I had the opportunity to track down the coaches and a handful of the attendees from the clinic to get their thoughts on what they expected to get from the day and how it panned out. If you are new to cyclocross or even if you have been racing for a year or two, take a look at the responses and consider making a clinic part of your preseason routine. Here’s what the ‘campers’ had to say about their day:
Who do you ride for, what is your current city of residence and racing level?
Lindsey Hillesheim: Squadra Coppi, Arlington, Virginia. Cat 3 in cross. This will be my third season racing cross.
Chuck Kyle: Renaissance Racing out of Kansas City, Kansas. Current residence, Alexandria, Va. Road CAT 4, Cross – Bs and Masters 40+ This will be my second season racing Cross. But I have been racing road since the late ’90s.
Richard Murby: Richard Murby from Wales, UK riding for District Velocity Racing p.b. The Bike Rack and living in Washington, D.C. Just started my first season of road racing this year. Prior to this upcoming season I’ve done two cross’ races – more than enough to get my completely hooked!
Lawrence Sterrett: Currently unattached and I live in Alexandria, Va. I did my first crit last month and I’m a new to Cyclocross. I’ve been riding since 2005, but just in the last four months really stepping up to race.
What did you hope to get out of the clinic and did it meet your expectations?
Chuck Kyle: I wanted to get the real scoop on ‘cross technique. Everything you read suggests, “well it is just personal preference.” The interesting thing with personal preference is that you have to have a baseline. My personal preference would be to ride some type of Suzuki and just avoid the barriers, but since this is not an option, I would like to learn from someone who has been doing this a long time, like Jeremy Powers, use that as my baseline and THEN I will begin to develop my own personal preference. This clinic definitely gave me a “correct enough” version of how to manage the bike with technique, now it is my turn to practice, practice, practice and develop my own way.
Richard Murby: I’d developed my technique, such as it was, mainly by watching YouTube video.
So my main goal was for someone to look at what I was doing and set me straight! Mainly the dismount/remount was my main area of concern. The camp more than met my expectations. I’d expected some feedback but nothing like the level I got from JPOW and the coaches (Fatmarc in particular was amazing).
Lindsey Hillesheim: I haven’t really been on my ‘cross bike much since last December, so I was really looking forward to spending an entire day getting reacquainted with the bike, dismounting/remounting, barriers, etc.
Lawrence Sterrett: I wanted to learn the proper techniques of bike handling in cyclocross. Since I’m new to the sport, I didn’t have any bad habits to break. The clinic was great and really surpassed my expectations. That’s all I talked about at work today.
What was your highlight?
Lindsey Hillesheim: Some of the master men at the clinic smoking Jeremy Powers on a practice run up. No really, it was cool to see so many beginners being taught the basics with humor, patience, and practical advice by one of the best American racers. It really emphasized how grass roots this sport still is in the U.S.—which, for me personally, is a great thing to see.
Lawrence Sterrett: I would have to say getting to eat lunch with Jeremy Powers. He’s a down to earth guy. Not many pro athletes really take the time and just hang out like he did with the attendees of the clinic. That says a lot about a person.
Richard Murby: Getting the time to do loads of repeats over the barriers and get instant feedback after every set. I’d need to race three years to hit that many barriers.
Chuck Kyle: I think it was the way that Jeremy Powers conducted himself. He was so laid back, not pretentious, just down to earth. He made himself SO approachable by anyone, no matter the skill level, to answer and demonstrate all things cross. This raised the level of the camp far higher than I expected.
Give me one thing you learned?
Richard Murby: The time to attack is when it gets hard.
Lawrence Sterrett: With practice and repetition, you become better over time. Good starts will help carry through the race.
Chuck Kyle: How to get on the damn bike, without stopping and looking like a roadie mounting up before a crit.
Lindsey Hillesheim: I’m not giving away any of Chris Mayhew’s (dirty) tricks—I paid for them after all and I plan to use them! Jeremy Powers definitely gave me some things to think about, although I think I’ll hold off on running around with five pound weights on my ankles, while carrying my bike to simulate muddy runs until my skill level justifies it! But his broader point that you need to train like you race is a good one. For example, I suck at run-ups. I do practice them … without my bike. When do you run anywhere in cross without your bike? And when I get to the top, I’m gassed and can’t get on my bike with any grace whatsoever. But again, I don’t practice that. So you know, maybe I should practice run-ups by running up a hill, carrying or pushing my bike, and then getting back on it quickly. It’s totally obvious, but nonetheless it never occurred to me. It sort of opened my mind to think a little more creatively about my training.
Any other thoughts on the day?
Chuck Kyle: Just a great venue and hopefully there will be one next year and those who attended this year get the “early call up,” sticking with the culture of cross, so that I am guaranteed an opportunity to go again.
