Rikke’s Belgium Tour 2018

Belgium Kermesse

After the Summer break, a lot of Danish races has been cancelled, so I decided to go Belgium on my own for racing and get experience with the bigger peloton (women only!) and the higher speed. Here is how it went 🙂

Huesden

My first race in Belgium was an experience. I had only been sleeping around five hours, and travelling for seven hours, when reaching the town for the race three hours before the start. I didn’t know anything, so I had to find out how to register etc.

The course was around five kilometers long, had two short hills and only one real corner, but riders were braking ALL THE TIME. Like full stop braking. I didn’t like it, so I stayed in the back of the peloton with a “security distance”.

Heusden Kermesse
Photo: Julien De Bock

The course took us through the town center with lots of spectators which was awesome. There were to sections with a kind of cobbles, that didn’t feel too good to ride on, but it was surprisingly where I could use my strength and take some places further up the group. But, it also made bottles jump out of their cages making me have to elude a few times.

We were 116 riders and I was surprised that no one crashed. I had to close a few gaps in between, but I managed to get home with the bunch without being able to do the sprint though.

Kermesse Wilrijk
Photo: Hinninck Paul

It was a fast race with an average speed of 39 km/h over 93 kilometers and faster than our normal races in Denmark, but I had no problem following, so I guess I’m stronger than last year. Nice to know 😉

After the race I drove to my Airbnb. But first I had to go to the supermarket. I wasn’t aware of the clock and when I parked the car the supermarket was closing in less than 10 minutes, so I only had time to buy bananas and an ice coffee. I figured I could shop in the morning.

Heusden Kermesse
One of the cobbles section in Heusden.

I was very hungry, so I bought some take-away before going to the accommodation. When I arrived, the key to the house was not in the key box. I didn’t believe it! It was 20:30 and I was so tired.

I waited an hour and then someone opened the door for me. But the room wasn’t cleaned from the previous guest and everything was very dirty and there was a smell of smoking. Yikes!

I waited another 1,5 hours for someone to come and clean the room and bring me a key. It was 23:00 before I could go to bed. The room was still dirty though and the bathroom and kitchen also, so I decided to find something else the next day.

Malderen

I was tired, stressed and not motivated this morning because of the night before. Also, the supermarkets were closed on Sundays, so I had to eat breakfast at Starbucks.

This race was more like a Danish race. A long lap of 15,5 kilometers and we had to do six of them. The start was surprisingly slow, but that was perfect for me, since I’m a slow starter and always need to get my legs warmed up in the race.

The course was technical with a lot of obstacles, narrow roads and corners. Something happened in the middle of the bunch half through the first lap and a big crash went on in front of me (yes, I was in the back again) so to avoid it I jumped to the sidewalk – phew, that was close! Another small crash happened and a few ‘how-did-they-not-crash’ incidents, so a very nervous day on the bike.

Kermesse Heusden
Photo: Kevin Buyssens

The big crash took out maybe half the peloton, including the ones being caught behind it, so I was lucky to be able to pass and regroup with the front.

Then the pace went up and at one point an attack happened in a technical part with crosswind afterwards, so someone further up the line couldn’t hold on to the wheel and then I had to close a really big gap. I managed, but I used a lot of energy on it.

Several times I tried to go to the front, but it was difficult with the narrow roads and corners all the time. I could only do it on the bigger roads in headwind. I did go to the front once, taking a lead, but when I went a little back and was surrounded of riders trying to get my position I didn’t like it and decided to stay in the back. I could “easily” hang on in the back, but it was just a waste of energy that I could have used racing in front.

Kermesse Malderen
Horses along the course.

It was a very hot day but I didn’t have anyone to give me bottles along the course, so I rode with two big bottles and I still had to save in the end even though it took less than 2,5 hours to race 93 kilometers.

Most of the other riders had people to give them bottles and I guess there are no rules of when and where to give them (in Denmark we have feeding zones for that which is safer, I think). I never knew when people were taking a bottle and often they lost it and it rolled on the road. I had to avoid a few of them and that is not a funny game.

Gaia Sport Danmark
Used a lot of energy from out team sponsor: Gaia Sport Danmark.

After the race I returned the key for my Airbnb and drove to a house where to Swedish and one Italian rider were living. They had an extra bed I could borrow.  SO NICE!! We went out for dinner in the evening with two Belgians too and it was really good to be social instead of sad and alone in a dirty room. I was happy again 🙂

Wilrijk

I slept 10 hours!! Hallelujah guess I needed it 😊 I slept much better than last night and I was very happy to be in a much nicer place with some sweet girls, so my motivation was back, and the stress gone.

Unfortunately, I woke up to rain, so I was thinking of a good excuse not race. It had been a while, since I rode in the rain, so I didn’t feel like racing in rain at all. Luckily it cleared up in the afternoon and off I went.

The race started at 15:00 and was a circuit of only three kilometers. We were around 40 riders, so a small peloton but with some fast women from UCI teams, U23 champions and former champions.

