Jeremy Powers chats with Cyclocross Magazine at the Rapha Cycle Club ride in San Francisco. © Cyclocross Magazine

Jeremy Powers chats with Cyclocross Magazine at the Rapha Cycle Club ride in San Francisco. © Cyclocross Magazine

This past Thursday, Rapha Focus cyclocross teammates and Tour of California racers Jeremy Powers and Chris Jones led a “Gentlemen’s Ride” to celebrate the new Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco and the 2011 edition of the Amgen tour. Cyclocross Magazine’s Andrew Yee, on a muddy cyclocross bike, attempted to keep up with the two pro racers as they rode from San Francisco to Marin’s Muir Woods and back as the two riders discussed their goals for the Tour California and their upcoming cyclocross plans.

Today we feature our check-in with Jeremy Powers, Cyclocross Magazine’s Issue 12 cover boy and featured rider. Check back soon for our update with Chris Jones as well as a photo gallery of the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco.

Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) is looking lean and fit heading into the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, and he hopes to build on last season’s successful ride at the fourth-biggest stage race in the world. He’s also ready for some problem-free racing on home soil. His recent domestic racing has been eventful to say the least, with a well-documented crash while leading at the 2010 Cyclocross National Championships, and a rear wheel mechanical while sitting comfortably in third in his first mountain bike race of the season . The Jelly Belly racer is ready to put his recent bad luck on American soil behind him, and he’s been training hard and with a purpose. It shows. Powers told Cyclocross Magazine he’s shed six or seven pounds within the last month or so of training, and during the off-season  he’s been focusing on improving his strength, including experimenting with PowerCranks and one-leg riding. “My left leg was really weak, and I’ve been working hard to strengthen it to be more balanced,” Powers said. His coach, Rick Crawford, has been working with him to eliminate such imbalances.

Jeremy Powers honors Cyclocross Magazine with a bit of domestique work. © Cyclocross Magazine

Jeremy Powers gets ready for ATOC breakaways with a bit of domestique work for CXM. © Cyclocross Magazine

As to his goals for the Tour of California, Powers was humble, explaining, “It’s really to get into some breaks and get some good exposure for our team and sponsor, Jelly Belly.” Powers did just that last year, attacking with friend and fellow cyclocross star Lars Boom, along with Robert Britton and Jurgen Van de Walle. The break nearly kept its advantage until the end, garnering Powers and Northern California-based Jelly Belly considerable television time.

When asked if he targeted that stage last year, Powers explained, “I didn’t target that stage, but I knew that was the day as my legs just felt great.” As for this year, with the increase in climbs and new summit finishes, Powers, without serious GC hopes, isn’t too worried. The cyclocrosser said the Sierra Road climb and summit finish on stage four “isn’t that hard.” But after riding the stage seven final climb up Mt. Baldy in February, he said that Baldy is “a hard, serious climb that will break things up.”

Cyclocross is, of course, never far from Power’s mind, and he already has a good idea of his upcoming campaign, with a serious European push that will include five UCI World Cups: the two October World Cups in the Czech Republic, Koksijde (Belgium) in November, then Liévin (France) and Hoogerheide (the Netherlands) in January before the World Championships. This World Cup campaign will be a big step for the second-year Rapha Focus cyclocross team.

Koksijde is of particular interest to Powers because it’s the same venue as the 2012 World Championships. “That race course and sand is really unique – unlike any sand we have anywhere else,” said Powers. “The sand is really coarse, and requires a lot of power.” Powers recalled that his first attempt at Koksijde as an U23 was pretty difficult and overwhelming, but said he’s changed over the years as a rider and remains optimistic about his chances.

Powers isn't a big guy but his calves are huge and rub each other when running. © Cyclocross Magazine

Powers isn't a big guy but his calves are huge and rub each other when running. © Cyclocross Magazine

While Powers, especially with his Behind the Barriers video diaries, is a pretty open book in sharing his life with his fans, we did learn one surprising tidbit about the cyclocross star. Powers is particularly challenged when running, because his calf muscles are so big that they rub each other.

If only we all were so fortunate to have such problems…

Don’t miss our exclusive full feature on Jeremy Powers in Issue 12, and stay tuned for our chat with Chris Jones and our look at the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco.