Thursday, 31 December 2015

Strava stats for 2015

2015 - Summary, 2016 - Plans

This seems like a good time to summarize the racing year of 2015. Were expectations met? What went well and what was not so good?

I guess I'm not the kind of person to set hard goals, I'm probably too scared not to fulfill them. Much better to have them in my head. As long as no one else knows about them...

The Races

One of the really positive things about 2015 was the two stage races: Beskidy Trophy and Trans Schwarzwald. Placing in the top-10 in both races, being my two first stage races ever, was fantastic. Especially considering that I would've placed higher in both races were it not for some uncontrollable circumstances. I will definitelly be back in 2016!

The other big goal for 2015 was the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). I finished fifth at the end with one top-3 trace finish. This was 'okay', I guess, but I had hoped for more. Again, I will give it another shot n 2016.

The national XCO championship finished with a puncture. Well, I'm not much of an XCO cyclist so that wasn't a huge disappointment. I was happy to have practiced the championship track and mustered most of the a-lines. As for the national XCM championships I went in feeling physically poorly and ended up with an eigth place, which, under the circumstances, was all I could wish for.

In 2016 I will continue to focus on Långloppscupen and also on the different marathon and stage races. That will be the main focus. I do however want to become a better XCO rider so part of the plan is to do some XCO races as well.

The Bikes

As for bicycles and equipment: I switched from Specialized to Trek in 2015. As in 2014 going with one top-of-the-line hardtail and also a full-suspension bike with identical spec. I still remember that first ride that I had on the Superfly hardtail and how my initial reaction was that it felt so slow to turn in, compared to the old Stumpjumper, and seemed so more boring to ride. Well, after the first few races I really changed my view on that. The Treks were slower to turn, but so much more stable and therefore made me a much more confident mountain biker. They aspired me with confidence to go downhill so much faster than I had before, which really helped with both Beskidy and Trans Schwarzwald. The Treks were great for me and helped me achieve great results in 2015.

For 2016 I'm switching bike brand from Trek to BMC. I'm very very excited about this and so curious on how the BMCs will feel. I will write a complete post on the new bikes. I'll just mention right now that as 2015 and 2014 I will be riding on one top-of-the-line hardtail and a full-suspension bike as well.

Most of marathon races were done on the Specialized Fast Trak / Renegade combo. An early puncture made me switch from the S-works version of the tires to the Control version. 50 grams heavier but then I had zero punctures after that. The XCO-type races were done mostly on a new tire for me: Vittoria Barzo / Peyote. Apart for two punctures I like the way these tires feel. Tire pressures were around 1.7 bars for the smaller Specialized tires and 1.4 for the bigger Vittorias. This seems to work. For Beskidy I used Racing Ralph Snakeskin and they worked great! No punctures in that race where I saw tons of people having punctures. I will continue to use these tires during 2016.

I loved the NoTubes Valor wheels! Imagine a wheelset that's actually LIGHTER in real life than the manufacturer specifies. And the weight does make a difference: You accellerate away much quicker!

The Training

I've raced most of the season weighing in at between 73 and 76kg. Mostly around 75kg. I did go down to 73kg just before Trans Schwarzwald and I think that accounts for part of the success there. I will try to be more focused on achieving a low weight in 2016. Even though my passion for dark chocolate is hard to give up....

I have continued to train using a mix of MANY races and A LOT of training. My training is not very structures. I did get a training program from Activitus before 2015 which I then didn't follow. I'm not sure if I'm the kind of person who sticks with a training program. I may have to become more structures in the future however to take another step upwards in performance. We'll see...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Slushcup #3 - Puncture! (aborted)

Result: Aborted

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

It was going pretty well up until the puncture. I had a good fight with Henrik Söeberg and another M40 guy for third place.

Checked the puncture at home. It was in the middle of the track. Also, Stans fluid had dried out. So my bad for not checking and refilling it

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Vintercuppen #3 - Aborted due to cracked saddle

Result: Aborted

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

Well, my saddle cracked at the end of the first lap. It was going ok up until then. Real muddy conditions though.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Vintercuppen #2: Second place in the rain storm

Result: 2nd place (6th overall)

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

There was no doubt that the second race of Vintercuppen was going to be muddy. The melting snow and rain of the past week made for wet conditions. I was surprised when I drove over from Sweden, where all the snow had already melted, and over Denmark, to notice that the Danish forests still had plenty of patches of snow in them.
As I spent the whole day before moving into our new house, carrying stuff up and down stairs, I was wondering about how that may affect me during the race.

Result: Vintercuppen #2

I did one lap of the course as a warmup and noticed that the blanket of leaves was so thick that it was impossible in most places to see where the track went. It was well marked out though so the risk of bad navigation was low. I did however wonder how slippery the terrain would become as those leaves started to mix with the mud underneath. The lap was mostly single track, with some sections of gravel road. The single track was everything between slow and super fast. The conditions would make things technical.
The race started with the normal gravel road start but we quickly went up into the first short climb, still on gravel road. On the climb it was like I was standing still and people were just rushing past me. I went from 5th place down to somewhere 10-12th. My thought was: Ah, here's how I pay for all the carrying of furniture. On the next flat part I sprinted past the guys that had passed me on the climb and was again around 5-6th place.
We had a group of six riders that broke off from the rest. I was in the group, so was Palle. I judged the rest of the riders in the group to be younger and not in Palle's and my category. I managed to hang on to this group for the shorter starting lap and another complete lap. Always losing ground during the climbs and having to sprint back into the group on the flat. This sort of riding is very exhausting. So going out on the third lap I let go of the group.
I rode solo for a couple of laps and then two younger riders came up from behind very quickly. I first thought that they would just rush past me but I managed to hang on the their wheels. They went away from me on the climbs but I managed to rejoin in the technical and muddy stuff.
At about halfway through the race a rain storm came in and drenched us all. Also, the temperature dropped considerably and it became really cold. Naturally trail conditions became worse too.
The last lap I did on my own and managed to finish 2nd in my category and 6th overall. Not happy with the start of the race but pleased that I got quicker as the race progressed and also content with how I now handle technical courses like this one.

