A proper start to the season was needed for the challenges that lie ahead, so I decided to do a short race, not too far away from Iceland. The finale of the Soigneur CX cyclocross series in Denmark was a perfect pick, at just the right time.
I decided to take an early flight to get in some quality training hours in, as well as to get used to my Crux in theright conditions. My friend Kári offered to let me stay at his place, and I was happy to get some company while staying in Copenhagen. As he was also planning to do the race, we did some training and course recon together, which helped get me ready for race day.
After a few days of training with Kári and Anton, another Icelandic cyclist living in Denmark, it was time to race. The elite category started at 13:30, so we had plenty of time to sleep in a bit and have a good breakfast. With everything ready we rode to the the course, getting our warmup started early. The weather was perfect for a bike race, sunny but not too bright, about 8 degrees Celsius.
The even was packed with people and a kid’s race was already underway when we arrived. Run-up stairs like in the Belgian races had been set up and a 50 meter long sand segment, along with 2 barriers, a short but steep hill and a lot of mud made the course very interesting. After registration we set off to warm up along the Strandvejen road, and met up with some of Kári’s friends to ride the course in between category races. Time passed fast and before I knew it, it was time to race.
Racing in other countries is different from racing in Iceland because there are more strong guys, more weak guys, and more potential winners. After getting used to being at the front at home, it’s easy to make the mistake of going out too hard in the start of a race, only to get passed by stronger riders later in the race. I had decided not to make that mistake, so the race plan was very simple: it’s an hour long race so there probably will never be any resting, but the focus is on getting a good start, but at my own pace instead of flying after the strongmen blindingly. After the start there are two options, if I’m feeling bad I just try and stick to a comfortable race pace in order to survive. If I’m feeling good, I go a bit harder to see how much I can do, and how far up the ranking I can get. A top 10 placing would be good, and was pretty much the base goal. Anything higher, like a top 5 would be a bonus.
The race started and I was on the 3rd row. I let a few excited guys pass me on the way to the first technical bit, and figured I was about 12th at that point. Kári had gone harder at the start and was in a very good position, and having him in my sights helped with pacing in the first two laps.
After riding a full lap, and passing a few guys who had gone out way too fast, I was feeling good despite racing a few heartbeats over what I’m used to at races. I started increasing the speed, and caught a few more, until I started seeing Kári closing in fast. I passed him, as we rode into the barriers, two of only three guys able to bunny hop them.
After passing Kári things started to settle in, and I was quite happy with my pace. I had figured in my head that I had to be around or close to 7-8th, and saw a couple of guys riding in tandem ahead of me. I thought to myself that this would be my shot to get into the top 5, and started to drive harder. After about 2 laps I caught them, and waited until the barriers to make the pass, bunny hopping while they ran over them.
At this point I was in no-man’s land. I saw nobody in front of me, even on the longest stretches of the trail, and when I passed Anton and Bjögvin, who were watching the race, they told me the gap was quite a bit. Determined to try my best, I kept the same speed over the next few laps, but nothing changed from there on out. The gap to the guys behind me grew into more than a minute, and I was safe until the finish.
I got to the finish line, 5th according to spectators. After looking at the results, it said I had finished 4th, but I’m sure it’s only because of a timing chip error. A 4/5th place was more than I expected from a race like this, so the trip was a success. More importantly, it gives me confidence in upcoming races, and a mental boost in future training.
I got a lot of help during this trip, my pink Crux from Kría cycles was in top shape with borrowed wheels from my brother Óskar and WOW Air helped with traveling costs. Anton, Björgvin and especially Kári were very helpful, the trip wouldn’t have been the same without them.