Jennie Stenerhag

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Finally a win at Birken! And at the premier of Alliansloppet MTB!


I have done Birkebeinerittet twice before and finished 2nd both times, so I was really keen on a win this year. We went there on Thursday (same procedure as the previous 2 years…) but this year we did not take the camper but stayed with my nutrition sponsor Enervit at hotels, thank you Enervit for that!! We visited my friends Kristin and David on Thursday evening and it was great to see them again. David came with me on a long ride on Friday morning to see parts of the route. I practiced on the tricky finish a few times and refreshed the memory about where exactly I had to be first to be able to win the race, I had two spots where I should be first! We packed the Kodiaq after the ride and drove to Rena where the start of the race was.

This race has a historical background and is 86 km over the mountains from Rena to Lillehammer and every rider must carry a backpack of 3,5 kg, it is weighed at the start and finish. This is to honour the Norwegian king who was carried over the mountains to hide him from enemies when he was only a baby and weighed around 3,5 kg. I spent some time trying to get the exact weight of my backpack!

It was a chilly morning and when we started at 9.20 I felt very cold and stiff. We start with a 13 km climb up to the first sprint prize and the previous years we have still been in a bunch at the top, but this time Borghild Lövseth and Ingrid Lorvik wanted differently! They attacked a lot and my legs did not feel good at all, but I still managed to go with them and the 3 of us got away. I also managed to take the sprint at the top so the legs could not have been too bad. Ingrid is a road cyclist so we lost her on a rocky descent and I must admit that the thought that it would only be Borghild and I to the finish did pop in to my head but once again I was reminded that a bike race is not over until the line. When I turned around I saw Hildegunn Hovdenak behind me! We got to the running section (steep rocky uphill where no one can ride) and we pushed hard! Hildegunn could not keep up so Borghild and I once again got away. We worked well together and stayed away until the 55 km mark. I had managed to take 2 more intermediate sprints as well. We had gotten the information that we had a 40 seconds gap but it was strange because next time I turned around a big bunch was with us and I saw lots of girls!! I could not see who they all were but I saw Hildegunn and Ingrid. Luckily we were just approaching the toughest part of the race with some hard climbs. Once again Ingrid was on the attacks and only Borghild and I could go with. The 3 of us got away and pushed hard together. At the top of Sjusjöen, when we only had 20 km of downhill left, we got the information that we had a gap of 1.21min! We should stay away!

Guess if I got a surprise when I saw Hildegunn when we had gone down “Balettbacken” a steep gravel downhill! I was on the wheel of Ingrid but since she could not do the downhill I almost rode in to her and at the same time Borghild passed us and I passed Ingrid. We were all on the left and in the corner of my eye I saw a person flying down on the right but did not see who it was first. When I had passed the tunnel and still had Borghild in front I saw that it was Hildegunn!! Shit, I had to push!! I passed Borghild and caught up with Hildegunn. I passed her at my first point where I planned to be first but she passed me again on a downhill. Ok, so my second plan had to work! I had to do a maximal sprint to get ahead of her to go first on to the grass, from there it would be difficult to pass. Kristin was there screaming on the side and it gave me extra energy. I pushed absolutely everything I had and managed to take the win just a few meters ahead of Hildegunn!!! I was extremely happy!!!


Here are the last 9 minutes of our race :-) Sorry, only in Norwegian ;) 



Unfortunately, I could not stay for the prize giving in the evening since I had a race in Trollhättan, Sweden, the next day and we had a 4,5-5 hour drive to do. We got to the race down late that evening and it was just to try to recover and prepare for Alliansloppet MTB which was a new race and I felt excited to be part of something like that from the start.

It was raining when we woke up the next morning and the motivation was not on top. Luckily it stopped raining as I started to warm up. It was a short race of 60 km and we did 2 loops on the same course. Since I had never been in this area before it was nice to see the loop once and then do it again. We had our own ladies start and I had been informed about a hill prize early on, but not at which kilometre it was. Louise set a high pace as we started a climb but since I did not know where the top was I did not dare to take the risk to sit behind so I went to the front. I picked up the pace slightly when I saw the sign saying “Hill prize 300 meters” and when I looked around I was on my own. I waited for Åsa since it was still more than 50 km to go and soon after Louise caught up with us. We got to some technical sections and it was extremely slippery and muddy on the routes from the overnight rain, I must say that I enjoyed it! We lost Louise at the most technical section and it was just Åsa and I, we have been in this situation on a few occasions this year and since I felt a bit tired from yesterday I was not sure if I could get away this time or not. I tried to push a bit harder just before the most technical uphill but she pushed passed me so I thought it would be a sprint since we only had 9 km to go. But I was first on a single track with 6 km to go and I felt that Åsa gave a bit of a gap, so once again I tried to push a bit harder and the gap grew! It was nice to be able to win solo this time!

Alliansloppet was a nice race and I think it will grow and be a very nice event in the future. We had another 5 hours in the car back home after the race so it has been a lot of mileage this weekend, I am lucky to have such a nice car to drive and I have to say a big thank you to my dad for doing all the driving!! Thank you to mom as well for all the feeding and support, what would I do without my parents!

It is now time to travel again, Italy this time and it will be nice to have Craig with me again!



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