Pulse data shows an average heart rate that's lower than normal. So tired legs I guess

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Heino Fall Race - Snow storm hell

Result: Aborted

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

Well, there was a snow storm during the day and night before the race. We barely made it to the race location as the road were snowed over. Once there they tell us the start has been posponed by one hour. So we wait... This race is two loops of the same track. Each 22km. Last year I finished this race really well, in 10th place, and in just under 2 hours. This year, at the starting line, we're speculating at finishing in around 3 hours.
As soon as the race was on I realized that there was no way we were going to finish anywhere near 3 hours. There's between 10cm and 50cm of snow. There are no tracks in the snow; we are the first ones to ride after the snow storm. We switch between walking and riding. Perhaps 1/3 of the time walking and the rest on the bike.
It's fun for a while but becomes tedious as time goes on. Ice freezes beneath my boots and makes it hard to click in the pedals. I'm not cold, yet, but really wet in various places. If there is something I despise it's walking/running during a bike race. It's so demoralizing and I'm just so slow.
As I was coming around to lap I looked at my clock and noticed that more than 2 hours had passed. If I was to go out and finish the second lap it would be after 4pm before I crossed the line and it would have started to get dark at that time. So I decide to abort after just the first lap. Out of all the starters only 8 riders completed the two laps.
I got a good training session out of it....

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Slushcup 2015/2016 #2 - Gravel and mud

Result: 5th place

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

The second race of the cup was on a location where we had raced many times before. Generally quick trails resulting in high speeds. However recent rains had turned some of them into mud (as can be seen by the photo) so the technical level was a bit higher than normal.

Result: Slushcup #2

The race started well for me and I was among the top-10 riders in the first gravel road section. However it improved even more as the lead guy had a fall in the first turn as gravel road turned to single track; I was able to go around him and found myself all of a sudden in third place over all.

Two of the quick young riders went away ahead at a brisk pace and there was no point in trying to follow. For a while it was just Palle Jensen and me chasing behind but then more riders started coming up from behind.

At the start of the second lap Palle took the opportunity in one of the muddy sections to go ahead. No one tried to follow and the group that formed behind consisted of me, Johan Malmsten, Henrik Söeberg, Thomas and one of the juniors

In the mushy and muddy sections I tended to lose a little ground to the guy in front but I was able to catch up on the gravel road sections. This continued until the third and last lap. Towards the end of the lap Henrik Söeberg went to the front on a gravel road bit and the pace picked up sharply. I saw that we were catching up to Palle who was first in M40. We approached the last single track section which just had a short gravel road part following it before the finish line. Henrik went first into the single track, then Thomas and Johan, with me going in last. At this point I found myself really tired and let go of the rest of the group. The guys didn't quite manage to catch up with Palle but I saw them sprinting for second place. Henrik took second, Thomas third and Johan fourth. I came in a few seconds later in fifth place.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Vintercuppen 2015/2016 #1 - Second place on quick but partly muddy course

Result: 2nd place (5th overall)

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

The second winter cup that I'll be competing in is called "Wintercuppen". The races are in Denmark (as with Slushcup). This is my first time racing the cup. However the tracks are familiar from the other Danish cups. All the races are 70 minutes + the lap. This first course was quick with some very muddy sections.

Result: Vintercuppen #1

I lined up right at the front. There was no seeding as this was the first race. We were just told to line up in a fair way. I had done a practice lap ahead and saw that the course turned into single track really quickly so being among the first few cyclist was critical. As the race started I got off nicely and entered the single track section in perhaps 10th place. My old adversary Palle was behind me but came flying past in the rough, beside the track, taking a shortcut through a turn.
Palle put another few riders between the two of us but I was able to get around them. However by that time he was at least 100 meters ahead of me. So I pushed the pedal to the metal and started hunting him down. After about half a lap at 98% of max heart rate I was able to catch up with him and two other riders. As soon as he saw me catch up he went to the front and accelerated.  I overtook the other two guys and attached myself to his rear wheel.
As the pace went up the other two guys dropped back and Palle and I started catching up with a group of two new riders. We soon joined them and noticed that they were keeping a fair pace. There was no way that I could go any quicker so I just concentrated on staying with this group. On the muddy sections a lost a bit of ground but I was able to gain it again on the quicker trails.
Just before going out on the third lap one of the guys in our group had a small fall and then there were just three of us. The pace was still really frantic and about halfway through the third lap, in a muddy section, I had to let Palle and the other guy go. I went on alone but was soon caught by the guy who had crashed previously. I took his wheel and the pace went up again. I could see Palle was not all that far ahead. However I was getting tired.
At the beginning of the fourth and final lap I let go of the guy's wheel and finished the last lap alone. No one caught up from behind. I finished the race in second place in M40 and in fifth overall. Heart rate was really good with an average of 180 and a max of 189.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Slushcup 2015/2016 #1 - Technical track and bad navigation

Result: 6th place

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.4 bar

This was the first race of the winter cup - Slushcup. This first round was a time trial race with 3 laps of about 8km. Conditions were dry and good. Track was new and unknown. The race arrangers had announced a difficulty level of 5 out of 10.

Result: Slushcup #1

The terrain turned out to be much more technical than I had expected. There were a lot of new trails on terrain that had not been used before. So very rough with lots and lots of roots and branches across the track. Some of the roots were rather wet and so a bit dangerous. Sure, there were sections of gravel road where one could press hard. Also quite a few short but steep climbs and equally steep descents.
I found that I handled the terrain better than I expected after discovering the high level of technical difficulty during my practice lap. Everything went quite smooth except for quite a few errors in navigation. On some parts the track wasn't all that well marked out. Mostly it was places where it turned off the dirt road and into single track. I missed these turns in four places in total, luckilly I noticed it at once and was able to turn the bike around and get on the right track. But I ended up losing something like 10 seconds each time it happened. And it was very frustrating.
So I finished sixth which was ok, I guess, especially under the circumstances. Pulse data was perhaps a tad low but ok as well.

Sandra did a great race and finished in third place. You can read about her race here:

Club mate Johan Malmsten placed third in M40. Good race for him! I bet he liked the terrain too.

My pal Fredrik, however, had a bad crash in a downhill section with branches across the track. He's injured his shoulder and will be out for a month or so.

Conclusion: Look where you're going!!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

My two Team Bikes are up for sale

My two bikes are up for sale:
  • Trek Superfly 9.9 SL "Project One" SOLD!
  • Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL "Project One" SOLD!
Frame size is Large (19")

I purchased them both new at the beginning of 2015 so they've both seen about 6 months of use. Both bikes have been continously serviced and are in perfect working order.