Kermesse Brasschaat
Photo: Kevin Buyssens

It was mostly dry weather with some short showers and a little wind. The first lap was a “dead lap” and then we had to stop at the finish line before the race could start. I was amazed about the number of spectators and it was like there was a little town festival going on with Tivoli and stuff. Awesome!

The race went off full gas and I tried to hang on, but my back wheel felt weird and after slipping a few times I didn’t quite trust it so I took it a bit too easy in the corners. That meant that I had to use a lot of energy on closing gaps. There were also a lot of attacks, so a few times I had to close very big gaps, when someone attacked after a corner. I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, but I kept getting back to the bunch.

Europcar Belgium
My rental car and Liv Langma.

At one point I thought that I might as well die trying to escape than closing gaps, so I made one attack that didn’t last long, but at least I tried.

After 1,5 hours on the limit, closing one gap after another, I was out of drinks and out of power. Another gap had to be closed, but I had no more left in the tank, so instead of mission impossible, I decided to save energy for tomorrow’s race and called it the day after 60 kilometers in the hurt box.

I hate to DNF (Did Not Finish) but I wouldn’t have caught the group and would probably have been pulled out of the race in the end anyway. At least I was one of the last to let go of the decimated group to finish the race.

Brasschaat

The last race of my little Belgium tour was a bit different than the others. The course was less than three kilometers but had a long cobbles section (and this time the real cobbles) and a section with gravel. Both sections had a 90 degrees corner, so it was a question of technique and positioning.

I was motivated to do good, but then I did the course before the start and thinking of riding on the cobbles and gravel in a big bunch was a bit frightening, so I talked myself a bit down and said to myself it would be okay to DNF because of the difficult course. Never do that! Because what happened? I did another DNF, of course. Stupid.

Kermesse Wilrijk
Photo: Hinninck Paul

The lap had a wide and long road before the first corner, but I failed to fight for a position in front and was in the back from the beginning. The peloton with around 60 riders was stretched out long because of narrow roads and corners, so it was difficult to get back to the bunch, when we finally hit the wide road again.

I managed to get back a few times, but then I thought I had a puncture and used too much time on checking instead of just continuing the chase. Sometimes I don’t know if it is just in my head, when I’m not motivated or looking for a way out, that I think everything is wrong with the bike.

Kermesse Wilrijk
Photo: Hinninck Paul

After that it was game over and I couldn’t catch the group again. I could ride 40 minutes and then I was pulled out of the race. Annoyed at myself, but another learning.

What now?

I am back home in Denmark now, but I already feel like going back to Belgium and race more. I want to be able to do the positioning battle and the lack of races in Denmark makes it difficult to learn. But, my piggy bank is not endless, so I must choose my travels with care.

Nerja and Training Camp in July

Veleta

It has been a month since I was in Spain, but I have been too busy after I came home, to write anything down. But here it is! Not just one, but two EPIC RIDES to report about 😊

Nerja
Nerja main road.

When I left Nerja back in March I said that I wanted to go back in the Summer. I wanted to try riding in the heat and experience the town with tourists. So, after the Nationals I bought flight tickets and off I went, just me and my Langma bike.

Nerja
Back in town…

Arriving

To get the most out of my trip I took a morning flight to Spain. Little did I think of the holiday season, so missing the first bus and waiting an hour to check-in, I had no time to get food before boarding and went straight to the plane as the monitor said “closing”.

I was up at 3:00, so I was very tired and fall asleep shortly after departure. When I woke up the food wagon had passed, and I had to settle with my snacks of nuts, dates and biscuits. Not the breakfast I imagined and not enough to keep me full until landing, but I had no choice.

La Bella Julieta
My favorite coffee-stop place on Costa del Sol: La bella Julieta

In the plane I fantasized about Starbucks coffee and other good stuff I would gladly pay too much for when arriving in Málaga Airport. But, fooled again, we were taken on a detour outside the transfer area and I could forget about coffee or anything else.

A shuttlebus was waiting for me, so again I had to go straight to the bus without time to buy anything outside the airport.

Ice cream Nerja
Had an ice cream on the first day. And the next 14 days 🙂

Finally, I reached Nerja around 11:30 and I was dying of hunger, so before even thinking about going to my rental, I went to the nearest café and had a sandwich. People were watching a bit when I dragged my suitcase and bike case along to the table.

Accommodation

Because it was kind of a last-minute decision, and because of the high season, I couldn’t find a payable apartment, so I had booked a private room on Airbnb. I was a bit too early, but the women who owned the house of my room was kind enough to get her son to let me in.

Nerja Airbnb
The house I lived in for two weeks (in a room in the house though).

While I was waiting for him the neighbor, an old lady, came out to chat and offered me to put my luggage in her yard and sit on a chair of hers. She only spoke Spanish, so I didn’t understand everything, but I put my luggage in and went for something to drink. It was a hot day! That is something I love about the Spanish people. Their kindness and openness, always up for a chat and a helping hand, even to strangers.

