In the first part of the interview, Bissell's Andy Jacques-Maynes talked about his return to the pro ranks after years of a 9-5 job, a horrendous racing accident in 2007 and his return to full-time, albeit amateur, racing in 2008.
At the end of the 2008 season, Andy, his wife and fellow racer Josie Jacques-Maynes packed up the RV and went on a cross roadtrip.
At the end of 2008, you went on your road trip with the RV. (laughs) Why?
AJM: The whole 2007 cross season, we were racing every single weekend just locally, just doing local races and it was every weekend. And then we went to Nationals, I had a couple of minor placings and so I was able to get a fourth-row callup and that was pretty harsh and I ended up, I don't know, sixth or something and was called up twenty-something. It really wasn't indicative of where I should have been so I was motivated to go try get called up and get the ranking and placing where I was actually kind of placed in the National Championships. So if I'm racing every single event anyway, might as well go do the UCI events so I can amass as many points as possible so I can have that top ranking. And then I get a lot of exposure for my sponsors and I get to travel the country and have a fun time doing all the races that I love to do. I didn't have anything else to do, it's my job to race my bike, so I just said 'let's go for it'.
Originally, my plan was to rent an apartment in Massachusetts and just drive from race to race to race, and then Josie said 'I want to go too', and because we have our RV, it made financial sense for us to just bring it along and drive out there instead of flying out there and renting an apartment. So we just went for that. 12,000 miles later and 10 straight UCI double weekends, we were both ranked in the top 10 nationally, I was in the top 50 internationally, Josie was too actually. I think we represented our sponsors very well, we did a good job, we had a good time, we met tons of people. All the other motivations that were there, to go travel the country, we got to see the sights, we saw lots of places we'd never seen before. It a big adventure that we could go do together and that was a lot of fun, on top of just going to bike races and kicking ass.
It sounded like fun.
AJM: Yeah. it was 3-month road trip.
In an RV.
That had mechanical problems if I remember correctly.
AJM: No the truck broke down, the RV was fine the whole time. Except for when it froze up when it was 10 below. We got a hotel room that night. (chuckles)
How satisfied were you from your cross season? Was that the way to do it?
AJM: I would say break it up into two separate trips. Two weeks back in California to refresh the head and train in good weather would probably have been the smart way to do it. I mean just stash the trailer, fly back to California, train in the sunshine and then go back out again. I think that would be ideal but otherwise no complaints. We got to go to so many races, we got to see so many cool places and I really can't complain for the whole season, it was pretty awesome.
And then you topped it off by winning Masters Nationals in your age group again. Congratulations.
AJM: Thank you. That worked out well. The course was really easy with the conditions compared to even, I don't know 12 hours before where it was really muddy and slimy and almost unridable and then by the time my race came around it was like concrete and a road track. It was really easy and not stressful at all which was great. It just turned into a pedaling race and I could out pedal all the guys and so that was that. And I felt confident going into it, I was the defending champ and all the guys that were going to be competitors, they're all really strong, I can't say that I wasn't intimidated because all these guys are really good and they are winning UCI races but I beat them at the other races so I had expectations at least. I just went about what is my job. It doesn't matter what race I'm at, where I'm at, I just do the same thing every time, I just start really hard, I set a hard pace, I see who's around, I attack the hell out of them, I see if I can get away, if not they blow me out of the water. And it's the same effort for me every single time and that was worth the win that week at Nationals, so that was great.
And then you did the Elite Cross National Championship race. [Andy finished eighth]
AJM: Again, the exact same thing. Start really hard and then went really hard up the hill, I held everybody's wheel, eventually they blew me up. [I] rode by myself for the rest of the time and then I had a lap rider crash into me and he broke my bike so I lost a slot with that. Then finished it out, riding solo for basically two-thirds of the race, except for when I collided with the other rider there was nobody else on the course nearby. That hill at Nationals really sorted everything out really well.
So, 2009, Bissell. You made it.
AJM: Yeah, that internship that I did, it worked out. (chuckles)
Well, you did know somebody that worked there (laughs).
AJM: That is true, I have a couple of ins. But I think I also proved myself on my own as well. I could have raced for a couple of other teams as well, I was talking to some other people but I want to race with my brother more than anybody else. That was an easy choice for me as soon as they said 'hey we want you on our team', I'm like 'alright I'm on your team, no problem'.
And then you have [new DS Eric] Wohlberg in there.
AJM: Yeah, I'm pretty psyched. The last road race we did was the Giro di San Francisco and it was the two of us on a breakaway and afterwards we were looking at each other and it was like 'okay so now you know how hard I can go, don't be yelling in my ear from the car that I need to go any harder, come on' (laughs)
[Note: Andy and Eric Wohlberg have competed for many years on the Northern California and North American circuits. Also, Eric and Ben were on the same team in 2004.]
Yes, he will. (laughs)
What are your goals for the year? And what do you see your role with the team to be?
