Sunday, 25 December 2016

Racing in Thailand in 30 degree heat

Result: 2nd place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.5 bar (training wheels)

I found out about the race the evening before. I had just changed to a 30T front chainring because I wanted to be ready to climb the Doi Suthep. Changed back to my oval 32T just before going to sleep.

Then there was a 42km ride to get to the race (I have no car in Thailand). Had to be there by 8 am to register. Sunrise is at 7am... Do the math (yeah, that was a rather quick warm-up ride out there). No time for breakfast before so I just grabbed a banana quickly after I had registered and just before the race started.

The track was mostly paved roads with two really steep climbs. Speed was high and I just barely managed on my 32T chainring. With about 10k to go there was a steep hill where I had to let 4-5 riders go. I caught up with them just after the climb... or so I thought...

Approaching the finish area which was a few tight twisty chicanes I pushed my way to the front of the group and came in first... Well, no, because one of the guys whom I had let go at that climb had gone ahead and I hadn't seen him... So second place.

Here's my helmet-cam video from the race:

Then cycling back home... with the price attached to the frame of my bike (see below photo)... in 30 degree heat...

Woman walked up to me after the race asking to take a photo with me

How do you get the trophy home when you've bked to the race?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Vintercuppen #3 - Third place

Result: 3rd place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

The third  race in Vintercuppen took us to the Helsingör area in Denmark. Temperature was around 5-6 degrees above freezing. Almost summer-time, compared to the last couple of races. I actually saw Palle wearing short sleeves and short-legged bibs at the starting line! The track was fun and technical. Plenty of muddy parts to test your balance. Also a few places with alternative lines which were fun to explore.

I had had quite a hard week training and when I rode the test lap, ahead of the race, I felt sort of worn and not all that charged. When I lined up for the start and I did so at the front, but then as more people joined I suddenly had many riders ahead of me. As I was feeling a bit off I didn't make an effort to move further up in the grid before the start.

Then as the race started some guys just ahead of me got tangled so we were all waiting for them to get going. But while this was happening a lot of riders were passing us on the right. So when I finally got going I think I was perhaps around 40th place. This also led to a long queue as gravel road turned into the first single track section. However, I had my helm cam on and I thought it'd be fun to have video of myself moving up the field. This put me in a good mood.

I passed a bunch of people during the first lap. Checking the lap times later on (see the table below) it seems I was up to 18th place overall after the first lap, 5th in my class.

After the first lap a group had begun to form and I was at the head of it. Looking behind it seemed like I almost had 10 riders trailing me closely. However slowly they started dropping off and the group got smaller but also grew at times as we caught up with someone who had been ahead of us.

Going out on the last lap there were now three of us left in the group. The other two riders were riding hard and very skillful in the technical sections so I mostly let them lead.

The last part of the lap was two very tricky and slippery uphill sections, followed by steep downhills and then some 200m of gravel road going slightly uphill to the finish line. I started planning a strategy for the end of the race as we approached the second half of the last lap: I knew that if I was in the lead going up into the first of the two climbs, then it would probably be hard for anyone to pass me before the finish line. So I let the two other guys lead on the short gravel road sections going up to the climb, and just before the climb I sprinted ahead and started the uphill first. While this was all happening I noticed that I was catching up really quickly to what seemed like a very tired Henrik Ahlbäck. At the top of the second climb I was on Henriks wheel and I could not hear either of the two other riders behind me. I tried to stay as close as I could to Henrik in the last steep downnhill and then sprinted the last 200m as soon as we hit the dirt road. The plan worked and I finished ahead of the other riders in the group.

Third place in the M40 category. I was very pleased. Also, having a look at the laptimes (see below) the last lap was actually my fastest one!



Sunday, 27 November 2016

Vintercuppen #2 - Tricky and fun track!

Result: 4th place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

The second race in Vintercuppen was another cold one. Just a couple of degrees above freezing. No snow on the ground however and it had not been raining during the week. The track turned out to be a fun one with some tight and twisty turns and fun technical sections. Some of the parts that were covered in leaves turned muddy and provided an extra challenge.

The race started off well and early on I was in the second group chasing the leaders. There were three of us in the group. However, just at the end of the first lap there was confusion as to were the race track went as markers were missing. This meant a bunch of riders caught up with us and all of the sudden there were now 6-7 of us. Just a couple of minutes later another wrong turn meant we had to double back, more riders came up from the back, and the group grew to 10-12 riders.

At the start of the second lap I decided to move up from the back of the group (where I was due to the confusion and missed turn) to the front. This took some effort but I was soon on the second wheel in the group. And then, guess what! Another missed turn by the guy in front of me. We turned our bikes around immediately and ran up a hill but we had been dumped to the back of the group again.

The next section was a downhill track with berms and I saw three riders at the front sprinting away from the group. I again expended some energy to move up the group and start chasing them down. After a while I got ahead of the group of 6-7 riders and was in no-mans-land between this group and the group of three riders that were ahead of me.

