It took not just one or two bike washes to get the bike clean after the mud fest at Lida Loop, mud races are not good for the bike and a lot of parts had to be replaced. I got the question during the weekend if I didn't want to come and do “Ottarsloppet” on the Thursday which was a public holiday in Sweden, it was a short and fast race which I could take as good training. Right for bike would be involved in sponsoring the race with Squirt chain lube products as well. I always want to compete, so I decided to do it. I planned for it to be a training session but then Emmy entered and suddenly it became a race instead. I felt very tired on Wednesday and during my morning session on Thursday so I started to think it was a bad idea to go and do a race on a Thursday evening.
The Ottarloppet starts and finishes at a small sports center in the middle of the forest a bit north of Uppsala. It was an impressive event with so many participants in both running and cycling in such a small place, they also had a short cross-country skiing race (only 60 meters but on real snow). Both my dad and I were going to do the 52 kilometres and we checked the first and last bit so that we at least knew how we started and what it looked like when we finished and when we did the second lap. The course was 2 laps on a 26 km course.
It was a chaotic start, all at once into a narrow road, it was a crash already after about 20 meters!! I saw how Emmy crashed in front of me and I had to get off and lift the bike over her front wheel and then carry on. I was far down in the bunch and had to work hard to pass people and it took me some time to get into a nice rhythm and find my position. I felt strong and could easily sit in the little bunch I ended up in. It was good to see that no one got away but it was always people dropping off from the back and we also caught some other riders. It was a very fast track, not many meters of climbing and a lot of single tracks with a lot of roots, it was great fun and I really enjoyed the speed and especially on my Stratos! I finished in 12th position overall and the first girl, 4.5 minutes ahead of Emmy and only 6 minutes behind the men’s winner. I took that as a good sign, especially after I felt so terrible in the morning. My dad did well and was very fast, only 40 minutes behind me, I thought that was good at the age of 71!
I did what I could to recover well for the next race which was on Långa Lugnet in Falun on Sunday, I should be able to recover since I am used to doing stage races, but then everyone is in the same position, now there would be other riders with fresh legs. Friday was spent getting a massage, hand the bike in to get parts changed and a lot of sleep! On Saturday I worked with Right for bike, we had sales at Lugnet XCO, it was raining and cold and I was completely frozen, it did not feel like the best preparation for my legs.
It was so nice to be able to ride from home to the start, not having to pack and sleep over somewhere or get up early! I was nervous as usual and rode up to Lugnet as my warmup, I checked the last kilometre of the race and checked the feed zones. Unlike Saturday, we had really nice weather on Sunday and it was the first race this year in Sweden where I did not wear arm warmers, I even took the undershirt off last minute, that says a lot. ;)
The girls started at 10 am and the men 10.30. It was a big field which is great fun. I went to the front halfway up the start climb, it was nice to feel that the legs responded well immediately. We became a bunch of 6 girls after the climb and we worked together on the first gravel roads. Soon the 2 Team She rides girls Sara and Sandra dropped and shortly after also Åsa. It was now Hanna, Emmy and I left for the rest of the first loop (out of 3). Hanna and I took turns taking long pulls at the front, we both wanted to keep a high speed and try to get away together, at the same time it is also important that we keep a high speed so that the men do not catch us towards the end of the race. After a few kilometres on the second loop Hanna put the hammer down on a rooty single track and I could see that Emmy started to look tired, so as we started a short climb I went to the front and pushed hard. Hanna could easily sit with me but Emmy was gone. I kept a high pace on the next couple of single tracks to make sure Emmy would not catch up again. Hanna and I worked well together and went out on the last loop 2.5 minutes ahead of Emmy. The last loop starts with some climbing, I was setting the pace and felt strong, I got a feeling that Hanna was a bit tired and thought I could try to get away. I was hesitant when she did drop but I kept going. Eventually I got a few meters after a single track and pushed a bit harder, it was a slow process and I had her close behind for a long time, I felt strong and knew the last loop inside out so I just kept pushing hard on all the climbs to make the gap grow and finally I could not see her. It is a nice feeling to push hard when the legs and the body responds! After 62 km and 2h45min of racing I could win by 2 minutes ahead of Hanna and almost 7 minutes ahead of Emmy in third.
It was good to finish a "racing block" in this way and with this feeling, I have had 6 races since I came back to Sweden but now there are no races for a month, it is time for some training to prepare for European XCM champs in Norway on July 6th. But first a few days rest.
I was called by the local newspaper in the evening after the race and the reporter came up with an interesting statistic, apparently I have won the last 24 races in the Swedish XCM series which I have started! I have not lost a series race since Långa Lugnet 2014! This was more than I knew ;)
Start climb. Photo: Cykelkanalen.se
Photo: Ulf Johansson
Photo: Robert Stenerhag
In the beginning of the last loop. Photo: mtbfoto.se
Photo: Robert Stenerhag
After the finish with Hanna. Photo: Cykelkanalen.se
TV interview. Photo: Robert Stenerhag
Podium with Hanna, I, Emmy, Sara and Sandra.
And a few pictures from Ottarsloppet: