Gesunda was my last scheduled downhill race for this season, it feels like the season has gone by way too fast! I have had a blast throughout the whole season and I was really eager to make a good result here. With this race being so close to home and since I already know the track pretty well I decided to drove up to Gesunda early on Saturday morning. I got there and started to walk the track to see if there was some big changes compared to earlier years, but it was pretty much the same. They had banded the track a lot wider than before though so there was some new line choices at some sections. The track is pretty short but it´s quite intense with a high average speed and a lot of pointy rocks that you can´t really notice until you hit them. Anyway, the training went good but I felt like I needed to look a bit closer on my line choices at some sections so I decided to walk the track once again after the training was done.
I had a few parts on the track in mind that I wanted to take a further look into and in one section I found one completely new line that I decided to try out on Sunday.
Photo: Anki Eriksson
Photo: Anki Eriksson
With this competition only being two hours away from my home I got some family members to support me on Sunday and I felt really motivated to do my best. Gesunda has always been a good place for me if you look at the results. This was the place where I took my very first win in a downhill competition back in 2011 when I was racing the Junior class, the day before that I also won the nationals in fourcross here. In 2012 I got 4th place in the Downhill Nationals as a first year elite, only one second away from the podium. So this place only brings good memories for me.
I tried out my new line choice early on Sundays training and it felt really good, I had all the other sections dialed and I was ready to go after it. In my seeding run I had a stable and smooth run with no major mistake and I qualified as 1st with a time of 1:31:75!
Final run, I was last man down and I was really excited, but this time in a good and relaxed way. I got through the first section really good and had a general good feeling. The bottom part was really good too, I kept my nerves in check almost all the way down. When I got to the finish jump I pedaled way more into it than I did in the training. I was prepared to fly longer than before but I was not ready to jump as far as I did. I landed really hard and almost crashed into the goal, I was happy just to manage to hold on to my handlebar when I crossed the finish line. Then I heard the speaker said that I got down in 1:28:23 and that I had won!
I was really pleased with my run and I don’t think I could have performed any better than that. I was also told I had beaten the old track record by 3 seconds. With this win I climbed the overall in the Scandinavian cup so much that I landed on a second place, which surprised me. I have only raced three out of five competitions in the cup so I didn’t think I would get such a good overall placement. I was buzzing, this was the best way to end this race season on the downhill bike.
The next and last race for this season is the Nationals in Enduro and it is in Falun next weekend.
We arrived on Friday morning and it was open practice the whole day, the track we competed on the next day was “Maggan”. It was a pretty flat track with lots of tight turns so you had to pedal a lot out of the turns. I was unsure if I would use my enduro bike instead of the downhill bike, but after some timed runs with both bikes I decided to go with the downhill bike because I’m more used to it.
We had great weather all Friday and then we woke up to rain on Saturday, the track got really slippery at some sections with a thin layer of mud that was laying on top of a hard packed track. In this competition they have a different system than what I am used to. Instead of having a seeding run and a final run you have two competition runs but only the best run counts, so even if you crash in your second run you can fall back on your first run if it was a better one. Anyway I had a really good first run until I came to a tight switchback turn in the end and I drifted out of the track. I still got down in first place with a 6 seconds lead and a time of 1:53:06. For my second run I had a decent run where I backed off a bit in the turn where I crashed, I improved my time by two seconds and won the competition by 5 seconds. The Vallåsen crew did a great job hosting the event and managed to create a competition in a simple way that makes it easier for beginners to try out and get started racing.
Cheers for a good time! P.S thanks for podium coffee.
Same as last year I went to Spicak to race the European Downhill Cup. This year they had made some changes to make the track faster by adding some more jumps and drops, the most technical parts was still there though. On Friday’s training the tracks stayed fresh all day out and I felt like I had a good speed. On Saturday the track started to get beaten up and in the end of the training it was really dusty and loose. In my qualification run I made it down with some mistakes in the tricky sections but in overall it was a pretty good run. 3:13 was my time and it was enough to get a 18th place. I was so happy that I finally made it into the European Super Final. I made my preparations for another day in the dust, but I woke up on Sunday to rain. I switched wheels to the mud tires and went out for a slippery training session. Most of the track was still good but the most technical parts were really slippery and hard to get through due to all the roots. I made some changes in my line choices and I was ready for the finals. In the end of the training session it had dried up a lot so I decided to switch back to dry tires and went for one run. I decided to go with the dry tires if it would not rain any more. But the weather looked unstable and just one hour before my race run the sky opened up and it started to rain really bad. I switched back once again and went up for my final run.
In my final run I had a bad upper part with some slips that made me lose a lot of speed, I made up for that in the middle part where I felt really good and fast. In the lower part I landed a bit short on a drop that made my back rim bent a bit so it started to leak air from the tire. I almost crashed in the last woods section because I barely had any air in my back wheel. I fought myself into the goal area and got a time of 3:23 and ended up at 23th place. This is still my best result in the European cup so I am really happy with it, it was a bummer I got a puncture but that´s racing. I am steadily moving up in the results and I am really happy to fulfill one of my goals for this season.
For now I’m in Austria for some more time on the bike before we start to drive home to Sweden again, but there is still one more stop to do. I recently found on Facebook that Vallåsen is having a downhill competition this weekend for the South Swedish downhill Cup so that will be the last stop before heading home.
La Thuile was an amazing place to ride my enduro bike, we arrived on Friday night since the training was to start on Saturday according to the schedule. Apparently the tracks were open for training on Friday, which I wasn’t aware of, it was too bad I missed out on one day’s training. Well, I had really fun on Saturday’s training and I managed to do all stages one time and one extra run on the first stage. On Sunday it was race time and my main focus was to try to keep it smooth through all of the tracks. Stage one felt really good, I passed almost ten people on the way down though. Since this was my first enduro race abroad I had no rakning and therefor started way back in line. They start us riders with a 20 second interval and the track was almost eleven minutes long and it was really technical. On the second stage I had written in my notes from the day before that I could go much faster on the upper part of the track, obviously that did not work out because I got a flat at the end of the upper part. By then I knew the race was over in general but I decided to make the best of the situation and I still rode the last two stages as planned, focused but with a smile on my face 🙂
Here is the full result of the competition and some pictures from Linn Hollanti. SS1: 34th 10:53 SS2: 324th 30:32 (puncture, would probably been 6:40 something) SS3: 42th 10:16 SS4: 47th 10:17
My final result was 299th place but it would have been around 35th if I hadn´t had a puncture.
The race in Brandnertal turned out to be a mudrace this year as well. I had time to walk the track on Thursday night and it looked really good. On Fridays training I felt confident on the track and I had really fun all the way down. The track was really muddy but I felt like I knew where I could ride fast without taking too many risks. Saturday’s training was the opposite, the surface of the roots had been torn away and they were even more slippery. I struggled all day with riding the track, I crashed 4 times during training and one of them was really hard. For the qualification run I had to take some painkillers to get through because my back hurt. During the quali-run I made one really big mistake, both of my feet slipped of my pedals just before a big drop so I did not have the speed to pull of the drop and had to take the chicken run around. This cost me about almost 10 seconds, otherwise the run was pretty good. I was surprised to see that I ended up 5th place with the time 3:25:3.
Picture from the quali-run
I woke up on raceday with a sore back and swollen wrist. The crash from the day before was really bad, but it wasn’t going to stop me from racing. I taped the wrist to stabilize it and I took some more painkillers for my back. This day the track was even more slippery, the recent days it had rained only in the morning so the mud stayed pretty thick but this day it rained the whole day through so it got thin and heavy rolled. I had 3 decent training runs in the morning, and I was ready for the final-run. Due to all the rain, the track got slower than before. For example, my finalrun was only 0.3 seconds faster than my quali-run, and as I mentioned earlier I did a very big mistake in my quali-run – thats how much slower Sundays track really was. Despite all of this I was pretty satisfied with my final-run and with my 5th placement.
