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.