At the end of the second lap I was joined by another rider from behind and we got into some serious chasing to close down the distance to the three-rider group ahead. Halfway through the third lap we had caught them! Checking the lap times afterward this third (and second to last) lap was my quickest one.  However, I knew that I had expended a lot of energy chasing this hard for a long time and just stayed at the back of the group trying to recover. The speed was high though and recovery was almost nonexistent.

When we lapped and went out for the last lap I felt that I had overexpended myself and that I was probably not going to be able to keep the pace up for the entire last lap. I let the group go early on during the last lap and just tried to keep the pace up in order not to get caught from the rear. This worked... almost. Just at the end of the last lap I was caught by two riders. They turned out not to be in my category however so I didn't lose any places.

I crossed the finish line in fourth place.


Good heart rate data. The track actually seemed quicker than the average speed shows:

 The laptimes show that I got a tad bit tired before the last lap:

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Fall Classic

Result: 12th place (overall)

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Fast Trak 2.0 1.35/1.42bar (Stans Valor)

The Heino Fall Classic has always been my favorite Autumn race. It's in the Tisvilde area in Denmark. You park by the sea, which in November always is windy and cold, and so you shiver at the prospect of racing in lycra. It's always a hard decision to figure out what to wear.

This year temperatures were around 2-3 degrees C above freezing: I went with bibs, leg warmers, and a long-sleeved shirt.

This weather was a big difference from last year when there was a snow storm the day and night before the race. We ended up racing in deep snow and I wasn't able to complete both laps of the race. I wrote about the race here.
It had been raining in the days leading up to the race, but the evening before the race I went and put on my race wheels anyway. However, in the rear, I changed from the usual Specialized Renegade 1.95 to Fast Trak 2.0. This turned out to be a good decision. The track was mostly quick, with a few muddy areas and some wet roots. However, with plenty of gravel roads the easy-rolling tires were useful.

The race is on a track which is ridden for two laps. The first one also has a start loop of about 5km. All-in-all it's 45km.

Things started off well and I was in the leading group of some 10 riders all through the start loop. This in spite of a crash just in front of me in the second corner (this can be seen in the video below). However with the first really steep climb after about 6km a guy a few places in front of me let go of the lead group and before I was able to scramble around him they were gone.

We formed a second group behind the leaders which started at around 10 riders. Unfortunately I made some bad decisions positioning myself in the group during the first lap, ending up to far back in it. As gaps formed it was up to me to bridge them. At the end of the first lap were were down to 5 riders and I had expended a lot of energy staying with the group.

During the second lap people started racing off ahead of the group but also dropped down in the back until there were just two of us left. And then we were joined by a really strong rider coming up alone from the rear. Very impressive! This constellation prevailed until the last climb before the finish when I was too tired and had to  let go of the other two riders.

I crossed the finish line in 12th place overall (no age categories), out of 300+ riders. It was a good race and I was pleased with the results.

Video of the first half an hour of the race, including a crash at about 5 minutes


Sunday, 13 November 2016

Subpar performance in the first Vintercuppen race

Result: 4th place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

The first race in the Vintercuppen series took place in wintery conditions. Just a few degrees below zero and a forest which was mostly free off snow. However there were some icy patches to be careful off. The setup for this cup is that the races are 70 minutes plus the last lap. Each lap was 7km.

I hadn't been feeling well all week and had been off the training. However, before the race I couldn't really feel anything wrong with my body so I had no fears of not performing to my full potential.

I got a good position in the field as the race started. We were perhaps 10 riders in the front group and I hung on at the back. About halfway through the first lap I let go off the lead group and a smaller group of three riders formed: Henrik Ahlbäck, me and a junior rider. We caught up with another guy who dropped back from the front and then there were four of us.

During the first lap conditions were quite grippy with just some icy patches. No snow in the forest at all. However, on the second lap I noticed that places that were not very slippery on the first lap were suddenly super slippery. The riders that had gone by had polished the ice that was there. Also the roots had become really slippery. I was close to falling in one place. It became hard to distinguish where one could trust the grip and where not.

Out on the third lap I had Henrik Ahlbäck, the junior rider and another rider on my wheel. Things were still feeling 'okay'. I had noticed that I perhaps did not have 100% zing in my legs. Then at the bottom of a climb, in a sharp right turn over some branches, there was suddenly no grip where there during the previous two laps had been no problems: My front tire lets go and I go down. It was in quite low speed and I'm back on the bike quickly. I immediately set off to catch the group again, I was leading it after all so it should be possible. But this is when I notice that my form is not all that great. I can see them out in front but they continue to outdistance me.

Later on the third lap, while I'm still hunting the group ahead of me, two riders come up from behind. This is while I think that I'm keeping quite a good pace so I'm a bit surprised and also disappointed. (Maybe I'm not going as quickly as I think?). I manage to hang on for just a few minutes before I'm dropped. During the fourth and last lap another two riders catch me and I'm able to hang on to this group to the end of the race.

I finished in fourth place in M40 (13th overall). Not a very good result. However, as I got home in the afternoon I felt really wrung out and much too tired considering the length of the race. So something is not 100% right in my body currently.


