Friday, September 11, 2015

RACE REPORT: Cykelvasan 2015 (David's view)

Time passes so quickly and it's hard to believe Cykelvasan was almost 4 weeks ago and this report has remained unwritten whilst I've been busy switching schedule to prepare for Stockholm Half marathon! 
So here it is from my (David's) perspective.

Finally the weekend of Cykelvasan arrived and the weather Gods laid on a terrific plate of warm and dry weather both leading up to the event and much to our liking, on Saturday too! Jon, Andreas & myself traveled up to Sälen on the Friday afternoon for our overnight accommodation in Lindvallen. We learnt last year that staying in Mora would mean a VERY early start on a bus to get to the start line and that would be no fun. As such, it was a relatively relaxed morning wake up call at 7am to eat a leisurely breakfast and coast down to the start for my 08:50 start time. Jon & Andreas started a little later at 09:20 & 09:35 with Andreas fortunately being able to move his original time considerably earlier so we didn't have to wait hours for him in Mora.
 It was a chilly morning in the shadows, but the forecast said it was to be warm...and warm it was when you got moving. It's a fantastic feeling to stand there in the starting pen watching group after group setting off up the first hill towards Smågan knowing that with every group you're 5mins closer to your start. It wasn't long before I was one of those groups and as the start siren blew, off we went. The first hill wasn't as fearsome as I'd remembered the first year. Maybe it was the knowledge of how long it really was and the other being the hard work I'd put in whilst in Idre the 2 weeks previous helping the legs a lot.
I tagged onto the back of a wheel as the incline leveled off and we hit a pace which felt just between being comfortable and having to exert a little extra effort to maintain the pace. My tactic this year was not to work as hard as last and not have to push the pace for the entire 94km like previous. It certainly helped being amongst cyclists who moved at a similar pace to myself. Smågan whizzed by followed by Mångsbodarna. I was already 6mins ahead of last year's time and feeling good. The trails were dusty and dry and you were peddling through a fog of dust for many kms. I kept to my fluid & nutrition plan although I realised early the dust would cause me to drink more than what I was carrying with me. 

The new uphill section into Risberg was fantastic, a huge improvement on the long, boring asphalt road of the previous year. Between Risberg and Evertsberg I decided to push on and dropped the wheel(s) I'd been around the past 40kms. I wanted to be in some clear space if I could for the fast downhill section after Evertsberg as the road there is a tricky mix of gravel and small / medium stones. I grabbed a cup of drink in Evertsberg and had to immediately take evasive action through the drinks tent as a guy flipped over his handlebars right in front of me.."good timing fella"! Thankfully I didn't spill a drop but managed to throw a lot of the drink over my face in the rush to leave my cup behind...this would provide the perfect sticky base for the dust to adhere to later :)
I was now 14mins ahead of last year and pushed hard. Once again, the organisers had modified the track. Just like in Vasaloppet during the winter, the course took the tunnel in Vasslan and followed the winter track via Björnarvet and the famous Lundbäcksbackarna to the checkpoint in Oxberg. Again, a great improvement! 

18mins ahead in Oxberg, I was slicing time off last year all the way and the legs felt really good and strong. Hökberg, 25mins faster, Eldris 27mins ahead. Those final 8 or 9 kms I just decided to go all in as best I could and the final 2-3km I felt like I was flying. Whereas last year, the final 30kms I was struggling with cramp, this year there were no issues. I really owe that to a far better training plan for this year's race and the winter strength program at Form.

You're flying through Mora Park with the crowds cheering you on those last couple of kms and before you know it you've popped out onto the road in Mora with just the roundabout to navigate and that famous finish straight down to the goal.
"I fäders spår – för framtids segrar"

I was elated to not only beat last year's time, not only beat the 4hour mark, but to be 29mins faster than last years time and finish in 3:38:31 in position 1,424 (also 3,500 places better than 2014!).

Will I go back next year and try and go faster? Oh YEAH! ...but the organisers have again changed the manner in which you register for next year. There are only 6,800 places available to those whom have not completed 3 races or more in the past 6 years....gotta be VERY quick on 20th September to try and capture one of those.

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