PRQ #2 Jeff Kerkove
This is #2 in the PRQ (Pro Racer Questionnaire) series
I am not sure if Jeff Kerkove had one of the first bicycling BLOGS, but I do know that
1) Jeff's BLOG was the very first cycling BLOG that I read on a daily basis
2) Jeff's BLOG was the inspiration for me to start my own BLOG
Jeff is a pro racer focusing in the super hot niche of solo endurance mountain bike racing. It's an area that is seeing enormous growth and has helped reignite interest in mountain bike racing. He started his BLOG as a way to share his experiences and promote his sport and team. As popular as endurance racing is, there isn't a whole lot of training and gear information out there. Most likely because it is so new. So I'm sure the regular window into Jeff's life has been an incredible resource for up and coming endurance racers as well as an inspiration to us all to work our hardest.
IMHO, Jeff has one of the most effective marketing strategies for promoting his sponsors, or as he calls it, "pimping" the sponsors. Quite simply he tells it straight up. And he references his sponsors on a consitent basis.
Not sure how to explain it, but to me there is an integrity and honesty that comes across in his BLOG that subtly but strongly creates brand awareness for his sponsors. For example: I wear Tifosi sunglasses, use Elete on a regular basis, and am going to try out some Maxxis tires for the sole reason that I read about them on his BLOG (and of course because they work). No double page glossy in MBA has created that kind of brand awareness for me. I wonder if the bicyling industry is paying attention to the effectiveness of the BLOG as a marketing tool, and to racers like Jeff?
Jeff works 30-40hrs a week in addition to the rigorous training required to compete at the elite level in the endurance world. All pro racers are committed but this guy is COMMITTED. I read his BLOG sometimes and say to myself, get a life. That's the thing, this IS his life and he's working it hard.
In a short time he has racked up some impressive results and was also invited to compete overseas in Japan.
For another interview on Jeff, you can check out Blue Collar's in depth interview
Best of luck to Jeff in the 2006 campaign. Here are his answers to the PRQ:
-Who are your sponsors that you’d like to recognize
Fox Racing Shox
*Editor's Note: Here is my own Review of Elete
Hayes Disc Brakes
-What makes an athlete a 'good investment' for a sponsor?
You need to be an ambassador for the sport and the product. Sponsored riders need to use the products and give honest feedback to everyone. I firmly believe if the product doesn’t work not to use it. I am lucky that I get to use products that perform well with no hassles. Also, the athlete needs to be accessible to all. I have no problem letting anyone e-mail me or come up to me to ask questions of talk. I wish more would do it actually.
-How long have you been racing mountain bikes, how long as a pro?
Started racing NORBA XC races in 1996. Then started to focus racing the elite endurance scene in 2002. The elite solo endurance scene is where I am going to stay
-Where do you live and do you live their year round?
I live in the cycling mecca of Waterloo, Iowa. OK, it’s not a mecca, but I can make it work.
*Editor's note. Jeff might have been being sarcastic but I am constantly amazed at the amount of cycling energy coming from the midwest. Given the number of races, racers, and BLOGS from the midwest it makes me very envious.
-What are your goals for 2006?
Podium at all events. I am working my butt off in 2006 for a top 3 at 24 Hour Nationals and Kona Global 24 in Colorado
Bike Geek Stuff.
-What bikes do you race on? What other bikes do you own?
I race on 2 identical Giant NRS Composite frames outfitted with sponsor products.
Other bikes that I own included a Giant road bike, a Surly 1x1
, and an old beater single speed road bike for townie rides.
*Editor's note: Jeff has been teasing us with pics of the new Anthem. I wonder if he'll be sporting one of those in 2006?
-What aspect of bike setup are you fanatical about
I got to have my saddle of choice…the Fizik Nisene
-How do you see XC technology changing over the next 5 years?
I really haven’t sat down and thought too much about it, but I think the 29er market will get larger. And of course there will be even MORE carbon items popping up. My wheel sponsor, Cole, is supposed to be producing a full carbon mnt bike rim. More to come on that.
-What component or cycling gear would you pay full retail for if you had to?
Good cycling clothing such as Craft, Sugoi, and/or Pearl Izumi. Good clothing will allow you to ride all day in just about any condition
-Do you have a coach?
Nope. I learned everything through reading and trial-n-error
-Do you follow a scientific periodized cycling specific training program or ‘just ride’?
I follow the basic format laid out in Joe Friel’s Training Bible. Then I have tweaked it for my needs as an endurance racer.
-Do you use a power meter, heart rate monitor or perceived exertion to gauge your intensity?
