First track race of the season

Ballerup Super Arena

So, yesterday I decided to do my first track race of the season. I have never been really happy about racing on track, and a pause of two years have not made it easier. My last race you can read about here.

When I saw the start list I was ready to pull out! 26 riders on the track and me as a nervous wreck was not a great combination. I don’t even know if I have ever tried being so many on the track in the past, but this year I only had to deal with maybe half of that amount, which is more than enough for me to handle.

Ballerup Super Arena

But, I’m stubborn and a fighter, so after trying to find way too many bad excuses for not to race, I decided to at least give a try.

I warmed up on the rollers, but I was shaking so much, that I had a hard time keeping my balance, and my heart rate was blowing through the roof, even though I hardly moved.

First start was “Først til mølle” (I don’t know the English version) and I lost the fight for a front position at the barrier. Actually, I didn’t even get a position, so I had to go a lap to get back to the end of the looong line. Embarrassing much?

The start was off, and I was too afraid to do anything but stay in the back. But, nothing happened, and suddenly I saw a possibility to attack. So I did! But, I made a mistake, not sharing the lead with others, and when they passed me, I got scared and let everyone pass, so I was in the back again and stayed there for the rest of the race.

Ballerup Super Arena

Well, lesson learned and after 5 min. full gas in the wind I was more relaxed (ironically enough). I had more than an hour to get ready for the second race, Scratch. Ate something and talked with friends and fellow riders.

Second time up to the barrier I fought for a position, and ended in the middle of the bunch (already a successful race right there), wuhu!

The race went on but again, nothing happened, so I attacked and this time I tried to orientate and get people with me, but no one wanted to play. I tried many times without luck, and in the end I went out of energy. I never got back on a wheel in the bunch to relax, so I was unfortunately in the back for the last few laps.

Ballerup Super Arena

But, what a SUCCESS for my first race this season! It can be rather difficult to explain how I feel when the anxiety takes over, because it is, or looks, so easy for everyone else on the track. So, just being in the race was a big step forward, but also being able to actually try making the race (with a lot of mistakes though) was more than I had hoped for.

I still have a lot to learn, tactically, technically and most important mentally. But I am slowly getting there, and every time on the track I get more comfortable.

It was a long, but happy, ride home, and I was so tired because of getting up at 5:30 for work and being home at 21:30 from track. But, it was worth it 😀

Ballerup Super Arena

Road season 2018 is a wrap

CC Hillerød

On Wednesday evening I took my bike with the train to Jutland to visit my dad. I had two easy days on the bike and a race on Saturday, before going back home for Sunday’s race on Zealandia. It was great just to relax and ride around without heavy traffic and even enjoy a bit of hills. I did a 1-minute hill interval just for the fun of it and did a new PB! I never get tired of improvements 😉

Horsens Amateur Cycling Club

On race day, Saturday, it was raining before the start and it was freaking cold with an unpleasant breeze. Waiting for the gun to go off I was joking about getting a puncture with 10 kilometers to the finish being the worst thing that could happen. Don’t ever make jokes like that! After only 13 kilometers I had a flat and guess what? I had 10 kilometers to the finish. Doh! To my luck I passed a helper when he was about to switch with another, so I could go with him in his car. Thankfully!!

Horsens AC
Photo: mbaek.dk

It’s the flattest feeling when you prepare all day (and even the day before) to race and then have to abandon after 20-25 minutes. But the weather was bad, and I was not in the mood for a recovery spin, so I just changed my tube and watched the others racing. I had to wait for the Swedes to finish because they were giving me a ride back home.

Horsens AC
Photo: mbaek.dk

At home I needed to comfort myself, so I ate a whole bucket of Ben & Jerry’s by myself for dinner. Not a proper meal before a race but at this point I didn’t really care. Only one more race and then it was off-season.

Cycle Club Hillerød

Sunday, I didn’t feel good. Not because of the ice cream last night – haha – but like I haven’t been feeling good for the last couple of weeks. I felt tired and without energy and I was not looking forward to 106 kilometers with strong crosswinds and too many hills.

It only took about half a lap of 21 kilometers for all the women to separate from the men. The hills, the wind and the pace were too much for us girls and I ended up being in a group with five women and three men.

CC Hillerød
Photo: Claus Ljungdahl

I was hurting a lot from the beginning! On every hill and every open, windy section my legs screamed at me. I thought about quitting so many times, only because everything in my body was hurting. But the winner was to be found in my group, so I decided to just get through one lap at a time.

My mind was switching between thinking of how to do the sprint in crosswind and just being happy to finish with the group. I don’t think I have ever been so uncomfortable on the bike regarding to the feeling in my body.

With about five kilometers to the finish we were all still together in the group and I was in second position behind a fast guy. I was hoping that he would keep the pace high and stay in front the rest of the race. He did!

CC Hillerød
Last podium of 2018

On the last 1000 meters he gave me a thumb up and then I knew he was going to do a lead-out, so I got ready sticking close to his wheel. He started sprinting with a couple of hundreds of meters to go and I could pass him to take my second win in the Women’s Elite class this year. An awesome way to finish off my season after several podiums and bad luck.

I decided to ride home after the race and ended up doing 166 kilometers in total. I was toast the rest of the day!

The end of another season

I was supposed to race next weekend also, but my body is tired, and I think it’s better for me to give it a break now. Instead, I’m all in on strength training, maybe doing some yoga and eating whatever I feel like (like I always do 😉 ). I also want to practice on the velodrome this winter, so I will use some time feeling comfortable on it again after my crash two years ago.

DM Omnium 2016
My last race on the track was in 2016.

But, to sum up this season I have development tremendous on every level. My physical fitness is better, but more important is my mental fitness improvement. And no crash or injuries this season! Except for a bruised rib, but it didn’t prevent me from riding.

Last year I struggled with being in the peloton, with cornering and with believing in myself. This year I have no problem with the peloton and my cornering is pretty good. The only thing that can still be a challenge is the positioning when things get hectic or technical. I will solve that puzzle also 😉

I can look back on two wins and five podiums in the Danish races. I am the overall winner of Tour of Reykjavik 2018. I have raced my first UCI race with Tour of Uppsala (UCI 2.2) and done my first Kermesse races (1.15) in Belgium. I am also double Club Champion (time trial and road race) in 2018 and even though these are not big achievements, I still need to remind myself how far I have come and that small successes are also successes and allowed to be happy about. Even my win in my first Zwift race I’m happy about 🙂

CC Hillerød
Photo: Claus Ljungdahl

I look forward to what the 2019 season will bring, and to work with a new coach. I have been with Power Perfection for the last two years and Magnus has helped me a lot and made me a lot stronger. But sometimes you just need to ‘shake the bag’ (as we say in Danish) and try something new, get a new focus and try other things, so you don’t get lazy or too convenient 🙂

Thanks to Team Integra Advokater – Giant for a great year, and to our sponsors for making it happen 😀

Integra Advokater
VUF Frederiksberg
Gaia Sport Danmark
Ama’r Cykelservice
A.P. Køleservice
XTREME Team Wear
ConWx
Touch Grafisk
Bak Optics
Giant Bicycles
ncm project
Richardt & Mejer Watches
WOW Cyclothon
Verisure
Amager Cykle Ring
Frederiksberg Bane- og Landevejsklub

A month of racing

Vitamin Well Frederiksbergløbet

Since I raced in Sweden, after the Summer break, it has almost been a month until my next race due to cancelled races and weddings to attend. The races in Sweden didn’t go super well, but you can read about it yourself here. In this blog post I will tell you about the last month of races I have done, having only two weeks left of the season. Time flies!

Vitamin Well Frederiksberg crit

I started with a crit race the day after a wedding, so I was not at all feeling strong at all – and I was very tired because I didn’t sleep much. It was a strange race because we were put together with Men 60 and Women B, which is a very unusual combination.

