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Chris Jones has had one of the strongest and most consistent seasons of any of the favorites heading to Bend this weekend. Jones, riding for Champion Systems, has been on or near the podium on many instances this season, most recently winning the California State Championships. Despite his win, Jones will be eager to put the icing on the cake that is his season with a strong performance at the National Championships. A good showing in Bend could catapult Jones’ name onto the short list for the United States’ World Championships squad and extend Jones’ season a bit longer before he embarks on another road season with Team Type 1.
1) What’s your favorite race of all time? Favorite race so far this season, and why?
It is not a cross race, but the 2007 US Open in Richmond, Virginia is probably my favorite race of all time. It was snowing, windy, guys were crying because they were cold, and generally just pure chaos for much of the race. Once we hit the finishing circuits with the cobbled climb in Richmond the field blew apart.
This season, probably Cross Vegas, no definitely Cross Vegas. The spectators are what made that race for me this year and cross in general. On the road we are generally going too fast or the fans are too far away to hear. In cross we pass the same heckler lap after lap and as the race progresses, and they become more um hydrated they become more entertaining to listen to. Except for the the guy who actually spit beer on me at Vegas, the fans were great. As the sport continues to grow here in the States I look forward to more races where the courses are lined with fans.
2) You just won a race, what’s your ultimate post-race meal?
A huge piece of Lithuanian Coffee Cake from Claire’s in New Haven, actually, maybe the entire cake. It is absolutely amazing. Next time any of you East coasters are stuck in the 95/91 merge, stop by Claire’s.
3) Biggest achievement of your career so far?
I’ve won a couple of cross races, and finally a road race this season, but I think that my biggest achievements in the sport are still to come.
4) If you could be anything besides a bike racer, what would it be?
A NASCAR driver. I already have my NASCAR style victory interview listing all of my sponsors in one breath dialed, the driving would be the easy part.
5) How did you get your start in cyclocross? What were your biggest influences?
It was a New England thing. My wife was attending one of the Ancient Eight and my friends told me that I needed to race cross because ‘every one is doing it in New England.’ I am weak and gave in to peer pressure. I rode in a couple of races in 2006, but it wasn’t until ’07 when Adam Myerson talked me into racing a full cross season that I really started to race cross.
Adam was a big influence. This will shock most of you, but he is outspoken and says what he thinks. We are pretty much opposite personalities, but that worked for us. He shared a lot of the knowledge that he had gained from racing cross for so long and I tried to apply it.
6) What was your first cyclocross bike? What about it sticks out most in your mind?
My first cross bike was a Kelly built in Nor-cal.
It was steel, heavy, and way too big but a blast to ride. It gave me the freedom to ride off road for the first time. A guy sold it to me in San Diego and told me that I would need it to ride in the snow once I moved to New England. I still have it… maybe I’ll grow into it someday.
7) If you could win any one race on the calendar, which one would it be?
Nationals. If I could choose a second race, then Gloucester. I was close in ’07, but flatted on the last lap while leading.
8) Who is your biggest rival on the North American Cyclocross Scene?
I don’t know if I really have a rival yet, although I heard that Kabush called me his rival, so I accept his rivalship (is that a word?) and will see him in Portland.
9) Who is you bicycle racing idol? Who is your cyclocross idol?
I don’t really have a bike racing idol. I came to the sport kind of late, I was 25, so I don’t have any childhood racing idols. On the road I respect hard men who can get the job done in any situation like a Mike Sayers or Jason McCartney.
10) Got any pre-race rituals?
Not really. I just like to keep things light leading up to the race and laugh at the trash talking that goes on before the race. I usually skip out on the trash talking because I need to concentrate on the race. I tried giving Jeremy a hard time at Southampton during warm up and crashed twice while talking smack, so I am going to keep my mouth shut for a while and just focus on riding.