Don’t call Jerome Clementz a mountain bike racer. Racing is what he has done, of course—he’s been riding with a number plate, against the ticking clock and other racers since he was just 12 years old. And he will continue to compete against select clocks and varied terrain this coming season and beyond. But for Jerome, “racer” is a bit too limiting of a job description.
It makes sense when you think about it from a different perspective. Jerome’s beloved Jules Verne, author of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in Eighty Days” and many others, was supposed to follow in the family business of law, until adventure—or adventure writing—came calling. The famous French 19th-century writer imagined a world of extraordinary voyages, and put them on paper to share with future generations of dreamers and would-be adventurers.
Another pioneering Frenchman, Jacques Cousteau, was never supposed to have made history, but an injury forced him to change careers. Had he not veered from his chosen path, the world might not yet have been exposed to “The Silent World” of the underwater ocean.
Jerome loves go fast on a mountain bike. He’s built for it. He has the skills for it. And his Enduro World Series overall title proves that he can find the necessary speed under pressure. But course-marking tape and lap after lap of timed practice and competition on the same section of trail is a bit too limiting a prospect for Jerome l’Oiseau. He is at heart a bird that needs to be free to flee the cage and the strict nature of competition from time to time.
When he switched from full-time downhiller to full-time enduro athlete, it was because the nature of enduro competition was less rigid, and that the trails he’d be racing were new to him, not memorized to the centimeter, so his attack of them felt more natural, more real. He thrived within the enduro environment, and definitely left his mark on the sport. But, as time passed, the confines of competition began to challenge his definition of mountain biking. So he decided to find new adventure.
For 2018, and for the remainder of what he hopes will be a lot more of an already long career, Jerome is a professional mountain biker—his definition of mountain biker. It’s a definition with few restrictions, but a broad range of requirements. And his main mission in this new chapter of his career is to go to places he’s not already traveled to, find and interpret trails he hasn’t already ridden, and bring the experience to fellow adventure seekers and the next generation of mountain bike dreamers. No, number plates have not been banned from his routine entirely, and select race events are still on his calendar, but only when racing agrees with the spirit of discovery.
In fitting literary fashion, Jerome kicked off his next career chapter with a trip to Robinson Crusoe Island in the South Pacific Ocean. The island, located in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, a few hundred kilometers off the coast of Chile, is named after the protagonist in Daniel Foe’s famous novel of the same name. Like Cousteau, Verne and Clementz himself, Foe seemed to enjoy change throughout his career. Unlike the island in Foe’s “Robinson Crusoe” island, though—which is known in the book as The Island of Despair—Jerome found little despair on the Robinson Crusoe Island he visited. Jerome’s island instead featured a welcoming native population, his arrival on the island came courtesy of a small propeller plane instead of shipwreck, and his subsequent rescue happened days, instead of years, later.
It was adventure nevertheless, with all the requisite discovery and breathtaking scenery. And yes, there were trails there, begging to be ridden. It was a place, like many to come, that Jerome seems duty bound to share with others in his own unique way, like the storytellers of the past did in theirs.
We are happy to announce that Jerome Clementz is riding wherever the hell he wants to for Cannondale for another two years. Stay close for Jerome's adventures in the Next Chapter.
Photo & Video Credit: Jérémie Reuiller
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