Wednesday, 9 January 2019

2018 - A Recap (Best Racing Season Ever?)

Quick summary of race results: VERY GOOD!

I'm super pleased with my results in the big stage races. I finally got on the podium at Beskidy Trophy. And it was all due to my really hard winter training where I was so much more focused and motivated than ever before.

The Strava Stats

I bicycle commuted to work 218 times. I have an average time of about 50 minutes to get to work and it's 20 kilometers one way.

Total distance commuting: 8720 km
Total time commuting:     392  hours

Fully Motivated Winter Training on the Monark

During the winter training leading up to the 2018 season I was more motivated than ever. I finally 'got' indoor training and I went all-in on my Monark stationary bike. The goal was clear: Increase the watts for each new session. I simplified my training and focused on just a few variation of intervals: 9 x 9 minutes was my base workout. I also did 4 x 8 min, 4 x 4 min and 2 x 20 min sessions. The advantage of having so few variations on my workouts was that I knew exactly what my capacity was for each type and what kind of power to aim for.

One could argue that I peaked my form a bit early, at the end of December to be specific. But I was just having so much fun as I saw my results getting better and better so I didn't care.

In the end it all worked out great and I almost reached 5W/kg FTP just before the season (Andalucia Bike Race at the end of February) started. Here are my graphs: 4W/kg -> 5 W/kg in 5 months.

My indoor training setup (with power meter)

New Race Bike: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL

I purchased a used Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL in January. I saw it in an ad as being sold by a local guy. I more or less purchased it on impulse as I still  had the Cube SLT that I had raced all of 2017 (and was happy with). 

Top Fuel turned out to be in a different category altogether. In fact it was better than any full suspension bike that I had ever owned. It's hard to explain (and I will do a separate post about it) but the bike just goes over roots and rocks in a way that no other full suspension bike that I've raced has ever done. It just swallows up the terrain and offers a stable base in all situations. 

I have been so pleased with it that I will be racing the Trek Top Fuel 9.9 2019 model in the 2019 season.

My brand new 2019 Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL

Racing with a Power Meter

For the first time ever I raced all my races with a Stages Power Meter. It was great information to have, although I rarely looked at the watts during a race, the information was invaluable in analyzing my performance after the race.

Stages Power Meter

Andalucia Bike Race - My Best Result Ever?

Andalucia Bike Race was the toughest race that I participated in during the year if you look at the opposition. It's a UCI race with 250 starters in my M40 category.

This year the race was treated to some terrible weather. Two stages had to be shortened and one was cancelled.

At the end of the race, after 5 stages (should have been 6), I had finished in 9th place overall. I'm pretty sure that has to be my best result in any race so far. Here's my race story from that race: ABR 2018

Andalucia Bike Race with my girlfriend - Sandra Backman

Beskidy Trophy - Finally on the Podium

Beskidy Trophy in Poland was one of the first stage races that I ever took part in back in 2015. At that time I finished ninth. I fell in  love with it immediately and decided to come back the next year. 2016 I finished fourth, then sixth in 2017.

I came to the 2018 edition of Beskidy with great form and a low weight of 70 kg. As with Andalucia Bike Race also Beskidy was plagued by terrible weather and storms this year. I started of great with a second place finish on stage 1, fourth on stage 2 (rain and stormy), third on stage 3. Before the start of the fourth and last stage I was in third place overall, just two minutes down on second place. However the stage got cancelled as the weather was considered so extreme that it endangered the competitors.

I finally reached my goal of a podium finish in Beskidy Trophy (race story here). This had been one of my long-term goals and I felt that however the rest of the season went I was content.

Beskidy Trophy 2018 - Final standings

Snapphaneturen - Third Place Finish in the Race where it all began

Snapphaneturen is a local marathon MTB race which covers very technical terrain. It was one of the first mountain bike races that I ever competed in back in 2011. My clearest memory from those first years racing in Snapphaneturen was that I always cramped up at some point. As I got fitter I usually managed a top-10 finish in the race (and fewer cramps).

This year's edition of Snapphaneturen however sent some surprising luck my way: Three of my competitors took a wrong turn during the race without realizing it. That meant that I was able to have my first ever podium finish and get a third place. Noteworthy is also that the guys in second and first place where less than half my age. Blog post for this race

Snapphaneturen - Me against the Danish pros

Sudety Challenge - Enduro or Cross Country?

Sudety Challenge is a Polish stage races which is a sister race (same organizer) to Beskidy Trophy. It has six stages (the first is a shorter time trial).

2018 was the first year that I competed in this race. I didn't know quite what to expect. The downhills turned out to be steeper and trickier (and more dangerous) than the ones in Beskidy. I never like to get off and walk downhill when the track gets too steep but I had to do that often in Sudety. It all culminated in the last stage where I was off the bike close to 10 times where the terrain was just too dangerous to bike. It left me thinking: Is this an Enduro race??

I still managed to finish fourth overall however I feel that a podium finish would have been possible with slightly more 'reasonable' terrain. Race story here

I'm not sure if I'll revisit this race in 2019.

Third place finish in one of the stages

Sudety has some tricky terrain

Swedish Marathon Cup (LĂ„ngloppscupen) and XCM Champs

I consider 2018 to be my best year ever racing. However in the Swedish marathons I had poor results. There were mostly top-10 finishes but I was nowhere near to podium. In some of the races I had mechanical troubles but then in others I just don't know why I didn't perform well.

The Swedish XCM Championships ended with ninth place. I was happy with this result as the race was just one week after the finish of Sudety Challenge

Swedish Marathon Championships

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