The specifications are identical appart from one of the bikes being full suspension

Groupset: SRAM XX1 (34T), Gripshift
Brakes: Shimano XTR M9000 Race
Fork: RockShox Sid World Cup XX with remote
Wheelset: Bontrager Race XXX Lite CL

35.000SEK for the hardtail (about 3500 euro) SOLD!
45.000SEK for the full-suspension (about 4500 euro) SOLD!

Contact me if you're interested:

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Winter racing - The season never ends

Summer is over and fall is here. So what are we mountain bikers supposed to do? Start our winter training? Go indoors and get on the stationary bike? Perhaps do some weights?

That may work for some people. It doesn't for me. I'd rather....

... and fortunately I have that option. Now, in my home country of Sweden most bicycle racing dies down in the  month of October. However, in Denmark there's plenty of year-round racing! Great! And Denmark is only an hour away!

So what's the plan for the winter?

Slushcup: Six 80 minute races from October to March


Vintercuppen: Six 70 minute races from November to March

Let the fun begin!!!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Västgötaloppet - FINALLY!!!

Result: 3rd place

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Racing Ralph 2.1 SnakeSkin - 1.7bar

Västgötaloppet is the nineth and last race in Svenska Långloppscupen. It's a late adition to the cup, only joining it last year. It's also one of the quickest (least technical) of the races. The terrain suites me and I did well in it last year. There's quite a lot of gravel road racing with some good climbs. The starting climb is long and hard and the last 10km is mostly uphill. This year we were promised 40% more singletrack than previous years. This was good!
My form had been rather bad lately and so my motivation was quite low too. I had gained a couple of kilos while working in London during last week. My lacking motivation was noticable in the fact that I did not race-prep my bike and also was quite casual with my training in the week leading up to the race: I just commuted by bike every day during the week.

Results: Västgötaloppet

The race started and we immediately started climbing up the first long uphill section on asphalt. I soon noticed that a gap had opened up to the lead group and I accelerated to join them. Once I got with the group I noticed that Martin Wenhov was at the tail of it. Very impressive as Martin previously had some problems with races where the climb started early on. The climb continued on gravel roads and the front group started to split up. I was somewhere in the middle, ahead of Martin but I also saw some other guys go off the front.

After a while the climb turned into level single track and then a slight downhill over grassy and muddy single track. The pace was quick and I was trying to stay with the guy in front of me. I came on the brakes at one point and directly noticed that there was absolutely no grip and my rear wheel started drifting to the right at once. I tried releasing the brakes in the hope that the wheel would get back in line but it was too late: the rear wheel slipped and I found myself on my back. The fall was quite light but I was worried about getting run over from behind. I got up quickly and noticed that Martin passed me. However I was able to rejoin at the back of the group.

Once out of the single track section we got onto quick gravel roads and the pace got really frantic. I passed Martin at some point and then never saw him again. We had a group of some 10-15 riders, I was at the back of it. I noticed that Rolf Svensson was there. Being in a group with Rolf is always a good sign: He's one of the quickest riders so if he's around that means you're going quickly, also Rolf never ever gets tired so he's a good wheel to follow.

Shorter single track sections followed and mixed up with new parts of gravel roads. Short and frantic climbs. The group got smaller and smaller and we caught up with riders. Rolf was there all the time doing the hard work pulling the group along. I knew that my form was not good and my only hope was to stay with this good group as long as I could, and once I was too tired I would let go and hope that the damage of riding alone would not be too great. I had no hope of following Rolf all the way to the finish, especially as I knew that the last few kilometers were mostly up hill.

At about 20km into the race we passed Robert Eliasson who was standing at the side of the road fixing his bike. I felt sad for him as I knew he had to place well in this race to keep his third place in the total cup standings.

After 40km we came back to the start-finish area to go to the next loop. At this point I was at the front of our group but there were two young riders also there who were driving real hard. After leaving the stadium I had to let them go. I wasn't quite sure where the riders behind me were but soon some of the guys caught up and we were a group of some 6-7 riders again. Rolf was there, of course.

Having looked at the altitude profile before the race I understood that the hard part would be comming up with about 10-15km left of the race. Now, as we reached that point and started climbing on the gravel roads there was just me, Rolf and another guy. I was at the back. I fully expected to get dropped but I managed to cling on. Rolf holds a very steady and even pace making it easy to hold his wheel.

Somewhere around here we also caught up with a rider with the number 450 on his back  (M40 category). He had been with our group previously but had gone off the front when a couple of young elite riders had increased the pace. Now he was with us again.

At the quary with just some 5-6 km to go we caught up with Mikael Johansson. Now, afterwards when looking at the results, it is clear that this was the leading four guys in the M40 category: The guy with 450 on his shirt, Rolf, Mikael and I.

In the last few kilometers up towards the finish we keps more or less together, however I lost sight of 450. I still, today, don't know when he left us.

At the last climb, with just 2km to go there were just three of us: Rolf is first, then me, and Mikael  behind me. Mikael comes around both of us and sprints up the hill. I try to accellerate but the back side of my right thigh starts to show signs of cramp. I have to ease off. Rolf also speeds up, he's not able to follow Mikael, but he starts getting away from me. At the top of the climb Mikael has gone away, and Rolf is perhaps 30 meters ahead of me.

The last kilometer towards the finish is on grass and some quick short climbs. I give it my all, and to my surprise, I start getting closer to Rolf. After a while I catch him and decide to start my sprint early: I go straight past him. I don't look behind so I have no idea if he takes my wheel. I sprint for the finish and just have a quick look behind with 100m left. I seem to have a slight gap.

I cross the line 1 second ahead of Rolf, 19 seconds behind Mikael and about a minute behind 450. I'm in third place! After three years of racing in the Swedish Långloppscupen I finally got on the podium!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

XCup #7 - Still battling uneven form

Result: 9th

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Racing Ralph 2.1 SnakeSkin - 1.5bar

After spending the whole working week in London teaching a course and therefor limited training (a few runs on the hotel gym exercise bike, boring) I needed some intense biking. XCup in Käglinge provided the venue. It's a tight and technical course. The race setup is 60 minuter + the lap, which in this case meant 4 laps. Form had not been great lately so I had no high hopes.

Result: XCup #7

The start and first couple of laps went well. I was battling it out with Christian Skoglund and Rolf Svensson and hanging on. But when the third lap came round all the energy just left my body. Martin Wenhov caught up from behind and flew by. I was actually thinking about calling it quits after the third lap but decided that I needed this, as an intense training session, if nothing else. The funny thing was that during the fourth lap I started gaining on Martin and passed him. However another young Danish rider managed to pass us both. Looking at the lap times my third lap was the slowest one by far. Weird - Usually when I get tires towards the end of a race the laps just get slower. Also Strava said that I set a personal best on the lap (I've ridden this track many times during the years) so something was working ok. Just the strange tiredness that suddenly pops up... This has happened a few times during the last few races.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Swedish National Marathon Championships (XCM)

Result: 8th place

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Racing Ralph 2.1 SnakeSkin - 1.7bar

The venue for this year's marathon championships was Ånneboda. This is a location that was new to me and terrain that I have never ridden before. I had heard that it is quite hilly and that especially the last part of the race is really tough. The race is 75km long and has a loooong starting gravel road climb.
Leading up to this race I had a rather bad period in my training. The cold that I had 2 weeks ago had passed but my body seemed not to have quite recovered. I had a really bad race the previous weekend at Bockstensturen which had me worried. Also, when I tried to do an intense training session last Tuesday I was not able to perform at high intensity for more than a few minuts. I ended up aborting that session. So I really had no expectations for this race, I actually told my racing partner, Jessica, that if I didn't feel well during the starting hill then I would abort the race.

Results: XCM 2015

As this was the National Championships we started in groups in our age categories. So first the two elite categories (men and women), then M30, then us in M40, and so on...

The race started with a long gravel road climb of about 5 minutes. For me the first few meters felt really terrible and I was quickly dropped to the back of our starting group. However after just a few hundred meters I started advancing through the field and at the top I had passed Rolf Svensson and caught up with Mikael Johansson, two of the giants in the M40 category and both usually finish in the top-3. Just after the summit of the climb I also caught up with Nellie Larsson who had started at an amazing pace. 

Just after the climb there was a section of quick gravel road where I tried to advance a bit further up the groups. Once I was in the same group as Jerry Olsson and Mikael Johansson I relaxed and tried to conserve some energy. However it seemed that the pace got a bit slower. This led to a lot of riders catching up from behind and the group grew in size to about 30-40 riders (from all different classes). I ended up blocked in at the middle of the pack and even though I tried to make my way to the front it was pretty much impossible as we were packed tight and the speed was really high. I saw that Jerry had a nice position close to the head of the group.

As I had very little previous information about this race (only the elevation profile) I didn't know when the first stretch of gravel road would turn onto single track. Typically you want to be at the front of a group when you move into single track because when riders try to squeeze together there's the risk of queues. This is exactly what happened now as our gravel road turned into tight single track going into the forest. Unfortunately I was way too far back in the field and it got so tight that people had to get off their bikes.

Once into the single track things did speed up but I never saw Jerry again. I picked up the pace to make sure that I would not be at the back of the pack in the next section and so I moved up the field. Our group was between 5 riders and up to 20 as during the gravel sections people would catch up from behind. However after about halfway through the race our group did thin and there were no more than five of us, one of the riders being Mikael Johansson.

Mikael Johansson went away at the head of our group and I was not able to follow. Also, I felt it was a bit more strategic to stay with my group of four riders. I could see Mikael up ahead and he was on his own so I thought that he would have a hard time. Our group had a good pace going as gravel road switched to single track, back to gravel road and so on. There were a lot of really fun downhill sections with lots of roots and rocks where my wonderful Superfly could do what it's best at: eat up rough terrain at amazing speed.

I knew that with about 20km left the race would start to climb gradually upward and things would get tough. And at about the 20km sign I started to get really tired. Not just the 'normal' kind of tired but a deeper kind, something that I felt had to be related to my poor health in the last few weeks. At this point I had to let my group go during a long climb and I saw the four riders move ahead of me. However the gravel road climb turned into bumpy and rough single track and, to my surprise, I was able to catch up again.

I stayed with the group until there was 15km left when I finally had to let the go again and for good this time. I think that I was probably in fourth place at this point in the race. Other riders caught up with me but I was too tired to be able to follow during the climbs and saw them disappear away on the gravel road climbs.

With 5km left I found some energy and upped the pace and I was able to actually catch up and overtake one of the bikers who had previosuly overtaken me.

I crossed the finish line in 8th place. Something which I, under the circumstances, am very pleased with.

Jerry finished in second place in M30 and Martin also came second in M50. Great results from those two guys. Nellie finished fourth in the Elite category which is also a great result.

No heart rate data here due to bad sensor

Just before the finish
Before the start

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Bockstensturen - Complete collapse

Result: 12th place

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Racing Ralph 2.1 SnakeSkin - 1.7bar

Bockstensturen is the longest of the races in the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen) at 100km. It's also traditionally one of the muddiest mostly because the terrain often doesn't quite dry up and is also very sensetive to rain. This is WITHOUT it raining. This year, the prognoses was for rain during the entire race.
The race is really a three part affair:
1. The start is at a castle in the town of Varberg. You first have a few tight turns getting out of town, followed by a few roundabouts, the asfalt road for about 10km. After this you move onto open gravel roads (double-track). If it's been raining this part is full of puddles and mud. Accidents do happen here. Also some parts have big stones and can cause punctures (I've had this happen to me in 2013).
2. After 16km you come into the forrest and it all starts with a big climb. Follows is a mix of gravel road, single track and quite a lot of climbing. A lot of it quite steep. The latter bit of the forrest ride has fewer climbs compared to the first. So most of the climbing is done up until perhaps halfway through the race. This whole section is also where you get all the mud, puddles and slippery stones and roots. There are some challenging downhills, all depending on how muddy it is.
3. At about 75km you leave the forrest area and come out into fields and gravel roads. It's mostly gravel roads but some parts are over soggy fields which take a lot of energy. Towards the end, when you're approaching the finish area, you follow the coast line on single track. This is perhaps the most fun part of the race,  but you're usually too tired to enjoy it.