Everyday Routine

May days were mostly breakfast, ride, lunch, tanning, Tour de France, ice cream, dinner, sleep and repeat. It was like being on a training camp on my own and I also did most of my rides alone.

CC Narixa
A big group of CC Narixa riders (do you spot someone different?)

But the weekend rides were reserved for the local club, CC Narixa, and I now have two more epic rides to put in my book of epic rides. It was very nice to see some familiar faces, and on the club’s Sunday ride there were a lot more people than in the winter. New and old faces, but I was still the only woman, so everything was as usual 😉

Epic Ride to Veleta

On the first Saturday, me and some of the Narixa guys took the car to Granada, because we wanted to go to Veleta. A mountain in Sierra Nevada being more than 3.000 meters above sea level. On top is a ski station, but it was closed.

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride.

The ride was 84 kilometers with 2.500 elevation meters. The route almost went up from the beginning and started with double digit percentages and I was thinking to myself “not again, I will die”, but it only took 2 kilometers and then the rest was eatable 6-8% average. But it lasted for more than 3 hours!

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride.

We had two stops on our way up. The last was at the ski station, were people normally park their cars and buy food/drinks. Now, without much snow left, people go there to walk or ride bikes.

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride.

From the last stop, we still had 12 kilometers to the top and now the landscape was pure open, and a strong wind was teasing us. At one point I had to take my foot to the ground and hold against a wind blow, so I didn’t fall. It was a bit scary, but I wanted to go to the top!

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride. The parking lot at the ski station.

The others had told me that the road was going to be really bad, but I thought “how bad can it be?” Ha-ha, bad, like really, really bad! Like, you need a mountain bike bad. The last 500-1.000 meters the road was turned into big holes and giant rocks and I was shifting between being afraid of a flat tire and crashing.

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride. The road starting to turn bad.

Towards the end the road just went into gravel, but big rocks gravel, until a gigantic rock blocked the way and we thought it was best to turn around. We had reached more than 3.000 altitude meters and the ski station lift.

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride. Had to touch the snow!

After taking some pictures and touching the snow, I just wanted to get down as quickly as possible. I was freezing (it was 14 degrees on top and I was not wearing arm or leg warmers), also I didn’t like the wind or the bad “road”.

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride.

On my way down a professional from CCC was on his way up and while I took my foot out of the pedal to not crash on the rocks, he went faster than I could say “wow!” over the rocks like it was nothing (on his road bike!). Crazy type number 1.

Veleta ride
Almost everyone from the Veleta ride.

Then, when I finally hit the normal road again, I was being very careful because of the wind. I met a Bora-Hansgrohe rider going up and shortly after, I sensed someone behind me. I thought it was one of my Narixa guys, so I looked back and starred right into the Bora-Hansgrohe riders face. I didn’t have enough time to recognize who it was because, in a glimpse of an eye he passed me, and despite his high-profile wheels he didn’t care about the wind at all. I could see his bike being slammed from side to side because of wind blows, but he just continued. Crazy person number 2. I saw him again at the parking lot, so he had everything under control. It was just me being a chicken, I guess 😉

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride. Still a little snow left.

It took 3,5 hours to climb 44 kilometers, but only 1 hour to go 40 kilometers downhill (a slight change in the return route compared to going up). We had left Nerja at 7:00 and I was back at 16:00, so a long day, but what an epic day it was!

Veleta ride
On top of Veleta.

We had a coffee stop after the ride, before taking the car back to Nerja, and as always, I need to eat after a ride (everyone does). A recovery meal of protein AND carbs (something I think a lot of people, talking about recovery meals and proteins, forgets to mention, but proteins are better absorbed combined with carbs – and you also need the carbs).

Veleta ride
From the Veleta ride.

I ordered a sandwich and got a GIANT one. The guys were laughing at me, and talking long about not eating anything themselves, but when tapas was served at the table (it is normal to get free tapas with your drink in Spanish bars) they ate it all, ha-ha. But I am used to having comments on the amount I consume on and off the bike, so I don’t care. And hey, I don’t look this good by not eating 😉

Tapas
I do love food!

Epic Ride to Trevélez

The second Saturday, we were heading towards Trevélez and this time on the bike from Nerja, which made it a ride of more than 200 kilometers and 3.000 elevation meters.

CC Narixa Trevélez
Early birds to Trevélez.

We started early at 7:15 on a beautiful morning. Me and a handful of Narixa guys. The first 40-50 kilometers were very familiar. The coastline to Salobreña and then into the mountains. I was saving energy for the climb which was up and down for around 30 kilometers. Not knowing the climb made me stay in zone 3 to be sure not to blow up, but when we reached the top I felt a bit too fresh. The climbing was long, but not steep and very beautiful and HOT!

Trevélez ride
From the Trevélez ride

We had to stop several times to fill our bottles and thank God for all the fountains (or maybe just the nature/people who put them there). At one water stop Carlos wanted me to taste the water while he was looking. I thought it was a bit weird, but I did and I almost spitted it out again. He was laughing! The water was sparkling and tasted a bit like a fart because it was ionized somehow. Very weird and I didn’t like it.

