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!

A weekend of racing in Sweden

Elisedals GP

Last Friday, only two days after returning from two weeks solo “training camp” in Spain, I packed my bags once again at headed towards Sweden. I went for a weekend of racing and to get the second half of the season started. It had been exactly four weeks without racing and I was looking forward to pin on my numbers again.

Malmø sightseeing

I had my mother (and her dog) with me as chauffeur, motivational encourager and helper. Even though she knows very little of racing, she did a good job and we also had time to do some sightseeing in Lund and Malmö.

Friday – Höllviken GP

I started the weekend with an evening street race in Höllviken. We were around 30 women from Denmark and Sweden competing together, and we had to race 45 minutes plus three laps on a 1,5 kilometers course.

Höllviken GP

I had a bad start, as someone in front of me had problems getting started, so with three corners in the first few hundred meters, I started with having to close a big gap. When I did, in less than a lap, there were already two riders in a breakaway.

Unfortunately, is was two riders from Team Rytger (they were seven riders and way outnumbered) so the front was blocked and every attempt on pursuit or attack was closed.

Höllviken GP

I tried to get away a few times, but if I had a gap, I lost it again in the corners. I don’t know why, but even though I rode 30 minutes on the course before the start, and I knew there was only one sharp corner, I doubt myself in races and use the brakes way too much. So stupid!

I also placed myself badly in the bunch sprint and came in as #17. A bit disappointed, but at least I know what I did wrong for next race.

Höllviken GP

Saturday – Ringeloppet

I didn’t sleep well or enough, so I was very tired on Saturday morning. The race this day started at 10:05 in Hököpinge Kirkby and I wanted to be there at least one hour before. But somehow, I miscounted and suddenly at around 9:00, still being at the hotel, I realized that we should have been on our way 30 minutes ago! I panicked, found my mom and off we went in a hurry!

Elisedals GP

Luckily, I ALWAYS pack and get all my things ready for racing the night before, which is crucial when things like this happens. We made it with less than 30 minutes to spare, but I had time to register, visit the toilet and do a few minutes of warm up.

When the race started I was very stressed, my legs were tired and my motivation not good, so I sat in the back of the peloton, trying to get into race mode.

We were 46 riders (elite and juniors together) and we were looking forward to 88 flat and non-technical kilometers on a 11 kilometers long lap.

Elisedals GP

It was burning hot and a little windy. The pace was high and when we got to the section with sidewind the peloton split, and I was sitting in the wrong half (stupid).

When I realized what was happening in front of me, I passed a few riders and tried to close the gap. I don’t know how many we were in the chasing group, but we managed to get back to the front group. I used A LOT of energy on that move, so I tried to recover in the back. When we got to the sidewind the second time, the peloton split again and once again I was in the wrong half (how stupid can I be?).

Elisedals GP

This time I didn’t have the energy to close the gap again. I tried, but it was game over. I ended in a group of five or six riders, but we were only two willing to do the hard work. The others helped now and then, but mostly just sat on the wheel. Maybe they didn’t have the power, but I really didn’t understand why everyone was not contributing. It was not like we were going for victory, but only a top 20 or so.

With a few laps to go we were accompanied from behind by a big group of riders. I had thought we were the last ones, but apparently not. At first, I thought “cool, more people to do the work”, but haha, fooled again. They all just hided in the back with one taking a short lead now and then.

Elisedals GP

Then I thought “we are a big group now, but I think I am the strongest here, so at least I want to win the sprint” (me making new goals along the way, trying to keep up motivation).

With the ‘win’ in mind, and clever from damage (as we say in Danish) I decided not to take a single lead on the last lap. No matter how low the pace would go, and I was certainly challenged on that, I had to keep calm and patient.

Of course, one of the riders who had not contributed at all took a leap of faith and tried to escape the group on the last lap. I got so angry that I immediately closed her and told her NOT to do that again. She obeyed.

Elisedals GP

But then another tried her luck in the last kilometer or so and I was hoping for someone else to close her. To my luck three riders went for her and I followed them, but I could quickly see that they wouldn’t catch her, so I had to help.

