Arctic heroes of tomorrow Road race
Bike and kit packed I arrived at Edinburgh airport for my flight to Oslo international. I met up with the other riders who I would be sharing this awesome experience with. After getting through security I bought a pack lunch from WH Smith, although If I Knew how expense Norway was I would have bought a whole load more. We got on a shuttle bus which drove us to a Norwegian plane. 1 hour and 30 minutes later we arrived in Oslo, There was a 3 hour layover before the plane to Alta so we explored what the Oslo airport had to offer which was mainly magnificently overpriced sandwiches and staff darting around on scooters due to the airport being fairly big. Once we arrived in Alta we collected our luggage and hopped onto a big travel bus which drove us too Hammerfest which was where our accommodation was. Once we arrived it was around 9:00pm so we quickly built our bikes up and then grabbed some food from the cafeteria before going to our rooms to have some chill time.
After breakfast Me and the team went out to recce the course. The course was brilliant. There was long climbs with long steep downhills and fast windy roads. It was a really testing 7km circuit which I would do 11 times tomorrow. After the Recce we all split up to do our activation rides, we then met up again to explore the city of Hammerfest. When we got back to accommodation we cleaned our bikes and received our racing kit and numbers. This Kit was specifically designed tops for each team. There were really good quality and smart. At 5:00 we went to the team presentation in the city centre. This was the first time I had ever been to a team presentation and was really exciting being invited on stage with a load of people watching. Once this was done we got the bus back to where we were staying for dinner. It was hard sleeping at night because it didn’t get dark, at 1:00am in the morning it was as light as 9:00pm in Scotland which was quite unusual. I did however get to sleep (thankfully)
1st picture, far right 2nd picture, 3rd from right
It was Race day!!! 20 minutes before the race and all riders where being individual called up to the sign on podium and where introduced to the crowd. Didi the devil was there and after the commentator called our names he would repeat it back and cheer which was cool and funny. (For those who don’t know, Didi the devil attends all the big races and is often found at the side of the road dressed up as a ……. devil with his pitchfork cheering). After sign on I lined up on the start line with the Norwegian champ to my right.
1st from left
When the race started we raced to get on the back of the neutralised vehicle. It took us all the way to the bottom of one of the hills. When the vehicle started the race everyone started sprinting as if it was the finish. The race got lined out immediately and I was sitting about 5th in line. We took a right hand corner at 35mph and started to race downhill. I was sitting on a guy’s wheel who was sitting on the top tube. I then sprinted past him in case he crashed. 100metres later he went down after a bigger rider knocked into him (thank you Spiderman sense). When we hit the 1 Km to go sign for the first time many riders where dropped as the gradient started to ramp up. After 3 laps of racing I was in the lead group with around 20 riders. The pace hadn’t let up, in fact it went even quicker. Each lap I would lose the wheel on the descents and catch back on during the climbs. The descents were horrific, the speeds the guys were taking it was unreal. A good few guys paid the price and crashed. I didn’t fancy going home with a broken frame so had to drop of this pace but would dig to catch up on the uphill’s although this did take its toll. The crowds where crazy with many fans waving flags and they were dressed in crazy costumes. With 5 laps to go I didn’t have the energy to chase them back on the climb. I was quite gutted about this as my descending had let me down but also happy that I was able to hold on to some of the best juniors in Europe as a 1st year junior. I joined a chasing group of 3 riders and completed the last 5 laps with them. The race had blown to pieces with many of the riders being pulled out before the finish. I was able to complete the whole race. One of the riders I was riding round with raced the Junior tour of Flanders along with a few other classics which was really cool to hear his stories of racing. What was good was knowing that the pace in this race was the same as these monument classics. I can look back on the race and I know that was the fastest and hardest race I have ever done or been exposed to.
Overall it was brilliant Experience, many thanks to Scottish cycling North East and hopefully will be able to race it next year.