Saturday, 14 August 2021

DGI MTB Cup race #2

XC Race. 68 minutes + the lap (5.5km per lap)

Result: 3rd place (https://www.sportstiming.dk/event/8657/results?round=40479)
Equipment: BMC Fourstroke with Maxxis Aspen 2.2" tires





Finally back to racing in Denmark. These races have been few and far between since Covid started. Last one was in the autumn of 2020. That was also the only Danish race in 2020.

I love the Danish races because they usually have very nice and flowy tracks. And so was this one. It was a mix of gravel roads and quite fast singletrack. There were some technical elements (roots and short downhills) but it all flowed nicely.

An interesting thing in this race is that my category, M50, had their own start. And more interestingly there were more than 50 of us!




I had my pals Stefan Methander and Stefan Hellberg also racing. We all lined up at the front of the grid. As the race started we got on the start loop which was a double track/gravel road. I had Methander next to me and we both each had a rider in front of us. This felt like a good position for me but just as the start loop and gravel road ended and we made a sharp left onto singletrack one rider took the inside line and cut me off. He had to brake in order to make the turn and we lost a few meters to Methander and three other Danish riders (Hellberg was on my wheel at this point) who formed a group ahead of us.




I got behind the guy who cut in front of me but he immediately started losing ground to the four riders ahead of us and I understood that I had to get around him as quickly as I could or I would lose the lead group. I tried to pass him a couple of times but as soon as I got next to him he sped up. Then I finally managed to get around him in a short but steep climb. So now I'm in fifth place.

I could see the group of four riders ahead of me, no more than some 50 meters. But they were cooperating well. As soon as we got out on a gravel road segment and I pushed 400+ watts I could see them team time trailing.




Towards the end of the first lap I noticed that the fourth rider of the group has lost ground to the other three and I was catching up with him. Just as we went out for the second lap I overtook him and again started hunting the three riders in the lead group. Alright, I'm in fourth place. Just one place short of the podium.

On the second lap I could see the lead group ahead of me, but again, as soon as we got to a gravel road section and I tried to speed up to catch up I saw that they were cooperating and drafting so I was not able to gain ground on them. Towards the end of the second lap I understood I had to give up or blow up. I start looking behind at this point, I've been solo for two laps so far, and notice that I have a group of three riders hunting me down who are not all that far behind.

I realize that I will get no respite in this race. I stop focusing on catching the riders in front and instead try to ride as smartly as possible picking the best lines and breaking as little as I can. In spite of this one of the three riders who are chasing me gets closer and close. A few times he's almost on my wheel before I manage to pick up speed and distance him again. Again he comes closer and again I leave him behind, mostly on the gravel road stretches.




At the start of the fourth lap I notice that I'm catching up with one of the group of three riders ahead who has been dropped by the group. Great! I have a chance at a podium finish. I catch him just before a gravel road section and as we come out on the road I floor it. I'm third! I want him to lose my wheel directly and so as not to have him wheel sucking me. I want him to lose faith!

This works but not long after I notice that the guy who was catching me and the guy I passed have now joined forces and I have two riders cooperating and trying to hunt me down. A few times during the fourth lap they're close to catching me but they don't quite get on my wheel. On the fifth and last lap I manage to get a little more distance and I cross the finish line in third place. Methander gets second place and Hellberg comes in at 10th.

It looks by this list as if I came in 2nd place but they didn't register Methander's time so I'm actually third



I did some really even lap times








Friday, 13 August 2021

Hansa Bygg Grand Prix MTB Svartbäcksmåla

2 laps, supposedly 58km, Marathon race. New race, first time ever. 

Result: 13th overall (no categories)
Equipment: BMC Fourstroke with Maxxis Aspen 2.2" tires

This race was not too far away from where I live so I drove there on the morning before the race. It took about 2.5 hours. I knew nothing about the terrain or the technical nature of the race. All I knew is that it was 2 laps around a track and a total of 58 kilometers. The weather report said some rain in the morning but it was supposed to be dry during the actual race.

During my drive to the location it rained very heavily a few times. Even after getting there and after I had placed my bike in the fold I had to quickly run into the official's tent when there was a quick shower just minutes before the start.


