A frank conversation with his body led Jeremy Powers to put his mind straight. The 35-year-old American cycling star spent the winter pondering retirement while at the same pondering one more season in a cyclocross career that included more than 90 pro wins and four national championships in five years, from 2012 to 2016.
Age, though, catches up. Broken ribs, a severe throat infection, recurring back pain and other ailments over the last two years limited him to just one UCI victory since September 2016. He placed fifth at the U.S. Cyclocross Nationals in December, his last race, and on Tuesday he announced his decision to step away – effective in June after several gravel events.
“My sigh of relief is from my body,” Powers said last week from the road, on the way to a gravel event. “It’s been talking to me. I had been preparing for [retirement] mentally; I just hadn’t gotten to that point yet. Truthfully, it’s a decision that doesn’t come overnight but when I made the decision to stop it finally felt right in my mind.”
Powers will move behind the microphone in his next role, beginning in June as a presenter for the Global Cycling Network, with whom he made this cyclocross video in February. He’s not been a stranger to video, having done his own vlog, “Behind the Barriers,” since 2010.
He also will continue to promote gravel riding, competitive and recreational cycling’s next frontier. This year will mark the 10th for his annual off-road ride in Massachusetts, the Gran Fundo, which benefits his nonprofit JAM Fund to develop younger cyclists.
“When we started, we were running 25c tires – the biggest you could get,” Powers said. “Now I look in the back of my van and I see my FujiJari, which has 40c tires, like what I used to ride on mountain bikes.”
He’ll miss pinning on a number and cranking up his Fuji Altamira CX, which he rode exclusively in his final cyclocross season.
“It’s been a fantastic race machine, literally zero problems, a fantastic bike to ride,” he said. “People will probably think I’m just saying it, but I truly enjoyed the one I have had. We rode it to podiums, we trained our faces off on it, and really enjoyed being able to ride a bike that was designed and ready to go, that just needed a pilot.”
And not just any pilot.