Photos courtesy of Kodac Gallery/Sierra Nevada Professional Cycling Team
While some believe that cyclocross is the poster sport for cycling sadists, bike geeks and singlespeed freaks, Ben Jacques Maynes loves it for its purity. In one of his Surf City cyclocross race postings, he asks, “Have you ever gotten into that phase of a race where you just go through the same motions over and over until they all seem the blend into one? It’s kind of like Zen racing, turning your progression around the lap into a mantra of motions and sensations that seem to converge to perfection.”
Perfection in repetition is a goal every cyclist aspires to, but the tangle of scars on Ben’s knees show that he must be a bit of a sadist. Cyclocross, after all, is a brutal sport. Racers must try to complete a maximum number of laps around an obstacle-filled course before time runs out. Riders bunny hop, carry their bikes, and wince over gates, up hills and around technical stretches. It is in sharp contrast to the cadence and break away focus of competitive road racing.
Jacques Maynes started road riding to augment his ‘cross training but quickly discovered that his ‘cross skills translated to success as a road rider. He and his twin brother Andy, who races for Webcor, had become a dual threat at many races. But Andy has foregone the full time pro circuit and is instead working as an engineer at Specialized Bikes and racing occasionally. Ben, however, is a full time cyclist, carving out a living as a pro racer for Team Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada.
Soon, he will also be a full time parent with his wife, Goldie. In this interview, Ben discusses his plans as a new dad, his racing career and the effects of this year’s Tour De Lance on the cycling industry. Visit www.jacquesmayniacs.com or www.abbiorca.com/bike/cross/reports/ to read Ben’s race rants, training reports and mp3 tips.
Can you explain the black LiveWrong bracelet you have been wearing?
It’s half fun and half serious.There are 85 million people wearing yellow LiveStrong bands. It seemed time to go a little punk rock, a little counterculture, and do something different.A ton of the people I’ve seen with the yellow bracelets on don’t know who Lance is and have no idea they’re “in support” of cancer research.
What do you think is the greatest result of Lance winning the Tour de France seven times in a row for American cycling?
In cycling circles you keep on hearing about the “Lance Effect”: how he has grown the sport and made it accessible to more riders and basically made my job a lot easier. I think this was the case maybe in ’99, ’00 and ’01 when it was a novelty for an American to kick ass in European racing, and a lot of cycling fans had extra money to do anything with: from buying an expensive bicycle to starting a small D3 Professional team. Now, the novelty has worn off and there was no question about if Lance would win number seven, but by how much would he win and in what ways would he humiliate the competition. Lance is so far removed from the normal bike racer now, he is in the rock-star arena in terms of exposure, media coverage, endorsements, etc. It will be a long time, I think, before another cyclist reaches Lance’s level of athletic ability and media exposure.
How long have you been racing?
I started racing when I was 12 years old, and entered a few mountain bike races to whet my appetite. I was a top-level junior through the mid-’90s and also raced downhill and single-speed. When I went to college in Santa Cruz, I started racing cyclocross at all the Surf City events, and I was mesmerized by the purity and technical detail of the racing. Cyclocross turned me into a national level racer, inspired me to travel more, work harder, and ultimately achieve more. Unfortunately, you can’t race ‘cross year round, so I had to do something in the off season, and I first split my time as a Category 1 roadie and a pro mountain biker. The road thing started going better for me, and I went pro on the road in 2002.
Who is currently sponsoring you?
I race for the Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada Professional Cycling Team. Try writing that on an entry form!Through the team, I use Serotta bicycles, Mavic wheels and components, Adidas shoes, Specialized helmets and optics, 1st Endurance nutritional products and Cranks Brothers pedals.
How has racing for Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada been?
This year has been a confirmation of last year. I’m riding consistently and have been a stage-race threat all year. We also have a great group of fast men for the finish, and I have been able to consistently help them get into the finale of a race in good position. It’s enjoyable to work hard for someone, to sacrifice your own chances in a race, and to see them carry through and place well.
What direction do you see the cycling industry heading toward in the near future?
