Race around Denmark 2018
”Cyclists live with pain. If you can’t handle it, you will win nothing” – Eddy Merckx
My 2018 racing season started last week. Now in retrospect it shouldn’t have. 5 weeks of consistent training after getting injured with joint pain and lung infection I started Race around Denmark. Only the Sprint distance (yeah, that’s what the World Ultra Cycling Association call races around 500 miles). The race consisted of 832 km around Jutland - essentially my back garden. Together with my performance crew I had decided not to start the season as planned with Race across Italy in April duo to the earlier mentioned time off the bike.
So how did it go? Well, we started in Horsens at the CASA Arena with a very conservative plan. We didn’t want to go too hard duo to the build up towards the season. I had done a couple of 200-300 km rides in the weeks leading up to the race. Knowing that my shape was only around 80-85% of max we wanted to use the race to grow and continue improving. After 220 km we had the first crew shift and I got some split times from my crew who were tracking our competitors. We were around 40 minutes ahead of 2nd place and 10min ahead of schedule. I was surprised. Even though I had monitored my HR and power output continuously staying at a planned intensity I had not seen it coming that we would be leading by this much 1/4 into the race.
After 250 km I started feeling an all too well-known pain in my right knee. We tried to adapt keeping it warm, changing pedal technique and adjusting position but I knew what was coming all too well. I live with pain. Everyday in training I either push though in high intensity sessions or defy my own capabilities when it comes to muscular and mental endurance. But this pain was different. Sharp, consistent and frustrating familiar.
80 painful km later the race was finished. As the sun rose in Northern Jutland I pulled out of the race together with my crew. Depressed and frustrated. Yet I knew it was the right decision. If you can’t handle the pain you will win nothing. Sometimes handling the pain is not about enduring it. It’s about knowing your own body, trusting your team and keeping the long-term goals in mind. My knee will recover to fight pain another day. In Race around Denmark I handled it.