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Victory in the first Slushcup race

Result: 1st place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

The first leg of the four race Slushcup took place in Denmark at Tisvilde Hegn. It had been raining for a couple of days leading up to the race so decided to race on my training wheels which have nice grippy and wide tires. The track however turned out to be quite nice, not too muddy, just with some slippery roots.

It's been a while since I raced (4 weeks I belive) and after keeping a semi-strict diet I've been enjoying food throughout October... and gained a few kilos. Today's track was quite hilly and in the uphills suffered from the chocolate consumption of the past weeks.

Slushcup has changed the setup for this year's cup: You ride 100 minutes MAX. Meaning all the laps that you finish in under 100 minutes count. After 100 minutes the race is over and if you're in the middle of a lap it doesn't count. This means it's up to the rider to judge if he manages to finish the current lap within the time limit.

The race turned out well: I held on to the lead group for about about half the first lap. After that we managed to form a second group, with amongs other's female world champion: Annika Langvad. This group split up and I ended up riding on my own after the second lap.

I slightly slowed my pace to allow any rider to catch up from behind, in order to form a new group, but no one came. So I ended up riding alone for almost an hour. Going out for the last lap I saw that I was catching up to a rider. I upped my pace but before I caught him two other guys caught me from behind. I went first over the last climb and just nailed it for the last 2-3km into the finish. I managed to create a gap and won my category, finishing 8 seconds before second and 9 seconds before third.

No racing for 4 weeks has rested my body, which is visibile in today's extreme max heart rate:

Sunday, 2 October 2016

XCup #7 - Leakage

On the first lap I noticed air was leaking out of my rear tire. I stopped and gave it some CO2. I just gave me a few more minutes before that leaked out as well. It's sort of strange because I had recently filled the tire with Stans fluid. Also I saw no fluid leaking out of the tire. Weird... I stopped after a lap. It's a pitty because the track was a lot of fun and things were super muddy (which was fun)!

A bit slippery

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Västgötaloppet - Pain and suffering, and more pain

Result: 5th

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.40 / 1.50 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

The ninth and last race of the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen) is Västgötaloppet. Every year this race has received criticism for being too easy and with too much gravel road. This year the organizers had promised more singletrack. This turned out to be true and the total race time was half an hour longer than last year. For a race which was already long at 78km, and with a lot of climbing (1200m), the extra singletrack meant a race time of around three hours. Hard stuff!

I like the way the race starts with a looong climb, first on asphalt, and then moving onto gravel road. This part went fast for me, as can be seen in Strava:

I managed to hang onto the lead group over the whole climb. The first split time, some 8km into the race, has me in second place in M40 and 16th place overall.

However that was the best part of my race. I was in a group with, among others, Mattias Israelsson (who was having a great day), and hanging on at the back for dear life. I looked down at my bike computer and noticed that only about 30km of the race had passed. And I was already feeling very tired. I realized that this day was going to be about survival. I knew that I was probably in a good position, but I didn't know how long my legs were going to last.

I feel that our group of some 4-5 riders is going really quickly and I really have to fight hard to stay with them. But all the same we get caught from behind by another group of some 3-4 riders, Daniel Grass among them. Daniel joins the group and moves just in front of me, but as soon as we hit some singletrack he has a small crash. The crash splits the group in two parts, with me in the rear part. Mattias goes away with the first part of the group. Daniel quickly recovers and starts chasing the other riders but we never manage to catch up.

I continue to barely hang on to the Daniel group, staying mostly at the back. The singletack works really well for me and I'm so happy to be on the full-suspension BMC Fourstroke. On a day like this, a hardtail would have killed my legs. The downhill sections go better and better as I realize that I can't let myself brake or I'll lose the group.

Again, this group is going really quickly and yet we're caught up from behind by another group. This one contains Jerry, Rolf and Methander, among others. We are now quite a large group of 10+ riders. I'm becomming more and more exhausted.

With 8km left of the race where I'm in the red and barely able to think straight the guy in front of me has a leg cramp and while I try to go around him the rest of the group drifts away. I have no energy left to hunt them down. I try to keep the speed on my own for the last 8km and somehow manage to cross the finish line without anyone catching up.

I place fifth in M40, very happy with the results under the circumstances.

This table shows my position during the race:

The results:

Total standings for the cup after the last race: I'm in fourth place:

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dustcup #6: Ooops, I missed the start of the race

This was the sixth and last race of Dustcup. I hadn't taken part in the whole cup but as I had nothing planned for this Sunday and the last race was a marathon I thought it would be fun to ride it. Obviously having raced XCup the previous day the situation was not optimal. But as it wasn't an important race I thought I would just go over to Denmark and have som fun. The weather forecast was excellent!

Marathon means 2.5hours + the lap. Usually these marathon races are not that technical with lots of gravel road. However, this course turned out to be nothing like that...

I got to the race in good time and rolled out on the course with about 40 minutes to go before the start. I thought I'd just do a quick warm-up at first but then I started noticing that the course was rather technical and bit by bit I decided to do an entire lap. The lap was 6km and I thought that I'd have no problems completing an entire test lap before the start of the race. What I had no idea about was that the track was 99.9% singletrack and just 100m of gravel road and so the lap took a long time to get through. When I realized that I was running short on time I got very stressed and started riding faster and faster to get to the start on time. I got to the starting area just after the riders had been let go and had to join at the back of the field.