I use the Cateye MSC-HR100 HR monitor
-Do you strength train? A periodized plan specific to cycling or general lifting?
Yep! I lift weights from November to the end of March. Once again, I follow the basic laid out in Joe Friel’s book and then tweak it to fit my needs and schedule.
-Do you do yoga, Pilates or other flexibility/core training?
I do some stretching and self massage, but that is about it.
-With late season races and festival events and Cyclocross it seems like there is no off-season anymore for the pros. How does this impact your training season?
I don’t hit the cyclocross season. My race season goes from the end of March to the end of October. By the end of October I am beat and ready to take time off. Viva la off-season!!!!
-How do you recover after a hard ride or workout?
Eat right, get some extra protein, take in some ELETE Tablytes
, stretch, lightly rub the legs down, and get some good sleep.
-What are your racing strengths and weaknesses and are you good at training your weaknesses and racing your strengths?
My strengths: racing in nasty weather, being able to suffer, courses that offer a bit of everything suit me well. My weaknesses: Massive amounts of climbing (it’s an Iowa thing)
-How do you deal with the pain of racing and embrace the pain?
I know it’s going to happen. It’s just something that endurance racers have come to deal with. You need to train the mind just as much as the body.
-What is your nutrition protocol for a 12-24hr race?
Nutrition for endurance races is a deep subject. Everyone is different. As long as I have a good supply of the following I am good: Hammer/E-Caps Products, ELETE, PowerBar Endurance, pasta, Clif Bars, Power Bars, Balance Bars, Pringles, bananas, PB and J, Coca-Cola, etc, etc, etc
-How do you stay focused during a race?
Once again, this is something that has to be trained. I know what needs to be done. I just hope that the key items work together. Those items are: Equipment, Body, Mind, and Nutrition. If these work in harmony the race will be smooth. Sometimes I will catch myself thinking about stupid things such as TV shows, movies, funny things that happen at work, etc, etc.
-What is your pacing strategy for a 12-24hr race?
I know how hard I can go in a given event. Things that will determine effort are the weather, the course, and the competition. I have my HR dialed to give me a good idea where I need to be.
-Are you fanatical about your diet?
I watch my diet. But I don’t sit and weight my food or buy only organic. I eat what I need to eat.
-How are your technical skills? In your opinion what racer on the circuit has the maddest skills?
My tech. skills are pretty good. There is not much that I have come upon at an event that I have not been able to ride. There were a few cases at 24 Hours of Moab and 24 Hour World’s at Whistler in the Solo loop. I think Mr. Eatough has some of the best tech skills. It’s all that east coast nasty that he gets to train in.
-Can you ride a wheelie?
Oh, hell no.
-How many hours a week do you train (min, max, average over the year including strength training, cross training, etc.)
Min Hours: 7
Max Hours: 30
-Do you have a job outside of your mountain biking profession?
I work at the local bike shop (Europa Cycle and Ski www.europacycle.com)
During the summer I work 40+ hours a week. During the slow off-season I am sitting at about 30
-How do you balance the stresses of regular life with training and recovery?
My life is very simple. There is not much else happening in my life other than sleep, eat, ride, work, repeat.
-Who is your support network?
The family helps a ton with travel and pitting for me at events. My boss at work lets have the time off when I need it. And the sponsors get me the product I need to perform.
-Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I like my black goodness (coffee)
Other than that, I like to eat. Just get me some food.
-What sacrifices have you had to make to pursue a cycling career?
Going to bed every night at like 8:30. Does that count? Really I haven’t had to sacrifice anything. I just like to ride.
*Editor's note: We start getting our kid's to bed around 8 and sometimes they don't get to sleep till 9pm. I'm going to have to tell them about Jeff. "Don't you want to grow up to be a pro endurance racer?"
-What advice do you have for those of us with families, and full time jobs who want to race our best?
Don’t worry about the racing part of it. Just get out and ride/race. Cycling is a lifetime sport. Enjoy it. It just so happens that I was in the right places at the right time. Get out there and do it. Who knows whom you’ll meet and what will come of it.
-How do you motivate yourself to train and work hard day after day, year after year?
I like to ride. There really isn’t anything that will keep me from it. I have the drive and the burning desire to take cycling as far as I can. Who knows what will happen 3 years down the road. If you had told me back in 1996 that I would be racing my bike for 24 hours straight in a race in Japan in the year 2005, I would have told you that you are full of crap. The fact that I have no clue as to what will happen over the next few year’s fuels the desire to get fast and keep riding.