When you’re beat, you’re beat

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

Hey Gang,

Before I delve into this quickly, I want to say that although I didn’t win the Overall at the State TT yesterday, which was my season’s goal (!!!honesty!!!), I DID have 3 Elite Endurance athletes WIN STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!! 🙂 And it’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling being a part of it, wow…

Roy Vaccaro of Jimenez Velo Sport won the 30-34. He came back from disaster. This is HUGE. HUGE. HUGE.

Chris Fritz of the Pro Pedals Cycling Team won the 35-39 (for what, the 3rd or 4th time? He’s like Nadal racking up French Open wins — I’ve lost count!!!!).

Julie Jones of the Montclair Bikery won the Women’s 30-34 and essentially locked up the TT Cup.

Brian Griffith of Knapps Cyclery was pipped by a few seconds by Dana Fallon… They’ve been going back and forth, and Brian RIPPED it, full peak form, but Dana was just a touch better. Check out their finishing times — they’re setting a new standard for 55+ racing, scorchingly fast. It’s a beautiful thing, watching how this unfolds…

Sean Pasieka of Knapps Cyclery took 8th in the 30-34. Not bad for a newbie!!! 🙂

Mark Curran of Knapps Cyclery, in full peak mode, flatted before the turnaround. I had my head down, flying along, see a rider on the road, walking back, and I think, Christ I hope that’s not one of my athletes, and you look up and it’s Mark and your heart sinks… This, to me, is what I still think about most when I think of the efforts of the day…

Jesse O’Donnell of BPC Triathlon stomped out a stellar 52:44. And he’s a triathlete 🙂

Paul Cresti of Team Somerset, new to time trialing this year, took 8th in the stacked 40-44 field. Chapeau!

Brian Carbone of Knapps Cyclery, on brand-new road bike, new to road racing this year, in his first 40k: BREAKS THE HOUR! 58:05!!! You’re gonna be hearing a lot of things about this kid, super-talented, super-motivated, and he has the will to succeed…

Ryan Pettit of Heart House rocked a stunning 54:29 on his road bike! Can you say… future time trialist? The Force is strong in this one, and we have some big things in store for him this summer… The potential in this guy, it’s just insane. Really the best word here.

And I took 3rd overall…

Will keep this brief (although brevity has never been my thing). Very busy today but wanted to write about the NJ State TT Championships immediately.

When you’re beat, you’re beat. I am competitive, love to prepare and see how I can improve against my competition, but I’m also a gracious loser. I mean, how can you not be? Someone goes faster than you, chapeau — what can you do? If you coulda gone faster, you woulda gone faster. Absolutely zero excuses out there…

This is what fascinates me about TTs… In crits, road races, MTB races, there are many, many things that can affect the final results, a million tiny little variables. You can be on a (*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*) day in a crit, and suddenly on the last lap you feel great, in the right spot, and you win the sprint.

In TTs, you need to be ON, no bullsh*t, there are far less variables. And this, to me, is the beauty: we all prepare diligently for these events, with training, recovery, position, mindset, strategy, and then we show up on race day, and these TTs are just such a concerted, such a violent, such a focused, such a pure effort — and we are — our final times are — the sum of these parts.

I really could not have done anything more. Looking back, I think I many have peaked a touch early. I did a LONG taper this year, trying something new (you don’t know ’til you try), started tapering way back at Upper Freehold, and I think the body may have overcompensated a touch fast, leaving me a hair flat in the last two weeks. So we learn. However, I was 100% prepared for the State TT, felt strong out there, could not have gone any harder. I think I was stronger at Jersey Shore, and next year the goal is to try and find that axe-murdering form at Chatsworth.

Because Roger Aspholm of Westwood Velo did what I wanted to do. Chapeau to him. I mean, I averaged 30 mph for 40k. You’d think that would be enough, lol. But Roger lopped a good 45+ seconds off my time and averaged close to 30.4 mph.

