Freehold: heroin for the TT junkie

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

So here’s the Upper Freehold TT… This is the first TT where I didn’t really prepare for… I spent the week after States really chilling out, taking a well-deserved break…

I had a dilemma. I was 1st in the NJ TT Cup, and Freifelder and I have been going back and forth all year. He’s been a bit better, winning Sandy Hook, really getting me good at Jersey Shore, but I wanted States badly and had a strong ride in the heat and he cracked like a walnut. So back and forth, all year.

This TT Cup race was not anticipated. I stopped riding in June of 2008, not starting to ride again until 10 months later, then crashing badly, then riding again lightly in August of 2009, just getting ready for the winter… Wasn’t planning on being super competitive this year, was leery of the knee, of being able to push it, just wanted to follow a simple plan that would have me peaking for the State TT.

Along the way, I’ve done well at the TTs, 4th at Sandy Hook, 2nd at Readington, winning Kingwood 36k, winning Cape May TT, winning Somerset TT (hmmm, is my Biorhythm strong in May?), winning Kingwood 36k part II, 2nd at Jersey Shore, 9th at Killington TT, 2nd at State TT, 2nd at Upper Freehold TT…

I was amazed that even though training for a 50-minute effort, you can still do well at shorter events… These 10-18-minute TTs are essentially Suprathreshold efforts, and I was able to open up nicely for them. Weird how that works… But with my 2010 prep, I went from being in the past a decent time trialist and road racer who can punch it over the short climbs to a pure specialist with the flattest power curve on earth! The training this year really took away any Vo2 Max or Anaerobic Threshold pop I used to have, zero repeatability, zero sprint, zero acceleration.

Original idea was to rip States, then chill out, sit back, start to build for cross – maybe. June and July were going to be non-events :). But now with the TT Cup, the team wants me to win, and I’m not going to lie – I’d like to win, too. You never know when you’re gonna get another chance, as another competitor recently told me. We are both so frickin’ close. Behead or get beheaded. Gotta go for it now.

So I’ve starting prepping for the Cup’s final events: Flanders, Kingwood, Long Meadow, and Blueberry.

Flanders: Freifelder is the better climber, has done a ton more road riding than me this year. I’ve had two strong rides at Flanders in the past. It’ll be close… I think Fries has the edge here.

Kingwood: I hope I can eke a win. Exponentially easier said than done, as Fries has been a bullet on that Trinity. If I don’t win, it’ll be hard to take Dave. So I’ll have the motivation to have a super ride. Historically, I haven’t been great at flat, fast TTs, but this year I’ve excelled in these events, where the speeds are higher (except this SUN, where Dave blitzed me for 18s at Upper Freehold – we both averaged 29+ mph).

Long Meadow: I foresee will be the death race. If the Cup is close, I’ll have to “reach into the suitcase of courage” and see what’s there… Fries certainly has a huge advantage – he’s climbing great on his new TT machine… My climbing is not there right now (just came back from a hilly road ride – FAIL) and I just do not have any snap on the rollers or shorter climbs. Long Meadow, physically, is the most arduous course we have. Plus, this course is wide open in the baking sun, and so far this year (moreso in training) I’ve performed DREADFULLY in the hotter, sunnier conditions…

Blueberry: 20 miles, flat and rolling. I hope my prep from the first half of the year will help here. It would be crazy if the Cup came down to the final event. But in order to do this, I’ll have to be 100% on point.