AJM: I'm basically going to be a support rider. We have better sprinters on our team, we have better timetrialers on our team, we have better climbers on our team but I'm really strong and so I can help out anybody in a sprint, I can help out anybody in a climb. I can't help out in a timetrial obviously unless it's a team timetrial but I'm going to be like the super-domestique. I'll have a chance to do my own race and get my own results at some times, maybe if our sprinters get dropped on a climb then I'll probably be the strongest sprinter on the team, like if me and my brother go to the line, he's leading me out because I am a better sprinter than him. I think I'll have my chances but I'm not counting on it and honestly that's not very important to me, I want to prove myself to the team, that their investment in me is worthwhile and that I am a good rider and that I'm going to be able to be a productive member of the team. That is first and foremost the most important thing for me. And then, if their idea for me to be a productive member of the team is having somebody lead me out and go get the results for myself, I'm fine with that too, I can do it.
What are you looking forwards to as far as races this year?
AJM: We're going to Argentina, we're doing the Tour of California and we're going to Spain and Portugal.
Spain and Portugal?
AJM: Yeah, in March. That's going to be our March, we're going to Europe for three weeks.
AJM: It's going to be awesome. The whole first 5 or 6 races will be ones I've never done before, with guys I've never raced with so that will be a very new experience obviously. And then as soon as we get back to the States, we'll do Redlands and all the other NRC races that I've done so many times before that I feel like 'okay, now we get into our groove, go do our thing and it's going to be fine, no problem'. I'm looking forwards to some of the races that I've done before. I was just having a dream last night about some finishing straight in Redlands and how I was leading out Kirk O'Bee and I was 'I've got to go right here and O'Bee will come by and it will be awesome'. And so, in my head already, I've been going through scenarios, doing my job really well so that the team gets a win and that will be … like at the [Elite] Criterium Nationals this last year, my teammate [Ken Hanson] won the crit, and when he threw his hands up, I threw mine up because I had just as big a role in his win as he did. I was off the front until 5 laps to go, and making everybody else chase and as soon as we all came back together after the race, he pointed at his leadout guy and said 'Steve, you did the most awesome leadout ever, that was perfect' and then he pointed at me 'Andy you made easy for everybody else, we just sat in and we could chill'. Good, that was my job and so it's really gratifying that my hard work turns into a win, not for myself but for the team, that's fine.
You dropped that little tidbit about training with Ben on the stage 2 climb. Is it as hard as everybody say it is?
AJM: I was not feeling awesome that's for sure. Levi says 'oh it's not that hard', but he drove it. I don't think that he knows that it's a half hour long and also he weighs 120 pounds so that helps (chuckles). It's hard for me, I'm not the best climber and I've never claimed to be but I am pretty strong. It will be, it will sort everybody out, it's... I don't know exactly the length from the top of the hill to the finish, it's not very easy to chase as a team from the top of the hill to the finish, it's a lot of winding and undulations that can break up a team's rhythm and so, chasing from behind to bring all back together will be difficult. Whoever totally nails that hill, and it might be a small group or something, or even if it's an early breakaway that isn't caught, they're going to have a good chance to stay away and take the win. It will make for interesting race tactics. It could be totally different where everybody just chills up the hill, and then coasts down the hill and then they all sprint at the end. It can just not go like everyone expects.
I assume that you and Ben have scouted out most of the Northern California stages.
AJM: We've scouted just the Santa Cruz stage so far this year. But I've ridden all the roads from Davis to Santa Rosa, stage 1 at some point. We go right through the Napa Valley, we go right by this place that I've raced mountain bikes I think twelve times. And there was a stage I think in an NRC road race that I did that mimicked that stage almost exactly so I raced all those roads before. Then the stage out of San Jose, I know all those roads. It's nice just being a local and having an idea of where we're going and it makes so much easier, I can just relax 'oh yeah, I know that road'. After the stage in Modesto, I don't know all the roads and it doesn't really matter because I'll have teammates who know where we're going and we'll have maps and it's no big deal.
My last question, people are going to compare you to Ben. It's bound to happen being twin brothers. How are you different and how are you similar to Ben?
AJM: (laughs) Having people compare us so much for our wholes lives literally, I can only say that we are nothing alike. Obviously, we're both into sports and we followed pretty similar paths where we started mountain biking, switched to cyclecross and then into road. We motivate each other, I think that's why we got into the same stuff. I started mountain biking and Ben saw how much fun I was having and he did it too. So we do follow each other a little bit.
But, it's funny how your personality comes out on a bike in a racecourse and on the racecourse I like to just throw myself at the race as hard as I can, that's why I like cross a lot because there's nothing holding you back, you just go as hard as you can until the lap counter comes down and you hear the bell, and then you start sprinting. And I think Ben likes stage racing because he likes to be tactical, biding his time, waiting for the right moment to pounce and totally crush everybody. So when I see his tactics, I say 'oh dude, you're such a wussy, just start sprinting up this hill, you'll be fine' [and Ben says] 'dude, you're such a knucklehead, you're just leading everybody out, you're wasting your effort' and so I think it's our personalities coming out where I'm a bit more aggressive and he's a bit more calculating.
