Just as the important to his team criterium season was heating up, Adam Myerson of Team Mountain Khakis f/b Jittery Joe’s went down hard at the Giro d’Grafton, a race in the USA Crits Series, and broke a bone in his left wrist. Six weeks later, the man who “doesn’t like to take breaks” was back racing with his team at the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove.
And today, he is lining up at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, the big money crit in Charlotte. The race is also part of the USA Crits Series where his teammate Isaac Howe is second in the overall with three races to go.
The injury. Last Sunday morning, as we sat down for a chat, Myerson was debating wearing a soft cast or not to race in the third and final stage, the criterium.
“It feels dramatically better almost every day to the point where I don’t even trust it, it shouldn’t feel as good as it does. I’ve been kind of cautious about it, and before the race I was even going to wear just a neoprene sleeve which is comfortable and actually safer for me to ride, “ Myerson said of his injury, as he showed how he could move his fingers, “but I was just worried about crashing and felt that I needed the soft cast as crash protection more than anything.”
The 38-year old had taking off the soft cast two days prior and rode to the race without it. “If I fell on it I would be in trouble but I can handle my bike so much better without it that I think the net is probably safer for me not to use it and try not to crash.”
He went on to explain the crash. “ I had won the half-way prime, and I just sat up and went to the back of the field to recover, maybe I went a little bit further back than I should have. The last corner of that crit is pretty tight, it’s more than 90 degrees, it’s a little slippery but you come into it with a lot of speed. Two guys tangled up in front of me, they looked like they had saved it, that they were fine, and I was like ‘oh they’re good’ and I took my hands off the brake and just as I did, they went down anyway. I was trying to go wide to go around them and it was headed towards the curb and then they were sliding towards the curb and we all intersected at the same time.”
“I went over the bars at pretty high speed and got catapulted over the sidewalk, I was coming down in someone’s driveway, I was going to land on pavement, their yard was there, and I just tried to stay airborne to get to the grass and I literally reached for it which was good but I planted my hand on the edge on the pavement when I did. I landed on the palm of my hand and that’s broke the bone and then I bent it all the way and then I rolled over on it and bent it.” said Myerson while bending his fingers the other way as I cringed.
The outcome was a broken bone and a “really really bad sprain.” And then, he got up to finish the race in ninth place.
It was really bad timing on this crash, not that there’s any good timing for a crash and an injury.
“I had just gone home and rested and done a little bit of training and was on the way back up and was counting on those races for my form to be improving and for me to be on the upswing. And so instead I ended taking the rest of that week off, and then struggling through the races the next weekend because now I was way under rested. I had timed it perfectly but then the bottom fell out.”
Ten days after the crash, Myerson went home and finally had a cast put on. He then took a vacation and 5 days completely off the bike
“I was two months behind it felt like at that point. I took five days off, rode with three weeks with a cast and then rested coming into this, got the cast off and I’m surprised, I’m not flying but I felt very comfortable in the race yesterday I was expecting to get dropped.” he explained. In Saturday’s 96 miles (155 Km) AXA Equitable Road Race, Myerson was part of a 2-man chase group for a couple of laps behind being re-absorbed by the field.
How did he explain his fitness? “I had some fitness from the training that I did, even though the training didn’t go well, even though I felt horrible the whole time, and we just had 90º weather the whole time and my intervals were so bad and I was coming from such a low level. I have a good combo right now of fresh legs and some fitness, I’m not at my best and I am in the bell curve for these races.”
The goal was to use the weekend at Elk Grove to improve his fitness through racing with a focus on the upcoming races, very important to his team, the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte today, and the US Pro Criterium Championships next weekend in Glencoe, IL. And of course, there’s cross coming up.
“It’s a big focus,” said Myerson about the two races coming up, “after that it’s still USA Crits for a couple more weeks. Chis Thater is really important for us and then cross. The training that I did this month I definitely was doing that with cross in mind too.”
Keeping sane. Myerson only took two weeks off earlier this year between the end of cross season and before the start of his road season preparation. This begged the question, how do you keep fresh mentally?
“I guess I need to stay stimulated. I don’t like taking breaks. I need to rest and I need rest periods. An easy day for training means a busy week for work. They’re just slides, it’s just an equalizer. I’m turning one thing up to 11 when I turn another one to 3. I get bored, I get anxious, if I’m awake I need to be productive.”
So after years of trying to balance everything, you have down pat, right? “No, I am way over my head.” smiled Myerson. “I could be doing a much better job at work, or a much better job racing or a much better in my relationship if I could get rid of one of three things.”
But I posit that Myerson would be unhappy if he did have to give something up. He laughed and replied “You want to buy cyclesmart? Someone want to buy my business?”
