Field Notes: An Interview with Chris Jones


Photos from Trek US Gran Prix of Cyclocross – Interview by Chris DiStefano

Chris Jones placed 2nd on the final day of the USGP in Fort Collins, Colorado. A stunning result any way that you slice it. However, coming off of his most successful road season to date with a 5th place finish at the Tour of Britain it is clear that this Rapha-FOCUS racer means business no matter what the sport. The fact that he has an engineering degree is another notch on that belt. Last year Tom Southam did an in depth sit down with Mr. Jones – A Man For All Seasons and this year he has proven that statement to be true. This should serve as an update to that conversation and a continuation of Chris DiStefano’s interviews with Team Rapha-FOCUS.

Do you have any nicknames?
CoJones or Jonesy

You seem to never stop racing. [91 days of racing so far this year.] How long has it been since you had a what us regular people would call a decent break from training?

Haha. I usually take two weeks off of the bike in the fall and another couple of weeks off in the spring time.

That said, you’re not a cycling robot. You fit in a lot of fun during your time off the bike even during stage races. You travel with a full array of fishing equipment and I’ve heard you scout fishing spots with as much as intensity as you preview course profiles. Tell us your best fishing tale.

I’m not sure about my best fishing tale, but when I was out a couple of days ago I was working this one fish… I was trying everything I could just to get him to bite and nothing was working. My wife was watching from the shore and laughing the whole time. After about 15 minutes of trying an eagle drove down and just scooped the fish up with its claws and flew off. I’m not sure who was laughing louder, my wife or the bird.

What do your UHC teammates think about your cyclocross racing exploits?
They laugh at it a lot. Most of them are pretty boys, you know the kind of guys who don’t really like to get dirty.

How will you use social media for the cyclocross season? Please let me know your goals and I will help support you.
I’m not sure how I want to use social media. I have a twitter account and usually check it once or twice a week, I’m definitely not glued to it. I find most of the stuff on there contrived and fake which turns me off from using it…

Also, what messages do you want expressed to traditional media? How do you wish to be portrayed or is there a direction we should drive toward?
I see myself as the working man’s pro, a gentleman’s rider. This is especially true on the road, where I don’t win much, but show up everyday and shell out 100% to do my job which most of the time goes unrecognized. There is a quiet respect amongst those of us who play this role on the road and I’m honored to receive it. My mentor of the road, Matty Wilson, told me, “Teams want guys who win bike races and don’t care if you finish 8th. So either be the winner or be a guy who makes winning possible.”

I’m not the flashy personality like Jeremy or the natural talent like Zach, I’m the guy who has to work harder that everyone else in order to be competitive with the best.

TEAM RAPHA-FOCUS

The 2012 team is three men and three women. That’s a big team. What do you expect life under the team tent to be like this season?
Busy! Last season we always had something going on in the Team’s compound. This year, I’m sure there will be no shortage of entertainment.

The men’s side of the team has already raced a full season together but the women’s team goes from one to four. What do you expect from them this season? 
I don’t know much about the new women riders, but I know the Team will provide them with the tools they need to win.

Jeremy and Zach… They’ll get a lot of attention this year which I’d imagine gives you a lot of freedom to go on adventures. Do you see it the same way?
Sure. They do receive most of the attention, and deserve it as both are reigning National Champions. In a race situation it does mean that other riders focus more on them which will hopefully allow me to sneak away.

You are one of the original members of this team. What’s it like to look around this week and see so many teammates and staff scurrying about? What will be the impact this team has on the race scene this year?
It is incredible. When I started the team in 2010, it was a two rider show. We featured a roadie and some young punk who only wanted to get “rad.” There was a vision put in place by Slate and Jeff of winning national championships and going to the World Championships. Both seemed achievable, but last season was unreal and the success came much quicker than I anticipated. With the new riders and increased commitment from all of the program’s sponsors this season will reach another level of success.

BIKE RELATED
How’s the new bike? You’re in between two major road stage races so it must feel a bit out of the ordinary at the moment.
It is always and abrupt change to the cx bike after spending months pedaling on my road bike, which was obvious as I crashed within my first 15 minutes back on my Mares. The seat is 5mm lower and 5mm forward from my road setup. The stem is also 1cm shorter and higher, so the overall fit is more upright and compact, creating a quicker more nimble feel. The change that takes the longest for me to adjust to is the different action and feel of the cleats. After being locked into road pedals with zero float it is a weird sensation to have the ability to move my feet around without coming unclipped.

Where do you fit in on the disc brake debate?
I’m holding out for hydraulic versions.

Tire choice and psi are often the difference maker. Take us through that process and how much of your decision is data-based versus feel-on-the-bike based?
My mechanic Tony Smith keeps track of all of our tire pressure adjustments throughout the season along with the course and weather conditions. We use that as a starting point then adjust by feel from there.

Do the choices your competitors are making influence what you choose for tires?
Zach and I compare pressures and tread patterns often. I normally run on tread pattern more aggressive and 2psi lower than him. Both give me extra grip to help keep me upright.

How much influence does your mechanic have in equipment selection for individual races? Do you two have quick conversations or long debates? 
Tony has a huge influence on my equipment choice. He was/ is a very skilled rider and I respect his input. We spent a lot of time discussing the course and equipment choice.
MISC

What do you think of the new kit? Pretty sweet, eh? 
It is sharp.

What are your goals for the season?
To reduce my number of crashes. I was in the position to win quite a few times last season when I would crash. If I can stop laying it down the victories will come.

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In a series of Team Rapha-FOCUS interviews, Chris DiStefano sat down with the riders at the start of the season. New addition to the team Gabby Day up along with a brief chat with the current Elite Men’s National Champion Jeremy Powers the U23 Champion Zach McDonald and their French teammate Julie Krasniak.