I still managed to grab 11th place in M40. The track was super fun and technical. Best track of this year perhaps. However the race the day before had left some traces and the legs were not quite up to the task. I took it quite easy and managed to have some fun anyway

Photo: SonnMedia // Gorm J. Siiger


Saturday, 17 September 2016

XCup #6 - Fun at the twisty turny Käglinge track

Result: 9th place (overall)

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Bontrager XR2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

Well, this went better than expected. I have always felt a bit clumsy on this twisty and tricky track. But today went better than ever before. Very intense and high heart rate.

Tomorrow a marathon in Denmark... so that's going to be interesting!


Thanks to Jonas Engdahl for the photos!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Swedish Marathon Championships XCM

Result: 5th

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.40 / 1.50 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.


The marathon championships is really my cup of tea: A long but quick (speed wise) mountain bike race with lots and lots of climbing (well, at least for Swedish conditions). I really prepared for this race: Four weeks before I went crazy with the training in an atempt to maximize my form for the race. The week that was four weeks before the race: 18 hours of training, the next week: 17 hours. Then 15th. Weight was coming down nicely too and I was at just over 71kg two weeks before the race aiming for 70kg... And the week of the race, Wednesday, A COLD!!!

Wednesday, sniffles, Thursday worse sniffles, Friday, even worse... mostly spending time in bed... and two weeks until raceday. Then, suddenly, Friday evening: Feeling better! went out for a calm ride late Friday evening just before sunset... and felt ok. Saturday morning another very easy ride. Feeling ok. Of course still plenty of phlegm but, you know, ok.

I decided to optimize the weight of the bike for this race so: No spare tube; if I puncture the race is over anyway. Just some CO2 and my smallest multi-tool. One small water bottle on the bike: I'll pick a bigger one up later.

The groups start with 60 seconds between them so M40 will have its own start with no intereference from M30 or M50.

So I'm standing on the starting line on Sunday morning (during the night I'd been coughing up phlegm) and looking up at the long starting hill... it's LOOOONG. I tried to get the pulse going during the warmup but wasn't able to get it above 170.

The starter's gun booms and we're off... AND I GO TO THE FRONT! And start climbing at an easy pace... and no one tries to pass me until we start getting to the top. This is a completely different experience than I had at this same track last year where I was barely holding on at the start.

Under normal circumstances I might have thought about going to the front at this poing to go hard and see if I could get a good group going. However due to the facet that I didn't know what my shape was like (after the cold) I had decided that I needed to be smart and calculating.

Next we move to the gravel road start loop and still the pace is very relaxed. No one goes to the front and pulls hard. So we're all bundled up in a big bunch inspite of the long starting climb.

As the gravel road turns into single track I'm lucky because I'm in about 7th or 8th place and the transistion is easy without any bunching up or queuing. Last year I was at the back of a big group and had to come to a complete stop as we went into single track.

I start realiing how slow our pace is when Rolf Svensson and Martin Wenhov from M50 catch up after about 20km.

At this point of the race I do my best to stay near the front of the pack. So I'm in the top 6-7 riders all the time. The pace has picked up and is very quick now. After a while, when I look behind, I see that the group is down to perhaps 10-12 riders.

Single track and gravel roads continue to exchange. The next time I look behind there's seven of us: Martin W, Rolf S and five M40 racers.

Then Martin W and a M40 racer get dropped at a climb with perhaps 30km left to the finish. The pace is quick uphill and I'm struggling to hang on but I manage. At 12km to go there's a very long climb and I finally have to let go of Rolf and the three other M40 racers. I lose sight of a top-3 finish! I tried to hang on for so long that when I finally give up I'm very very very tired. I take it easy for a while and Björn Österberg, M30, who's having a terrible day, catches up from behind.

Björn helps pulling me along as I regain some energy. Unfortunately with just 50m to go Martin W and an M40 guy catch up from behind. I'm unable to answer the M40 guys sprint for the finish line. I cross the line in fifth place.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Bockstensturen - The longest marathon

Result: 7th

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.45 / 1.55 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

The race started well. The first part going out of Varberg towards the forest was unusually hectic. The elite boys at the front set out at supersonic speeds. I checked my logged data afterwards att it seems we were doing some 67km/h at some point on the paved roads. I managed to hang on to the tail of the front group. As we got on the gravel roads the pace dropped slightly and it was easier to hold on.

The gravel road started going uphill into the first climb. As usual I set my own pace, which is that I try to ride the entire climb at an even speed. This often means that other riders go faster than I at the start but then I start catching them towards the second half of the climb. This happened here as well and climbing felt good.

After a while I noticed that I was in a group with Stefan Hellman who is usually leading or close to the lead. I had a suspicion that the two of us might be leading the M40 category. Things continued well but at some point I had to let the group go during a messy downhill. Still things felt good as Robert Eliasson came up from behind. Also Henrik Mård joined and we formed a group. We caught up with Mattias Isrealsson as well.