My taper this year was severe: did a violently long Fitness Test the day after Somerset, then TT intervals mid-week of Upper Freehold, then recovery and Tempo the week of Jersey Shore, a short TT effort on PowerCranks week before States (where I did Kingwood 35k TT that weekend), then just light openers and low volume week of States… In hindsight, may have done something else the week of, maybe throw in a Rockleigh to help open the rested legs, but I had my plan and ideas and was going to stick to them — you’ll never find what works if you change horses mid-stream.

Conditions for State TT were ideal. Being I like cooler temps, I thought they were a touch hot (low 70s) but FAR better than last year’s nuke-fest. I warmed up for almost an hour, just light riding, then final 15m started some lighter Tempo, high-cadence spinning, and everything was fine.

Historically at this event, I crack. Either mid-way, 2/3s of the way back, 3/4 of the way back — but somewhere out there, I hit that wall, whether it’s a little seam or a violent falling apart. This year, if I wanted to win, I knew I needed to avoid that. I’ve always said, and continue to feel, that the race is won in the final third — this is where you separate the good from the great, and the great from the champion. The winner of this race is in the zone, accelerating to the line in the final third, on a super day…

I had Austin Roach of Met Life Pro Cycling, the winner last year, starting 30 seconds behind me. This didn’t bother me — I kinda like the fact that the fastest dude is on my wheel. Will he catch me? Can I crack him? It’s an interesting dynamic — some guys hate being chased. I quietly enjoy the challenge…

I’m a notoriously fast starter, and here I dialed it back just a smidge. I purposely kept my cadence up, around 109 rpms, higher than ever, because I wanted to be able to muscle the gear more on the way back. I didn’t feel super great on the way out, and that turnaround seemed so far away!!! However, I maintained really good aero form, back flat, my head DOWN. It was my most diligent effort, form-wise, of the year, my best.

At the turnaround, you see what’s going on behind you. And what I saw… was NOT what I wanted to see, especially at the biggest race of my year!!! Austin Roach was right there, probably 8 seconds behind me.

(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*). (*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)(*censored*)?

Gotta go, Coolio — I’m stubborn and hard-headed and I put my head down and pretty much jackhammered back towards the start, knowing the race was NOT over, averaged 105 rpms going back, pushing to my max… The good thing was, I was not caught, and I did not crack out there.

Physically, this was my most linear effort at States to date.

But this is the photo taken 1 kilometer from the finish, and this really is the story of my day:

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Austin Roach, hot on my heels. Very nerve-racking, this final 12.5 miles, just jackhammering, your heart in your throat, not knowing what’s going on behind you. This ain’t no 7 mile TT — I was thinking if I could grit out a negative split, he might crack, might fade, might back off — it’s a LONG road back to that start line. I knew that. I was quietly hoping he was fading back there, but in reality I had no clue what was going on… But he earned this right, to have me in front of him, able to pace… Can be a good thing, can be a bad thing…

But Austin was able to stay there. I stretched the gap from the turnaround, but he’s just bigger, better, and faster, and he stayed within 20 seconds. Damn. When I turned around at the finish, EMPTY, I did NOT want to see his big, sweating mug barreling down on me, but it is what it is: I reached out and we shook hands as we rolled down. I congratulated him and was sincerely happy for him: I know how much I suffered out there, and he must’ve pushed that much harder to close on me… He’s a tough, tough kid…

But Roger put almost 20 seconds into HIM, taking the overall. 49:20. WTF? I ran a 50:08. I ran a near-perfect race, a touch spinny but I didn’t want to crack — and didn’t crack. Maybe I push a slightly bigger gear and don’t crack, but I’ll never know. I’m perfectly content with my performance.

I was fast. Two others were faster. All you can do is shake their hands, true congratulations, and enjoy the day and figure out how to come back. This TT has been my nemesis: I don’t train specifically for 20-30-minute TTs, but I’m good at them, win them, and perhaps I’m more naturally suited for them. My power curve isn’t as flat as many of the TT specialists out there… However, this isn’t going to deter me from trying again. And again.