Results: Bockstensturen 2015

Well, what can I say? Everything was going 'ok' (not great, but 'ok') until at about 60km. At that point I got a right leg cramp where I had to stop but it passed quickly. Unfortunately I lost my group there (a good one) and had to struggle on by my own. But the leg cramp wasn't a disaster however a few kilometers after this all energy left my body and I started struggling. My heart rate got lower and lower and I felt worse and worse. Groups caught up with me, I managed to follow them for a short while, and then I had to let go. The last 5-10km were a total disaster. I have not felt this bad in a race ever before. It's really best illustrated by my pulse curve:

I was told by friends that I was in fact in sixth place when this happened. No too shabby. I strongly suspect that this has something to do with my cold which didn't pass until a few days before the race. I tried taking it easy after the cold, appart from the first day where I did the Cricket Race. Perhaps that was a mistake,

What else is there to say? Well, it was feeling quite ok up to about 60km. One of the elite guys came up from behind (number 24), a talkative and quick guy. He had some good technical skills. I noticed that he took all the slippery and muddy descents really quickly and that I couldn't let him go there and then sprint to catch up on the gravel roads (which I did at first) so I started descending at his pace. This was quite exciting and somewhat dangerous. But I managed.

Oh yeah, and it was a mudfest. The muddiest and wettest race I've ever run.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Six-day cold and some Cricket Racing

After a six-day cold with no training I was feeling better and back at work.  The long period without training had left me feeling a bit stressed out though (not to mention restless). An important race coming up on Saturday (Bockstensturen) and the National XCM Championships next week.

The best would be to go for an intensive session already today, on my first well-day, and then take it a bit easier the other two days before the race. But it's a bit risky training on the first day after a cold.

I did have a nice opportunity for an intense session as the local "Wednesday Sprint" group were having their annual  Cricket Races. This is a race that takes place on grass, on a short course of perhaps one kilometer. You race between three markers. On each lap the last rider gets eliminated. These races tend to be super intense as you go all-out throughout the race. Going all-out also may be bad for my post-cold body. So I had myself a dilemma.

I decided to go for a slow ride and join the Wednesday Sprint group once I got to their Cricket Race and then just watch as they were racing. However, upon getting to the event the racer in me was awoken. And yes, I did end up racing. Three heats all in all and I finished first, second, first. Heart rate was predictibly through the roof peaking at 192.

Let's hope this wasn't a mistake...

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hotcup #6 - Chaotic start and total disorganization

Result: 6th place

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.5 bar

If you look at the blogg you may notice that I haven't done many of the Hotcup races. I've missed the last three races (due to other races) and you're allowed to subract only one result, so my total standing is not relevant.
During the night leading up to the race I was waking up soaked in sweat and with a sore throat. Throughout the day I was unsure whether I should take part or not. As I did not feel any worse I decided to race: It's hard to say no to a good race. Now, writing the blog the day after, I can deduce that it was the wrong decision as I now have a cold. Ouch! Now, I may have gotten a cold even if I hadn't raced, but I don't think so.
The race was 80 minutes + the lap and on new trails. Fun! The Hotcup races are always fast and furious and this would turn out to be no different.

Results: Hotcup #6

We lined up in the starting grid with me in group 1. I had perhaps 10 riders in front of me.The start was supposed to sound at 18:30 hours. However at 18:28 there's a vague shout from behind: "Start!". There's confusion everyone with people asking "Did he just say start?" and then we're off.
There are 5-6 guys up at the front of the pack, all in red jerseys, and they're covering the entire width of the gravel road. We're on the start loop (gravel road) and the pace is moderate so I understand the situation as these guys being the "pace riders" and that they will at some point get off the track and the we will be free to overtake. So I'm in around 20th position waiting for the pack to be set free so I can move up in positions while still on the gravel road of the start loop. However the 5-6 guys in red jerseys up front don't get out of the way and we actually get into the first singletrack section with them in front. As the pace is moderate the field has not been stretched out at all and total chaos ensues when everyone tries to squeeze into single track. I realize that I'm way too far behind and out of touch with the quick guys.
After just a few hundred meters of singletrack the guy in front of me falls and blocks the entire trail. So we wait for him to get back on his bike. Then I start making up ground taking position after position. I realize that I'm way too far behind to catch up with the quick guys.
I catch up with a group containing Stefan Methander and start moving up in that group. Soon after that Stefan crashes but is ok. I move to the top of the group and start getting a gap. One of the riders hangs on to my wheel: On technical sections the gap opens up and he falls behind but he catches me again on the short climbs.
After a while I see the yellow sweater of a Team Roslins cyclist in front of me. As I catch up I see that it's Luke Grindahl. Luke and I take turns driving hard and we quickly distance everyone else behind us.
Towards the end of the race there's a lot of lapping slower riders. A quick guy catches up with Luke and I just before the end of the last lap. But a he turns onto the finishing gravel straight, only 100m before the finish, his bike looses grip and he falls. He blocks me the most and I go right of him while Luke gets a straight line and goes left of him. So Luke finishes in front of me by a few seconds. I finish in sixth place.
I ended up having a really intense race (high heart rate!) on a fun track. But when you lose as much ground as I did due to bad organization it's a bit frustrating.
One of the really positive things was that after the race one of my compeditors came up to me and said: I tried to follow you and I was able to in the easy terrain but in the technical stuff you were just too quick. That's probably the only time ever that I've had that said to me.

Conclusion: Don't race when you're feeling half-sick

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Snapphaneturen - Great form!

Result: 7th place (overall)

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak Control / Rengade Control 2.0 - 1.52bar

Snapphaneturen is a marathon MTB race with one big difference from most other marathons: It's mostly on single track. This leads to tough technical challenges and total exhaustion as there are few opportunities for rest.
Snapphaneturen was my first MTB race back in 2010 and I've raced every year since. I have some of my worst memories from this race, not because there's anything wrong with it, but because the first few years my physical form was not up to snuff for the tough races. The first three years that I did this race, I had to stop at some point during the race, with leg cramps.
The race course had been redone for this year's race so instead of repeating the same loop twice and doing 75km we did one loop which was 60km. This seems easier however the amount of singletrack had been increased for this year's race.
I was a bit worried that having racing Vaude Trans Schwarzwald last week I would not be fully recovered. My body felt sluggish during warmup.

