RIDER PROFILE: JASON MOESCHLER
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Age 34, Nevada City, California (born and raised). I’ve been racing mountain bikes along with working more than full time for 20 years (a lot of people are under the illusion that I race for a living). How were you introduced to mountain biking?
Some fella’s that worked with my Mom exposed me to real mountain biking. They took me out for a ride on some single track near my hometown. One taste of good single track, and I was hooked. Was there a strong riding scene locally growing up?
Yes, there were a good number of strong XC racers at the time, and a ton of enthusiasts. I could go on a group ride any day of the week. Nevada City was a great place to grow up as a mountain biker. You experienced a great deal of success as a young racer (1997 US National Junior Champ in XC), but quit racing for a time. What happened?
It was a culmination of events. One, I was having trouble being competitive at the World Cup level as a 1st and 2nd year pro. I was watching other young riders, which I was competitive with as a Junior, shine in the pro ranks, while my results were lack luster. It took me a lot of years, and a huge house cleaning in cycling, to figure out that the sudden difference was because of doping. At the time, I couldn’t understand how I could go from best in the U.S., to having trouble making the top 20. So, I did what any hard worker would do, and trained harder. I was too young to realize that I was over training. The over training led to chronic fatigue syndrome.
The second, and biggest hurdle was the divorce of my Mom and Step Dad. In order to keep the family house, I had to step up, and buy into the house with my Mom, which meant I had to have a steady income. I could no longer live the life of a self-centered bike racer who always had a home to fall back on if things weren’t going well. It was a massive chunk of responsibility to take on as a teenager. The experience showed me how little and insignificant traveling the world as a bike racer was, when faced with having to take care of the people most important to you. I read an interview where you were quoted as saying you, ‘’didn’t think they’d developed a drug that could make you descend faster yet.” Is doping a problem in mountain biking or just the road world?
I applaud the EWS for their super strict rules related to doping, and I feel pretty confident that the rules have all Enduro riders racing clean. I am too far removed from high level XC racing to comment. There are so many former competitors of mine that have been busted for doping. It makes me sick thinking about it. I hope they are all reading this (you know who you are), and are ashamed of themselves. How did you get re-introduced to racing?
I never stopped riding, so I stayed relatively fit during my time away from racing. I started back at it with smaller, local events. They didn’t cost a lot to attend, and the competition was good. NorCal is a good place to be a mountain bike racer. There are races almost every weekend, and most of them are real fun tracks. You lived near Mark Weir, how was it having him as a training partner?
I lived in Marin, next door to Mark for two years. I couldn’t handle the trail use issues in Marin, and moved back to Nevada City, which is a solid two hours away. One would think Mark and I rode together a lot, but that isn’t the case. My work schedule never allowed me the flexibility to stop what I was doing and head out. We spend a great deal of time together off the bike, dealing with product development projects. In the past, we spent most of our time together doing battle in races. There was a couple year span where Weir and I finished in the same five seconds in almost every XC race we did. We raced so well together. Neither one of us wanted to get dropped by one another, and we both had the same goal… to get to the first downhill in front of everyone else. You’re a three-time champion with multiple podiums, at the Downieville Classic. Why is that race so iconic?
I have traveled the world many times over. There are many challenging places to ride. In my book, Downieville still reigns as the best place on the globe to ride a mountain bike. The race itself causes the rider to obsess over every detail of the bike. You have to use the same bike, with no changes for the XC and the DH race. The amount of time and thought that goes into bike set up is insane. I still, to this day, agonize over my bike setup.
In a way, I think Downieville helped to mold what we know today as the ‘All Mountain Bike.’ You needed a bike that could handle an XC race with 4,000ft of climbing, and then the next day, deal with the trail which has likely broken more bike parts than any run on the globe. The race is a tall order for any mountain bike, and this has made all riders want to test their bodies and machines in the race. Do you think the prestige of Downieville’s all-mountain category was an early harbinger of enduro’s overwhelming popularity?
Downieville helped to lay the foundation by way of forcing the bike industry to create a bike and parts that could handle the rigors of the event. The Downieville All Mountain competition is very different from today’s Enduro events because of the need for all out XC fitness. You can see this in the comparison of riders results. Guys that can win EWS races have trouble reaching the top five in Downieville. Guys that win Downieville have trouble reaching top 10 in EWS. I think the Downieville Downhill race is what really helped inspire what we know of today as Enduro. A long run, with lots of vertical. In June you crashed and fractured your T-7 vertebrae, how has that affected your training? Will you still be racing this summer?
The injury sounds worse than it really was. I ended up only taking one day off the bike. What suffered the most was my trail riding. I had to spend a lot of time on the road. My fitness is as good as it has ever been. Riding rough trail is a bit hard on the body right now, but I am doing my best to get plenty of trail riding in before the Downieville and EWS Whistler events, so that I can take advantage of this good fitness. I will finish the race season out, as planned. You’ve worked for WTB for a number of years now. What do you do for them?
Yes. Going on six years. I wear quite a few hats, but my main role is manager of Global OEM sales. If a bike brand wants to use WTB, I’m their guy. I also work in the product development department, doing everything from coming up with new product ideas, setting future product lines, and working with our inner circle of riders, funneling their feedback into revisions or new product. Last but not least, I have been racing pro for WTB for a real long time. Does your racing background influence WTB’s product design?
Absolutely. WTB’s product is mostly all derived from racer input. WTB’s product team is mostly made up of fellow riders that share the racing passion. What are your major goals or projects for this season?
On the racing side, I want to win Downieville, and get top 10 in an EWS. On the work side, I would love to be unleashed to educate the media, the bike brands, shops and riders on the messed up state of tubeless rim and tire fit. It is a huge problem that needs to be addressed, but some toes will be stepped on in the process. What are your long-term riding goals?
I’ve been racing for 20 years. I am looking to start winding it down at some point in the near future. Looking down the road, I will be racing less, with more focus on a smaller number of races. his will allow me to dedicate more time to product development at work, and of course, help me cut down on travel, so that I can spend more time with my family. What do you do when you’re not riding?
I’m either working, or hanging out with my wife Lisa and my 3-year-old son, Jace. Is there anything else we should know about you?
Man, I don’t know. I am a pretty quiet guy. Usually don’t have much to say. I don’t party, don’t drink, and I don’t smoke. I love feeling healthy and fit. If I have one addiction, it’s the feeling I get from winning a race. Who are your sponsors?
WTB, Cannondale, Shimano, Fox, Stages Power, Praxis Works, Royal Racing, Kali Protectives, and Smith Optics. Do you have anyone else you’d would you like to thank?
I have way too many people in my life that have gone way out of their way to help me along. I could never name them all, but I will shout out to a few of them: my parents (biological and step), for all of their years taking care of me, and supporting me as a young bike racer. They instilled the attitude within me – do something right the first time, or don’t do it at all. I have to thank Frank Trotter (manager of Team Giant) and Galen Shumaker for their years of taking me out on the epic rides that made me love mountain biking. Thanks to WTB – Patrick Seidler, Mark Slate, Gary Gleason, Mark Weir, Fred Falk and the rest of the staff, for providing a work environment that allows free thinking, the ability to speak your mind, no matter what, support to pursue your dreams, and motivation to win. Finally, thanks to my wife Lisa. When you look at any of my personal success, she deserves the bulk of the credit.Check out the WTB blog from the recent Downieville Classic event for more on Jason and the crew
Photos: Ale di Lullo, Mike Albright, and Danielle Baker
Interview: Scott Secco