At about 60km I started getting more a more tired. I let go of my group in another messy downhill and rode a while with Mattias Isrealsson. At about 80k I had to let go off his wheel as well.

As I left the forest and started back towards the finish in Varberg there was a heavy headwind blowing over the open fields. I struggled on by myself until a larger group caught up from behind. It was a nice mix, however just one M40 rider. I noticed that Rolf came up and also Daniel Graz. I was getting really tired but managed to hang on until there were fewer than 10k left.

I rolled towards the finish and came in 7th place.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Snapphaneturen - Slow in the slippery stuff

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Rocket Ron 2.1 SS 1.5 / 1.5 bar. Bontrager XXX wheels

Result: 9th place

After some insane weather and rain during the night and early morning I changed plans in regard to which bike I would race. The original plan was the Fourstroke with the normal marathon-setup (easy rolling tires). At first I thought about just putting some grippier tires on the Fourstroke but in the end I decided that it would be fun to try the Teamelite in a marathon so I switched out the training wheels for a pair of Bontrager XXX with RocketRon 2.1 (the same ones I had used during Beskidy Trophy). So these were a bit more grippy but still quite well used and rather narrow.

When I arrived at the race location a the weather had actually cleared up and the sun was shining. However with the huge amounts of rain that had come during the early morning there was no chance that it was going to be a dry race.

There were some good riders in this race so I knew it was going to be hard. The pre-race favorites were Erik Mattelin (normally racing Elite), Mattias Israelsson, Robert Eliasson and a few others that I was used to racing against in the Swedish Marathon Series.

As we got off the starting line things went well. The race starts with a long starting loop first on asphalt and then moving on to a long gravel road climb. Everthing felt fine and I was up with the top riders. However, the gravel road then switched to a slippery and slightly muddy downhill section and here I lost all confidence in the tires (and in my abilities). I started braking way too much and lost contact with the front riders.

After the start loop you come back through the start/finish area and then there's another long gravel road climb. Here I managed to reconnect with the leaders and felt very proud of myself. This didn't last long however as the next singletrack section turned out to be slippery again and I lost contact again.

As the race progressed I started to get a bit more confident in the grip that my tires gave me. Also, perhaps, the trails started to dry up slowly and that also gave me more confidence.

I rode alone for a while and thent two guys came up from behind. We formed a group and the pace got quicker. After a while we lost one of the guys who dropped off the back. Shortly after that we caught up with a Danish rider and so we were a group of three again. One of the guys turned out to just ride the shorter distance and so we lost him after 43km. So with 17km of riding left there was me and the Danish guy.

I started thinking about how I was to go about crossing the finish line before this Danish rider. I knew that there was not that much riding left to do but that the last parts were quite hilly. I tried to up the pace in the first few climbs but didn't manage to drop him. He actually dropped me a few times instead, first on a climb and then on two muddy downhill sections. However once he crashed I had a bit of a gap, but he managed to pull that back.

So with 10k left we came out by the lake and I knew there was just three sections left: Solhem, a section of quick singletrack that criss-crosses a small section of forest, then out on an open gravel roadm nd after that there's just the dash to the finish which starts with a 2km long climb (not very steep). I started to plan that this last section was where I was going to drop the Dane.

I went on his wheel through Solhem, and then out on the gravel road where the wind blew a strong headwind. Here he surprised me by pulling quite hard all along this road, without asking (or giving) me a chance to take over lead. I was of course happy to let him do all the work. As soon as we got into the last 2km climb I went to the lead and went all-in. At once he let go of my wheel and after that I didn't see him again.

I crossed the line in ninth place. Not very happy with my performance. But a good training session nonetheless.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Faaborg MTB-marathon - Most fun track of this year!

Result: 5th

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.45 / 1.55 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

Faaborg MTB Marathon was a race which was previously completely unknown to me. I looked at the stats ahead of the race: 60km and 1200hm, which is rather a lot of climbing. The race was in Denmark where the terrain is usually not all that hilly, however this race was described as being "In the Alps of Fyn". Fyn is the Danish island that houses the race. The race was over a three lap course but starting and finishing in the town of Faaborg.

I turned out that the lap could be divided into two parts:
First part: Riding over grass covered hills with a bunch of steep climbs going up the hill and then steep downhills down the other side. This went on until we got out into a shorter section of paved roads which took us to:
Second part: very tight and twisty singletrack in the forest with branches and tree stems on all sides of the bike, close to the handlebars.


Race day had nice weather and the terrain was dry. I lined up at the start at the front of the grid which was nice. As the race started I took the lead and we rode through the town of Faaborg at an easy pace. Even after leaving the town no one tried to pass me and so I was at the front until the pace picked up at about 3-4km.

As we left the roads and got onto singletrack where we went over a meadow where the track turned downhill. I was perhaps in fifth or sixth place at this point. Then there were some holes in the grass and the bikes bounced around and suddenly the chain derailed from the front chainring. I got off the bike and was able to get the chain back on after a few tries. This never happens with SRAM XX1 so I was almost totally unused to the procedure of getting the chain back on.