The State TT, I already know, is the goal for next year.

Someone asked me about training for the State TT for next year, as we were congregating in the parking lot, when the specificity starts, when you actually start prepping for the race, and I smiled and said, “Tomorrow.”

Funny, but also truth to that… Training, and this is the beautiful part, this is one of the few things we have 100% control of in this sport. If I train better, if I recovery better, if I live cleaner, do I run a low 49? Who knows? In my opinion, potential is limitless and you can do anything you set your mind to — you just have to WORK and never give up. ANYTHING is possible…

I keep on reminding myself that those extra K in the State TT make it an entirely different animal… I will be blunt: I was NOT pleased when I saw Roach up my ass at the turnaround, damn… But it is what it is – make him suffer on the way back and EARN that victory! Felt like a gunfight out there… These experiences make us the riders we will be tomorrow, so we all need to keep our heads up.

The weak, the ordinary get discouraged. We have that feeling for a moment, for the afternoon, and then we reload, just tune those feelings out – you remember them, but they don’t own the day. And we do what the others will not.

At least this is what I’m going to do… Sometimes we all come to a crossroad where we think we’re at a standstill or in a rut or stuck at a plateau… when in reality you can be millimeters away from a breakthrough.

Always keep that in mind. ALWAYS.

Some shout-outs:

Dan Hoffman freaking ROCKED it. Ain’t seen the guy in years, he shows up with modified position, looking slim and trim like a prizefighter. You know when a rider comes out of nowhere and shows up at the State TT, he’s not there to say hello to friends — he’s there to prove something more, more to himself. And he did just that, threw down a mean 50:15 (WTF?) for 4th overall. Wow. HUGELY impressed. He’s been training, but he hasn’t been competing, and to come back like that, at the biggest TT of the year in a stacked stacked stacked race, it really says something about his talent and grit.

In my opinion, Hoffman had the ride of the day. Well, lol, scratch that — Roger’s ride was amazing. If we could give the Ride of the Day with an Asterisk, it would go to Hoffman (although I dunno how good that would look, lol — isn’t that what happens when dudes flunk drug tests, lol?).

Roy Vaccaro winning the State TT after disaster at Upper Freehold and Jersey Shore… THIS is what I’m talking about, Roy!!!!

Fritz showing his best… when the best is required.

Julie Jones WINNING States! I fit her on her TT rig in January, and she almost crashed in the parking lot. I was severely worried. And now, well, I am not 🙂

Bill Sasiela of Knapps Cyclery had a train-wreck day, needed a last-minute rear-wheel change, threw in the tri-spoke. Anger and frustration are NOT what you should be feeling before a 40k TT… But he pulled it together, fought with Vladimir Borovkov on the course, threw down a respectable time.

When I finish my time trials, I usually like to turn back onto the course, quietly watch from the shadows… And I usually catch the 45+ guys rumbling by. There are fast. And then there is Bill — he’s like a freaking freight train as he blows by, so fast, the ground almost trembling around him. His body, you can just see the watts dripping off of it as he blitzes by, a beautiful time trialist in action.

Tough guy. Super competitor. And, I think even though he’s getting older and there will be younger and faster guys in his division next year, I have no doubt that Bill Sasiela will come back and win the 45+. Zero doubt. You can see it in his eyes. I actually think he is going to put in a crushing performance one year — everything will… just come together, and I can’t wait to see it happen.

Keep your head up, Bill — this race is yours next year. I know it.

Okay. Time for ice cream. And beer. In that order. Ice cream for lunch. Beer for dinner. And then maybe a bike ride tomorrow. Will ride over to Glen Rock and do the Duck Pond ride at 6 if anyone is interested — a great day, 1h ride there, 2h on the ride, then 1h home, will make a day of it, bring some music… Am very much looking forward to some “touristy” rides — and maybe throwing down some mean attacks at Cycles 54 and Rockleigh in the coming weeks 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope to see most of you out on the roads this June…

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Monday, June 6th, 2011 | | |