Speeding at Somerset TT

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

This week of training went very well, culminating with a victory Saturday at the Somerset TT. Last week, I had heavy days and I rode well at High Point. My time wasn’t screaming fast, 6th, but I felt good and was very happy considering I’m substantially heavier this year.

This week, more of the same. Heavy threshold climbing plus plenty of high tempo miles, 2 days of steady PowerCranking, a very hard day on the TT bike full of steady suffering threshold work…As I’ve mentioned, I have been waiting all year for this time to arrive, when I can finally start laying it on 100%, pushing the threshold, finding the borders and seeing how far they bend… I have started the year heavier than usual and have done a ton of PowerCranking, two things I think will help as I plan to peak this summer and begin to atrophy (both mentally and physically!).

Following a periodized plan is difficult if you’re super competitive. When you go to a race and suffer like hell, you want to start hammering away that next ride, hoping to obtain Instant Form. But good things come to those who wait. In my previous life, I would come screaming out of the gate in the spring, mostly because I love riding in the cold and am on the bike more than the others… However, spring heroes are summer zeroes. Fact of life. My goal is to do well at the State TT, State Road Race, and the Giro de Jersey, so in February and March, as others were getting the bug and starting to haul arse, I was forcing myself to continue with the higher Tempo work, tons of PowerCranking, moderate force work… You make a conscious effort to stay off that gas pedal, cut the racing back, and then you stick to it.

Trust in your training.

On Friday night, I didn’t get one wink of sleep. Nothing, nada, nunca, zilch. I had a massive stomach ache. I used to get them when I was little — I’d be coiled up on the couch, feeling like acid was searing a hole through my abdomen… I don’t get them too often now, but when I get them I am a non-functioning human being.

So I lay in bed, coiled up, thinking I was royally F’ed. At around 3:30, the pain finally began to subside, but I wasn’t sleepy. Watching the Tour can put me to sleep, so I watched Contador attack relentlessly, but he didn’t put me to sleep!!! 4:00, 4:30, the birds hootin’, the sky now gray… 5:00, 5:30. Eh, there are worse things in life… From what I hear, O’Donnell doesn’t sleep either!!!

So into the car I go. For the first time in my life, I am the first one to arrive for a race! I figured I would get a really good warm-up and do everything perfect to make up for the sleep deprivation… Well, I didn’t have to rush around, just taking my time, setting up comfortably. The warm-up went well, and the legs actually felt “there.”

Somerset is a good course for me — rolling, lotsa turns, FAST. With my higher cadence, I can accelerate out of the turns more efficiently, really get on top of the gear… And at 10+ miles, the course is longer than the usual TTs and I can really open it up and get some time on folks…

My teammate Lou Schimmel, who beat me at the Sandy Hook at Readington Time Trials, started right in front of me. He was the real deal in the mid 90s, raced in Europe, raced at the University of Colorado and was one of the nation’s top collegiate riders… This year he’s back, beating his PR at Readington and prepping for a super summer. So, to make a long story short, I thought he was going to win today. He was right behind me last year and I had a good ride for 2nd…

Off the line, I started in a smaller gear than usual and within 5 seconds was into my tuck. The start is very, very fast and I wanted to really get up to speed. I felt very strong, hitting 47 mph in that first section! I may have gone off too hard, but if you’re fit and a good time trialist, for these short TTs you should be able to hold that hellish effort to the line…

Which brings me to an important issue: power meters. I train with one, use it on my Madone, TT bike, and PowerCrank bike. But I do not TT with it. I see the benefits, dialing in the effort, will probably use it at the State TT to ensure my watts don’t dip (State TT long enough, steady enough to warrant meter usage)… but time trialing is about getting in tune with your body. With all the excitement and adrenaline going, 400w on TT day might not feel like 400w!!! You never, ever want to cut yourself short… What if you’re on a fantastic day and the legs are RIPPIN’ mean watts? Then your goal wattage will do you no good! What if you look down and see 400w? Your HR will jump, you’ll get nervous, and most likely you’ll dial it back a notch… (on your “A” races, put masking tape over the WATTS — trust me!!!)

But if you’re on a good day, you may be capable of more, something special… That’s why I love time trials. You get out there and hope to find something new. With experience, the time trial effort becomes automatic — the pain is always the same but you will find new speeds. Your body tells you where the limit is. Always listen to your body… In short, on TT day your limit may not be the prescribed 365w…

After a few turns and into another straightaway, I had Lou in sight. I continued to jackhammer at the pedals, making sure not to get overgeared, taking the turns very hard, staying seated and in the bars. On this left bend after the technical section off the main road, I almost overcooked it, out of the bars for a blip, clawing the brakes. But in the turns I was taking back massive time. My simple tip: stay seated, stay steady, stay aero. I see guys out of the saddle, blasting away, but 10 seconds after the turn, they pay the price…

And once I careened onto the April Readington course, boom I had 3 guys in sight. Lou was catching his 30-second man who was catching HIS 30-second man…

🙂 I made the rookie mistake and violently stomped on it and passed the three of them, rocking all over the top tube. For a moment, we were in a four-man echelon! But of course, once you pass them, NOW WHAT?

I’ll tell you what! One Big Grimace Of Pain To The Line!!! I took the rest of the course to the limit, forcing myself to stay seated up the final 3-pronged hill, just powering to the line, getting another guy in sight. On the final 2k stretch, into a headwind on a slightly uphill road, I was 1 mph faster and felt stronger than last year (where I had my best TT of year) and felt like I could keep accelerating to the line…

My simple non-scientific definition of form is this: when you’re going full-tilt, it always hurts. It’s just that now you feel like you can just hold the effort longer, and the moment you ease off just a smidge, you are instantly recovered, ready to pound away. I’ve TTed off form and it’s nice to hit stride when I’m planning to hit stride…

I didn’t see all the times, but Joe Saling said I took home the fastest time of the day and broke the course record. I was relieved to eek out the performance, as about 3 minutes post-ride my sleep deprivation hit me like a truck and I was absolutely zonked.

Upon reviewing the file, my cadence was lower than last year, about 5 rpms… My preferred rpm is about 103 but for first time in my life I was under 100… I attribute this to the PowerCranks — some hate them, some love them. For me, I try to use them logically and they work.

I hope I can stay healthy and continue forward, looking to shatter my PR at the State TT and finish June with my best-ever form… Next week is the Tour de Parc, then the mega-fun Hills of Somerset, and then the New Jersey State Time Trial Championships…

Thanks for reading.

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Sunday, May 11th, 2008 | | |