Base Camp: Boulder, Colorado

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Hey Gang,

So, yar… been a whirlwind year… I balanced the winter nicely, getting into snowboarding and getting HOOKED, splitting my time between the slopes and the bike… but I was still getting in all the work on the bike, almost maximizing my time even better…

Well, whatever I was doing, it seemed to work… The training unfolded almost cookie-cutter and I had a very good build, pretty much a PERFECT May where I won a bunch of races and nabbed some course records… and in early-June I came up a little short at State TT, losing to Roger and Austin, but, (*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*), both are incredible riders and I had a very good ride, too, so not much to be done…

After States, complete veg-out mode. Relaxing, beer, not much riding, from 153 to 168 pounds, planning the summer out a bit… Periodization is potent, how fast the pendulum can swing: I did end up racing Lewis Morris MTB race at the end of June, stifling hot, 5 laps of this crap, lol, but I made it through, I think finished 9th in a big Pro/Open… I wish I had continued training through June for this event, as I think the course suits me, but I was in Fat Slow Mode, lol — Roger won, kudos to him.

I then went to south Jersey to help one of my athletes, Ryan Pettit, in the 3-day omnium going on during the 4th of July weekend… I didn’t have great legs, but I still tried like hell, chasing and setting pace on Day 1, then blocking my heart out on Day 2 as Ryan made the early break, and then on Day 3 really just hanging on, SHATTERED — the combo of the racing and heat just too much…

But, the experience in Heart House colors was a smashing success as Ryan WON Day 2, then took home the overall on Day 3 — so Mission Accomplished… That dude can ride his bike, let me tell you — very excited to see what we can do down the road… We fit him up on his TT bike that weekend, and it’s 99% there, just need a few tweaks, and he recently won the Blueberry TT against some fast riders, and he also, ummm, WON the NJ State Road Race Championships? So, it’s great to see things clicking out there…

This summer, I felt the need to travel. Got out of Dodge for a bit, bought a truck from an athlete of mine, packed my bikes into it, my EE stuff, some good books, a few clothes, and off I went. I drove straight across the country, stopping in hotels and working (my new mantra is, “Do you have wi-fi?”) and running some long miles (my bikes were sandwiched sardined in the back of the truck, no getting them out til I got to where I was going).

I landed first in Sun Valley, ID, for MTB Nationals… Tara Freaking Walhart took 2nd in the Cross-Country Expert… then WON the Super-D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yowza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did a few rides with the crew, and the riding out there was incredible, everything you hear about… We did this one climb, over an hour, and the descent was magical — you feel like an Ewok in the forest on one of them jetsleds — good times all-around…

Then off to Portland, OR, to stay with my editor from CX Magazine. Crashed with him for a good 10 days, just taking in Portland and exploring… Portland is a rad city — rains a lot, but the weather is very temperate year-round, and the road riding is incredible… The city almost has a small-town feel, and there are cyclists EVERYWHERE. It was kooky how many commuters and riders there were, bike lanes and bike racks splattered throughout. I was in love.

From Portland, off to Bend, OR to train with Laura Winberry, our star CX rider. There was a big race up in Washington, and the winner got a pro contract, prize money, a travel stipend, bikes — the full deal… Her season has been kinda helter skelter for a bunch of reasons, but I figured riding with her in person and keeping her 100% on point for a bunch of days could really help… Motivation and inspiration are scary things, and I wanted to instill these two things in her… She rode okay, ended up 5th, but it was great seeing her back in action… Her season, however, is all about the fall, and it will be interesting seeing her race a full UCI schedule against the country’s best…

From Bend, off to Boulder, CO, which has been calling me for a long time… A racer bud of mine from back east, I saw he had moved to Boulder, and we made contact and he had a spare room so why not check it out? In CX Magazine, they interviewed ALL the National Champions… and like 75% of them were from Boulder!

I shut my year down in June really to reload for CX, something I’m not so great at… But… we’re gonna have a squad out there this year, doing battle at the UCI events, and I yearn to be really a top coach, so what better place for Summer School than Boulder Freaking Colorado? CX is huge out here, like four parks you can ride in, very CX-like, so many CX riders here — I have already interviewed 4 National Champions, just picking their brains and seeing how they rose to the top…

Cycling is life here. There are so many athletes… I think Portland is my top choice to live from a human standpoint, but if you’re an athlete, Boulder can’t be beat. I mean, you see Garmin riders all the time? And last time I checked, a few of those dudes knew how to ride their bicycles…

But I’m really here to learn, to ride the dirt, to ride the grass… Starting up soon, Boulder has this event called Wednesday Worlds, a group CX ride (always in a different town park) that essentially is a race. I hear… these rides are HARDER than races, as Summerhill and the top Boulder riders show up and lay down the law… And, well, the best way to get better at CX is to RACE… so I’m eager to see how these go.

