Thursday, 20 June 2019

Beskidy Trophy 2019

Beskidy 2019: Fifth place.

Am I happy with this result? Well, I'm pissed off by the fact that I had my rear brake problems and therefor rode stage 2 and 3 too slowly and carefully because I got scared. But I also know that the opposition this year was really tough so... Yeah, I'm pleased with the result.

[Update February 2020] It turned out the brakes on the bike were seriously defective. I had actually noticed this a couple of times the months before but had ignored it because I thought I was just braking too much and therefor overheating them. This turned out to not be the case. I had the brakes serviced and they replaced the pistons, bushing and a bunch of other stuff. When I then took the bike to the mountains and downhills of Chiang Mai there was no more brake overheating.

Final standings Beskidy Trophy 2019 M40

Stage 4

Sixth place in M40. 28th place overall.

I decided to stop braking today and just grow a pair of balls. And so I did. I relied mostly on my front brake and just used the rear one when I really had to. The rear brake only overheated on two occasions. The downhills felt really good and a German dude even commended me on my technique: "You're riding downhill much better than you did yesterday!"

Before the stage I had my Swedish pal Calle Nelson just two minutes behind me so I saw him as my main threat to holding on to fourth place. On the first climb of the day I was ahead of him and then never saw him again. I finished the stage some 20 minutes ahead of him. When I talked to him after the stage he told me that he had a puncture and was also feeling really tired.

Does this mean I held onto fourth place overall then? Unfortunately no. I finished the stage in sixth place (I was bit surprised that I was not higher up as I felt it had gone really well). The guy who was in sixth place in the totals before today's stage, Mindaugas Zlatkus, won today's stage by enough of a margin to pass me and steal fourth place.

Stage 3

Sixth place in M40. 28th place overall.

Major problems with rear brake today. Even braking for a short period of time overheated the brake. I had to descend slowly and lost time. I was rather annoyed.

Still, sixth place on the stage and if my calculations are correct I'm still in fourth place overall.

Stage 2

Sixth place in M40. 34th place overall.

Top-6 M40:
14 M4/1 JABŁOŃSKI, Marcin          3:44:55.41
20 M4/2 CIBART, Piotr BALTIC HOME                3:51:31.86
24 M4/3 ZACHARSKI, Szymon Bike Shop Radom        3:53:13.93
29 M4/4 NELSON, Calle Team Goats                 3:55:29.49
31 M4/5 JAWORSKI, Tomasz Baltic Home Świnoujście 3:56:24.50
34 M4/6 LAPAJNE, Alexander CKX                   4:00:24.56

Most of today's stage was new for me. I had not ridden it before in my previous years of racing Beskidy Trophy. This means I didn't know quite what to expect.

Things started of well: There was quite a bit of flat riding leading up to the first hill. I decided to make sure to stay with the lead group and get a good lift on the flat part. This went well and I barely needed to pedal.

All in all there were three climbs. The first one I held back a bit because I was feeling quite worn after yesterday's stage. The downhill after was a bit tricky but went mostly well.

Going up the second hill I pushed harder and was able to take quite a few places going up the hill. But then came the big surprise: A loooong downhill on trails that are part of a bikepark. There were jumps, drops and other tricky stuff. A lot of it without any warning what so ever. I became insecure and overly careful. This means I got off the bike on several occasions where I felt it was too dangerous and walked. I was passed by perhaps 10 or 15 riders and this was rather depressing.

After this downhill there was a longish flat section leading up to the last hill. Here I felt I needed to catch up for time lost on the last downhill. I gunned it and started passing riders. At the bottom of the last hill there was a feeding section which I just blew past as I knew there was another one halfway up the last climb. I passed about 10 riders filling their bottles there.

Going up the last hill started off quite well and I passed some more riders but towards the top I got really tired and my watts dipped below 200 on a couple of occasions. At the top I was physically and mentally exhausted and it's always hard to start a technical descent in this state. I managed okay but then halfway down the rain started pouring down (see photo below). Luckily I had passed the worst part of the descent at this point and was able to handle the quickly worsening conditions quite well.

Over the finish line in 6th place.

I've lost one place and am fourth overall now

1. JABŁOŃSKI, Marcin  3:35:42,47 3:44:55,41 7:20:37,88
2. CIBART, Piotr      3:38:19,29 3:51:31,86 7:29:51,15 
3. ZACHARSKI, Szymon  3:44:09,04 3:53:13,93 7:37:22,97
4. LAPAJNE, Alexander 3:38:12,76 4:00:24,56 7:38:37,32
5. KUBALA, Tomasz     3:31:44,57 4:07:59,69 7:39:44,26
6. NELSON, Calle      3:48:03,40 3:55:29,49 7:43:32,89 

After my problems with overheating rear brake during stage 1 I switched to a beefier brake disc in the rear. It helped a bit during stage 2 but it still overheated a few times. When this happens the brake lever does nothing and I have to pump it to get any braking back again.

