What's Cool In Road Cycling

Jeremy Powers Gets PEZ’d!

Winter; and a cycling fan’s thoughts turn to six day racing – and cyclo-cross. Jeremy Powers is the man currently leading the USA Cycling ‘cross rankings. Not only that, he’s even more obsessive than us when it comes to talking about tubulars – we like that in a man! We caught up with him as he sat in an airport departure lounge, awaiting a connecting flight – it’s like that if you’re a pro!

PEZ: Why ‘cross, Jeremy?
Jeremy: I ride a full summer road programmes for Jelly Belly but my passion is for cyclo-cross. The duration of a ‘cross race is one hour, that suits me; the mixture of power and technical skills. I hope one day to be strong in the last hour of a four or five hour road race, but at the moment a one hour ‘cross seems to suit my physiology.

PEZ: You’ve been racking up the wins.
Jeremy: I haven’t been keeping score, but I think it’s six so far; what’s also satisfying is that I’ve only been off the podium once in 16 starts.

PEZ: Which result are you most proud of?
Jeremy: I won three crosses back-to-back in Ohio, this year. That was awesome, it’s hard enough to win one race, never mind three in a row!

PEZ: Any disappointments in your career?
Jeremy: Not winning a national title has been a big disappointment. I was favourite for the Under 23 title but Jesse Anthony beat me into second spot. But I hope to have good legs for this year’s Nationals – I’ve already been to check out the course.

PEZ: What are your strengths as a cross rider?
Jeremy: I like technical, fast courses, with short hills; my style is punchy. I’m not crazy about a lot of mud – but if it’s there, you just go out and ride it! To be a good ‘cross rider you have to be able to handle your bike. Take the Nationals; it’s forecast for snow, so that could be interesting.

‘The cold doesn’t bother me.’

PEZ: Room for improvement?
Jeremy: Running is something I need to work on, it’s just that if you do a lot of it in training, your muscles get so sore. But as the season progresses, my running definitely improves.

PEZ: Your ideal course?
Jeremy: Dry and fast, but if it snows, that’s ok – the cold doesn’t bother me.

Powers and teammate Tim Johnson both took wins in Toronto a few weeks ago.

PEZ: Role models?
Jeremy: If you’re competing against the big Belgian guys then you can’t be in awe of them. But it’s hard not to admire Nys; he’s so classy, but also very cordial. If he gets beaten he always has a good word for the winner; you never hear him criticising other guys. I’ve competed against him a few times and he always has time for you – that goes a long way, in my book.

PEZ: Are you an equipment fanatic?
Jeremy: Yeah, one of our sponsors is cyclocrossworld.com and they have everything you could ever want – I mean everything! One of the big differences between the road and cross is that if you’re producing the watts in a road race, then you’ll get the result. But in ‘cross, equipment is so important; if you’re on the wrong tubs or running the wrong pressures then that will cost you the race, irrespective of your fitness – it’s a sport where equipment can make a big difference.

PEZ: Tyres?
Jeremy: Mavic gives us a truck load of wheels and we tyres for every type of condition. We use Dugast tubulars there’s one for every type of condition – Pipistrellos, which are slick but with a diamond tread for fast grass and sand; Rhinos which have an aggresive tread for really heavy mud and Flying Doctors for fast courses. We have 24, 30, 32 and 34 mm tubulars section available, so we’re covered for any conditions. Your warm up laps are really important, that’s when you choose your race tyres – when you feel what’s underneath you. You need a good mechanic who’ll watch you ride the tricky sections and tell you what he thinks in terms of tyres and pressures.

PEZ: Goals?
Jeremy: To keep growing the sport in the US, I think all the top guys over here think that way. We want to see World Cups in the US.

Enjoying a hard day at Hoogerheide.

PEZ: Do you go to Europe?
Jeremy: I had a couple of seasons there – my last under 23 and first senior. I got top 10’s and finished 17th in the Worlds. There were no podiums, but it was good to be immersed in European culture, like that. I’ll be going back over in December and riding there until the Worlds. I do about 40 days of racing; there’s a big block of races back-to-back during the Christmas holidays and I’ll be riding a lot of them.

Powers takes a huge win at Gloucester.

PEZ: It’s a long season for you.
Jeremy: This year I raced on the road from April to the Tour of Missouri, which ended the week before the first ‘cross. I have a training camp after the Worlds, then I’ll take a month off – that’ll be late February into March. Last year I rode Redlands, Georgia, Qinghhai Lakes and Philly Week – so it’s a full programme.

A hard-earned check at the Tour of Missouri.

PEZ: Theses are tough financial times for ‘cross.
Jeremy: It’s difficult for cycling in general, if a company is needing to make cuts then sponsorship is the first to go. The negative media doesn’t help, but I think the problem is more lack of dollars than drugs.

PEZ: What do you do when you’re not racing?
Jeremy: I listen to a lot of music – I’m getting into doing a bit of dee-jaying. I spend time with my family and girlfriend – I’m travelling so much that every time I go home, it feels like being on holiday!

Here at PEZ, we interview a lot of bike riders; but this guy is one of the most enthusiastic we’ve ever spoken to. It’s obvious he loves his sport – that usually pays off handsomely at some stage.

Want to follow Jeremy some more? Head on over to his blog on Missing Saddle!

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