Saturday, August 18, 2012

Challenge Copenhagen

After a good race and a great result in Copenhagen, I thought this would be a simple blog to write and such an enjoyable one. But its been a week of mixed emotions.

On Tuesday morning one of my friends passed away while on a training ride back in Canberra. He was 27 and had the world in front of him.
Without any warning or pre existing condition he had a heart attack and despite all efforts from everyone in the bunch was unable to be revived.
I spent many hours with Robbie on the road and put down a lot of sweat and pain with him but nothing hurts as much as losing someone you have so much respect for.
My thoughts go out to his family, fiancee and the cycling community back home.

Last weekend was Challenge Copenhagen and after a few ordinary races in the middle of the year I came away with my second Challenge victory making it very satisfying.

It was a late decision to enter this race but once again Brett was right. Similar to Ironman UK last year it was only the week before that I finalised the trip over there.
We thought this would be a cooler race with no humidity and very similar conditions to back home in Canberra.
I was surprised just how accurate Bretts assumptions were. The only surprise was no rain for the entire week and almost perfect conditions for race day.

Being the most important race in Denmark its a big race for the Danish athletes, so there was no surprise to see such a competitive field of local athletes, most of whom I didn't know. I thought Jimmy Johnson and Tim Berkel would be the athletes to beat but I knew to beat them I would have to put together a pretty solid race.

It was a small field of Pro men, I think there was about 15 of us that hit the water at 7am to begin the days activities with a one lap swim in the calm waters on the outskirts of Copenhagen. From the start I got towards the front and exited the water on the feet of the lead swimmer and a minute gap back to the next competitors. I thought that was pretty handy and my chance to put a mark on the race. The time gap opened quickly and at the 60km mark I was told I had a 5minute lead. I still felt really comfortable and was riding to a heart rate so I knew I could sustain the effort over the entire ride. That was the final time check that I received until I put my run shoes on.
In the final 5km on the bike I ran over some glass left on the road from Saturday night and punctured. At the time it was the last thing that I wanted to hear. Unlike cycling I couldn't just get the spare from the team car and swap it, I was left with the choice of spending 10 minutes trying to fix it with some pitstop and the chance it wouldn't work or riding the last 5km on the rim and risking a crash on one of the corners or cambers in the road.
I slowed down to a safe speed and made it into T2 safely where I was told I had an 11 minute lead! I couldn't believe it.
Even better after riding the last 5km easy I had fresher legs for the run which came in very handy.

Onto the run and I felt great. For the first two laps I continued to put more time into the field. I was getting splits more often now so I slowed to conserve my legs but it didn't take long and I was starting to struggle. I think it was a combination of not being able to get all my nutrition down on the bike and simply not being back to 100% strength. Whatever happened the rest of the field started to close in on me quickly and I had to move my butt a bit faster if I wanted to win. I took my time through the aid stations and got plenty of fuel down. That was enough to get me to the finish line and take the tittle.
It was a great result and I know I can improve on that over the next few weeks. So some recovery then we start looking for what will be my final races in Europe this year.

Huge thanks to my home-stay, Daniel who actually gave me his bed for the week while he slept on the lounge!
Staying a little longer I was able to see a few of the sights and catch up with a few of the locals which was very cool and he was a great guide.
Below is a photo from one of our rides after the race. Daniel assures me it makes perfect sense in Danish!

Cheers, Aaron.

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