Stage 1

Third place in my category. 20th place overall.

Top-5 M40:
11 M4/1 KUBALA, Tomasz Pressing Bike Team 3:32:04.57
15 M4/2 JABŁOŃSKI, Marcin      3:35:52.47
20 M4/3 LAPAJNE, Alexander  CKX               3:38:17.76
22 M4/4 CIBART, Piotr BALTIC HOME        3:38:19.29
27 M4/5 ZACHARSKI, Szymon   Bike Shop Radom    3:44:09.04

The weather outlook for this year's Beskidy Trophy had been depressing for the last few weeks before the race. With that in the back of our heads we were surprised when we arrived in Istebna the day before the race and it was sunny and dry everywhere. This morning the weather was still super nice and sunny... and perhaps even a bit too warm.

I was seeded in the first start group. I noticed as I entered grid I noticed that Szymon Zacharski was there and I exchanged a few words with him (Szymon has won Beskidy Trophy most of the year's that I've done the race). He said that he didn't feel his chances this year were too good because there were some very strong compeditors in the M40 category. That scared me a bit.

At 9:00 sharp we were off (see the video below) and straight into the first climb of about 400hm. I held on to the front group for a while until the pace got too quick and then picked my own rhytm up the hill. Things felt good and I noticed afterwards that I'd done the climb almost a minute quicker than any of the previous year's.

Overall the climbs went well for most of the race. The downhills on the other hand had my rear brake overheating and the brake lever went slack a few times. I had to slow down and use my front brake and lost a few placings in that way. It's quite a scary feeling to completely lose brake function in the rear when going steeply downhill. At one point the brake overheated so extremely that when I got down on the flat it wouldn't release until I pumped it hard a few times. Overall, when my brakes actually worked, I felt brave in the downhills and didn't lose any time.

Towards the end of the race I got rather tired and the last climb went 40 seconds slower than last year. I still managed to cross the line in third place in M40 and so I'm very happy with that result.

I'm running Ashima super-light brake discs and I think I will change my rear brake disc to a more massive one to hopefully avoid overheating tomorrow.

Video from start of stage 1

Video from first climb (you can see me 29 seconds into the video)

Strava link

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Beskidy Trophy 2019 Starts in 7 days

It's time again! Beskidy Trophy 2019! The race!

Why do I love this race? The climbs of course! This is where I shine! About 2500 meters altitude gain per stage.

Stage 1: 62km 2530hm
Stage 2: 70km 2476hm
Stage 3: 72km 2588hm
Stage 4: 59km 2424hm

This will be my fifth Beskidy Trophy. I've ridden the race every year since 2015.

My placings (M40 category):


How's the form? I did a set of record 9x9min intervals last Sunday @ 332W. Also the Hotcup race I did in Denmark last night felt really good: I was killing it on the climbs and the straights.

What steps have I taken to maximize my form? Last week I had a seriously tough training week with a TSS of almost 600. I did a total of 5 HIT sessions including two 9x9min. This week all I'll do is two shorter races: Hotcup yesterday (1.5 hours) and XCup on Sunday (just over an hour). This should let my body rest up and lead to a peak in form just ahead of Beskidy which starts Thursday next week. I really love the quality of these 1-1.5 hour races which give a very nice training effect while not taking too long to recover from.

Strava's idea of my current form

Weight with one week to go is at just below 71kg. Same as last two years. I've dropped about 3 kilos in the last month.

Just dropped below 71kg with one week to go

I'm racing my 'old' 2017 Trek Top Fuel 9.9. Why? We'll... I'm going to do a separate blog post about this but I don't like the Rockshox SID SE fork that came with my new 2019 Trek Top Fuel 9.9. After much fiddling around and trying to set it up correctly (again, a separate blog post coming up about this) but not being able to make it as 'soft' as I want it I decided to sell it and order a Fox 32 SC Factory. I've just not had the new Fox delivered yet and it's unsure if it will get to me before the race starts.

A change that I'm making from previous years is that I'll be running 2.25" wide tires both front AND rear. First year ever. Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25" Speed Snakeskin to be specific. The first year I ran 2.1" both front and rear, last year I had 2.25" front and 2.1" in the rear. This year I want a nice and comfortable ride downhill and so I'm going with 2.25" in the rear as well. I'm giving up a little bit of performance in weight as the rear tire is about 50 grams heavier than a 2.1" would be. But I think it'll make me quicker all around.

The weather prognosis is poor... But that's just normal for Beskidy. You may remember that last year they had to cancel the last stage due to poor weather.

