Savior: PowerCranking

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

People have their opinions, much like weightlifting: it works or it doesn’t…

PowerCranks, in my opinion, other than a power meter, are probably the single-best thing a serious rider can go out and buy… Riders have gotten them, either loved them or hated them, but from my experience I’ve seen them not only improve my own performance dramatically but have made many of my peers some of the strongest riders in New England. Coincidence that these guys have spent quality time on PowerCranks? Roger (ROGER!), Troy (great sprinter, MTBer and cross racer), Gisler (winner of NJ State TT), Fast Eddy (best pro MTBer in the area), Hoffman (excellent climber and time trialist)… And each one is a different type of rider…

Eh, I’ve been over this a million times. I’m not going to gush on and on like a PowerCrank salesman…

(although if anyone ever wants a set of PowerCranks, I can sell them and offer them at a ridiculously low price)

What I will do is talk about how they’ve helped me during my recovery… My knee is getting better. Not great, not terrible. I can walk, can’t run. I can go up stairs right now very slowly without much pain, but if I try to go up quickly or take 2 steps at a time, the knee is weak and the joint tender… So, the leg is FAR from 100%.

I went to the orthopedist a few weeks ago for my check-up. First check, the kneecap was in pieces, and I was hobbling around on crutches. When I went back, the x-ray showed the bone still in pieces, but I was able to walk without crutches. At this time, the doctor told me that doing the elliptical, the stationary bike, essentially anything non-impact, would be okay…

So the PowerCranks it was… 🙂 In the interim, about 3 weeks after the accident, I began doing plenty of core work, plenty of exercises that hit the lower abs and the hip flexors… At first, my left leg was so much weaker during this core and ab work… I had injured the hip, too, pretty badly actually, so I really wanted to get started on the core work…

And it helped — big time… On the PowerCrank bike, which is the ultimate truth-teller, I quickly found out that the core work really helped — my left leg was actually stronger (at least on the upstroke) than my right leg… It’s amazing how you can do off-the-bike workouts to improve your cycling performance!!! (yes, I AM a big fan of lifting weights, too!!!)

So I’ve been riding PowerCranks about every other day. The beauty of them, and why they can be so useful during certain times of the year (like the WINTER) is I can’t ride them too long or too hard without fatiguing… Essentially, I can’t do too much too soon, something many riders have a tendency to do once the season starts, when returning from illness or injury…

I was crawling on my PowerCrank bike during the first few rides. 35m, 45m, 60m… That was it, and I was 100% okay with that. Listen to your body, progress naturally… At this point, it’s imperative to finish each workout feeling relatively fresh, not blown out… One thing I didn’t want to do was run myself in the ground. Not doing myself any favors then… Down the road, there’ll be plenty of time for that!

After about two weeks, I felt much better… As I’m getting stronger, I’m making sure NOT to hammer on them, which is something you can do very quickly if not careful… The cadence on the files has steadily increased while not bumping up the MPHs… The rides have gotten longer and the cadences have continued to improve, from 45m @ 81 rpms to almost 2h @ 94 rpms. The terrain has gone from flat to rolling to gently hilly to actually going up climbs without elevating my HR into LT territory and without getting overgeared…

I am 100% certain that when I do get back on the bike with a recovered knee, my body will be prepped for the workload… PowerCranks have helped me really produced a perfect pedaling stroke while strengthening my core, while also forcing me to push a slightly larger gear, helping me re-build the cycling “muscle” I’ll need once I start getting up to speed again…

I’m a realist. You set goals that you can realistically accomplish. If you’re always reaching for the stars, you better be prepared for disappointment and be able to deal with it. In the beginning, set realistic goals. I was training seriously for two full months, from March thru late-April, and the gains were intentionally slow at first, but for those final 10 days pre-crash, I was finally starting to feel the power coming along… I had hoped to be competitive in the summer TTs and just race hard in the road races and GSC events I did, see what happens, help the team if I can…

NOW, this late in the season, still crippled, goal is to help Jason win the GSC, which means getting ready for the crits, even prep for the TTT… I’m a realist: not looking to become a superstar within 45-60 days, but strong enough to help the team get the job done. Maybe do my job in first half, do it well, and then drop-out second half… Better to do something 100% well for half the race than to do something at 50% the entire time… I would certainly like to have a positive effect when racing in the team dynamic, something I’ve proved I can do well…

Right now, I’m trying to ride the TT bike 1-2 times per week, chill-out rides… As an adrenaline-junkie, I can see 30 mph on the bike and Recovery or Tempo Rides can very quickly become something much more… So I’ve purposely made sure I maintain a very low cadence on this bike, which mentally keeps me from pushing too hard… Key for me is to get into the tuck, get my groin acclimated to the saddle again… When you’re in an aggressive position, at first your groin can take the biggest beating, so I’m trying to get that titanium arse again 🙂 And there’s only one way to get that resilience, and that’s to spend time, although mellow, in that TT position…

I tell guys all the time that when you have down time, when sick, when on vacation, when overtrained, when taking recovery weeks, you need to control what you can control, and this means REALLY WATCHING YOUR DIET. Although my Functional Threshold is in the toilet, I have a few things going my way: (1) I saw my numbers come around in a relative short time after taking 1 year off the bike, so I know I can come back (2) my mind is ready to go: I am so ready to get back into the swing of things, which can be 80% it right there and (3) I’ve kept my weight down… I’m still not in race shape (152 pounds) but at 161 I’m far lighter than I was in FEB and still feel relatively lean. Considering I was a vegetable for over a month, I’m quite proud I’ve been able to keep the pounds off…

Ready to start riding again… Looking to get a new road bike ASAP… Will most likely get a Fuji, Cervelo, or Specialized… If any of you guys have any preferences or opinion, feel free to shoot me a PM or an e-mail!!!

That’s me for now. Very busy on the coaching front, and now I’m getting that balance again as I’m beginning to ride regularly… For some reason, cyclists seem to have hiccups, setbacks, but no matter what they seem to ALWAYS come back. It must be something in our blood!!!

Hope all is well, and hope to see y’all on the road sooner than later… 🙂

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 | | |