Sunday, 28 May 2017

Långa Lugnet - Pedal trouble

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin F/B 1.50 / 1.50 bar

Result: 7th place

Långa Lugnet is the second race of the Swedish Marathon Cup and one of the races that we need to travel the furthest to get to. Roughly 600 km of driving was required. Obviously this means that we stay overnight.

The weather was good, actually quite warm, and the terrain was very dry which led to dusty tracks. This course is 62 km and consists of three loops. There is a starting climb, which you know that I love. The single track has plenty of roots and rocks.

The Pedal Trouble

I had taken a chance on using my super light Xpedo M-Force 8 Ti pedals. These weight quite a lot less that normal Shimano XTR pedals. But they have one main drawback: They're hard to click into. You need to have the cleat perfectly positioned exactly on top of the pedal, and then click into it. I've used the pedals on and off for the past two years, mainly on courses where I know I don't need to click out of the pedals too often. It had been a while since I'd used them but I had newly lubed them up before this race and tried them on short ride.

The race started and... well, I failed to click into the left pedal... It took a couple of hundred meters before both feet were attached and by then I had lost A LOT of places. I start in box 1 and by the time I was clicked in I was probably in box 4 (the last one). I know how to click into the pedals but the stressed out situation at the start just means that I guess I panicked.

The First Loop

When the pedal trouble had sorted itself out I started sprinting up the hill, advancing through the field. This worked fine, except for the fact that I got real tired. As we got to the gravel roads I started sprinting from group to group. Again, this also worked, but I expended a lot of energy doing it. After a while I managed to join a group which had Stefan Hellman in it. I started to relax a little but the pace was really high so I couldn't recuperate from my exertion. Also, I never quite got into the "groove"... I kept getting small gaps to the rider in front of me and had to sprint to close them.

The first loop ended in a man made downhill section with berms and banked turns. I am a lot of better at this kind of trails than I used to be but on this course the dry weather meant that the turns were on lose gravel and I just didn't know how much I could trust the grip. I lost ground, the group split up, and Stefan Hellman and a few riders went ahead. I was left with a smaller group behind.

The Second Loop

As we started the second loop I looked down on my bike computer and saw that my average heart rate was at 176 bpm. This not event halfway through the race. I realized that I was never going to be able to keep this kind of intensity up for another 1.5 hours. I needed to take it a bit slower or I would hit a wall towards the end of the race. The current group still kept a good pace, not as high as when Stefan Hellman was leading us, but it was going well.


Towards the end of the loop, on a section were there had previously been some mud, my front wheel stuck in a deep hole and I went over my handlebars. I was at the front of a small group of perhaps 5-6 riders at this point and as I picked myself off the group I noticed that Daniel Grass went past me - I didn't even know he had been part of the group (he later told me that he had caught up from behind). I quickly got back on the bike and started judging my chances to catch back up with them - they were perhaps 50 meters ahead of me.

I decided to give it a shot and went all in. In a quick and rocky downhill section I didn't break much and was able to rejoin the group.

The Third and Last Loop

The last loop has lots of flowing up and downhills and ends with another man made downhill section. At this point there were just four of us left, Daniel Grass (M40), me and two Elite guys. I was getting really tired and was not sure how long I was going to be able to hang onto this group. At the second to last climb I let them go and concentrated on not being caught by anyone else.

I was successful in this endeavor and finished the race in seventh place

Oh, in case you're wondering I ended the race with an average heart rate of 174 bpm.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

LOWEST heart rate EVER!

One of the things that I've been working on this season is biking slower when I commute. I bike commute every day and most of these bike commutes are not "training", meaning that they're not intense, but are instead recovery rides. Typically last year I commuted at heart rates of between 120 and 130bpm. This Spring I've been working on lowering the intensity of my commuting. Yesterday was a record day. Biking back home after work, with a tailwind, I got this average heart rate:

Sunday, 21 May 2017

XCup #2 - Whoa!! 200BPM heartrate!!

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin F/B 1.50 / 1.50 bar

The Track

This XCup race (the second one) took place on one of my favorite tracks in Ängelholm. This track is very flowy and quick. However some news section had been added which were really twisty and slow.

The Start

I started the race not as aggressively as I perhaps would normally as the track only has a flat starting loop on gravel roads, ie no starting hill. It gets rather hectic as we bear down the gravel roads at 50km/h with a few 90-degree turns mixed in. WHen we turned left into the first singletrack part I was perhaps in 20th place. As people ahead of me started braking for the 90-degree turn that led into the path that slowing down was amplified backwards through the field and I heard people locking up their brakes behind me and then some sort of a crash or contact between riders.