Fuente Agria
Fuente Agria with the weird water.

The level in our group was very different, so while waiting for the others, we sought shadow under umbrellas belonging to a few stalls. They were selling dried fruits and other good stuff and we were offered to taste, so I had figs, honey-roasted sesame seeds and almonds. Yummy!

Trevélez ride
Seeking shadow on the way to Trevélez.

When we reached the top of the climb and the small town, Trevélez, it was 40 degrees and time for lunch. This time we all had a big sandwich and loads of Coca-Colas! No one was talking about not eating and for once I think I ate the least. Mostly because I had been eating throughout the ride, so I didn’t need that much extra, and because I don’t like to ride with my stomach too full.

Lunch in Trevélez
Lunch in Trevélez. I also had a sandwich, was just waiting for it, so don’t worry 😉

The downhill took about an hour and my bottle were full at the beginning. But the warm weather, a 40 degrees wind in the face, and probably too much salt in the jamón sandwich, made me drink both bottles before reaching the bottom and I was still very thirsty!

Trevélez ride
From the Trevélez ride.

There was no fountain or gas station or anywhere to get drinks before reaching the main road, so I was a critical point getting more and more dry in my mouth. My lips were so dry that they glued together, and I could only think of getting fast to liquid.

Drinks
Couldn’t get enough drinks!

When we finally stopped at a gas station I bought 1,5 liters of water, a can of coke and an Aquarius. I filled my bottles (1 liter) and drank the rest (1,33 liters) before getting back on the bike. After that I was flying, and we went full gas for the last 40-50 kilometers home.

Trevélez ride
Beautiful sights on the Trevélez ride.

Maybe a bit too fast, because we ended up being only three passing the Nerja sign together, but it was good for me to use all my saved energy from the climb.

I really enjoyed being back, riding with friends, seeing new places and recharge the batteries for the last part of the season. I hope to be back soon, but right now my focus is on racing.

Trevélez ride
Remember to have fun!

Tour of Reykjavik 2018

Tour of Reykjavik 2018

I’m back home in sunny Copenhagen and have just finished a ride on my time trial bike in 26 degrees. A big contrast to the last days in Iceland with less than 10 degrees.

Team Integra Advokater – Giant was once again invited to join this spectacular race in the north. You can read about the tour of 2017 here. This year five of the guys and three of the girls were ready to race Tour of Reykjavik.

Iceland
The Icelandic nature.

I went to Iceland one day earlier than the rest of the team because of sold out seats with WOW Air on the plane, so on Wednesday I went to the airport after only four days home. This month has been crazy with travelling. I have been out of home 17 days out of the last 26 days starting with my trip to Stockholm and Tour of Uppsala in the beginning of May.

Day ONE

Well, I landed in Keflavik Airport at 14:00 local time (Iceland is two hours behind Danish time in the summer and one hour in the winter – because they don’t use daylight summer time). I thought my bike case was lost, but they found it between the “transfer bags”. Then I took the bus to Reykjavik and was picked up by our host who lived in Kópavogur.

Iceland ride
Smiling the cold away 😉

I unpacked my bike and went for a ride, but I still haven’t found my inner compass, so of course I was lost a few times. The weather was cold and grey, and I was not happy with having to wear my winter kit again, but it was nice with some serious hills, a different and beautiful scenery and company by a lot of Icelandic horses. I love their special gait.

Icelandic horses
Icelandic horses are the only horses allowed in Iceland.
Day TWO

Thursday, I wanted to go for ride ending downtown Reykjavik for a coffee and a snack. It was not easy getting there! The thing about Iceland is that they do have paths for cyclists, but they don’t follow the road for cars and they split several times along the way, so it’s very different to figure out the direction. In the end I succeeded and had a happy coffee stop with myself.

Coffee Reykjavik
The best cappuccino foam ever!

In the afternoon the rest of the team arrived. While they went for a ride, I made dinner. And when they got back, I was somewhat delighted to hear, that I was not the only one having trouble getting around in Iceland.

Iceland
A cycling path in Iceland.
Day THREE

Tour of Reykjavik started on Friday with a stage of 125 kilometers at 18:00 in the evening. This time of the year it never really gets dark because the sunset is around midnight and sun rises again around 03:00.

Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja

The unfortunate thing about the late start was that it was difficult for us to do sightseeing. Iceland is a big island of 103.000 square meters (with 10% covered by glacier) and 334.000 inhabitants (120.000 of them living in Reykjavik) and we didn’t have the time to go on a road trip. Instead we went downtown Reykjavik, looked at the streets, the church ‘Hallgrimskirkja’ and had a coffee and a snack at a local bakery.