Vitamin Well Frederiksbergløbet
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

On the first lap I sat talking with one of the men in the middle of the group when we hit the famous hill “Valby Bakke”, short but steep. Four girls went away, and I thought “God damn it, already?!” but I had to try to go with them, so I put in a strong effort and managed to close the gap not taking the peloton with me. Then I thought “damn it, now it is going to be a tough day” – haha. Luckily it was only 50 minutes of racing, but it was 50 minutes full gas and nothing less than nine times up the hill.’

Vitamin Well Frederiksbergløbet
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

On the last lap I went in front and fast up the hill to make sure no one could attack. I was confident in my sprint, so I wanted us to stay together. We were down to four in the breakaway with two from the same team. I was in third position on the finish and thought it was perfect. I thought the leading rider would pull out because she led us more than half a lap and had a team mate behind me, but she didn’t and when number two started her sprint I followed to get a lead out. Unfortunately, she stayed side by side with the other rider, so I couldn’t pass and had to go around the other way when it was too late, so I had to settle with second. A bit frustrating being less than half a wheel from victory.

Vitamin Well Frederiksbergløbet
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle
HFCK road race

In this race it was time to join the Men C again. I was a bit nervous because I haven’t been able to stay with the group this year. But I had nothing to worry about. Yes, it was damn hard at times, and I had my moments of crisis. I tried to stay in front, but I went up and down all the time.

HFCKs åbne landevejsløb
Photo: Tommy Kjærulff Eriksen

On the final lap I had some help from a guy from my local club. He brought me to the front and did a lead-out for me. Unfortunately, he pulled out too soon and when the other guys started sprinting they boxed me in and I came in second, again. The good thing about racing with the men is the speed and bigger peloton. The bad thing is the sprint.

HFCKs åbne landevejsløb

CK Fix crit

I was hoping that third time was a charm doing another crit, women only, but being up against five riders from the same team out of nine (Women A) it wasn’t easy. I tried to close all their attacks, but in the end one rider went on a solo breakaway. Then I, together with a Swedish girl, could use the rest of the race leading the chasing group consisting of her three team mates. Boring!

CK Fix gadeløb
Photo: Claus Ljungdahl

With only four laps to go I had a puncture and I didn’t bring a spare wheel, so I was rolling to the finish. I saw one of my male team mates and asked for his wheel, since we were allowed one lap of respites. I just managed to change the wheel before my group was back and I could rejoin them.

CK Fix gadeløb
Photo: Claus Ljungdahl

I made a stupid decision on the last lap that forced me to take the front on the final meters with headwind, so I only sprinted to 4th or 5th place. But it didn’t matter because I was disqualified for not changing my wheel on the correct spot. My first DSQ ever, woops.

Slaget vid Lund road race

Next up was the last race in Sweden this year. It was early morning and very cold. My motivation was not the highest and we had to race with Men D and Men 50 which is also a very unusual combination.

It had been raining so the roads were a bit wet and I didn’t know the course on beforehand. Suddenly I felt like a did a lot last year, anxious and insecure in cornering on wet roads. Combined with a strong sidewind I quickly had to close a giant gap and after that I was game over. My legs were hurting and my mind even more.

I decided to go a few laps on my own, but then DNF to save energy for the race next day. Very disappointed in myself, but my mind is my biggest challenge and I can still have an off-day. Everyone can. Today was just one of these days where both mind and body wouldn’t work my way.

Mogens Lind VVS road race

The next day was a race on home ground and a very familiar course. Back with the Men C and only a light breeze on a flat lap made it a fast day. I wasn’t really in the mood for racing and a bit nervous to do another DNF, but still I wanted to win badly. Mixed emotions much?

Mogens Lind VVS Løbet
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

Well, it was easy to sit in the peloton most of the time and despite of a lot of attacks no one got away for real. I felt tired in the beginning but made sure to stay in the front the whole time. A good decision because a crash split the group early on. At the end I felt better, and I even tried to follow a breakaway – without luck though.

