I was not supposed to race between Långa Lugnet (3 weeks ago) and next weekend’s Ränneslättsturen, I wanted to have 4 weeks of good training and a bit of a mental break from racing in preparation for European champs which is in less than 2 weeks time. I have had a few weeks with really good training and last weekend I went to Norway to see the XCM Euro route together with Marianne (who lives pretty close to the course). It was worth the long drive there and back since the course was not at all as I had expected and now I feel more prepared for the Championship. From Kvam in Norway I went to our cottage in the Swedish mountains and stayed there a few days. I was planning to drive home on Midsummer Eve's morning and then pass Orsa. I knew it was “Orsabajk’n” that morning and I would literally go past the track that runs along the highway I drive on the way home. Competing is always fun and I was really tempted to race again. Late Thursday afternoon I decided to enter, I would take it as a good training session and I still did my intervals on Thursday morning and gym in the evening, the race was just something extra. I did not have my racing wheels with me so it had to be on my training wheels. Late in the evening, the start list was updated and half of the Swedish elites were entered, including Linn Gustafzzon and Sara Öberg, now it would suddenly be a full on race instead of hard training!
I left the cottage at 05.40 and arrived in Skattungbyn about 1.5 hours before start. I was a little nervous and wondered if this really was a good idea…? The course is only 25 kilometres and very flat, which means that the speed is high when everyone goes flat out during such a short time. It was a joint start with the men, and it was fast from the start! I kept an eye on Linn who I saw as the biggest competition. We sat with the guys in the beginning but after a few kilometres I managed to go in front of Linn and when I looked back, I did not see anyone. But a bit later a small bunch caught me and another guy and Linn was there. I rode as hard as I could to keep up with the guys and finally, I didn't see Linn anymore. It was very hard 54 minutes and I have not seen such a high average heart rate or max in a very very long time! It was a nice course and a fun race which I would definitely come back to! Afterwards I got company by some of the guys when I rode back to the start to pick up the car.
It was a lot of fun to race again and two days later, on Sunday, there was another race in Dalarna, Gesunda MTB challenge, another race which I had never done before, I was very keen and entered on Saturday.
We arrived at Gesunda a bit too early on Sunday morning so I rode loop 1 (was only about 7 km) as a warmup to see some of the track's character, it was a lot of trails so it would probably be a fun day on the bike. There were not so many registered and I had none of my regular competitors there, so it was a day of hard training with the guys. It was fast from the start and I could feel the last few days' training and race in the legs and it took a while for me to get started. I sat at the back of a small bunch after about 5-6 km when the guy 2 people in front of me let go of the wheel in front of him and the person in front of me didn't close the gap, I hesitated a bit too long and did not have the power to close the gap. It was a bit frustrating since I saw the bunch for a long time and rode away from the guys behind me and ended up in no mans land on my own for about 18 km! The course was fun with a good mix of gravel roads and single tracks but it was one long gravel road, which must have been 10-12 km which got a bit boring on my own and I struggled to keep the pace high, I did however catch one guy there but then 3 other guys caught up with us as well. We formed a small bunch and I could ride the rest of the race with them. I pulled a lot and took the opportunity to push really hard on the climbs for good training, maybe not tactically correct if I had have competition but that is why a race like this is good to do since I could afford to gamble and push hard since it would not matter if I hit the wall and lost the bunch. It all went well, and I felt good and finished strong.
It was a really good training weekend with 2 hard races, and I feel that the form is on its way in time for European Championship. It was fun to do new races which I have never done before too. Thanks to Orsa SK and Soldi CK for two good events!
Riding up the ski slope at Gesunda. Photo: Isac Lagerblad
Start of Gesunda MTB
Podium at Gesunda MTB
Podium at Orsabajk'n