And, then obviously there are some physical differences, I'm an inch and a half shorter than him and I weigh probably 5 to 10 pounds more than him so he is our body type whittled down to absolutely nothing but I am noticeably stronger than him and I call him weak in terms of just muscle force and muscle mass. He can out climb me because he weighs less than me. He can out timetrial me because he has many more years of steady hard racing under his legs and each year you improve like two or five percent or something like that. He has several more years of that build up that I have, that's why he's a better timetrialer than me. But I'm a better sprinter than him, and a bit more aggressive and willing to just risk it and lay out there and see if it's worth anything and that's worked out well for a few times where I just dropped him and everybody else and get good results out of it. There were a couple of races like the road race in Merced this past year, we were in a chase group the whole time and he and his teammate were attacking, attacking, attacking and I was sitting back and waiting because I had no teammates with me and we were kind of switching roles there but we ended finishing second and fourth, we were within like a foot from each other, so we're pretty well matched and so I'm looking forwards to working with him instead of against him, that will be very cool.
So you do think the whole (the two of you) is greater than the sum of it parts?
AJM: Yeah, the sum is greater than the individuals for sure. We've proven than time and again when we raced together. If he's having a weak moment then I take over and start wailing it and he's like 'if he can do it, then I can do it' and that gives him motivation. I can get strength from him, we can motivate each other to do much much more than normal. Just anybody that so evenly matched with somebody else. If the two of us break away from any pack and we just put our head down and go, they're not going to catch us, they could be 30 guys chasing us and the two of us will ride away from anybody.
By: Jean-FranÃ§ois QuÃ©net in Adelaide, Australia
By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide, Australia Française des Jeux is close to winning the teams'...
By Jean-François Quénet in Adelaide, Australia
Française des Jeux is close to winning the teams' classification at the Tour Down Under for a second year in a row, but the team spirit inside the French squad seems to have increased even more in 2009. At the end of every stage you can see the riders wearing the four-leaf clover jerseys gathering and talking briefly about their race prior to rejoining their team support van. They are close to each other in the standings as well having successfully passed the test of Willunga Hill with Jérémy Roy finishing fifth, Wesley Sulzberger seventh, Jussi Veikkanen 11th and Mikaël Chérel 15th.
"With these seven guys here in Australia, we form a group of people happy to live and race together," Chérel explained. "The environment in Adelaide also helps a lot for the common happiness. We felt like coming for a holiday and that has been beneficial for our team spirit. We focused on the race to perfection. It's significant to lead the teams' classification, it shows that we're all going well, but we would have enjoyed a stage win, too."
Française des Jeux leads the team classification despite losing Rémy Di Gregorio and Tim Gudsell in a crash during stage three. The New Zealander reported a collarbone broken in four parts and he'll be out of racing for the next two months.
Most of Française des Jeux's riders have in common a university degree. "We actually don't talk about cycling together when we get off the bike," said Chérel, who was hoping to win the best young rider classification. José Joaquin Rojas from Caisse d'Epargne leads Chérel by 10 seconds entering the final stage.
If the general classification remains the same after the last stage, Veikkanen and Chérel will score their first world ranking points in the classification based on the ProTour and the historical races. "In my case it might already secure a spot on the start line for my country at the world championship," said Veikkanen, the champion of Finland.
Another high point for Française des Jeux at the Tour Down Under is the integration of neo-pro Wesley Sulzberger into the squad. The Tasmanian rookie has brought the Aussie fighting spirit back into the French team. 2008 was the only season for Marc Madiot's outfit without an Australian since 1998 following the departure of Bradley McGee after those of Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and Mark Renshaw. "Everything is really organized in this team," Sulzberger said. "I went to France for a training camp in December and everybody was overly friendly with me and tried to help me speak some words of French. Since we arrived in Adelaide everybody has good morale."
Chérel was the first Française des Jeux rider to tell Madiot the team should sign Sulzberger after Wesley's first race as a stagiaire at Paris-Corrèze in August. "I don't regret my words because we really get on well together," said Chérel, the former French junior champion.
After the departure of Philippe Gilbert to Silence-Lotto, Madiot motivated the young riders left in the team by saying, "There's space for you guys, take your chance." The core of riders travelling together to Adelaide seems to have picked up on the message.
"I feel there is more to be seen this year," said Madiot, talking from Paris. "At our training camp there was a great competitive spirit from all the riders." Matthieu Ladagnous has already paved the way for a good season by winning the Tour of Gabon.
Evening event to feature road cycling World Cup champion, Katheryn Curi Mattis, and Bissell Pro Cycling Team members, Andy Jacques-Maynes and Eric Wohlberg.
Pros to offer racing tips to give Classic participants competitive edge and preview their Amgen Tour of California participation.
Written by ALEX WOLF-ROOT
Published on Jan 28, 2009
Like many who live in Davis, Paul Mach spends a lot of time on his bike.
But unlike most, he gets paid to do so.
