Well, I had prayed for rain

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

The State TT: there it was…

When you wake up at 5:00 and the digital thermometer says 72 degrees, you know it’s gonna be baking day out there…

The morning started off oddly… I was driving, in the zone, just thinking about the upcoming effort, and then I realized my GPS had me going straight down the Parkway, not bearing right onto the Turnpike, like I usually do… So I had a different route to the course this year, a bit longer, but I have to tell you: the GPS had me cut through these windy, long county roads through the Pine Barrens, and it’s absolutely stunning down there, beautiful country. It’s a part of the state that most haven’t been to…

Well, it was HOT out there… One of my athletes told me it was 95 when we went off. Blah… Of Scandinavian descent, I just don’t ride well in the heat. I can survive a race in the heat and try to reserve my efforts, but in a TT, there is not much reserving!!!

But I ate well and hydrated well in the two days before the event. On the drive down, it was sunny, then overcast, then sunny… and I was praying for a violent downpour of heavy black rain!!!!

Nope. Starch sunlight — and wind. During the warm-up, I had the H3D on there, but I was getting blown around riding at 18 mph, so with 5 minutes before my start, I switched to the Hed Jet 9. In the end, this was the better choice.

At the line, I saw Freifelder and told him of my hatred of the heat and said, “See you on the other side.”

Off I went. I made sure to keep cadence nice and high, knowing I’d fatigue far faster in the heat and not wanting to crack on the way back. So, I kept rpms over 105, spinning wildly, trying to keep the effort in control… The winds were blowing me around like crazy — from behind I must’ve looked like a drunk driver, all over the road. The H3D would’ve probably ruined my race altogether. But I knew from behind Dave would be drilling through the wind better than me, so I kept my head down and tried to fight the wind as best I could…

Going out, I held back a smidge, trying to meter the effort, 105, 106, 107 rpms, just spinning along. I caught my 1-minute man, teammate Raffy (who is an incredible road racer), then had Greg Leach, my 30s-man, in clear view… I was starting to suffer near the turnaround, the heat just sucking the life from me, but I made a concerted effort to keep the rpms HIGH, trying to save the legs…

As I approached the turnaround, I saw my teammate Mike Rosenhaus, who started 2:30 in front of me, and I seemed to be a minute back — or less… I hit the turnaround cautiously, and I saw I’d put big time into Freifelder. I saw Dave just behind Raffy, and I was doing the math calculations in my head — had a minute on them… I was excited at first, hoping I was going to go faster on the way back. But I also know Dave is acutely smart, probably was biding his time, looking for a wicked negative split in hopes of BLITZING the return leg. So I didn’t really know what was going to happen.

Even with my reserved start, I started to unravel. I caught Greg Leach from Ideal Tile, looking good on his Specialized Transition, and my rpms started to fall to 100. I was muscling the gear, trying to go faster, but I quickly fell apart… BADLY. When in death mode like this, I just try to remain like a metronome, steady, head down, perfect aerodynamics, no wiggles, no wasted movements…

And then Leach blew by me like I was standing still. Uh oh. I kept the gap to about 10 feet for maybe 30 seconds, but his pace was just too much, and I had to dial it back. I immediately thought, (*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*), I’m going to lose more than 30 seconds to this lunatic. He was flying — and looking good… He was grinding a bigger gear, low 90s, and here I was, spinning maniacally at 104+ because anything lower and I melted horribly… Here I am with ah 56 front chainring and am spinning like a rat on a cage wheel…

Greg pulled away… and away… and away… I started to get goosebumps, chills, and it’s here I realized I probably wasn’t going to win (the heat: it is what it is — some love it, some hate it. I hate it, melt in it, but I guess it’s only fair because I fly in cooler conditions when other probably can’t warm up — where were you RAIN GODS on this day?! 🙂 )… Either Greg or someone else was going to pip me. And my Flandis position in the heat was killing me — my hands were all wet and I couldn’t hold onto the bars, always slipping down. For the first time ever in any TT, I wanted my arms parallel to the ground! I just couldn’t hold the position anymore, something I trained myself to do…

I suffered all shades of death out there… I don’t mind suffering, but when you’re dehydrated and get heat stroke and feel so empty inside, that I can’t hack. I was debating sitting up. Where’s a piece of glass I can run over? Where’s that Hummer to come out and T-bone me? Lol, my mind was racing. But I am just kidding here: I partly wanted to stop, but all along I gritted my teeth, searching for something that maybe I had deep inside.

Leach was almost out of sight, damn, and then suddenly there was the 1k To Go sign. What? That came up much faster than expected. So I went from 28 to 33 and was actually able to finish very strong — I wanted this TT so bad. The State TT was the focus of my year, and I was deadset on conquering the heat.

I crossed the line shattered, as everyone did. I pulled over, had massive tighness on the inside of my hamstrings. Jason Walters and I rolled down and got some Gatorade, and my teammates came up to me… I was in bad shape, couldn’t reach down to take my booties off, shaking, tight, quivering, goosebumpy. But I had put time into all the big players. Dave hated the heat worse than me, finished some time down… So I thought maybe I won, but with the way I unraveled, part of me thought someone went faster.

In the end, I was able to claw Leach back and get him by 5 seconds. Damn. But Austin Roach of Met Life got me by 18 seconds. 23 or 24 years old, about 6’3 or 6’4″, just a big, powerful guy… Kudos to him — he probably was able to handle the wind better than me, but more importantly he suffered better in that heat… I congratulated him thoroughly — I wanted that TT more than anything, but I admired how he could grit through and get the win. HUGE kudos for Mark Pohndorff of Colavita for posting the fastest time of the day, the only guy to get under 53m…

With my prep, which included a ton of 20-25-minute subthreshold and LT intervals, and with the data I was popping, with my position, wtih the times I posted this year in TTs, with my preparation and solid taper, I was hoping for sub-52m, get well into the 51s. That was my personal goal, regardless of how fast anyone else went. All of us were thinking the day’s times were slower by a good 90 seconds to 2 minutes, given the murderous heat and whooping crosswinds. So, had it been cooler and windless, I certainly know a sub-52 40k was within reach.

Although I got 2nd in the Senior Men and was initially disappointed, I’m also happy. I trained very hard for this event, and I LOATHE the heat. I fell apart badly out there, but had I not prepared as well, I could’ve finished 7th, 10th. So I’m lucky to limit my losses. In 2008 I had a fast ride in faster conditions, averaged 99 rpms for the day. On this oppressive day, I actually went 6 seconds slower and averaged a whopping 106 rpms for the entire TT. Just crazy. I was obviously far stronger in 2010, and had it been cooler (rainier!!!!) and less windy, I’m sure I could’ve discovered my potential and put down that magic ride. But we’ll try and try again — this is why we love this nutty sport so much. If it were easy, we’d be doing something else 🙂 .

Time to rest. Body feels good, the mind needs rest. VERY light week over here. Look forward to reading other race reports… Note: good thing I swapped front wheels before the TT… When I got back to my car, the H3D was flat!

Thanks for reading.

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Monday, June 7th, 2010 | | |