This is how I looked after one run on Sundays training
After the weekend in Brandnertal we went to Portes Du Soleil for some training-days before the boys flew home. Instead I got accompanied by my girlfriend. We decided to take a few days for touristing in Toscana, Italy, and now we are on our way to Pila for some more training. This weekend it’s race time again, this time it’s the Super Enduro/ Italian Enduro series in La Thuile. It´s going to be really fun to try out an enduro race abroad.
The first 4 weeks of the European trip Hampus and Adam is living with me in the bus and the first stop was the European downhill cup, Schladming.We arrived about five days before the competition so we had some extra days to practice on the track. Once the competition started on Friday I felt like I was riding fast and stable. Saturday came and I did some timed runs in the morning that felt good. My qualifying run felt like a good run and that put me in 40th position, just 1,5 second away from the top 30 (super final). Sunday came around and I was ready to pin it, by this time the track was really beaten up. There were more brake bumps and deeper ones so it was hard to keep the same pace as the days before. I thought I did a pretty strategic run but it was not good at all, I should have taken more risks because I got a worse time by 5 seconds. I got pushed back to 55th place. Not the result I was looking for, but at least it got me to think about my run and reflect a bit more than I usually do. I took my experience from this race and was looking forward to the next race.
Next stop on the tour was Innsbruck, this time in the Crankworx cup. This is a cup that only has four competitions but they are worldwide so the standard is really high. The track was newly made just for this occasion and it looked really good. It was an all-natural trail that was really dusty and had big roots on the top, high speed sections in the middle and some tight turns in the end. I was really stoked and I had so much fun training on the track. Three days of training passed and the track got really beaten up but it was still really fun to ride, it was a proper downhill track in my opinion. Usually there is a seeding run and one final run but this competition only had one final run and nothing more. The final run was on Saturday and I was prepared since I had did some timed runs earlier in the training sessions so I knew what I could do. I had a decent run in overall but I had two big mistakes that cost me some time, I miscalculated how dusty it was at two sections and had to brake real hard. I finished with a time of 3:04 and ended up at 37th place, about 14 seconds behind the winner, the current World champion Danny Hart. I could have moved up in the result if I hadn’t made those mistakes but at least I did a proper race run at this race, and it paid of more than riding strategic so I am happy with the weekend.
Now we are at Brandnertal, Austria to compete in the german downhill cup this weekend and the track is looking really good! This time I am racing with the number one plate, that means that I am the best ranked rider at this race so the pressure is on.
I met up with the Swedish National Team on the Airport on Wednesday morning and everything was going pretty smooth, until we landed in Milan. Somehow SAS managed to lose 5 out of 6 bikes so by the time we arrived at Milan SAS had no idea where our bikes were. After some time at the airport we went to our hotel in Sestola, without our bikes, hoping that they somehow would arrive before Friday. Thursday passed and still no information, instead the team did the trackwalk which I must say looked really good and got me really excited just by watching it. Overall the track was steep and had some tight turns and ended with some hand build berms.
Friday came and still no information, which ment time for plan B, rental bikes… We tried to make the best out of the situation but the bikes were beyond rescue. We did some runs but everything felt awkward and it was really hard to ride such a demanding track with bikes that were shit.
Saturday, qualification day and I was mentally prepared to ride on a rental bike with hopes that my own bike would arrive for Sunday. Luckily Canyon Bikes came to rescue, they were able to lend us three bikes that were race ready. They had two large bikes and one medium and since we have two taller guys on the team it was obvious that they would have the bigger bikes which ment that I got a size Medium bike. It felt a bit too short for me but it was still way better than the rental bike. I did three runs with the bike and then it was time for lunch. By then Oscar had decided not to race at all, he thought that the suspension on the Canyon bike was too soft for him to be able to do a good race run. I took the opportunity and upgraded from medium to large. I had time do to two runs on a freeride track to adjust the bike before it was time for the qualification run. My first run on the competition track with the bike became the qualification run, but it felt good. The suspension was also a bit too soft for me as well but I still made it down as 33th with the time 2:43:9.
