In part I of this interview, Lindine revealed his motivations for competing and reflected on his phenomenal early-season success in 2011. Here in part II, we tackled some of the tougher questions about career outlook, goals, and managing some recent disappointments.
As far as the future, I still am hoping to string my success into a paid job. I know bike racing isn’t forever, and I would really like to be able to look back on my life and say that I was legitimately a professional athlete for just that little window in time. I have aspired to that goal for a long, long time now, and it seems like maybe it’s close, so well see. I’m not walking away from the dream yet that’s for sure.
What are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses—if you don’t mind saying—as a racer?
Ahh, the loaded question. I think, well, people have told me I’m tenacious and I think that’s probably a good thing. I don’t check out in the head too often in a race, and I’m not afraid to suffer. I think that probably also presents a weakness sometimes. I race with too much passion and not enough analyzing.
Following an extremely strong start to the season that saw you have some of your best rides ever, you seemed to suffer a slight decline in form that coincided with a few races that are more suited to some of your competitors, i.e. fast, sprinters’ courses with lots of stop and go and lots of turns. Was it really frustrating to lose the Shimano series after seemingly having it in the bag in October? And, the hard question: do you think the results would have been different if the last three weekends of the series (Northampton, Ma; Sterling, MA; and Warwick, RI) had been on more difficult, pedalers’ courses?
It was unbelievably frustrating to lose the Shimano series after the start to the season I had. It was a little like watching a really bad movie and not being able to look away. I mean, early on when a lot of people were very excited that I was possibly going to win the thing, I had this voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I was in this situation last year too, and that nothing is over till it’s over. But still, you want to believe that you can do it, you want to prove it to yourself, and then I pretty much screwed it up similarly to last year. Why it happened is one of those questions you can’t keep from running through your mind even after the season is over…even after many seasons are over. The form was definitely not as good, but it wasn’t far off either, especially at Sterling and Warwick. The courses didn’t help that’s for sure. I mean, I knew that was going to be the case, so it’s not like it blind-sided me or anything. I don’t want to get hung up on blaming courses though. It’s an indisputable fact that in cyclocross some courses will suit some riders more than others, but the best riders, someone like Powers or Trebon or Johnson, make it happen no matter what the course is comprised of. The fact of the matter is that I just wasn’t on top of it. Some of that was physical, and courses like Northampton take the things that are my weakest points and really bring them out in the open. I do think that I proved at a majority of the races this season that when it came time to pedal hard I was better at it—obviously with a few exceptions, but on a whole. Part of it was head stuff, under-performing at important races. For instance, at Warwick I had some moments of really brilliant riding. Unfortunately, they came after I had stupid crashes because I was taking chances and being nervous. Ultimately I can wish things like the courses were different, you can’t imagine how many times I wished it would pour in the days leading up to Warwick, but none of that changes much. What I need to figure out is how to work on my weaknesses and come back stronger. Because I am really tired of the pile of leaders jerseys that I can’t lay claim to collecting dust in a box in my closet.
What happened at nationals? 11th was a solid ride, but you certainly have a lot of experience beating some of the guys who were 7th-10th. Did you have some bad luck out there?
Really, everything went pretty well at Nationals. I had a stupid bobble on the last lap that cost me my run at tenth, but aside from that I had a smooth race. With Team Redline helping me out in the pits, mechanically everything was smooth. That all said, I wasn’t very stoked with 11th after the way I rode at times this season. I definitely imagined myself more in those 7-8th spots, maybe even better if I was on a phenomenal day. Unfortunately, my knee injury in Bend really set me back in my nationals preparation. It was sort of more of a serious injury than I initially wanted to admit to myself, seeing as how it’s still swollen and sore, and it really prevented me from serious training for a while. After I got to the point where I could ride hard again it was sort of damage control to get back in the best shape I could in that short period of time. So, really I’m not devastated with 11th.
All things considered, this ‘cross season was your best yet, and it seems to have finally gotten you the national recognition you have deserved for a couple of years, now. Is anything going to be different in your program for 2012, in terms of sponsorship, travel, etc? Will you contest all the USGP races?
This year was great and it continually made me feel honored to have as much fan support as I did. While there were setbacks and disappointments, I am really excited about next year and trying to raise the bar for myself again. I am determined to be better than ever, which is a bold statement, but that’s what I want. I am really excited about trying to do more of the USGP races and testing myself in that deeper pool on a more regular basis. Hopefully, with the support of Redline I’ll be able to tackle a schedule that involves a little more traveling in 2012. They really stepped up in the second half of the season with awesome new bikes and great support, so hopefully that will be a relationship that I can continue in the coming season…maybe even for mountain biking. Stay tuned.
How long of an off-season break will you take? Can we bet on at least 2 days with no bike riding?
Well, I already have your expectation beat! Seriously though, probably about a week, maybe ten days. I am working on a plan that has me doing a fair bit of mountain bike racing this season, but always with an eye on building towards a successful ‘cross season. The truth is, I’m already itching to ride so I guess that’s a good thing on the motivational front…too bad it’s about 15 degrees out, so we’ll see.
We thank Justin for taking the time to do this interview and for being so candid in his responses. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what he can come up with next ‘cross season, and keeping an eye on the mountain bike calendar this summer, as well.