by Molly Hurford
The first thing that Jeremy Powers wants you to know is that he’s still only 29 years old. Seriously. He’s not old yet. “Make sure you write that I’m only 29,” he re-emphasizes, laughing. When we sat down last week in his kitchen, his yellow lab (aptly named Moose) trying to engage either of us in a game of tug-of-war that literally dragged me and my chair across the floor, Powers opened up about his time since Worlds.
While he still raced ’cross in Tokyo and took the win, for the most part, he’s finally had time that can be loosely described as “time off.” But for Powers, who clearly can’t sit still for more than a few minutes before starting work on yet another new project or plan, down time isn’t quite as relaxed as it is for most of us.”We went to Tokyo, and that was really good.” He especially was surprised by the crowds. “It was a great race and a lot of great people came out to show support, and they were well-educated on everything in the race. Definitely an emerging cyclocross community. It was hard to know how many were die-hard cycling fans and how many were spectators from the street, but it was definitely a mix of both and it was awesome. I was in bad shape, I had a stomach virus, but it was a great week. I’d love to see that as a stop in the World Cup.”
Powers does know how to have fun, and he took a vacation to the Bahamas for a week once he returned from Tokyo. “I caught a fish,” he proudly added, “And had some beers on the beach.” But since returning, he’s back to work trying to decide what’s happening with Behind THE Barriers for next season.
They recently conducted a survey to see what people want, and Powers notes: “We got a lot of great feedback about what people want to see and don’t want to see, and that’s really important for us. The die-hard fans are the ones doing the survey, but I think 1500 people filled it out.” It turns out that people care less about the race footage than he previously thought. “For someone who doesn’t follow the races carefully, it’s hard to know how a race played out from the footage. Overall, people would rather see day-in-the-life-of footage, which is great.”
“I think a lot of people got nervous that the show would be a pay-for thing, but that would never happen. I won’t rule out commercials but right now it’s not on the front burner.”
The big question as far as sponsorship goes isn’t about Behind THE Barriers though. While Powers is still on Jelly Belly for this season on the road, his cyclocross sponsorship hasn’t been completely worked out yet. In fact, he’s not sure what’s going to happen come September.
“I don’t know. We’re still up in the air, working on it. Taking with Rapha and Focus but also seeing what’s out there. I’d love to know within a month, but I don’t know. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff and there are definitely some people who are interested,” he says.
“Everyone is very excited about the future, and ’cross has a lot of momentum behind it in the States and there are a lot of great people who are out there trying to put stuff together.”
Powers won’t be heading out west for the Tour of California with Jelly Belly, unlike some fellow ’crossers on United Healthcare (Jake Keough and Danny Summerhill among them) and Katie Compton, Meredith Miller and Jade Wilcoxson all joining the Tour for the women’s time trial. However, he’s personally not too upset about it. “The team was bummed, for sure, but that race can’t be everyone’s everything in that regard. I think there’s a place for a development team like ours and I hope we do get into some bigger races and give our riders some opportunities.”
“I’ll start racing in the beginning of May,” Powers continues. “Just to get some miles into my legs. I’ll race all the big races in the States. And in July I’m getting married!”
“There’s also the FUNdo [Powers' charity ride] the next weekend, so there won’t be much of a honeymoon. Actually, there won’t be a honeymoon.”
And then it’s cyclocross season again, which brought us back to Powers’ past season: a strong start with a seemingly unending string of US wins and good results in Europe, and then a December stint in Europe that seemed to leave Powers exhausted, and finishing with a sixth place at US Nationals. A decent showing at Worlds followed by the win in Tokyo showed that the downturn was merely a blip, but what will that mean for next season?
“I don’t think I slowed down at the end of the year, things just got a little more see-saw. But I made notes about how all of it felt for me. Getting third at the race before Worlds was great for me. After Nationals, I got pissed enough that I had a great race that weekend [at King's Cross in Cincinatti]. Then Worlds came up short but I won again in Tokyo. It was hard to run a season from the end of August while feeling good the second week of February.”
“I’m going to change some things, but mostly just the timing. It wasn’t that I wasn’t training hard, I actually think I was training too hard. But now that Worlds in Louisville isn’t in my peripheral, I think I’ll go back to normal. Making sure I could smash it at Worlds was really hard.”
He continued pensively, “There was a moment where I thought Nationals was going to be great. I thought in my head I could win Nationals again … But once we got going it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to happen.”
“I would have loved a top 10 in Worlds, or a top five, and I still believed that was possible when I lined up for that race.”
Speaking of Worlds in Louisville, he adds, “A lot of people came up to say that they loved the season and stuck around to say thanks and congrats, and you can’t ask for more than that. I was really happy, and kind of proud in a way. I like to think we’ve all had a little bit to do with making cyclocross where it’s at now. I was really happy with the event, I thought it went well. I wish I’d done better; that was a pretty big disappointment, but you gotta keep moving.”
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda, wished, but it was what it was.”