Monday, 14 March 2016

Slushcup #6 - 80% good, 20% really bad

Result: 4th place

Bike: BMC Teamelite 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Bontrager XR2 1.4 bar. Medium MTT damping

The last race of this winter's Slushcup was a marathon of 2h15m + the lap. I was really looking forward to this race as it was the first marathon of this year. I like marathons and this is just the first of many.

The weather was looking good, at least as far as rain was concerned: No rainfall during the week and a dry race day. However it turned out to be quite a bit colder than the forecast. But the trails were mostly nice and dry!

I was going to put the race wheels on the Teamelite but there just was no time during the week (brake discs have to be changed and rear tyre tubeless-prepared). I had a hectic work week and just no time left for bike mechanics. Actually the first plan was to race the Fourstroke but after shortening the cable guides I had not put it together yet.

Result: Slushcup #6

A quick test run of the track ahead of the race showed that it was nice and quick. Some roots but mostly in placed where one could fly over them quickly. Not many really slow and twisty sections. Some short climbs but not all that many. A lot of single track!

I probably had one of the best starts that I've had in a long time. I was off really nicely in perhaps fourth of fifth place. After a few kilometers I let the quick elite boys go, perhaps four or five of them went ahead. We formed a group of some 7-8 riders. Johan Malmsten, Thomas Kyrum-Stein and Henrik Söeberg were in the group. The pace was quick but I was feeling really strong and I felt I didn't have to strain myself too much to stay in the group. I was mostly riding near the head of the group. Our group had the front runners of the M40 category.

After the first lap Henrik stopped with a puncture. Into the second lap there were five riders left. The way things were looking with lap times we were in for a five lap race. The group stuck together for the second and third laps.

On the fourth of the lap I went to the head of the group before a single track section where I wanted to be in front. I ended up leading the group through the whole lap, which wasn't my intention. However, when we approached the end of the lap I noticed a rather quick and sudden change: I was becomming REALLY tired. And then it happened: In a tight turn, just a few hundred meters before lapping and going out on the last lap, my wheels slipped and I went down. Not hard, but enough that it took me a few seconds to get back up and I saw my group disappear in the distance.

Getting back on the bike I lost some motivation and realized that the last lap was going to be really rough. I knew I was still in thrid place in M40 but that it was going to be hard to keep other riders from catching up with me. I struggled through the lap, watching my heart rate drop as I became ever more tired. I got passed by three riders and I suspected at least one of them to be a M40 rider.

With my last strength I passed the finish line, in fourth place. My best result of this year's Slush cup.

In retrospect I find it hard how I can go from feeling strong and being quick to getting so tired so quickly. Obviously I shouldn't led the group through all of the penultimate lap. I should've conserved my strength instead. This is something I really need to work on!

In the total standings for the year I finished in fifth place. A long way off last year's first place finish. The opposition was a lot tougher this year... Here's a link to the total standings

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Vintercuppen #6 - The Sesaon Finale!

Result: 2nd place (5th overall)

Bike: BMC Teamelite 01 XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Bontrager XR2 1.4 bar. Medium MTT damping

This was the sixth and the final race of this Winter MTB Cup! Leading up to the race I was in joint second place in the points standings of M40. I needed to finish ahead of Frank Hjort Degn who had the same number of points as I had. In the previous race he beat me by five minutes. However, that race had not been the most tactical because I had done a five hour training session the day before. Leading up to this race I was content with a 2.5 hour session the day before.

Weather conditions were not optimal: Around freezing and lots and lots of rain before the race. I had changed from the slippery Bontrager tire up front to a Fast Trak with little more bite. This turned out to be a good decision.

The other change that I made to the bike was to change from the soft MTT damping ("softtail") to the medium one (see photo below). At the previous race the soft one had made the rear end of the bike feel a bit losoe at times. I wanted to try a harder bushing.

Result: Vintercuppen #6

After the Sluscup race the previous weekend where the organizers had bragged about 250 altitude meters per lap (7km lap) I was a bit sceptical when today's Vintercuppen race was advertised to be 150 altitude meters per lap (4km) lap. However, this time it was not an exaggeration. During the test lap I quickly discovered that the track either went steeply uphil or downhill. Most of it was on leaf covered ground which I suspected was going to turn really muddy after a hundred cyclists had passed over it a few times.

The start loop went well and I tried to play it tactically by NOT going out at full speed (as I always do). I let Palle (the M40 leader) go away uphill with three of the young guys and headed the group behind them. I climed hard but at a  pace that I knew I could hold.

I noticed that I had a tail of perhaps 5-6 riders. But I didn't let that stress me out and just continued at a good steady pace. My tail slowly thinned and after a while I just had one rider taking my wheel. However this guy I just could not shake; I would at times gain some 20-30 meters on him, but then, a bit later he would be on my wheel again. Especially on the really slippery downhills he caught up with me, even though I thought I was going pretty quickly (and taking some risks).

For each new lap the conditions got more and more slippery. Two of the really steep climbs I ended up running up for the last two laps. Towards the end the rain also turned into snow worsening the conditions even more.

Halfway through the last lap I got a gap of a few seconds to the guy behind me and I managed to keep that to the end, finishing 5 seconds in front of him. That guy was however NOT Frank (the guy tied with me in second place in the points standings). Frank came in about three minutes after me. I finished in fifth overall, second in M40. And overall in the cup, in second place. I was happy with the race: I planned it well, pacing myself, and also handled the technical stuff.

The BMC Teamelite performed well today, under what has to be considered very difficult and technical conditions. I've almost done 600km on it already and I feel at home on the bike. I'm still using the training wheels. It's going to be fun racing the bike on the NoTubes Valor race wheels with some really nice and light tyres.

A few words about this cup: Vintercuppen. The previous three years I have raced in the other danish winter MTB cup: Slushcup. For this year I decided to race both Slushcup and Vintercuppen. The races are scheduled so that they don't overlap which is great. The race locations / tracks that Vintercuppen has chosen have been great! The organization has been flawless: Well marked out courses and good officials. I will definitelly race the cup again. However one thing is a big drawback: They really need to make a special occasion of the price ceremony after each race. In M40 there is no ceremony.  The way it's now the race finishes, and then nothing. Ok, sure, they have gifts which are raffled. But that's it! It's kind of sad if you've worked really hard and placed in the top-3 and you get no accolade.

The start of the race - before things got really wet (and cold)

Not very glamorous :)
Changed from soft to medium ahead of this race

Decent heart rate stats -> Form seems to have been good