Monday, 28 August 2017

XCup #6 - Unbelievable mudfest

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron/Thunderburt 2.1 Snakeskin 1.60 / 1.60 bar

Result: Somewhere far behind

I had been sick for most of the week, and spent most of the night before the race in the bathroom. That meant very little training for almost an entire week: I needed a high intensity workout. Had I stayed at home and gone for a ride in the forest I would've just felt tired and cranky. The best solution to get the right intensity was the local XCup race. I had some extra tissue paper with me if I had an emergency...

Unfortunately the race turned out to be a real mudfest. It had rained during the night and it rained during the race. The track is built on almost 100% dirt which turned to mud. Large parts of the track were not ridable at all. Lots of riders aborted halfway through.

It turned out to be a good high intensity session anyway.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Finnmarksturen - Best result on second day of racing

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin, Thunderburt 1.58 / 1.62 bar

One Weekend - Two Races

I took a bit of a gamble this weekend by first racing in the Swedish Championships yesterday and then today I had the next race in the Swedish Marathon Cup: Finnmarksturen. I did prioritise the Swedish Champs and so the two races came in the correct order. I knew that I was not going to perform as well on the second day of racing.

Typically when racing several days in a row I notice that I'm not able to peak as high as I would when I was rested, however I am still able to produce good average power. My heart rate will not reach the same kind of peaks. In practical circumstances this will typically mean that I will not be able to sprint up a hill, or sprint for the finish line, as well as under optimal circumstances.

The Start

It had been raining for an hour or so leading up to the race but just before the start the rain had stopped. Wet roots and rocks were expected.

I started the race a bit more defensively than I normally would; I placed myself a bit further back in the grid. When the race started I didn't attempt any micro sprints for the first flat part to get further ahead in the field.

The first climb came after just three kilometres and the field stretched out. I hung onto the back of the lead group for a while but then I had to let go.

At the first time check I was in 56th overall (9th place in M40 I found out later)

Slippery riding

Some ten kilometres into the race there were some downhill sections with roots and rocks which normally would not cause any problems but because it had rained they were slippery. I took it a bit easy here and had to let a few riders past. As the race progressed I did relax more and more and the downhills went quicker.

Undisciplined riding

Towards the end of the first loop there's a section of quick gravel roads, then paved bike paths, and then also some asphalt road. Typically, if you're in a good group, this is a situation where the cyclists can really help each other to maintain a high speed by changing places up in front. However, this time, somehow, the group was just not working very well. A couple of guys would take good turns pulling the group, then all of a sudden when the next cyclist went to the front he would up the pace by 5km/h very suddenly. And another time a cyclist would come up the inside and start pulling before it was his turn. This sort of unprofessional behaviour really annoys me. It makes me think that perhaps I'm way down in the field with inexperienced cyclists (this actually turned out NOT to be the case)

The second part of the race - Climbs times five

The second part of Finnmarksturen is defined by the five climbs you have to get over. The first one starts right when you go out on the second loop.

Damaged Deraileur

There's a tricky passage where you pass under an tunnel which has stairs going both up and down. The organisers put wooden boards on the stairs to make it easy for us. However, going up just one part of the wooden boards actually had any grip, the second were slippery and so we all had to get off our bikes and push them.. Something happened with my bike right about here. I'm not sure exactly what but I think someone ran into my rear deraileur when I got off my bike to push it. When I got back onto it and tried to negotiate the climb that started right after the bike was no longer shifting cleanly. I dropped from the head of the group right back to being last while I adjusted my deraileur on the fly. I almost got it working well, but not perfectly.

The Last Two Climbs

Going into the second to last climb the group was at least some 20-25 cyclist strong. The climb is on paved roads and I went to the front and pulled HARD. After cresting the hill I continued to accelerate in order to maintain any gap that I had created. Then I looked back: Only two cyclists had been able to keep up with me, one of them being my friend, Lars Hansen, who also races M40.

As we approached the last climb: Leos Backe, the group consisted of three M40 cyclists (Lars being one of them), and an Elite guy. Now I know this last climb feels like it goes on forever so I started up slowly. The Elite guy went ahead of the rest of us, then Lars, who created a gap down to me and the last M40 guy. As the climb progressed the gap to Lars started increasing and just after the crest I was able to sprint and rejoin his wheel. The other M40 guy was right behind.

