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Rider Interview: Trans-Sylvania Epic winner Jeremiah Bishop

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |June 18, 2011 11:11 PM
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Fresh off a successful title defense at the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race, Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop took a minute to answer some questions for us.

In the exciting world of mountain bike racing Bishop has a unique perspective. While being one of the top cross country riders in the States and a legitimate World Cup racer, Jeremiah still finds the time and fitness to compete in some of the biggest ultra-endurance races the U.S. has to offer. He shared some of his insights with MTB Race News.

Read his full interview below.

MTB Race News - You are one of the top XC pros in the country but unlike most of the top riders you also race long distance and stage races during the season. Why? And why don't more of the top XC riders do so? 

Jeremiah Bishop - That's their focus.  I use the XC races for speed training now and they still have the most exposure to the media for now if the stage races get more media they will draw the top riders.  

As for me, I am a stage race at heart; I always knew it. I would thrive during the 7-10 day Tour de Burg. The two reasons I have hit a lot of XC lately is to build the complete form it will take for Marathon Worlds and to get my foot in the door for the Olympic chase. 

MTB Race News - Do you think the two racing formats compliment each other or make it more difficult to excel at one or the other?  

Jeremiah Bishop - They compliment each other if timed properly but only to point. Because of the explosive nature of the new shorter punchier World Cup format you can't be on for both at the same time.  I have put a lot of training effort into high force pedaling and anaerobic capacity training.  Because I am naturally better at long distance, I can touch up on that as needed and build in week 25-30 hour block to keep that game going. Also I have not done a race over 4 hrs this year I would hurt in a 100 right now because I am focused on a 100k Worlds.

MTB Race News - How do you train for a 7-day stage race and how do you modify your training to be fast at shorter OXC and long distance races at the same time?  

Jeremiah Bishop Ė Itís an art and a science.

I have a dynamic training plan that I have honed for years with power guru Hunter Allen. I keep tabs on where I am using waypoints and testing, then way-points needs work or if my top end needs work then we plan it. We even have put together a few online training plans on traon-lineeaks.com 

The ability to do both is shown by the top stage racers on the road. Mountain bike stage races in the US the level is high but not fully developed yet so I can prime my fitness with some stage race blocks a few weeks out and thatís enough with shorter stages that these races have.

MTB Race News - Dating back to the American Mountain Classic you have won every major MTB stage race in the country. How can you be so dominant when there is so much uncertainty in a week-long MTB race?

Jeremiah Bishop - Luck and preparation and persistence.  I pay attention to detail, change tires frequently, tune and pick the bike I use carefully and make sure to check everything twice. I learned a bit of that from Chris Eatough about being methodical. My time in the bike shop also paid off because I am fast and creative in keeping my bike going when I do have a mechanical but it all starts with picking durable equipment to start with. 

 I have a drive to win that gets me through the cloud of fatigue and the pain of the race I think you need the killer instinct to keep pushing when things go south.

MTB Race News - Do you have a strategy going into a stage race? How did that strategy change at the Trans-Sylvania Epic. 

Jeremiah Bishop - Yes. Always. I like these because they really reward smart tactical racing.  My plan at TSE was to hit it hard early because I was not sure how good my endurance was, then I could take a backseat to the lead group by only gunning for stage wins that would boost my GC. I was glad I saved a little because I was in damage control mode after double flatting on stage 4!  Sager came on late race really strong so I had to watch him closely once he swapped with Sneddon.

MTB Race News - On stage 2 of this year's TSE Kris Sneddon put over a minute into you. Were you nervous losing time to a serious competitor like Kris? 

Jeremiah Bishop - Of course.  After breaking my chain I knew I did a great job since I passed everyone else though. I just stayed calm and did my best.

MTB Race News - Do you see MTB stage races growing in the US?  

Jeremiah Bishop Ė Yes, but only if they keep pushing to improving they need to get more media and keep the entry prices low enough so they fill up.... it is important to get outside sponsors involved as well to fund the growth.  

MTB Race News - Going back to your time with Mona Vie/Cannondale Alex Grant has been your teammate and sometimes your closest competitor at many of the stage races you have won. What's it like having a teammate like Alex. 

 Jeremiah Bishop -Its great! Alex and I take turns at the front and if we get away then we can split stage wins. At La Ruta 2 years ago I knew I could help him since my GC chances where shot, its great having someone that strong in the races and he is a great guy to hang out with too!

MTB Race News - Are you planning to race the Breck-Epic and Pisgah stage races again this season?

Jeremiah Bishop - Not sure on Breck since the World Cups are going on and they help improve my start for next years Olympic Qualifier World Cups.  

Pisgah?  Hell Yeah!  I think I would skip the Olympics if it was the same week..  Ha Ha Ha.

MTB Race News - There seems to be a shift from traditional XC racing to more ultra-endurance style events throughout the country. As someone who participates in both why do you think riders are more interested in longer events?   

Jeremiah Bishop - Adventure... Itís why we are not roadies! 

Backcountry Epic mountain bike stage races put the MOUNTAIN back into mountain biking.  

When was the last time you saw a log hop in a World Cup or National??? Or river crossing, or hike-a-bike for that matter?  Or climb longer than a sledding hill? 

Laps are good for spectating but scary big bike rides stoke your sense of awe for the natural World.  You feel like an ant when cresting Wheeler pass at 13,000ft! Or descending a dried cascade into rooted jungle at Pisgah with your eyes a big as saucers!

The other thing is these events have soul, there is a lot of hanging out with great outdoors loving folks who like a good beer, spinning stories and going really big in life and on the bike.

MTB Race News - You pulled out a prototype Cannondale Scalpel 29er at the recent TSE. Tell us a little about the bike and how it handled the rough terrain in PA.

Jeremiah Bishop - It was awesome on the Tussey Mountain ridge. It eats rocks for breakfast but climbs really well due to all the work Cannondale did to make it the stiffest 29 full-suspension out there! 

MTB Race News - You are known for your bike handling abilities, especially in the roots and rocks of the east coast. What is the trick to riding through such harsh terrain? 

Jeremiah Bishop - Practice; you have to pick your lines carefully and develop your repertoire of body language moves and skills. Staying off the seat is my number one tip for tricky east coast trails.  

Thanks to Cannondale Factory Racing for supporting us in this latest adventure. It was a blast. 

 

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