A few days after the US Cyclocross National Championships, Jeremy Powers of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com and his teammate Jamey Driscoll will be flying to Europe for their 6-week training and racing period before the World Championships to be held in the Czech Republic on Jan 31 2010.
Unfortunately, I can’t be there to see the racing first hand (yes, I am bummed and yes I would love to go…) but here’s the next best thing: a weekly chat with Powers to get the good, the bad and everything in between.
The 26-year old Powers is having a great season as he just racked up his seventh and eighth UCI wins at the Bay State Cross last weekend and is about to tackle the final two weekends of racing in the United States with the USGP finale in Portland and the US Cross Nationals Championships in Bend, Oregon.
In this week’s installment, we set the stage as far as his goals for Worlds, a look back at his season and we open up the get to know Jeremy file.
Less than two months before Worlds, and I never asked you this before, what’s your goal for the World Championships?
This time around I made a promise to myself and then openly made a promise to everyone that follows what I am doing, to try and focus more on the World Championships so by doing that, if I put it out there and say that I’m going to do it, I made sure that I put more emphasis on my season on doing that. And so, with that I’ve been more mental drills in my head knowing that when you get to Belgium there’s a lot of racing right off the bat but then you need to take a break, a small break, and then get ready for the Worlds. That’s something I really, really want to do, I want to have a full season where I was consistent and other guys do stop in December, I want to continue to race until February because in my mind a true cyclocross season goes all the way into February. I think a top 15 would be a great goal for me and I think that definitely if I train hard enough I can get, I just have to work hard and I know that I can attain that if I do that, that’s my goal right now.
How much of it is mental versus physical to go all the way to February?
I think the mental part is probably the biggest part of it. I know that if I do the work then I will have the power and I have the skill to be able to do a good ride. It’s just being in a different country without a lot of the resources, it starts to become more difficult to get those results when you stop having people that can motivate you and you stop having fifteen or twenty minute climbs and rides that you are very familiar with and roads that you know well and grocery stores, utensils to cook with and all those things. When you go to a foreign place, you’re in a house where you don’t have everything that you grew up with, the little blender and this and that little thing, that you’re accustomed to when you’re in your home, it becomes more a little bit more taxing. And there’s just a lot of free time when you’re in Europe so even if you do train really hard, how do you keep yourself busy for the remainder of the day? If you do four hours of training, if you dedicate four hours of your day, an hour getting ready, an hour cooldown, two hours of riding, what do you do with the other twenty hours of the day? It’s definitely a little bit of a struggle, it’s always tough to find ways to utilize your time when you’re there because it’s definitely not for the weak-minded, it’s hard.
We’ll talk when you’re there. But before that, there’s USGP and Nationals. Are you ready for the big final two weeks in the US?
I’m definitely ready, I trained really hard and I think I am starting to see the results from that. I went into last weekend just about blown and I was still able to do well and on Sunday I felt better than Saturday. I’m definitely recovering from my workouts and the good news is that all the work that can be done before the National Championships is done so there’s not really much more than anyone can do to really get ready for that race. So every bit of training that someone has done up to this point is pretty much what they’re going to be taking with them. Portland is going to be an indicator of how things are going, not just for me but for everyone, I think that everybody will be on the same page, I just hope for good luck and if I trained hard enough well that’s awesome too. Yeah I just hope for no problems.
Congratulations on your two wins last weekend. From what I’ve read, the courses were not suited to your strengths, so does the fact that you won give you more confidence going into the two final weekend of racing? Or is it that it shows that you are where you needed to be?
I think it’s a good thing. I had won that race before and they aren’t my favorite courses, it has some weird twists and turns but Sunday’s course was probably better suited for me, I was able to hop the barriers, like a a very cool, twisty bowl, kind of a berm, left and right. Overall, the weekend was good. I will say that if they weren’t suited for me, that was good it made me work harder and there were certain sections of the course where I was visualizing where it would be harder if there was a guy attacking me or if Tim was in front of me laying down the hurt so yeah I’m thinking about all those things when I’m trying to go as hard as I can and it was good. I was marking the guys in certain parts of the course and making sure that I was putting in a little bit of time on them every lap and trying to push the limits. There was definitely speed limits all over the course, you couldn’t keep going faster and harder, it wasn’t that kind of race. It was good, yeah confidence, good all around, I’m not putting those on a pedestal, it’s a good thing for me.
That made it 8 wins for you this year, good year! And 20 wins for the team, great year. That’s a huge year for you guys, what does it mean to be winning so much?
It’s awesome to be a part of that, I always looked up to guys like Mark McCormack, Bart Bowen, the guys from Saturn and the people that were racing the top end like that, Frank and Mark. They had a dominant team like that when they were on Saturn, that was right when I was getting into cyclocross. It’s really cool to be part of something that I hope people will remember and look at and say ‘wow that’s the new Saturn or that’s the new this or that’. Overall it’s a good team to be part of, we have so much support, Cannondale is really behind it, and Stu at Cyclocrossworld, just everyone, we have a lot of people that email and are following the team so it feels good all round. I think some people might bring a little light to the fact that they don’t like to see always us doing so well and it takes away from the racing and I completely understand that but it’s not scripted, nothing is written in stone, it’s not like Tim asks me to win and I say (in a goofy voice) ‘okay Tim that sounds good’. It’s always racing regardless of our team colors, if we can help each other out then that’s something that happens in a race and that happens with other people too. That happens with Ryan. If Ryan is taking a bad line, and I can probably chop him or vice versa, we look for each other, we’re not in the game to kill each other. It’s all good, what comes around goes around you know.
