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!

No comments:

Post a comment