Results: Snapphaneturen

I found a good starting position at the very front of the start box. The start loop went well and I was around 15th place for the first part of the race. Really early on I got a branch stuck in my rear deraileur and partly in the casette as well. This was a bit of an annoyance as it, at least for a while, prevented me from using the highest gears. However it came free from the cassette after a few km and while it was still stuck in my rear deraileur it didn't do much harm other than make some annoying noises.
Soon a group formed with Johan Malmsten, Robert Eliasson, a Danish junior, Björn Österberg, Nico and another guy whom I didn't recognize. The pace was good all along and we were making good progress. About halfway through the race Nico noticed that his bike computer had fallen off and made a u-turn to get it. I later heard that he DNF due to a crash and bike problems after that.
With about 20km left our Danish junior started pushing harder on the climbs and I clung close to his wheel. Him, me and Robert Eliasson got a breakaway going from the rest of the guys and the gap started to widen.
Upon reaching a gravel road climb with 15km to go the Danish guy upped the pace another notch and I had to let go, Robert hung on for a little while longer. Just a few km:s later Björn came up from behind and went past me. I had no power to follow but I felt I was still making good progress.
Being alone I concentrated on keeping the pace high and I noticed someone approaching from behind, but I couldn't see who it was. During the last downhill section I manage to get ahead of the unknown cyclist behind me and then I just went all-in knowing that there were not more than 10km left.
With about 6km left we got out on a long gravel road and I had a look behind me and noticed that I had a gap of 200-300m to the chasing cyclist. Afterwards I learned that it was my old Danish nemesis, Henrik Söeberg but he was also with Martin Wenhov and Jerry. I had no idea that it was actually a group chasing me!
The gravel road turned into single track going gradually upwards at a slight incline. I looked back a few times but saw noone. Then a short downhill section followed by the super steep climb called "Hard rock". I felt quite safe going into the climb as I could hear noone behind me. But then, suddenly, at the top of the climb a cyclist had caught up and was on my wheel! It felt like he had come out of nowhere!
I realized that in order for him to catch up so quickly during that short and steep climb he must've gone all out and was probably at max heart rate. I had just concentrated on keeping a steady pace up the hill and was not that maxed out. So just after the hill there's a level and slightly bumpy grassy section where I pushed the pedal to the metal! A short downhill section followed, still at full speed. Then just a km to the finish and glancing behind me I saw that I had a gap of about 30 meters.
I was able to finish ahead of, what I later discovered was Danish ace cyclist Henrik Söeberg. I was very happy with my seventh place finish (overall, no age categories)

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Vaude Trans Schwarzwald 2015

Result: 7th place

First three stages: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak Control / Rengade Control 2.0 - 1.75bar
Last two stages: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Fast Trak Control / Rengade Control 2.0 - 1.75bar

Vaude Trans Schwarzwald, a five stage race in Germany with 10400hm and 400km in total. There's a summary of the complete race at the bottom of this article, in case you don't want to read all the details of each stage.

Day before Race, introduction

We arrived in Germany today. Picked up our starter's package and checked in to the hotel. We also had time to do a quick bike check and to spinn our stiff legs for a while. I topped off the Stans fluid in both tires.

The race starts tomorrow, Wednesday. I've only had two days of recovery since Finnmarksturen, which is not optimal.

I will be racing my Trek FS Superfly SL. It should be the optimal tool for this race. My initial plan was to use the Racing Ralph 2.1 tires, but after looking at tomorrow's stage in Google Earth I've decided to run my easy-rolling Fast Trak / Renegade combo instead. The stage looks like it consists of mostly gravel roads. I may change to the Racing Ralphs later on. I've also decided to run a 34T chain ring, instead of switching to the 32T. It's a long stage with lots of climbing but the altitude gain is spread out over a long distance so the climbs may not be all that steep. Again, this is for the first stage only. I will probably change to the 32T later on.

Temperatures for the first stage tomorrow are looking crazy high!

First stage

Fifth place on the stage! Very pleased! This is out of 100+ riders in my category (Master 2).

Very warm! Ran out of drink between the first and second feeding station, but only for a few minutes, and again between the second and third, this time for 15km! Once I got to the third feeding station I drank an entire bottle and took another one with me.

The stage turned out to be a bit longer than advertised: 122km and 2500 meters of climbing. It was mostly on gravel roads (and some paved ones even). The amount of single track was just a few percent. That doesn't mean that it wasn't fun though. Many exciting descents and beautiful nature. The 34T chainring and Specialized Fast Trak / Renegades worked well on this terrain. None of the climbs were steep enough that I needed a lower gearing. I was running 1.8 bars which is WAY higher than I usually do but that worked well too. There were some messy single track descents but nothing spectacular.

I let the big boys go on the first climb. There was just no point in going that hard on a stage this long. We got a good group going quite quickly. Our group kept picking up riders who were dropping back and we dropped off riders at the back who were not able to hold on. I was at the front of the group most of the time. Towards the end there we were four riders who left the rest of the group. Two of the guys went away and left me and an Italian guy. During the last two climbs and last 20-30km I did start suffering a bit. The last bit went okay though and I finished just under 5 hours.

I'm a bit worried that I may have gone a bit too hard today. We'll see tomorrow. 165 average pulse and 182 max.

One decision that I have to make for tomorrow is whether to use a 32T chainring instead of the 34T that I used today.

The stage tomorrow is 77km and 2300hm. So almost the same amount of climbing as today on a stage that's much shorter. This means things will be a lot steeper!

And, well, yeah, the weather will be EVEN warmer!

Second stage

Today's stage was 78km and 2300hm.

After finishing fifth in the first stage I was in start box A1. This meant that I was called into the start box by the announcer. Very cool!

The stage started off with a looong climb of almost 20km and 700hm. I let the quick boys go after about 5km and found a good group. I was suffering from the long first stage and had to let the group go with about 5km left of the climb. Got caught by another group which I managed to stay with until the end of the stage. I felt that I finished quite strongly and in good shape.

I finished the stage in nineth position.

The terrain today has been almost exclusively gravel road. Almost no single track. I did get kind of bored towards the end. Some nice descents but nothing more exciting than that.

I managed to minimize my losses by only finishing a few minutes behind most of my compeditors in the M2 category. In the total standings I'm still jn fifth place.

Changing the 34T for a 32T before stage 2

The race pack (plus spare tube taped to the seat post)

Third stage

Again a longer stage of 86km and 2300hm.

The legs were stronger today. I took it easy from the start as I was feeling a bit worn. Again a group formed which gradually grew to about 10-15 riders.

At about 20km we noticted that we were catching up with a larger group of about 20 riders. This was at a start of a hill and so 3 riders in our group sprinted ahead hoping to catch this larger group, I managed to attach myself to one of their wheels and got up with this better group. Here the pace got really quick (and I never saw the rest of the old group). Things were going nicely and I was feeling stronger and stronger during the climbs.

