Fueled by maple syrup, Lea had her hand in every sport from a young age. It’s no wonder her persistence, positivity and hard work have lead her to the front of the pack. We caught up with the Vermont local after her best season yet to learn how she shakes those pre-race nerves, trains in the off-season and uses Strava.
We can only imagine what it takes to get to the Tour de France, let alone complete all of the stages and finish at the front of the peloton. In a high pressure race things change quickly; it takes incredible determination and resilience to hold one’s place. And as we saw with Ted King, suffering doesn’t always get you to the Champs Elysees.
In the words of Laurens ten Dam, “The first week of the tour was above and beyond.” The Belkin pro rider climbed his way into fourth place in the Pyrenees and after a day of rest is holding strong in Le Tour de France. Here is an inside look and personal reflection on riding at the front of the pack.
With the Cannondale Oktoberfest Challenge set to wrap up this Saturday, November 10, we thought you could use an extra bit of motivation to push through those last few hours. With that in mind we reached out to the man behind the challenge, Tim Johnson, for a bit of insight and inspiration. That was the goal, here are the results:
Strava: How’s it going? Where are you right now?
Tim: Finally home in Topsfield, Massachusetts, USA. That last trip kept going on and on and on…
Strava: What bike are you riding? Any tips for keeping a bike working well in rough weather?
Tim: I’m on my Cannondale SuperSix EVO right now. We left a couple SuperX cross bikes in Europe for the upcoming trip in December and my others are on the truck right now. Pushing the 53t instead of the 46t chainring!
Strava: Talk about preparing for ‘Cross season – what’s your training like? How is it different or similar to training for a road or mountain bike season?
Tim: Most of the prep for CX comes before the season starts. We travel and race so often that it’s very hard to make gains in training once the circus starts up. As opposed to a MTB race or even road race – we have to fit a Friday flight, course recon and 2 races into a weekend and then jump back on a plane Monday morning. Truly a busy schedule.
Strava: So 60 hours in 3 weeks is a lot! How does that break down for you this time of year?
Tim: 60 hours IS a lot…when we were planning for this Challenge I was thinking that the 60 hours would be a combination of on the bike work, running, and the unavoidable trainer workouts that come into play with bad weather. At any race day we’re doing almost 4 hours of ride time in some cases.
Strava: What else are you doing off the bike to make sure you’re successful on the bike?
Tim: Nutrition is important to keep it all going. We’re stripping our bodies of everything for that 1hr of high-intensity work, so it’s key to replace it or keep it topped up as best as you can. Bodywork (massage, PT and manual therapy) are called in because of the odd, repetitive motions that we’re doing with dismounts and remounts.
Strava: Any tips for Strava Challenge participants on how to maximize training time (and rack up the hours during the challenge)?
Tim: That’s a question for me to ask them…spinning through the discussion page always amazes me at the time and energy people have to put into their riding with work, family and other obligations. I’d say that the recreational or enthusiast type rider is the person whose brain needs to be picked!
Strava: Cross is known for harsh conditions, what are your favorite conditions to race in?
Tim: I like a nice mud race. It’s always a blast to get out there and be slip-sliding all around. This year has been a wet one so far. Some years we’re dry and dusty, but this year seems to be harking back to the days of old.
Strava: What are your thoughts on UCI Cyclocross World Championships being in US for the first time? Does it tip the scales to an American taking the top spot on the podium?
Tim: It’s an amazing opportunity and something that could really be a once a career event for US riders. Although I hope not. The course in Louisville is very typically American with tight corners, short transitions and the only real question mark is the weather. That time of year could have 60degree days or 15F and an ice-storm. Pretty dynamic and I hope that leaves us relaxed while the foreign riders have to do some real questioning of their equipment and course-knowledge – for once!
Strava: Let’s talk about Suffering. Why is Cross such a suffer-fest?
Tim: I was waiting to get that question…there are a few riders in the top-100 that have a suffer score that’s reasonably high but there are a few way, way back in the standings that will rocket to the top when we’re done with the Challenge. CX is inherently painful, it’s just wether or not you’re for it – or if you’re having so much fun that you’re completely distracted and don’t notice!
Strava: Ok, last one, what’s the highest suffer score you’ve ever had?
Tim: Uh, let me look…pretty high I’d say. I’ve had a few Epic’s…is there anything higher?
First bike? Dukes of Hazard
Current bike? Cannondale SuperX Disc
Favorite bike? Lemond Tete de Course or SuperSix EVO.
Dream bike? Call me crazy but I’ve been looking at those Beloved fender’d bike bikes…
Gels or bars? Rice cakes
Booties or no booties? Booties
Climbing or descending? Climbing
Embrocation or leg warmers? Embro
Fenders in the rain? Amen
CO2 or frame pump? Frame Pump!!
Tubes or tubulars? Both…
Dream ride? Great Ocean Road (w/no traffic) or credit card touring through Central Europe
Dream meal? Since I missed the tasting menu at Il Bulli, I’ll have to make do with a slice walking the streets of Manhattan.
Dream date? Busy later, Jordan? (Who’s Jordan you ask, http://app.strava.com/athletes/30)