Sunday, 31 January 2016

Vintercuppen #5 - Best track of the winter season but on tired legs

Result: 3rd place (12th overall)

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

This cup is nearing its ending, just two races left, including today's race. Before this race I was in second place overall. Far behind Palle in first place but just one point in front of Frank in third.

I had guided my new pal, Viktor Ludgvisson ( for a five hour ride in the forests outside of Genarp on Saturday, the day before the race. Perhaps not the smartest thing but we had a lot of fun. I was going to have to pay for that in this race...

Trying a lap of the track before the race I found that it was going to be super fun. There was tons and tons of newly built singletrack with ups, downs, turns, (rough) wooden bridges and even a section across a clear-cut area which was super muddy, not with loose mud, but with heavy thick mud.

Result: Vintercuppen #5

As the race started things were going quite well for the first lap and a half. The technical stuff felt super nice and my body was relaxed and I flowed with the terrain. Finally, after so much racing in snow and slippery mud, I was able ot rely on the grip between my tires and the terrain again. I had really missed that!

For the first lap I was somewhere in 6th-7th place overall (probably in 2nd place in my cat). However after the first 20-30 minutes of the race I noticed that I was not able to sustain the pace that I had set out. My body was just too tired after the ride the day before. I started dropping back. Each time a rider went past I hung on to his wheel for as long as I could (drafting did no good as pretty much the entire lap was singletrack). Then I would solo for a while until the next guy caught up.

It wasn't a total collapse however and I worked hard on keeping the pace up. Also, in spite of my tired body I was having so much fun on the super track. I laughed aloud a few times. I ended up crossing the line in third place in my category. So an ok result considering the circumstances.

Now, ahead of the season finale I'm tied with Frank for second place overall. I will need to beat him in the last race. I'll make sure to get to the race a bit more rested than today.

It's interesting looking at my average heart rate in the Strava summary below: 169bpm. That's almost 10 beats lower than my normal. That's what tired legs do for you.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Isstjerneløbet - More snow!

Result: 5th place

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

This race is a fun race that every year that I've ridden it has taken place in snowy conditions. It's mostly a quick race (meaning it would be quick without the snow) on gravel roads and walking paths. However a section of the race goes over the ridge of a series of small hills which are quite steep and hard to traverse due to the trail being very narrow. And, of course, in the snow this is even harder. The race is 44km, two laps of the track.

I was doing some experimenting leading up to this race by having a really hard training week. The experiment was to see how hard training would affect my race form. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday ware spent doing intervals. Friday I did a lighter boxing session. Saturday low intensity long distance in the forest: 3.5 hours.

Conditions before this year's race were lots of snow, although no snowfall in the days before, and temperatures which had just turned into a couple of plus degrees so the snow had started melting and getting heavy.

Result: Isstjernelöbet

At the start of the race there's immediately a short section going down a small slope which turns into a sharp right and double track. The downhill part is slippery and you need to be careful to get into the double track while still on the bike. This went quite well, I lost some distance to the leaders, but as soon as there was grip I sped up and after about 1km there were about 10 of us in a group out in front.

Things progressed this way until things got slippery and messy and then two guys went away in front with one of the guys riding a cyclocross bike(!). I stayed behind in about 5-6th place. But as we got back on the snow covered gravel roads I was able to speed up and join the guy who was in third place. The other riders were some distance behind the two of us.

At about halfway through the lap we got to the hills that I've mentioned above. I had some hopes that conditions were going to be easier than last year (when there was A LOT of snow). They were not. The snow was heavy and slippery and my front tire found no grip. As soon as I got out of the ideal line I lost all grip and had to put a foot down. Over the hills I lost some 3-4 places.

After the hills the terrain for the rest of the lap is fairly simple with mostly snow covered gravel roads. As the snow was melting it wasn't all smooth sailing and my tires found grooves in the snow and wanted to go off in different directions. I managed to make up some places and was back in fourth at the end of the first lap.

Going out on the second lap I saw that there was a guy not too far behind me. I concentrated on putting as much distance between him and me as I could because I suspected that when we got to the hills again I was going to need all the buffer that I could have. However, just before getting to the hills my bike started shifting worse and worse and suddently my cranks were just spinning freely! I looked down at my real wheel and noticed that the lever of the thru-axle was sticking straight out and the rear wheel was completetly lose! Also the chain had become stuck between the smallest cog and the frame. I got off the bike and started wrestling with it; I got the chain lose after a while and reattached the rear wheel. However during this time two guys passed me.

The hill section went fairly well now that a few riders had passed in and flattened the snow. I managed to keep my placing. But then, after the hills, again the rear wheel came lose! I got off the bike again, tightened the thru-axle, and continued. By this time I was down in seventh place!

I set a quick pace and started gaining on the guys in front of me. As soon as I caught up with someone, instead of taking their wheel, I sprinted past them so that they could not get on my wheel. I managed to get up into fifth place again. With about 3-4km left of the race I was getting tired and dropped the pace a bit. However, as soon as I did this I noticed a guy approaching from the back. I sped up again and had to fight hard all the way over the finish line in order to stay ahead of him! Exhausting work!

