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Interview: U.S National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers
 
By Luke Allingham
Date: 7/23/2012
Interview: U.S National Cyclocross Champion Jeremy Powers
 

J Powers Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Cycling). Photo © Chris Milliman

Luke Allingham- Hi Jeremy, how are you doing? Can you tell us about yourself, please?

I'm doing great. I just finished up a long racing block that started with the Tour of Koreain April and now I'm on my mid-season break before I start training for cyclocross season. I'm 29 years old, I live in Easthampton, MA with my soon-to-be wife and dog,Moose.

Luke Allingham- How did you get interested or started in the sport of cycling?

Cycling started for me in 1998. I started racing for fun with all my friends in Connecticut and I entered my first race when I was 13. I didn't finish the first three races I did, and my mom told me she wasn't going to bring me to any more races to be a quitter. That Christmas, she bought me a new bike. That next year when I was 14, I won just about every race that I entered, and that got me on Team Devo, which is how my cycling life really got going.

Luke Allingham- What advice would you give to an amateur cyclist who wants to become professional in their lifetime?

Have fun. Ride with friends. Enjoy your time on the bike and don't take it too seriously to begin with. When the right time comes and you start to get some results and w/ those results you’re still having fun. Then hire a coach, someone who doesn’t give you just numbers on paper, you should look for someone who lives close to you and can give you good advice, encouragement and can ride w/ you. I encourage SMALL steps. Your first goal shouldn't be 'I’m going to be a pro' and training 40hrs a wk in Tucson. If you love it and want it bad enough, with the right amount of hard work and dedication you can get to where you want.

Luke Allingham- Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy while not on the bike?

I love to go fishing, though I don't do it very often. I love hanging out at my house!!Weeding the garden, playing with my dog. I love hiking, Dj’ing, spending time with my friends. Normal, non bike rider stuff.

Luke Allingham- You currently are racing for Jelly Belly Cycling team during the road seasons and Rapha-FOCUS during the Cyclocross seasons. Tell us about both of those teams from your perspective as a rider.

On Jelly Belly I do a lot of work as a leader of the team. I've been with the program fora long time, and the director Danny Van Haute and I have a really good relationship.We spend a lot of time talking about the season, and they've been really good for my cyclocross training and continue to build my schedule around cyclocross stuff. I've been really lucky and fortunate to have been there for a long time. I’ve grown a lot from being part of their program.

With Rapha-Focus, it's a very professional team, it's very personalized, it's given me the ability to reach all of my sporting goals. It's really great. They're different beasts. In CX you need more staff for each rider and more attention to details. On the road, we have 1 or two bikes to look after. In cross’ I've got 5 at one event…they really are different.As a pro, I will say it’s really nice to be able to say I always had enough support to reach my sporting goals and that my teams didn't hold me back reaching those.

Jeremy CX Jeremy takes a breather. Photo © Chris Milliman

Cyclocross:
Luke Allingham- Tell us about your career in Cyclocross; how did you get started in Cyclocross, how long have you been doing Cyclocross, what's your best race memory in the sport; worst memory?

Cyclocross came through a bunch of different people. Tom Masterson was one of the first people I was coached by and he was racing cyclocross, it had been going around the area that it was important to do something in the winter when I was racing mountain bikes. I put skinny tires on my mountain bike and went to a few races. Then, the results turned up when I started to work with Adam Myerson, who was my coach the next year.That was really good. I started doing it and found success as a junior. I was winning a lot of races and I was having fun and I realized it was what I wanted to place the most importance on at a young age. I went to World Championships in 2001 when I was 16. It always was something that appealed to me. I've been racing CX since 1999. My best race memory was the first World Championships that I did in the Czech Republic in 2001.I was super nervous going over, I'd never raced in Europe or out of the country. I was with USA Cycling and the first race we did there was in Switzerland. I was jumping the barriers. There was this super muddy hill, and I remember jumping the barriers in front of the Swiss national team, and the next lap, they had removed the barriers because it looked like it was going to be too much of an advantage for…me? I remember that trip as being the craziest, most intense racing ever. I've never had my ears go completely deaf from fans screaming, it was a really crazy thing for a 16 year old.