I had no idea what kind of opposition to expect. I knew that there were no categories and I saw a bunch of quick looking young guys around me at the front of the box. Everyone looked eager and quick. 

As the race started it turned that judging the book by the cover was correct this time: They all took off at a crazy pace and I managed to just hang on to the end of the leading group of perhaps 15 riders. I looked behind and saw a gap form to the next group. I managed to move up one or two positions before we started the first section of single track.

Before the rain...

Before the rain...


The singletrack was quite rooty and twisty but it all worked well... Until just a few minutes into the race. the skies opened and rain started POURING down. I don't think I've ever been so thoroughly drenched ever. This means that the rooty mildly technical singletrack turned into a slippery death trap. I slowed down, got passed by a few riders, then got back onto a gravel road, sped up, passed a few riders, got back into singletrack, got passed again, and so on. The lap was a mix of gravel roads connected to quite technical and slow singletrack sections. There were even a couple of placed with A and B lines.

This is how it looked when it was raining the most... pretty much all of the first lap



Going out for the second lap the rain had stopped and the sun came out. It didn't change conditions all that much because all the rain had had made the trails so wet that they were almost as slippery for the second lap around. I had the good fortune of having a young guy on my wheel, who, when the second part of the lap approached went around and started to pull nicely on the gravel road sections. We caught a few riders and passed them. With about 10k left we got into the last part of singletrack and I let him go. I rode that last part solo, not catching up with anyone, but also having no one catch up with me.

Crossed the finish line in 13th place overall (no age categories). It was a fun race in spite of the conditions. I think that in dry conditions I would've managed a top-10 placing.




Seems I moved up from 18th to 13th during the second lap:




Funny thing how the race was actually 63km when the organizers had advertised it as being 58km.






Saturday, 3 July 2021

Trans Alp 2021

Results of Trans Alp 2021

Here's the top-10 of my category and you can see that I finished in 7th place:


Link to results: https://services.datasport.com/2021/mtb/transalp/gesamt/cup053.htm


Video from the stage 7 downhill to lake Garda:



Live reporting below:

I wrote about each stage during the race and you can see those race reports below with the last stage first

Stage 7 - final stage



Result: 9th place

The stage had two long climbs. The second one was really long climbing all of 1000hm so I decided to go easy on the first to have energy left for the second one.

First climb started of nicely on paved roads but turned really bad for the last kilometer to the top: It was so steep that everyone got off and pushed their bikes. At the top of the mountain there were some tricky trails with lots of wet roots and stones. Also we were all bunched up so when one rider got off to walk over some tricky obstacle everyone had to get off. I realized at this point that going easy up the first climb perhaps wasn't the best of ideas as it meant I was a bit further back in the field with riders who couldn't handle this technical stuff. I managed to overtake a few bottle necks and going downhill again I had a clear run. This downhill was really nice with singletrack and lots of adrenaline inducing sheer drop offs.

This took me to the second climb which was the long one: Again it started on asphalt but after the feed station moved to gravel roads. Up this climb I was able to take advantage of the fact that I went easy up the first climb and I was able to overtake a lot of riders.

The final long downhill to lake Garda was amazing: It started of on these loose gravel roads with swithcbacks and tunnels and then, lower down the mountain, became hiking trails with lots of drops and obstacles. It was all really exciting and I was overtaking riders all the way down. I felt very confident at this point and had a good flow in my descending.

Crossing the finish line I saw that I had come in ninth place on the stage. A bit further back than I had expected but I think it was due to the congestion on top of that first mountain.


Stage 6



Result: 21st place

Let's just cut to the chase: I took a wrong turn at about 40km into today's stage and went down a looooong descent until I noticed my mistake. Had to climb back up and I met several riders going up who had made the same mistake. Also talked to my pal Andreas and he had taken the same bad turn. I ended up riding 4km extra and lost 22 minutes according to Strava.

What else is there to write? :( Well, fun stage. First stage with no starting climb so more crowded on the roads but not a major problem. The long climb at the middle of the stage was asphalt first and then gravel road. Descents were tricky because it rained a lot the previous evening and all through the night. Lots of mud and wet roots and stones.