So I ended up in fifth place, one placing worse than last year's fourth place. I checked my Strava afterwards and the section which goes over the hills took twice as long this year compared to last year! All in all it was a good training session.

What about the experiement then? Well, checking my heart rate data it turns out my heart rate was way lower than it would usually be in a race like this. This is probably due to being over-trained after the hard week of training. But probably also due to the difficult snowy and slippery conditions where it was hard to use massive power all of the time. However, the legs felt great! The feeling of getting out on the gravel roads and putting the power down and and having the legs resond was super! So the conclusion is that you can do a lot of training leading up to a race and still perform well. I did stay away from high intensity training the two days before the race, and I think you really have to. But low-intensity, long-distance, seems to be fine.

I made it into the local paper!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Slushcup #4, snow snow snow

Result: 7th place

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote 1.1 bar

This race was going to be cold and slippery. The temperature was 10 degrees celsius below freezing and the woods were covered in snow. One lap was 7km and the total time was 55 minutes + lap. So three laps were predicted.

Result: Slushcup #4

I test rode the 7km track before the start of the race and noticed some technical difficulties: part of the lap was on a downhill type section with berms and bumps. This was going to be interesting in the slippery conditions. To handle the slippery conditions I was running the lowest tire pressure that I had ever run in a race: 1.1 bar.

The start loop was on a quite short section of snow covered gravel road; Three left turns and then up a steep single track climb with traction problems. I wanted to be a bit careful during the start as the conditions could lead to some nasty crashes so I stayed back a bit more than I would normally. I entered the steep climb at perhaps 15th-20th place overall.

During the first lap I was overtaking some riders until I got into a three rider group. Traction on the slippery surfaces was okay but I didn't push my luck my really leaning into the turns.

On the second lap I noticed that some sections were getting more and more slippery due to the riders 'polishing' the surface with their tires. I saw one fall.

As the third lap started I noticed that I was getting more and more tired. I let a few guys past and finished the race in 7th place in my category.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Vintercuppen #4 - Slippery slopes

Result: 3rd place (8th overall)

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

The fourth race of this cup took place in cold conditions. The temperature was around freezing. The terrain was a mix of mostly single track and some gravel roads. The ground was mostly covered with snow, ice and slush but some parts were also bare. The trails were quite technical and the slippery conditions made them difficult.

Result: Vintercuppen #4

I got off to a good start. Stayed around 5-6th place (overall). Another rider came up from behind whose wheel I was able to take early on in the race. We stayed together and also caught up with and passed one of the guys dropping back from the front. I lapped after 3 laps in second place in M40 (fifth overall) and with only 30 seconds left on the clock I went out on a fourth lap. Here, however, I started getting seriously tired and had to let some riders pass.

Trail conditions were difficult with some really slippery parts and some which had quite good traction. It was hard to determine which was which though. I had one minor fall.

Tire pressure, even though I checked it before the race, somehow felt way too high. I was being bounced around a lot and the bike did not feel compliant. It may have something to do with the fact that going from Thailand a few days ago to Denmark, with a temperature difference of about 40 degrees, has made me a bit stiff.

Judging by the first three laps my form feels really good. The weight loss from Thailand was evident in the climbs where I had really good speed. Heart rate during the race was really high (good!). The lack of energy on the last lap may be from the fact that my body is probably over-trained since all the biking in Thailand.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Winter training: mountain biking in Chiang Mai, Thailand

This year, for the third straight year, I spent Christmas and New Year's in Chiang Mai, mountain biking.

Doi Suthep National Park in the background

Why mountain bike in Chiang Mai?

1. It's in the north of Thailand so the climate is nice
2. There's a big mountain just west of the city, Dui Suthep, with its national park
3. Several lovely mountain bike tracks outside of town

The totals:

- 16 days of riding
- 1198.7 kilometers
- 15206 meters total climbed
- 65 hours total rolling time, so on averge 4 hours each day

Where to ride

Doi Suthep

The mountain that's west of Chiang Mai is called Doi Suthep. It's 1676 meters tall. There are plenty of gravel roads to take up the mountain, most of them really steep. And then, going back down the mountain, there are many downhill tracks of varying degree of difficulty. Lots of fun!

Doi Suthep National Park west of Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep as seen from Chiang Mai
Top of Doi Suthep

Huang Tung Tao Lake

Huang Tung Tao is a lake just north-west of Chiang Mai. You get there by going past the 700-year stadium. Almost at once, after passing the stadium, you get to some great single track. The tracks go through the jungle all around the lake. Lovely quick single track, mostly quite flat, but with some short uphills and downhills.The tracks are marked with plastic bands and signs. You can also visit the lovely Sala Caffé if you go on this ride. On the map it's the furthest north on this ride.

Mae Jo Ranch Race Track

There's a race track north of Chiang Mai called Mae Jo Race Track. It's marked with signs and arrows. There are two tracks: Red and blue. It's quick cross-country racing with lots of technical difficulties. Super fun!

Hang Dong Race Track

If you go almost straight south from Chiang Mai you can test the jungle tracks in the Hang Dong area. Also, there's a race track there that's marked out.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Muang Kaen Race - My first Thai race!

Result: Second place (in the open category)

Bike: Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, Vittoria Barzo / Peyote (I have no idea what the tyre pressure was)