Jeremy Powers, Interview
Jeremy Powers has been long recognized as one of the characters in cycling. His personality and year long hard work go a long way with fans and media alike. For proof of this you just need to look at what he somehow manages to acomplish while not racing for Jelly Belly, on the road, and for Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com. He talks music with Road Magazine, blogs for Velonews, keeps his blog up to date on Missing Sadles, and manages to fit 140 characters in every now and then. This is why when he stopped by Tucson this winter we had to grab him while we could and talk bikes, life, trucks crashing into telephone poles and Valley Fever.
Fairwheel Bikes: We heard you’ve been accused of always being pretty upbeat and happy. Is this true?
Jeremy Powers: I try to find the best in every situation and constantly remind myself what life could be like and how privileged I am to live this lifestyle. I try to pass that along to anyone that will listen, watch or read. It’s something that’s just engrained in my soul from my parents.
FW: How do you keep this up year in year out with so much racing split between two different disciplines?
JP: I ask myself the same thing some days when I’m stressed. It takes some discipline in certain situations. I won’t lie, but I have ADD and ADHD so turning that into a positive thing by running around like a looney toon is the only thing I really know. My schedule really doesn’t allow me to stop and think about how crazy racing 11 months out of the year is, but I just roll with it. Truthfully, it keeps me sane most of the time.
FW: We pretty much know your role in CX (winning, killing it, bunny hopping all come to mind) what’s your role on the road?
JP: On the road I’m an optimistic rider. I try to be in a lot breakaways throughout the year and I really love scraping my way to the front for the finish. Usually I help out whoever we have that can finish it off and get on the podium.
FW: You just got back from training camp, how was that?
JP: Training camp was awesome this year. I just wrote a VeloNews Journal with all the crazy “team building” stuff we did. I’ll tell you that our Director Danny really mixed things up this year with some intense team-building. In addition to meeting with our great new sponsors and getting accustomed to our new Focus Izalco bikes, we spent one day with the Navy SEALs. It was an unforgettable few hours of my life: sprinting in and out of the frigid Pacific Ocean, trudging for miles in sand carrying a cinder block out in front of me, tons of push-ups, running (I hate running), all while shivering to death. In the end, we really figured out what it was like to stick together through the pain, just like in a bike race, so it leaves a positive note in my brain.
FW: Heard a truck ran off the road and hit a telephone pole because he was giving you guys the finger. Do you believe in Karma?
JP: That did happen! I wasn’t actually on the ride, but when Jon Chodroff told me the story first thing I said was karma. I ALWAYS treat people how I would want to be treated and while I would never wish an accident upon someone, there are a lot of situations that happen out on the road and I don’t expect a lot, just a little room and peace and quiet. People sometimes act like they’re police and have authority and it’s hard to defuse and be constructive with someone after they try to run you off the road and scream in your face. I tell everyone to be careful and keep their heads up and make eye contact with drivers. Every little bit helps.
FW: Do you think cycling is ever going to be accepted in “main stream” ‘Merica?
JP: Don’t know, but I think as a means of transportation cycling is becoming more accepted. Obviously Lance has had a huge impact on getting the average American out in spandex. We can watch bike racing on TV now and the sport is seeing bigger and more prominent sponsors. My absolute dream is to have ‘cross really “make it”, …on TV. The general public doesn’t know what an awesome spectator sport it is: short laps, up-close and personal contact with racers, mud, and lots of crashes. Louisville Worlds 2013, Lets GO!
FW: Spending all day in spandex covered with fruity little beans has to be damaging to your rep with the citizens. Is this why you took up DJ’ing?
JP: Nahhh. that’s not why I took up DJing. I’ve always been into music and it’s been over the last 5 years or so that I’ve had a chance to try it out myself. One of the reasons I ride my bike is to listen to music. It’s where I can dissect and just listen for hours on end and learn the art. Music is also a huge motivator for me, so I can’t explain it. I’ve just got Beatle mania for all music! From that I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great, really talented DJs who’ve inspired me a lot. I would not call myself a DJ, I just rock out for fun at home.
FW: What’s some music recommendations you have for those of us too lazy to find new artists ourselves?
