Justin Lindine took the cyclocross scene by storm last year, snatching his first C1 win at the Providence Cyclocross Festival, and only narrowly missing scooping the entire New England Pro Shimano Series. By the end of October — after an amazing first half of the season — he was leading in USICX points. In his off-season, he’s been keeping busy trying his hand (quite successfully) at endurance mountain biking. In his spare time, he is helping the kids in Northampton, Mass. learn how to shred around a ’cross course. Today, Lindine took some time out to fill us in on the details of what he’s been up to in the past few months.
Cyclocross Magazine: Give me the off-season overview! What are your goals? It seems like you’re doing a mash-up of road and MTB.
Justin Lindine: Well, for the “off-season,” I am actually doing a pretty full season of mountain bike racing for Redline (who I’ll also be riding for in the fall). I kicked things off with the Cape Epic – nothing like putting the hardest event first – and will do a bunch of 100 mile MTB races, as well as the Transylvania Epic again and some local stuff. The road racing that I do will sort of just be to fill in the gaps … plus it’s always a good time if I can guest ride with the BikeReg.com team, as I know all those guys and like to help out when I can. As far as goals, I guess the first was just to make it through Cape Epic alive … but seriously, I’d like to get a good result in one of the NUE 100 miler’s; I think a podium is doable. I’m hoping to be able to get a spot to race the Windham XC World Cup again, as it’s my home town and last year I was really thwarted from getting a decent result when my fork blew a seal on the first lap. Other than that, just getting set for cyclocross season and having fun in the dirt.
CXM: What’s been your favorite race so far? Why?
JL: It’s hard to compare anything at this point in the season with the Cape Epic … it sounds like I talk about it a lot, but it was just an amazing and brutal experience. The racing was just intense all day, every day, for eight days, through some incredibly rugged country. It was an honor to be there, at what’s basically the pinnacle of MTB stage racing, surrounded by people whose names I’ve been reading about for so long … pretty surreal.
CXM: Cape Epic: what made you decide to do it? Overall, how was the experience?
JL: I’ve read about that race for so many years and wondered how I could do there, and what it would be like … so when Jason Sager got in touch with me about riding in a composite charity team, it was sort of a no-brainer despite being a huge undertaking and with late notice. The experience was one of a kind. I mean, I already talked about how hard the racing was, but really that was just a part of the whole picture. Just seeing the country and the people, some in incredible poverty, was life changing. Add to that the feeling of being apart of this massive undertaking with a mobile city of support and it was really akin to the mountain bike version of the Tour. It was incredible. I hope to be able to go back and do it again.
CXM: You’ve been getting great results on the road and on the MTB: which result has surprised you the most?
JL: Well, I was super nervous heading to Africa [for Cape Epic]. About how I would be going so early in the season, how I would handle the heat, how I would do on the new bike from Redline, whether or not my partner Jason Sager would crush me every day. So considering how nervous I was, I was really psyched to be able to be consistent throughout the race and ride with the top 15 or so teams on a daily basis, and the new 29′er from Redline really impressed me. I was super comfortable on it. We had a few days of unfortunate mechanicals and the like, but on the final stage we rode to ninth on the day, which I think put us in some pretty elite company and I was pretty proud of that.
CXM: What does your training look like?
JL: It’s a balancing act. I’m working pretty steadily at Joe’s Garage and that is really excellent on so many levels, between being a great place to work and having a really flexible schedule for racing and training. Doing these long events has taken some tweaking but I try to get in a long day in the middle of the week somewhere and then if I’m not racing on the weekends, log days there too. Aside from that, it’s all shorter, more intense stuff. Basically, I’m just trying to build fitness through the summer and really lay a solid base for cyclocross season without burning out. The nice part about doing seven and eight day stage races and 7.5-hour 100 miler’s is that they make for pretty solid training blocks too.
CXM: What’s your team situation like right now? Redline for cyclocross?
JL: Yes, racing for Redline both during this mountain season and for ’cross in the fall. I’m really excited to be working with them and they have been great so far. Last season, Joe (of Joe’s Garage) had set me up on Redline CX bikes for the season and when Tim Rutledge and others and Redline started noticing the results I was getting, they were interested in having me maybe come on board as a factory guy. They stepped up with support at Louisville, Bend, and Nationals towards the end of last season acting as co-sponsors to the Joe’s Garage / BikeReg.com program. The mountain bike stuff sort of worked its way in as an extension of that interest this spring as a way for me to get to the events I was interested in and to showcase that Redline also makes some pretty sweet mountain bikes. They’re a great company with a long history in the sport of cyclocross, and I’m once again just really honored to become a part of the program with them.
CXM: You were talking about using the cyclocross bike on the road. How’ve you been liking it?
JL: You know, everyone made a super big deal about it, but really my ’cross bike is so light and stiff that it’s not a disadvantage. I swapped the front rings around to run a 50/38 combo and that pretty much was all I needed to do to make it a very capable road machine. For me, I’m just excited to never have to adjust to a new bike geometry between now and ’cross season … I’ll already be used to it when the time rolls around, just put on the knobbies and go.
CXM: Hundred milers?! Why? How have you been liking the long stuff?
JL: As incongruous as it sounds, I seem to be OK at both the short intense efforts of ’cross and riding pretty hard for a long period of time … not the two most symbiotic skill sets I know. I don’t know, I’ve always enjoyed going out and hammering for hours on my mountain bike, and even on the road I was always better at riding tempo for hours than having the killer move at the end of the race, so I figured, ‘Why not?’ I’d been thinking about trying them pretty seriously for a few years, but this was the first time I had the support to really make it possible. They are, not surprisingly, really hard. I think the big misconception people have is that they’re somehow slow events … but the guys at the front are still putting the stick to it pretty hard … maybe not quite full on XC pace, but only about one notch lower for 6-8 hours! It’s no joke.
CXM: What does a honey badger do to relax off the bike?
JL: Haha. There are a few things, I guess. My wife Jess and I are both super busy all the time (she just finished grad school), so when there is free time (which isn’t often), the priority is hanging out. But I like to get out and do some fly-fishing whenever possible, although it never seems often enough. I try to have a little garden too … just little stuff like that, reading and writing too …
CXM: Have you started thinking about goals for the cyclocross season yet?
JL: Yeah, I have a plan for a schedule hashed out at least. I would love to win the Shimano Series this year … because I just seem to not be able to win a series ever. I love those races and I want to wear that jersey on the last day, but there is, as always, going to be some really tough competition. Probably more so this year with the emphasis on Worlds qualification, which obviously is something else that is in the forefront of my mind. I think I’ll be able to tackle a few more of the GP’s than I have gotten to in the past as well and that is something I’m really looking forward to. The level of competition is just getting higher and higher at those events so they are always a proving ground. It’s going to be a busy season, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be hard to top last season, but I’m hoping for even better so we’ll see how it goes.