3.30am Wake up!
4.00am Out of the door of Heini's apartment on Bogstadveien near the city centre of Oslo
4.30am Packing the bikes in a trailer on the Oslo S and hopping on the bus that would take us to Lillehammer
5.00-7.15am Bus trip from Oslo S to Swix building in Lillehammer. By the time of our arrival the bikes (and the trailer) were missing. First little bit of panic appeared :)
7.45am Bikes arrived. Second bit of panic when I noticed a very flat front tyre. But with some help from a norwegian looking service guy I got it fixed soon, I didn't have to get my hands dirty and panic was almost gone.
9.13am The start of the Ladies Edition "pulje" (starting group) under a grey sky and in a somewhat chilly weather. I was filled with excitement and was really looking forward to spending a good time on the bike with all the girls.
9.13am-2.13pm On the road. Having a really good time. Getting dropped from the front group, getting back there, getting dropped again at the 115km point. Getting REALLY tired, but keeping up with the second group including 7 (places 4-11) other girls until the finish line at 191km. Finishing with a time of 4.59.36, which was beyond all my expectations.
2.15pm Seeing and hugging Heini, who placed 3rd (!!), at the Valhalla Arena. Feeling incredibly happy for her and for myself. Happily chatting with other riders and having a little recovery snack in our very own Ladies Edition lounge with sofas.
4pm Heading back home to Bogstadveien by bike. Happy but tired.
6pm Eating pizzas, drinking Heini's prize champagne, going through our experiences in the race. Best part of doing sports is having friends doing the same stuff, both performing well and making nice memories together.
10pm Dead tired and going to bed. Smiling.
* * * * * *
All in all, the race was well organised and I liked the little extra that was organised to us girls in the Ladies Edition. I heard there was some trouble with some idiots sabotaging the race by having dropped some nails on the road in a fast downhill near Gjøvik causing some crashes and flats, but luckily I and the group I rode with didn't see or get affected by any of that. Also the riding was very clean and organised in our group, everyone knowing how to ride a bike straight, how to draft and how to drink/eat/look around without making hazardous moves. So basically nothing like the hell on the roads I've gotten used to when racing in Finland before.
That and the confidence I've gotten back this spring made it possible for me to enjoy the whole 191km of riding in a bunch going quite fast on the roads without feeling the slightest fear. I really enjoyed the feeling of not being scared so much it went past all the pain I felt in my back, the numbness in the fingers, the tiredness my legs were screaming after 120K's. It didn't matter how I would place or what my time would be, all that mattered during the race was that feeling. The feeling that I was back to were I belong and the feeling of doing the sport I like the most with nothing in my head standing in the way. I loved all the seconds in the saddle, all the little hills, all the gravel parts, the speed, the dozens of roundabouts in the route... everything.
So thank you to the organisers (special thanks to Caroline for making me feel welcome during all the time we changed emails in the winter and spring). And a big, big thank you to all the girls in the Ladies Edition and Atea boys who I rode with for most of the race. And of course a special thank you to my Birken and Styrkeprøven partner in crime, Heini. Without you it wouldn't have been half that nice!