A UC Davis doctoral candidate in applied mathematics, Mach recently signed a one-year contract with Bissell, a professional cycling team that took second at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina last week.
Though Bissell will be in Davis for the upcoming Tour of California (Feb. 14), Mach is unlikely to have his professional debut here at home.
"Right now, I'm just kind of on the team," Mach said. "I'm a new guy. The goal is just to help the team as much as possible right now. I'm just focused on being a team player."
A big change for Mach will be racing in a team atmosphere. Races unfold completely different when riding for a team than they do while racing as an individual.
"If you don't have a team, it's hard to have a good time," Mach said. "If you have a team, you have a strategy, a purpose. If there's a critical spot in a race where you want to be in front, I can help bring the good guys up. If there's a breakaway that we want to bring back, I'd be the person at the front of the pelaton to bring it back, if the team wants me to.
"Every race I'll have a different purpose. It's not a glamour job; I'm not going to win a lot of races. I'm more behind the scenes."
Expect that to change down the line. Mach is still quite new to cycling, having started only four years ago when he joined the Cal Aggie cycling team.
"He just started coming on rides," said Aggies coach Judd Van Sickle, who works at the UC Davis Sports Performance Center in Sacramento. Van Sickle continues to work with Mach.
"No one knew of him," he continued, "but he was keeping up with the top guys on the team. It was obvious right away he had talent. He picked it up pretty fast, from no idea how to race to knowing the tactics, which a lot of times is bigger than having a big engine."
Mach certainly has a big engine. Before jumping on the bike, he was a middle-distance standout at Seattle Pacific University, a Division II athletics institution. He was a four-time national qualifier and earned All-American honors in the 800m.
"I'm pretty proud of being an All-American in the 800m," Mach said. "I came in as a walk-on that no one really cared about, and five years later, I'm an All-American."
The Cal Aggie cycling team, though not an NCAA-sanctioned sport, competes against the highest-caliber athletes from Division I institutions across the country. Last year, Mach led the Aggies to their third national championship in the team time trial, and also took second in the individual road race.
The person who beat him? A professional.
Nils Johnson, another graduate student and Cal Aggie cyclist, often tries to hang with Mach.
"On weekends we all do four-to-five-hour rides together," Johnson said. "We just did a 115-mile, six-hour ride, and he just wrecked me. These pro riders - they're just on another level."
While Johnson has plenty of talent in his own right - he also rides for the Safeway Elite Masters team - he acknowledges that there are some key differences between himself and Mach.
"The guy's got a lot of talent," Johnson said. "Obviously, he's got a big engine. That thing can really give 10 to 20 percent more power than most elite amateurs, and having 10 percent more power is everything.
"He also has an uncanny ability to recover. He can ride really hard day after day. That's another thing that makes a great cyclist.… He has a knack for being in the right moves. In cycling, it's a lot of tactics. He has a good natural ability for the tactics. He's another step above me, for sure."
While there are some big races in the winter - the Tour of California, most noticeably - the main professional biking season is summer.
For now, Mach heads to Santa Rosa for the team's training camp.
"I'm looking towards summer," Mach said. "I pride myself on improving every year, and I hope that trend continues."
Though he has now gone professional, Mach still rides with the Aggies, as well as the local Davis Bike Club.
While the Cal Aggie cycling team develops elite athletes - a handful of whom have competed professionally in the last few years - it's open to anyone interested in cycling.
"Basically, if you think you may be interested in racing, there's a place for you," Van Sickle said. "Collegiate cycling is a lot more friendly than amateur bike racing. It's very friendly and inclusive."
For more information about the Cal Aggie cycling team, visit the team's website, ucdaviscycling.com. Mach can be followed at paulmach.com.
"He is an extremely talented rider, has a huge engine and I think he can take it pretty darn far if he chooses to do so," Van Sickle said. "He's one of the most talented - if not the most talented - people I've seen come through Davis."
The name Jacques-Maynes is well known to the North American cycling scene with 30-year old Ben Jacques-Maynes being a force to be reckoned with, but twin brother Andy took a different road to the pro ranks.
Andy followed on the weekend warrior working a 'desk' job as a product manager with Specialized and racing with the top amateur team, California Giant/Specialized team. Following a horrific crash on the last corner in a race on Memorial Day 2007 where he went straight into a lamp poll, Andy decided to rejoin the pro ranks. And he did, he is ready to kick ass with brother Ben on the Bissell Pro Cycling Team.
I talked to Andy the day before he was flying out to the San de San Luis in Argentina to get some racing legs under him and to learn to race with a new team.
You came up through the collegiate ranks racing with Ben, you started off in the pro ranks and then you basically decided to give up pro racing to go into a 9-5 job. Why did you make that decision?
AJM: What it really was is that I just had such a good offer from Specialized, that you just can't say no to. I had studied mechanical engineering in college and I wanted to use my degree at some point and just not pedal hard. Specialized is a big company and they offered a pretty high up position so it's just one of those things where just comes along and you can't say no.
