I surprised myself today. Lidingö MTB race went pretty well and once again I outperformed my training performances by quite a margin.
Having visited the course three times in the weeks leading up to the race, riding around the course mod-hard @ 18,1km/h average speed, I firmly believed that I would not be able to go under three hours for the race. This belief was accompanied by the HOPE that I would go under three hours. Knowing the difference between belief and hope I was pretty unmotivated and not at all nervous on the start line. The gun went and off I rode. The first section 1,5km on the main road up a minor incline before turning off the road and onto the gravel paths – that’s when the rolling hills started. I was with the front group of about 10 riders after the turn-off and held with them for a few kilometers. I honestly can’t say if I was dropped or if I just dropped off; I do know that I internalized the fact that I was going way too deep on the climbs and that the pace would be unsustainable… I just don’t know if I made a decision based on that or if my legs decided for me. Adrenalin was flowing and what happened happened.
I was all alone for quite some time before a small group of four riders caught me… this became my group for the remainder of the race. We grew and shrank in size as the race progressed but there were five of us there the whole time. Until I did something by accident.
Hills came and went and my fear of loosing my legs never materialized. Each climb I started mid-pack and finished at the front, I was climbing well and feeling good. Finally having confidence I decided that the group was going a little too slow on a flat section and I took a pull on the front. I increased the pace a little and the group happily sat on my back wheel. We then turned off the path and began a climb of about 30m from the coast back up to a main trail. I thought I hit this as hard as the other climbs but I also remember being afraid of being passed and dropped after doing my pull on the front before the hill. This may have made me go harder than usual. When I got to the top of the climb and moved aside to let someone else through I discovered that there was nobody to let through, I’d dropped them all. Very shortly after this I started to feel dead on the climbs and, with 10km to go, I believed that my legs had died. I battled on, kept turning the pedals and headed to the finish line waiting for the masses to pass me by.
I did make the finish but the strange thing is that I never saw that group again – nobody passed me. Either they died a worse death than me or my feelings did not match my actual performance.
Happy with the result: 2:39 and some seconds.