JP: Well of course you should check out my monthly column in ROAD that breaks down what’s poppin’ in the streets!!! I actually have a playlist up from ROAD that’s on Amazon right now, so buy that from fairwheel and look me up!
FW: So for those who don’t believe Valley Fever exists explain how the desert tried to kill you.
JP: Oh man, it almost did kill me. Valley Fever is a fungal infection that hangs out in your lungs. The fungus itself lives in the soil in certain areas (ie: Tucson). When the soil gets disturbed and dust starts flying, the fungus is released and breathed in by the unfortunate.
In 2006 I was out for a ride in Tucson and saw this guy’s truck stuck on the side of the road. I decided to pull off and help him by pushing. As I was pushing the dust from his tires trying to get traction was just blasting me in the face. So I can’t be certain, but I think that’s when it happened. Long story short, I was in and out of the hospital for a while, my lungs filled with fluid, all my skin on my hands and feet peeled off and I was crippled for about a month from joint pain where I was crawling to the bathroom some days. I should tie that into the earlier question where you asked, “We heard you’ve been accused of always being pretty upbeat and happy. Is this true?” Get Valley Fever and think you’re going to die and you’ll have a better outlook on what life’s all about. I’ll never forget that painful experience.
FW: What brought you back to Tucson, how long will you be staying?
JP: Bill Peterson of Foot Fitness brought me down. I’ve been a client of Bill’s since I was 14 years old when my mom brought me to his studio in Rhode Island. I heard about him from the McCormick brothers and you can’t find a guy that knows feet better then Bill. I say that w/o endorsement, I believe he’s kept me pretty structurally sound for my career. I would recommend any young or even older cyclist to see him if you can. He’s affordable and awesome at what he does.
FW: Bill Peterson is something of a favorite of ours, has a bit of a mad scientist thing going on. What’s it like seeing the good doctor? Is he fixing things or just milking some extra watts out of your pedal stroke?
JP: Bill is the best. My biggest issue is that I have one leg about 3mm shorter than the other. This has obvious impacts both on the bike and just walkin’ around normally. Bill makes everything perfect and keeps me movin’.
FW: Speaking of watts how much science is in your training, how much watt watching do you do?
JP: I train with a powertap for the first part of the season. It’s a good way to get an idea of energy expenditure along with progression in your training. Sometimes you think you’re doing good work but turns out you’re more fatigued then you think. At this point in the game, I like to know what is what. Sometimes 300 watts is 200 and vice versa, so I don’t race with one, but I do use one when I’m training. I don’t freak on it, if it’s got a dead battery, off I go without it.
FW: You might call our fans bike tech geeks… Anything you geek out about on your bikes?
JP: Dugast cross’ tires… I’m pretty into everything about them. How low can I run them (psi), which tires the fastest for the day etc etc…
On the road I geek on shoes pretty seriously. I custom drill all my Lake shoes to make the cleats go further back. Why? The calf is an in efficient muscle and the cleats further back helps that muscle from cramping by using it less. It also helps me keep my Achilles tendon in good shape.
FW: Favorite ride in Tucson?
JP: Mt. Lemmon 100% love that ride.
FW: Best racing memory?
JP: Cross 2009- Portland & Madison. The two USGPs I won in 2009
Road- 2009 Pro Am in Downers Grove. It was the first time I got the podium at an NRC road race.
FW: If I shot the twitter bird with a BB gun what would your last 140 characters be (links to something longer don’t count)?
JP: Live life like tomorrow were your last day to live and you won’t have any regrets.
FW: Any secret Jelly Belly combinations?
JP: 2 Blueberry + 1 Buttered Popcorn = Blueberry Muffin!
FW: Thanks Jeremy!
When Jeremy stopped by we were able to check out his new Jelly Belly Team issue Focus training bike. He’ll be aboard a Focus for his first priority race of the year, the newly scheduled Tour of California. We’ll leave you with some images and Jeremy’s thoughts about ToC from his blog.
I’m definitely excited to be part of TOC and I looking at making an impact at that race any way I can. Breakaways are probably the most likely option but who knows. I’ll be shooting for that, Or helping one of my teammate make it happen.
Main Photo Credit: Oregon Cycling Action