Yeah I know. I remember when we talked in Cincinnati which seems like ages ago, you said that you wanted more consistency in your season, have you shown that this year?
I do, I don’t read too much into what other people think but for me I know that my season was consistent, personally I’m really happy with it. If I can continue to go with it until February, now that I’ve rested, now that I’ve been sick and now that I’ve trained again. I think that that’s [getting sick] is a good thing, at first I was like ‘crap this is not good, I’m not going to be able to do this USGP in New Jersey’ and I was definitely concerned with that but overall it was a good time to take a break because I probably wouldn’t have taken a break regardless if I was sick or not. If I’d just stayed racing it would have taken me longer to recover and that’s what I would have done years before but this time, I thought this is what my body is saying that I need to take a rest, I have to respect that and fall back and now get ready for the remainder of the season. Everybody has been sick, Tim had an injury, Jamey was sick last weekend, Ryan hit his head, Todd has had his setbacks, everybody throughout the year has had something happen to them where they haven’t been able to train or they’ve had to take a weekend off and that’s just the name of the game. We’re in the flu season, we’re doing a lot of trips in the airplanes and we’re racing a ton. Yeah, my season for all things considered, I’m super happy with it, I’ve had more wins that last year. Even if it ended tomorrow, I’d still be able to walk away feeling good about it.
But it’s not. USGP this weekend and then Nationals. Does that change how you approach USGP having the big race the following weekend?
No, it’s good to get the form going then. A lot of guys come to peak at Nationals and that’s their last race so if they’re coming in peaked and then they just shut it off, I think that’s silly, you’re coming into the biggest race of the year and then you’re just done after that, so that’s why it’s nice to go to Europe after. For me, that’s why it’s good to go to Europe after, to continue to hold that form and just motor along. After Portland, it’s just tune-up, you just have to do a couple days of training, really stay on top of yourself, get a lot of sleep, it’s easy because you’re already out there and you can do the training in that weather, and it’s a little bit easier on the legs because you don’t have to fly again. I’m looking forwards to Portland, last year I had a really good race there on Saturday, Sunday was really muddy and that didn’t favor me but that’s okay, I think I still got fourth. I’m looking forwards to good races there, I feel good. Whatever happens happens but I think it’s going to be a good race, I think it’s going to be a fun race to watch.
Well you are going into enemy territory now (laughing)
Well, enemy territory, there are just so many guys that are gunning for this race, everybody is talking how they’re going to do well here. It should be interesting to see who does do well (laughs).
What’s your schedule like after, you hang around Oregon until Nationals. When do you fly to Europe?
I fly to Europe on December 17th, we get there on the 18th and then we just get settled – we get our bikes all built up, we disassembled three bikes, twenty sets of wheels, and pick up a car and get settled in the house. That first weekend is the Kalmhout World Cup but I won’t be doing that, I’m going to be taking that weekend off and get ready for some races the middle of that week. Then I’ll pretty much race every three days after that all the way until January 4th and then I’m probably go somewhere, maybe South of France or Spain and hang out for a couple of days, do a few training blocks and then hopefully come back strong for the three remaining World Cups and then Worlds.
And all this with Jamey?
Most of it with Jamey. He’s going to Tel Aviv or something like that for a couple of days after those races with his girlfriend but yeah we’re going to be together the whole time.
So it’s bonding time with Jamey.
In the getting to know Jeremy file, do you have any superstitions? Is there anything that you have to bring with you when you travel or that you have to do before a race?
There are actually a couple of things, not any thing too crazy. I always bring my coffee press, my kettle sugar, all that stuff I bring from home so I have it with me. Usually, I always have to have eggs, no matter what form they come in from the grill downstairs, I always have to have eggs before a race. Sometimes Tim will get to a race earlier and I’m like ‘Tim I need bread, ham, eggs, peanut butter and jelly’, and he gets those five things and we’re pretty much good to go anywhere in any country, any location. If I have those five things I’m good to go. (laughs)
Okay those are not too bad.
I wouldn’t say that those are superstitions but those are funny things that I need to get at any venue. As far as things that I hate, man, there are a couple of things but they’re not that interesting. I have snakes and I hate being in houses alone for long periods of time.
Well, that could be fun for you in Europe.
Nah Europe is not that bad. But definitely when I was younger living in Belgium by myself for a couple of months at a time at the National team house, that was whacked.
Yeah, you like people.
Exactly. Then I kind of get bored.
And that’s not good.
We’ll catch up with Jeremy next week before Nationals and see if we can get some trashtalking going. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to ask.