Everything was going well until I made the wrong turn...

Stage 5




Result: Fourth place on today's stage. Seventh overall

Today was a shorter stage compared to the previous couple of stages. That actually felt good. It started in a weird way though: A 14km neutralized start on bicycle paths. It was pure chaos. Neutralized means no overtaking (which the organizers pointed out before the start) but of course many riders ignored this. There was a lot of braking, coming to a complete stand still, then full speed ahead to catch up, breaking again, and so on. I didn't see any actual crash but I wouldn't be surprised if they happened.

The neutralized part went directly into a 1000hm climb on forest roads. It's sort of weird but when I was at the starting line this morning I was not feeling motivated at all do go hard again, mostly due to my mechanical issues and having lost positions in the last couple of stages, but also because I feel quite worn out. But then, when that first hill comes, I go all-in again, and not only that, but the watts are there. First climb went well.

Then we had a fun and entertaining and LONG downhill. Some of it on narrow trails which were rather technical in nature. There had been some rain during the night and the roots were wet. In a few places I got of the bike and ran/walked a few meters past obstacles, and it felt good to see that the other riders around me did the same. I saw one crash but no one got hurt. The downhill did continue on more doubletrack as we got out of the forest and into grassland and meadows: At some point I hear a Danish guy go: "How's it going, Swede?" (in Danish) and then he comes riding past me. I hang onto his wheel only to see him totally miss the fact that there's a big muddy puddle hiding between the next turn and go down hard. Just after this we had some more technical singletrack downhill but he never came past me again.

After the big downhill there was long section of mostly flat terrain. I had the good luck to find good wheels to hang onto here and made good time. One memorable moment was when we went through a 2.1 kilometers long tunnel through the mountain made for walking. It was narrow and the path was gravel with only one light bulb every 100 meters or so. It was also slightly downhill so FAST. Before my eyes adjusted to the dark and I had the bright idea to remove my sunglasses was "interesting".





Last part with a very steep climb and short downhill went well. Already crossing the finish line I suspected that I had made a good stage and so it turned out as well when I saw the results: Fourth place and my best result so far.



Stage 4 - The King (Queen?) Stage:



Result: Eighth place on today's stage. Seventh overall

Today was the big one: The longest and toughest stage of the entire race.

First thing is first: If you've read the race report from yesterday's stage then you know the rear brake of my black BMC Fourstroke failed 100% yesterday. Luckily I had my red Fourstroke with me in the car. After stage 3 I got it ready for today's stage. Interesting thing about the brakes: The black bike has SRAM Level while the red one SRAM Level Ultimate. I moved the wheels over so same Ashima brake discs were used.

First climb went on asphalt and I was not feeling all the motivated. However I soon saw that my legs were producing okay watts (I needed to mentally adapt the power data because this bike has a Stages power meter that only measures my weaker left leg while the black bike has a Quarq and gives about 10% higher values). By this time, having raced for four days with my fellow competitors, I'm starting to recognize people. I saw that I was hanging with the quick boys up the climb so things were looking okay. At the top of the hill there's a bit of flat forest road but I ended pulling my group along so no real benefit there.

I made sure to stop at the first feeding zone at 28km because yesterday I had become dehydrated after running out of water some 15km before the finish. I filled up my bottle.

A downhill section followed on forest roads and I got to try out my new brakes at last. They worked perfectly: No overheating or brake fade! Towards then end of the downhill, as we were approaching the town of Incudine, we went on asphalt roads doing serpentine turns downhill. This is where I saw my first crash of the day where one guy, just in front of me, went into a serpentine turn a bit too quickly and lost the front tire which skid out from under him. He went down but not all that hard. He seemed okay afterwards.

The flat portion in the middle of the stage that followed was mostly paved bike paths. We got a good group of four riders going here and were pushing very nicely. Each rider took his turn at the front. Good!

