Peak Time: 3 for 3…

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Hey Gang,

Things have been going well over here, very well…

I had wanted to break the record at Somerset Circuit, and after a very heavy week, I was VERY happy to summon super legs that day, having probably my best TT EVER. Damn. Still have to pinch myself a little on that one, just surreal how I felt on the course that day… Such terrific memories of that effort…

Having said that, Upper Freehold TT was the one I really wanted, the one I highlighted on the calendar next to State TT. Upper Freehold, now positioned beautifully in front of Jersey Shore and States, was the beginning of my taper, and I wanted to go down there and really, really do a good one. Freifelder smooshed me here last year for 12 or 18 seconds, can’t remember which, but he had ripped it at 23:02.

My goal was to beat that time. Knew it’d be hard, but it was the goal. Laura Winberry, Elite Endurance all-star and my best friend, was in from Oregon for a friend’s wedding, and she stayed over and we did a nice long recovery ride that Friday, up into Morris County hilly country, chill pace, and it was so nice having her around — the girl really inspires me. We went out and had sushi and laughed and talked about racing and the future and I was just smiling all night…

Inspiration is a wonderful thing.

In the morning, with Depeche Mode blaring, we made the trek down to Upper Freehold. I felt GREAT during warm-up, just couldn’t wait to get onto the course and rip it. I knew the legs were good: the day after Somerset, I had planned on doing a Peak PowerCrank workout, but unbelievably the right crank clutch burned out, so I had to pedal home 6+ miles with one leg, lol… But I still felt AMPED, so what to do? I got my TT bike and decided to do my longer Test, which is arduous and is only done once or twice a year, and I have YEARS and YEARS of data for this test. To cut to the chase, I RIPPED it, put out 25 more watts than I ever have, was almost 2 minutes faster, just a stupid good day out there…

And in training the following week for Upper Freehold, the power was also good… I was almost spooked… that the peak was coming too early… June 5th, Kenny, not mid-May!!!!! But, I’ll take it — form is a wonderful thing, feeling strong out there, and we all know one morning we wake up and, poof, it ain’t there no more…

Conditions for Upper Freehold were almost ideal, but many riders posted slower times. I went out slower than usual, then really ramped it up as I hit the first uphill section… From there on out, full-metal effort to the line. I spun a wild cadence again, averaged 107 and 106 rpms for the two splits. I passed every rider in the Senior Men, was making most of my time on the uphills, hit 47 mph on the fast downhill near the end, my helmet almost blowing off lol, but near the end, you bomb over this bridge, and there’s a seam in the road. Last year I took it at speed in the tuck and almost crashed but didn’t.

This year, I came out of the tuck, hit the seam, then got back in the tuck, but on this downhill I lost a lot of time, and for some reason, I knew Roger Aspholm had done a fast time in front of me, and I imagined him taking this seam much better than I and ripping to the finish. So I kept my head down and charged so freaking hard to that finish line, teammates and EE riders there, and crossed the line knowing I could not have gone one second faster out there. My only blip was taking that final seam, lost time there for sure.

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In the end, I took the overall by 1 second to Roger, wow. We had both flown. I was a few seconds off Dave’s time from 2010 I had lost SO many TTs by 1 second, 2 seconds, and it felt great getting this one, beating such a great rider in Roger. We had big time gaps here, and I was proud to make this TT a major goal and actually show up and perform to my potential.

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Elite Endurance trio: me, Fritz, the Pettit

Afterwards, we had planned a big lunch, and it seemed like 15+ of we Elite Endurance athletes raided the local cafe/eatery and had a wonderful time, unprintable conversations and laughs and training geek banter and talk of the future, of the past. God, what a wonderful day.

