Denmark’s Jimmy Johnsen discovered triathlon in 1994 and despite being hooked continued his studies to become a blacksmith. Following a year of compulsory national service Johnsen opted to go to Bosnia as a NATO soldier, which gave him a whole new appreciation of his life at home. On his return he continued to race triathlon and went on to finish ninth at the European Long Course Championships in 2003. In 2005 Johnsen came second at the European Long Course Championships and the following year he went on to take third at Ironman Western Australia. The results continued and in 2008 the speedy Dane quit his job to race full time. This year Johnsen pulled a fifth at Challenge Wanaka, third at Ironman Cairns and third at Challenge Copenhagen.
1. Describe your first ever bike?
My first race bike was a blue Smirt steel frame with 1 2 gears and the shifter was on the frame.
2. How did you do in your first race?
I can’t really remember my first race but I think it was in high school. What I do remember is the very strange feeling trying to run off the bike.
3. What’s your essential brekkie?
I have two. When I’m in Denmark it is rye bead with Nutella and when I’m in Australia it’s muesli with fruit, chocolate milk and a cup of green tea. I don’t mind pancakes from time to time.
4. Legs shaved, waxed or hairy?
Shaved for most of the year. I always shave my legs the day before a race and before a massage. It feels better to get massaged when your legs are shaved. I’ve also found it’s easier to clean out gravel when I suffer any road rash.
5. Train alone or with a group?
Both. It’s much easier to train in a group, especially when it’s bad weather or when I have a big training block.
6. Energy drink, tea or coffee?
High5 energy most of the time and green tea in the morning. I think I’m one of the few triathletes that doesn’t drink coffee. I don’t like the taste so I stick with tea, High5 and cola.
7. Where does your bike live?
Indoors. Next to my bed when I’m on a training camp.
8. Snickers or energy bar?
Most days energy bars but on a long bike I can slip a Snickers down.
9. Biggest waste of your time?
TV and the Internet. Both are pretty good at taking up any of my spare time.
10. Craziest place you have slept since becoming triathlete?
In the back of my car and got woken up by the Swiss border control asking where I was going.
11. Pee on the bike, stop or hold it until the run?
Pee on the bike but only in races. I definitely don’t do it near spectators or marshals.
12. Three people to have dinner with?
Besides my amazing fiancée who I get to have dinner with every night, I would like to have dinner with Jenson Button, Danish comedian Dirch Passer who died in 1 980 and Barrack Obama. They must have some good stories.
13. What do you carry with you when you train?
On the bike I have two spare tubes, a repair kit, multi tool, pump, cable ties, phone and money. If I’m in a place I don’t know I carry a map just in case. People laugh at the start but when they break down I’m a good friend. For running just energy gels and toilet paper (in case). My MP3 player comes with me always.
14. Worst chafing/sunburn?
My worst chafing stories do not belong in this magazine! My worst sunburn was when I cut my hair four days out from Ironman Western Australia in 2008. My entire scalp was full of blisters the day after.
15. Favourite place to ride?
In the Alps in Australia or the mountains in Southern Europe, so long as it’s warm and sunny.
16. What theme music would play to a film of your life and why?
All the songs from the movie Top Gun – a classic film with boys being boys and a great soundtrack.
17. Pre-race rituals and meal?
I go to the toilet five or six times on race morning. I drink half litre cola 30 minutes before race start. For meals I don’t worry so much but something easy to get down, so not a big steak, probably just pasta or rice. And I don’t have any rituals anymore. When you travel so much it’s hard to do the same thing at every race.
18. Funniest person you know?
The funniest is probably my fiancée, Aimee, she always gives me a good laugh. She helps to keep things light and not so serious all the time. Australian humour is pretty unique.
The last book I did read was Macca’s book I’m Here To Win.
20. What you’ll be doing this month?
August is an easy month with only Challenge Copenhagen on the schedule. Then I will build up for the Australia season and the next season begins, so there is a quite bit of racing before the year is over for me.