After reading his legendary diaries on Spokepost.com, I was thrilled when I got lucky enough to run into Team West Virginia/Go-Mart's Mike Jones unwinding in the lobby of the Atlanta Hilton after the last stage of the inaugural Tour de Georgia.
I had heard all about his story of having been a bit chunk-style and deciding to join the Marines, only to return from a brief sojourn on Parris Island by bus to ride it all off on the bike. I'd read about how he was all about enjoying the ride, and so did not worry his pretty head too much over the numbers. I had read all about his search for chicks in the Central California Valley, and that time when he didn't post any updates for awhile because he'd been at the nude beach… Needless to say, I had some high expectations. I expected to be entertained, and ladies and gentlemen, I was not disappointed.
Mike Jones rocks the hardest "Magnum" I have ever seen.
Mike Jones: BLUE STEEL
Give us a wrap up on the Team West Virginia experience at the Tour de Georgia.
Team West Virginia Management had some lofty goals for Georgia, which included a podium appearance. I think the riders were a bit more realistic with some of us just with hopes of finishing the epic event. In a stage race scenario, our team is built around Jon Hamblen and Scottie Weiss, but since I had a strong spring, the managers have included me as a GC rider as well.
I was happy with my 24th place in the prologue, but I think it could have been even better if I had had a TT bike. Hopefully they will do the same course next year, so I can prove that. Jon had a good day on the hilly day finishing with the second group. Conor was happy with his top 20 on the final day. Ben and Scottie had a tough day on Friday when they both were involved in big pileup in some gravel. Wes and Jacob both were stuck with me for 40 miles on the day that I lost 22 minutes while I wasn't feeling well (if you want the specifics on that you have to go back and read my diary), they stuck with me and made sure that I didn't miss the time cut.
The biggest thing about Georgia was that we rode better as a team. Yeah, maybe it was at the opposite end of the field either bringing Scottie back, hanging back with me, or just going back for bottles, but we stuck together more. If you look at results from Georgia you may think Team West Virginia wasn't that impressive, but results only show so much, and there is so much more going on. Us not doing so well at Georgia, but in return being a better team, is going to allow us to get those podium appearances later in the season.
Shootin' the shiznit at the Atlanta Hilton
Tell me a little bit about your team. Who are the guys on Team West Virginia?
Ok, Lets start with Scottie.
Scottie Weiss is a little animal. he is the littlest guy on the team but is the only one that regularly rides with a 56 tooth chain ring in the front. I get along well with Scottie. When I did some rides with him in Pismo, it's all business; we both put our headphones on and rode hard forever...
If there is anyone I am jealous of on the team, its Dave Wenger. That guy can ride in the sweet spot in the pack just about all day. I have trouble holding my spot in a pack like a cat 4, and he is always in that good spot. I don't know how he does it. Dave is pretty serious about his training and biking, but isn't afraid to let loose here and there.
Jacob Fetty, one of my many teammates with an accent, doubles as a rider, and team security. I'm glad I have him on my side on the road and off the bike in case of any trouble out at a bar or something.
Back when I was on Wheelworks, my teammates and I had this joke about Wes Seigler. We would say that he is the most handsome man on wheels, and use the Zoolander term: "Wes... so hot right now..." Wes is a true team player. His knowledge and experience makes him one of the biggest assets to our team; plus it doesn't hurt to have him around for some guidance when I'm having a bad hair day.
Ben Sharp is quite possibly the smartest guy on our team. I think Ben knows everything. He's another true team player that would throw it down for the team at anytime. Plus he makes some good cookies.
Conor Hurley Is from New Hampshire… enough said. Nah, just kidding! Conor is a pretty good friend now. He is the youngest guy on the core team. He is 22. Conor knows how to put the hammer down on and off the bike. He's pretty new to the sport too; I think he's only been biking for year longer than I have. Conor is always happy, too, and come to think of it I'm jealous of him for that too! I get a bit moody at times, but Conor is always happy.
Jim Baldasare: somebody and I were talking the other day about how Saturn's Nathan O'Neill looks like he could work the door to a NYC club with how mean he looks. Well… yeah, Jim could, too. Jim is one mean looking dude. At first I did think he was mean, but its just 'cuz he doesn't say much. That's just 'cuz everything he says is so well thought out that it eliminates any small talk! I had the pleasure of driving cross-country with Jim last month, and I have to say, it was quite fun. Behind that mean look, Jim is for sure a funny guy.
Pat O'Donnell, I have only met Pat once, but from what I hear he is a super nice guy. From what i hear pat lost something like 60 pounds this winter, that's awesome, it took me 4 years to lose that much. I have yet to race with Pat since he is more on the crit circuit, but am excited for that day to come.
Robbie Yost, I slept in the same bed with Robbie for 2 weeks, so you would think I know a ton about him, but I don't. Robbie is young, but from what he showed in California, he is plenty strong. Just don't lend him any money, he might try to pay you back in Subway dollars.
I don't know Tim Henry....
Finally, there is Jon Hamblen. Jon was my teammate last year on Wheelworks, and my coach. I go to Jon for everything. I look up to Jon on and off the bike… well sometimes not off… and for sure I don't look up to him when we are standing up! Jon's number-one priority is to have fun, and that's one of the major reasons I am in this sport; but once on the road, Jon knows when to be serious, and is a team leader.
What's your best story from the road in Georgia?
