Catching Powers has been a bit easier this year: typically, May and April sees him flying all over the country, and the world, racing for his road team, Jelly Belly, but this year, he’s been able to fly under the radar, racing only a small handful of races while he works on some new projects, prepares for his wedding, and gets ready for cyclocross season.
“I started sort of last week when I went to Chattanooga for Road Nats. That was good. After that, I went to New Jersey for Base Camp International. That was an NCC crit. But I am home now and will be for a bit.”
This time last year, Powers was over in Korea for the Tour of Korea, but this year, Jelly Belly didn’t send a team so Powers gets to spend a miraculous amount of time back in Eastern Standard Time. “I don’t have any races. I’m not doing Nature Valley, I’m not doing Cascade because that’s the weekend of my wedding. So I’m actually out of racing, I’m only going to do a bit of mountain biking and training a bunch. I’m just going to be getting ready, I don’t have anything serious planned.”
“The end of the year looks like I’m doing crit nationals, I’m going to do Elk Grove and probably one of the big tours, Colorado, Utah or Alberta, to set up my ’cross season. Ideally, I’d do Alberta and come into ’cross season like that.”
Is he worried about the lack of racing? “I do a lot of racing year ’round, so I’m not concerned. I’m going to take time while I can and not put a lot of intensity on myself. I’ll leave it for later.”
I’ve heard rumors of a new and improved Behind THE Barriers, and some new video stuff coming from the team behind it (Sam Smith and Powers), and Powers confirms this. “We’ve got that going. The idea behind that is to get things to a point where we’re not going in the live direction, we’re not doing rider this-that-and-the-other-thing. We want to capture the racing and put out some really beautiful post-production of the event. So we’ll record the race and bring a great setup to each race and it’s going to be a really cool thing. I don’t want to say too much about it yet, but we are looking at covering the races and adding that to Behind THE Barriers.” Who will be on the team? Sam Smith and Powers, obviously, and rumors have been flying about different names and personalities that Powers will be bringing in. Hint: we’ve heard rumors that a much-missed video guy might be getting on board.
“There’s already a lot of print and online content, but there isn’t much by way of professional video content [of US cyclocross] available online and that’s what we’re trying to go for. Live coverage is tough, and we’re not doing that. I don’t think the technology is really there yet to get it dialed and we’re not there yet. It’s hard to go and say, ‘We can do that.’ It’s not that easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it and doing it successfully.”
With all of that said, I was curious: without the USGP, what are those big races that Powers plans to document? I asked if there was a schedule worked out yet. “There’s definitely people who need to talk about the schedule, from USA Cycling to the riders to the managers. There’s going to be a common schedule that we’re all going to sort of agree on. I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about that. And then with me, I’ll come off of a big August training block so I’ll probably be going pretty well at the beginning of the season.”
He continues, “I’m going to learn from my mistakes of last year and not try to be a world traveler and a bike racer. I’m going to try to do some good training blocks and some good races and see where that gets me. Last year I definitely learned my lesson from trying to take on too much, and I don’t want to get in that position again, so I might even take a couple races off and do more dedicated training blocks and not try to smash in as much. It was a culmination of things and I came up just a bit short when it really mattered.”
“I had some great things, and I was smart enough to learn from last year. So my goal now is to make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes. I want to continue to race at the high level races, do some World Cups, try to get on the podium at one of those, put those on top, and then at the end of the year we’ll go back, do Nomay and the World Championships, and maybe Tokyo. I’m going to kick my season off at StarCrossed. So that’s the idea. It’s going to be a nice year, the way it’s lining up now.”
Will he focus on his hometown Shimano NECX Pro Series? “I’m not going to focus on one series in particular. We want to go to events that are high level and that’s the number one thing that my sponsors and the racers I’m talking to want to do. We want to go places where there is the ability to have a large crowd, good media coverage, and all those things. We want to take the show there together. Go to venues where we’re wanted and asked.”
Other than planning his race schedule and video show, he’s also still working on the JAM Fund (his developmental team) Grand Fundo, which is coming up in July, a week after his wedding. “We’re auctioning off two of my race bikes,” he says, adding that there will also be some bigger ’cross racers helping to lead up the ride, and they’ve also added a mini-Fundo that’s only 38 miles of road and gravel in Western Massachusetts.
And lastly, I have to ask about the elephant in the room. Last time I talked to Powers, he wasn’t sure where he would end up for next season, whether he’d be staying with Rapha-Focus or branching out, and even now, he’s not ready for the big reveal. “I am signed. I’m going to let them announce it though.”
But when? “Soon,” he reassures me.
“It’s great. It’s a great thing, it’s going to be awesome.”