30 Aug An Interview with Mike Sherer
First year Pro with Kelley Benefits Strategies
With the road season nearing its end, I finally have a window to write the next race school entry. As promised, the Mike Sherer interview (Kelly Benefit Strategies 1st year Pro racer). As many of you, know Mike is a homegrown racer from the Midwest and has been kicking our asses for a number of years in cyclocross and the road.
Mike was caught in a crash that forced KBS to put him on injured reserve status, which gave Enzo the opportunity to speak with Mike a few days before the Glencoe Grand Prix. When describing the Enzo’s race school concept to Mike, here is what he had to say. Bear with my inexperience doing an interview, I am no Luke Seeman.
Mike Sherer: I like the idea, sharing a side of racing that is not spoken about often, especially to the younger/lower categories. This information could shorten, or in some cases, lengthen the difficult process of becoming or improving as a bike racer.
Enzo: In your opinion, when should someone upgrade?
MS: I think many people upgrade before they learn how to win. Each category has a different way of racing and it is very important riders learn these differences. Learning how to win builds confidence, you stand a better chance of having fun in the next level while not being overwhelmed. It is helpful knowing you can win a bike race or make the podium consistently before making an upgrade. Confidence is really important.
Enzo: Tell us how it was when you first rode in the Pro-1-2 races, bike handling, things like that.
MS: It was the larger events where I was forced to learn about efficiency in cornering and pedal cadence.
It was in the Downers Grove criterium that a Navigator rider said to me, use a smaller gear out of the corners kid. I was lucky to receive this info and that I listened. It was after that comment I figured out that 8 corners per lap x 50 is a lot of wasted energy, that could be used later in a sprint or bridge effort, so I worked at improving this skill. Less lactic in the legs makes for more power when you really need it, increasing my chance of winning.
Enzo: What is a main difference between a racer that wins and a racer that does not?
MS: Two things, confidence and risk. In order to win a big race you have to be willing to risk everything, this takes confidence when exposing yourself, knowing a particular move is risky. These risky moves sometimes become the winning move.
MS: Being first out of the last corner, many times, will give you a better chance for the win. It rarely happens that you advance in a sprint during a big race. If I am sixth out of the last corner, I will most likely finish sixth. Maybe I advance 2 or 3 places, but will most likely not find the W from this position.
I have a better chance of a podium finish from the front. You see why I like to be first out of the last corner?
Enzo: Yes I understand, like the Cat 1 race you won here in Glencoe 2010. You were first out of the final corner with Andy Crater second, that was the finishing order that day. Nice, since we know Andy can sprint.
How about the difference between a big race and a local race?
MS: When in a local race, the confident racer knows they belong in the front of the pack, and will hold any position they want. This may not happen as easily in big races, but the confident racer will advance to the front when they think the time is correct. As their experience grows, everything seems to betims easier.
Enzo: What advices do you have for Cat.3’s before they upgrade?
MS: Make sure you can finish on the podium in races. Also your confident level needs to be high enough that you can ride anywhere in the pack, being able to hold that position safely. These things will help make the jump to the 1-2 fields easier. If you can win a Superweek Cat. 3 race, you are ready to upgrade.
Enzo: What tire pressures do you like for racing?
MS: I weigh 160 lbs. and never use more than 100 psi. This goes for tubulars and clinchers. In the rain or wet races I will lower to about 80 psi.
Enzo: One piece of advise that you think younger racers need to hear?
MS: Rest more than you think. This is a common mistake many riders/racers make. Resting correctly has the same value as a hard interval session, do not skip this part of your training. I am resting more than I every have and the results have been very positive.
Enzo: Did Cyclocross help you with you bike handling skills?
MS: Yes, mountain biking and Cyclocross help develop handling skills, besides they are really fun bikes to play on.
Enzo: Who has helped you the most help this year? Any one veteran taken you under their wing?
MS: Everyone has been really helpful, which is really great. There are many things I needed help with, things I did not know.
Enzo: What kind of things?
MS: Mainly the etiquette of the pro peleton, it is very impressive. Help me learn my responsibility and do them correctly. What side of the caravan you ride on when going back to the team car. Which hands you raise when you have a rear or front flat. How to carry and distribute bottles to the team. The respect the pack has, allowing domestics to advance easily in order to take care of the veterans. How to set tempo, chase, close gaps correctly, do whatever it takes whenever I am needed. Help get 1-2 guys in the early break, always help our GC leader get to the base of climbs in the front, whoever that is. At the end of the day or stage, help with the lead out train.
Enzo: How are the riders in Asia, specifically the Tour of Taiwan?
MS:Those boys will attack relentlessly for a 100 miles. Crazy hard, over and over, even if they have team mates up the road.
Mike pushing it in the P/1/2 race of this year's Evanston Grand Prix
Enzo: How about the racers in France?
MS: More like you see on television. The teams are very calculating and the races are run extremely well.
These guys will kill themselves to bring breaks back. It seems they will race to the death, and the speeds are really high all the time, except when descending. They will jump curbs and ride the sidewalks but are quite careful when going downhill, kind of different.
Enzo: What was your favorite race overseas?
MS: Tro Bro Leon, it is like a mini Paris-Roubaix, with 26 sections of dirt. My CX background really helped with bike handling. Coolest race ever.
Enzo: How about the Tour de Bretange?
MS: First 2 stages were flat and as the race went on the hills increased. The race bible did not really tell us this. The finish circuits were about 20k’s very hard and fast. Extremely narrow road, hard braking for the turns, bad bike handlers, though no one would ever dive bomb corners, no corner chopping. I made it until 5 and then it was lights out.
Enzo: Thank you for spending time talking to me today. I am happy you are back on your bike and you are healing well. We will be cheering for you at Elk Grove.
Since the interview, Mike has been racing well, finding his form nicely. He finished 18th in the US Pro Criterium in Grand Rapids, though he was not very happy with this result. That is one of the attributes that makes Mike Sherer a winner, he hates loosing.
I spoke with Jonas Carney at Elk Grove about Mike, asking how he has been doing this season. I did not ask Jonas if I could print what he said, so I will summarize. He is pleased so far liking Mike’s humble attitude. He still has a lot to learn but I like what I have seen.
Watch for Mike in the local CX races, he is hard to miss being the only KBS racer in the Chicago Cross Cup events.
Until the next post, safe racing everyone.