I made it into the singletrack unscathed but just a few hundred meters further on there was a crash just ahead of me when someone managed to get stuck on a tree. I waited patiently for a few seconds before I could continue.


From here on I started advancing through the field until I finanlly caught up with my young prodigy Jakob Håkansson (I passed him as he just seemed to have had a small crash) and then, towards the end of the lap, also passed Martin Wenhov.

Going out on the second lap I noticed that I had quite a few cyclists behind me on my wheel. A few that I could identify were JakobH, MartinW and Krisitan Skoglund. I kept up the quick pace for another lap. Then Jakob and I started switching with him pulling on the gravel roads stretches and then letting me pull on the singletrack. This was a lot of fun and very efficient as well.

We started catching up with guys who had not been affected by the early crash. We overtook Jakob Gawlik, who was taking it easy after having a crash of his own.

Going out on the third lap things were pretty much unchanged in the group. We caught and passed Ola Hallberg who had been riding with Stefan Methander but had had to let go of his wheel. We did see Stefan Methander far ahead on the gravel road stretches. It was unclear whether this third lap would pass within the 1 hour time limit or if we would have to go out for a fourth one.

Towards the end of the lap MartinW went around me and increased speed... I got the impression that he thought this was going to be the last lap. My calculations, however, told me that there would be a fourth so I didn't try to follow. As we ended the lap there were still 2 minutes left so a fourth lap it was.

Last Lap

On this fourth and last lap, all of a sudden, MartinW came around me again, from behind. I didn't understand how he first could be ahead of me and then all of a sudden behind. I'm guessing that he must've stopped after the third lap and thought it was the end of the race. Now it was just me, Jakob and Martin left in the group and we were catching Stefan Methander quickly. With just a couple of kilometers left we came up on Stefans wheel right towards the end of a gravel straight. I was last in the group and decided that this was where I needed to make my move: So I sprinted around all three riders and went for broke knowing that there were few opportunites to overtake in the last few kilometers. 

Things went well from the start but just in the last couple of hundred meters I was passed by both Martin and then Jakob. I finished ninth but with a great feeling. Good race!

Crazy Max Heart Rate

One notable thing about this race is my max heart rate. My Garmin recorded a maximum of 200pbm. Now heart rate monitors sometimes have glitches... But if you have a look at the graph below you can see that there were several heart beats recorded in the range between 190 and 200. Weird!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Hotcup #2 - First race on the new bike!

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin F/B 1.50 / 1.50 bar

Result: 7th


This was a Wednesday race in Denmark, the second of the series. Weather was good and tracks were dry. It's also one of my favorite areas to race in Denmark. The tracks are quick and flowy.

I came into this race slightly over-trained and that showed itself in the first (start loop) climb. People went past me left and right. However after a while I found my legs and speed picked  up.

I overtook some 20 riders all in all but unfortunately didn't manage to keep it together at the end. I made an early sprint with a few kilometers remaining but wasn't able to hold it and was passed by two M40 riders in the last few hundred meters. I still managed a respectable seventh place.

The good news is that I have a new bike and I love it! There's a post coming up on just the bike and the modifications that I've done to it!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Billingeracet - First good result of the year

Result: 6th place

Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin / Thunder Burt 2.0 Snakeskin 1.60 / 1.60 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

The Race

The first major goal for the season: Billingeracet. The first race in the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). And also on of the toughest races in the cup. Last year I had a great race and finished in second place. Expectations were high for this year.

The Track

This track really suits me as it's hilly (for Swedish conditions, it's nothing like the Alps) and has a long starting climb. The climbs of the track can be summed up as: One long starting hill, one middle hill, and then the last climb (which is really two climbs after each other) that ends almost at the finish line. The terrain is really rooty and I keep forgetting this and so each year I think that perhaps I should optimize for weight and ride my hardtail... This would be a BIG misstake so I'll just put this here:


Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin / Thunder Burt 2.0 Snakeskin 1.40 / 1.40 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.

The Start

I got of to a good start up the hill and I saw Robert Eliasson (one of the quick guys in my class) just in front of me and passed him as the top of the climb approached. It turns out that Robert and I were third and fourth at this point and that two M40 guys were already in front of us.

Quite early on a group of about 10 riders formed. The pace was very high, especially on the single track parts where the same guy would often take the lead (a guy with an orange aero helmet) and push the pace way up, and then let go as soon as we got out on a gravel road. I dug in and held on to the wheel ahead of me.

The Middle

As we were approaching the half-way mark of the race there was a bit of a technical downhill section where part of the group went ahead. At this point I was on the wheel of Rolf Svensson and he was going well downhill, however not as quickly as some of the young guys who were passing us. I decided to go around Rolf and bombed downhill. Then we got to the middle hill and I saw my group of about 10 riders some 20-30 meters ahead of me. I sprinted all the way up the hill and was able to join them at the top.