I sat back for a moment there, and I kinda zoned out, the conversations, the laughter, and the blurred sounds almost sounded like the ocean, almost a certain lulling there, and it just relaxed me, made me feel so goddamn good. To be a part of so many athlete’s lives, to see them improve, to HELP, I might not show it much, but it really moves me, and I know this is what I’m built to do… I think I’m an okay rider, but I’m a FAR better coach, and seeing everyone do so freaking well that day at UF (huge newsletter on its way, 60+ EE wins, riders winning in Oregon, Washington, Cali, NC, DC, NY, JERSEY!!!!) makes me hugely, hugely proud… That’s that, Charlie…

The next day was Tymor Park MTB race up in Lagrangeville, NY. Very techy course, very wet, twisty, blah, not much to say. I was not comfy, and this close to Jersey Shore and States, was not willing to push it too crazy. I raced hard, but I didn’t take too many risks in the turns, on the descents, and in the Pro field, you race like this, you get beat badly!!!! But, I choose my battles and am 100% willing to live with the results… Had this course been dry, I think I could’ve contended for a far better result, but I was happy hootin’ and hollerin’ through the woods, enjoying the wet day and getting quality time on the MTB. Finished 13th, not bad, not great. Hey, got 90 bucks for the effort, so not too shabby!

However, I knew I had bigger fish to fry.

Upper Freehold first huge goal, but Jersey Shore and State TT were the big ones, the ones I’d specifically trained for. Somerset and UF suit me well, because they’re twisty, techy, and hilly, but I do not train for those efforts — all my training this year has been geared for Jersey Shore and States. It’s really that simple, I’ve been saying this all along. And I was itching to finally throw down, so very ready… I had gotten beaten BADLY at LBI TT, the TT which closest resembled my peak events, but LBI in mid-April is NOT these two longer TTs in late-May and early-June… and I wanted to show that.

At Jersey Shore, got there early, took my time getting ready. It was the most calm I’ve ever been before a TT. I warmed up with Moby in my ears and just went back and forth on this road, in my own little world. Someone told me afterwards that they were going to come up to me and say something… but that I had seemed oblivious, so they just stayed away, lol… Well, part of peaking is being in that zone, and I certainly felt it — it’s something you can’t force or teach — you just reach it, and I felt I was there. And it’s a magical feeling, knowing you did everything correctly to reach this point, just warming up, all the hard work is done — now all you have to do is go out and perform.

I can be a worry worm, but I knew I was ready, and I was itching to GET IT ON out there… Freifelder started in front of me, and he had caught me for 30s last year, very impressive as I thought I was riding pretty damn good myself . Dave went off hard, and I went off behind him. TTs can be interesting: being chased and being the chaser. Some like to chase, some like being chased. Both can be nerve-racking.

Last year at Upper Freehold, I was hot on Dave’s heels… and then he just overpowered me and rode away, gone. Then at Long Meadow, he was behind me, and I just turned it on, turning the tables. I’ve had my best rides, actually, with the fastest guy right behind me, so I knew Dave had the motivation to keep the jets on.

But, when you see the rider in front of you, if you’re on a good day, you can pace off him, and in a way it IS an advantage. On our way into Island Beach State Park, there were 4 cars in between me and Dave. Now, when you’re doing 30 mph, 30s is a BIG distance, so he was way up there, but I wasn’t panicking — it was a long TT and I just kept my head down.

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At the turnaround, the cars were gone, and Dave was about 15 seconds in front of me. This was good, as I really wanted to almost do a negative split and have a more powerful second half. I muscled the gear a bit more coming back, averaging 105 going out and 101 coming back, and I was able to catch him midway on the return leg. Dave is one of the best time trialists I’ve raced against, so I was stoked to catch him… But I still had to keep the hammer down, hit the line with everything. He may crush me in July, but I wanted to peak for these two events and it felt super actually going out there and DOING IT.

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The 1st place trophy was awesome, and the $200-check for the Overall Winner was awesome, but this, this was worth much, much, much, much more than any of that… Inspiration is a scary, is a wonderful thing… Y’all wanna know where jet-fuel comes from?

Felt stupendous out there. Head down, jackhammered to the line, got the win, broke the course record. Peaking is a beautiful feeling, but I know it’s temporary… July, August, I may very well get my head cut off, but for now, this time of the year, I want these races, want them badly, and I’m enjoying this success, knowing how hard I worked, knowing the form can slip by so quickly…

And, yes, after Jersey Shore, that night, the throat was sore, damn, and by WED, full-blown BADNESS, lol, sore throat, sniffles, just weak, headache… Two days off the bike, finally a light PowerCrank ride on FRI, NOT what I had planned, but what can you do? I’m hopeful the legs aren’t going anywhere — will be doing the Kingwood TT on Sunday, will probably scorch one half at full-metal, dial it back a smidge on the second-leg, and then look to taper it up for States…

Some people have asked how I’ve gotten faster this year. I think it’s a combo of a few things:

(1) Years of doing the same things, year in year out, the body just improves, becomes more resilient. This sport rewards mature champions with long-term vision, riders with patience who never lose sight of what they want… The gains are harder and harder to get once you reach a certain level, but if you continue to push, incrementally you will earn those millimeter improvements, and in a span of 3-4 years, of consistently doing the right things, you can certainly change things. CERTAINLY.

