Sunday, 9 June 2013

Race 5 - Swedish Champs Middle

D21 part 1
I decided not to write a race report yesterday as I really wasn't pleased with my performance in the early stages of the course, and felt I needed 24 hours to write something that was fair. Rather than be 100% negative! I spent most of yesterday evening reflecting on the race, what went wrong and most importantly why. I then spent some more time coming up with a plan of attack for the long today (but more on that later).

The first control was easy, but it was controls 2 and 3 that caused all my problems. I realised later I have never encountered this style of terrain before - notably that in the area of 2 and 3. The terrain is moderately hilly, and the mess of contours make little sense while biking (or stood still) as the terrain is formed of 20-30m high hills with depressions between. The paths also, follow no structure here. They are neither solely on ridges or in valleys, but instead form a random unpredictable pattern in the terrain.

D21 part 2 (1)
I opted for no.2 to go around a little. On the big track then cut the corner a little. I lost a minute to Ingrid here who continued on the fast track and came from NW up the slow track all the way. A negligible difference on the map, but in reality my choice proved costly.

To 3 again, I stuck with the route I knew, getting a little stuck in sand on the sharp corners, and lost another 40 seconds. Less than before, but the general downhill nature of the early paths helped a little.

D21 part 2 (2)
After that it was a fairly unremarkable race, I didn't see the road option to no.6, and to no.7 I didn't see the fast track that I had folded off the edge of the board (you can see the crease line to the right of no.7!) Over those two controls I lost another minute.

By this point I was 3 minutes behind, but naturally didn't know this. I saw Cecilia on my way to no.7 and figured she had gained a couple of minutes on me.

However, to 8, 9 and 10 I found I understood things a bit more, and started to mingle in the other competitors split times. I'm not sure why I suddenly changed mentally here, but I started to know which would be the better choices. Rather than guessing and not succeeding.

I spent time thinking about the next leg, and chose to stay on the flat. Longer than the north route, but safer navigation and a chance to pedal.

Using the easier navigation on this leg I could think more about the next one. At first I felt going over the medium path to the south was better, but on closer inspection saw the contours and small hill tops. Instead I chose to take a risk and take the slow track to the north. In fact this turned out to be rather fast, the sand was harder at the edges where cars have driven and soft in the middle. Crossing the middle was treacherous, but in the end I was much faster than my other competitors on this leg.

Race face (Jonas Bierson)
I was disappointed when I finished. Looking at the splits, I lost 3 mins in the first half, and pulled back 90 secs in the second half to only be 1min 30 behind Ingrid, in 4th (2nd in Swedish Champs). It took a while to see the positive in the race, that my biking speed is ok and matching the others. The mistakes at the beginning - well, it's a learning opportunity! At any rate, the time is far better than last years SM middle, where I went exploring in the woods for 7 mins ... so the improvement is there. I just need a little more consistency.

SM Middle Medal winners (Sven Ake Nordenmark)