Worst memory: getting really sick at U23 Nationals in 2003.

Luke Allingham- In January you won the US National Cyclocross Championships in Madison Wisconsin, please tell us about that victory and what it means to you. What were your immediate thoughts after winning that Championship?

That I finally did it. That it was a lot of people's hard work and effort that helped me get there, but that I finally was able to put everything together and get that monkey off of my back. It was one of the results I was missing, and I felt like I needed to do that before I could move on with the rest of the things I want to accomplish in cycling. It was really big for me and I still think about it all the time. I can’t wait to race in that jersey again, its my biggest accomplishment in my career this far.

Powers national champion Jeremy in his Rapha-FOCUS US National Cyclocross jersey. Photo © Chris Milliman

Luke Allingham- If could win any race in the sport of Cylocross within the next 3 years, which race would you choose? Why?

Definitely this year, Louisville at Worlds. It's the most important race that I'm going to do in the foreseeable future.

Luke Allingham- In 2011 you signed a two year contract with Rapha-FOCUS, are you happy with the team? Give us some positives and negatives of the team.

It's been really, really well-run from the outright. One of the things I needed was highlighted in my contract: I was able to pick my own mechanic. Then we have people who get food, cook, people who are there and dedicated to helping out with every aspect of the race. It's a real professional team from top to bottom. At the beginning, as with any new program, you have to work out the little kinks. Things had to be learned. They weren't negatives, just things that needed to be ironed out. Nothing stood out as really bad, just little things like 'this hotel didn't work because it wasn't close to the race.' But that's part of any team and honestly, those things were few and far between.

Luke Allingham- What do you like most about Cyclocross? What do you like least about it?

Cyclocross I like because it's short. I can go as hard as I can for an hour and it's on me to make sure I'm ready for the event. I can bring everything that I have mentally and physically to an hour. What I like least is when there's something really challenging on a course that I can't master and I know that I should be able to but just can't for whatever reason, it doesn't fit my skill set. I hate that about 'cross, sometimes it's just impossible. But that's what makes it exciting too and keeps pushing me to be better. I used to tell my dad I hated climbing and he used to write everywhere around the house “Make a hill your friend” haha.

Road:

Luke Allingham- In 2010 you won the General Classification at the Green Mountain Stage Race ahead of Timothy Johnson and Gavin Mannion, tell us about the Green Mountain Stage Race that year. How do you feel about that win when you look back on it?

That was nice. It's at a time of the year when I've trained and I'm almost into my cyclocross season. I've always said that I'm a great worker on the road, and there are certain events that I've taken a lot of fitness into. The big tours like California and Colorado are things I focused on. They're the peaks in road season. Green Mountain came at a time when I'd been training pretty good for cyclocross and I knew I had good fitness, it's cooler in Vermont and that helps me too. I don't do really well in the heat.So it was a big win for me. It wasn't a goal, I just had good fitness. I was able to get in the breakaway and ride strong to the finish. Overall, I look back and wonder if it was possible to do more on the road in last couple years, but ultimately, my focus is on cyclocross and I never wanted to be more than a good teammate on the road. I'll take that I beat Mannion while I had it, when he was like, 12, and I'll put that on the wall. But I do look back and feel great about it. It was nice to win a big road race like that in New England.

Luke Allingham- In 2011 you raced the Amgen Tour of California as well as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. As an American in the race, can you tell us how the fans were a part of the race? What are the American fans like at a high quality race such as the Tour of California or USA Pro Cycling Challenge?