Boulder also has a sweet Short Track series; shor track is essentially a 30m TT on dirt on a tight course, kinda similar to CX — but CX on steroids, these courses so rollercoastery. The Short Track is FUN — I’m getting better… At altitude here, I couldn’t breathe the first week and didn’t go too too hard, but last week, I was feeling MUCH better and amped to race — and it ended up getting cancelled due to rain — and it RARELY rains here, Boulder the sunniest city in America… But… the storm was INCREDIBLE — Boulder is right at the foothills of the Rockies, and the lightning was RIGHT over us, crackling across the Rocky Mountains, absolutely surreal… I mean, you could HEAR the lightning splintering across the mountains…

I wanted to race in this madness!!! But… the race people scattered like ants after the cancellation announcement… so I rode the course HARD, SOLO, for a good 40+m, just blasting along, trying to push the limits through each turn, just get more and more acclimated to the dirt…

I have started creating my training through to the end of DEC, and I’ll be hitting the CU Short Track race each week, each week showing up with a different objective and goal… This is from an earlier B race: http://vimeo.com/24639436

On the road, I’ve been doing many base miles, just priming the engine for a big CX season… but also for a big road season next year. Won’t be doing as many TTs next year, will be getting back to my roots and doing a ton of travel and road racing — will be good times…

I’ve done a few of the big local group rides… Weird, but my big days here are WED (the Short Track race), THURS (the big group rides), and MON (a longer group ride), so my weeks are different from back east. Like, WED THURS is my heavy weekend, and SAT SUN here are spent exploring, easy, aerobic rides…

MTBing here is equally as big, and I’ve done a few rides, up in the foothills and WAY up in the mountains… The riding is different than back east, just faster and swoopier here, whereas home is rocky and more techy — but good fun nonetheless…

I think more pro athletes and more teams are based here than anywhere in the world – the 3 biggest pro teams in America are in Boulder, and you see them everywhere. Rock climbing – duh, Boulder – and triathlons are especially popular here, but nothing like the cycling scene. There are group rides of all kind that go out every day, morning noon night. There are bike lanes EVERYWHERE. I mean, it’s heaven for a bike rider. I am 100% a commuter, well, at least when I HAD to go to work, lol, and it’s amazing seeing so many commuters, bikes and bike lanes and curbed bike racks everywhere. Just seeing bikes and being around bikes gives me such incredible energy – pedaling a bike is really my livelihood, and I finally feel like I fit in, not that weird skinny healthy guy, lol. You ride to an intersection and wait and before the light is green, there are five riders behind you, waiting.

When I first got here, I went to the biggest shop in town, Boulder Cycle Sport, and asked about the local group rides. This kid Graham gave me the in-depth 411, and I wrote everything down. He mentioned the Bustop Ride, which is legendary, and another employee piped in, saying it was fast, dangerous, guys would run lights, just nuts, I should definitely avoid it. Of course, I’m thinking, When does THAT ride start, lol… So of course I did the Bustop Ride – it goes off Tuesday and Thursday from the local stripper joint, lol… But you get much pro talent here: Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson, Christian Vandevelde, team Garmin, BMC, Fly-V Australia, Tom Zirbel, Team Colavita, these dudes are there.

So my first group ride, and I’m dropped like stones, just can’t breathe and these guys are FAST and I’m FAT and not willing to push so hard… Up a roller, I was just dropped in the middle of nowhere, but you just look for the Rockies and head back towards them – it’s almost impossible to get lost, even if you’re 80 miles from home. I get back and download the power file and we averaged 28.1 mph up to the point I got dropped. Just a different world. Should note that the riders also ride much tighter, and it promotes a safer feeling – here we are, BOMBING along, and we’re riding inches off the wheel, full double paceline, awesome draft…

On the bike every day now, in a cocoon over here: I work and research pretty much every day from 8-3, and then I’m on my bike for a few hours… I am 100% back on Paleo Diet – get there, people – no gluten, no grains, no sugar, no salt, no dairy, no high fructose corn syrup, nothing processed, and I can feel it already, just new strength… It was depressing a little, letting the form go, but you NEED to do this, especially if you want to come back stronger… In these last two days, I can feel the legs starting to come back… I’ve pretty much been doing miles, LONG miles… I’ve been doing this cycling thing a long time, and my body respond well to high volume weeks…

The longer rides are helping me acclimate to the altitude: I did the same ride last week and was able to push through to the end, without really having to over-exert or go far into the red… Feels good… to be an athlete again!

