I am told on (reasonably) good authority (HJ Kvåle) that the Lygna fatbike gathering was the first of it’s kind in Norway. Closed ski tracks with some snowmobile tracks mixed in.
I was dead excited for this race. Racing fatbikes. In the snow! HJ wanted me to the do the World Cup in Ski-O (I’m not sure whether he wanted me there to race or just to have another nation entered!), but either way, when it’s a choice between fatbike and skiing, my fatbike can run over ski’s anyday! I’d been out practising and falling off in the soft powder snow at Venabu – but you know ‘the-fatbike-race-will-have-well-pisted-tracks-so-I-don’t-need-to-worry-about-soft-snow’.
Wrong! 3 days of constant snow had resulted in everything being soft and easily churned. Bye bye nice ski tracks. No matter how much the pisting machine went out, 50 fatbikes riding at least 4 laps each was going to result in some sort of snowy-mud-bath. Just without the mud. And a lot more slippery.
I arrived early to test the course and was instantly greeted by my new Hadeland CK clubmates. I don’t think I could have chosen a better club join, I have been made to feel very welcome and can’t wait to be racing and training more with these guys and girls!).
The course was advertised as 4.5km with a mix of ski tracks, snowmobile tracks, and jumps. The test lap took 37 minutes and was more a walk than ride. I was amazed at how well everyone climbed on the soft snow – until I saw their chunky tyres and realised I was going to be in hell with my ‘semi-slicks’. Not actually semi-slick but since I’ve only ridden on hard compact tracks so far I didn’t appreciate there were other tyres out in the world better suited for fatbiking and especially soft conditions. £140 later and I had a new pair of rad chunky tyres fitted with extra grip. Now it was possible to ride! The event organiser also made the decision (wisely and thank you!) to shorten the course and remove all snowmobile sections. We were left with a not-quite-the-basic lap of the ski centre at 2km per lap.
Learning my lesson from the Merida Brass Monkeys, I got to the front of the start line. Elbows out. Didn’t stop me from being ridden into on the start straight by out-of-control fatbikers who hit the snowpiles a bit wrong. Next time I’ll fight back 😉
For the first lap I was about 10-20 seconds behind my nearest rival and other ‘token girlie’ – World Masters XCO Champion Gjertrud Bø, complete in World Champion stripes coating her bike kit, helmet and even bike! I had two big crashes on the descent and lost an extra 60 seconds – the first really hurt, giving me a massive bruise on my kneecap and even cutting the skin a little. I’m mystified how, considering how soft and powdery the snow was, but I guess I must have hit the bike somehow. I couldn’t get into my flow again and hit the deck twice more in 150m. Bye bye Gjertrud.
Over the next 3 laps I lost a total of 18 seconds to Gjertrud. At least my riding speed was good enough when I stayed upright. The fifth lap I had some more crashes losing another 90 seconds. The laps in the middle were the best for me, I found nice lines and rode everything. Only the first and last were bad with bad line choice on the uphills meaning I wheel span and had to run with the bike, and hitting the snow wrong and falling off too much.
Total time for 5 laps was just under 56mins. Results and splits for the women can be found here, with Gjertrud’s time being just over 52 mins. There is some time to make up, but mainly, if I stay upright next time, this gap will be closer.
What did I learn? Firstly that a tyre pressure of 4psi (yes 4 psi!) is too high for powder snow. 2-3psi would have stopped the back wheel skidding out each time I hit something a bit softer leaving me on the floor. I need to play more with the bike and get a better understanding of the tyre pressures as the impact is huge in the snow.
I also learned that I need to improve my balance in the softer stuff, not to tense up each time my bike starts to get out of control.
I had a great deal of fun though. Thanks to the organisers for standing in the -11°C temperature all day, and thank you for such a great event. The atmosphere was amazing and to be around so many fatbikers was fab. Thank you to Hadeland CK for cheering me each lap and not laughing each time I appeared from the forest covered in snow!
Here is a news report from the Hadeland newspaper.