While I was fixing the chain I was perhaps passed by some 10-15 riders and when I got back on the bike I was feeling a bit stressed out over this so I set a high pace and tried to gain back what I had lost.

I managed to gain back some of the positions that I'd lost but then at about 5km into the race I missed a turn sign and went straight ahead where I should've turned into a small trail. The most annoying thing about this is that I had another compeditor behind me who didn't warn me that I'd gone the wrong way. Very unsportsmanlike! It took me no more than some 200-300m before I realized I had gone the wrong way, turned my bike around and went back. I noticed on the second lap that they had blocked the section that I wrongly rode down with tape so I guess that more riders than I had made the mistake.

I was back to hunting the riders that had passed me when I made the bad turn. I managed again to gain back some positions before we went into the second part of the course: The thight and twisty singletrack through the forest. Now, generally speaking, the slower a mountain bike track is the slower I am compared to my rivals in a race. I like it better when a track is quick than when it's slow and twisty. I had never ridden this race before so I was a bit surprised by the technical nature of this part of the lap. As I was at the front of the small group that I was riding with everyone else was behind me and unable to pass (I don't know if they wanted to).

When we went out into the second lap I noticed that I only had two riders behind me now and they both upped the pace when we got to the hills again. I managed to follow for a while but then realized that I would have to let them go.

I had a quick look at my Garmin and was very surprised when I noticed that over an hour had passed of the race and I had just done one lap! I made a quick calculation and came to a total race time of about 3.5 hours. This is much longer than I expected and I realized that I was going to have to slow down my pace a bit to make it all the way through the race. The nature of the course was one where you had very few places to just roll and rest your legs.

I slowed the pace and rode alone for a while before I was caught up by two new riders coming from behind. At this point I had reached the twisty singletrack section of the second lap. I think one of the riders must have crashed just as he caught up with me because I heard the other rider call out: "Are you ok?". After a while the rider who had caught me passed and I was alone again.

Starting the third lap with the hilly section again I caught up with the rider who had passed me. I started thinking about the fact that this was the last lap and that the guy who I had caught again seemed faster than me in the singletrack. So I realized that I would have to create a good gap here in the hilly section in order for him not to catch me at the singletrack. I upped the pace and he dropped back at once. As I got into the last half of the last lap, the singletrack section, I concentrated on riding as cleanly as possible and not braking too much. I managed this quite well and never saw the rider whom I had passed again.

I finished in fifth place and very happy with the result.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Finnmarksturen - Trying to be brave again

Result: 10th

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.45 / 1.55 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

This was my first marathon race after the crash two weeks ago. Also, the type of race was quite similar with a lot of high-speed gravel road and quick single track. I knew I wasn't at my usual confidence level yet but I was looking forward to the race just the same. Weather conditions were good with dry tracks and summer temperatures.

My weight is a couple of kilos higher than I would've wanted it to be due to not being able to train after the crash, and also due to some extra chocolate consumption because I was feeling sorry for myself.


As the race started I found myself in a good position. There was a long climb just 3km into the race which went on gravel roads. I wanted to have a good position over that climb. However as soon as I started going up the climb I noticed that my body wasn't 100% with me. The whole climb was really painful and I lost ground to the leading group. Checking Strava afterwards I found that the climb was almost half a minute slower than last year and that's a disaster!

As soon as I made the realization that I was not going to have a strong day decided to ride a tactical race: Ride smart, conserve energy, no unecessary sprints, stay with good groups and on the wheel of other riders.

I did manage to get back in with the leading group by sprinting after the climb. I saw Robert Eliasson far ahead in the middle of the group but then lost sight of him as we moved to singletrack.

About 10km into the race I found myself in a group of five riders; Three of them were elite riders and then there was one more M40 rider: Stefan Hellman. Now Stefan had placed in the top-3 of most of the races in the cup so far so when I saw that I was in the same group as him I started thinking that perhaps it was not going too badly after all. Still, I was hurting and struggling to stay with this group.

I hung with the group until we came to a short wooden bridge about 20km into the race. I noticed that it was really wet and it looked very slippery. However the riders in front of me got across without problems so I thought that I just needed to go straight across, and NOT to turn on the bridge. After the bridge the track had a tight right hand corner. As I got towards the end of the bridge I started to turn very slightly and carefully to the right but that was enough for my front and back wheels to slip under me and I was off the bike sliding over the bridge. I was back on my bike within seconds but I had lost the group and as I was already going all-out to stay with them there was no chance of catching up.

Soon riders came up from behind and after a while I found myself in a new group consisting of the three leading M30 riders, five M40 riders and some elite riders. We were now approaching the second part of the course which consists of 5 climbs spaced out across the last 35km of the race.

I went up the climbs carefully; starting at the back of the group at an easy pace and slowly moving up through the group. I was happy to see that I did not have any trouble keeping up.

