When I looked out the window on Saturday morning and saw the 20cm new snow (and it was still depressingly dark outside) I had two simultaneous temptations:
- Run outside and build a snowman
- Crawl back into my warm bed and sleep some more.
The reason for getting up at such an hour was to race in the first (and unofficial) Norwegian Champs on fatbike. On arrival I had time to wander around and do a couple of laps of the ‘start loop’. Not really a start loop, just an extension of the ski track that looped around the old car park. The purpose of this wasn’t to warm up per se, but to slowly reduce my tyre pressure until I found the psi that wouldn’t see me lose control in the softer sections. I settled on 1.5-2psi (very soft).
The last weeks in Norway have been around 0°C, so the snow and ski tracks were rock solid. With the fresh snow overnight they were soft again, but pisting in the morning almost took them down to the solid stuff. For some reason, the snow falling wasn’t powdery in nature, so although it was a loose surface, it wasn’t lose-control loose (as per the 2014 edition).
The women and juniors were told to start behind the men, which was a pain. I arrived early enough to take my place on the front of the start field, but was slowly moved backwards as the organisers wanted the men first. Unfortunately this meant the start loop section was incredibly slow and all the men in front were just piling into one another. I had managed to get into the group, and was enjoying getting my elbows out when I was taken down by a guy who was knocked off by someone else. On getting up, most the field had a gap, so I used some energy to get back onto the tail end of the pack. With last years winner a few bike lengths ahead at the foot of the climb, I was overtaken by the eventual winner. I was able to answer her power on the climb and for a km or so, but after that I ran out of extra oomph. A little too much fatigue in my legs from my previous weekends exploits. I overtook last years winner some hundred meters before the end of the first lap and quickly got a gap. After that, I was just trying to maintain speed and not crash.
While I successfully averted crashing myself (several whipping tail moments nicely saved) I didn’t avoid being taken out by overeager men on the 4th and 5th laps (lapped by the lead men!). Although some of them passed with a logical amount of space, some came too close. The whole course (2.5km laps) had a compacted single track where everyone was riding, anything outside of this was a little more sketchy (if you hadn’t reduced your tyre pressure accordingly!). I was taken out three times in total, one being particularly bad as I landed on the guys bike heavily as his wheels wiped out mine.
I was able to take 2nd place in the Uoff NM, 4 mins behind 1st and 3.5mins ahead of third. Some big margins. I wish I had been able to have more of my normal power to respond to the early speed of the winner, but I believe I had already saved my legs from a worse performance. I acknowledged on Wednesday I was feeling ridiculously tired and emotional (a standard sign when I’m pushing my limit) so cut back the hard week and reduced it to ‘easy-and-recover’. Sometimes it’s about the mental recovery more than the physical.