Summit resident Lasse Konecny reflects on mountain bike season-opener in Puerto Rico
Fellow Summit locals Tai-Lee Smith, Opal Koning race on island, as well
FRISCO — Lasse Konecny says it’s kind of like a Peloton on steroids.
What the Summit County 16-year-old Konecny is referring to is Zwift. It’s his stationary bike and software program that he’s been using through the winter in Summit County to conduct cycling training for his budding mountain bike career despite the snow mounds outside his window. The software and stationary bike uses electronic resistance to allow for Konecny to simulate certain races and terrain, all from the comfort of his Breckenridge home.
“I ride on that constantly,” Konecny said. “It’s the first year I’ve been doing it. It engages you as a rider. There are a lot of course profiles you can do and ride: climbing, flats, tours, even stage races.”
Konecny, an accomplished youth Nordic skier and mountain biker, pivoted full time to mountain biking in December. With his eyes on qualifying for the Union Cycliste Internationale Junior World Championships this summer or next, the 16-year-old has joined the Park City-based Rouler Development team to advance his mountain biking career.
Most recently, that career brought Konecny and fellow Summit County mountain bikers Tai-Lee Smith and Opal Koning to their first mountain bike races of the 2020 season last week in Puerto Rico. The event, the Union Cycliste Internationale Junior Series’ Puerto Rico Mountain Bike Cup, consisted of races in Salinas and Rincon, Puerto Rico. It was on the soggy, rainforest-like trails in Rincon where the Summit locals raced best, with Konecny finishing in 15th place of the male junior racers who completed five laps and his good friend Riley Amos of Durango posting the fastest time. Smith was the fourth-fastest junior female who completed four laps in Rincon while Koning finished three laps on the muddy jungle course that Konecny said was not comparable to anything mountain bikers ride in Summit County.
“The trails there are very technical,” Konecny said. “Salinas, the first race, was more of a desert race while the second race in Rincon was more tropical with roots and mud. It’s quite a diverse setting with trails and such. The race in Salinas is easily comparable to Grand Junction with having short climbs, steep and punchy climbs and technical rocky descents. In Rincon, since it rained the night before, it was muggy.
“You could feel the humidity,” Konecny continued. “The mud was something. You’d ride your bike and slide everywhere. It was a challenge to stay on your bike, keep the bike clean. The mud wouldn’t stick to your tires or shoot up into your face, and the mud in Puerto Rico was tacky, sticking to your tires, helmet, glasses, handlebar, seat, everything.”
Though he said the decision to leave Nordic skiing behind was difficult, Konecny has embraced the step up in competition that has been the Union Cycliste Internationale juniors circuit. He’s off to California later this month for another elite junior race. On the lower end of the age range in the junior division, Konecny embraces the challenge that is racing against the world’s top competition, who are a year or more older in some cases.
To help him maintain his athleticism and endurance throughout the season, Konecny still works regularly with Summit County resident, Olympian and coach Jim Galanes. For the past couple of years, Galanes’ inventive approach to Konecny’s athletic potential and endurance has helped the teen to consistently race at and near his best on the cross-country ski and mountain bike trails. He now ranks as one of the country’s 10 best mountain bikers for his age group, and he’s set to race in elite junior races in California, Canada, Wisconsin and Montana before the season ends. Later in summer, he’s considering racing in the Breck Epic.
“I’ve been determined to hit the gym,” Konecny said. “I’ve been working on core, legs, a little bit of upper body. Being all-around strong is important for any sport, but I’ve learned it’s more just specifically about enjoying yourself riding, playing on the bike, trying new lines, pushing yourself and trying new things. It’s about trying to make you and the trail work together. It’s about really enjoying yourself when riding, not putting pressure, relaxing and learn how the bike rides and learning how you ride the bike.”
Long term, Konecny has his sights set on the 2022 Summer Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal, and then at some point in the future something even bigger.
“Ultimately,” he said, “the goal I will try to attack is making it to the Olympics.”
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