Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Interview with Chris Jones

I met Chris at the Cascade Classic in 2005. Chris and my buddy Andres Gil were racing the Pro category and I was racing the 35+ category. Chris made an interesting impression on me. He was racing on his own, traveling around the country in his car racing his tail off for the love of the sport. His quiet, genuinely nice guy domineer and inner gut desire to "lay it down any time any where" was a unique combination of toughness, desire and quiet confidence. I kept my eye on Chris over the last two years as he progressed through the ranks. Chris assisted me with product testing in 2006 and has been a big help in the development of our current wheel set lineup.

2007 was a break out year for Chris. A third at the insanely difficult "Tour of Virginia" stage race and 9th at the US National Road Championships (coming in with Bobby Julich and beating Tyler Hamilton). Chris followed this up with an incredible run at Cross getting the invite to race in Europe and asked to represent the USA at the World Championships. By the way, it was his first year racing a full calender of Cross. WOW!

Chris is an inspiration to anyone who is willing to be 100% committed to a dream! I'm proud to call him my friend.

How old are you? 28

Where do you live? New Haven, CT.

How long have been racing? This will be my 6th season.

Do you have a coach? Yes, I have been working with Dr. Max Testa for two years.

How important is a coach? For me Max is very important. I race so much during the year, full cyclocross and road schedules, that it would be easy to over train or burn out. Max’s programs are spot on and he provides me with confidence that I am training properly. Levi said it best about the difficulty of Max’s training plan when he said, “I look back at how I used to train and wonder ‘how was I any good?’”

Can I get an idea of a typical training week? I’m not sure what is typical any more! Right now I just came off of a break from cross and am logging the base mile preparing for the road. I usually hit the road around 10 in the morning and ride 4 – 6 hours a day or 25 – 35 hrs/ wk. Two days a week incorporates SFR (strength from resistance) training, 2-3 more usually focus on high ME (medium endurance) or threshold training, the remainder is straight base.

What is your strengths? What is your weakness? One of my biggest strengths is that I love to ride my bike, so I don’t mind logging the log hours through the New England winter. I also have the support of my wife and family, which makes the time away from home easier. On the bike I am an all-arounder minus the sprint. One of my teammates from last year says I can’t sprint my way out of paper bag. I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but don’t look for me to win a field sprint on the Champs-Élysées! Time trialing has been a limiting factor for me on the GC at stage races the past two years. Max encouraged me to race cross to improve my TT skills and hopefully that will take me from a top 10 GC guy to the podium this season. Dry fast courses suit me best for cross since I can apply my road power and not have to worry about traction. My biggest weaknesses at this point are the mud and crud. My mud results have improved as the season progressed; I think it is just an experience thing.

What sport did you participate in prior to cycling? In high school I was an alpine skier and raced motocross. During college I was a surf bum.

Did it help your cycling career? Amazingly, yes. It didn’t actually hit me until the Louisville G.P. this year. Before the race I was talking to Tim Johnson trying get some tips about how to ride in the mud and he said, “ride it like you would a dirt bike, loose arms, and always on the gas.” It seems to work for me and my mud skills are steadily improving. Just like ski racing, for cross I preride the course and memorize the turns and features of the course so I am prepared for what is next.

Last year seemed to be a breakout year for you. Why? Last year was a great year and I hope I can continue to improve at the same rate this season. Max’s training plan was a huge factor. His program is very challenging and many of the races are actually easier than the training. NERAC was supportive of my ambitions and changed their normal east coast only schedule to a full NRC schedule so I could have teammates for support during races. It was also my first season focusing only on cycling and not working an outside job.

Tell us about your cyclocross 2007 adventures? The cross season was my first full season of cross and provided plenty of surprises. As I said earlier, I only started racing cross to improve my TT skills, but after I placed 3rd to Jonathan Page two days in a row I surprised some folks, myself included. The season kind of took off from there and I kept racking up 3rd place finishes. It was ridiculous, I had five 3rd place finishes in a row at one point. Finally at round 3 of the Verge New England series I scored my first UCI cross win and took the Verge leaders jersey. The following weekend NERAC sent me to the World Cup in Pijnacker, Netherlands. What a huge learning experience for me and the first time I had ever raced in mud. The Euro fans were awesome and I can’t wait to go back. I was approached with the idea of heading to eurocross camp and to Worlds in Italy, which was hard to turn down, but I needed a break to prepare for the road season. The cross season was more of a success than I had planned for with a top 10 in Crank Bros. G.P. Series Overall and barely missing the top 10 at Nationals.

You signed with the new big budget Team Type 1 for 2008. What roll will you play with the team? The team will be solid this year and we have plenty of firepower. I’ll be riding support at the stage races for Matt Wilson. Team Type 1 presented by Apidra isn’t just another cycling team, but actually has a mission to educate and empower people with Type 1 Diabetes. Four of my teammates are athletes with diabetes. Check out the website:

What are your goals for 2008? To continue to improve my time trialing, technical cross skills, top 5 at cross and road nationals, and to win a NRC Stage. I would also like to head to Cross Worlds next year.

Where do you see yourself in three years? In California where the weather is warm in the winter!