Sunday, 26 July 2015

Engelbrektsturen - Muddy as hell!

Result: 7th place

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak Control / Rengade Control 2.0 - 1.6bar

Engelbrektsturen is one of the races in Långloppscupen that's considered to be a "gravel rally", meaning it's mostly on gravel roads. They had changed to course since I last raced it in 2013 and we were promised more single track this year.

Results: Engelbrektsturen 2015

The weather forecast was terrible with more than 20mm of rain falling the day before the race and during race day. I was not sure whether I should race my usual easy-rolling Fast Trak / Renegade tires, or change to more grippy tires, but decided not to change. The race turned out to be the most muddy one that I've ever done.

Race story:
I managed to find a good position in the second start group, at the front. When the race started the first part was very quick on flat gravel roads which quickly turned into double track. I slowly worked my way forward but it was hard as the racing was really tight. When the first hill came after about 8km I was able to advance some positions and pass Atle Hansen, among other riders.
On the first slight downhill on slippery grass a guy in front of me fell, and when I was trying to brake to avoid him, my tires lost grip and I crashed into him. And, of course, the guy behind me crashed into me. I was on my bike again within a minute, or less, but I lost some good wheels and had to sprint to make up ground.
A group formed quite quickly and I was able to hang on easilly. On the small climbs that followed I felt quicker than I've done all season. I think this may be due to the weight loss that I've had lately. The general feeling was that exherting myself just didn't hurt that much today.
The parts with  single track on wet grass, mud and wet roots were dfficult with my slippery tires. I slowed down and just tried to cover the terrain safely and without using too much energy. This worked well most of the time. Had I had grippier tires it would have gone faster. But it wasn't a disaster either.
With 10km to go there was four of us left in the group. The pace was quick. Mikael Johansson was in the group and tried a long sprint with 2km left. I took his wheel but when he ran out of steam I didn't have any energy to continue the sprint myself. So the other two guys, who had been left behind, were able to catch up. So it turned into a sprint for the four of us. The finishing area is on paved roads with tight 90-degree turns. I came into the section leading the group of four riders and even had a bit of a gap to the second guy. However on the last part of the sprint, slightly uphill, he was able to get beside me and I could see his front wheel just nudging ahead of mine over the finish line. He took it by about 10cm. 
After checking the results I noticed that I had come in 7th place. 2 tenths of a second behind sixth and one full second behind fifth place. I'm really happy with this result. Racing in these extremely muddy conditions isn't one of my strengths. Finishing as well as I did makes me happy.

I had been thinking lately that I'm not drinking enough during these long marathon races,and also not taking enough gels, however during this race I really concentrated and forced myself to stay hydrated. Hopefully I'll be able to continue this trend.

Being thinner makes me a quicker cyclist

At this point I was still able to use my glasses. I had to ditch them later

Sprint across the finish line
Sprint across the finish line
Sprint across the finish line
Sprint across the finish line

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