Sunday finally arrived and I did four training runs in the morning and felt more comfortable on the bike. My race run felt alright, had two skids were I lost some time, otherwise it was good. I improved my time and finished 27th with the time 2:40:2. A time I was happy with considering I was not racing on my own bike. I want to thank both Canyon bikes and Swecycling for keeping the spirit high at all time and making this a great weekend after all. And an extra thumbs up for Annie, our team manager, for the hard work trying to get our bikes back. I am pleased to say, now 5 days after I got home, that SAS finally have FOUND our bikes. Such a relief! Too bad they’re 5 days to late..
Next up will be the European cup in Schladming in almost two weeks. That will be the first stop of my 7 week European trip this summer. For now you can enjoy some pictures from Petri Paananen when we were at the season opening of Järvsö bike park.
Thanks to Mabi Rentalcars Gävle I had the pleasure to drive a BMW 520D down to this race I figured it would be smoother instead of camping in central Gothenburg. On Saturday I rode all the seven stages two times and felt pretty comfortable. Some of the tracks I really enjoyed but most of them was a bit to flat for my taste, since you had to pedal a lot. Unfortunately it started to rain Sunday and the stages became even more commanding. I had some big mistakes and could not find a good flow throughout the whole competition so I ended up 12th place. Not the result I was looking for but I still had a good weekend overall. I got some really nice photos from both Jon Bokrantz and Petri Paananen, Enjoy!
Photo by: Jon Bokrantz
Sweden Enduro Series in Gothenburg. Photo by: Jon Bokrantz
Vallåsen Enduro was a perfect way to start of the season, great weather and good times meeting the riding-folks again. With a total time of 12 minutes and 4 seconds divided in 6 special stages I ended up at 7th place in the Elite category. A decent result for the first competition of the season, my main focus is still downhill so for me the enduro races is only a complement.
Over to the real deal, the first downhill race for this season. The European cup in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. This time I had the opportunity to race for the Swedish National Team. Due to some delays with the flights down we arrived pretty late on Thursday night so it was straight to bed. We had to get up early on Friday morning to assemble the bikes before we had trackwalk. The track was divided in 4 forest sections and they all had lots of roots covering the track. Between the forests we had some jumps and some intense pedal sections. The training started at 12 o clock and went on until 18. It had rained the night before so the track was really slippery and people were crashing a lot all the way down, including me. I was a bit tired and was having problems finding a good pace.
Saturday arrived and it was time for another training session before the qualifications. On this day the track had dried up a lot and I was finally starting to feel comfortable on the bike again. I made some changes to the suspension and Voila, the bike was really good so I started to ride a bit faster. Qualification came and I had a decent run with one mistake at the bottom. 2:39.9 was my time, just 1.9 second away from the top 30 final. I ended up 40th and were happy to have a good and stable first run of the season.
Race day arrived and it had rained the night before so everybody was worried if the track would be slippery. I waited about an hour to see if it would dry up a bit, and it was the right call. The track had dried up a lot and I had a superb practice. The sun kept on shining on us all day and I was ready to race. I gave it my all but got a bit stressed and made a lot of small mistakes in the woods-section and it cost me some time. I got down at 0.2 seconds slower than the qualification run. One positive thing was that I rode better in the lower part of the track but I was 2 seconds slower at the first split which in the end got me downgraded to 45th place. I ended up being the best swede at the scene and in overall I had a really good weekend racing and hanging out with the national team.
I am really proud to be part of the team and I am really looking forward to be racing for them once again in the European Championships in Sestola, Italy on May 28th.
Last weekend I were on a 4 day training camp down in Vallåsen with the National development team. It was a good camp with lots of riding and reflective talk with the Cross country crew. Each day had a special theme, the first day we focused on technique and on Sunday the focus was on racing. With the mixed weather that went from sunny and 8 degrees to snow and 3 degrees the riding got challenging with all the mud. At the moment I am still a nit used to a dusty Spain, but it was all good fun.
After the camp I had 4 days of working and now I am driving down to Vallåsen once again but this time for the first competition for the season, Vallåsen Enduro. It has been a lot of driving the last two weeks, but to me it´s still worth it, because it is so damn fun to ride my bike! Enjoy some pictures from the training camp taken by Niklas Wallner.