Interview: Team Exergy Rider Matt Cooke
Boulderite, Matt Cooke ready to ride with the
wind into 2012
Matt Cooke started his biking life at the age of 14 with mountain biking,
after riding a couple of first races on his mountain bike, Matt knew he he loved
the sport; later taking up Triathlons in High School. Cooke competed as a
professional triathlete, but after several injuries from running he decided
to focus on road racing. After a few years as an elite racer and a record of
solid performances, he got the call and
signed for the DIV 2, Navigators Insurance squad and raced an international schedule. In
2008 he switched to the NRC number one squad Healthnet-Maxxis where he was a key
part of the teams success.
A years turn with Mountain Khaki- Jittery Joe's team and then in yeah in the
elites and Matt returned to the pro ranks signing with Team Exergy in late 2010
for 2011 and recently the 31 year old pro re-upped for 2012 with the team
that has strengthened its squad over the off season. Entering his 5th pro season
at 31 years of age, Cooke will ride with 'Fast Freddy' Rodriguez on a the team
whose motto is "Ride with the wind."
Luke Allingham: How did you get interested or
started in the sport of cycling?
Matthew Cooke: When I was 14 years old I
started mountain biking, I just thought it looked like fun and I entered a race
as soon as I got a good mountain bike and after that I was hooked. All I wanted
to after that first race was just race bikes. Then I started racing triathlons
starting in High School and I was a professional triathlete for a few years and
you get some pretty good sized international competition in triathlons.
So basically I just did international triathlon racing and then I kept
getting injured from running, so finally I just said the hell with this, I don't
want to be injured anymore, so I um started bike racing. I had done some bike
racing in previous, but that was like my first serious season, in my twenties,
like 25 is when I really started bike racing on the road full time.
2007 Tour de 'Toona: Navigator's Matt Cooke and Kobzarenko
lead the break.
Photo © Kurt Jambretz
LA: Do you have your own reason why you are
a professional cyclist?
Matt: Ok... I think for me, I want to do
well for myself. I think most people do. I want to win, bottom line. I've really
put a lot of hard work into this sport and a lot of time and dedication and I
want to see all this pay off and I want to win bottom line. I mean I think about
it all the time. I feel like, I don't know, it's a personal thing for me. I
really want to do it and feel good about myself.
LA.: What advice would you give to an amateur
cyclist who is planning to become professional?
Matt: I would just say, keep believing
that you can beat these guys and that you can really be a top rider in the
sport. Of course have a lot of confidence. But also be really willing to listen
to these experienced guys, maybe you are not going to get the straight up advice
from them, but try to soak in as much information from there. Make as few
mistakes as possible.
LA.: You spent the season with Team
Exergy, overall how do you think your 2011 season went, personally and with the
Matt: Yeah, personally, I am very very
happy with the team. One of the best experiences I've had on a bike team here in
the United States. Like everyone is 'all about' doing really well and also
encouraging the riders and giving us everything we need so we can perform at a
top level. That way there are no excuses at the end of the day.
It's really good racing with the guys, I enjoy riding with all of them, I
know I can rely on all of these guys. Our staff side is fantastic, the race
director has a pretty good understanding of what is going to happen on the road.
Of course our road captain is Freddie Rodriguez, obviously, that guy really
knows what is going on. He's been around for a long long time and I feel great,
I feel like it's the best ever year I've had personally - my most successful
year so far. I feel like every year I've gotten better, hopefully it keeps going
that way for me.
LA.: How do you prepare mentally for a race?
Matt: I have actually been working with a sports physiologist recently and she has
been really helpful and sort of what we do is walk through some successful races
in the past and remeber them and then get those successes in your head. So we
focus on the high point of all of these races and I replay them over and over in
the head. It basically gives you confidence and focuses the brain on that, so
that's all it knows.
You don't really think about the negative stuff, you just
pump all of these positive thoughts into your head. It has actually helped me in
my performance. If you keep doing that, rehearse those things in the race that
are positive. Some of these races I've done at least four times, a race that I
will do next year, it might be my sixth, so I know what's going to happen pretty
'll think back to the past and say that's what I've done to screw up in
the past and I am not going to do that this year. I will be in that day's
breakaway, I will be whatever, what have you. But those kinds of things is what
I repeat to myself. It's also important to pay close attention to the courses,
the courses are very important, because that's a large part that goes into the
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is a good example, I didn't pay all that much
attention to the courses, but I think I should have. I should have focused on
the altitude and difficulty of the race. I do wish I had paid more attention to
those courses, but it's tough when they are towns that you've never been to.
You try to do your best, but seeing it on paper is not the same you have to wait
until you really see it in real life.
LA.: Have you gotten back on the bike to
train for the new season? What is your off season training season set up like?
Matt: I have been working full time since the season ended in September; but I've
been starting to train more these last few weeks. I am not doing anything
specific, just riding for fun. I'm going to get down to business with training
here soon and I am going to Tucson not long after that. I've been going there
every winter for six years and I really need that time in warm weather to be
able to do the big miles.
LA.: What will be some of your main goals
for the 2012 season?
Matt: I have some specific ones but mostly just to have a better one than this
past year. This year went pretty well, so I need do even better. I am really
going to aim for the big stages races in the US
LA.: Do you have a favorite training area -why is it your favorite?
Matt: Boulder is my favorite but I spent a summer in Palo Alto and loved the
riding there. It is hard to beat Tucson in the winter. I spent a lot of time on
Mt Lemmon when I'm down there.
L.A.: Any hobbies that you enjoy doing off the bike or do to relax yourself?
Matt: I just got engaged and mostly I spend time with my
fiancée when I am not on
the bike. I'm also working on Mario Galaxy 2, awesome game on the Wii.
LA.: What is your favorite career win so far?
Matt: I actually have not had too many wins; but recently it has just been high
finishes or riding well in a stage. I was in the break the last day of the USA
Pro Cycling Challenge and that was a good way to end the season.
LA.: What is the funniest thing you'e experienced
during a group training ride or road race?
Matt: Too bad for me but I don't remember the funny moments only the scary ones.
LA.: What are some of the bad experiences?
Matt: It is something that all professionals have experienced. Guys go down
next to you in the pack. Missing hitting a pole in the road but by only inches. Just missing
livestock that has wandered onto the course during a race.
All in a days work in road racing. Thanks Matt, have a great season in 2012.
Follow Matt on the Exergy Team Website; on his Twitter and Facebook.
Follow Matt Cooke on the Team Exergy
Matt Cooke's Teams
2007 Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
2008 Health Net p/by Maxxis
2010 Mountain Khakis fueled by Jittery Joe's
2011 - 2012 Team Exergy
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