Cycling off the Beaten Path in Denmark

This post has been delayed for the longest time but without further or do, here it is! This past August I took a “trication” to Scandinavia to compete in the KMD Ironman Copenhagen, 4:18:4 and the ITU World Olympic Triathlon Stockholm. A few days after competing in Copenhagen (race report to come soon) I took a day trip to the island of Møn to get off the beaten path and explore the Danish countryside by bike. It is quite a lot for one day but can be done.

Møn is an island south of Copenhagen that can be very easily reached by train and bus in just under 2 hrs. You can take the ICE train south to Vordingborg (a very cute little town) and transfer directly to the 660 bus to Stege outside of the train station. The buses and trains are extremely easy to use. Buses accept cash on board then you board the bus as a method of payment so you dont have to worry about getting a card.

Stege

Stege

Arriving in Møn the bus drops you off in the town of Stege which is the largest town on the island and is a base for all activities on the island. We arrived around 11:30 or so in the morning at Stege which gave us a little bit of time to explore the town. A beautiful little town filled with restaurants, craft shops and art galleries the town also features some stunning Danish architecture as well as one of the only surviving city gates in Denmark. Møn is a place that attracts a lot of artists which is evident by its stunning landscapes. Thus, if you are into the arts, I highly recommend checking out some of the galleries in Stege. Liza’s Gallery, located just off the main strip in Stege (a few blocks from the bus station) is an excellent art gallery to visit which features a nice variety of art from glass works, to textiles to painting from local artists. We spent a good hour in this place as I just wanted to buy everything. I purchased a beautiful painting of Møns Klint, the famous clay cliffs, by Rupert Sutton who is one of the co owners of the gallery .

To rent/hire a bicycle head to Point S Stege a 10 short minute walk down Storegade (the main road) past all the shops. Point S allows you to rent bikes for the day or days if you are staying longer. Opening hours are from Mon-Fri 7:30 to 17:00, Saturday 9:00 to 13:00. The shop also allows you to return the bike after hours which was fantastic for us since we wanted to maximize our day on the island.

Møn in route to Klinthomn Havn

Møn in route to Klinthom Havn

After picking up the bikes at Point S we cycled east along Klintevej stopping at Keldby Kirk for some photos in route to stop at Kaj Kok, a traditional Danish restaurant for lunch. To our disappointment the restaurant was closed. Continuing on, we took a right at Sondre Landevej (across the street from Kaj Kok) toward Klinthom Havn. Klintholm Havn is a small port town that features a beautiful beach for relaxation, a couple restaurants, and an art gallery. The town is also the launching point for boat tours to visit the popular Møns Klint. In route to Klinthom Havn we passed many beautiful traditional style houses and farms. I found myself stopping numerous times to snap photographs. The terrain is a gradual down hill to Klintholm Havn. We became aware of that on the return ride as it felt slightly harder to peddle back. For the most part the terrain here is pretty flat. If you are peddling along at a gradual pace the ride is just under 10 miles (about 15km) and will take you no longer than 45 minutes to get there from Stege. Arriving in Klintholm Havn we had lunch at Hyttefadet which features delicious seafood specials. Special note that the menu is only in Danish. The service I must say was fantastic though. Pressed for time we trying to eat quickly to make our boat tour to go to Møns Klint. The manager of the restaurant was so gracious he called the tour company and held the boat for us. Peddling over to the docks he locked up our bikes at the dock and boarded the boat.

Møns Klint

Møns Klint

Taking a boat tour of Møns Klint is a great way to see the cliffs and learn about its history if you are pressed for time. Sejlkutteren Discovery runs boat tours a couple times a day out of Klintholm Havn. The boat tour is about 2 hrs and costs 175 DKK per person. Beverages can ice cream can be purchased on-board which was a nice treat.

After the boat tour we poked around the gallery in Kintholm Havn which featured numerous paintings and photographs by local artists as well as a large antique collection on the down stairs. Definitely worth the look if you have some time.

The ride back to Stege was a little more challenging than we had anticipated. The gradual climb back to Klintevej combined with the increased cross wind was a little more challenging on the touring bike. Since the terrain is pretty much open farm land on this route it can become very susceptible to higher cross winds. It was nothing crazy just something to consider. We made a pit stop at the Elmelunde Kirk on the return to admire some traditional Danish church architecture and take a glance inside to see the ceiling paintings. Elmelunde is noted to have some of the most beautiful Sistine “chapelesque” paintings inside. We, however, arrived a little too late to take a look inside. The exterior of the church and its grounds are still quite remarkable and worth the stop to gander at.