(2) I’m lighter than ever, on Paleo Diet 100%, no cheating since mid-April — in complete monk mode. I feel light and strong. I’ve done ZERO climbing this year and almost beat Raffy up at High Point for the overall, so obviously the weight has helped. They say power-to-weight ratio not as important for TTs, and this may be true, but I will tell you from absolute experience that being 3-4 pounds lighter has helped for the flat TTs, too… I’m just faster.

(3) Rest. I’m sleeping far better than year’s past, trying to get to bed by midnight on most nights, getting 8+ hours of sleep… And it’s really helped. I cancelled my TV this year, so never any TV on, the mind just wound down at night, get in bed and OUT. Good sleep, restful sleep. It’s really helped. In the past, I’ve been a TV-watcher, up late, farting around, going to bed late and sleeping in late, but now less of that. Cutting the TV has really helped with this — funny how we can acclimate to change… I don’t miss my TV — not one iota.

(4) PowerCranks. I’ve reached a new level on them. Building this year, my power on the TT bike wasn’t much better than year’s past. But on the PowerCranks, I was SEVERELY better, and I knew it would make a difference at some point, maybe not in FEB or MAR… but as I turned it up in APR and MAY, the body just responded wildly on the TT bike, and now as I taper, I just feel really, really good, just feel different, just can push a touch harder than last year. I’m certain the PowerCranks are playing and will continue to play a big part in seeing how far I can push this body of mine… They are magic stuff, people. Who needs PEDs when you have PowerCranks — I’ve always said they feel like legal doping…

(5) Core work. I’ve been doing 2 sets of random core exercises (have about 50 of them on the Elite Endurance menu) every day, usually immediately in the morning when I get up, 10m of core with hip flexor and back stretches, then the exact same routine right after my ride. Every day. And each day I change it up. But everyday, same routine, hitting the core twice a day, and I think it’s helped, feel more solid in the tuck. No matter the TT, I usually fall apart a bit in the second half, and this year I have not experienced that at all…

State TT in about a week. Hmmmm, did I force the peak too early? Will I be running on fumes at Chatsworth? Part of me thinks I may have peaked too soon, but the other part of me wants this race so freaking badly, I know I’m gonna show up, ready to throw down heavy no matter what. I am excited to see what I can do… States for me isn’t so much about beating other riders but about beating my PR there — I have a number inside my head of how fast I want to go… and I’m 100% deadset on making it happen this year.

I was doing a light Endurance Ride the other day on 202 in Mahwah, and I was noodling up a climb, and this young rider blasted by me, looked back to see if I was chasing, then turned forward, put his head down, and kept jackhammering along. I smiled — I would’ve been that guy 15 years ago, chasing down a rider up the road and then pushing the pace, lol. Chapeau, kid — looked good out there… But I’m not gonna chase you down. You want to see how fast I can go? Come out to the State TT, and you’ll see some angry pedaling

The hard work is done, and hopefully there is some magic going on inside the body right now as I continue to taper and peak… The hard work is done, nothing to be done. Just have to want it BADLY and go out there and make it happen… Performing to me has always been the fruits of the labor…

See y’all in 8 days… And then time for some beer and ice cream — not necessarily in that order, lol…

And then road trip time… I just picked up a sweet Subaru Forester, will put five bikes on the roof, my books in the back, and just get away for a bit. I think I’m going to settle in Boulder, Colorado for the summer and just coach and ride and live… (1) HUGE cycling scene there (2) and (and big #2 here), they have a summer cyclo-cross series that I want to partake in, help get these CX skills up, lol — because, just as I’ve prepared to peak for TTing this year, I plan to prepare just as hard for CX this fall, and that preparation starts this summer in Colorado… Will be great to get away… and then come back east for all the big UCI CX races…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you, too, can achieve some of your season’s goals… There is NOTHING that can get in your way… Always remember that…

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Saturday, May 28th, 2011 | | |