Welcome to the Art of Adventure’s first podcast! Here I interview Cyclocross Pro, 2nd place to world champion Sven Nys at Last Night’s 2013 Cross Vegas, and former national cyclocross champion Jeremy Powers. Â Know to his fans affectionately as J-Pow, Jeremy has great energy and insight from his years of experience.
Listen to the Complete interview below. Â (Soon to be downloadable from iTunes)
Here are the highlights of the interview:
Jeremy’s answers have been paraphrased for brevity.
Derek: Tell me the story of how you became a professional Cyclocross racer.
Jeremy: I was a hyperactive, ADD type kid, and the bike was a great outlet where I could burn off my energy. I loved that with cycling I got out what I put into it. Â There was no politics like the coaches’ kids getting played more on the baseball team, the results were just based on how hard I worked. Â When my friends and I were 13, 14 we used to just call each other and just go mountain bike all day. Â Then one day we heard from Tom Danielson’s mom that he did a Race! That was a big deal. Â When my friends and I turned 16, we started driving to some races. Â After I started winning some races, I wrote to Team Devo’s John Kemp and told him to pay attention to me in so many words. I told him to look for me when I went to the race at Mt. Snow. Â After the race, we went to his house where he had a mountain bike track in his back yard. I got one of the fastest times, and he let me join team Devo right then and there. My mom and I rolled away with all these Oakley glasses and team clothing – for a kid that was totally amazing. The team ended up helping pay for almost every part of racing – bikes when we needed them and NORBA racing. I think the Trek/Livestrong team might qualify as a similar program today. I was 18 when I went Pro on the mountain bike and 20 on the road. I also got to race in the world Cyclocross championships as a junior, where I finished 17th.
Derek: Did you have a coach?
Jeremy: Adam Myerson was my first coach when I was 16. Â A coach gives you a quicker learning curve and is a good investment. A good coach can tell you ‘how to pack your bag the right way’. Basically a coach accelerates your knowledge because you have access to everything they already know.
Derek: What can you tell me about racing on the Road vs. Cross, USA vs. Europe? What are the good and bad parts of being a Pro?
Jeremy: Â I got my first European racing experience with the Euro cross camp run by Geoff Proctor (Derek’s note: Author of the recent book Behind the Stare:Â The Pulse & Character of Professional European Cyclocross). Â The racing in Europe is at a totally different level, with that small group at the top so dominant. Â I would recommend getting good in the US first and then going over to Europe. The tough part of racing over there is that you are pretty much living by yourself. Â You are away from your family, you travel all the time-one thing you will become is an airport ninja! The most beautiful things is when you can make you passion your job, which is cycling for me. Â Being a Pro, I never have to punch the clock, and it is a really enjoyable lifestyle. Â All the good parts far outweigh the hard parts, but that being said, it is too hard to make it a career if you don’t really love it
Derek: What is next for you?
Jeremy: I will probably slow down on the road and shift more to a CX focus – Currently I race as many as 90 races/year, which is not easy. Sometimes I would just be riding to tread water and not lose fitness between these races – I hold back and never really throw down in the Wednesday night training rides. Â As I transition to being a cyclocross racer full time, I’d like to be in a good position to podium at a Cross World Cup. I have learned to focus on where I am talented and can make an impact.
Derek: What do you recommend for a rider hoping to go Pro?
Jeremy: You have to climb the totem pole. Get on a good club team, work your way up, and make the jump to the next biggest team in your area. At the JAM Fund cycling team, where we give some racing grants to developing riders, we look for proof by racing which also builds your motor. For 13-14-15 year old riders looking to move up, find that local or regional development team (like team DEVO was). Never sit back and wait to be discovered. Â There are no scouts in cycling like there are in baseball, so you have to create your personal brand. Stay local in your state or region to find a development team. Â That is the best way to learn hands-on basics.
Derek: Good luck this season!