Sunday, 11 March 2018

Andalucia Bike Race 2018 - My Best Race Ever (?)

Ninth place

I finished the race in 9th place in the M40 category. This is out of 250 starters. With the opposition and this being a UCI race it is probbaly the best result that I have ever had in a race.

For comparison: When I took part in the race in 2017 my best finish in a stage was 36th.

My partner, Sandra Backman, also took part in Ladies Elite. Here's her story

Adalucia Bike Race

  • 6 Stages
  • 400 km
  • 10.000 hm

Strong last stage!

Here's the data for the different stages. Obviously heart rate will drop for each new stage during a stage race. But have a look at the average power for the last stage! It's almost half an hour longer than the first but almost the same power! Even though the heart rate is much lower! Very interesting!

Stage  Placing Time    Avg H/R Max H/R Avg Power Weighted Power
1      13      1h18m   173     187     251       281
2      10      3h10m   164     182     209       243
3      10      3h48m   159     177     196       237
4      9       N/A     N/A     N/A     N/A       N/A (bike comp died)
5      N/A     N/A     N/A     N/A     N/A       N/A (stage canceled)
6      10      1h51m   155     170     241       275

Training for the Race - 0 rest days

Training for the race started in October of 2017. I was focused on increasing my Watt/kg performance and it worked:

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't increase your Watts while dropping weight. The above graph is proof that you can.

I didn't have a single rest day in the 4 weeks leading up to the race: I bike commute to work and continued to do so up until the day that I left for Spain. My bike commuting is however done at a very low intensity (Zone 1).

The four week before the race:

1 week before: 2 shorter HIT sessions
2 weeks before: 3 HIT sessions. 2 long distance
3 weeks before: 2 HIT sessions, 2 long distance
4 weeks before: 2 HIT sessions, one race, one long distance

The Bike - Full Susp

The Bike

I ended up racing up Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL.

This is the most compliant and smooth mountain bike that I have ever owned. It's a full suspension bike. If you're going to race Andalucia Bike Race and you own a full susp I strongly recommend that you race it on that kind of bike. The terrain is difficult and you need all the compliance that you can get. My bike was not particularly light, ending up weighing around 10kg. I had new and lighter wheels on order but they were delayed.

Gearing - Wide Range

SRAM Eagle, 34T front chainring and 10-50 cassette. This race, while being hilly, has a lot of flat stuff on gravel roads where speeds get really high. At the same time it has super steep climbing. You must have good gearing range.

Tires - Puncture Protection is Key

  • Front: Schwalbe Rocket Ron 2.25 Snakeskin (600 gram), 1.4 bar of  pressure
  • Rear: Schwalne Racing Ralph 2.1 Snakeskin (600 gram), 1.4 bar of pressure


A bit wider in front for better grip. I could've gone wider in the rear as well but opted for something that's easy rolling.

The race has a lot of sharp rocks. The risk of punctures is super high. You must have tires with thick sidewalls.

Brakes - Use Metallic Pads

I came to Andalucia with organic brake pads. This was a big mistake. The race is very hard on the brakes. I ended up wearing them out after just a few stages. New ones could not be found on location but I got a pair of used ones, that I ended up wearing out again in the last stage. In the future I will only use metallic/sintered brake pads.

Gels, Drinks and Energy

I used my own gels in two small gel bottles. My bottle size was (one bottle of) 900ml. That's all that fits the frame of the bike. I would've liked to have used my 1.1l botttles but they don't fit. There are plenty of food stations during the race. I actually didn't end up using any of them however with the race being shortened the way it was and also with the cold weather. I had a recovery drink waiting for me at the end of each stage which I gulped down quickly.

Tools and stuff

This is what I had with me:

  • Multi tool
  • CO2 nozzle, two cartridges
  • One extra tube (taped to the seat post)
  • Tire levers
  • Quick chain link

Andalucia Bike Race - Difficult Technical Terrain

Andalucia Bike Race is a bit special compared to other stage races that I've raced: It does take place in hilly terrain but it also has a lot of quick gravel road sections. So you need to be ready for super technical downhills, really steep climbs, but also some quick group riding on the gravel road sections. If you compare this to a race like Beskidy Trophy then Beskidy has much less flat riding but the descents are actually more technical at Andalucia Bike Race, even though Beskidy has much more climbing (altitude gain) per stage and longer descents.

The Weather

The weather was the big subject of ABR in 2018. It was TERRIBLE. The first three stages were good but the last three were under pouring rain and strong winds. Actually there were no THREE last stages as stage five was cancelled due to the extreme weather, and both stages four and six were shortened.

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