Tryvannscross – Toughest CX Race in the World contender?

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit when I state Tryvannscross should be a contender to hold the title ‘world’s toughest cyclocross race’. But I’m not exaggerating by much.

When nearly 40% of the start field suffer at least one puncture, and 15 of the 36 starters didn’t complete the full hour, you know it was a tough race. (I assume these 15 suffered one too many punctures and ran out of spare tubes)

What made it tough?

Well for starters, most of the course was on the horrific surface that seems to occur everywhere in Norway – curse of the ski tracks. The ground itself is hard and bumpy, and at Tryvann covered in small, sharp and loose rocks just waiting gleefully to bite into a nice bit of rubber. This ground is then covered in stubby, coarse grass which just seems to instantly sap all speed from the bike.

One of the flatter easier pedalling sections. Photo from Ola Morken

One of the flatter easier pedalling sections. Photo from Ola Morken

Some parts were covered in bark chipping, again hiding those damn little rocks and sharp splinters of wood.

And then, the ups were tough, complemented by some monster stairs that reduced me to a snotty, panting, stumbling, sweating mess. The course was pretty much a constant pedal effort, despite being full of turns, ups and downs. It was, relentless. No chance for a break or breather. Just corner, up, corner, down, corner, bark, up, grass, steep down, run up, steep down, grovel up, corner, grass.

CX bike zimmer frame. I needed that support by this stage! Photo from Ola Morken

CX bike zimmer frame. I needed that support by this stage! Photo from Ola Morken

That’s not to mention the wicked barriers on an ascent! I became so tired I could barely lift my own feet over them, let alone the bike. The one time I failed to pick  my legs up, I hit my shin resulting in minor blood loss. Didn’t do that again!

Finally, the race format was 60 min plus a lap. Which to me, meant ride for 60mins and then finish the lap you’re on. It could have meant, ride for 60 mins and then complete one more lap. But it didn’t. For me, it worked out as ride for 40 mins, suffer for 20mins, and then die as there are still 2 more laps to go.

Racing in hell. Photo from Ola Morken

Racing in hell. Photo from Ola Morken

For the first 40 mins my lap times showed some consistency. Then they dropped a bit. The final two laps however were painfully slow. I was practically on my hands and knees, grovelling around the course, unable to do anything other than ‘keep fcking pedalling’. Quit? Nah, not an option. Fake a puncture … I gave that some consideration!

80 mins after the start and I could cross the line, capable of little more than rolling to the car and collapsing in a heap by the door with my drink in. I was so thirsty after 80 mins without even a drop of water.

Would I race Tryvannscross again?
Of course! Now the pain and suffering are over, I’m looking forward to next year already. Only next time, I’ll take HJ with me as drink giver, finish support and driver!!

A big thanks go out the organisers for putting on the event, for arranging the stunning weather and breathtaking views from the descent back down from Holmenkollen.

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