J-Pow’s Journal: Blast from the past
Editor’s note: Jeremy Powers is a pro road racer with the Jelly Belly team, and races cyclocross for the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team. Powers provided VeloNews.com readers with an inside look at the cyclocross scene last fall and winter, and now, after a few months’ vacation, he’s back to provide a look at his season on the road.
I’m off the back on my diary like Tom Boonen climbin’ Mont Ventoux. That’s okay, though, because it’s a new year and a new beginning and all that jazz. I’m gonna rewind the tapes a little bit and write a journal that showcases all the hilarious craziness that came up while travelin’ to and from races, both road and ’cross, in 2009. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
All kinds of stuff happens throughout the year, like the time Jelly Belly director Danny Van Haute backed over a sprinkler head and created a mini-Niagara falls in the front yard of our hosts’ house. Or the time my teammates switched my phone to Chinese and it took us a day to get it back to English because, come to find out, none of us could read Chinese.
And then there was the time I drove to the Brussels airport with Ryan Trebon, grabbed the parking ticket for the garage and hopped my train to Germany. When he tried to drive out and realized I had the ticket, he called: “Powers, where’s the ticket?” Hah! I cleverly took a picture of the ticket and sent it to him. The French-speaking attendant took Ryan’s phone and put it in the copy machine to make a “copy” for the records.
Here are a couple more stories I found too funny to not let rip in detail.
To set the scene: After 20-plus hours of travel, my Jelly Belly teammates and I are en route to East-bum China. Actually, let’s be more accurate, we were headed to the Tibetan highlands.
The second you set foot on the Air China flight in LAX you’re in China. The food that comes out for lunch is Chinese by look, smell and taste. It’s sticky rice, meat, and some vegetables. Twenty-something hours later and voila, we’re at the Tour of Qinghai Lakes. Not too long after that, we’re racing our brains out, sleeping at altitudes above 10,000 feet and racing over passes of some of the biggest mountains in the world.
Racers are dropping like flies, getting sick and vomiting all over the place. Some are suffering from altitude and/or dehydration, others from food that didn’t agree with them. Guys frequently pull off the road during the race to empty themselves. It’s always bad and it comes on quick. One minute you’re riding well, enjoyin’ yourself and bam! You got a case of bubble guts. So throughout the trip, we’re all really careful about what we choose to put on our plates, knowing the wrong choice could have you laid up in the hospital like Amy Winehouse or, as it happened this year the morning of stage 7, my teammate and roommate for the race, Kiel Reijnen.
Kiel and I had made good so far, no sickness and barely any interruptions. It’s the night of Stage 6, 1 a.m., and I’m up watchin’ Kiel dry heave and finally head off to the emergency room. At that point everyone’s bummed — Kiel was 10th in the GC and we were hoping to help him move up through the last three stages. I drank some coffee, had a little breakfast and got ready to rock but I was groggy because it had been a long night.
As I walk outside I’m hearing there’s something I have to see. I walk out the side door and around a corner to see a chef, in his cooking apron, getting back to slayin’ this yak with a knife, which looks a lot like a knife one would use in the kitchen. I’m verbally rippin into these guys in English now, but to my knowledge, they don’t speak English so it all goes as a miscommunication and as you can see I had them laughing. But poor Kiel wasn’t laughin’ as he lay in the stiff hospital bed, holdin’ his gut for the next two days. I’ll never forget those pictures I snapped off — easily one of my most memorable moments of 2009.
My pops once said that in life you climb to the top of a mountain and fall back down the other side just to get up and climb back to the top again. This was case for my cyclocross teammate Jamey Driscoll the night after he won arguably the biggest ’cross race on American dirt. Now, I won’t say my other teammate Timmy J. and I didn’t provoke James to throw down a couple after his CrossVegas win. As a team we were pretty freakin’ ecstatic. Not only was it James’ biggest victory in ’cross, but as a team we won against some of the best ’cross racers in the world! It was worth a celebration!
Now, sometimes after a hard one-hour ’cross race you can fall victim to what we call “’cross gut.” ’Cross gut has had me laid up and cryin’ in bathroom stalls across the nation on more than one occasion. It can start off slow and dwindle but is easily provoked by not drinking gallons of water after the race. Now if you win and get straight to drinkin’ beer after a protein shake — you could end up like this:
The story goes: I was asked to DJ (yes, rock a party) at the Embrocation/Fizik party on the outskirts of Vegas after our race. I had my laptop and gear in my backpack and a beer in my hand as we assembled in the Hard Rock hotel lobby and got ready to head off. We get to the party, I’m DJin’, everyone’s enjoyin’ themselves, drinks in hand as I look out below. Then the owner of the building shuts ‘er down at 1 a.m. We were just getting started!
Fine, we’re moving now to the swanky nightclub Lavo at The Palazzo. I was running a bit behind as I had to pack up my equipment and when I arrived I saw that James, our young winner and Vermont native, had traded in his fleece-lined Carhartts and maple syrup for Rock and Republic jeans and another beer. He had one waitin’ for me as I walked in the door. At this point it’s 2 a.m. so let’s forget about those autograph signings tomorrow at Interbike, and that meeting with a potential sponsor. Oh, and that flight we have at 2 p.m., because it’s gonna be a long night.
Well — remember how I was talking about that ’cross gut, brought on by a protein shake and a couple of beers? That all turned into James in a wheelchair shortly after 3 a.m. Well, first it was James on the marble floor of the Palazzo, then in a wheelchair, then into the back of a limo and finally wheelchaired to his room where he was laid to sleep for many, many painful hours, holding his stomach. James didn’t make it to those autograph signings and barely made his flight. It was a long night that easily made my 2009 list.
My last and final treasure of 2009 was finding my friend Anthony “Tweak” Clark. We worked hard over the summer to find Tweak the right support, and I’m proud to announce that his sponsor for 2010 is a local fitting studio in our hometown of Easthampton, Massachusetts.
New England Bicycle Consulting owner Carl Ditcoff went out riding with Anthony’s pseudo-coach, Alec Donahue of Cycle-Smart, and myself one day this summer. When we started attacking on Shutesbury climb and couldn’t shake Tweak Carl wanted to be part of the program.
After a couple hours in the fitting studio, with a new Spooky road bike that weighs 10 pounds less then his old Motobecane, new Speedplay pedals and shoes, he’s finally got the equipment to match his talent. His pedal stroke and efficiency are 10 times better than before ,and we know this because of the Retül system Carl uses with his clients.
This week we’re working on his training schedule, nailing down the road races for this spring, and we hope to have him upgrade quickly over the course of the year so he can show his stuff on a bigger stage.
I wish everyone an amazing 2010 —everything you want and more. Cheers.