Now... The long uphill as you can see in the profile map above. This is on paved roads first, then some gravel roads, but after the feed zone at 63k it's all hiking trails. Very uneven ones all done in first gear.... barely. I just went easy up this whole climb not wanting to risk killing myself early on and also feeling quite tired. I think I was still feeling the dehydration from yesterday as well as a beginning headache that never broke out. The last kilometer before the top, a pass that we crossed, was walking. Too steep to bike some people pushed their bikes while others carried the bike on their backs. One kilometer of trail that is so steep you can barely walk it takes an eternity when you have a bike to push.

One weird thing on this climb, high up on the hiking trail, was when a german shepherd came running down the trail in the opposite direction zig-zagging between cyclists. He looked like he knew exactly where he was going and nothing was going to stop him. He totally ignored everything but his mission to follow the trail.

Last downhill: Well, not really all "downhill", because if you have a careful look you notice two humps in the profile map. Those two humps are climbs that feel like they go one forever when you're already exhausted. But I'm getting ahead of myself: The downhill! This was probably the most spectacular descent of the race. We went down hiking paths, first in wide open landscape with snow around us, big stones and several creeks flowing over our cracks that had to be crossed. Then it turned into tight singletrack with biiiig steps/drops. I felt very confident and with my dropper down I felt like a downhill ace. I had to to ask a few riders if I could pass them! That happens like NEVER! Also saw my second crash here when one rider found one of these steps a bit too high to drop and went over his handlebars. He was fine though. We also managed to cross a narrow rope bridge at one point with the bike in front on its rear wheel. The bridge swinging from side to side while trying to hold onto the bike and get it across was pretty exciting.






Those last two climbs that I mentioned in the previous paragraph were not much fun... I was NOT quick. But in the downhills in between I was quick... A bit too quick: I had my first crash of the race with just one kilometer to go. I was coming down a narrow trail going down a meadow with switchbacks. At one of the straights I noticed that a bush was growing with it's branches spanning over the trail that I needed to use to pass it. There was perhaps 30-40cm of space between the bush and the steep part on the other side. I realized a bit too late that there was no way I was going to squeeze by there with the speed I was going at so I tried to slow down by applying my breaks... on grass... well, we all not how that works. I had a choice to tro to squeeze by, risking missing the trail and crashing down the mountain, or going into the bush. I went into the bush which grabbed my and let my bike pass leading to me sitting down hard on my ass. Ouch!

No harm done. Passed the finish line in 8th place. Sounds bad but not all that many minutes up to sixth place today. I think I should still be in sixth place overall but I'm unsure. They haven't updated the totals yet.

Stage 3:


Summary: Things did not go well today: My rear brake caliper almost completely seized up with 30km to go and I had to do some mechanics that cost a lot of time.

Result: Tenth place on today's stage. Sixth overall

The plan for today was: Go hard up the first climb to get with the quick boys because right at the top there was a longish flat section. I wanted good wheels to hang on to for that part. After that: Go by feeling. There was a huge descent at about halfway through and a huge climb right after that. (Check the profile map above).

The stage started and the first part of the plan worked: Went hard up the first climb which turned out to be asphalt all the way up. I've started top recognize the riders now and I could tell that the guys around me at the top were the quick boys. I was hoping to get some good cooperation going for the flat part. 

There were about 10-12 of us together in a group as we got to the flat bit. That turned out to be gravel road / double track following the side of the mountain. It twisted and turned and there were lots of pot holes. This is however where my plan failed: A german dude, Andreas, and I were the only two riders interesting in doing any turns at the front. Somehow a mixed pair got in there and the guy in the team decided to have second wheel, with his girl partner behind him. He did not want to take any turns pulling. Now I can fully understand his reasoning: He didn't want to drop her by taking hard pulls at the front. But then why did he pull her up to second wheel? Why not just hang at the tail of our group? I tried to communicate with him but got no response. In frustration, towards then end of the section, I went to the front and did a hard pull of 400+ watts and just dropped everyone. This was just before the gravel road turned into singletrack.

During the second climb I took it a bit easier as I knew this was a long stage with lots of hard stuff left. The downhill following was all gravel road with big loose stones. Bad stuff but it went reasonably well.

Third climb I went a little harder again as it was mostly on asphalt.

