With less than a few months left until cyclocross season, we caught up with the current National Champion, Jeremy Powers, who is busy spreading his time balancing between training for the 2015-16 season, and making preparations to help continue his partnered development team, JAM Fund with fundraising events like the sixth annual Grand Fundo, which is slotted to take place in two weeks on July 25. Below is our latest interview with Powers, in which we discuss all his happenings leading up to next season.
Cyclocross Magazine: Between a busy World Cup schedule late in the year and Cyclocross Nationals in Austin, it looks as if you found a good rhythm. Can we expect to see the the same schedule for next season?
Jeremy Powers: Absolutely. In the end, my goal is to do the best I can and improve with every year, and not bite off more than I can chew. The World Cup schedule last year was a lot for me. Every World Cup race had its own little thing and I was trying to be as good as I could even though some problem always came up (and something will always come up). It’s hard to hit perfection in those races.
CXM: Valkenburg wasn’t far off a perfect race for you. [The first World Cup event of the 2014-15 season where Powers took a top ten.]
JP: No doubt! But even there, my tire slipped in the beginning and so I started closer last. My ninth could have been fourth. In the States, it’s possible to turn a mediocre day of mistakes into a win, but there, there’s so many good riders it’s so hard to pull off.
CXM: What will make the next season a success for you?
JP: My goal is to improve on that ninth overall, and to do a podium. I don’t think I will ever retire happy until I see myself on the podium of a World Cup. As I’m getting closer to that, I’m pushing my body a little more and training a little more for that. I wouldn’t push all of this if I thought [a podium] wasn’t a possibility.
CXM: Are there any changes to the season you plan on making?
JP: I think that the World Championships was a bit of a failure for me last year. I got so excited about being on the front line, that I didn’t take the advantage of being there. I’ve got to learn from that and adjust appropriately. It’s even more on the line now that CrossVegas is so early. I think this will change the way they prepare as well since they have to be ready so much earlier.
If I had to change one thing to my season, it might be to add the block in February. That would be more appropriate since I am a cyclocross racer and they are still putting on cyclocross races over there. With all of the C1 races, Europe is a good place to be in that time of year. I’ve been working on it and I think I’m in a good place to start the season.
Training has been good, my head is in the right place.
CXM: And you’re also busy right now with making preparations for the next Jam Fund Grand Fundo coming up in a few weeks. Can you tell us how the idea for the ride began?
JP: The JAM Fund is strategically partnered with the Northhampton cycling club, and this comes out of the idea of making the community a better place, into things that we would like to see. We work on all kinds of projects. For one thing, we know how hard it is to make it [as a traveling cyclocross racer]. We were looking around and saw all of these kids on our old frames, and asking Al [Donahue] and I for advice, and working at Mukunda [Feldmans’] businesses. And the JAM Fund was the full collaboration of all of that.
The Grand Fundo is our way to creating a budget for the long-term ideas of our team. I was lucky to have some parents who were able to spend a lot of money shuttling me around, but not all of my friends were nearly as fortunate. We wanted to create a solution for that, and the Fundo helps us get there.
CXM: What could you tell potential riders what to expect of the ride?
JP: If I had a favorite day on my bike, the JAM Grand Fundo would be that day. From the route selection, to how hard it is, to the way that the rest stops are positioned to the food that’s at them, and the finishing area with an after party with plenty of music. Between convenience and fun, the whole ride has our name written all over it.
CXM: Music? Planning on breaking out the DJ equipment?
JP: Oh, I am not! One friend of ours had a vineyard called Black Birch Vineyards. They host a lot of weddings there, and it has beautiful scenery all around the valley, and they will be having live music in the upper fields after the Fundo is over.
CXM: What is the usual turnout?
JP: The biggest field we had was 400 riders, which was two years ago. Last year we held the ride on a Sunday, which drew less riders. A lot of riders love the ride, but the biggest complaint we heard would be, ‘I didn’t know the ride would be this hard!’ and so we’ve had to adjust some of the language on the website.
We expect the ride to keep growing, but we will have to cap it off at 500 riders. I make the cookies beforehand and I get a lot of help with the food. We want to keep the costs down but create an event with a high production value. I think riders will love it, and you’ll have fun as with your cyclocross background.
CXM: Then would you consider it a cyclocross kind of day?
JP: Not exactly. It’s a 25mm tire kind of day, not the kind of ride you bring a dedicated 23mm racing tire to. SRAM will be there as a support through the ride in case of things like sidewalls of tires getting slashed, but its better to bring the heavy duty training tires.
CXM: Speaking of the ride for the JAM Fund, there has been a lot of moving around on the team. Can you tell us about some of the latest developments?
JP: We have two new riders coming in with Caitlin McCarthy and Dillon Learner. We lose Stephen [Hyde], but for all the right reasons.
And that’s our goal, just like when [Jeremy] Durrin left. We want to see the guys and gals move along to go to different programs, so there has been a lot of moving and shaking this offseason. When our bigger riders move on, that also gives us a bigger budget to reinvest in the local area and put our resources to the new crop of riders. We got some really cool 12 and 13 year-old women coming forward.
More info: jamcycling.org. We’ve also included a video from the JAM Fund, highlighting some of the aspects of the course below.