Catching Up With Jeremy Powers on USGP, His Euro Season and Shaping the Future of Cyclocross
The morning before I coaxed Jeremy Powers into making me coffee and answering a few of my questions about his season, I heard him working on an interview for another news outlet while pacing in the backyard. Jealous? A little. But when I saw the outcome: the NBC Sports article on the “Top Five Reasons It’s Good To Be Jeremy Powers,” I was pretty OK with waiting an extra day to chat. After all, anytime cyclocross makes it to the mainstream media, another angel gets its wings, or however the saying goes. Anyway, it is good to be Powers, though arguably, it’s even better to be Powers’ golden lab, Moose, when “daddy” is home to play, and not off in Europe or Oregon. While I sat at the table, drinking coffee and happily letting Moose shed on me and show off his doggy toys, Powers enlightened me on how he felt about his season so far, making it as a cyclocrosser in the US, how Behind THE Barriers is the real deal, and how he feels about his protegees on the J.A.M. Fund team starting to break into the sport more and more.
Cyclocross Magazine: I have to ask the generic “how’s the season going” question. So … how’s the season going?
Jeremy Powers: The season is great. It’s been really good, I’ve won all the races I wanted to win here. Koksijde was a hard race but it’s been a good experience, I got a lot out of it, and I’m looking forward to the next USGP, Nationals and the next trip to Europe. I’ll be there for the last two World Cups and then Worlds.
CXM: Talk to me about Koksijde. What were your expectations, and how did the race play out for you? Do you feel ready for Worlds?
JP: It was a hard race. I had good legs and I trained pretty hard for it. The specificity – the running and the on-and-off the bike and riding the ruts and trying to make sure I had that skill set nailed. I did better than I’ve done in the past. I haven’t done the race in a couple years. It was exactly how I remember it. It’s really, really hard. I learned a lot, I took a lot of notes, and I’ll have another shot at it in January. I’m not at an age where having an “experience race” is something I want to do, but with this course it’s something I need to do.
CXM: What about next year, when Worlds is on US soil?
JP: Next year we really have our own championships. The Belgians don’t know US cyclocross-style, whereas this year’s is so Belgian-centric. I am very excited about it.
CXM: How has all of the travel been? Do you think that hurts your racing at all?
JP: Yeah, it does. Anytime I’m flying, I can’t train, and so that’s at least 24 hours. If you do that in a week or 14 days, you take two days out of the week. And there’s jet lag … I’m not riding as fast. I have to take certain low-hanging fruit, I have to take off weekends … It’s more planned racing. I’m not doing this so I can train more. Once you start the season, as you’ve seen with some guys, it’s hard to get back up to the level. You can’t make leaps and bounds in a cyclocross season, you have to come in strong and maintain it. That’s been something I’ve been able to nail for the past couple years, coming in and nail it and take breaks when I needed to. Management has been good for me in terms of time on and off the bike.
CXM: Is it hard bouncing between the racing scene in Europe and then here?
JP: It’s just different. They take it more seriously, you’re not joking around before the race. There, it’s so much different: Sven Nys isn’t saying ‘how was your flight over?’ I want to do well at that level because it’s the highest level, but it’s not as much fun for me to be there. When I’m there racing for like, 10th or 15th, people aren’t going, “Come on, man.” Here, everyone is getting support from spectators.
CXM: What’s it like being the Behind THE Barriers celebrity? Is it strange having a camera following you around everywhere?
JP: It’s actually not strange, I signed up for it, and I know Sam, so it’s like me hanging out with a friend. We’ve become better friends from the series. People started to really like it and that made me realize that everything I wanted to get out of it, I’m getting out of it. It’s going to promote cyclocross, promote my sponsor brands, to let people know who I am, and it’s going to be fun. It gives all the riders a personality too.
CXM: What do you think when you look at the footage? Is it really true to life?
JP: I only watch the episodes one time and that’s when they get edited, then I watch to make sure it’s good to go. I know what they should look like.
CXM: I know a lot of people think that your on-air personality is too friendly and goofy to be real, but obviously, I can attest that it is, in fact, always like that.
JP: Some people have said that to me! At a cyclocross camp a woman was adamant that I was not the way I came off in my interviews, and I was like, “this is the real Jeremy Powers, I’m not trying to be someone that I’m not.” If you’re doing a series for two years, you get a pretty good idea of what someone is like. Everybody has they’re high and low points, but even on a bad day, it is what it is. And you can tell when you watch. Or when I’m running around … I don’t even try to play the part, that’s just who I am most of the time. When I’m on the road, I’m excited about the racing and that shows.
CXM: Your obviously one of the favorites for Nats this year. Who else do you think will be heavy contenders?
JP: Ryan [Trebon] and Tim [Johnson] for sure. I don’t try to gauge those guys though, I just try to worry about where I am with my training. And if I get lucky and I win, that’s sweet. And it’s really looking past Nationals. Nationals is a great race, but it’s one day. I’m basing my career on the season. If I went for just one race … well, I haven’t had very good luck at Nationals in the past. But I will try! One of these years …
CXM: We have to talk about your New England protegees on the J.A.M. Fund team. Jeremy Durrin is now racing in Europe after a stellar US season, and Anthony Clark has been having some great finishes in New England. Is the program doing what you hoped?
JP: That’s always been the goal of the program, give those guys as much as we could give them, like a father could give his son. A lot of experience. The parts and the stuff is great, it helps those guys, but that stuff goes without saying. When those guys are putting in the time, the equipment is not the issue. It’s taking them out to the cyclocross course or coaching them and helping with life stuff. Get those guys through life. Sometimes it’s not like, “Great race this weekend,” it’s like, “Dude, you *&@^ed up and we have to tell you that you messed up.” It’s not always loving and caring, but the lessons are always learned. We always make our point come across in the best way possible. We consistently watch.
Watch our coverage this weekend of the Bend USGP when Jeremy goes for the Series Title!
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