When I took the front only one could stay in my wheel, but I needed to take some air one last time, so I got her to take the front again. After a short break I fired my last shot to reach the rider in front and I got rid of my following rider in the move. But I missed the rider in front by maybe one meter. Afterwards I found out that she was a junior rider, so I didn’t even have to catch her since we were not competing for the same points.

Elisedals GP

After the race I was a bit angry at myself. I was tactical stupid that day and I payed big time! But again, I learned and know how not to do it now 😉

Sunday – Elisedals GP

It was my last time to shine on Sunday and the race was a short criterium of 32 kilometers on a very easy 1,7 kilometers course with six soft corners. We were around 30 starters and I finished 18th in the bunch sprint (I was not sprinting) and we raced with an average of 40 km/h on another hot day!

Elisedals GP

The race had a lot of intermediate sprints which made it difficult to get away. Everyone tried all the time, but no one succeeded. Again, I was struggling a bit with staying in front. It was either in the front all the time or in the back. I didn’t seem to be able to find the middle of a peloton…hmm.

Elisedals GP
Post race talking.

At one point I wanted to be near the front for an intermediate sprint, but then I ended with leading the bunch, which was not optimal. I looked back and saw Josefine close to my wheel. I called her, she nodded and then I went full gas to make a lead-out for her for the sprint. She won it!

Elisedals GP
Josefine on the podium for the sprint win.

I also tried to get one myself later, but think I was third or something and it was the last one, only a couple of laps from the finish. I should have stayed in front, because the speed went up from there, and I never saw the front again. I couldn’t get a good position for the final sprint, so I didn’t even try and just rolled over the finish line.

Elisedals GP
Last ride together as team mates. Josefine is moving on.

Tactical I did a lot better in this race, but still not satisfying and I still have things to improve. At least I am not concerned about my fitness, but I can’t use it for much, when I am struggling with positioning and not racing cleverly.

 

On to the next race! 😊

The Danish National Championships 2018

Danish National Championship 2018

It has been that time a year again. The time to find out who’s turn it is to wear the national jerseys in Individual Time Trial (ITT) and road race (RR).

Last year was very disappointing for me in both the time trial and the road race. The last one being a DNF (did not finish).

Danish National Championship 2018
Photo: Dan Reinhardt

So, I was super motivated to step up my game this year and I was looking forward to both races even though I knew that my time trialing abilities are not the best and the course for the road race had a tricky technical part which can also be a disadvantage for me.

Individual Time Trial

Thursday, it was riders against the clock and the women had a course of 24 flat kilometers with lots of corners and chance of wind from every side. But, it was a hot day without much wind. My start was at 17:22 and I will take you through my day from arriving at the “crime scene”.

Danish National Championship ITT 2018
Before the start of the Danish National Championship ITT 2018.

I arrived 1,5 hours before the start. I unpacked my bike, changed clothes and picked up my race number. I started my warm up on the home trainer 45 minutes before the start and sat on it for 25 minutes.

I had to be at the start with 10 minutes to spare, but suddenly I remembered that I didn’t check in my chip or had my bike checked for legal position. I rushed to the start and checked in, but when the commissioners put my bike in the ‘thing’ for measuring it didn’t go through.

The saddle had to be put back at least five centimeters. I only had four minutes to my start and I didn’t think I would be able to put the saddle back in that time, but someone near had a tool set and the commissioners helped me.

Inside I was freaking out and I didn’t understand, because last time I had my bike checked the position was approved. Well, the bike was finally cleared, and I could start on time, a bit more stressed than I wanted to be, but it was my own fault.

I’m still trying to find out how to do a time trial and how I can do a good one. This day was another big learning. I might have started a bit too hard, because it only took me nine kilometers to reach my limit and from there my numbers kept falling.

Danish National Championship ITT 2018
Last 100 meters of the Danish National Championship ITT 2018.

Next time, I will start out a bit easier and try to hold the pace stable throughout the race. Pedaling a bit easier in tailwind as well as downhill and a bit harder in headwind or uphill. The only thing that was stable that day was my very high pulse.

I was overtaken by one rider and I overtook one myself, but I was still placed in the bottom being number 21 out of 22 riders.

The most frustrating thing is that I can push much harder on my road bike, so I think I need to find a better position on the TT bike and work on being more flexible. I’m also in search of a saddle that doesn’t make me move every two second because it feels horrible to sit on.