In CA and CO, there are so many people out. It's a great experience and a great environment to be part of. Every time I'm doing those races, there's a different level that I bring to the events mentally and physically. It's against the pro tour riders and they're at a high level because all the racing they do at that level keeps them so fit. The fans at the races are incredible. At one stage in CO, it could be the most people I've seen at a cycling event, period. People were saying it was rivaling France in terms of the Champs-Élysées.I'll always remember leaving town and so many people there. You can see it in how those guys race the race. They know there are so many fans watching the event and they want to put on a good show. At the end of the day, really, we're entertainers to the fans.

Jeremy jersey Jeremy showing off his bike skilss. Photo © Chris Milliman

Luke Allingham- As we move further into the 2012 racing season, what races will you be participating in with Jelly Belly Cycling? The end of the year has me doing Tour of Elk Grove, US Crit Nationals, hopefully the Tour of Colorado, and those are the three big ones on the radar.

Luke Allingham- Do you have any main goals for the road season this year?

Just to be a good team leader and to help the team to victories. When you see the results reflected through the team, it means a lot to me. If there's one race I wish we could win this year, it would be Crit Nationals with Brad Huff.

More Topics:

Luke Allingham- Who is your all-time favorite cyclist? Why? Who is your favorite rival to race againstin the current peloton?

That's tough. One of the people I've been able to ride with that's the most talented person on the bike today is Danny Pate. As far as rivals, for cyclocross I'd have to say Tim Johnson. There always has to be one guy that the best and Tim was the goal for me fora long time. He was the best, I had to beat him, and I enjoyed him as a competitor and a teammate for a long time. He makes you really want it. I respect his work on the bike and how he’s raced for a very long time.

Luke Allingham- Tell us about the J.A.M Fund. How did it get created? What does the foundationsupport/promote?

Currently, it's in it's final step of being a non-profit, we have the paperwork in. It was created because my good friends, Alec and Mukunda, and I wanted a way to hang out.

We figured we'd have kids and dogs and move far away so we wanted to solidify a way of hanging out and make it a priority. The JAM Fund is strong and we have a lot of great riders that have moved to the Pioneer Valley to be part of it. We've turned out a lot of great riders, we hope that we've changed a lot of people's lives for the better, not just riders on our team, but through our events also.

The reason it was started was to create a model for an amateur cycling program that was sustainable, it's basically funded by our event, the Grand FUNdo (which just happened last weekend!). We give grants to area up-and-coming cyclists who want to have a grant to do a racing season or need coaching or equipment or clothing. We help out where we can, every area needs a team or bike shop that helps them climb that totem pole to the top, we want to take responsibility in our region and be that program and we want it to be around for a long time. The JAM Program and the FUNdo is our model to support something in a sustainable way for the years to come.

Luke Allingham- Behind THE Barriers - tell us about this as well, please? How did you get involved with Behind THE Barriers?

Behind THE Barriers was always something that I wanted to do. I had known Sam Smith for a while, and he's my video grapher and friend. We had talked about doing as how where I was using a camera and sending him footage, but then we wrangled up enough cash that I could fly Sam around with me. I wanted to do BTB because I think cyclocross is so much fun and I wanted people/ fans to know they’re missing out on a great discipline of cycling because they didn't know it existed! Behind THE Barriers has done what I wanted it to do, the public has been able to see the races and learn about the personalities. And for the fans, which I take seriously, they get an inside look at what I do as a person, and it's been a lot of fun to get the show off the ground. I'm not a Tour de France rider, I'm a cyclocross rider, and I know that cyclocross isn't as big as it is in Europe but it is gaining steam in the US and I hope some people do see that Behind THE Barriers is what engaged them in cyclocross.

Luke Allingham- What is your motto?

Be yourself, be a good, outgoing, nice person and be honest.

Luke Allingham- Final Question: Is there anyone that you would like to thank that helped you get to the point in your professional career that you are at today?

Everyone knows who they are. There have been so many people that have helped me along the way.

Follow Jeremy on his Twitter account and website


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