Here, Weston Schempf leads Brian Wilichoski early on in the Masters Men 35-39 race at the 2012 Cyclocross National Championships. © Tim Westmore
Weston Schempf is easily the racer with the best name in the Mid-Atlantic (say it out loud a few times and see what we mean), but he’s also got talent on the cyclocross field. With a fourth spot at Masters 35-39 Nationals, Schempf is not a racer to be taken lightly. We wanted to hear what his off-season was like, so we checked in this summer.
Cyclocross Magazine: What team will you be racing for this season, and what bike do you race on?
Weston Schempf: I’m going to be riding for a small regional team SEAVS/Haymarket based out of Haymarket, Va.
CXM: How much time do you spend on your cyclocross bike in the off-season?
WS: I don’t spend very much time on my ‘cross bike in the off-season. Most of my training is done on the road bike, and then some mountain bike racing thrown in to keep the handling skills up-to-date. Once ’cross season starts (August usually), I’ll get my bikes dialed in and use them with road tires to do training.
CXM: How long have you been racing?
WS: Overall, since 2002. That’s when I first picked up a cylcocross bike after watching the Nationals race in Baltimore.
CXM: How did you get into cyclocross?
WS: Watching the Super Cup and Nationals at Patterson Park in Baltimore. I was blow away by the enthusiasm of spectators (guys racing in full tiger suits) and the excitement of ’cross racing itself. My first races were down in Georgia, and then the winter cyclocross series in N.C.
CXM: Best part of cyclocross for you?
WS: There is no best part of cyclocross. Training, traveling, stalking results/riders, seeing friends, teammates and competitors, racing, recovering, winning on occasion, personal bests, laughing at mistakes, volunteering at races … just the whole enchilada.
CXM: Proudest cyclocross moment?
WS: Either my masters race at Nationals this year – going from leading the race with Brian Wilichoski, to out of the top 15 with a terrible pit experience, and then clawing my way back up to fourth instead of giving up. Or winning the B men at the 2004 Nationals in Portland, Ore., in classic cyclocross conditions.
CXM: Favorite thing to do after a race?
WS: Receive congratulations from my wife and baby boy if they are at the race. I missed that this year at Nationals since they weren’t able to attend.
CXM: Advice for people just getting into the sport?
WS: Definitely take advantage of any clinics or weekday training races in your area. They can give you the opportunity to learn the skills, practice them, and use them in a race setting before actually racing, which I think can take some of the intimidation factor out of the equation.
CXM: Where would you like to see the sport go?
WS: I’d like to see it continue it’s upward trajectory. In the Mid-Atlantic, I’d like to see a UCI series similar to what is happening up in New England with the NEPCX. Have a race in the US become a regular stop on the World Cup level. Continue to expand upon the equal payouts for women and men. Have the season shift to starting later and ending later.
CXM: What’s unique about racing in the Mid-Atlantic?
WS: I wouldn’t say unique but living in the mid-Atlantic offers the ability to compete in two different series, the MAC and MABRA. It’s also a great location to travel up to most of the New England races. Series-wise, it’s nice to have a grassroots type series in the MABRA but also watching them grow into higher caliber events.
CXM: Best pre-race song to listen to?
WS: Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” or Trentemøller to get in a good mental state.
CXM: Little known fact about you?
WS: I’m an avid table tennis player.
CXM: Most embarrassing bike moment?
WS: Probably having a spectacularly terrible bike exchange in the pit where I missed the hand off and fell on my bike and broke the seat.
CXM: What’s your ideal course?
WS: I don’t know if there is an ideal for me. I do like a course that makes you think and requires some technical savvy. I’d like to think I’m a strong technical rider, but I know that I always have things to work on. I’ve also been called a mudder, which I begrudgingly agree with, but I like the thin mud. Not the really heavy stuff …
CXM: Best pre and post-race food?
WS: Egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on an everything bagel with some strong coffee. Post-race? Anything really: Mexican, Indian, beer, donuts, whatever.
CXM: Do you have another job?
WS: Yeah, I’m a working man. I work a 40 hour week as a parks supervisor on top of dad and husband duties. Come cyclocross season though, my wife does a fantastic job helping me find time to train and really picks up the pieces I drop. I couldn’t do it without her help and love.
CXM: I love your twitter profile: “‘Cross racing elite husband in #wifeseason.” How long have you been married? Does your wife race as well?
WS: Thanks. My wife, the wit of the operation, set that up for me. I’ll be married for three years this September. She says she wants to try it, and I think she’d do well, but she’s intimidated by racing in a mixed category. I hope this season she’ll give it a go at one of the local races, or go to a women’s only clinic.