This year was my 4th Mörksuggejakten in a row (one of the races in the Swedish Marathon series) so I am starting to know the route quite well. Since it wasn’t many days since I came home from South Africa I decided not to go there to ride the whole route, which I have done previous years. I only went the day before to see the worst place called the ”wet hole” ;) and also the last 9km, which could be good to be reminded of.
I got my new Pronghorn mountain bike, a black one this time, and also got my road bike ready on the same day, so on Thursday I had the luxury of testing two new bikes in one day, and good ones!!
I was nervous on race day, it is strange how one is so nervous sometimes and other times not so much, people around might think that ”you do this every weekend and know what to do so why be nervous” but it is the pressure that we put on ourselves and the unknown of how the race will turn out that makes you nervous. And also same thing every time, as soon as the start gun is shot, the nervousness disappears!
This race has a neutral start through town and they let us go when we got to the bottom of a long hill, around 2km, it is probably the hardest part of the whole race! Normally it is a very high speed up the hill but this time it was a bit slower, it made for some congestion and it was difficult to get passed. I had good legs up the hill and somewhere in the back of my mind I had memories from last weekends hills and suddenly this one felt short… I pushed as hard as I could and managed to be the first girl up to take the first hill sprint price, a 2 night stay for 2 at a hotel in Rättvik:-).
It also went well through the wet and muddy part of the course, South Africa has taught me something about riding in the mud which I appreciated on this part! I had a bunch of guys just in front of me as we descended a long gravel road, I managed to catch them on the next single track but the guy in front of me lost contact on the tar section. I had to stand up and put in a big effort to sprint back to them but it was worth it since I could sit with them for some time after. I eventually lost them in the forest and for the rest of the race I was riding alone or with one or two other people. At one stage we did a 180 degree turn in the forest and one can see who is coming behind, I had a bunch not far behind me and in there I could see Emmy, I got a bit surprised and speeded up a lot!! I did not see her for a while but as I turned to start the short steep climb up to the next hill sprint I saw her only around 50 meters back, once again I put a big effort in. When we eventually got to the last single track of 5km I saw her bunch coming just just behind but I felt confident that she would not pass me on the technical section and I think I rode with max effort for the last 5km and managed to win, 49 seconds clear of Emmy. It was a very nice feeling of happiness and relief to take that victory!
An interesting note was that this race was 8 km shorter than the world champs course last weekend and it took me 1 hour and 47 minutes shorter!! It says a whole lot about the terrain at worlds;)
I am now looking forward to a break from racing, I will have two weekends off which is well needed mentally. Even though it will not be any rest but hard training since the Swedish Marathon Champs is the next race in 3 weeks time!