You are probably talking about the road as in the race, but this is funny:
Since California I have ended up with the team car at my house in NY. Conor, Jon, Janine and I traveled down to Georgia in it. On the way, we got a bit bored and thought of ways we could joke with Greg our director. So we bought a sticker lettering kit and put all of our names right below the window on the doors, you know, kind of like the truckers do on their rigs.
I heard it didn't go over so well and we were almost put on a bus home! I am glad that wasn't the case, because the last time I took a bus home from that area was when I was coming home from my 3 weeks at Parris Island, and that took 24 hours. I wonder what Greg will do when we show up at Housatonic with the "For Sale" signs in the window? At least my parents will be there so I have a ride home if he takes it away from us.
Probably the best story from the road was the first day. We went through so many small towns where I think everybody was out cheering us on. Jon and I would be at the back hanging out and we were waving to everyone and getting them excited. At one point I went to the side of the road where these kids were lined up for about 300 yards and started going down the line and slapping their hands. It was fun, although, at the end was a cop car that I almost crashed into… but, that was exciting having all those people cheering. I can only imagine what Philly and San Fran will be like.
As a first year pro, is it cool to line up with all those big studs?
Yeah, that's cool; although I was never really a fan before I got into biking, so the big names aren't all the big to me. Don't get me wrong, I respect just about everyone I race against, but I don't get too excited about names and stuff like that. I dont even think I have ever watched at Tour De France. I mostly enjoy racing against the many of the people I have made friends with over the past year.
Conor, Jon and I would joke around when any big name was around and say to each other, "hey is that So and so?" usually just loud enough for that person to hear. I am not sure if any of the Euros that were here were "big studs" or not, but we asked a few of the Rabobank guys if they were Michael Boogerd. I guess he didn't get selected for the tour of Georgia.
Sorry Michael. Maybe next year. There's always Fitchburg...
I know you especially enjoyed the Euros, What did you feel was their biggest contribution to the race?
Obviously that Rodriguez fellow contributed to the race.
Other than that, it was great to see some of their style. Those guys have some fancy pants.
Nutshell it for us: what's being on the road with a pro bike racing outfit all about? What do you like about it, and what could you do without?
Being on the road with the team is hard at times. I am not all that used to it. Hamblen has been doing if for over 10 years, and I haven't even owned a USCF license for a full 3 years yet, so it's pretty interesting. He can travel with a backpack and a smaller bag, while I travel with a huge rolling duffel big enough to carry Scottie Weiss. Then I have my big laptop bag, and he is so pro with his little pocket pc. I traveled with Jon last year on Wheelworks so we got use to traveling with each other… Well, more like he got used to me, 'cuz there isn't much to get used to with him! I don't think anything really bugs him.
Host housing was tough to get used to, being on the road, but as long as the family is cool it's not bad, but sometimes a hotel is so nice - you can be stinky and messy and not worry about it.
The driving is getting old. Since October I have driven across the country four times. I broke my ankle February 1st and was completely off the bike for 25 days so I took that time to sit in the car and take my belongings and my car back to home in NY then immediately hopped back in the team car to California for our team house stay in Pismo Beach. I guess everybody has to put their car time in and if you deserve it, eventually you will be flying to races.
Did you have a favorite town in Georgia? Did you eat at Waffle House and hear the Waffle House song?
I really enjoyed Savannah. I will stop back there sometime in the future for sure. I'm going to try to become good friends with Saul Raisin and stop back in Dalton too - the kid has the keys to the city! Imagine what we could do with those... It was also my first time in Atlanta, but unfortunately it was a Sunday night and the bars weren't hopping or anything. It seemed as though, on a weekend night, I could have a lot of fun in Atlanta.
I think the mayor of Harpursville should give me the keys to the city. Although it is Harpursville, and nobody locks anything so they wouldn't really do much.
I didn't eat at the Waffle House, but I did hear the song. Conor has it on his mp3 player, and he listens to it during TT's. He says is really helps him go faster… Whatever makes you fast I guess.
Do you think there's more to life than being really, really, really
I think there is so much more to life than being really, really, really good looking. Such as clothes, girls, Hair supplies and the Internet.
My teammate Wes would probably disagree, because when you are as handsome as Wes, there really is nothing more to life than being really, really, really good looking.
How many times have you seen Zoolander? How much success have you had with "Magnum?"
Mike Jones: MAGNUM
I've never actually seen Zoolander in person, I heard he keeps a low profile when he is at his summer home in Binghamton, but I have seen the movie he stars in over 20 times.
I have not had huge success with "Magnum." Like the inventor of "Magnum," Derek Zoolander, I only use it on Special Occasions. Truly, I shouldn't even be talking about it. I often use "Blue Steel" to try to pick up chicks, but I must not have it down 'cuz it's not working so good.
When I'm in a pinch, I use a simple look called "Instant." Its just a quick look that anyone can throw together in… well… an instant.
What's next on the Team West Virginia schedule? Is there anything you're especially looking forward to on the horizon?
This last weekend and next Jon, Conor and I will be doing some New England Racing, then the Team heads to Connecticut, for the tour of Connecticut. Then, a few of us are going to Time Trial Nationals. I've never done a time trial longer than 10 miles in my life, so it should be fun. I just built-up a TT bike, so I have to try it… Never mind that its 4 sizes too small!
Who cares about numbers anyways, right?
Mike Jones: INSTANT