Cross is Boss =)

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Well, I’ve finally gotten out there for cyclo-cross… Like with the MTB athletes I coach, I said I’d get out there this year and race with my CX riders… And GOOD times thus far — love the vibe, these races get HUGE crowds, the racers are a little more laid back, just an all-around positive environment… All I really have to say is… cross certainly has me hooked…

I just wish I had the legs to back it up!!! But I’m very happy with how the 2010 season went down… I won a bunch of TTs, had two good rides at Long Meadow and Blueberry and took home the NJBA TT Cup, won a MTB race, helped my team in numerous big road races. My season pretty much ended on August 15th, and I kept on riding and racing, but really I was already dialing things back, doing a ton of MTBing and letting the form just go where it may… But now, by late-OCT, normally I’d be doing a few weeks of “free” training, just listening to my body, doing what I want. If I want to hammer, I can hammer. If I want to ride easy, I ride easy. If I want to do nothing, I do nothing 🙂

And then after this typical block, I like to do 2-3 weeks of light cross-training, plenty to choose from here — it’s nice to get completely away from the bike and try other activities… This block can run longer, too, even cut into Transition and Preparation work — as long as we can still complete the necessary cycling work as we progress through these phases, there is NOTHING wrong with still doing as much XT as you can…

However, I’m not doing ANY of this now! Cyclo-Cross has derailed “typical” off-season plans… In early October, I went down to Van Dessel and picked up a sweet Full Tilt Boogie from Edwin Bull, then immediately started signing up for CX races!!! I got the bike, spent the next day trying to dial it in, and the next day I was racing!

My travel partner was Gavi Epstein of Foundation, and we went everywhere… I did Troy CX, where I was 11th :). Then I did Saratoga Springs, and this was gnarly. HUGE field, and I started at the back — again — and had massive difficulties with the twisty sandpit, then REALLY didn’t like the sandy run-up and then the second longer sandpit… All that running really zonked me, ended up 26th and feeling SLOW…

I have tried to book a race each weekend, all the while really just doing 1-2 Tempo workouts a week on the PowerCranks, almost a gray zone… I wanted to race CX, but I knew the form really wasn’t going to be there — and if I tried to MAKE form happen, this late with no true prep, I knew that could backfire badly… There is no such thing as a Sudden Plan… The main point for me was to get out there and ride and learn and experience more courses and just have fun, smilin’ and hootin’ and hollerin’ all the way. CX certainly is addicting…

At the MAC race at Highland Park on Halloween, I started last row of 100 but started harder than ever and was able to fight my way up to 25th by the end… The field was huge and the race was arguably the most arduous I’ve seen, and I was happy to hang in there, although I was THOROUGHLY WASTED halfway into the event!!! Hmmmm, wish I had May’s form!!!!

I know the first 30 seconds of a CX race can really be key, but with my racing this year, I just do NOT have the anaerobic power to start that hard… #1 With all the TT prep, my borderline flat power curve has become REALLY flat, which is good and both bad… And #2 I just don’t have the fitness to be trying to jump off the line with the leaders… I know if I do that, I’ll crack horribly and limp home…

And CX is kinda like a TT, but it’s also not… Will O’Donnell made a GREAT point recently with regards to his Track TT — he can’t be steady enough on that track, power up and down, and this destroys him… I’m similar — I need that linear effort. And cross, well, it AIN’T linear!!! CX, really, is like riding off the front of a super-techy criterium. That’s the best analogy. This requires massive anaerobic threshold power, repeatability, and tons of max efforts just thrown in everywhere. In short, a combination of all my weaknesses 🙂 — which is why I find CX so appealing, because I know it’s helping me minimize my weaknesses and make me a more complete rider…

At States up at Hidden Valley, I had my best CX legs, but the course was VERY twisty. It seemed like every 3 seconds you were railing up to a turn, and you accelerate out, and then you’re braking again… But it was a great course for States, as it really showcased who the best CX rider was, not necessarily who was the strongest… I had trouble clipping in at States and ended up THE last guy off the line, but kept on trying to fight my way through, ended up 14th…

After Hidden Valley, I decided to start back into Preparation training, am really doing light PowerCrank rides and two light gym workouts per week — if I was slow before, well, I’m gonna be REALLY slow now 🙂

The legs were still SUPER sore from the week’s gym work, but I was deadset on racing both SAT and SUN this weekend before I jet to Oregon for a bike fit and to support Laura at two of her year’s biggest races… Marty’s CX at Greystone was arguably the hardest CX course I’ve done all year, lotsa off-camber stuff, a few climbs, VERY choppy on the backside — just ZONKS you. I started off slow and steady, in the back as usual, REALLY not wanting to test or push it, and about halfway through I was able to turn it up and really felt like a freight train out there, passing guys and finishing 7th…

Today at West Point CX, we had a big field and the course was incredibly muddy. I again started near the back but the legs felt good so I just WENT and tried to make back that time in the first lap, and I did. After a few laps, I realized I was top-10, and for some reason I was taking the muddy sections pretty well — odd, because I’m NOT a great rider on techy terrain, so I must be getting better!

The legs were there today, so I pushed it, and with two laps to go I saw 2nd 3rd and 4th clumped up not too far up the course. I jackhammered and jackhammered, really turned myself inside out like I’ve never done in cross before, but I finished RIGHT on their heels in the finishing straight. Needed one more lap 🙂 But that’s racing for ya — they timed it just right and that’s all she wrote. Ended up 5th, really happy with how I was able to negotiate the course (gnarly barriers, long sandpit, off-camber climbs, lotsa muddy runs) and how the legs responded…

I’ve had my CX fix thus far… Elite Endurance kits are off to the printer, hope to get one to Winberry for USGP Portland CX and Nationals, and maybe I’ll rock one at the next race I’ll do, which I think will be Sussex on the 27th… Goal for 2011 is to put together a small Elite squad and do ALL the MAC and UCI races, have solid sponsorship onboard already with Van Dessel, Hammer Nutrition, PowerCranks, Campmor, Organic Asana, and Cycle-Ops…

Oh yes, CX has certainly hit me hard!!! Next year, will certainly plan a full peak for this unbelievable cross season. Personally, I want to race with the big boys in 2011… but more importantly I want to help my big CX riders see what they can do against the biggest local and regional talent as we travel to these huge events!!!

For 2011, Preparation mode has begun… Other than aerobically riding the PowerCranks and doing high-rep workouts twice per week in the gym, I’m trying to get on the MTB as much as possible, just fun, non-arduous riding… If any of you want to ride MTB locally (Ringwood, Jungle Habitat, Wayway, Kittatinny), feel free to shoot me an e-mail!!! The woods, right now, are a roadie’s best friend!

Thanks for reading.

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Sunday, November 14th, 2010 | | |