Gladiator School

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Sandy Hook: Success and Non-Success. From a performance standpoint, I felt great. At this point in my training, I’d give myself an A. Rode very, very hard, by far hardest effort of the year, full rev of my big V6!!! First time all year with bare legs. Excellent warm-up, legs raring to go. Heavy headwind going out, purposely kept the cadence higher than usual, really hoping to let ‘er rip comin’ home…

Now, the bad part!

The turnaround: I missed it. Completely. Came roaring up to it. Cones all over the place. A police car. WTF? The guy is waving to the right, as if telling me to bear RIGHT at the fork, so in my haste I just go barreling through, full speed. IMMEDIATELY, I realize there is no one on this road, no one in front, no bikes…

Good God. Kenny, what have you done?

I turn, and the guy is going, “TURN AROUND!”

Oh boy. So I did the Bonehead of all Bonehead Moves. I did a violent jacknife kickout and blasted back, cussing myself. 15-20 seconds minimum lost. Gone. Now I’m jackhammering, a nice, deep shot of adrenaline pumping. On the way back, I averaged 32.5 mph. When Ideal Tile’s Jason Walters and I passed each other, he said he thought I was going 40 mph and that he’d better go faster!!! PowerTap said I did a 15:49.

In the end, O’Donnell took another crushing win, Walters second, teammate Lou Schimmel 3rd, Dan Hoffman 4th, me 5th. 2nd through 5th were all within 20 seconds or so, so I knew I coulda woulda shoulda had podium if not for my mistake. But you are that time on the board — put up or shut up.

That turnaround was SO AMBIGUOUS. I have never messed up like this ever, and I was livid. I talked to Highland Park after, and they said, rather unsympathetically, “Well, next year you should marshal that turnaround.” Incredibly, I kept my mouth shut…

Physically, I felt much better than at Cape May and was very happy with the performance. In the end, this is more important…

HUGE KUDOS to Dan Hoffman: ain’t ever seen him at these TTs and he comes out and puts out the required effort to rock the leaderboards. Way to be, man! Linenberg and Goldman tied for the 35+, and I was happy to be within 20s of them as they are VERY fast right now…

The following day at the Pine Cone Road Race, I had an axe to grind. Flat course, fast, good for a steady rider like me. Rite Aid Pro Cycling, Time Pro Cycing, and Empire were there in full force.

During the first lap, it started raining hard and my brakes were not working. As I tried to close the front and rear brakes — hard to do with wet gloves! — I ended up in dead last. Coming around the Start/Finish, I could see Jim Grill, the Northeastern Hardware team director, on the cell and giving me “the look.” Oh boy.

So I cut through the peloton, and then I saw an Empire guy, Rite Aid guy, and Time guy off the front. I knew this was ideal, so I got down and gassed it full metal, caught them, blew past them. The legs felt electric, almost 500w for one minute, seated. I turned around, the guys on my wheel, and the gap was big.

I was happy. I can ride all day at 300-330w, and on this course this would be enough. We swapped steady pulls, and then Empire and Rite Aid stopped working. AHHHHHH!!! You know what’s next…

A few Rite Aids, a few Empires bridged, some others coming across. Eventually, the move surged to over 15 guys, easy. 4 Rite Aids, 4 Empires, and then they started throwing guys off the front, making for hell in the break — ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK. The required 1000-1100w accelerations were not my cup of tea, but I was on a good day and was able jam out of the saddle and grab the wheels. Gui Nelesson of Van Dessel, Jason Walters of Ideal Tile, and John Durso of Liberty were the only north Jersey riders with us, and we had to chase everything.

I’m not the greatest sprinter, can sprint when I have to, but I hated these hellish accelerations. I had good legs so proceeded to save it for a violent pull in this nasty crosswind section, by far the hardest part of the course. I did this on two consecutive laps. My intention was to blow the break to bits. On the third lap, Durso and I got away on that section, and when we were caught, the break was smaller. That worked!

When the winning move went, I had done a hard pull — of course!!! A Rite Aid pro, Time Pro Cycling, and Empire guy got away. I would chase hard, keep them right there, but no one would pull through, Rite Aid and Empire controlling the flow. Hey, that’s cycling. I really felt like one of the strongest in the race, and burned more matches than I could afford trying to reel them in, but no dice.

The good thing is I recovered fast. From here on out it was Attack Mode. I’ve been doing a ton of stuff below LT, so I was surprised I could respond to the stinging attacks and make my own, accelerating well and putting out good anaerobic threshold power. Durso and I put in alternating attacks. Repeatedly. But nothing stuck — dudes were too strong and I was dying… I was happy with the efforts, though. Sometimes when you work the aerobic engine so long, after a few workouts above FT (Coxsackie, these two TTs), the legs wake up fast…

The rains didn’t go away, and with two laps to go I was very cold. However, I knew I could still get a result.

In the end, Empire’s director Mike Sherry and Bill Elliston from Rite Aid decided not to sprint and let the local guys who had no teammates and were chasing and suffering all day go for the sprint. Thanks, guys — that was very gracious. In the sprint — by this time we were all shaking cold — my wrists felt like mush but I was able to take 3rd in the rush to the line, taking 8th overall.

Finishing this race, seeing the breakaway and a ton of good riders get decimated by the weather and pace, gave me a huge sense of accomplishment as I rolled to a stop, completely absolutely ridiculously numb. But happy. Redemption for The Hook!!!

A solid result. I am 2nd in the Garden State Cup now, and that’s a good sign. So 2nd in the TT Cup and 2nd in the Garden State Cup. Goal is to do a good one at Readington, then rock High Point and maybe get the orange leader’s jersey in the Garden State Cup…

At Readington, if I miss the Turnaround, I’m playing tennis for the rest of 2008!!!

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Monday, April 7th, 2008 | | |