With only a few months to wait for the kickoff to cyclocross season, many diehard ’crossers are biding their time scanning eBay for the next amazing buy while others are spending most of their summer atop a bike, plowing their way through yet another road race season. Jeremy Powers falls into that latter group. Cyclocross Magazine’s David Hutton caught up with pro ‘crosser Jeremy Powers during his Colorado vacation as he prepared for his upcoming trip to Asia with his Jelly Belly Pro Cycling teammates to talk road racing, music and even NASCAR. This is Part II below. Part I of the interview is here.
CXM: What are your favorite things to do off the bike?
JPow: I like music a lot. I also love just screwing around. I like looking at different things like investments and stuff, not that I have any money but things like that always impress me and I am always looking for that next cool thing. I need to get that car and fix it up and sell it for an extra thousand dollars. I don’t know, I like little projects and stuff and to do little things. Right now, I am working with this kid Anthony Clark from my area that I found on the road while I was training. I have been working with him getting his bike fitted and stuff when I’m not training. While that is still cycling related I do stuff like that,
Also, like I said before, music is a big part of my life and sometimes I love to just go out and rock a club or a party with some friends of mine in Northampton or Amherst area and have a blast and just play music, have a couple beers, just rock out and have a good time. Between all those things and spending time with the girlfriend, there really isn’t a whole lot of time for other stuff.
I always look like a chicken with its head cut off. I am always that guy that is consistently five minutes late. That’s how I run my life. Everyone will be waiting for the next thing and then I’ll just show up and then we’ll go. Some people kind of hate me because of that too.
CXM: For those just starting to get involved in cyclocross what words of wisdom do you have?
JPow: Come to my cyclocross camp in D.C., Boulder or Chicago! Come to one of them. Just kidding. Words of wisdom would be to definitely do some practicing before you get to your first race. Make sure you know how to dismount. Make sure you know how to get back into your pedals so you don’t get hurt and don’t try and do anything like jump over the barriers without giving yourself enough time to get off the bike. I guess in terms of the big picture, just go out and have fun. That’s what this is all about so don’t take your first races seriously. If you know that you can’t, then maybe do a couple of training races so that you get familiar with what’s going on and what a race would feel like. You don’t want to get into a race and have all those ambitions and anxieties that go along with a race and then ruin something that you have never done. So I would tell someone to start off slow and don’t jump right into it, but have fun if you do decide to do it.
CXM: For those looking to progress to the highest ranks as a cyclocross racer, what words of wisdom do you have?
JPow: I think the biggest thing is to listen to the people around you and what they are telling you. One of the biggest things that I do, and one of the biggest aspects of my life, is I ask people to critique me. I am always asking what can I do better about this, what do you see? People say, “Well, I see you do this when you race in the mud, and when you get back on your bike.” Work on anything you possibly can. Because you are putting in 20 or 30 hours a week riding your bike and you’re not doing those things, then you’re not giving yourself a full chance. I think it’s important to just look at yourself from the outside in and say, “o.k. what can I do to make myself better, what do I know that I am not good enough at?” If that’s running, or if that’s riding in the mud, or if that’s just power, all of those things can be worked on. You can run more, you can train harder at intervals, you can go out and wet down your back yard and ride around in circles in the mud. You can make sure that you do all these things to at least give yourself an opportunity, and if you don’t give yourself that opportunity, then you have stumbled out of the start gate as if you never even tried. I would say breaking it down piece-by-piece and then taking your game to a different level is the hardest thing to do, but you have to look at each individual piece and then focus on one at a time and just knock them off. That can take years.
You’re looking at the top end of a sport, and when you look at the top end, there is going to be a really high range of guys. Some courses may suit you better genetically than others, and you may say that in that flat grassy race you’re awesome but then you get in this mud race and it’s not that great. You just have to look at those things and try and work on them one at a time.
CXM: How do you balance all the craziness of a road calendar, travel, ‘cross calendar and travel and life at home.
JPow: Have a good cell phone! Being into computers and things like that. I mean I use my iPhone for everything. An email comes in and I respond to it. Someone calls and I make sure I get back to them. I am really quick on the replies at least for 95% of the stuff I do I can do on my phone. That’s one huge way that I kind of micro-manage this side of my life. As far as having a girlfriend, I do have a girlfriend and I take her with me as much as I can. She likes racing, and she has her own life so she does her stuff when I’m not home. Between road and ‘cross it definitely gets tedious, but there are things that I do and that I bring along that make it like home. You find little things like bringing your coffee press and making sure that you have, like when I open my computer, I have the webcam on of downtown Northhampton where I live, so I can see and check out little things that remind me of being back home. Having a good outlook and handle on life and thinking these opportunities won’t be around forever. Those are the things that I think about when I am gone for long blocks. This one is six or seven weeks long, I’m gone all of July. There are a lot of things in the summertime, and it’s work and it’s fun. I mean I am staying at a friend’s place here in Durango, Colorado…it’s awesome. It’s not really a bad thing traveling and hanging out, living out of a bag. I think staying open-minded and instead of looking at everything negative and turning it into a positive is probably the most important thing you can do in terms of balancing yourself.
CXM: Where is your favorite area to race in, not because of the races, but because the area surrounding the race: spectators, nightlife, coffee shops, atmosphere?
JPow: Races like Cross Vegas and Starcrossed! Races where thousands of people come out to cheer and have beers and have a good time and watch us compete. Those are the races that I love. I wouldn’t say there is one specific place. I love Gloucester, it’s a home town race for me. I loved Providence when it was a National Championship. I loved Toronto, it was a great course. There are a ton of places, and to generalize that question and not give you a specific answer, any races that have a ton of people come out to support us and to have a good time and to enjoy the atmosphere, I’m into. That’s really what it’s all about. If you think about it it’s about sport, but the other side of it is that we’re entertainers and we are doing a performance in front of people for them to watch. It hasn’t really reached that level in the states yet, that’s kind of the way I look at cyclocross racing. It can be there for other people that aren’t involved with cycling and it’s just a sport to be able to watch. Racing at night is always fun. Racing under the lights, having a good time is probably my favorite style of race. Cross Vegas or a race in Europe like Loenhout or Hofstade, any of those races are awesome
CXM: Ryan Trebon is one of your rivals on the domestic scene, yet you guys traveled and roomed together in Europe last winter. What was that like? Any funny stories? Are you guys good friends or friendly competitors?
JPow: You know, it’s always hard living with someone for a couple of weeks or a month at a clip, Ryan and I both have strong personalities, we like to talk a lot, we both like to think about things in a different way. Ryan and I are probably close to complete opposites. Excluding drinking coffee in the morning and hanging, he trains a completely different way than I do and he’s just a totally different person. I like Ryan for who Ryan is, and we definitely had a good trip last year and I have no regrets. I think overall we had a lot of fun and had a great house up in West Flanders near Ieper, Belgium that was close to all the friends Ryan and I made when we were over there in 2005 and 2006. We went to Spain and trained during the European Nationals weekend. Ryan and I went and did 10 days in Spain and our girlfriends went along, so we really had a blast together and I think, all in all, Ryan and I are friends. We have little discrepancies along the road, but that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a hard trip for everyone involved – to fly to Europe while you’re racing your bikes at the highest level in the world. Small things come and go and at the end of the day nothing got taken to heart. It’s all good.
CXM: Would you consider going back to Europe for a full season?
JPow: Yes, definitely. Right now it’s kind of two-fold for me. Yes, I want to do that but at the same time I’m never going to leave the United States and try and do my own thing. Actually, let me preface this by mentioning that I have done that, even though I wasn’t even a blip on the radar when I did it in 2004 as a second or third year U23. I did it again in 2005 as a first year professional and it was definitely really, really hard. I came home from the 2005 trip completely cracked and not wanting to ride my bike again in the middle of November. So it’s a hard thing to do, and although I was younger, that doesn’t really mean anything now. I’ve done that trip in Europe and it’s so hard to do. There are so many small factors you have to have, you can’t expect a guy at 26 to leave all of the things he has behind full time to go race in Europe, unless you can do something like bring his wife, his family, and his friends and having a real stable home and things like that. Without having a convenient lifestyle in Europe you can’t expect them to do a full season in Europe without those things.
Still, it crosses my mind all the time. I would love to race in Europe full time. I would love to make it. Again, you put yourself out there, it is as much my passion as it is my job, they are equal. I have to think about what makes the most sense and for me right now, with the sponsors that I have, it makes the most sense to do well here and also fulfill my ambitions in Europe at the end of the season when there isn’t any racing here. That’s how I kind of manage that idea. While I would love to race in Europe full-time and have an awesome house on a hill with a bunch of cows, and a wife that didn’t need to work, that’s just not in the cards right now for me. If that opportunity presents itself and a sponsor that is interested in doing something like that, then I am full game, I’ll make sure that I put 100% towards that. Right now, with the way things are going as far as cyclocross in the United States, I want to continue to stay here and continue to kind of build U.S. cyclocross up by staying here, racing, and being competitive.
CXM: You didn’t do so hot in Cyclocross Magazine’s Fantasy Cyclocross league last year, and you didn’t even pick yourself. What are you going to do differently this year to win it all?
JPow: I don’t know. I guess I could get a little more serious about my picks. I got to get serious. I’m not really sure. I’d have to look at who I picked. I can’t even remember what I picked really. How did I do overall? Did I help anyone win anything? [Power’s team finished 28th but Powers as a rider was the game’s 12th highest points scorer, and the top scoring American]. I think I was up there for a while. I think for my fantasy cyclocross this year I need to take it more serious. I need to get in there and study what is going on. I need to be more interested in who I think is going to be a solid racer there all year long. Maybe not pick a guy like Todd Wells, who is only showing up to half the races. He’s going to be pissed that I said that. I need someone that’s consistent. I’ve got to think about that. I am going to start studying my fantasy cyclocross and start getting that cracking!
What does a fantasy cyclocross winner win? Do they win like a cool all expense paid trip to Worlds if they win fantasy cyclocross? I think you should do an all expense paid trip to Worlds with an unlimited amount of frites and then it should go from there. I think that would really kick off the fantasy cyclocross. Better yet, you could come do an exclusive training ride with Jeremy Power in wherever I am in Europe, then we’ll stop and eat frites on Cyclocross Magazine.
CXM: You got it Jeremy. If you’re putting up an exclusive training ride for a prize, we’ll buy the frites. But the airfare is on the winner! Thanks much.
You can catch up on Jeremy Powers’ racing and travels by visiting his website at www.JPows.com or by taking checking out his twitter updates at twitter.com/jeremypowers Enjoy the interview? Drop a comment below.