After this came the looooong downhill. The type of trail was really interesting: A hiking trail going steeply downhill with very tight switchbacks. I thought I was doing really well and being brave: Trying hard to let the bike just go downhill until just before the switchback where I applied full brakes and tried to, with minimal speed, force the bike around the switchback. It worked really well and I started catching other riders and overtaking them. I was very pleased with myself as me overtaking in technical downhills is not a normal occurrence. This all went really nicely until we got to the bottom where there was a asphalt road taking over the descent. At this point I noticed that my rear brake had overheated (well, I noticed it during parts of the descent as well but I pumped the brake to get some brake action going again). The overheating was so severe that the brake almost completely seized around the brake disc. I was rolling down the asphalt road while doing no braking and getting passed by other cyclists who were just rolling past me.

When I reached the valley there was a short stretch of flat asphalt road before the last part of the stage began: A huge 17km climb. I needed to make a decision: Do I continue with the brake half engaged and take the hit or should I try to do some mechanics. I rode up to the last feeding station, filled my bottle, rolled a couple of meters forward and got out my tools: I unscrewed the brake caliper and started bending the two brake pistons apart so that they were no longer engaging the brake disc. After this I loosely re-attached the brake caliper and decided to just not use the rear brake for the rest of the stage. I spun the wheel and it didn't spin completely free but better than before. Judging by Strava I spent about 10 minutes on this (that top screw that attaches the caliper to the frame is a really hard to unscrew as it sits so close to the frame).

I started going up the last climb not feeling very motivated and with dark thoughts on my mind. I had been passed by at least 30 riders while I had been messing around with the caliper. It took a long while but about halfway up the climb I started passing riders and towards the end I had passed about 20 of them. There was a short downhill that followed which was quite technical and a challenge to do just using the front brake.

Finished the stage in tenth place. Dropped to sixth overall.

Now I need to get my spare bike ready for tomorrows stage.

Update this evening: I had a look at the bike I used in today's stage just now. I removed the brake caliper and pressed on the brake lever a few times. The brake piston just popped straight out of the cylinder and hydraulic oil came out. It's not supposed to do that. That also decides it: I have no choice but to use the backup bike.




Stage 2:



Result: Sixth place on today's stage. Still in fifth overall



After yesterday's first stage, I was feeling really tired. Which might not seem too unreasonable after 90km of riding. But there was something else... After getting to my hotel I started feeling nauseous and I just slid under the covers of my bed, without even showering, and fell asleep. After waking up the nausea was gone but I was NOT feeling well. For a while I thought that starting the second stage might be in danger.

Waking up this morning I was still not feeling well. I decided to try to start the stage, do the first climb, and see how it felt.

The weather had really changed since yesterday, or rather, the temperatur had. It was seven degrees C in the morning. As I was not feeling all that great I decided to go with a long-sleeved base layer under my jersey. It got a lot warmer during the day but I think it was still the right decision.

One good thing was that today's stage was much easier than yesterday's: Just 60km and 2000m of climbing. As soon as the race started and we left Livigno we went into a longish climb. Going uphill I wasn't feeling well at all and all I wanted to do was go back to bed and feel sorry for myself. However the numbers spoke a different language: I was easily doing 300W+ up over the whole first climb and the heart rate data was reasonable too.

At the top of this climb we crossed over what must've been a glacier as the path went over a patch of perhaps 20 meters of deep snow. It looked crossable but as soon as my wheels were on the snow they just slid out from below me and I ended up lying in the snow. This made me laugh out loud.

Photo from today's stage (not me in the picture)



Next followed a descent that started in a bike park and proceeded to move down gravel roads. It was the same kinds of roads as on stage one; loose gravel and lots of turns making things exciting. I saw a really bad crash just a few meters ahead of me; I was passed my two riders, the first one just narrowly managed to make the turn after passing me but the other one crashed into a bicycle with a baby carriage that was parked on the outside of the next turn. He flew several meters one way and I could see his bicycle making summersaults through the air. He must've been going 40km/h when it happened. It looked really bad. His friend stopped and turned back. I didn't see the two again.

The next climb started easy but the second part of it was super steep. I was climbing at the absolut maximum that I could with my 34/50 gearing for a LONG time, perhaps 20-30 minutes. I managed to whole climb without getting of the bike but many around me had to walk.