You were there for 3-4 years while at the same time kept on racing cross and road as an elite (amateur) rider.
AJM: Actually, I was even pro for one year with Webcor who was the sponsor for our domestic road team. So I kept racing at the elite level and part of it was just do enough riding to do testing and stay on top of what was going on in the marketplace, that was kind of my job, that was working out really well.
So what did you bring as a pro cyclist to being a product manager at Specialized?
AJM: Just a knowledge of what worked well and what didn't based on personal experience rather than... a lot of product managers build it from feedback from shops and product groups and those people tell you what is selling well now in the marketplace whereas if you come at it from a rider's perspective then you can say what feels better when on the bike. It's a little bit different perspective and I think that was a big thing that Specialized was into and we did pretty well with that. My own opinions about what I liked about bikes and what I was looking for, and the bikes were selling well, so it worked pretty well.
Did being a product manager helped your racing in anyway or was that completely separate?
AJM: Pretty separate, more like a side hobby for me that was compatible with my job. I was able to ride enough to stay in good shape. Especially for cross you don't need a whole lot of training time but you do for the road, I was definitely limited to one-day races and short races and that was it.
[On Memorial Day 2007 Andy Jacques-Maynes crashed straight into a lamp poll at a race in Morgan Hill, CA. He was helicoptered to Valley Medical Center in San Jose with multiple serious injuries that included a bruised lung, several fractures to the rib connectors to his thoracic spine, several m-plate fractures (connector to the vertebrae), both of his clavicles & scapula.]
The fateful day in May 2007, you had your horrific crash in Morgan Hill. Do you remember anything about the crash?
AJM: I remember seeing two laps to go and the next thing I know I'm on the ground probably five minutes after my crash. So I don't remember anything of it at all.
Is that good?
AJM: Probably, otherwise I'd be freaked out every time I turn right. I have no flashbacks of it because I have no recall of it, which is probably fortunate.
You did hit your head too?
AJM: I whacked everything that could be on my left side. I had a lot of bruising and the whole upper left side of me, my shoulder, my back was just turned to mush basically.
Tell me about your journey back to racing, especially as you came back pretty quickly as you were at the Cross Nationals in December.
AJM: That's seven months afterwards and every day seemed very long so it didn't seem quickly for me but it was mostly a matter of... I was really focused on getting better, first when I was in the hospital and then when I was just lying in bed at home. That was my only focus 'okay I need to feel better' and then you gradually start recovering and feeling better and then I wanted to keep that going and when you're so low you notice results quickly so you're really encouraged. So I was able to keep momentum going and I realized that 'oh yeah I like focusing on this', just the physical improvements. And that's a big part of what training is for racing, is getting better, working on what needs work and seeing improvements and so it felt really natural to me. It felt like I was just going back to my old tricks when I was training for races so it didn't seem all that foreign.
Were there any low periods that you were just tempted to quit and not get back on a bike?
AJM: Yeah, I had a couple of races where it didn't go as well as I had hoped and I was just 'oh what am I doing' and there were a couple of times, especially early on in my recovery, it wasn't constant improvements. I had a couple of steps backwards as well and so those were not very fun when things get worst 'oh I thought things couldn't get worse, I thought it was crappy enough as it was' but low & behold, it can get worst (chuckles) So you push through it and persevere, keep going, trust that it is going to get better, that's all you can do.
Were there any thoughts from your family or your wife that maybe you shouldn't get back on the bike?
AJM: Well, I crashed six months before my wedding and that was a big incentive to get back into racing. It was because with my job at Specialized, I was away from home a lot, so a big motivation, for me, was to be home more for Josie to spend some quality time together and that would mean changing careers so 'oh okay, I can race' and that was an option for me and I did.
That's interesting. With pro racing you are more home than your 'desk' job was.
AJM: Yeah. Because I was traveling extensively for Specialized, I ended being away from my desk about 50 percent of the time. It added up pretty quickly.
In December 07, you showed you were back when you won the Master 30-34 National Cross Championships. What did that victory mean for you?
AJM: Last December, I barely squeaked it out. I never got into the lead until the last 150 meters so it was (chuckles) it was so barely squeaking it in and so for me, it was 'oh I was just made it'. It was just such a huge sense of relief and obviously I was incredibly elated that I pulled it out. It was a goal that I set back when I was lying in the hospital, like 'I can come back and I can try to win my masters age group Masters Championship' and that was a motivation for me to get better, to keep improving when I was so bad. Because you just sit there and feel sorry for yourself and it's no fun. And so actually pulling it off was a big relief because I was putting pressure on myself for it and then, yeah it really felt good to be actually able to pull it off.
You mentioned that you decided to try and return to the pro ranks during your recovery. I only heard about this during the 2008 season.
AJM: I wasn't able to secure a pro contract for last year but I was concentrating on racing and nothing else just as if I was professional. So doing nothing but training, eating right, going to races and racing as best as I could. So I was one hundred percent concentrating on it, it was my job that is all I was doing. Because I was racing for an amateur team, I would say maybe we can call it an internship or something like that (chuckles).
