Photo: Oscar Ekstam
I left for Skövde on Friday morning and arrived early afternoon, in time to do a ride on the race route before the sky opened up for a heavy rainfall and set out for a muddy race on Saturday. The forecast said sun and a bit warmer than last weekend, it could be up to 15 degrees, yeay Swedish summer… ;) I did not dare to really believe this after the wet and cold weather during Friday evening but it dried up nicely and the sun came out on Saturday morning!
We started together with the men at this race. The start was in the centre of Skövde and the first 3km was a climb up to the finish area at Billingen, there was also a hill prize at the top before we headed out on the first big loop (out of 2 loops). I was a bit nervous, especially since I know how hectic and fast the start is with the men. I had decided to just give it my all to the hill sprint to see if I could get a gap, and if that succeeded I would just try to hold it as long as possible, luckily this race ended with a climb which I could rely on in case I would not be alone at the end. There is completely different tactics in a race where we start with the men, it is full gas from start to finish.
The start! Photo: Per Ahlström
I was positively surprised about the speed up the tar climb, it was not so fast and I could get a good position as we went on to the gravel road. The last bit up to the hill sprint was super steep and loose and I gave it my all since I did not know if I had a guy or a girl on my wheel. I might have pushed a bit too hard since that is where I afterwards could see my highest heart rate for the entire race and I was in position 42 amongst the men and almost 30 seconds ahead of the next girl already after 9 minutes of racing. The fact that I could not hold anyones wheel also told me I had started a bit too fast… I ended up riding on my own for a long time since anyone who passed me just left me.
Steep climb to the hill sprint! Photo: Happyride.se
Eventually I got in to a group on a long flat straight piece which was nice but as we came to a single track and the bunch spread out I was a bit too far back and did not have the power to accelerate out of the single track and ended up riding alone again on the next gravel road. I ended up riding close to a few guys for a while and I helped with the work a lot. I stuck to my plan to work as hard as I could which of course included to help with the work if I was in a bunch. After the finish I got the comment from one of the guys “At least no one can accuse you for just sucking wheels” which was nice to hear.
I heard that I had a 1.15 minutes lead when we came to the finish to go out on the last loop, that was at the half way mark. I tried my best not to get stressed over the small gap and just kept pushing as hard as possible. After a while a bigger group caught us but still no girls and no one in that group wanted to help and I ended up at the front on a long piece of single track, normally the guys try to pass us girls on the single tracks but I wanted the speed to be high so I just kept pushing.
A technical section going out on the second loop. Photo: mtbfoto.se
I got very tired towards the end and with 4-5 km and 2 climbs left I backed off a bit and let the guys go, I kept looking back to make sure no girls were approaching. I could keep a steady pace without stressing. The last 2 climbs are really tough and the last bit of the last climb is so steep it is really hard to get up on tired legs. I was so happy I did not need to sprint for the win today, my legs were close to cramping on the finishing stretch.
Tired at the finish! Photo: mtbfoto.se
It felt really nice to get a win after a tough start to the year and it was nice that my plan worked even though I pushed as hard as I possibly could instead of playing it tactically to try and get as much help as possible from the men. I am really happy with my efforts on Saturday. I came 68th in the end, so maybe I did go out a bit too hard since 26 guys passed me after the hill sprint ;)
The podium with Emmy, me, Nellie, Sandra and Ingrid. Photo: mtbfoto.se
I spent a lot of time in my Skoda Kodiaq this weekend since I went to Stockholm straight after the race to be one of the instructors at an MTB clinic for Mountainbikeskolan on Sunday. It was a really nice and fun day and it is so nice to see so many girls wanting to improve their riding and getting in to this wonderful sport!
I am in need of some rest and recovery back home in Falun today :-)