If there are any volunteers good at TT riding who wants to help me, please let me know! 😉

Road Race

Saturday, it was time for the women’s road race. Starting with 19 kilometers from Sakskøbing to Nysted, where we had to do eight laps of 12,5 kilometers with a very technical 1,9 kilometers through town including 11 corners and a steep hill.

Team Integra Advokater - Giant
Team Integra Advokater – Giant (W) on sign in.

The beginning of the race was very slow and relaxed. One rider tried her luck with a solo breakaway, but everyone else seemed just to enjoy the ride.

I knew – like everyone else – that it was important to be in the front for the technical part, so there was a bit of a fight for positions. Suddenly a rider on my right swayed her handlebar very close to me and, unfortunately, I reacted with fear and let go of my position in front.

Danish National Championship 2018
Photo: Dan Reinhardt

Instead, I ended behind riders not cornering too well and the gap to the front grew. After the technical section, we entered a main road with headwind and me and some other riders had to close a big gap to reach the peloton again. A waste of energy!

Danish National Championship ITT 2018
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

The rest of the lap nothing really happened, and the pace was nice and easy. But every time we hit the technical part I was too far in the back, struggling to follow, and having to close the gap in the headwind – on EVERY lap! This was until 74 kilometers where I had a flat tire.

Danish National Championship ITT 2018

I had a new back wheel and my service car was ready to get me safely back to the peloton, but we were not agreeing on how to do pacing. Every time I was close to the car, it speeded up and I lost the “wheel”, so I also wasted a lot of energy on being paced behind the car.

Danish National Championship ITT 2018

Finally, I reached the back of the caravan and then I had to do the rest myself. The pace in the peloton was off course increasing while I was chasing, and didn’t get much help jumping from car to car.

Danish National Championship 2018

After approximately 20 kilometers I managed to get back in the bunch, but it was only a few hundred meters before the technical part, so I didn’t have a lot of time to recover before it was closing gaps one more time. Damn it!

Danish National Championship ITT 2018
Lonely rider on a mission!

I did close the gap again, but meanwhile the bunch was split into three groups and I had nothing left in the tank. I finished with the last group and number 21 was once again my rank on the finish line.

Danish National Championship ITT 2018
Photo: Jesper Skovbølle

The solo breakaway didn’t hold and the winner was to be found in a reduced bunch, where my former club mate, Amalie Dideriksen, took home the red/white jersey.

July

Next week I’m off for two weeks in Spain getting ready for the last part of the season. I’m looking forward to ride in the mountains again and to see my Spanish friends 😀

Craft Cup – 3 Days in the North 2018

Craft Cup - Thy

If you missed my last post, you can find it here.

On Friday I went with the team to northern Jutland. We were participating in the Craft Cup stage race 3 Days in the North from Saturday to Monday. I was very excited to get the season started and to get a feeling of my race mode. It was also the first trip with the “new” team and some new faces to get to know 🙂

Craft Cup
StonyShots
Saturday

The first stage was in Hjørring and we woke up to a chilly morning with frost and a very cold wind. I put on several layers of clothes and warming balm on the legs – better safe than sorry seems to be the lesson from last year where everybody was nearly freezing to death because of the cold and wet weather.

Again, this year we are only two riders in the women elite class on the team and we are battling against teams of 10+ riders (not in every race, but in general). Normally we race with the men’s C-class, but in this race women elite and women B-class was put together and we were 20 riders on the start line.

Craft Cup
StonyShots

Our strategy was to be “on hold” and see what the other girls had in mind. One of the other girls attacked shortly after the start and my team mate, Josefine, followed so I stayed in the peloton. Unfortunately, she didn’t caught the group of three riders in front and they went on a breakaway.

Only Josefine and I wanted to close the gap which was an impossible mission without help from the others in the peloton. I didn’t feel strong and I was too disappointed of not being in the breakaway, so instead of playing tactical for a 4th place I just wanted to finish the race.

Craft cup
StonyShots

That meant I took the front for the last 7 kilometers. Of course, no one wanted to be up there in the final and it is very typical when we have these women races that no one ever wants to take a lead. Because of the work all day and the position before the finish, I didn’t have anything left for the sprint and I came in 7th while Josefine fought her way to 5th.