At about 40km, while going downhill over a wooded area with a lot of branches over the path I heard a loud crack, like a branch snapping in two. At the same time my bike shook. I know that when a branch gets caught in your bike and makes a noise that loud, something else has to break, other than the branch. I stopped and had a look at my bike: The cage of the rear deraileur was angled in towards the wheel. I could ride the bike but there were all kinds of weird noises coming from the deraileur. I noticed that if I tried to reach the two lightest gears the cage wanted to touch the spokes of the wheel. So I was limited to gears 3 through 11. Also, the chain kept derailing from the lower pulley wheel so I had to stop and lift it back onto the pulley wheel at regular intervals (mostly in the climbs). As there were still 46km to go there were some serious climbs left.

I managed to make it to the end of the stage by doing a lot of climbs on high gears and very low cadence. The legs got a real workout today.

After checking the results I saw that I had come in at 11th place. In the total standings I've dropped down to sixth place.

I visited the Vaude Trans Schwarzwald service team but they didn't have a single XX1, X01 or X1 deraileur. Which I thought was kind of strange because it's a common component. I would say that at least 20% of the riders here are riding bikes with that rear deraileur. So I've made the decision to tide my Superfly SL hardtail (which I had lucklilly brought with me for just this sort of incident). After riding three stages here I feel that the lightness of a hardtail may actually be superiour to the extra comfyness of a full-suspension bike.

The broken rear deraileur cage (notice the chain going beside the pulley wheel)

Getting the hardtail ready for the fourth stage (moving over the 32T chainring and the Valor wheels)

Fourth stage

Today's stage was 75km and 1850hm. The stage was actually more downhill than uphil. This is an interesting thing that occurs in stage races where the start and finish are not in the same place. Some stages go uphill, others downhill. 

I had changed to my hardtail due to the failing rear deraileur yesterday. I could've changed deraileurs, had I wanted, and then ridden the fully today. But as I've learnt more and more about this race I start to realize that with the terrain being mostly gravel roads and UPHILL you just want as light a bike as possible. The hardtail is about 1kg lighter than the fully and I felt this would be an advantage.

It had been raining the whole night... hard! And the weather forecast promised more rain during the stage. However, the ground was more or less dry and no rain fell. In some places there was some slippery grass and perhaps 3-4 places with mud. But there was nothing that that even my easy-rolling tires could handle. 

I had been moved down on the starting grid to slot A2. Demoted from A1 as I had lost my fifth place in the total standings. Still, this was not an issue as every stage starts with a climb which splits up the field directly.

Warm-up was minimal. This is the fourth day and my body is rather worn out. I may have made a misstake with not warming up enough as when the race started and we went immediatelly into a climb (yes, the climb actually started right after the starting line) my whole body felt really weak and it was as if my whole upper (!) body ached as I tried to push my pulse over 150. I quickly realized that I just needed to take it easy for the first part and let my body settle into it.

A group formed quite quickly and I recognized many of my competitors from the previous stages. As the stage proceded I started to feel better and the legs got working. I spent most of my time at the front of the group. We picked up riders all the time who were dropping back. During the whole stage only two guys went away ahead from us.

This stage contained the most single track of any of the stages so far. That doesn't really say much. Perhaps, out of the 75km of the stage some 5km may have had been single track. There were still some rather fun down-hill segments on single track. And especially the last few km to the finish which were on a track with some jumps going downhill all the way. That was A LOT of fun! I actually surprise myself by writing this because this sort of terrain would've scared me before. Instead I was at the front of our group bombing down the track and distancing the rest of the riders.
One scary moment today was when we hit one of the single-track sections going steeply uphill with a steep drop on the right hand side. I was in fourth place in my group and the guy leading the group (probably the strongest guy we had in the group) all of the sudden leaned right and fell down the drop with his bicycle tumbling over him. It looked really dramatic and he probably fell at least four meters before the bushes caught him. We all stopped to look if he was ok and he immediatelly got up and started pushing his bike up the steep incline. He seemed ok but I never saw him again during the stage.
So I ended going across the finish line with good legs and quick pace. Checking the results showed that I had come in at 6th place. I was very pleased with this. I still however lost one place and I'm down in seventh overall now.
So, the last stage starts tomorrow and I have 2.5 minutes to make up to get to sixth place overall, almost 10 minutes to fifth. And the seventh placed guy is 6 minutes behind me. Tomorrows stage is ONE LONG CLIMB! It's the shortest one of the whole race, but it still looks very daunting.

Fifth and final stage

The final stage of the race was also the shortest one, 67.5km and 1900hm. However, looking at the profile of the stage one came to the realization that it was almost all uphill! Especially the last 20km which were the steepest and most difficult. The stage finished at a ski complex, at the top of the hill.

The weather was the worst of the race. 14 degrees C and rain. The difference compared to the two first sunny stages was 20 degrees C!

Going out for the last stage I was in seventh place overall. I had about 2.5 minutes to gain on sixth place and 10 minutes to get to fifth place. In spite of it being the last stage I was feeling really stoked and eager to go hard.

I warmed up better this time and as we started the last stage we went straight into a climb. This time the first climb went much better than the previous stage and I saw my pulse go well above 160. A good sign!

After the first climb I started attacking and jumped from group to group. After about 10km I ended up in the same group as Sabine Spitz, the overall leader of the women's category (google her name in case you don't know who she is). I knew that there were some serious climbs coming up and that I may have to let go at some point, but there was a section between 20km and 40km which was relatively flat (allthough going uphill all the time) where I knew that being in the group would be an advantage.

Entering the last 20km there were two climbs of about 300hm each and then finishing with a climb of 100hm. The section was going uphill all the way so there was very little respite between the climbs. So at this point I fully expected that I would have to let go of the group. However it turned out much better than I thought: Yes, I had to let go of Sabine and a couple of other riders. But the majority of the group instead got dropped behind me. These last climbs were crazy steep with me just managing to climb parts of them without getting of the bike and walking. Actually, there was one section parts where it was so steep that walking was the only way.

Being encouraged by the fact that I had dropped most of the group (and hopefully some of my main compeditors in the M2 category) I sprinted for the finish. The last climb being up a ski slope and again ridiculously steep.

I finished in fifth place. After checking the total standings I was a bit disappointed to find that I had missed sixth place overall by a measly 14 seconds and I was just over a minute behind fifth place.

Seventh place overall in my first Vaude Trans Schwarzwald. Considering that I probably lost 10-20 minutes in stage 3 where I broke my rear deraileur I was very pleased.


