Who knew a week in your old town can be so busy? I only lived in Stockholm for six months but it seems like many of my friends from other parts of Sweden have moved here over time with the end result that my liver is now pickled and I haven’t even managed to see everyone I did want to see.
But at least theoretically it should be good cyclocross training! Drinking, running, dirt riding.
Yeah, running. My coach said I should start running. I hate running, and Stockholm is cold in October, but it turned out to be kind of awesome and not that cold at all once I got going:
Since I accidentally packed warm cycling clothing, shoes, helmet, and pedals just before I left San Francisco, and since it turns out my friend Sima has a cx bike that almost fits me, I also thought it necessary to go play in the dirt.
Except the dirt was covered by some cold, white stuff. I’m not sure what it was, but I decided on the strategy “don’t fall”, since being wet and cold tends to impair my ability to a) ride b) think c) survive.
I even found a local cx race! It was just a laid back practice race so it didn’t matter that I suck and was riding on a borrowed bike. Unfortunately the snow had melted and I heard rain against the window pane as I woke up this morning to go to the race. 35 degrees and rain… what had I been thinking?! Oh right, we don’t think before we go to a race, or we’d always end up staying in bed. Besides, I figured it would be lame to go back to bed just because of some silly rain – this is what people in Sweden have to deal with all the time and I should just HTFU!
Upon arrival it turned out everyone else was just as displeased with the weather as I was, and the rain had scared off much of the usual crowd. I was pretty comfortable in my thick gloves and fleece lined leg warmers.
All the other women were even more comfortable – still asleep in their beds it seemed. It was me and a bunch of dudes.
This was my first time riding in mud! Turns out your eyes soon fill up with gravel if you don’t wear sunglasses. But that’s ok, because if you get dropped after half a lap due to your inability to do hairpin turns in steep uphills all those pesky wheels that spray up gunk will disappear!
Then I got kind of lost so I stopped to put on my sunglasses but they were kind of covered in mud. I’d heard that there’s no alcohol involved in cx in Europe (weird, huh?), so I was pleasantly surprised when I thought I was offered booze, but apparently I was offered respite in form of skipping a small part of the course since I was lost and last anyway.
Sliding around in the mud was kind of awesome, but my morale was sinking along with my wheels in the mud as it was fucking freezing and wet. Until I heard a woman yell my name and a horn blowing! My friends Sima and Kim who were still in their bed when I’d left in the morning had taken the bus out to the woods to come cheer me on. My morale went right back up along the run-up! Awesome! I yelled that I was about to win the women’s category and they cheered even louder.
A few laps later we were done and I was happy to finally have tried out this mud thing, though somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t as muddy as some of the other guys who had actually drafted during the race:
My results in various categories:
USA Cycling license holders: 1st!
Overall: 1st (from the back)!
Next up is a trip back to my parents and my cat in southern Sweden (a.k.a. The Tropical Part Of Sweden). This time I’m flying.
Update: Pictures have been posted! Daniel Rytz took awesome pictures for kompiscrossen.se. I like this photo where I’m obviously riding up a 40 % grade: