We knew it when we sat down and spoke with Gabby Durrin last year about her retirement from professional racing. But at the time everything wasn’t quite finalized and Gabby was about to make her big announcement. Jeremy and Gabby Durrin knew then that they were heading across the pond to live and work in the UK. It was something that was in the cards for some time.
With her retirement, Gabby has taken a more management role in the team Jeremy rides for, Neon Velo. And the couple has settled into life in the UK, with Jeremy taking on the life of a Euro-based pro.
So how has it been for the American Expat? We spoke with him recently to get the scoop on life in merry ol’ England.
Cyclocross Magazine: How is life and living in the UK going so far? Where specifically are you living?
Jeremy Durrin: Life is really good here. We are living just outside Ware, which is in the county Hertfordshire just outside of London. The riding is really nice, and we live in a really small village out in the countryside. When we decided to move over to the UK our criteria is that we wanted to live in a typical British village, thatched roofs, pubs and all.
CXM: Is there anything specifically about the US that you’re missing? Anything you miss about riding in the US?
JD: I really miss all the people that I know, and the generally chill atmosphere. Over here in the UK it’s very similar to the rest of Europe. It’s more intense and serious more of the time. I find in the US people tend to be a lot more chill and friendly. I also miss my old training roads, long rolling hills through the woods. You don’t get that over here.
I also miss the food in the States, coffee shops. And breakfast places. I love a good American breakfast experience every once in awhile!
CXM: Have you had any funny incidents or happenings since moving overseas? Things that are maybe “lost in translation” being new to the continent?
JD: All the time really. The way British people speak is very different, and they use a lot of terms that I still have not picked up. Sometimes I try to pretend I know the lingo, but I end up saying something that isn’t quite right! Especially being in a team with a bunch of young guys, the terminology is not quite the same. Also, the local dialects are crazy here. You can travel about 2 hours from one location and have a totally different way of speaking! I’ve learned to identify where people are from based on their accents.
CXM: Having been based in the US up until now, there’s potentially a new aspect to your cyclocross calendar. Are you looking at taking on more European races this coming season?
JD: Yea, I am definitely looking to do more European racing this year. The racing here is a lot different, and a lot more difficult. I think it will help me develope a lot as a racer. In the past I have just done short trips over to Europe, but this year will be mostly European. So it’s sink or swim, really! Just going to get ‘stuck in’—a term often used in UK racing that I don’t understand!
CXM: If you’re taking on more European races are you at all worried about collecting UCI points early in the season?
JD: Not really. There will still be plenty of UK UCI racing to make up for some points.
CXM: Where is your cyclocross season going to start this year and what are some of the bigger early season races we’ll see you at?
JD: I’m looking to start it in China at the UCI races and then migrate over to the US where I will do the first month of racing. I want to catch all the early C1s and hopefully the two World Cups. This year is really all about change for me. I’ve dramatically changed everything in my life this year.
Moving to the UK, training is completely different and the racing here in the UK is extremely hard and punchy, which should really help set me up for a good early CX season. I’m just enjoying a change. It will really help refresh me mentally going into another hard CX season
CXM: Sounds like you’ve got a plan to get the ‘cross season going. But how was your offseason?
JD: It was really good actually. Pretty short, because of the moving and all that. I had to pack up my house the whole week before World Championships to make the move to the UK, not the most ideal prep for such a big race, but things are not always perfect! Once we got settled in our new place after Worlds, I had a couple weeks to just totally relax and explore our new surroundings and then it was back to training.
CXM: What does the Neon Velo team and program look like for 2016? What role are you playing in the team’s management, if any?
JD: The program is great. In the UK we operate as an Elite UK team with a strong development program. We have a lot of young riders that we are helping to get to the next level on the road. Gabby is the Director and Manager of the team and I help her out as much as I can. I spend about 3 to 4 days in the office helping manage the team with Gabby, and am constantly working on sponsor relations.