Lindsey Hillesheim: Cross season is an intense 3 months—you race against, cheer for, and a drink a beer with the same people every weekend. It breeds a sort compatriotism amongst crossers. But then you don’t see them for nine months! So the clinic was also a chance to catch with old friends as well as meet some new ‘crossers who will soon be assimilated, er, enculturated.
Richard Murby: Probably the best money I’ve spent on cycling in a long time!
Lawrence Sterrett: It was a good event; really worth the money I spent to attend the clinic. I plan on attending the clinic next year if I’m not deployed.
Along with the attendees, I also chatted with the coaches about the day. Here’s what they had to say:
What were your expectations for the clinic and were you satisfied?
Jeremy Powers: Everyone learned something which was my number one goal with this camp. The other coaches and I really made our best effort to get everyone nailing the techniques the correct ways. We hit on the fundamentals of cyclocross so all the participants had the tools to get a result in their upcoming competitions. In our mock-up race I ripped section to section reminding each rider of the right techniques and I watched everything come together. For me, it was awesome! I love growing the discipline of cyclocross and being able to give back to it. Watching people get the same excitement out of it as I do just puts a smile on my face every time.
Dan Tille: My expectations were pretty high. I started working on this clinic back in March and had it built up pretty high in my mind. The fact that everything went smoothly from start to finish and that we had 40 people who came in as one type of ‘cross racer and left better than they came! Between everyone who helped out with the clinic to make it happen and all of the enthusiastic participants, I was very satisfied with the weekend.
Chris Mayhew: My primary goal in anything like this is not to embarrass the guy whose name is on my jersey. After that I like to keep the attendees happy. I think I accomplished both of those. Other than that I didn’t have a lot of expectations. I knew all the presenters were going to be great to work with and from that would flow a good experience, whatever shape it took.
Fatmarc Vettori: I had hoped to come down and share some of my experiences, help folks learn from the mistakes and bad habits I formed, and had to break over the years. The clinic had some really solid teachers, I was honored and a little nervous working with such a strong group. Selfishly, I also hoped that I could pick up a few things from my fellow clinicians and campers. I was totally satisfied, the clinic was super fun, the campers were awesome, I was really proud of what we were able to accomplish.
What was your highlight?
Jeremy Powers: Best part of the clinic was watching some of the people who came on Friday night to talk at the Bike Doctor in Waldorf and then turn those talks into hands on instructions. Then watching everything become reality on Saturday at the camp. I felt like I watched people transform into good cyclocross’rs in a period of 24-hrs and it felt great to be part of.
Fatmarc Vettori: The entire day!! Seriously I was bouncing off the walls since I was brought in to help work the clinic. Cross is such a passion for me and to be able to share that love with other folks was pretty awesome. The audience was hungry to learn, and getting better right before our eyes. That was great. I worked with the new racer group most of the day, I was super proud of how they progressed. At the end when we were all groups were together you couldn’t differentiate between who had been racing cross for years, and who was brand new as we watched everyone going through the barriers. I was pretty proud of that. Rusty, who tag-teamed with our group, was fun to work with as well.
Also during the session on off-camber riding, I got to chase JPOW through the tight off-camber stuff which was super fun. On the second pass I tried to inside him on a 180, and he slammed the door on me hard. That was really funny. That was fun.
Chris Mayhew: I don’t know that there was “a” highlight. From the first phone call in January till the moment I drove away it was an enjoyable experience. I love my job and events like these are really the icing on the cake for me.
Dan Tille: Highlight for me was either the run up practice or the barrier drills with everyone as a group. Seeing everyone put everything that we had taught all throughout the morning together during the drills was AWESOME!
Any other thoughts?
Chris Mayhew: If we could run the exact same program next year I would be completely happy. I hope everyone got something out of it and I hope people do some laps with me during the season.
Fatmarc Vettori: What a great day, I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. I look forward to seeing the folks out at the races. The MAC and MABRA series are going to be better than ever this year, and of course Granogue and Charm City Cross races are shaping up to top tier as always well. I am excited to see the campers out at the races and apply some of what they learned during the camp.
I am very grateful to all the folks that have helped me learn cross over the years: Rick Mihills, Greg Ferguson, Kelly Cline, Tom McDaniel, Mike Yozell, Chris Mayhew, and of course my current team director Kris Auer. I was stoked to be able to continue to pass down that knowledge to folks. I hope that in a couple of years the campers are passing the information to yet another crop of cross racers.
Dan Tille: I can’t thank all of the other coaches and Jeremy enough! I have been bouncing off the walls all summer waiting for the clinic to happen!
Planning to run the clinic next year?
Dan Tille: Oh you know it! I am already looking forward to putting on next year’s clinic and thinking about to how to make it better…although I am not sure how, having JPow as an instructor as a clinic is going to be hard to beat!
Fatmarc Vettori: I would expect so, I’m counting down for next year already!!!
Chris Mayhew: Absolutely. We had a good team this year and every year we learn something. Hopefully it will make for an even better experience next year.