Which won’t be easy. With extending the season, I’m doing more road riding, more road racing, other activities in these coming months… I’m doing a bunch of CRCA races in June, July, and August with Blue Ribbon. I’m doing the majority of the Garden State Cup events with Northeastern, a mix of sick crits and longer road races… In July, I might go out and do the Tour of the Valley in the Youngstown, OH area and do some work with Kelly Pavlik along the way…

And this Sunday I’m hitting the Lewis Morris H2H mountain bike race (did a MTB ride on Tuesday, put air in the fork and dialed in the tire pressure – I’m becoming a mountain biker!!!! 🙂 ) … So, as you can see, my focus on excelling at strictly TTs isn’t 100%, not in training and not on the race schedule… But I’m going to race the TTs hard and see how we shake out…

Last weekend, we had the Upper Freehold TT… Now let me be the first to say that I’m pretty certain I’m going to make this an “A” race next year!!! This time trial is like heroin for the TT junkie, just total ecstasy… I knew with my power numbers coming into the race, I didn’t think I could win. Fries would be in Murder Mode after States. Fritz is getting stronger. Walters is getting on track again… I just wanted to minimize the damage…

In the parking lot, a rider joked I wasn’t taking this as seriously as other TTs, as I had a beard, and I suppose that’s part true: if there was any TT that was expendable on the Cup list, it was Upper Freehold. It wasn’t timed well for me… Having said that, I still wanted to ride well…

I actually felt severely nauseous at the start, like my stomach was full… I warmed up for a full 45m and felt marginally better at the start, not great. It was so hot out there — blech!!! Off I went. Once on the course, the nausea gave way to dull pain, trying to get the legs going… I started this TT slower and steadier than ANY time trial in my life, State TT included… However, the beginning of this TT is FAST, and you’re doing 30+ almost effortlessly…

Fries was in sight for first half of the course, and he was a good rabbit. However, after the first longer climb, it was apparent he had a gear I didn’t have… As an experienced time trialist, I just focused on my own race, not trying feverishly to claw him back, just staying in the zone… I was churning a very high cadence again – it was HOT out there and I just didn’t feel comfy pushing 98 rpms, too muscly – and finding a rhythm…

I died on the final climb, a long undulating sucker. Driving it, it didn’t seem that bad. But halfway up, it forced me into the smallring, and then I couldn’t get into the 21. Damn! I was mashing at 84 rpms, actually had to stand, and over the top I couldn’t get the bike back into the big rign. DOH! Finally, got it back on… I heard from Jason that Fries had taken this seated, like a bullet, ripping up in the tuck. Damn, more power to him… I’m sure he made 12 of those 18 seconds on this mess of a climb…

The final 2 or 3 miles were FAST – I was spinning out my 56×12 and hauling 45+ mph! Rolling, more down than up, and you charge into the final straight doing 32+ mph, just awesome sensations out there… I wasn’t feeling great, not super strong, but I was going fast and pushing myself to the limit. I knew I didn’t win, but I knew I didn’t go badly.

Ended up 2nd overall, 18 seconds behind Fries. Great ride, Dave – you really ripped. He is smart out there, too, spins up the climbs, stays seated, and he STAYS IN THE TUCK. Unbelievable! And I thought I was disciplined out there… In the end, I was very happy with 2nd, having come off a nice rest and not putting out super numbers that week. Dave is peaking for Fitchburg, so 18 seconds here is realistic. We even went out post-race and spun out for 45+ minutes, nice guy this Freifelder.

The course: the Upper Freehold TT is AWESOME. I got there early, pre-drove the course, and the staff – Berstein and Mains – had already marked the turns with big signs and arrows, no need to stare at your GPS, no need to fuss with maps. It was a great luxury having this. I blitzed through the course two times, trying to burn every detail to memory…

This course suits my strengths, at least my previous ones. FAST straights, tight, technical turns, lotsa undulations, a few nasty climbs, longer at 12 miles… Somerset TT is still my favorite because the turns are more technical, the climbing can be harder, but next year I want to target this race and destroy my time from 2010, and I know if I prepare for it, with another year of racing and training in my legs, it’s entirely feasible. I want that course record! So don’t go any faster, Fries!!!!

Heroin for the time trialist, that’s exactly what Upper Freehold was. The straights were safe and FAST, the turns were thrilling, the climbs weren’t overly severe, and the finish was fast and exhilarating – if there’s a rollercoaster out there, THIS is it, an overwhelmingly pleasing 23 minutes on the bike.

Score another A+ for the NJBA TT Cup Committee…

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 | | |