MTBNESS and WEDNESDAY WORLDS

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Hey Gang,

Had a real solid week on the bike last week, finishing with the Stewart MTB race on Sunday… I had noted, though, as really a die-hard roadie in my heart, it was strange having NOT used any road bikes at all… I mean, I haven’t even ridden my road bike one time since the NJ State Road Race Championships, which were held on July 6th in Bridgeton…

Mondays for me with Elite Endurance are very very heavy days — for starters the Inbox is avalanched with new info from athletes, and secondly I need to finalize all schedules after reviewing such data, then send them out to everyone… I was very happy to scoot over to the gym late that night and get 75+m of light Tempo work on the spin bike, then 4 supersets of core work — whenever I go to the gym, no matter for what reason, the workout is always an incredibly good one.

Tuesday I rode with NYS and H2H Pro/Open champ Ben Williams of CCI Racing. If you don’t know, now you know — this dude is a wizard on dirt/rocks/mud. Just insanity, trying to follow his lines with equal speed, fluidity, and economy. We met up at Jungle Habitat and carved out a brisk 90min ride through some of the sweetest singletrack in the tri-state area. It was exactly what I needed — tons of time hitting high-endurance-mid-tempo efforts and also working on my techy chops — with MTBing, as your body begins to fatigue, your mind also begins to fatigue, and you begin to get lazy, make bad choices, take terrible lines, etc… The Pros and Cat-1s are both very fast in first laps… but the Pros really have this “endurance” and throw down far more linear times, whereas the Cat-1s have a much higher rate of fatigue as the race goes on…

Tuesday was a great ride, was able to clear nearly everything in the park without dabbing once — Ben wasn’t going full-throttle, so it was stellar being able to follow in his wake and see his lines… He has really given me a lot of tips in terms of bike-handling, and I give him training advice all the time — the trade-off works well and we have a good relationship. Stoked to keep riding with him — if you want to improve, always search to ride with the very best riders you know…

Wednesday I ran our third Wednesday Worlds session of the year over in Clifton. If any of you are interested in going, please PM me or e-mail me and I can give you the deets. These sessions last year really helped produce some of the fastest riders in the state — and 4 State Champions, including the elite man and woman, were regulars at these Wednesday World sessions…

We started with 4 very specific drills… We had a good group of 12+, all riders of varying degree, and we were all able to do these drills on our own, in loops, and during each one, I could see every athlete beginning to improve and get faster smoother better, etc… It was our most productive session yet — we did steady dismount/mount drills, a cornering drill, a shoulder and run-up drill, then full-on CX Start drills…

After that, we did 2 “race” heats, both very short, just get the bikes up to full speed, one was 6 minutes, the second was 12 minutes… And then after that, we piled onto the course and did a bunch of Tempo laps, shooting the $hit and continuing to link all the skills together… The venue we use for these sessions is truly ideal — we have two full barrier sections, a true run-up, uphills downhills off-camber, everything you need for a training facility… We are blessed to have such accommodation so close to us… Last year, last August we were getting very small crowds, but by October we were getting a HUGE group. This year already, we’re getting good numbers — when ‘cross is kicking 100% in October, I am excited to see what the turnout will be like…

On Thursday I joined some MTBNJ friends down at Chimney Rock for the Murder Ride. Not only are these guys agile and smooth on dirt, but they know every nook and cranny of this place, and it was FAST. Zero warm-up, just out of the parking lot and GONE. We all regroup at the end of every trail, and it was 2 hours rolling time, just what I needed… Hoping, with stronger legs and more experience on this fast, technical trail network, to work my way further and further to the front as the weeks pass on…

On Friday, I had two bike fits, one a TT, one a sweet new S-Works road bike, and both fits went exceedingly well — I was in a great mood and wrapped up the fits just in time to head north to Stewart Airport in Montgomery NY (near Newburgh). I met up with members of CCI Racing and we did one full lap of the race course — Stewart, if you know your way around there (so very easy to get lost) is some of the most fun you’ll ever have on a MTB. The trails are FAST, sweet dirt, smooth rocks, steep ups and down, rad bermed turns, just some of the most wicked flow you’ll ever find. And, the race course seemed to pack the most of it into 60min of Tempo riding — if you’re new to MTBing, Stewart is a great place to go and learn…

Saturday, took the cyclo-cross bike out and rode to Freedom Park, which is a perfect place to train — I’ve designed big loops for speed and interval work, there are areas where I can section and work on skills, like cornering, dismounts, etc, and there is a steep run-up that is arduous hard. I had a specific workout in mind, going through each skillset and finishing with Tempo run-ups. I felt really good and smooth out there, amped to race on Sunday…

And of course Sunday it rained. I usually am awful in the rain, but it was so bad at Stewart, it actually worked to my advantage. The mud was thick and gooey, all ruts through the turns, etc, just massive globby mudpits in the straights. These were the muddiest conditions I’ve ever raced in, and I’ve seen a lot of mud in my experience! Off the start, Jared took off like a bolt of lightning and I thought, at an estimated 2 hours to race, it was a bit soon. But he looked strong and smooth and was GONE, knifing into the singletrack with a big gap.

I hung with the top-5 riders for most of the first lap, and then GUNNED it on the final hill, feeling REALLY strong. MTBers typically have steeper power curves, faster twitch, can empty the tank quickly, recover, etc… This course, it allowed me to use my strength better, which was steady hard, longer efforts… The climbs weren’t that techy or steep, and I could carry my speed into them, just empty it nicely, and there were plenty of straightaways and wide doubletrack where I could get on the gas — and stay on the gas.

Case in point: after I flew the coup, we dumped onto a fire-road section, and I got down in my tuck, with the chasers dangling, and TT’d away. When I turned around 30 seconds later, about to rip back into the singletrack, I had put massive time into them — Revenge of the Roadie!!!

Interesting, I’ve been doing zero high-end work, but I felt stupendous. I ate very clean all week and really nailed my pre-race eating and drinking strategy perfectly. It was, easily, my strongest day on a MTB, and part of this was also because it Wasn’t 85+ degrees out there… I was so amped to feel super strong during a race that suits my strengths…

Jared was out of sight, but halfway through the second lap, he was right there — I was pulling him back fast. The legs were electric and I was powering through the turns and mud sections very nicely — I wanted to catch him sooner than later because I knew he had more kick than me — would rather turn the race into a long drag-out TT than into a short cat-and-mouse game at the end.

But, I flatted. First flat ever in a race. Note: I always race with a Camelbak. On Sunday, I made game-time decision to go with bottles, and it paid off — much faster this way for me. But I didn’t have my tools or air or tubes. Do as I say, not as I do — NEVER do anything on race-day you’ve never done in training before. So, I walked out of the woods, high-fiving and Hey-OOOOOing every rider who passed. Yes, I was disappointed when I looked down and saw the Racing Ralph flat, but there are worse things in life. I was elated to have felt so strong and to have had an impact in the event — there are many more events to come, and much better form to build.

And that’s that. Taking a recovery week here, and I’m done with my full foundation work, starting my first Build week next week, stoked for that. Pretty sure I’m going to race the Summer Sizzler on Sunday down in Gloucester, course is similar to Stewart, roadie-friendly and fast, so will be exciting to tie the number-plate back on to the Superfly 100 and see how I feel.

Thanks for reading.

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 | | |