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.