Blajel XCO 2023: Thunder and lightning, the gods take revenge

27 Jun

In this blog post, I want to share my experience at the Blajel XCO 2023 event. It was a memorable race, filled with unexpected challenges and remarkable moments. Join me as I recount my journey through rain-soaked trails, technical obstacles, and the triumph of perseverance.

Race Day:

Arriving at Blajel, with Sebi, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my first visit for a picturesque marathon. However, this time, I was here for the XCO race. Little did I know that the weather forecast from last year would return with a vengeance. The rain came pouring down just after the first lap, setting the stage for a thrilling yet treacherous competition.

Tire Strategy:

Anticipating the rain, I had a pair of wheels with Schwalbe Dirty Dan tires. Hoping that I wouldn’t need them, I soon realized my mistake. Still the Racing Ray/Racing Ralph combo was more than decent despite the rain. As the rain intensified and thunder roared, I made a conscious decision to stay on my bike. While the wood sector became slippery, I navigated the challenging A-lines while my opponents chose the B-lines for safety. I managed to ride the entire course, except for two steep off-camber sections that were simply impassable, regardless of tire choice. Nevertheless, relying on my experience, I had prepared by using shoe studs.

Course Hazards:

Within 20-30 minutes of rain, the course became increasingly dangerous due to its design. Large potholes, rock gardens, and abrupt drop-offs posed serious risks. Moreover, the immediate presence of hairpin turns after some of these features made navigation even more perilous. One particular drop-off required proper brakes to avoid landing flat. Despite these hazards, I pressed on, driven by my determination.

Race Results:

Despite the challenging conditions, I managed to finish 1st in the Master 1 + Master 2 category. However, the organizers decided to combine all the categories, resulting in a 2nd place finish for me. Surprisingly, this information was not communicated in the race technical guide or on their website. It was a disappointing oversight that overshadowed an otherwise good race.

Course Evaluation and Recommendations:

Reflecting on the race, I believe that with some modifications, the Blajel XCO course could become even more engaging. The lack of racing/riding experience may have contributed to some design flaws. By making the course flowier and addressing issues such as potholes, drainage, and off-camber sections, it could truly become a proper XCO course. The average speed of the overall winner, 13 km/h, further highlights the need for improvements. Additionally, it is worth noting that the advertised course length of 4.07km was actually 3.11km.

Event Assessment:

My personal rating for the 2023 Blajel XCO is ★★★✰✰.


  • Abundance of volunteers
  • Potential for an attractive course
  • Punctuality of the organizers
  • Spacious start/finish area, despite being bumpy


  • Categories combined without prior notice
  • Insufficient clearing space after technical features
  • Risky off-camber sections in wet conditions
  • Lack of drainage, leading to large potholes
  • Absence of a bike wash near the course, despite significant rainfall forecasted

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in organizing this event, supporting me throughout the race. I am also immensely thankful to my sponsors, family, and friends for their unwavering support.

I still wanna rock and I ain’t talking about furniture.

Cheers, Vlad

Thunder and lightning the gods take revenge
Senseless destruction

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