Sunday

The day after we went to Thy with a plan. I was supposed to win the stage and I tried to escape the peloton, but I was closed after 8 minutes in the heat. Then Josefine tried and because of the hilly course I guess the others didn’t think she would manage to go solo for 69 kilometers. But she did!

Craft cup
StonyShots

The peloton waited a long time and was going really slow while Josefine drifted longer and longer away. When the peloton finally decided to close the gap, I followed every single move and a group of six riders formed a chasing group. I was in it, but not willing to work until the end, when I knew they couldn’t catch Josefine in the front.

Craft cup
Licenscykling.dk

There were several attacks with long breaks in between, but it was only on the final hill things split up. I didn’t see the attack from behind, so I lost a few meters to the others. On the top I couldn’t get my shifter from small to big chain ring, so it took me ages to catch up and when I finally did the girls started the sprint, so I finished 6th and was a bit disappointed. But I was also really happy about my performance, being able to cover every attack until the end and for Josefine to take the stage win on a course that didn’t even suit her.

Monday

On the final stage in Aalborg, we had not only one plan, we had a plan A, B and C because now we had the opportunity to go home with the overall win and the jersey. I had put on my racesuit for the big final 😉 Again, we wanted to be the waiters, but again the pace was too slow for my taste, so I went to the front just to speed things up a bit.

Craft cup
Licenscykling.dk

I didn’t go that fast, but suddenly I had a small gap. As a reflex I pushed harder but it wasn’t a part of any of our plans so I thought about stopping for a second, but decided to give it a go. It could help us getting the others a bit tired by trying to catch me.

Craft cup
Licenscykling.dk

After the first lap I had gained a minute and after the second lap it was 1:30 minutes. On the third lap I was passed by the men elite which was a huge group followed by service cars.

My car in front didn’t know what to do, so instead of just keep going it slowed down to let the men pass. It took too long and I was losing time, so I passed my car – it came back a bit later. After that lap I had lost time to 1:15 minutes.

Craft cup
Eating isn’t cheating. Licenscykling.dk

I still had two laps to go and I was starting to feel the pain for real, but then on lap four I had gained 3 minutes. I kept the pace up to test myself and on the last lap everything was hurding. I thought I was going slower and slower but looking at the laps afterwards I was pretty steady with a difference of maximum 30 seconds between the laps.

3 dage i nord

With a few kilometers to go I was passed by the junior men and again my car couldn’t keep up. The juniors blocked me because they were going for the final sprint – but hey, so was I! It was a bit of an anticlimax to cross the finish line at the same time as a sprint finish in another class and no one noticed me passing the line. I wasn’t even announced the winner in the beginning.

Craft cup
Craft cup ‘3 Days in the North’ stage 3 podium.

I had been out there alone for more than 86 kilometers and even though I know the peloton was probably unable to cooperate and establish a pursuit, I pushed hard, so I was tired and my abs were hurding for the rest of the day because of heavily breathing for 2,5 hours.

Vinderblomster
Flowers to the winner.

In the bunch sprint Josefine was in position of taking the overall win but she was blocked and only 1 point differed from 1st to 2nd place. My win gave me an overall 3rd in the Craft Cup, so going home with two stage wins, an overall 2nd and 3rd is pretty damn good by our little team.

It was our first races as a team and it showed that we can cooperate and that we race smart. Not always according to plan, but we take our chances and sometimes we loose other times we win. That’s racing 😉

Craft cup
Overall podium in the Craft Cup ‘3 Days in the North’.
Women’s Cycling in Denmark

I don’t know how it is in other countries, but the “problem” with women’s racing in Denmark is the big difference in levels. Normally we race with the men where the pace is high and the peloton big.

In these races we were only 20 riders and it seemed like no one wanted to race. The pace was ridiculously slow and only a few riders participated in the work – some didn’t because they didn’t have the strenght and others, well, I don’t know. It was so boring at times and I don’t understand how anyone thinks that is fun racing.

Craft cup
StonyShots

I DO support women races and wish we could have them every time, but not like this. Not until we have enough riders on a level where it is actually going to be a race.

Our team is racing again this weekend and I’m looking forward to race with the men and get som speed in the legs. Hopefully it will be another succesful race-weekend 😀