So you quit from Specialized at the beginning of 2008?
AJM: I quit from Specialized in August 2007. I never went back to my work after the crash. I took a leave of absence and once the leave of absence was up, I decided I didn't want to return and I just quit.
Wow, that's a lot of major decisions at the same time.
AJM: You're telling me. (laughs) Getting married, quitting my job. There were a few times where we had to make the bills and both me and my wife were like 'that wasn't the smartest thing, we're not making any money now'.
This is personal but huge accident, huge medical bills, how do you cover all that?
AJM: Luckily I had really good insurance from Specialized and then there's also the secondary insurance from USA Cycling because it happened at a bike race. There's a $3 insurance surcharge at every single bike race for every single person. I actually made a claim with them, I'd never known anybody who has actually used this but okay I'll use it. And then, we were taking donations to help offset costs and it ended being something like $5,000 out of pocket that I owed, that wasn't covered by insurance or anything else. But when you think about, just the amount of the total bill, it was $25,000 for the helicopter ride. it was $85,000 for the hospital and then I had two surgeries on top of that plus tons of scans, x-rays, catscans, MRIs, every else for followups afterwards, physical therapy for four months, it added up big time.
So $5,000 out of pocket is relatively small. Well relatively.
AJM: They could have billed for maybe $120,000 - $140,000.
I guess we could call the $3 a good investment.
AJM: Yeah, finally it worked out.
Well sort of. In 2008, you went back to full-time racing. How hard was that? Not that you are old, but were you concerned about being too old to come back?
AJM: Yeah, I was definitely aware of my age, especially when some 22 year old guy beat me, I was 'goddammit' but part of it is that I've done just about every race in the country so I know all of the courses, I know all the racers, I know what it takes and also my brother being so successful, I can look at him and I say, 'oh if he can do, I can do it', or at least be close to that and so that really motivating for me as well. It gave me confidence for those times when I wasn't going as well as I wanted to or 'I know I can improve, I know I can get better' so let's just go about doing it.
Was it harder than you thought it would be – getting back into it full time?
AJM: I'm still improving now, it's been a long, long road. There's still lots of room for improvement , just like any racer does. I've been doing it now steady for almost a year and half and even know I'm still getting better and better so... my brother and I just rode up the final climb of stage 2 at the Tour of California, going up Bonny Doon road, and he dropped me towards the top, he was 20 or 30 seconds ahead of me on a half hour climb and so, for me, it's 'okay I can still get better'. Even when we were racing professionally in 2003, he was a better climber than me so it's not like I can expect to really be as good as him in all respects but I know there's room for improvement and I can just keep plugging away at it and try as hard as I can and that's all I can ask of myself.
Three members of the 2009 BISSELL Pro Cycling Team are racing in the Tour of Wellington for a New Zealand composite team, Cardno Team. Recently crowned New Zealand Time Trial Champion, Jeremy Vennell, is joined by teammates, Peter Latham and Omer Kem. Vennell won the stage 6 individual time trial and sits in 2nd place overall with one stage to go. Peter who is fresh from the Track World Cup in Beijing came through with a second place finish in the stage 4 128K Circuit Race. Omer continues to be a source of power and support for his team and sits in 21st in the overall. This early season racing has provided great preparation as the team heads for the Tour of California.
Published Jan 21st 2009 3:28 PM EST — Updated Jan 22nd 2009 4:06 PM EST
Team Bissell’s Tom Zirbel was second in Wednesday’s third stage of Argentina’s Tour de San Luis, a 19.8km individual time trial.
Zirbel, who was second in the U.S. professional time trial championships last year, came in 9 seconds behind Jorge Giancinti of the Argentina-A team. Zirbel’s teammate Ben Jacques-Maynes was fourth; 2006 Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Basso was eighth.
The time trial moved Zirbel to seventh on GC. The race is now being led by Alfredo Lucero of Argentina.
Published Jan 14th 2009 3:08 PM EST
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 14, 2009 – Bissell Pro Cycling is proud to announce that team member Jeremy Vennell now reigns as the New Zealand National Time Trial Champion. Vennell took the top spot at the Raboplus National Championships on January 9 in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.
Vennell begins his second season riding for the Bissell Pro Cycling Team where his strength in multi-day races has been a key asset for the team and has earned him top ten standings in stages at Mt. Hood and Redlands. His professional racing career began in Europe for the dfl-cyclingnews-litespeed team, and Vennell has consistently finished well at New Zealand Nationals, even riding for the 2007 New Zealand World Championship Team. Vennell will again bring his time trialing strength to the Bissell Pro Cycling Team, which looks to continue its power in this cycling discipline for 2009.
For updates on Bissell races and victories throughout the year, visit www.Bissellprocycling.com.
Bissell Homecare, Inc. is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a 133-year-old floor care innovator and international marketer of home cleaning products, including sweepers, vacuums, deep cleaning machines and cleaning formulas sold at retail locations worldwide. The company, in its fourth generation of family leadership, is the seventh oldest privately held manufacturing company in the United States.