Reykjavik
Downtown Reykjavik

But let’s get back to the race…

The start was from the city center and we were divided into groups of Men A, Women A, Men B and Women B. We had to stay in our groups for the master but after that drafting was allowed. We were only nine women in the A-class so even though I think it doesn’t make a fair race with drafting, it wouldn’t have been a race anyway with a peloton of only nine riders.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
Ready for stage 1 of Tour of Reykjavik

Almost all information was in Icelandic and I had no clue of how long the master would be. It took 45 minutes! And the car leading the master was not used to the job as he kept speeding up and hitting the breaks hard.

When the race was finally set free (as we say in Danish) we were quickly overtaken by the Men’s B-class. None of the women did anything, so I said to my team mate, Katrine, that we should just stay with the other women and race without the men.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018

But the second I had finished my sentence, a woman passed me to follow the men. “Screw it!” I thought and followed, passed and kept jumping from wheel to wheel, closing gaps for groups further ahead until I made it to a group of men where I was not able to go faster alone.

It took me a lot of effort and I didn’t have any of the other women with me, so I decided to stay in this group. But then there was a long hill and I couldn’t follow the men. “Damn it!”

I tried to close the gap, but I couldn’t and after some time alone I had company from behind by a group of men including my team manager, David. I was happy to see him but unfortunately, he told me that one of the other women was also in the group now. Double “damn it!”

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
David, my race partner in crime, and me after stage 1.

David and I decided to make it a race and tried to get rid of both the other men and the woman. David set the pace high several times to make the others tired. We counterattacked each other and used the crosswinds, but every time we had a little gap, the men paced the woman back. I was starting to get tired of all the attacks, but David kept pushing and finally, after about an hour of trying, we made the final and conclusive gap.

We were then on our own for more than an hour overtaking a few single riders on our way. No one could follow David’s pace and I also struggled a bit, making me able to only take a few leads. I was constantly afraid of being caught by the woman behind me. She was with three men when we made the gap, so it was two against four.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018

When we reached the famous climb, Nesjavallabrekkan, which was a 3 kilometers climb of 7% in average peaking on 23%, I was so tired I felt I was standing still and would have given my right arm for a 32 cassette instead of my 28, but 36/28 gearing had to do the job to the top. I talked and complained all the way up just to focus on something else than the pain in my legs.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
I really needed water on the top of the climb!

I reached the top first of the women and was therefore rewarded Queen of the Mountain (QOM).

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
I was awarded QOM together with the KOM.

After the climb and descent, it was a little up and down and a whole lot of boring straight with only a giant water pipe to look at. The wind was quite strong, so I was happy that we caught a group after the descent.

But I was still afraid of being caught from behind, so I told David, that I thought the group was a bit too slow. As a result, David went to the front with me on his wheel. A few minutes later we had dropped the group. We were again alone for some time until we reached another group of three riders that was riding an acceptable pace and we established a great teamwork.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
Still smiling post race at 22:00.

It was not until now I discovered that the route was changed to 116 kilometers instead of 125, but it made me relax according to getting caught and I could see an end to my suffering. I had pushed myself to the limit several times and I was very happy that David made sure I came through safely.

I crossed the finish line as a lonely majesty with my arms in the air almost seven minutes in front of number two. And after the finish I was interviewed and felt like a pro for a few minutes.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
Winners of stage 1

We were back at the house and having dinner around 23:00 and I couldn’t sleep until 3:00 at night but woke up next day at 7:00. Not optimal for another race day.

Day FOUR

We went to a swimming pool before stage 2 on Saturday. Iceland is filled with hot springs and their swimming pools have several outside jacuzzies. I tried one with 42-44 degrees warm water and that was hot! But it was nice to heat up the body in the cold and relax the muscles.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
Calm before the storm.

Race start was again in downtown Reykjavik. The course was only 12,5 kilometers and we had to go four laps. The last two kilometers was a bit technical with a few corners, cobblestones, bumps and one narrow road. The rest was easy, flat and wide roads. There was headwind and tailwind, and no one would or could get away from the bunch.

I sat in a big group of men with most of the other women. I had no reason to be offensive since I was the race leader and my closest opponent apparently didn’t want to try to get time on me, so it was a very boring race. I decided to help my two team mates just to do something and I wanted to ride our Icelandic rider, Kristin Edda, to victory on home soil.

Winners of stage 2

In the final things got hectic and in a group with a lot of amateurs there is almost guarantee for a crash. People around me started to ride into each other and I thought “there will be a crash soon” and then it happened in the front.

One rider down and the domino-effect took place. Riders were falling on both sides of me and I started to hit the brakes but then I thought of the many riders behind me and miraculously I found a way through the bikes and riders on the ground without crashing myself.

Tour of Reykjavik 2018
2nd man and woman on stage 2 (we didn’t knew when the photo was taken)

Only a few riders did the same but luckily also Kristin Edda, so I pedaled hard and told her to stay on my wheel. She did until the last few hundred meters and then switched to a man’s wheel before sprinting and crossing the line as the winner. I came in second. Our team mate, Katrine, was caught behind the crash but still managed to get a 4th place.

Overall podium for A women.