I am hoping that there’s a drive back toward the grassroots element that got me into the scene to begin with. Racing is good and all, but only a small portion of the total cyclists in America race, and with Lance retired there isn’t the same rallying point as in the last few years. I think the public needs to discover what’s truly fun about cycling: It’s not about how fast you are or your gadgetry. It’s about getting out and riding, feeling the wind, checking out the view from the top of the mountain, riding with good friends.
The mountain bike industry has sort of caught on with heavier, longer travel bikes that are just a blast to ride. The road “comfort” sector and now the “freeroad” concept are new and innovative ideas that enable riders to have top level components and materials in designs that truly fit their bodies and ideal riding situation.
What is your twin brother, racer Andy Jacques Maynes, up to these days?
Andy is retired from pro racing and is working for Specialized designing their road bikes. He just introduced his first product line, the Tricross, and is already working on next year’s product. He still races actually, but not as his only means of income. He does some big races with the Webcor team, and whatever local road and mountain races he can fit in. He’s planning on going big for the ‘cross season. He rode great last year for traveling to Asia [for work] as much as he did.
You are having a baby in the next few weeks. How do you see this changing your life as a competitive cyclist?
I think having a baby changes anyone’s professional life: your time management, goals and dreams, stress levels, priorities, etc. I’m expecting a big change. I’m not sure exactly how things are going to be different, but for now my priorities at the professional level are the same. I think I’m fortunate to have the freedom in my schedule to rearrange things as needed in order to get my riding done and still be there for my son. I’m excited to watch him grow, learn and live and I’m okay giving up some bike racing to make sure I’m there for it all.
How much ‘cross racing do you think you will participate in this year?
I will not have as hectic a schedule as I have had in years past. I’m expecting to have zero sleep for the entire month of October, so anything early will be a bit of an unexpected surprise. I am still planning on doing the National Championships in Rhode Island this December, and I hope I can go good for a few races leading up to that as well. I’ll probably end up trying to do a standard road training schedule and fit in some ‘cross to break up the monotony.
How long before you get the baby his first bike?
I’ll be getting him a bike, but I actually don’t care if he pursues it. All I ask is that he puts an effort into life, actually live, and he’ll be okay. I don’t care if he rides, swims, studies, works or whatever as long as he enjoys himself and doesn’t shortchange himself by not trying. I want him to live up to his potential for a happy life.
2005/2006 California Cyclocross Events
Cyclocross is a challenging, fast-paced game of ring-around-the-rosies played by a bunch of cyclists who have an unusual idea of what bike racing is; these racers spend almost as much time carrying their bikes as they do riding them. It is fun, furious and painful. Racers sprint the course at full speed for 30 minutes or more as they try to complete the most laps before the finish bell rings.
If you are unafraid of a little calf burn and the clang of cowbells, this is the year you must try a ‘cross race. If you are already a fan, this year should prove to be an epic one. There are enough dates on the ‘cross calendar this year to keep both newbies and pros busy.
We have put together a list of tentative dates for Northern and Central California cyclocross race series, including the Gran Prix finals.
*Please note that all dates are tentative.
Visit the series’ web site to confirm dates, times and venues.
Sacramento Cyclocross Series
www.velocommunity.com/sacramentocx or call 916-452-4020
September 18- Race/Clinic, September 24-Race/Swap, September 25-Race
October 16-Race, 22-Race, 30-Race
November 12-Race; November 13-Race
2005 Central Coast Cyclo-Cross Race Series
November 13-Race, 27-Race
www.pilarcitos.com or call
October 2, October 23
Velo Bella Surf City
October 15- Jungle Cross
October 30- Spirit of Surf City
For Southern California cyclocross events, visit
or call 310-378-6463.
They have ‘cross events from September 18 through December 18.
US Grand Prix of Cross Finals
November 19 & 20 in San Francisco
This event will be the grand finale of
the 2005 cyclo-cross racing season.
Cyclo-cross races for amateurs and
novices are offered too, so be sure to
bring your ‘cross bike and your
Please call 650-302-6310 or visit www.pilarcitos.com for further details