PEZ: You taxed me up some local climbs earlier this week; what makes the Fourmile, Gold Hill and Sunshine loop your favorite ride in Boulder?
Zirbel: That's just a great ride when you don't have much time and you need to get a good workout in and you want beautiful scenery. You can just go out for an hour and a half, two hours and just kill it up Fourmile and get some beautiful riding in and then a little sketchy descending. A city limit sprint and your home.
PEZ: Speaking of which, how much do I owe you for letting me win that sprint?
Zirbel: I'd like to tell you that I gave that to you, but with your sprinting prowess, I just couldn't match it, that with your 14 lb. bike [ed. note 12 lbs.], I just didn't have a chance.
PEZ: Can you share with Pez readers your secret descending technique down Sunshine?
Zirbel: Upright on the top, get big, push as much air as possible, save those brakes, open up the jacket, parachute style.
PEZ: For your size, do you have any special bike equipment?
Zirbel: Well, the mechanic will not even let me look at the climbing wheels, those are off limits. Obviously, I need sturdier wheels and in the past he's been putting me on alloy cranks, not that I put out that much power. I don't know what that's all about, but for the most part, I get stock equipment.
PEZ: Do you see any equipment changes, personally, for yourself in 09?
Zirbel: I'm gonna try a smaller crank size, I think that'll help a little bit with my accelerations. The one thing that I lack in road racing, so yeah, I'm gonna try a few different things and wider bars, little things like that. Other than that, the team will be on [edited to remove top secret Bissell 2009 equipment reference.]
PEZ: What led you to try these changes for next year?
Zirbel: Just talking with some experts that know a lot more about cycling than me. Dario Pegoretti is the one that started me thinking about smaller, or shorter cranks and it's hard to argue with a guy who's seen and done as much as he has and is pretty much considered the best bike builder in the world by many. So you should listen when he says something.
PEZ: Do you train with power all year round?
Zirbel: Yeah, I do. I've been training with power since I started working with Frank Overton back in 2004. So, it's kind of a staple. I know where I need to be, when I need to be there. So, it's just a good gauge for my fitness and to make sure I'm not slacking on a ride.
PEZ: What results are you most proud of in 2008?
Zirbel: Coming into the year, we were at the Tour of California, the biggest race for any domestic team, so we wanted to get some good exposure there and I thought we did that. I was happy getting top ten and Ben [Jacques-Maynes] and I getting a top ten in the time trial. That was the goal going in. The stage 7 breakaway was an added bonus. I just happened to be feeling good later in the week and that was some good exposure for the team, so I was happy with that. One of the highlights of the year was definitely the Tour De Nez win that we got. I was happy to be part of that winning team to come from behind. Aaron Olsen winning the GC overall, that was one of the highlights of the season for sure.
PEZ: How about your time trial at nationals?
Zirbel: It was good to be on the podium for the first time, for sure, but I was going for the win. I'm still pretty disappointed about that. But, looking back, you know, it's good. I'm glad I was on the podium with that caliber of riders next to me.
PEZ: Five seconds off the jersey's a pretty good low for the year.
Zirbel: Pretty good low? Yeah, it's just hard to swallow on a course like that, a technical course, when there's so many turns and I played it fairly conservative the whole time. So, to look back and know I lost by five seconds because I wasn't taking risks is hard to swallow.
PEZ: Last season, did you subscribe more to the philosophy of training your strengths or training your weaknesses? and will that change for 2009?
Zirbel: As you get into the season, it's funny how every year you tell yourself your going to work on your weaknesses, but you look at the big races coming up and you're expected to do these things and, for me, it’s the time trials or the breakaways. So, during the season, I end up training my strengths no matter what because that's what I'm paid to do. This off season, I'm really trying to work on my weaknesses and focus a little bit on that during the season. But, in all likelihood, it will just be time trial training during the season.
PEZ: What went on in your head when you were the team leader in Gila after the time trial?
Zirbel: That was an odd situation because Burke [Swindlehurst] is the guy who's won that race three times so being at the last stage was so epic with the three categorized climbs. We still weren't considering me as the only leader. Burke was in a good position to win that race. So, I was protected and Burke was protected. We had two different cards to play in that race. So, I don't know if that was the strategy to take some pressure off of me, but I felt like it was my race to win and I never really got the opportunity to show it. [Zirbel went down in a pileup with half a dozen other riders and was escorted to the hospital in the leader's jersey. The damage- a broken collarbone, three ribs and a hand. Others were less fortunate.]
PEZ: How many days a week do you spend on the TT bike during the season?
Zirbel: In season, when we're going stage race to stage race, when I'm home I'll only spend maybe one or two days a week. But if I'm coming on a big race where I'm focusing on the time trial, I'll get on it as much as I can. The only problem with doing it every day is that my back needs a rest. My back and my neck, it's not a comfortable position, so it's not something I could do day after day. But I find that if I do a day and then take two days off on the road bike and then go back it, I respond pretty well. My body begins to not like the TT bike, but accepts it.