Vaude Trans Schwarzwald 2015 was a great experience which I enjoyed immensly. The result, a seventh place in M2, was a big part of the enjoyment. The fact that I had my rear deraileur fail on the third stage,  was very annoying, because, as it turned out, I was only a minute after fifth place in the total standings after the last stage. Had that incident not ocurred I would have been in fifth place.

So first some reflections on the race, in genereal, and then some about how I performed

Vaude Trans Schwarzwald, terrain and tracks

The reflections on this race will have as a basis my experience with The Beskidy Trophy stage race which I did in June. These are the only two stage races that I have ever done. I am sure, however, that I will do many more.

The terrain that Vaude Trans Schwarzwald takes place on is something like 99% gravel roads, paved roads, wide trekking paths and jogging paths. A very small part of the terrian is what we mountain bikers refer to as "single track". Does this make it boring? No! There's plenty of adrenalin filled action to be had on quick and steep descents, even some downhill sections, and riding the gravel turns at breakneck speeds. So it's fun! But compared to The Beskidy Trophy the terrain is not as varried, and Beskidy has a lot more single track.

There are a lot of climbs in the race, some long and winding and some shorter and very steep ones. The good thing here is that very very few climbs are so steep that I had to get off and push the bike. I can only remember one or two such climbs. And I was running a 1x11 setup with a 32T front chainring. Again comparing with Beskidy, perhaps the most boring part of that race is that there are long sections there that are so steep that you have to push the bike, sometimes for 5-10 minutes (I was running the 32T-setup on Beskidy).

The tracks are easy enough so that you can ride them on "quick rolling" tires. I used Specialized Fast Trak 2.0 in the front and Specialized Renegade 1.95 in the rear. You want something with good puncture protection, I used the "Control" variant of my tires as opposed to the "S-works" which are thinner. Even for the last stage which was wet they not-so-grippy tires worked fine. Also, due to the easy terrain, I ran quite high air pressure in my tires, some 0.2 bars more than I would otherwise.

Due to the nature of the race riding in groups becomes imporant and groups stay together through much of the race. I noticed that the riders that I had around me were much the same during all the stages. Gaps develop during the climbs but people catch up in the descents and on the flat. Not that there is that much flat. The race is mostly either up or downhill.

The race gathers very tough opponents. This year there were many pros, winners of world championships, previous winners of Cape Epic and Trans Alp.

Now for some words on logistics. Vaude Trans Schwarzwald were extremely helpful in that they found a girl in their massage staff to drive our car from stage to stage. This was because we needed the car right after the last stage in order to catch our ferry back to Sweden. I can not thank them enough for this. Had we not had our car we would have been more dependent on their shuttle service... which brings me to the shuttling around: We had the hotel package. There's also the option to sleep in sleeping bags in schools are gyms during the race. Now, if you do this, then you get to stay in the town where the start/finish is on each stage. However, if you, like us, order the hotel package, then your hotel is not in the same town as the start/finish (well, ours wasn't on any of the stages anyway). This means that you need to make use of the shuttle service that Vaude Trans Schwarzwald provides. So the scenario then is this: You finish the race, was the bike, put the bike in the bike park, wait for a shuttle buss to leave and take you to the hotel (this can take a while), unpack your bag (that the shuttle has brought) at the hotel and shower, wait for the shuttle to take you back to the start/finish area where dinner and the prize ceremony is, eat, take the shuttle back to the hotel, sleep, and in the morning, after breakfast, take the shuttle to the start. As you can read there's a lot of shuttle waiting and riding going on. Perhaps not what you want to do when you really need to rest for the next stage. In our case we had our car which is a big plus because we didn't need to wait for the shuttle, and we ended up eating at the hotel instead of going to the joint dinner.

So the last part is perhaps the only major negative bit of the race. And of course, you can avoid it by not using the hotel package. You save money, but then you get to sleep on a floor in a sleeping bag.

Still, overall, I give the race maximum points. It's great fun and I recomend it warmly!

My race

When planning for this race I first thought that perhaps a top-5 finish would be something to aim for. Then I saw the entry list and noticed that there over 100 riders in my category. So then I wasn't sure. I ended up finishing in seventh place and it's something that I am really pleased with.

The lead-up to the race was not optimal: I did manage to take it fairly easy during the week before the race, but on the Sunday, just three days before Vaude Trans Schwarzwald, I did have an important marathon mtb race, Finnmarksturen, which I had to race. Finnmarksturen also turned out to be a really intense race for me where I did go all-in and also did completely empty myself of energy. So after this I had two rest days, one of which was spent in a car driving to Germany.

Before my first stage race, The Beskidy Trophy in June, I had read up on some others rider's experiences with stage races on mountainbike. Some had gone out too hard on the first and second stage and had had to pay for it on later stages. So for the Beskidy Trophy I did try to take it easy on the first stage. I'm not sure how I succeeded but I know that I didn't go all in during the first long climb at least. I feel that I got stronger and stronger during Beskidy and the last stage was probably my best one. This with no previous experience of stage racing. So for Vaude Trans Schwarzwald I did the first stage at almost full speed. And the first stage went really well (fifth place and a position in starting grid A1).

Now, the second stage didn't go all that well; I finished ninth. And I lost some time on my compeditors. This may be due to me going too hard on stage 1, but perhaps also a consequence of Finnmarksturen the weekend before Vaude Trans Schwarzwald started.

Where I lost a lot of time was on the third stage with the broken rear deraileur. Somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes is my estimate. This is where I lost my fifth place in the total standings.

Fourth and fifth stages went really well with sixth and fifth place finishes.

It's interesting to watch my average pulse for the five stages:
165, 155, 150, 149, 149
Max pulse:
182, 173, 168, 169, 168

I think the climbing in all the stages went well due to the fact that I have lost a 1-2kg in the last few weeks. The technical bits, the downhill parts, went very well and I managed to distance many riders and catch up with others during those parts. I ended up looking forward to the next technical downhill after a while. There's a lot of group riding in this race and being smart, hanging on to wheels really close, making efficient turns, knowing when to press hard to hold onto a wheel, and when not to, is really important. I think I did well in those aspects.

I did the first three stages on the full-suspension bike and, after the rear deraileur broke, I did the last two stages on the hardtail. The weight difference being 1kg between the bikes and with the terrain being very even and easy the rear suspension does not get much work and I should've riden the hardtail on all the stages. The easy-rolling and light Specialized Fast Trak and Renegeade tires were also perfect.

To summerize I think this was one of my best races of this season, so far, and I'm really happy about the result.

All the results are located here