The day after the competition in Skaidi, Craig and I cycled along the coastline to Hammerfest, it was a very nice road! Our bags were transported with the car. On Monday we did a 4 hour ride, with the best guide, Odd Peder, it was almost the highlight of our stay in Norway, it was so incredibly different and cool nature and terrain, it felt like we were cycling on the moon! I am very happy that we stayed here for a few days to see this as well. On Tuesday afternoon we took the boat back to Alta to take the flight early on Wednesday morning to Oslo, to fly from there to Istanbul. The later flight was delayed so we didn't arrive in Sakarya until midnight. Long day! At the airport in Istanbul we met up with Michael Olsson who would do the rest of this trip with us.
On Thursday we went to find the track and “the lap” which the ladies would do twice and the guys 3 times in the race. It was a very hard course and it was very warm, so it was going to be a tough race. Unfortunately, they had graded the track where there were single tracks last year, so this year it was only loose soil/sand/gravel which made it very difficult to ride a bike on.
The start of the Sakarya MTB cup XCM was at 11.30 am on Friday. Micke and I had time to ride on lap on the XCO course which we would do at the end of the race, it was an easy course technically but it would still be tough with all the short steep climbs after 88 kilometres and 2500 meters of climbing. I was the highest ranked amongst the 17 girls who were on the start line and there was no one I recognized so maybe I could get a good placing, but I was most nervous about the heat and the distance, although I am used to the heat it was a long time since I had ridden this far in warm weather. The first 11 kilometres were flat until the lap started, I could get away on the first climb and rode on my own the entire race. I felt very good on the first lap and I rode hard uphill to have time to take it easy on the downhill. It was very difficult to find a good balance between pushing hard enough but still not too hard since I was riding alone for so long. The men started 30 minutes after us and when Micke and 2 of the guys passed me (they were the lead group) we started the steepest climb, it felt like I was standing still. On lap 2 I followed the lead motorbike, but he went wrong and we had to turn around, it turned out that most riders had gone wrong since some kids must have moved the bunting tape... It was a relief when I finished my 2 laps and could ride the flat 11 kilometres back towards the finish, although it was still very tough since there was a strong headwind. When I got to the XCO track my motorbike went straight and no one showed me onto the XCO track. I then had a bit of hope that they had cancelled the XCO lap. I still turned in which was right. I was completely done with the heat and the long ride and because I didn't see anyone else I took it very easy on the 4 kilometres XCO course. Dizzy and tired, I went over the finish line and can just say that next year's World Championship in XCM will be very tough!
Micke rode super well and came 2nd, only 1 minute after winner Perikilis, so it was a good day for us and it was very good that we had Craig there who could feed for us!
I was a bit surprised when the 3 medalists were asked to pour water together in a well as a symbol of sending water to Afrika, it was a project they had. That was something new which I have never done before.
It was a late night since the start was late and the riding time was long. When we were back at the hotel it was just to have dinner, pack and sleep to be ready for an early start the next day with the next trip.
We went back to Istanbul Airport early in the morning, took the flight to Geneva and from there a rental car to Grächen where we are now preparing for this year's XCM World Championship which will be here in one weeks time.