Sunday, July 5, 2015

RACE REPORT: Billingeracet 79km MTB

Next up, only a week after Lidingöloppet MTB I (David) headed south to Skövde to ride in Billingeracet, a 80km MTB race and the opening event of the Mitsubishi MTB Challenge 2015.

I had 3 reasons for doing this event. The first being my daughter competing in Nyköping with her cheerleading team which took both her and my wife away for the weekend (the boys did not want to go). As my wife's parents live in Skövde, the second reason was I could take the opportunity for my oldest son (8yrs) to compete in the nybörjare class race of Billingracet. The third was, I may as well cycle myself as I was there!

It was great to watch Oli line up in his race and try his absolute best against kids who were older and faster than him. A great experience for him taking 11th place from 46 finishers beaten only by 1 of his same age. The first 5 were out of sight and he hung onto the back of the second group. Took a crash which set him back a few places before the finish but got up and made it home. Very proud of the little lad. With his race on the top of he mountain and the start for mine at the bottom, I had to quickly roll down to be in position for my start.

Despite registering in "snabb motion" class, I for some reason was not allowed to enter that pen and had to  go to the back....with some 800 people already in front of me! With it being a mass start and no staggering of times, that was a lot of traffic ahead and it would be a big factor in the race.

The race starts on a lovely climb on asphalt up Billingen then turns into the forest and continues even steeper on trails wide enough for 2/3 bikes. I went quick off the start trying to make up as much ground as I could without sapping the legs too early but as soon as we hit the trail, the traffic stopped. As the steep hill progressed, people were falling as those ahead were stopping meaning no momentum and nowhere to go but feet down. I became quite frustrated at progress very early on. It then turned to single track, roots and mud, and still lots of bike trying to squeeze onto a narrow rail. After some kms, it widened to a nice section along the old railway, where I teamed up with 2 others to push the pace along and overtook a lot of other riders (they could of course have been doing the half race of Oglunda Runt!). Again the course turned back to some fine single-track and  a drinks station in Oglunda where many de-biked and took a rest before a long asphalt climb back onto the tracks again! Lot of people out of their houses cheering you on which was nice!

At half way of the race (or the finish of Oglunda runt) you pass close by the finish on Billingen then continue on some fine single track once again. It was here at 40km I inadvertently crashed the bike into a bush after loosing the front wheel from under me on a slippery root. No harm done but my frustration from earlier hadn't subsided, my mental state wasn't ideal for this race!
There followed lots of single track in Ryddskogen which upon reflection was really great but as I wasn't really enjoying myself at this time, I lost time. Was quick on the wider 'transport' paths but as my head was elsewhere I failed to think of stopping, reducing tyre pressure & clearing my thoughts and carrying on and just ploughed on regardless muttering under my breath.

The last 10 km is one long steady climb, with the final 4-5km being the steepest. First you handle a 150m vertical climb through the houses on asphalt, gravel and grass. When you think you're done you descend 50m vertical again then prepare yourself for the final 100m vertical climb up ''strupen' to the finish. 
It's certainly a tough finish and never having run the course before had no idea what I was to be facing. Passed a number of people on that last climb who were walking with nothing left in their legs. Knowing it was just this hill and then it's all done I pushed as hard as I could.

There are always some positives to take from any experience and my lessons learnt for the day were:
  • Arrive early at the start and give yourself a good chance of being in front of a lot of people prior to the single track which saves a lot of time.
  • Have the correct tire pressure for the conditions. Mine was too high but my mind was not clear enough in the race to think about it.
  • My Scott Spark would've been a better choice in the conditions.
  • Most importantly "it was a great training !"
Will I go back next year? If you asked me directly after the race it was a definite NO WAY....but never say never :)

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