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.

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