Mogens Lind VVS Løbet
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

On the last lap I made sure to stay in top 10 but with everyone making it home together it was a chaotic bunch sprint with men and women together and tailwind on the long finish. I followed the stream and tried to find a good wheel. But I made a bad choice because just before the line (going 63 km/h) my wheel stopped pedaling and I came in second – again! God damn it! I was very angry afterwards, but I was also happy that yesterday’s mental breakdown was gone, and I felt good in the peloton again.

Mogens Lind VVS Løbet
The sprint – can you spot me? Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

Zwift Racing

Zwift Academy

Today I did my first Zwift race ever, and I want to share my experience with you.

I started zwifting in the beginning of August, because it is a requirement to be in the competition for the Zwift Academy, where you can be very lucky to win a pro contract. With more than 4000 riders joining the academy the chance is small, but the possibility is there 😊

Anyway, I started with only doing Zwift because I had to (I used to hate indoor cycling) to now doing it because I enjoy it! That surprised me big time. But I think it’s because I didn’t really know what Zwift was.

When I found out that it is not just pedaling the pedals and looking at a screen, but also having a lot of features, a community and awesome (really hard) workouts, I fell in looove (kind of) 😉

Before the race

Yesterday, I had decided not to race this morning, because I was tired from a hard race on Tuesday and a hard club training yesterday with only having 12 hours to recover. But then I thought I might as well try and if it didn’t go well I could do another when I was fresher.

As with most things in my life I like to be prepared. So, before my first race I read every article I could find on how to do a Zwift race. I read about how to race, how to start a race, how to get an edge, racing tips, drafting, power-ups, the supertruck, breakaways, position and w/kg.

I also did a good 30 minutes warm up on the course of the race to know it well and see if there were any parts better for attacking than others. Finally, I made sure to have enough water and a bottle with energy by my side.

Photo

The race

It was a women only race on the Volcano Crit CCW and seven laps. I was ready for a fast start when the race began, but I guess that is more often in the men’s or mixed races because it didn’t happen and off I went too fast – haha. I slowed down and the group stayed together for a short while. It felt a lot like the races I do IRL where everybody awaits someone to make the first attack.

I think we were around 15 riders on the start line (A and B riders together), but we quickly ended in a group of six (don’t remember exactly) which went further down to two at one point. Not with serious attacks, only higher speed now and then.

I don’t know what happened, but suddenly I had a gap with three laps to go and then I decided to keep pushing. My fellow rider closed the gap, but the benefit of Zwift is that you can see the w/kg of your competitors, so I imagined she was a bit tired after closing me and then I did something clever (at least I think it was and it worked).

Photo

I lowered my speed a little, so she thought she could have a break (I figured she needed one after that push) and as soon as she was close I pushed hard one more time. She couldn’t hang on and I kept pushing until I had a 10 seconds advantage. Then I focused on staying on or above her w/kg. When I reached an advantage of 30 seconds I didn’t think she would be able to catch me, so I focused on my own race to the finish line and finished my first race with my first win. If you are interested, the results can be seen on Zwiftpower.

My plan from the beginning was to stay in the group and save energy for the last or second last lap and then try to attack. I’m not the fastest sprinter, so I like to attack far out. The “attack” came earlier than I wanted, but I could hold it to the end, so it was good training and nice that my tactic worked.

In the race I used the power-ups I had: Lightweight (reduce you weight for 30 seconds), Draft Boost (opponents provide the draft of a white van for 30 seconds) and Aero Boost (improved aerodynamics for 30 seconds). I can improve my use of them, and I forgot how the trunk worked, so I made a big mistake and was close to losing the front, because I stopped pedaling. I managed to get back quickly though.

I’m already looking forward to the next Zwift race! I’m considering a hilly one and since I’m not a climber, it will be a challenge, and to race clever will be even more important. But first I have a crit IRL on Sunday, so I better keep my feet up now 😉

Ride on, women!

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.