The riding out here is quite different from what I’m used to… I wake up and the mountains are right in front of my window… but… I immediately steer the bike east, heading AWAY from them. Usually a faint crosswind, which is good, speeds are even going out and coming back… But I’ve just been riding, going out, further, further yet, go 2, 2.5h, 3h OUT, then turning around, the Rockies then always in view… and slowly creeping back towards them… I LOVE the openness of these rides, bike lanes everywhere – you just feel FAST out here, dunno if it’s the thin air or the open roads, but you just cruise…

You ride from Boulder, riding through the famous canyons, out of the suburbs, and very quickly you’re in this almost desert, just a freaking desert, open, sand, and then you hit the farms, farms everywhere, life growing all around you, and it’s all you know… and then you get to these vast grasslands, my favorite part, and this seems to inhabit most of Colorado, these wonderful rolling grasslands, and I like to ride close to the edge, brush my hand along the grass, feel the grass brush the outside of my thigh… This, this is bike riding… It’s amazing how many climate changes you experience as you rumble out of Boulder, have never seen anything quite like it…

One thing I should note is the skies are just different out here… I mean, you feel like you’re closer to the sky – I guess you ARE. The colors are so much more dense, run the spectrum more fully… You get red purple black blue horizons, all in one view. Hard to describe until you see it… You can see black rainstorms off in the distance, and you just turn right and avoid them, lol – you can almost control the weather out here, weird… You can see for miles and miles, and I’m so not used to that…

It’s WED, just had my pre-race meal, going back for the CU Short Track tonight, and then the famous Bustop Ride on THURS, where I plan to test my legs on the more arduous parts of the route, and then a solid recovery week, then the second phase of Foundation work, all geared for success in CX… So… we’ll see what happens! The training will be WILDLY different than my prep for TTs, and I’m fascinated in seeing how my body responds…

I’m even contemplating a triathlon or two (they are hugely popular out here) because I used to do them and I think the steady-state work will actually jive well with the early training… I live about 4 miles from the big Boulder Res, THE hangout and spot, so I think I’m going to start running there a few days, doing some laps in the water, and then jogging back… Simplicity, simplicity… Hey, you DO have to run in cyclo-cross, too, lol

In about three weeks, the famous Wednesday Worlds start, and I’m very stoked to get in on this, hopefully be semi-prepared for this fierce action…

And, it’s coming up fast… but can you say… Cross Vegas?

But these Boulder days are and will remain simple: I work, I study, I research. Will continue to meet with successful athletes and National Champions, and I yearn to interview all of them, learn about their training, how they handle their bikes, everything. I’m here, yes, to improve as a cyclist, but my primary goal for coming to Boulder is for my athletes, to become better at what I do, to provide superior training programs, to sift through this ocean of knowledge and figure out what works – and WHY it works. So much knowledge and experience out there, and I’m going to tap into all of it.

Summer School… most definitely is in session. I mentioned before about my season being done, but if I weren’t coaching, I’d still be racing 100%… But here I am, in my peak years as an athlete, and I’m essentially cutting the year in half, because I do realize I’m much more Coach than Athlete. I made this realization a long, long time ago, and I’m now acting on that. I write for a boxing magazine, and THE best trainers always tell me they’re always learning, ALWAYS — you can get good information from the homeless guy on the block… But many trainers and coaches are NOT this way, so ego-driven, so set in their own ways… But my mind is like a sponge — I yearn to offer my athletes THE very best training possible – helping athletes never gets old. 87+ victories this year, I think 8 State Champions off the top of my head, and we still have Criterium, MTB, and Cyclo-Cross States to go!!!!!!!

Seeing riders do well, and being a part of this process, it NEVER gets old, just keeps motivating me to get better and better at what I do, to make more and more success…

Prepping the EE team for CX this fall is my biggest goal of the year, my personal cycling goals included… I wanted the State TT BAD, and that pales in comparison to the energy I have for cyclo-cross, in seeing the riders succeed, in creating a true team dynamic where the team can feed off each other, push each other, support each other… THIS is what 2011 is about, and I’m so amped to take this next step…

Look forward to seeing y’all again by early-October at the latest…

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 | | |