When heading into an event like the Cyclocross World Championships, one has to consider an enormous amount of moving pieces. In this year’s coverage, we examined USAC’s selection for the riders that would represent the United States, including the late surge by Zach McDonald to take one of the remaining spots. We also analyzed the decision of riders such as Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, who both not only qualified for Worlds, but had to consider the event they would compete in.
Today, we look at the lead up to the 2015 Cyclocross World Championship in Tabor from yet another perspective: a coach. If anyone knows something about moving pieces, it’s Cyclelution Owner Chris McGovern. Not only does he coach California Giant Berry Farms rider Tobin Ortenblad and Vanderkitten rider Carolina Gomez-Villafañe, who will be respectively representing the United States and Argentina at Hoogerheide and Worlds, but he will also act as the Argentinian Race Director while in the Czech Republic. Among other things, he’s also the owner of Real Wheels Bicycle Studio, a bike shop well-known for its hand-built wheels.
While he will be giving long-distance advice to Ortenblad and Gomez-Villafañe as the athletes compete in Hoogerheide Sunday, he will be joining them in Europe for a front-row coaching seat in Tabor.
Cyclocross Magazine: You are a Cyclelution coach for riders, including Tobin Ortenblad and Carolina Gomez-Villafañe, you run the bike shop in Nevada City called Real Wheels, you run the online retail for your wheels, and you host gravel events like the Lost and Found: How do you possibly balance all of these things, especially in a stressful time like pre-Worlds?
Chris McGovern: Yea, those are most of the hats I wear along with a few other things. I dabble in frame building, Carbon is next, and my Buddy Josh Dwyer and I have a suspension service called UberTune. I try to stay balanced and I have help.
I started Cycleution in 2000 after coaching the Rad Racing crew. I really liked working with these young hungry kids so I went for it. Cycleution grew and I added my bro AJ Kennedy as a coach and assistant in 2010 [Kennedy now runs the VuMedi u25 cycling team]. He has his own clients and we split other responsibilities, although if you look at our website you can see we are a little behind on our updates.
For Real Wheels Bicycle Studio, I have the help of my wife Hollie McGovern. She handles most everything non mechanical and most of the computrainer classes. Without her the shop wouldn’t fly. The shop’s website is really just a tool to help grow awareness about our shop and drive some business for wheel builds, soft goods and other random stuff.
As for the Lost and Found Race/Ride, it was really just my idea and a lot of miles ridden to establish a course. I got Greg Williams involved to really get it off the ground. Greg is responsible for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, they do the lion’s share of everything for that event. I just sort of consult now. SBTS puts on the Downieville Classic, builds amazing trails, save communities and inspires me. Join, donate or volunteer!
Why do all these things? Out of necessity I guess. I want to make a living using the skills I have acquired over my life.
CXM: To your knowledge, are you the only coach who has athletes participating in Cyclocross Worlds from different countries? It must be a unique situation.
CM: That is a good question, and I have no idea. My biggest challenge there will be time delegation. Making sure I am available to both of my riders in Tabor. With Caro Its a little tricky as I am also the “Director” for Argentina at worlds. I am anticipating a lot of random stuff popping up. We have hired a Czech mechanic with the help of Katerina Nash, so that is a big relief.
Tobin has amazing support from USA Cycling and the Staff Geoff Proctor has assembled. But we will see each other a lot…so I feel good about it
CXM: With a little over a week to Cyclocross Worlds, most of the preparation remaining must be mental. What’s the typical routine outside of travel for these athletes?
CM: I have some main reminders for my athletes: Stay in control of the controllable and be present, keep the legs fresh and fast, enjoy the experience and the environment, and map out what you intend to do on race day and how you are going to do it.
Lastly, you shouldn’t dwell on things you have no control over, just roll with it.