PEZ: Do you see TTs as your pathway to racing in Europe?
Zirbel: Well, definitely, my time trial is going to open a lot of doors. But, it might be a combination of my time trial and the fact that I'm going to be 31 in 2009. So, it's convincing teams that I'm not gonna be done cycling at age 33 or 34, that I'm going to continue to improve into my mid-30s and possibly be cycling until my upper 30s, even 40. I got into the sport late and I still feel young. I'm not somebody that's been burned out by cycling since he was 13. So, I'm gonna continue to improve as long as I continue to love the sport. I'm gonna get better and better and, you know, you look at guys like [Scott] Moninger, Ned Overend, and my director, Eric Wohlberg. These guys are legends and they were tearing legs off at age 40. So, I'm gonging to keep getting better as long as I stay focused and love the sport.
PEZ: You have had success domestically, do you want to try your hat in Europe?
Zirbel: I would like to take my career as far as it can go and that's definitely the pinnacle of any cycling career. So, yeah, I kind of got the bug last year. I did one pseudo race in Italy, Gran Fondo Pinarello, and loved the venue, loved the country and the food and everything else. [ed. Zirbel placed second.] So, I would definitely like to try it. I don't know if I'm cut out for it, but I'm beginning to think that the gap isn't as big as I was once led to believe.
PEZ: Speaking of good food, how do you keep your body fat at 5% in November?
Zirbel: I just keep eating. You can't let your metabolism slow down. It's pretty ridiculous how much I can eat and still lose weight when I'm training. I see other people eating like birds and it's just not fair. If I limit myself to one bowl of ice cream, then I lose weight.
PEZ: Ice cream or gelato?
Zirbel: I like gelato better, but it's pretty expensive, so I'm usually an ice cream guy. I like my chocolate but the pistachio gelato at Glacier is pretty bad ass.
Having spent some time on the bike and chatting over coffee, I was left with the impression that Tom Zirbel is a very laid back guy for someone who has tasted consistent success domestically. He seems confident in his training schedule and keeps a good sense of humor, despite the harsh setback of broken bones he experienced last season. Let's watch for great things from Tom in 2009.
BISSELL rider, Jeremy Vennell, stormed to victory on the 40K undulating time trial course in Te Awamtu, New Zealand on Friday. Vennell beat out 2nd place Olympian, Robin Reid, by 22 seconds with veteran Chris Nicholson taking 3rd.
2009 has gotten off to a great start for Jeremy who was married just 1 week ago. The road nationals get underway on Sunday and will consist of 6 laps totaling 180K.
The BISSELL Pro Cycling Team sends their congratulations to Jeremy for all of his great wins on and off the bike so far this year!
9 Jan, 2009 - Tim Pawson
Hawkes Bay based Professional Jeremy Vennell has taken out the Raboplus Elite National individual time trial championship in Te Awamutu this afternoon. More known for his stage race riding capabilities the Bissell team rider has showed the improvements he has made against the watch this year and will wear the fern for the next 12 months in time trial events around the globe.
Chasing him home were past Olympians Robin Reid and Veteran Chris Nicholson both riding for the Nelson based Star and Garter Wheelers outfit and fast becoming one of the strongest club teams in the country
Unfortunately for time trial strongman Gordon McCauley sickness got the better of him on the day, speaking to him earlier today we learned a stomach virus robbed the Commonwealth medallist of his opportunity this year and now he looks to make a speedy recovery for Sundays road race championship.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 6, 2009 – The Kellogg Company, the world’s leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods, joins the BISSELL Pro Cycling Team as a key sponsor for the 2009 season. Kellogg’s commitment to nutrition and physical fitness is well aligned with the team and the sport of cycling. Alongside Kellogg, the team continues to be supported by longtime key sponsor, Advantage Benefits Group.
“For five years, we have been proud sponsors of West Michigan’s most successful pro sports team, a team that emphasizes hard work and healthy living,” says Robert Hughes of Advantage Benefits. BISSELL Pro Cycling also welcomes EmploymentGroup, Emerald Spa, and Wynalda Litho to the 2009 Team.
BISSELL is proud to be continuing on Pinarello’s top carbon frame, the “Prince.” All bikes will be professionally fitted with the new Campagnolo Record 11 speed, Easton’s EC and EA range of wheels, Vredestein tires, Speedplay Zero pedals, MOst products (handlebars, stems, cages, posts, saddles and tape), and Blackburn computers.
Team members will wear Giordana performance clothing while on the bike, Bell helmets, Giro optics and DMT shoes. Off the bike, Skins is the official supplier of performance compression wear, and the team will be dressed with Merrell shoes and clothing. Completing the team’s sponsorship, 1st Endurance provides its range of innovative racing nutrients, and equipment is rounded out by Blackburn trainers and pumps, Yakima rack systems and Elite bottles and workstands. Additional support is provided by Capital Subaru in Salem, OR.
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