At some point during this second climb another memorable thing happened: We were going uphill on a narrow path when a man came leading a herd of cows downhill on the same narrow path. It seems the cows totally ignored us and just kept going downhill while we squeezed by them and just managed to keep going uphill. When I was next to one of the cows I tried reaching out to pet the cow but that made it jump and almost go off the cliff. Ooops.

The next downhill was one a bike park with built berms, bridges and bumps. Really fun and I was proud of my descending skills. Just at the start I let one guy by me because I heard him breathing down my neck. But after that I held onto his wheel (almost) and didn't lose many meters. Another guy who was further back totally disappeared.

Next thing I remember was when we got to the long flat section at kilometer 42. I knew this was a long section and it was on bike paths and gravel roads. Lots of time to make up. There were first two of us but we caught up with another couple of riders so we formed a group of four. I tried to get some cooperation going but the only ones interesting in pulling was me and one other guy. It felt pretty good anyway and I managed about 300W on the flat.

Last downhill was uneventful and I crossed the finish line in sixth place. Fifth and fourth were just half a minute and a minute ahead of me though so didn't lose much. I'm still in fifth place overall.

I felt better and better throughout the stage and in the last part of the stage I couldn't feel any of the illness that I had felt yesterday and this morning. Hopefully that's over now.

Oh, and also, no leaky tire today. I guess it was the valve core that I changed yesterday.





Stage 1:


Summary: SPECTACULAR!

Result: Fifth place... I'm really happy about that placing. This is a tough race with tough competitors.
31st place out of 316 solo riders all categories.


Why spectacular? The views are amazing. The trails are terrifying and extreme. There's snow on the peaks around you... close by. The singletrack has a rock face on one side and a steep drop on the other side. Go off the trail in the wrong place and you.. well... die. This race is not for people who don't like heights or are squeamish about riding close to precipices



.

First climb: I don't understand why so many cyclists start a race at full speed only to tire after 5-10 minutes. When we left Nauders we started a long climb immediately that went on for 10km (1h10m for me). I had a bunch of riders disappear into the distance going full speed while I looked at my power data and decide on a reasonable power level that I could climb at for one hour. Turns out today this was just under 300W for the first climb. Within 10-15 minutes I was passing riders who had stormed off at the start and I could hear by their breathing that they were close to max heart rate... and this after a few kilometers of the first 90km stage of a 7 day stage race. Why?? I think that by the end of the climb I had passed at least 50 riders.

After that climb followed a short ride in a bike park. Then a gravel road descent. I always need a stage to get used to descending on lose gravel at 50+ km/h. It's terrifying. I got passed by some 7-8 riders, one of them going down at an amazing speed. I was just thinking how impressed I was by that guy's speed when he missed a turn just in front of me and went off the road and down a steep decline. He was lucky that's where he went off because there were a lot of places that going off the road ment going down a ravine. He was up on his bike again without any injuries and passed me again a few minutes later.

This descent ended 20km into the race and after this followed a paved but quite narrow bike path. I had the incredible luck that two BIG and STRONG tjeck guys caught up with me just at the bottom of the descent and I saw them speed up as soon as we got on the bike path. I maxed myself out to get on their wheel and then it was 20km of pure bliss on this bike path. I held on to their wheels for dear life and we caught group after group. As I mentioned the bike path was quite narrow but also it wasn't closed off so other 'normal' cyclists were there as well. We were doing 50+ km/h in places as it was going downhill mostly so there were some scary and exciting moments where we came around bends to find other people occupying the path.

After this a 20km climb... this took a LONG time. It went okay but I wasn't doing 300W anymore. Got tired towards the end but things felt in control

It's after this climb and into the finish that things got spectacular. We were high up in the mountains and there was singletrack. Often one side of the track was a precipice and the consequences of f*cking up were serious. Notable moments were when we were riding through a field full of horses and a young one came galloping towards me just to turn off at the last moment. At another time we were riding though a field of cows who totally did not care that we were there. I had to zigzag among them. Funny stuff.