As a team we took the overall win in both the Men A and Women A category. We also took the overall 3rd place in both genders and took four stage wins besides my QOM. Our team manager took the overall win in the men’s B category as well as two stage wins and the win in his age-group. He was on fire! And maybe in category A next time.

Overall podium for A men.

The prize ceremony took forever (almost two hours of freezing) so it was too late to go home and shower before dinner, and we went straight from podium to eating burgers and lots of fries. The complex 10 kilometers ride back to the house with full stomachs and a hilly, rainy course was interesting.

Back at the house we celebrated further with packing and midnight tea and cake.

Day FIVE

We had to leave for the airport at 4:00 in the morning, so again I only had three hours of sleep. I took two hours more on the plane and didn’t sleep more that day. Last night I made up for it with 11 hours in bed!

Billedresultat for island flag

Fun fact about the Icelandic flag: red symbolizes the volcano fire, white symbolizes the ice and the glaciers while the blue symbolizes the sky above and the Atlantic Ocean.

Cykling med vind, sne og veteranbiler

Nerja Costa del Sol

Jeg har cyklet til toppen af Puerto del Sol endnu en gang. Sidst var i december og jeg husker det som en kold og hård omgang, men det kan du selv læse om her.

No hay dolor
“Der er ingen smerte” står der på vejen op til Puerto del Sol

Anderledes fra sidst skulle vi denne gang ikke bare op og ned, men videre fra toppen til Alfarnate og hjem over Zafarraya (den tur, jeg var blevet lovet tilbage i december).

CC Narixa squad
Lørdagsholdet

På grund af det kolde vejr havde vi udskudt starten til kl. 9, men det var stadig bidende koldt med helt ned til 4 grader og strid modvind hele vejen til Alfarnate.

Photo bomb
Aldrig sur på tur!

Vi var overraskende mange på en lørdag og jeg havde derfor selskab af syv mænd. Til en forandring virkelig dejligt at være flere om at få vind på snuden. Især når der virkelig blev blæst igennem, som der gør disse dage på Costa del Sol.

Puerto del Sol climb
På vej mod Puerto del Sol

Den sidste uge har jeg haft problemer med mit Di2 batteri. Det mister strøm lynhurtigt og jeg kan ikke finde ud af hvorfor. Jeg er i dialog med flere mekanikere samt Shimano, så håber snart, vi finder en løsning. Indtil da kører jeg rundt med oplader og power bank, hvilket ikke er optimalt, men det virker.

CC Narixa Zafarraya
Ham til venstre er englænder, så ved du det 🙂

Denne morgen var det så min pulsmåler, der voldte mig problemer. Det var selvfølgelig muligt, at jeg slet ingen puls havde, meeen jeg mente nu, at det var batteriet, så drengene var søde til at vente imens jeg skiftede det (og ja, jeg kører altid rundt med ekstra batterier).

Cykling og mad
Måske uden puls, men aldrig uden mad!

Lige lidt hjalp det dog og jeg måtte frustreret fortsætte dagen uden puls. På den positive side, så kunne jeg ikke se, hvor meget jeg anstrengte mig. Det er imponerende, hvor afhængig man bliver af data. Mit humør sank på grund af den lille detalje (nok også fordi det kom oveni problemerne med min cykel) og det ødelagde lidt glæden ved en ellers fantastisk cykeldag.

Dunke cykling
Fylder flasker på vejen op. Selvom det er under 10 grader, drikker jeg 2-3 liter på en lang tur (5+ timer)

Nå, men jeg kunne ikke helt huske turen op til Puerto del Sol, men den føltes noget lettere end sidste gang. Jeg er også blevet et par kilo lettere, men forhåbentlig også stærkere.

Puerto del Sol Nerja
Der var koldt på toppen!

På toppen lå der sne. Jeg havde ikke forventet at se sne denne vinter, men ak, der lå den hvid og fin i små klatter rundt omkring.

Puerto del Sol CC Narixa
Carlos var så begejstret, at han skulle smage på sneen.

Vi tog et hurtigt billede (det hele skal jo dokumenteres) og så ellers videre, for det var for koldt at stå stille i knap 1100 meters højde.

Alazores
Et sted jeg ikke tror, jeg har været før.

Turen til Alfarnate var rullende bakker og en enkelt kort stigning. Landskabet var virkelig fint og der var stort set ikke andre end os. Stilheden og naturen omkring os gjorde det hele værd, selvom jeg på dette tidspunkt ikke kunne mærke min næse af bare kulde.

Kaffe Alfarnate
Kaffe på café i Alfarnate

I den lille bjergby fik vi en hurtig kaffe at varme os på og så fortsatte vi ellers videre til Zafarraya. Der lå stadig sne til begge sider og Sierra Nevada kom også til synes undervejs. Jeg elsker, når man kan se de sneklædte bjerge i baggrunden.

Veranbiler Alfarnate
Der kørte en masse flotte veteranbiler forbi.

