Catching up with national champion cyclist Jake Arnold
On June 24, Jake Arnold will compete in the 2015 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships in North Lake Tahoe, Calif. as a member of Elevate Elite Cycling. The 23-year-old who trains in Fort Collins, Colo. hopes to build upon his win at the USA Team Time Trial Nationals in April and earn another gold on a course that favors his climbing strengths on the bike. The Road National Championships include a road race on Wednesday, a time trial race on Friday and a Crit Championship on Sunday.
Q: Which [race] is your specialty?
A: Probably the road race. The team has kinda been looking at me to go really [fast] in the road race, definitely putting the eggs in my basket by coming out here to support me, for sure. I've been focusing on it for a month or two, and my form is really coming around.
Q: How does that work with your team? Can you talk a little bit about that chemistry and the way they will support you?
A: Yeah, so every race is definitely suited for different types of riders. This course and this race definitely kinda lends itself to someone who climbs really well but has some speed and some power, not just a pure climber, so that falls into my realm. So, in the race, I'll be kinda protected. I won't really have to necessarily see the wind or do too much work or anything like on the front for a while, until the decisive time comes in the race. My teammates will, you know, depending on how the race plays out, do whatever work they need to do, whether it's pull a break back or give me a break or ride tempo in the front, that kind of thing.
Q: What is your individual goal or team goal for the race?
Definitely to win.
Q: You recently won in April, a big national championship.
The team won Team Trial Nationals. I was on the team. It was a four person team, Heath [Blackgrove], Logan Hutchings, Zack Allison and I.
Q: How did that race set you up for success?
A: I think it just kind of showed the team that I was a little more of an all-around rider, that I could just kind of do a lot of things, instead of just climb.
Q: Do you ride for your school?
A: Not really because I'm not full-time. I can't go, I'm not eligible to go to Nationals or anything, so it's kind of not really a priority. Collegiate racing...we're at a much higher level.
Q: What level are you? Is it professional cycling now?
A: It's kind of like bridged; professional is something you get paid to do. Last year, I was on the professional team, but nothing was really getting paid, so it was kind of a loose term, whereas this year, I'm on an amateur team, but these races are being paid.
Q: What is a typical day like for you on this team?
This time of year, a typical day, I usually get up around 8 or 9, have some breakfast and then head out for a training ride. I'm usually out most of the day, come back, eat some food, maybe take a nap, and then kinda hang out with some friends and then kinda repeat.
Q: What kinds of training rides to go on? Heath Blackgrove said five hour rides by yourself. Is that something that your training is similar to?
A: Yeah, [I'm] pretty used to...four, five hour rides, by myself or with one or two other people out in the mountains and then some specific work kind of rides. I really like to do really fun adventure rides, on like grass or roads, just like out in the middle of nowhere, kind of unexplored to other cyclists.
Q: Do you compete in off-roading too, or is it mostly just time trial?
A: It's just mostly road competitions.
Q: How often a year do you compete?
A: Typically have about probably 50 or 60 races a year.
Q: So every weekend?
A: Kind of. We have stage races, so we had Redlands, and that's five days in a row of racing and then we were at Joe Martin, which is another stage race, and that was five days of racing in a row, and so then there's some where there is two or three weeks in between where I didn't really do anything.
Q: How do you recover when you are doing five or six day stage races?
A: After each stage? We kinda get off the bike to refocus, and then it's straight to recovery, so eating some food, the right mix of protein, carbs, getting recovery drinks in kinda quick after, really just putting your feet up, not walking around, drinking a whole lot [of water], stretching.
Q: How will this race be different and/or similar to other major competitions that you have done this year?
A: It's different because it's a one day race versus one event with stages, so Wednesday will be who crosses the line first, whereas in a stage race I could cross the line in 10th place every stage and end up winning overall. So, it's a little different in that respect.
Q: What are you most looking forward to?
A: Just a good race with my teammates.
Q: What is the name of your team and your sponsors?
A: Elevate Elite Cycling, Elevate is the title sponsor, so that's the name of the team.
Q: How many guys are racing?
A: In the elite race, I believe its eight guys racing. I think we have two guys racing the U23 race.
Q: Are you the guy that supposed to cross the line first, and they're all working for you, or are there other people on your team who are going to be shooting for that?
A: They're definitely going to be looking at Mat Stephens. Different things can happen in a different race. You know, I could get a flat or not have a great day, so Matt Stephens has done really well, and we're definitely looking at him to be a co-captain and have a great race.
Q: Is it hard to race when you're not the person that's supposed to cross the line first? How do you mentally do that?
A: Everyone has their job. We talk as a team before the race, and you know you're job is to do your job. We're all professional out here, and you show up to the start line, you got a job and you do it you know, whether it's to cover all the breaks early, get in the lead, maybe get in the early break five miles in, and then fifty miles later, you're wasted, and the group catches the whole break, then you did your job because it will allow our team to not have to work on the front and be with the breakaway. So you know, all the teams are represented in the breakaway, everyone feels good about it, all the teams then also have the possibility of winning it, so you show up to the start line, it's not necessarily ever without the possibility of winning, but you may not have a job that is you know kinda to conserve. Like my job is to conserve and then be in the final move, whereas somebody else's job may be to get in the early move, and then if it happens to work out, that person, everyone kind of has the opportunity. No one is shunned from winning you know, a win is a win, so overall it's just about everyone.
Q: Do you have something, a big competitor or something that is making you stressed, nervous or anxious? What's your biggest fear?
A: I try to keep that kind of out of mind really and just stay confident, I'm not really worried about one person in particular, more just race the race. I feel prepared. I've done all the work I can.
Shannon Scovel is a sophomore journalism student at American University where she serves as the sports editor of her student newspaper, The Eagle. Originally from Cary, North Carolina, Shannon has a passion for sports and previously worked as a correspondent for the Raleigh News and Observer covering high school athletics.