As we got to the last climb I knew that we were not far from the finish line and so I decided to ride hard up this climb in order to drop as many of my M40 rivals as I could. I went over the top of the climb third in my group but had no time to look behind me to see if anyone had gotten dropped because there was quite a tricky section right after. I rode as quickly as I could here and with just 1km we got to a grassy section going uphill. Here however I was passed by all the other M40 riders and as the sprint approached I was at the back of the group. I didn't manage to outsprint anyone and ended up in 10th place, just a second down on sixth place.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

XCup #5 - Testing the damaged leg

Result: 16th place (overall)

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Bontrager XR2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

Since the crash last Sunday I've been taking it very easy. The main focus has been to be back on and racing on Sunday the 7th of August for the next important race: Finnmarksturen. There was a local XCup race already Sunday the week after my crash but I thought my chances of being welll enough to race there were slim.

I tried getting back on the bike on Monday, the day after the crash, for my regular commute but found that I couldn't bend the leg enough to pedal. So I took the car... for the next three days. Then on Thursday I tried again, and by raising the saddle to the max I was able to pedal and perform my commute... very slowly. Same thing Friday. Then on Saturday I tried mountain biking and that worked out okay. So I had made my  mind up that I was going to wait until Sunday morning to decide whether to race the XCup or not.

Sunday morning arrived and I took a quick mountain bike ride pushing a bit harder than I had the day before. And all seemed well. So I decided to race.

I put some bandage over the part of the knee where I have the stiches. Then a leg warmer over just the injured leg. It looked kind of funny (check the photo below). I decided to take it easy in the turns and not risk crashing and also be careful when getting passed or passing someone.

The race worked out surprisingly well. I was a bit nervous and insecure in the turns and so I braked much more than I should have. My main goal was to have a really intense training session and the track delivered on that point by having a lot of climbing meaning my heart rate got really high. Great!

I managed three laps in total in the one hour of race time that there was. For each new lap I relaxed more and as my confidence grew I took the turns faster and faster. This was exactly what I had hoped for.

I finished in 16th place which is good. The best part is the pulse data with a max of 190bpm and an average of 175. Great workout session!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Engelbrektsturen - Crash and a trip to the emergency room

Result: DNF

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.45 / 1.55 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

I had decided to really push it at the start to get a goood position. Something that had been a problem in a couple of the latest races. This worked out really well and I was where I wanted to be when the first climb started. I overtook a few guys but the fact that I was already so far forward meant that it was not as per usual: me going around a bunch of people. But this is good.

The first climb of the race, "Maskinvägen  upp", I did with an average heartrate of 192:

After a while a group formed and I saw a bunch of elite riders, and Robert Eliasson and Stefan Hellman från M40. These guys are the quick boys and it turned out they came first and second in today's race.

However, it did not end well for me as after about 20km I had the biggest crash I've ever had. It was on a quick gravel road going about 50kph. There was a slightly raised string of gravel at the center of the road and my rear wheel slipped on it. I went skidding along the road for a few meters and then into a ditch. The guy behind me did the same and landed next to me. And another guy just a few seconds later. So there were three of us lying in the same ditch. As soon as I landed I realized that this was no ordinary crash. I was quite shocked. Got up and examined myself. My left leg was rather badly hurt. Blood everywhere. The other two guys seemed worse of however and I decided to go for help. I slowly walked to the first official and told them about the two injured guys. She called an ambulance.  I started walking back towards the start. I was lucky enough to hitch a ride from a spectator. Lucky as it turned out that I was the furtest away from the start/finish area that I could be anywhere on the course.

At the start/finish area I found a medic who said that my injuries would have to be treated at a hospital and that there was nothing she could do. The hospital was in the next town. And Sandra still had about an hour to go before she finished her race. So I went into the neatest store to get something to drink. I got some funny looks from the other shoppers.

After Sandra had finished her race we drove to the emergency and well, 9 shots, 6 stiches, one x-ray and three hours later we were on our long drive back home.

I checked Strava and the speed at the time of the crash was 56.2km/h

This photo is from about an hour after the crash:

The next day:

The back:

Friday, 15 July 2016

Swedish XCO Championships - *CURSES*

Result: 24th place

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Fast Trak 2.0, 1.5 / 1.5 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

So, what happened? Well, most things went to heck!

We arrived early on Friday morning for the practice session starting at 10:15 (the race start was at 14:00). Just to discover that the promoters had decided to move the session to 08:00 in the morning, which was 1.5 hours ago. Had they informed anyone? Sure, on their home page. But when I checked the home page schedule the day before the practice session was still listed. So I'm guessing sometime in the evening. Did they email all participants about this change? No.

But, I mean, they wouldn't change the ACTUAL COURSE without informing people, right? We had tested the course out 2 weeks before the race and checked the different A-lines and B-lines. I had decided to just do the B-lines (although I wanted to try one of the A-lines during the practice session that was then moved). Well, the race started and the first A/B-line split that I came to THEY'D SWITCHED THE TWO LINES!! The B-line was right and the A-line left two weeks before the race, when we tested the course, and during the race it was the other way around. I stopped dead at the start of the A-line, realized that I was not where I thought I was, had to get off the bike and lift it over to the B-line. I lost about 20 places doing this.