After reaching Elmelunde the ride back is a flat 4.5 miles back to the bike shop (approximately a 20 minute ride). Arriving back in Stege I was a little surprised that everything for the most part was closed on a week day in August. It was difficult for us to find a place to eat on the return before catching the bus back. I ended up running to the supermarket (which i just made in time as it was closing) to grab some food, or so Mon-Is in my case.

I highly recommend checking out Mon and the clay cliffs if you have a free day in Copenhagen. It is definitely worth the trip to experience the Danish countryside off the beaten track.

Møn by Bicycle (Stege, Kirks and Møns Klint) Itinerary and Route – 1 Day

  • Early or mid morning train from Copenhagen to Vordingborg where you will transfer to bus to Stege. Approximately 2 hrs.
  • Arrive in Stege late morning with an 45 minutes to an hour to walk around the town and visit shops and galleries. Recommended places include; Liza’s Gallery for local Danish fine art, David’s for a morning coffee, shopping along BLANK.
  • Hire a bicycle from Point S – Stege located a 10 minute walk from downtown Stege.
  • Cycle Stege to Klintholm Havn via Keldby Kirk to stop for a photo op: 10 Miles, 45 minutes
  • Lunch in Klintholm Havn at Hyttefadet and check out the Gallery a block down the street before catching a boat for a two hour boat tour of Møn Klint.
  • Cycle Klintholm Havn to Elmelunde Kirk : 6 miles, 30 minutes
  • Cycle from Elmelunde Kirk to Stege: 4.5 Miles, 20 minutes
  • Depending on the day and time you arrive back in Stege have dinner downtown before catching the bus back to Vordingborg.
  • Catch an early evening/late afternoon bus back to Vordingborg to transfer to the train back to Copenhagen. Arrive back in Copenhagen later in the evening.

Trip Duration: 12-13 hrs (from Copenhagen)

Cycling: 21 Miles, 1h 35 min

Stay tuned for my full detailed cycling and travel guide of Møn to come soon complete with maps and more photographs!

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Triathlete to Swim, Bike and Run South East Asia and Develop Endurance Travel Guides

This year I have been giving things a lot of thought and I have decided to move forward to pursue my passion with multisport and travel. I am approaching a pivotal point in my life where I will have an opportunity to try something new with my life and pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. This October I will embark on a journey to south east Asia for five months where I will swim, bike and run from Singapore, through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and develop endurance travel guides from my experiences.

There are many travel guides out there today which provide copious amounts of fantastic information about countries and places for people who solo travel to people who travel with families. However, as an endurance athlete who loves to travel and spends a lot of time training, I often ask myself when arriving someplace where can I run?, where can I get a swim in?, where can I bike safely and where can I eat on a racing/sports diet? With my experience with travel and being an athlete it would be nice to have a guide when I am traveling to race or on vacation and need to train that can provide me with good area information on training routes, places to swim, cautions to take in a particular area, and healthy places to eat for example. These guide books will strive to answer those questions that we all have when traveling for business, to a race, or to a vacation spot and we want to train. The guides will include but not be limited to detailed route maps for cycling and running, discussion of good places to swim, cautions to take, provide recommendations of places to eat healthy on an athlete diet, and make recommendations of places to base yourself out of depending on your life style.

Thus, to make this dream into a reality I ask for your help with a small donation. Every little bit helps. The money will be used to cover necessities: international air travel, ground transportation between cities, food, lodging in guest houses, hostels or airbnb and visas.

To make a donation click here.

Thanks a lot in advance.

Monticelloman Race Report

The week leading up to Monticelloman I came down with yet another cold. This was number two in a row this spring. I was not pleased as I had just gotten over the first and then caught a second. Hence I took it easy on my workouts that week. I had happened to be on a rest week with workouts too which was good because it would allow me to recover better from the cold. I took Friday off completely from workouts and then did a 45 minute ride on Saturday morning with 20 minutes or so at race pace. Later that afternoon after we arrived in Charlottesville at the race site to pickup our packets. Parked at the race site, I went for a 3 mile run at a 7 minute mile pace, on the run course to check it out. I debated going for a swim as they had the beach open for a swim practice. However, I  decided not too as the water was rather cold and I did not want to be in a cold wet suit the following morning when it was 45 degrees out!

Pre Race

That night I got some good sleep at Alissa’s friends house and I woke up around 6:30 to get my things together have some coffee and some breakfast  I had my usual oatmeal with honey and blueberries and a banana before the race. Arriving at the race site is when disaster struck. After we parked the car and unloaded our stuff I started to put my bike together. It turned out I had screwed in my cassette too tight after I had taken it off to clean it the day before. If you screw in your cassette too tight to the wheel it basically becomes stuck with the rear wheel as it rotates so you cant glide down hills or around turns. I could believe this. Basically my bike had become a fixie. I could still shift still which was good. I just could not stop peddling or I would crash. Frustrated, I took my bike to the bike tent at transition hoping that they would have a cassette wrench. Turned out they didn’t  I was screwed. Really nervous now, we were also running a little behind so I began to become stressed about getting everything set up in transition and get body marked. I then proceeded to move to transition thinking about what I could do. I did not bring a cassette wrench with me and I doubt anyone else did either. Transition was a full at this point and it was hard for me to find a spot. The numbers were done in groups so there was not an individual spot for me. I managed to find one after looking for 5 minutes or so. I began to set every up and started to ask around if anyone had a cassette wrench (I know weird question, who brings one to a race?). Turns out no one did, no surprise there. Not to self: always check your wheels to see if the cassette moves on the wheel and don’t screw it in really tight or bring a cassette tool and wrench to races. Whoops! At this point I decided well I am going to have to make due with this. Live and learn. I began to smile and think about positive things. The bike was ride-able it was just going to be a very interesting bike portion of the race. After I got all set up I went to get body marked and get my timing chip. I then slipped on my wet suit and headed down to the beach for a little warm up swim. At this time the first half swimmers were coming in so we cheered them on in.

The Swim

monticellomanswimstart2

We had a beach start to the swim which was rather exciting to me. I have never had one of these in triathlon and have always wanted to do one. I positioned myself to the front line and to the right a little so I could get out front and not have to trample over people as I am a strong swimmer. The air horn sounded and we all sprinted in. The swim course had 2 buoys we had to go around on our right hand side. The first was straight ahead from the beach then we turned west down the lake to the second then a turn for home. The water was flat, not choppy which was good and there did not appear to be much current. The temperature was a little over 60 so a wet suit for me was a must. I had difficulty breathing and settling into my stroke the first 500 yards or so. I am not sure if it was the cold water or my sickness. Could have been a combination of both. I was really struggling with my breathing around the first buoy. Nearing the second buoy I began to settle in to my groove finally. There were a handful of people ahead of me. Sighting was easy around the second buoy however after we made the turn it appeared they were still moving some guide buoys for the olympic race. A few of us stopped for a minute dead in the water looking for guide buoys since the second turn buoy was rather far out. There was a guy on a jet ski moving one guide buoy. I saw other swimmers going off to the left toward it but to me it didn’t make sense. I then noticed it was being moved. I continued on my course as I was able to spot the swim out buoy. Where they ended up dropping the buoy was right in my path, excellent. Feeling good at this point I began to pick up the pace. Exiting the swim my body felt good and strong. However, I glanced at the clock and it said 24 minutes. Eeek… That was a bit slow for me. However after analyzing my swim results I realized that my swim was actually 1.09 miles according my my garmin and my sighting seemed to be a bit off after the second turn. My full technical swim race report can be found here.

T1

T1 could have gone better, but since my body does not move as well in the cold I think it went ok. I had some difficulty getting out of my wet suit even after body gliding my legs. I quickly slipped on my bike shoes and helmet and took a swig of water and gatorade and headed out to the bike course. Not the best but I’ll take it. I was becoming more nervous at this point also about the bike.

The Bike

monticellomanbike

The bike went very well given my situation with my cassette. Running the bike out of T1 I was feeling a little slow, down and nervous all at the same time. I was praying to god that I would not crash on the course. I have never ridden this course before or driven it so I didn’t quite know what to expect. The only part I was familiar with was a steep sharp, quick downhill near the beginning of the bike. The olympic course is a one loop course that circles Lake Monticello. Beautiful and scenic it features numerous rolling hills with a nice challenging one here and there. I found the bike course to be challenging but yet very fast. I went close to the my bike split I got at Lobsterman last fall which I was stoked about and not being able to really handle downhills and turns made me more happy with my bike fitness level for this early in the season. We had a bit of wind on the course around mile 15 or so which I thought was bizarre since most of the bike course is lined with trees and there were not many open fields that you crossed. It was puzzling to me where this strong crosswind came from. The air temperature was perfect for me with the biking. I had been worried that it was going to be really cold on the bike and that I may need arm warmers. That was not the case, I was perfectly comfortable the whole time. One thing I should have done is drink more of my water and Heed that i had carried with me on the bike. Usually I go through the two bottles on an olympic on the bike. I probably has half that, which came back to bight me later on the run. When the temperature is cool out I have a tendency to not take liquids on the bike. Its a habit I have been trying to break for years now. I managed to hold my place well on the bike which was surprising for me as well. I only went down one place on the bike. Usually I get crushed on the bike. The last few miles of the bike course is great, its all down hill. With only a few turns left to go I glanced at my watch and saw I was averaging about 20 mph on the hilly course. I was very pleased. I began to get a second wind so to speak in the last few miles. I took a Clif Shot around mile 15 which helped out. I had planned to take it earlier but it seemed to work just fine here. Coming into T2 I was a little disappointed I could not try out taking my shoes off before the dismount line  as I had been practicing. Arriving at T2 I looked a little silly “winding down” my peddling. Needless to say I was glad the bike went that smooth. Its a little bit of a jog into transition after crossing the dismount line. You basically dismount at one end then run around the transition area to get into it with your bike. My full technical bike report can be found here.

T2

T2 was an interesting experience on many fronts. After dismounting off my bike and slipping out of my bike shoes I had the most awful cramp in my thy’s and my upper abdomen. The cramp was so tight you could see this long bulge protruding from my chest that was solid as a rock. I could not stand up it hurt so bad. I had to stop for a moment to let it pass. This had never happened to me before. I concluded it must have been from the lack of water I had been drinking on the bike. Once it passed I was able to get my other shoe on and make my way out of transition jogging slowly being cautious of any other cramp that could emerge.

The Run

monticellomanrun

Once I was out on the run the cramping began to go away and I began to gain speed. I went out at a sub 7 minute mile pace which was great for me and given it was a hilly course I was feeling great. I managed to pace off of a gentlemen who departed T2 the same time I did for the first 2.5 miles or so. The course is a 6.23 mile lollipop loop along the lake through residential streets. The hills were rolling and challenging but I did not find it unbearable. It did seem more rolling than the profile on the map had shown. I continued to maintain a 7 minute mile pace which was great for me with the hills. Once you round the lollipop it is downhill for the most part. People in the neighborhood had come out to cheer us on which was great. I smiled and waved as I passed by. I seemed to have been doing pretty well at this point. One person came flying by me around mile 3 but besides that I managed to keep my place. My pace started to fade a little bit toward the end. There was a little climb to the finish line. My full technical run report can be found here.

Post Race

I felt good after finishing the race. I definitely brought the run in as fast as I could. The race offered a nice spread of pizza, fruit and snacks for the finishers. After taking in some food I went to look at the results and noticed that I placed 5th in my age group and two of the guys that beat me placed in the overall top 3 pushing me up to 3rd place in my age group. I was psyched. This was my first award. However, the results they were reading off were very different than the awards printed for racers to see. There seemed to be many mistakes. They were even calling up women for mens awards. There was also a mess up in my age group. One of the guys got an award for both overall and age group bumping me down to 4th place. I questioned it as I thought I was eligible for an award. They apologized to me when they recognized it but didn’t do anything to correct it. Everything was screwed up. In all this was a nice low key race but a little disorganized.

Monticello and its Wines and Food

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Post Race Celebration Wine Tasting at Trump Vineyards

This past weekend my friend Alissa participated in the Monticelloman Triathlon which is a race that features both a half-ironman and olympic distance that takes place in and around Lake Monticello just a few miles southeast of Charlottesville, Virginia. Home to Thomas Jefferson and of course the birth of The Dave Matthews Band, Charlottesville has many cool attractions and activities to partake in if you are in the area. It makes for a great little getaway weekend from Washington, DC as well.

Filled with history and vineyards you can visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello and then go wine tasting at Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson sits on the site of Thomas Jefferson’s original vineyard he built when he settled there. However during the Revolutionary War the vineyards were destroyed. The vineyard remained farmland until 1981 when grapes were replanted and the Vineyard reopened as Jefferson Vineyards. I highly recommend their Meritage wine there. Fantastic bold red with lots of flavors. Jefferson’s wines tend to be on the dryer side just FYI. A tasting is just $10 and you get to sample 11 wines and a crystal wine glass! Just not more than ten minutes down the road is Trump and Blenheim Vineyards (owned by Dave Matthews). We had managed to stop in at Jefferson and Trump for a tastings but didn’t make it to Blenheim Vineyards due to the late start time that we had following the triathlon. Trump is a fantastic winery that offers incredible views of the valley and has a lovely outdoor tasting area. It is a great spot to spend a nice sunny afternoon with a glass or bottle and relaxing. If you are into ports and whiskey I highly recommend the Cru. Its an after dinner white wine that is made similar to port and has a strong Jack Daniels flavor to it. Its great on the rocks, straight or even in a mimosa. The bottle is rather large and does only have a 10 day shelf life unlike port. The sauvignon blanc is lovely too. I had a glass of that following the tasting. We hung out at the Trump tasting room until they closed since the atmosphere was so great.