The Finish - Bad Navigation

After Leos Backe there were only some 5-6km to the finish line. The first part was on singletrack and here I went to the head of our small group and just gave it all that I had left. I managed to create a small gap to Lars and the other M40 cyclist. But just before going back on the last paved road section they were back on my wheel. I eased up and slowed down to rest for the sprint. We were some 2 kilometres from the finish line.

After the paved road there was just the last short section of singletrack before you enter the finish area. Here I went to the front again and pulled as hard as I could... And then all of a sudden the track markings disappeared: Somewhere I had made a bad turn.  Lars and the other guy had followed me. We stopped and everyone was very confused. After just a couple of seconds we made a U-turn, but Lars went one way and I another in order to find my way back to the track. I got back on the track after a small group of cyclists whom I recognised and knew I had left behind a long ago. In other words that small detour had cost me time. I ended up sprinting against them and went across the finish line first in that small group. Lars Hansen and the other M40 guy came in just a few seconds later.

I ended up finishing in fifth place, my best result so far in this year's Långloppscupen.

Swedish Marthon Championships - How to start a race from dead last

Bike: Cube AMS 100 C:68 SLT,  Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin, Thunderburt 1.63 / 1.74 bar

Result: 11th


The title says it all:  I 'punctured', on asphalt, about one kilometer into the race, before even leaving the starting area. Although it probably wasn't a real puncture. I inflated the tire using CO2 and then it held for the rest of the race. There was no leakage of Stan's fluid and no other signs of an actual hole in the tire. I didn't lose much time but because it was so early in the race the whole field went by me and I ended up dead last. I had a great day leg wise and moved up through the field finishing in 11th place (from dead last at 160th place overall to 50th place overall).

The Race

The venue for the Swedish Marathon Championships this year was a race called 1572 MTB Challenge. Normally it's 67km long but for the XCM they had extended the course to 90km. I had never competed in this race previously but I'd heard rumours of it not being very technical and pretty much a gravel road race. Expectations were not high in other words...

The Start

I got away really well and up a short grassy hill at the start I was in the top 10. I moved further up while we passed over some bike paths in the first kilometer and then onto a paved road. I noticed that Björn Österberg was next to me. Inpsite of the high pace I didn't feel I was exherting myself: It felt like it was going to be a good day.

The 'Puncture'

Just a kilometer or so into the race, before we had even left the starting area (on paved roads) I noticed that my front tire was deflating. I got off the bike and quickly inflated the tire with CO2, then on the bike again. This didn't take many seconds but as it was so early in the race the whole field passed me and I was dead last.

Moving Up

I started advancing through the field and on the roads it was easy to get around people but on some of the singletrack I could do nothing but wait for space to open up where I could overtake. I was going hard at this point, deep into the red. I kept this up until I caught up with a group that had Martin Wenhov in it. I saw a bigger bunch of riders not too far ahead when there was a longer climb, but they were out of reach.

As the race is 90km long I realized that if I spent much more time at this intensity I would not be able to finish the race. I decided to stay with this group and to see what developed.

Finishing The Race

The group that I was in ended up being a good one. We held a good pace and picked up racers that dropped back from the front groups. After about halfway through the race it started raining quite hard and for the rest of the race it continued to do so.

Everything felt amazingly good throughout the race: My legs were like diamonds; When we got to a climb with 30km to go I just calmly went up it at threshold intensity and looking behind myself at the top I noticed that I had dropped my whole group by about 30 meters. This without even trying hard. The bike worked great and felt super in the descents and trickt sections. Even when the rain started and conditions got tricky I still felt confident and went hard on the singletrack sections.

With just a few kilometers left the group consisted of four riders; One of them being another M40 rider (in my category in other words). I managed to outsprint him and finished in 11th place in the M40 category. Overall I had moved up some 100+ places finishing in 50 place.

The Track

I had low expectations of this track as I had heard that it was just a bunch of roads but it ended up being quite fun. There were some good flowy singletrack sections. However the last perhaps 30km were almost all roads. If the race organizers could find some more fun singletrack there the race would be perfect.