After that my mood was shot to heck. It didn't help that the skies opened up just before the start and that also during the race heavy rain fell. The track was made slippery and very hard to ride by all the water. The B-lines became as dangerous as the A-lines due to them being on lose soil.

At first I was just going to quit after one lap but I decided to finish the race. I just decided to look at it as a training session. I did however take it very easy and took absolutely no risks. I didn't want to crash and risk my participation at RACES WHERE THE PROMOTORS ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING!!!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Mörksuggejakten - Taking a chance riding the hardtail

Result: 9th place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.0 / Renegade 2.0, 1.5 / 1.5 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

Mörksuggejakten is the fifth race in the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). This is a nice race with a looong starting hill. The race is rather quick with some longer gravel road section and also quick and hectic single track. A fun race!

Being tactical with the long starting hill I decided to race my hardtail, the BMC Teamelite. I had weighed it at home prior to the race and it came in at about 8.75kg. This is a full kilo less than my full suspension. It's a bit of a risk but then I'm a risktaker so... 

Race day was beautiful and sunny. I was figuring a finishing time of around 2.5 hours so I thought I could get buy on one large bottle. One thought was to plant it at the top of the starting hill and take it as I went buy after the climb was done. But we got to the track a bit too late as we had to stay in a hotel 2 hours driving away. So I started with the bottle on the bike.

The Track

  • The start:
    • Short stint through Rättvik, a roundabout and a couple of crossings.
    • Vidablick. Long starting hill, around 8 minutes. On paved road.
    • Downhill och singletrack, bumpy and hard, also some downhill on gravel roads, quick!
  • The middle:
    • Gravel roads and double track. Fast and furious.
    • Rooty and rocky but very quick singletrack
    • Some sandy sections. Be careful!
    • Some climbing here and there
  • The finish:
    • Last part towards the finish is on twisty singletrack

The Race

Apart from a small misshap with getting into my pedals right as the starting gun banged I thought I was in a good position going into Vidablick, as the climb at the start is called. There's a small section through the town of Rättvik, before you get to the climb, and there I tried to be aggressive and stay as close to the front as I could. It went ok.

Going up the hill felt good. I was passing riders left and right and could see the front of the field ahead. Strava later told me that this section went 20 seconds quicker than last year. Just after the climb I actually caught up with my pal Erik Mattelin who's a really quick guy racing in the Elit category. I had not been near him in the previous races so this gave me an indication that things had gone well this far.

After the Vidablick climb you have to be really careful, focused and quick. After a while the track starts going downhill over rather bumpy and messy terrain. You need to keep a quick pace here because after this section comes a long part which is on gravel road. You need to have good wheels to follow there. However the bike felt very stiff and bumpy in this downhill part and I had to let some riders pass. After a while also there was a rider standing standing right in the middle of the path with his bike. I decided to try to pass him on the left and just as I was doing this he decided to trip and fall to his left. I had to stop and wait for him to get up. More riders went by.

Getting to the gravel road section I took the wheel of another quick Elit rider: Viktor Ludvigsson. Also a pal of mine. He's a sturdy guy who has some really strong legs. I tucked in behind him and let him pull me along. After a while our group grew and we were around 10 riders. The pace was frantic and I contended myself with just hanging on at the rear of the group. As we hit some dubble track Robert Eliasson with two or three other riders still managed to join our group from the back.

As we moved into some really bumpy single track I again noted that my bike was so stiff that it felt like it was shaking apart. Things got so bad that I lost my water bottle, and didn't notice until Robert Eliasson pointed it out to me. Frak! I was going to have to solve this problem somehow. Inspite of all the shaking and bumping I held onto the group, actually going up in front and pulling hard in some sections.

After some 10km without any drink a spectator saved my life by handing me a bottle of water. Thank you stranger!! And then at about 40km my friend Caroline Olsson saved my life again by giving me a bottle of sports drink. Perfect!

The group more or less held together until there was about 10km left and the pace went up considerably. The group split in two and I was in the back part together with Robert Eliasson. Then a few kilometers later I had to let go of Robert's wheel too. I rode the last part to the finish alone, not catching anyone but not getting caught either.

I was a bit surprised when I learned that I didn't finish better than ninth. My time was 7 minutes quicker than last year and my 'Ranking' number was 12.5 which was really good. It seems that we had a few new M40 riders join us who don't race in the cup and who are really quick. Even Per Sjödin, the cup leader, didn't finish better than fifth.

So did the gamble of riding the hardtail instead of the fully pay off? Well, I was 20 seconds quick up the starting hill. But then things were rather bumpy afterwards. I think that if I had gone a bit quicker downhill after Vidablick then the gamble would definitally had been a good one. As it was now... Hard to tell...

This is a graph of my times for the Vidablick climb. All four years that I've raced Mörksuggejakten (click on it to get a bigger graph):

The aftermath of all this is that I realize that I have to start looking at my damper settings. The bike just shouldn't be this uncomfortable going downhill. I had already decreased the tire pressure from 1.6-1.7 prior to the last race to 1.5 for this race. That should be enough. Now, the lockout has been a problem throughout the season and was today as well. But I also need to look at Rebound settings.