På et tidspunkt, på den ellers så fredelige landevej, blev vi overhalet af den ene veteranbil efter den anden. De kom i alle farver og former og tøffede roligt derudad. Hvor de skulle hen ved jeg ikke, men fine det var de.

View Periana
Smuk udsigt fra Periana.

Da vi ramte Zafarraya fik vi endelig medvind og jeg besluttede mig for at give den fuld hammer ned for at få QOM. Nedkørslen er 11,4 kilometer med et fald på 6% og et par hårnålesving undervejs. Tiden jeg skulle slå var 13:16 minutter svarende til et snit på 51,7 km/t.

Granada provinsen
Nerja ligger i Málaga provinsen, så vi var langt væk hjemmefra.

Til mit held var der ikke mange biler og kun en enkelt gang måtte jeg overhale en af dem. Jeg kastede cyklen rundt i svingende, bremsede kun i sidste øjeblik og trådte alt hvad jeg kunne på de lige stykker. Jeg kørte til grænsen, men sørgede også for at holde godt øje med eventuelle forhindringer længere fremme.

CC Narixa lørdag
Jeg fik QOM! Det vidste jeg dog ikke på dette tidspunkt 😉

Det bar frugt og jeg kom ned på 12:42 minutter med et snit på 54 km/t og en ny krone til samlingen. Tjek! Når jeg ser på mine tider fra dengang, jeg var bange for nedkørsler, tog det mig mere end 16 minutter at nå fra top til bund, så det er noget af en forbedring 😀

Sne Zafarraya
Der lå sne rundt omkring, men heldigvis ikke på vejen.

Tilbage i Nerja tog vi en sjælden tapas. Det vil egentlig sige, at man får sig noget at drikke, for hernede er der næsten altid en tapas gratis med til hver drink.

CC Narixa
Jeg elsker at cykle i det smukke landskab, Spanien byder på.

Hjemme gik jeg i gang med at fejlsøge min pulsmåler og faldt over en YouTube video, hvor man skulle ”kortslutte” enheden. Så det gjorde jeg og vupti, så havde jeg puls igen! Jeg fatter det ikke, men det virkede.

Granada provinsen
Et sted i Spanien…
Søndag

Dagen efter stod jeg op til våde veje på grund af nattens regn. Det var stadig under 10 grader og blæsende, så vi var kun tre, der var mødt frem til CC Narixa søndagsturen.

Puerto del Sol stigningen
Fra lørdagens tur til Puerto del Sol. Søndag kørte jeg til Cómpeta.

Spanierne er ikke så glade for våde veje og i dag fandt jeg ud af hvorfor. Mit baghjul skred i en våd rundkørsel, der skete dog ikke noget, og hjulet tog også et ekstra spin, da jeg ville rejse mig op på et vådt stejlt stykke. Derfor tog vi det også helt stille og roligt, når det gik nedad.

Turen var ikke noget at skrive hjem om, så det vil jeg spare jer for 🙂

Lørdagstur til Dronningen (La Reina)

La Reina cykling

Lørdag er efterhånden blevet ”prøv ny cykelrute” dagen og i går var ingen undtagelse. Carlos havde først foreslået 180 km., meeen der måtte jeg alligevel gå i forhandling omkring distancen. Ikke fordi jeg ikke ville køre så langt, men min træner syntes det var på tide at trække lidt i bremsen.

Team Integra Advokater - Giant
Formen er god og stigninger bliver hele tiden lettere at erobre.

Jeg har kørt en del lange og hårde ture på det sidste, så jeg skal passe på ikke at nå et punkt, hvor jeg skader mere end jeg gaver. Lige nu går det fremad med formen og det skal det helst fortsætte med.

CC Narixa
Gary og Carlos i front.

Carlos og jeg fandt derfor et kompromis på 130 relativt flade kilometer med en enkelt stigning på 15,4 km. og et gennemsnit på 5,5%. Stigningen hed ’La Reina’ (Dronningen) og lå i 900 meters højde.

La Reina top
Toppen af La Reina.
Lørdag morgen

Vejret var slået om igen og imens jeg spiste morgenmad kunne jeg høre vinden suse og se træerne svaje voldsomt fra side til side. Jeg gispede lidt ved tanken om kastevinde og bidende kulde, men jeg er jo trods alt fra et land, hvor det aaaaltiiiid blæser (i hvert fald på Amager), så jeg tænkte ”hvor slemt kan det være?”.

La Reina tunnel
Man kommer igennem en fin tunnel på vejen til La Reina.

Da jeg kørte afsted var jeg nær aldrig kommet ud af porten til min bygning. Det blæste så meget, at jeg måtte lægge hele min kropsvægt i for at få porten op. På vej ned til tanken kunne jeg så konstatere, at der ikke var mere strøm på min Di2 (elektroniske gear). Jeg tjekker ofte batteristatus, men den gik fra grønt lys (masser af strøm) til TOTAL tom fra den ene dag til den anden – jeg forstod det ikke. Men jeg måtte køre hjem og hente oplader samt power bank, som jeg så kunne have i baglommen, imens batteriet ladede op.