The “VELO” side of things is a brand that is being developed and will be launching later this year. It’s the reason the team exists and there is a lot going into creating a high-end brand that will sell cycling lifestyle products. More on that later, though!
CXM: How has Gabby taken to her new role?
JD: She has taken really well to it. We came to the UK with the anticipation of her just doing marketing work for the team and brand. But some things changed and Gabby stepped up as the team director as well as working in the background in the office. She is enjoying the new challenge, though. It definitely pushes her outside her comfort zone a lot of the times, driving the team car in the convoy and managing a small staff at all the events. Its a role that Gabby takes a lot of pride in. She really cares about the riders on the team and you can get really invested in it, and when the guys do well in the races its a big success for her! She still rides as much as she can to stay fit, but she loves not having to stick to a set schedule everyday!
Team talk time with @neonvelocyclingteam at the Lincoln GP this past weekend. Never thought I would be directing a cycling team but life always takes new paths & I’m 100% Focused on giving my best to the team & running a tight ship this season! Team work makes the dream work! . ? @wright___ #NVCT #cycling #racing #dslife
A photo posted by Gabby Durrin (@gabby_durrin) on
CXM: Are there any new developments with the team in terms of sponsors or equipment for this year?
JD: We are working with Giant in the UK. We have an exclusive relationship the Giant store in St. Pauls area of London. Most of the same though moving forward. We will announce everything in due time!
CXM: You’re racing on the road with Neon Velo too, right? How has the early part of the road season gone for you personally?
JD: Yea. Racing the road is a pivotal part of my training going into the CX season. It serves as a big fitness builder rolling into the summer. I am really happy with the road season so far. The racing is a lot harder than racing in the US. The talent over here is unreal. Lots of guys who used to race pro tour, and lots of guys ready to make the jump. Put them on small tiny roads with loads of wind, makes for some really explosive racing. And all the races over here are 1 day big events, so it’s just full gas all the time.
I’m actually on the ferry crossing to Ireland right now where we are racing the 8 day stage race, The An Post Ras. This race serves as the biggest fitness boost for me. And as I stand right now, I have a much better overall fitness coming into the race this year which should pay dividends not only in this race but come cyclocross season!
CXM: Wow! How much are you already gearing up for the start of the season?
JD: I am already gearing up for ‘cross season now. I use the road season to lift my overall fitness level up before taking a little rest and then hitting it hard July and August. I have been in the gym a lot more this year and really focusing on the small things. I already have my CX bikes, and am getting the fit dialed really early in the year.
CXM: Do you find it hard to race year around, switching between disciplines? What’s the biggest challenge as someone who has been dedicated primarily to cyclocross?
JD: I don’t find it very hard, you just have to balance it well. I find that not prioritizing the road as much as I do CX makes the road season a lot more enjoyable. The biggest challenge is just not getting burnt out really. Keeping it fun and exciting is key. And for me, most of these races are brand new so it’s easy to stay motivated as everything is new.
CXM: Do you have any advice for those looking to make the leap to living and racing in Europe?
JD: I would say just do it. Seriously, it’s not hard and just reach out to other riders currently doing it. You need a support system when you’re over here, and if you just book a flight and make the commitment everything else just falls into place. There are a load of Americans over here that can help out.
CXM: What about for younger racers in the US who love cyclocross? What would you tell a youngster looking to get into the sport?
JD: Just have fun with it! Travel and enjoy the experience and meeting people. It’s an amazing sport if you put the effort into it. Cyclocross has changed my life and the community I have met through it has really shaped me as a person. I met Gabby because of this crazy sport!
CXM: So far, what’s been your favorite thing about living in the UK?
JD: My favorite thing is seeing different parts of the world I would never have heard of. Small towns in England that have more history than the entire United States. I make a point to Google the towns I go to and learn the history. Some pretty incredible things out in this country, and I am lucky to get to see it all!
On top of that, I’m enjoying meeting new people and learning more about the British culture. People here are a lot different in the US, and you get to learn a lot meeting new people all the time!
CXM: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Jeremy!
JD: My pleasure!