After the hill the pace got really quick and there were both riders going off the front and dropping off the front and off the back. Robert Eliasson and I seemed to be the only two M40 riders in the grouip at this point. This was when Robert took off and tried joining a small group of two riders who had gone ahead and I was unable to follow him

The Finish

When we reached the last 20km of the race I noticed that Stefan Hellman (M40) also had joined my group which now was rather small with just one more rider. We continued in this way until the last long and steep hill. Stefan went ahead and I took his wheel. We quickly dropped the other rider (M30 I think) as we started up this last hill. Now the hill is sort of a two-part hill: First there's a climb, and then shortly it flattens out, goes a bit downhill, and then it's up to the famous Strupen climb.

While Stefan and I were climbing up this first part I noticed that someone was approaching from behind: It was another M40 cyclist who had raced us both down! Also I knew the guy: It was Lars Hansen. He caught up with us perhaps halfway up the climb and then increased the speed. I got on his wheel and Stefan let go. I could see him losing some ground on us, but not much.

We kept going up but the speed decreased and as I looked behind I saw that Stefan had almost caught up with us again. We went over the top together with Lars first, then me, and then Stefan. In this flat section between the hills there was a part were we went from a paved road and into a grass field, here I got my front wheel stuck in a hole and had to unclip. Lars got a few meters on us and Stefan was stuck behind me (sorry, Stefan!).

During the downhill up to the last part of the climb, Strupen, I saw Lars, some 50m ahead of us. And the distance stayed the same as we started climbing up Strupen. Towards the top of Strupen Stefan was able to sprint head of me and we ended up finishing just a few seconds apart; Lars in fouth place, Stefan fifth and I in sixth place.

Strava Analysis

On every Strava segment in the race I had my best time ever and I finished the race 3 minutes quicker than last year. In spite of not placing as well as last year (when came second) I had a good feeling throughout the race and I felt very happy with it.

Heart rate data below shows the race was pretty much average for what I'd do in this kind of a race. I never got really tired or felt like I had to hold back

This is a race that I've done a lot of times so it's fun to look at Strava and see the three climbs that are in the race and how my times have progressed:

The first climb called "Långa Billingeracet startbacken" (with link to Strava)

The middle hill called "Öglundabacken"

The last hill: "Strupen originalet"

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Garmin crash detection

I had a bit of a crash on a bridge and, for the first time ever, managed to trigger the automatic crash detection in my Garmin Edge 820. This is pretty cool! I've had the unit for about half a year and this is the first time I've seen it happen. This means that it isn't triggered by all the jumps and downhill stuff that I do. So that's good! Oh, the function is that it will call up your emergency contact number automatically if you don't cancel it within 30 seconds.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

H12 - 12 hour team race

Bike: BMC Teamelite 01 XX1 Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin / Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin 1.50 / 1.50 bar. Bontrager XXX wheels.

The H12 team race is a given part of my season. The rules are that each rider of the team rides one or more laps of the course before switching over to the next rider. A lap took approximately 30 minutes to complete. We decided to ride one lap at a time, before switching over to the next rider.

This year the team was the same as last year: Anton Johanesson, Phille Nilsson and Jonas Nilsson. I love racing with these guys as they are such a happy and positive bunch.

I took the first lap which includes a start loop on gravel roads. Unfortunately I got a bad position on the starting grid with A LOT of riders ahead of me. So as the race started I began to move up through the crowd of riders. But then, after just a couple of kilometers, the rider in front of me suddenly braked and I ran into his rear wheel and had a minor crash. I was up on my bike again quickly but I had lost a bunch of places and had to work at catching up again.

After the start lap I switched over to Anton, who then switched over to Jonas and then Phille last. I then sat down and took it easy while waiting for my second stint in 1.5 hours. The weather was lovely and I just relaxed in the warm sun.

We were doing quite well and our position varied around 16th - 19th out of 160 teams. Not as good as last year when we finished in the top-10.

With these kind of super intensive half-hour stints it's interesting to look at how my performance varied during the race:

Lap:  Avg H/R:  Max H/R:   Time:
1     171       184        30:25
2     178       186        30:14
3     174       184        30:29
4     170       179        30:43
5     161       172        31:45
6     156       171        31:52

Analyzing the data seems to show that I was able to keep up the pace for the first four laps, while getting tired in the last two.

The race was a lot of fun and I'll do it again next  year... However, I was thinking... Perhaps solo next year? We'll see.

I have videos from a few of the laps that I'm going to upload to Youtube... Coming up!