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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bye

Tribute to Ken Lundgren

As a triathlon coach now, when I talk with people for the first time, I always share that my strength is coaching the bike and share that my cycling coach, Kenny Lundgren, who "Taught me how to ride a bike" was a genius. Kenny had a very profound impact on who I am as he really help me find the joy in cycling which is core to who I am today. Although I am sad that Kenny is no longer with us, am happy that his cycling philosophy and positive attitude lives on with myself and the folks I am working with.

With great sadness, wanted to share my feelings on the passing of our friend Kenny Lundgren. Kenny struggled with Mental Health issues that worsened over time and resulted in a sad ending to a wonderful man. In tribute to his memory, I wanted to share a bit about his unique, awesome side and the positive memories I have of him that made me smile.

I was introduced to him by a friend of mine who recommended that I work with him as a triathlon coach. I got this ridiculously long form to fill out which, of course, we never discussed any of it after I spend several hours putting it together. Workouts for the week were to come on Monday, if I was lucky. When I reminded him to send my workouts, he always tell me that "his assistant forgot to send them out" and he is putting me on the "Super VIP" list so, moving forward, he will get be sure to get it done early.

Then, I got the workouts, the cycling work was really interesting and well thought through, but the swims and runs involved alot of "Go Hard for a little, then Cruise the rest".  

I mentioned this to my friend who, in reply, said something like, "Don't worry about it. Trust me. Guy's a genius. He was the Time Trial Champion of New Jersey. He'll teach you how to ride a bike.'' He was right. Over time , I started to notice that my cycling capability wasn't just getting a little better, but was getting crazily better. I remember riding with some friends who were better cyclists than me, and I, as a big rider, would always get dropped on hill climbs, but, to their surprise, that changed and changed quickly as I was hanging with them to the top. Kenny used to have a ride during the week in the late afternoons with a bunch of folks he coached which he invited me to. It was not for the faint of heart and my favorite memory of the first time I did this ride is that, there was one Strava KOM on it where everyone would race to the top. I didn't win, but wasn't far off the really good riders that were there and Kenny, surprised to see me, said to me, "Who are you? What's your name?"   I told him and reminded him that we've been talking 3 times week, he invited me to the ride ,and he's my Coach which is why I was riding so well.   Typical Ken!   

The penultimate point in our relationship was when I won my division at Battenkill (70 Mile) Bike race and calling him shortly after crossing the finish line to thank him for what he did for me. Ken said, "I told you that you could do it John. You put the work in, but you just needed to believe you could. Now you have! Boom!"

Rest in Peace Kenny.



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