CykelVasan (The biking vasa)

“Vasaloppet is a historical cross country skiing race in Sweden, it started 90 years ago following the route King Vasa took when he escaped from the Danes back in the days. A few years ago the organisation started CykelVasan (The biking vasa), it quickly grew to the biggest MTB race in the country and this year it was 12.000 people riding. This feels like the Swedish MTB version of the Argus in South Africa!” – Jennie Stenerhag

“It was pouring down with rain and the thermometer showed 8 degrees for the start! We started with the elite men and most of the good amateurs. It is a very easy race in terms of terrain, the speed says it all, the race is 94km and we averaged 32,1km/h at a mountainbike race! It is more of a road race with big bunches and for us girls it is not much else to do then try to stay with as strong guys as we possibly can! My competition for the day would be Borghild and Hildegunn from Norway, the same girls as I met at Grenserittet, and Hanna who I am fighting with at the national series races. Borghild got the best start and got up the first 2km hill ahead of me and Hanna who were together from start to finish. After about 20km on a fast piece of tar we past Borghild laying on the tar after a crash, her race was over… It was just me and Hanna in the bunch but after 50km I suddenly saw Hildegunn who had caught us. This was just as we were approaching the hill sprint, it was really difficult to pass with all the guys around us, I just just managed to sneak pass Hildegunn on the side to take the sprint.

With 43km to go it is easy riding so I understood that it was going to come down to a sprint, unfortunately we were in a very big bunch, it felt like at least 50 guys, from the 5km to go mark I was the first girl cause I wanted it that way to take the sprint from the front. I felt really strong at this stage and knew I could beat both Hanna and Hildegunn in a sprint. Coming around the last corner with 300 meters to go I was still first and with 100 meters to go I started the final sprint and felt like I was flying, I was leading but suddenly I caught a bunch of guys who blocked my way and I had to stop my sprint and freewheel even though we still had around 20-30 meters to go, at that moment I saw Hildegunn coming on the side and just just taking the win, it was so close that I almost thought I was still going to be first. I am 100% sure that I would have taken it if I had a free runway or if the line had been at the spot where I had to stop sprinting.”

For more photos visit Jennie’s website, click here.