Following our wine tour we made our way into downtown Charlottesville in search of some good cuisine. There is a lovely pedestrian mall that stretches most of the historic downtown area called East Main Street. The closed off street features dozens of restaurants ranging from Chinese to American to Indian cuisine. Following the race we were craving carbs and something different with lots of flavor. We felt like we needed to indulge a little. In the end Alissa and I decided on Indian. We ate at Himalayan Fusion, which is located on the eastern end of the East Main Street has a nice menu of Indian and Tibetan cuisine (some Chinese too). The vindaloo and the garlic naan was great. Very flavorful and moderately priced! In all we wish that we had a little more time here but we definitely made the most of it with the time that we had. I am planning a return trip this fall during the foliage season to hit up more wineries and visit some sites that I missed along the way this time. Stay tuned for my full race report on Monticelloman!

A New Year with New Goals

After exceeding my expectations for last year by not only completing my first full Ironman but completing it in over an hour and a half faster than what my goal, I was eager to begin to plan the 2013 season. Last year was such an incredible year, very long season but incredibly rewarding by accomplishing things I never dreamed I would be able to do. I also got to check off a couple of races I had been dreaming of doing for some time now.

Coming into 2013 I decided I wanted to go for another full (I know crazy right?). I had been thinking about it for quite sometime. Even before racing  Cozumel. One thing I have realized about myself over the years is if you think about it constantly, go for it. It is what you want and your destiny. I did however, want to make the season much shorter than my 2012 season. I had a blast last year don’t get me wrong but racing and training from February to Thanksgiving was a looooong time. I would like some more downtime this year. Thus, I made my plan for my next full.

Last spring I came a cross the KMD Challenge Copenhagen in Denmark when some other fellow DC Triathlon Club members had told me they were competing in that race later that Summer. I immediately became intrigued. Having fallen in love with Ironman and my strong desire to travel I became really interested in this race. Not to mention I have been wanting to go to Denmark for the longest time. Scandinavia has always been a place I have had a strong desire to visit and spend some time. This was my chance! I then decided to cash my Star Alliance Miles for a round trip ticket to Copenhagen to begin my quest for Ironman number two and my ultimate “trication.” Doing to prelim planning I knew I wanted to spend a bit of time in Denmark traveling, however, I was also wanting to go to Sweden and get up to Stockholm. Norway was a must for me but that would have to be a completely separate trip since there are too many thing I want to see and do there. So I planned out 2 weeks (unfortunately thats all I have…sucks) in Denmark and Sweden, ending the trip in Stockholm. I like killing two birds with one stone. Traveling to a beautiful cool new place and getting a race in. It always makes me feel better on indulging after the race as well.

After cashing the miles (60,000 miles) and getting my vacation time cleared I registered. Gulp….Im in! Here we go…number two…. Now it was time to pick some other races. After looking at my finances from last year on how much I spent in triathlon (gear, races, travel) I went a little overboard. This year I decided to scale it back. Maybe this year I will do 3 races and not 6. I stated to look for a good half ironman I could do leading up to KMD Challenge Copenhagen. I chose Rev3 Williamsburg in the end because the timing was great where I was about 7 weeks out and Williamsburg I a great place to make a nice little weekend trip.  The countryside is beautiful down there with lots of historical sights to see and fun activities to take part in like mini golf and Bush Gardens. I also wanted to get an Oly race in early in my season plan as well. I came across ITU San Diego which I thought would be cool. Our tri club got an awesome deal with tri bike transport the previous year if we got a large group of members to compete. They came back at us this year with the same deal. I was intrigued. Then I noticed that ITU Stockholm (which was linked to the San Diego website) was happening the day I was planning to be in Stockholm. Hmmm…. I started to look into it. It was a week after Challenge Copenhagen. Would I be crazy for signing up for this? An Oly a week after an Ironman? I just wanted to do it for the heck of it since I would be there. I asked around to some of our tri club coaches and they said “well your 30….you should be fine”. Done. It was only $125 for ITU Stockholm as opposed to about 250 with all the fees for ITU San Diego. Call me crazy but its the plan. Two weeks, two countries, two races. BAM! Let the training begin!