were a bunch of segments going both uphill and downhill. I managed a Strava KOM on the uphill and a second place on the downhill. Neither were steep but a lot of fun. If you're in the area I really recomend you ride "The Ravine".



The Ravine


The Fourstroke in Technical Terrain


I bought my BMC Fourstroke in the fall (separate post coming on that) and this trip to Gran Canaria was my first chance to ride it in really technical terrain. I have to say that it performed excellently. It felt so much more stable than my old Trek Top Fuel due to the slacker geometry (Head tube angle is 67.5 degrees compared to 70.0 for the old Trek). The dropper post also helped immensly in sections like the switchbacks that I mention above.



Photos