Saturday was the World Championship H4 Road Race in Denmark. I’ve come to the realization that hand cycling in the H4 class (Kneeling) is the modern day equivalent to chariot racing. It was a tough day at the office. Harder than the Time Trial two days prior.
The course at Roskilde is a technical, wind effected, undulating, 15.3km loop. It has some very winding and fast sections. Thirteen riders started the four lap 62km race, only 10 finished.
The pace was on from the first second as you exited the start/finish straight with a right hand turn into a head/cross wind effected 4km straight section with some small undulations and a net up hill. The next right hand corner enters a very fast section down hill, with a tail wind. The whole group was together around this corner, but as the pace picked up wheels were clipped and the Dutch rider came down doing 60km/h. The group continued the hard pace. At the base of this descent was the most technical area of the course, several s bends the second which was off camber and very tricky, we all passed through. I was counting it down, only three more times. The next several km were slightly up, slightly down, several right angle turns, a couple of small climbs then a final right hand turn and into the 1.8km finishing straight. The pace backed off we were still 9 together. I was sitting second wheel as we entered the final round a bout before the 250m to the start finish line and the beginning of lap 2. I remember only minutes earlier remarking to one of the USA riders that I hope this pace slowed as that lap was pretty fast. Next thing you know a rider was trying to squeeze in the inside going through the round a bout. It was stupid and dangerous riding, completely unnecessary. He clipped my wheel and I was thrown from the bike at 35km/h. I hit the deck, did a quick no pain check, nothing broken and bummed across to my bike, one of the earlier dropped rider came past. I asked for some help back into the bike, adjusted my position, checked I had my water bottle, my gel flask, the bike seemed ok, the chain was off. A push start, struggled, took several goes to get the chain on, several minutes lost. I began the chase.
As I exited the finishing straight in the distance I could just make out a rider in front, I chased hard. After 4km I caught him, it was Tim a Dutch rider. We had worked together before we could do so again, I assured Tim/myself that if we kept our heads and worked together we could catch the lead group. We worked hard. We came to the technical section, carnage greeted us, 2 riders were down, one USA the other Dutch, emergency cars were lining the road. We continued pushing.
Lap three started and we caught a look at another rider in the distance, this spurred us on, at times I was wavering, Tim and I would swap turns, again we rode the technical section around the back of the course we kept the pace high. Coming into the last 5 km we clearly saw the now two riders in front. Entering the finishing straight we caught them. Our intention was to power past them but we were not strong enough. Now on the final lap we had four of us and four in front somewhere.
Tim and I continued to push hard, I found a new energy in this last lap. I couldn’t see the four in front but I wanted to catch them. We approached the technical section, I cautioned our group, let’s take it easy, no need to race through here, there is plenty of time left to race after we safely negotiate this one last time. We all shut down to get through. Once through it was back on.
The race support motor bike reported that we were one minute down, with 8km to go, I pushed harder, next report was 45sec, then 30 sec 3km to go and it was 15 sec. It was going down to wire. We were in the final straight just before the round a bout with 250m to go and we caught them. In doing so I had nothing left for the sprint. I saw the finish line clear in front, imagined what it would be like to cross it first, yet knew I had nothing in the tank, riders flew past. I pushed the final 200m finishing in eighth place and 13 seconds behind first.
It was a tough day out.
Here is a link to the final results Men’s H4 Road Race.
Here is a link to the Men’s H4 Time Trial results
Here is a link to all the results page
It’s been a great trip, a great building experience. Onwards and upwards.
Thank you for all the support, I couldn’t do it by myself.