The drive to Trollhattan in Sweden was just a short 4-5 hour hop over the border from Norway! We split the drive on Friday by having some easy MTBO training in Oslo, but managed to hit all the Bank Holiday traffic both before and after the session. The good news was that even in easy training I cleaned the United Bakeries Cup XCO course climb with it’s steep, rocky, rooty goodness. Didn’t do that last year in the race!
We arrived late on Friday to torrential rain, but Saturday dawned bright, blue skies and mild. Mild enough to ditch the short sleeve thermal for the first time this year! It was only about 16°C though so still pretty chilly. Can’t wait to get to Portugal now with it’s 30°C plus weather!
There’s not much to say about either of the races; the sprint and middle. Both felt fairly average in terms of the feeling in my legs. Not fast, not slow, just something in between. Looking at the positives, I’ve made some big improvements in this kind of terrain. It was really physical in the forest and technical too. Lots of small ups and downs. Even the flat trails were full of 1m high hills and troughs so there was no chance to gain and keep speed. With a hardtail, every root and rock required effort, skill and finesse to get over or around. The area is big for MTB’ing (I can see why) so these were full on XC trails.
Both races were incredibly close fought between Cecilia Thomasson and myself. Each control was just a few seconds in favour of one of us! In the sprint, I had a small edge. In the middle Cissi did. We both swapped positions, a gold and silver each!
Sprint: It was going well, until the map wasn’t right! What was drawn as a rough open area was actually lined with scattered trees, with a small unmapped path and a childrens playground. Yes, I should have just followed the line of the hill, but it felt the right time to turn off when I met the unmapped path and the angle was what I was expecting to encounter. Bye bye 37 seconds. Cissi then messed up the control after this by almost the same amount, so I regained the lead by just 10 seconds!
Middle: Again, it was going well. I lose 15 seconds with a route choice to the 8th control, and then really messed up the long leg by just riding straight through the map. Should have taken more time to plan this one, even if that meant stopping at the control. There were two minutes up for grabs with the route choice to east through the urban area. Once again it was neck-and-neck between Cissi and I. After the long leg, just two seconds separated us! It stayed that way until control 19, where I had a slim 10 second advantage. I lost it on the 20th control, by deciding to take the shorter but slower riding route choice through the XC trails. There was more nav and the riding was really slow and hard work. I lost a whole minute compared the lengthly ‘around’ route choice and that was the time gap at the finish. The final controls after this were a bit more of a leisurely pace, knowing that the lead was gone (I had met CT earlier so knew we were about the same time).