This time it was less than 72 hours at home in Falun before it was time for the next trip, however, this trip will be a little longer and last for almost 3 weeks. We started by going to Arlanda and slept one night, as the plane departed very early on Wednesday morning. We left the car at the long-term parking where it will stay for the next 3 weeks. We flew to Oslo and then on to Alta in Northern Norway where we took a ferry up to Hammerfest.
I was at Skaidi Xtreme 5 years ago, and now it was finally time to return again. This is more of a 3 day adventure than a race. The race on Saturday, is incredibly tough as the terrain is very demanding. After a nice dinner on Wednesday evening, the program started Thursday morning with everyone packing all the stuff to meet up at the ferry. Our bike bags and big luggage went by car to Skaidi and we got on the ferry with our bikes. (the bikes stayed on the ferry until the evening). We went on a 2 hour boat trip to a small harbour on Seiland,where we were divided into small groups of 4 people per group, and we got into small fishing boats and went fishing. We had a great trip and were lucky with the weather, it was sunny and nice which is unusual up here. We had a relaxing and quiet time on the fishing boat for about 2.5 hours and then we were served a very yummy fish stew made from our catch and lamb meat cooked underground! There is something special about these lunches, the food was deliciuos! We got on our ferry where the bikes were waiting and after a 2 hour boat ride to Neverfjord ,we got on our bikes and rode the last 40 kilometres to Skaidi. It was a really nice day with a full program!
On Friday, Craig and I set out to check parts of the race route, it was so incredibly wet and muddy that 30 kilometres took us 3 hours! We had not planned to be out that long but the terrain is slow and we did not know how to take a shortcut down the mountain so it got longer than we thought and unfortunately it made us miss lunch at the Sami people, which was a bit sad. I don't know if I've ever trained in such mud before (racing yes but training no), so Saturday would be very interesting! On Friday night there was a grand opening of Skaidi Xtreme with very good food, music and festivities!
It had rained during the night until Saturday, it was 7 degrees and cloudy, so the big question was how much clothes to wear ... It ended up being knee warmers, arm warmers, headband, and a windbreaker, I didn't want to get cold! We started at 11.30 and my biggest competitor for the day was Gunn Rita, even though she has stopped racing she is still fast, and she had said that she wanted to win and would race hard today. It was fast from the start and up the first climb, I managed to be ahead of her on the way up but then she passed me just before the top and was ahead on the downhill. After 4 kilometres we returned past the start and finish area and I was only seconds behind. I managed to catch up and we were together on the rocky uphill that followed. It was probably the longest climb of the course and at the top we were together. I did not dare to let go, and go full speed on the downhill, since it was so wet and slippery down to the finish area, as we past for the second time (after about 12 kilometres) I was about 20 seconds behind. Once again, we rode up the same rocky uphill and I got closer even though I was not quite there. Once up on the mountain I could see that I kept a higher speed than Gunn Rita and could catch her. I decided to go very hard for a short bit to try and get away, it worked, and she let go and I could increase the gap. I wanted to get as big gap as possible before the downhill from the mast, at the highest point of the track. I didn't see her anymore and could extend the lead all the time and finally win by about 5 minutes. It felt very nice to win this race, it is very special and nowhere else have I done a route like this. It is bumpy all the time and you must be careful not to put your front wheel in a hole or get stuck in the mud, which did happen a few times. This time it was so wet that it made things much worse. It is so incredibly tough, and you work the whole time, you get nothing for free. It says a lot when 42 kilometres took me 2 hours 44 minutes!
In the evening there was a banquet with dinner with only local food. This race is really special in so many ways!
We will now stay here up in Northern Norway for a few days before our journey goes on to Turkey and the next competition and adventure!