Luke Mudgway's Super Month
There are a lot of “super weeks” in cycling. These lengthy race series consist of a week or more of cycling races – generally grueling, fast-paced criteriums (crits) – meant to torment and tear apart cyclist’s legs while proving who’s the best. One super week (or even a portion of a super week) is usually enough for most cyclists, but you occasionally run into a cyclist who’s mind and body seem to work a little differently. These cyclists like to stack super weeks on top of super weeks and make what I call a “super month.”
One of the cyclists that’s crazy enough to embark on one of these super months is H&R Block Pro Cycling’s Luke Mudgway. This New Zealander began his super month in the middle of June when he raced and won Ottawa’s Preston Street Criterium. A few days later, Luke flew to Wisconsin to compete in Milwaukee’s Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD). Originally, he only planned to compete in the first few races of the series, but Luke’s results were so good that he decided to stay for the 11-day series and managed to capture an individual race win, numerous podiums, and ToAD’s overall omnium. After a few additional days of recovery, Luke flew to Vancouver to race in his team’s home race, BC Superweek, where he came painfully close to winning several races and won the young rider’s jersey on the first day of BC Superweek’s Tour de Delta.
For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 22 days of racing over the course of 29 days. And during those 22 race days, the young Kiwi won 2 races, an overall omnium, a young riders jersey, and had numerous near misses. This 22-year-old cyclist has too much potential to ignore. With results like these, we at A Cyclist In A Strange Land knew that we had to dive a little deeper with Luke Mudgway.
Nathan (N): How are you feeling mentally and physically after your month of racing? Luke Mudgway (LM): I’m very happy, but I’m dead, I’m so tired. I actually gave some thought to extending my block of racing by going to Chicago for the Intelligentsia Cup, but that would probably have started to be a bit much.
N: Is this one of the hardest stretches of racing you’ve done in a while, or ever?
LM: It’s hard to compare because, with the crits, they’re only an hour or an hour and a half long. It’s a lot different from racing four hours a day, every day in a stage race and climbing up mountains. They’re both so different. I love them both so much, but they are very different.
N: Once you’re rested and fully recovered from your “super month,” what’s next for you?
LM: My team, H&R Block Pro Cycling, and I are going to do a block in Europe racing in the French Cup’s Polynormande road race at the beginning of August. It’s a 1.1 race on the UCI Europe Tour which means that there will be a couple World Tour teams, French Pro Continental teams, and some really good Continental teams racing there. It’s going to be a really hard race.
N: That’s a heck of an opportunity to get the chance to show your grit on the world stage. Good luck, we’ll have to keep track of how you’re doing over there.
N: How do you rate your last month of racing? You got some wins, won the overall omnium at ToAD, and had some good results at BC Superweek. I’m sure that you’re getting a lot of attention and a lot of praise by people back home, and certainly in the US and Canada. How are you feeling about it now that you’ve had a second to breathe?
LM: Coming into Dairyland, I hadn’t done a huge amount on the bike. I got quite sick after racing the Redlands Bicycle Classic and ended up having three weeks on and off the bike trying to fight the illness. Once I was feeling better, I did a team camp before heading into my big month of racing. I was feeling excited since I had my health back and I really love racing crits. My own expectation of the Tour of America’s Dairyland was that I was just going there to have fun and get fit before BC Superweek because I had only done a few weeks on the bike and no racing. But my performance was good so that I did the whole 11 days in the end and had a blast. The atmosphere really made the days at Dairyland amazing. I can’t thank everyone enough; the support out there was incredible. Then I had four days before BC Superweek and one of those days was flying back to my temporary home in Vancouver and the next three days was trying to get as much time with the family as possible since they had come over to Vancouver to see me.
N: That was actually one of the best stories of the week. [Ed. Luke had originally only planned to race a couple days at ToAD because his family was flying to Vancouver from New Zealand to spend time with him, read that story here] As I walked around ToAD everyone knew your story, and everyone was thrilled that you were there. So, you did finally get to spend time with your family?
LM: I had planned to meet them in Vancouver and spend eight days together, but when I extended my stay in Milwaukee an extra four days, that changed things. They were fine, they understand what my life’s like. The hardest part is that once I made it to Vancouver, I had to try to train and recover for the next big block of racing while still spending time with my family. But it was still a relaxing few days to have them around.
N: Did they get to see you race any of BC Superweek?
LM: Yeah, they did. They stayed for the first half of that series which was really cool since I won the young riders jersey in the first criterium and had a really big day in the UCI road race. I was at the front of the race in a breakaway and just got caught with about a kilometer to go, which was unfortunate.
N: With those string of results, maybe they’re your lucky charm and you’ll have to keep them in Vancouver as much as possible.
LM: Yeah, or unlucky I could say! (Laughs)
N: You race a Trek road bike and are part of a Trek-sponsored team. When I think about Wisconsin, one of the things that I think about besides cheese and beer is Trek bikes. I know that there weren’t any ToAD races around Trek’s Waterloo, Wisconsin headquarters, but did you get to spend some time with anyone from Trek during the week?
LM: Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to make it over to Waterloo, but I wish that I could have. I did get a chance to go to some of Trek’s bike shops in the area. The staff there were really cool and they all wanted to get pictures with me. It was great to have those Trek guys know who I am and my story.
N: You first landed on my radar earlier this season at the Joe Martin Stage Race. I remember looking at the results and seeing that a rider from H&R Block, you, had finished ninth in the time trial and then you ended up finishing eighth in the criterium. Good results in both time trials and criteriums don’t happen all the time, what’s your secret?
LM: I’m not sure what’s going on at the moment, but I seem to be able to perform well at all types of races which is pretty cool since I can go to any race and ask myself, “How can I win this race?” instead of, “How can I survive?” My background is actually track cycling. I won the Junior World Madison title in 2014. I did a lot of team pursuit work and could do a pretty fast individual pursuit too. I have a natural ability to put down a big amount of power over a short period of time, like coming out of corners in crits, sprinting, and in short time trials. Even my climbing abilities have developed this year. Coming from the track, I was probably seven or eight kilograms heavier than I am now. I’ve slowly been shedding the weight and my power-to-weight ratio has been going up a lot. This year, it’s been a bit of a shock to go into climbs and attack the lead rider.
N: It’s pretty exciting, and you’re still a young guy. I can’t wait to see how you develop in the next couple of years.
N: So you’re heading to Europe in a couple of weeks, where else will we see you racing?
LM: Well, France at the beginning of August and then I’m hoping to be selected for Worlds in Austria. Then, from Austria, I’ll fly to China and meet my team and target the general classification (GC) for Tour of Tajihu Lake and then Tour of Hainan, two big UCI races in China. But, if I’m not going to Worlds, then I’ll also race at Tour of China and Tour of Almaty in Kazakhstan.
N: How’s the contract hunt for next year going? Hopefully you’re getting noticed by the bigger Pro Continental and Continental teams.
LM: H&R Block is a development team, they want to see riders go and take the step up. If the option to step up is available, they’ll be happy to see me go. It’s hard being from a different country since the local teams are loyal to their local riders. But, it’s still early in the season for signing contracts and I’m doing my best to find something. I love racing in America. That’s why I’m here. I’m really hoping to go pro through America; that’s what I’m chasing at the moment.
N: Good luck with the search. I think that you’ve proven that you deserve it. Not a lot of people in North America are doing this many races, especially in one month and then getting these types of results.
LM: I just need to hope that what I’ve done this year – consistently being at the front of the races – will get me a contract for next season.