2x the victory: Dutch National Championship MTB Marathon
By Hielke Elferink
This season has been long, but also very successful.
It started off in South Africa with the Cape Epic. There my teammate and I ended up 4th in the General Category and took a third place in two of the race's hardest stages. Following that I traveled all over Europe to compete at many cross country races before winning the German stage race, Trans Schwarzwald in August. That was an awesome experience!
It also was the perfect preparation for my first appearance at the hardest race I have raced so far: the Swiss Epic, which consists of six days across the beautiful Swiss Alps that takes place in September. Just amazing. There my teammate and I ended up second in the General Category.
After this race there were only two weeks left until the The Dutch National Championship MTB Marathon in the Netherlands. The timing of two big races so close together made me a little unsure whether my body was going to be fit and race ready one more time this season.
To prepare, I did one week of recovery after the Swiss Epic, and one week of interval training — that was it. After the first week I was more ready than I thought. I did a tough training ride in the Black Forest with a lot of climbing and my legs felt great! Cool!! The last intervals my coach wanted me to do were more specific to prepare me for the race in Holland where the climbs are short but steep, and where you find a lot of flat sections where you just need to have a lot of power! These intervals, done on my PowerTap, were beneficial. It was so nice to see how training with PowerTap gave me the information I needed to feel ready and confident to race.
After winning the title last year for the first time, the goal was clear. I knew I wouldn't be happy with anything less than a first place. We arrived on Saturday, grabbed our number plate and went for a quick spin on the course. Everyone agreed the course was different from last year because it was dry. At least until the rain started later that night. Pouring rain. So, it turned out Nationals would be like every other year — very muddy.
Actually that's what I was hoping for. The harder the better.
The race started okay for me. Together with Dutch Cross Country Champion Anne Terpstra, we set the pace and a lot of riders were dropped. It looked like it was just the two of us out there on the course. The first 2.5 hours, Anne and I were equally strong. Sometimes she attacked, sometimes I did—but neither one of us was able to get away.
When we got around km 65, I noticed that I was still able to produce the same amount of power. Anne, on the other hand seemed, to have more difficulty maintaining her effort. In that moment I attacked and got away. Now it was a long solo to the finish line! I crossed the finish line completely covered all in mud, with no working front brake because of all the mud, and some derailleur problems—yet I managed to win! To say the least, I was very happy and I think I did even better than last year.
What a way to end a season!
Hielke Elferink is a 28 year old, 2x Champion of the Dutch National Championship Marathon race. She was born in the Netherlands, now living and training in Germany. She’s been mountain biking for 4 years and rides for the Wheeler-IXS team. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @HielkeElferink.