Last climb was short but extremely steep. Not fun. Had to get off the bike a few times to walk because it was just too steep. Or I was too weak. You decide!

A singletrack downhill followed into the finish area again with a BIG drop on one side. I noticed that my rear tire was bottoming out over a few stones and stopped to check it. Yeah, it had deflated but not radically and as I was just a couple of kilometers from the finish I decided to ride on.

When crossing the finish line I borrowed a pump and inflated it but could see no leaks. However the valve wasn't letting any air out. I decided to change the valve core. Hopefully this will fix the problem. I just can't stop thinking how long I rode with low pressure in that rear wheel and how much that cost me.
 



Before the race


I arrived in Nauders, Austria, today (Saturday 3rd of July). I drove straight here from Croatia and Krk where I've been vacationing and biking for the past two weeks. Trans Alp, a 7 stage mountain bike race, starts tomorrow.


This is my first time participating in the race. It's quite a hard one as you can see by the stages below. First stage is tomorrow Sunday, and then the seventh and last one finishes on Saturday next week.




As you can see below the race moves from Austria and into Italy, and then through Italy each new stage ending in Riva Del Garda. This obviously makes logistics a bit complicated as each stage starts and ends in a new place. New hotel each night.

The routine is:

06:00 Breakfast
06:30 to 07:30 Blue bag handed over to the organizer (see below)
07:00 to 08:30 Pick your bike up at the bike park
08:15 Lineup at the start
08:45 Stage Briefing
09:00 Stage starts





The race organizers give you this blue bag where you have to be able to put everything that you want them to move from stage to stage. They pick it up at the hotel each morning and deliver it to your new hotel after each stage. It's big but I could definitely find even more things to fit if it was a bit bigger.






I've persuaded one of the staff to ride my car around during the stages so it will be available to me directly after the race. This is extremely kind of them as I otherwise would've had to spend another night in Italy and then the next day get the transfer back to my start (where my car would've been). So big KUDOS to Bike Trans Alp for this!


There are 60 starters in my category, Grand Masters. That's a lot. Beskidy Trophy a few weeks back had much fewer. I don't really know where to set my expectations as far as results go. We'll see after the first stage.




The weather for tomorrow looks really bad. It was warm and sunny when I arrived here in Nauders around midday but now, in the evening, there are big clouds everywhere and rain is scheduled for all night and also tomorrow. Picking the right clothes is going to be a problem. Also, weird coming from Croatia with 30+ degrees C to what will probably be well below 10 degrees on the mountain tops tomorrow.

Nauders has some nice views:







Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Croatian XC race: XC REŽANCI. First place!


Video from the race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bietry7JH3g


I had time for one last mountain bike race in Croatia before leaving for Trans Alp next weekend, This race I found after another tip from my pal Marko. The race was on the Istria region of Croatia (an 1.5 hour drive away) called XC REŽANCI. All I knew really was that it was an XC race with 7 laps around a course (1hour + the last lap).


The race started at 6 o'clock in the evening which I found sort of weird. I understand that they want to have the race out of the mid day heat, but the usual way of doing it is to have it in the morning. I decided that it would be a good idea to test ride the course as it may be technical so I got there two hours before the start. Did three laps and it turned out to be a really good idea. It's a very twisty-turny lap with lots of short downhills and uphills. Very intense! A couple of drops as well.


I decided to use the Race Kings for the race but as I saw the track I realized it had some sections with lose gravel so I was afraid that perhaps I had chosen the wrong tire. Also, with the track being as tight as it was I was worried about it not playing on my strengths.


As the race started I took it sort of easy during the start loop (with a asphalt climb). On the first real lap I started advancing up the field, This turned out to be very satisfying as I was able to pass rider after rider. I think I must have passed about 20 or 30 during the race. I was only myself passed by a single rider on the last lap when I got in trouble trying to lap a back marker and had a small crash.


I crossed the finish line winning my category. Checking the other categories I would've won M40 as well and placed third in M30. In total I would've been in the top-10 which I think is really good. There were some 100 participants all in all.








Another really nice thing is that I got to meet this friendly Slovene family who were there supporting their son, Rok Jamšek. I also got to know Rok after the race. He did great in his category coming in third.