“If I wasn’t 38 and I was riding like this, I might dial my business way way down and kill a lot of those other commitments and be more focused on racing because that is the thing that makes me the happiest. But at 38 …. I’ve been keeping this business going for the past 10 years in anticipation of retiring, it’s going to be coming soon.”
But no retirement just yet. “I have a contract offer for next year already with Mt Khakis to take over as rider/manager instead of just captain, to be more hands on with picking the roster and making the arrangements and that’s good for me because that lowers my stress. If I get to do that work that means I know it’s going to go smoothly, and if I end up a bunch of energy fixing bad arrangements I’d rather just take over and do it right the first time. I’m planning on racing at least one more year.”
Myerson has not made his decision for next year. “I guess we’ll have to see what other options I get,” he laughed. “it’s the only one on the table right now. I do love this team and I love this project but obviously I’m always interested in being as ambitious as I can. If someone else was interested in my services, I’d entertain those offers.”
Health of professional cycling. “All things considered, we’re doing great. You’ve got to think about the state of the American economy as a whole, the fact that we still have as much prize money here as we do.”
Though neither Elk Grove nor Charlotte offer up the $200,000 and $150,000 in prize money like they used to, “no riders are complaining about getting to race for 100 or 50 grand.”
“We only used to only have 10 grand to race with, it’s still better than it was 10 years ago and only a touch worse than it was 5 years ago. That was all new money back then, we hadn’t seen those kinds of prize list before, Charlotte really broke through, when they had a $150 000 for us that first year, that’s what broke the seal and the big big payouts.”
And then there is the NRC standard which increased from $10,000 to $15,000. “And that’s not going backwards.”
Myerson then used Fly V Australia, an Australian-registered Continental team, racing in America as an example.
“Fly V wouldn’t be over here with a whole team of foreign riders if there wasn’t money to be made here.” And it’s not just the money, but the level of competition. “A good middle step for them. They’re obviously ready to be racing in Europe, this is better racing than they could get at home and a little more manageable than in Europe.”
One aspect that could make professional cycling better is having more professional race organizers. Also essential is the involvement of the communities.
“I think you look at a race like Elk Grove, when it first started it was so much prize money and it was like an office park criterium, they’ve done so much in the past 5 years, I’ve changed my mind about this race. I think the involvement of the mayor and the way the town has really gotten behind it, is remarkable and right now that’s crucial. You need the involvement of the municipalities, to have the town be so sold on the race that’s what guarantees the money and the ability to close the roads. Generally speaking you’ve got great crowds, you’re racing through neighborhoods rather than downtown streets and everybody is coming out and having block parties. Man if we could do this every weekend it would be a nice job.”
But having the driving force for a race, such as a mayor, being governed by re-election can be worrisome.
“It’s true, you never know what will happen, will the people that comes in after keep it going? And that’s the nature of the sport, it will always be that way.”
Let’s talk cross… or not. “You know what I think every day?” replied Myerson when asked if he as thinking of the 2013 UCI Cyclocross World Championships held in Louisville, KY.
“I think about filing the permit for the Nor’easter and Northampton and we have our cross camp coming up and I worry about prize list, and sponsorship and trying to put my own program together. I haven’t even begun to think about competition because I’m so busy with planning right now with both our new grassroots team. 40 people signed up and that was remarkable and I wasn’t anticipating that, 40 people from all over the country.”
Myerson seemed truly surprised that 40 people had signed up for his Cycle-smart grassroots cross program, even though he is well respected in the community.
“It doesn’t mean that I thought that everybody would flock to join the team. I’m glad that people appreciated it. With the folks that have joined the team, they’re not all clients, I’ve tried to make myself accessible to them. If what they’re signing up is to be associated with Cycle-smart, even if they’re not clients, to be associated with me and the business, then I want to be able to give them some access, answer some questions for them and be a resource for them and perhaps that’s the value.”
He continued, “Yeah in terms of [cross] performance. People ask me how are feeling emotionally? And I’m like what are you talking about, you have time to think about how you feel. There’s two hundred emails in my inbox, I don’t know how I’m feeling.”
Or that’s how you keep sane. “Or avoiding things.” he smiled. “I think it keeps me sane. The devil finds work for idle hands. It causes its own stress but it’s also a good stress reliever. I need to be productive for any of this to mean anything, I’m consumed by productivity.”
That brings back to road racing as his Mt Khakis teammates were getting ready for the race around us, and Myerson went back to being busy,
“These guys are doing good this year, I like this group. The project still have a lot of potential, a lot of unfulfilled potential.” concluded Myerson.