Current weather prognosis for Beskidy weather
Who else is racing? What's my opposition like?
The guy who won last year in my cat, Szymon Zacharski, has signed up. So has second place Paweł Gaca. There are 258 racers (and 66 on the waiting list) all in all but I don't really recognize most of the names so I have no idea who's quick and who's not.

I'm getting 'old' for the M40 cat (or M4 as it's called at Beskidy Trophy). Next year I'll be in M50 everywhere else but surprisingly, at Beskidy Trophy, I have another year in M4.

List of nationalities:
Poland:             113 racers
Denmark:            30
Germany:            28
Czech Republic:     19
Latvia:             10
Sweden:             9

Russian Federation: 9
Lithuania:          9
Ukraine:            7
Belarus:            7
Belgium:            6
Slovakia:           3
Croatia:            3
(..and some other countries with just a couple of participants...)

Monday, 3 June 2019

Långa Lugnet - A gamble that paid off

Bike: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL (2017)  Racing Ralph 2.10 1.5 bar / Thunder Burt 2.10 1.6 bar

For this third race in the Swedish Marathon Cup ("Långloppscupen") I decided that I was going to optimize my chances and take a slight risk. This race has quite a lot of climbing and some quick sections on gravel roads and jogging paths. Well, that last part was at least how I remembered the race. With this in mind the chance that I took was to change tires to fast rolling and light ones: 2.1" both front and back with Thunder Burt at the back.

Easy rolling stuff (540 gram)

The race is 61km and has three loops. It starts off with a good and long climb.  You need to conserve your energy as the last loop has a lot of climbs. The fun thing is that each loop ends with a "built" downhill section. Weather on race day was warm and sunny but the previous day had A LOT of rain. I was hoping for a dry track (which would suit my choice in tires).

I had been dropped during the rush at the start of the last few races of the Spring so I was afraid of this happening again. The good thing is that as Beskidy Trophy is just a few weeks away and I'm dropping weight for that race so I'm down to just above 71 kg. I did two hard attempts of the start climb during my warmup session to be ready for the start.

The race started and the usual scenario did NOT play out: I was NOT dropped at the start of the race. I was hanging in there quite nicely and as the climb progressed I started moving up the field. Good!

Just after the start climb

After a few kilometers I slipped a bit in my attention and had to pay the price: The terrain got a bit flatter for a while and I slowed a little bit to catch my breath. At this point I was leading my group and first two riders slipped by, and then a third pushed his way ahead of me. The section quickly turned uphill and before I thought that the pace was rather pleasant, just before noticing that the guy in front of me was dropping behind the other two riders. I overtook him and worked on closing the gap but it was too late as we got out into a road section. I ended up riding that road section and another couple on my own while the the guys in front of me closed to gap and joined the next group ahead. Darned!

After a while I gave up on trying to close the gap to the group in front of me and let the guys behind catch up. Shortly after this I dropped my chain on a bumpy downhill while I was in top gear. Cursing I got off the bike and quickly got the chain back on. It didn't take long but I had a gap to close to the group ahead of me. I sprinted on the next road section and was able to get on the tail of the group just before going into the next climb. Entering the climb at max H/R was not pleasant. I still managed to move to the head of the group. Climbs were feeling good but I now knew that I had been going hard for a long time and it was very early in the race: It was time to slow down and get my bearings. Not more sprinting to catch new groups.

Downhill section at the end of the first loop
Downhill section at the end of the first loop

Going out into the second loop we got to the section that I had completely forgotten: Roots and deep mud. This is my nightmare scenario: A mud hole partioned off by roots, leading to a spång. There  was plenty of this. I did one over-the-bar as my front wheel got caught in a mud hole that was deeper than it looked. I only lost seconds but decided to take it easier. I got overtaken by a few riders and felt sort of discouraged.

Going out on the third loop I remembered that this was the part of the race that I had lost a lot of placing on many previous attempts. There are a lot of climbs and it wears you down after you've already been racing for two hours. Weirdly enough this time the climbs felt easier than I could remember them. With 4 km left of the race all that was left was the last downhill section and then the finish line. Here I was passed by one M40 rider who I tried my best to catch but he slipped over the finish line ahead of me.
I had no high hopes for a good placing but then found out from my friend Andreas that I had finished sixth. I was very surprised. I've raced here most years since 2013 and sixth is my best placing ever. Nice!

To be honest some of the best riders were not present so that may have helped me get a good placing in this race.



Average H/R:            167 (rather low)
Max H/R:                199 (glitch in the H/R strap again?)
Average power:          234W
Weighted average power: 268W

We have a long drive south after each year racing in Falun but after about two hours we pass this lovely place called Bergslagens Praliner. It a coffee shop with two ladies who make their own absolutely amazing pralines.