Di2 taber strøm
Min Di2 løb hele tiden tør for strøm, så jeg måtte sætte den til en power bank.

Temperaturen var faktisk ikke så slem som frygtet, men jeg var også godt pakket ind. Desværre var vi kun tre til dagens tur (Carlos, Gary og mig), så det var svært at få læ på hjul. Især fordi vinden kom fra alle retninger. Jeg var ikke helt sikker på hvorfor, men Carlos og Gary ville stoppe på en café allerede efter fem kvarter, så der drak vi turens første kaffe. Måske håbede de, at vinden ville lægge sig. Det gjorde den ikke. Overhovedet.

Kaffestop La Reina
Kaffestop på toppen af La Reina
La Reina

Vi kom på cyklerne igen og der skete ikke det store, før vi ramte Málaga og dagens stigning. Jeg havde ikke kørt den før og jeg havde besluttet på forhånd, at jeg uanset hvad ville tage den med ro. Til mit held var Carlos træt og småsyg og Gary ude af form, så der var ingen til at presse mig over evne og jeg kunne køre i mit eget tempo hele vejen op med Carlos til at lege fotograf. Men han leger faktisk ikke, for han er fotograf og så giver alle billederne pludselig meget mere mening.

Carlos Gallego fotograf
Carlos er vel efterhånden min personlige fotograf 😉

Stigningen startede med tocifrede procenter, men fladede hurtigt ud og var i lange stræk kun 2-4%. De sidste par kilometer blev den dog stejl igen med op til 16%. Den var utrolig flot og der var overraskende få biler, så man kunne virkelig nyde naturen og stilheden. Til gengæld var der virkelig mange andre ryttere på både racer og MTB. Sidstnævnte i mange tilfælde med motor på cyklen, så det var lidt provokerende, når de kom lallende forbi i høj fart.

La Reina MTB
Længere fremme kan man se de MTB ryttere, der overhalede os pga. motor på cyklen.

På toppen lå der en lille café, hvor vi fik endnu en kaffe. Jeg havde svedt en del, så da jeg havde siddet stille lidt begyndte jeg at fryse voldsomt meget! Der var også kun omkring 8 grader og jeg så ikke frem til den kolde tur ned. Men hvad der kommer op, må også komme ned, så der var ingen vej udenom. På med vindvesten, helt op med buff’en og afsted.

La Reina sving
Et af de mere stejle steder på La Reina stigningen.
Ned og hjem

Det var en vildt fed nedkørsel, hvis man ser bort fra kulden. God vejbelægning, ingen trafik og bløde sving. Eneste minus var vinden og det gjorde drengene lidt nervøse, så jeg overhalede og trådte til. Jeg havde i uendelig lang tid forsøgt at slå min egen max fart, som lå på 74 km/t, men noget i min krop havde trukket i bremsen, hver gang jeg rundede de 70 km/t – indtil nu. På et godt langt og stejlt stykke kiggede jeg på min Garmin og kunne se, at jeg var virkelig tæt på min rekord, så jeg trådte alt hvad jeg kunne. Der kom desværre et sving længere fremme, så jeg nåede ikke højere end 79 km/t denne gang.

Defekt CC Narixa
På vej ned fik Carlos defekt, men det blev hurtigt fikset.

Jeg bliver stadig overrasket over, hvor frygtløs jeg pludselig er blevet og jeg ved ikke helt, hvor det kommer fra, men det er fedt! Jeg kan heller ikke lade være med at tænke på drengene fra Amager Cykle Ring, som altid har sagt ”slip nu bremsen, Rikke!” og jeg glæder mig til at vise dem, at jeg godt tør nu.

Coast ride
Der skulle trædes til i vinden hjem langs kysten.

Tilbage på kysten var der igen kraftig sidevind, men Gary var koldet, så det var op til Carlos og mig at få os hjem. Heldigvis havde jeg gode ben og kunne tage nogle gode føringer. Faktisk så gode, at jeg tabte de andre på et tidspunkt – hvad sker der for det?! Men det er rart at mærke, at jeg er blevet stærkere og at rollerne indimellem byttes rundt, så det ikke altid er mig, der skal lide.

Smilende Rikke
Gary i baggrunden.
Søndag

I dag skulle jeg ud på en kort tur sammen med Marí, men jeg nåede kun at køre en time, før min di2 igen var løbet tør for strøm. Denne gang havde jeg ikke nogen power bank og der var 40 km. hjem. Det blev en underholdende tur i 36/22 med voldsomt mange omdrejninger og syre i benene.

Vektor Cycling Marí
Søndagstur med Marí, som kører på DC Ride – Vektor Cyling Team

Jeg har aldrig haft problemer med batteriet før, men nu har jeg opdateret firmwaren og håber, at det løser problemet. Næste step er nyt batteri og endnu værre, ny bagskifter, så kryds lige fingre for mig!

Du kan læse om min sidste tur, som gik til Puerto Camacho, her.