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Rapha Rides North Sealand
WORDS: Jesper Grundahl | PHOTOS: © Fredrik Clement
With the forthcoming Road Race World Championship being held in Copenhagen, Rapha will be staging several rides during the week of 19-25th September 2011.
Preparations for riding with the Danish Rapha ambassadors team and official Team Saxo Bank photographer, Fredrik Clement, were carefully mapped out. In fact, the ride invitation to the team went with strict instructions to not be late at the meeting point, Hotel Vedbaek, which lies opposite stunning views of the sea, sand and Sweden.
You can of course plan many things ahead but Alex Ceselli, Rapha's Scandinavian Sales Agent, arrived from working two months straight at Rapha Cycle Club Mallorca, and was sick as a dog, something I didn't anticipate. His glorious poster boy looks, having adorned many a Rapha photo, had been reduced to a grey wobbling pulp which now shivered on my doorstep. Will this thing be able to complete a 100-120km ride?
We are subsequently late. Really late for meeting with the team. We descend like maniacs down one of the favourite local climbs in order to make it on time. Everyone is there. Hands are shaken, words and banter exchanged, and with Mr. Tomas 'Fashion Police' Hundevadt pointing out we are late (thanks) we finally set off.
The first 35km was a gentle, social ride taking in spectacular views of the east coast of Sealand. It is hard to imagine you only have to ride 15 minutes out of Copenhagen to find spectacular views of this kind. The sun reflects beautifully off the sea, a gentle breeze caresses the 10 riders, and it is only Carsten Jensen bringing everyone back to reality by talking about cake and coffee constantly.
Reaching Helsingor, where the Castle of Kronborg majestically resides, and where Hamlet - Prince Of Denmark, used to live, the tempo raises, and any thoughts of coffee breaks are dismissed. Racing down the north side of Sealand towards Saunte and Hornbaek, with the sun beaming and Sweden to the right, we realise today is the day for riding hard, and not the time to stop for cinnamon buns.
The turn towards Havreholm Castle provides a stunningly gradiented route, next to the local golf club, and the tempo increases considerably as everyone clambers to come to the front. 'Steam Engine' Niels Jensen, with thighs the size of a North American pine tree, drives the peloton through leafy woods towards Groenholt and Karlebo. This is affectionally known as the "Morten Korch route" for its inclusion in old Danish romantic movies. It has a picturesque backdrop with small, steep hills dotted on a string like pearls. Not total killers, but enough to zap the energy from your legs if you haven't looked after yourself after 100km.
Towards the end Soeren Jarl is suffering badly and despite Alex Ceselli’s earlier grim complexion, he pushes Soeren over the last steep hills (the painkillers having obviously worked their magic). Facing another gruelling 20km homewards by himself, Soeren was handed the "Lanterne Rouge" prize - Rapha Soap, Chamois Cream and Winter Embrocation - to ease his pain.
If you plan to head to Denmark for the Worlds - bring your bike with you and enjoy the beautiful surrounding outside Copenhagen and North Sealand.
All Rapha World Championship Rides will be announced on Rapha.cc