Interview: Josey Weik by Corey Coogan Cisek
November 24, 2012
Duluth’s Josey Weik has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. On Thanksgiving day, he learned that he was selected to the prestigious Eurocross Camp.
15-year-old Josey has been turning heads this year on the Minnesota Cyclocross scene. Josey’s been racing bikes pretty much since he could ride one, so he used to be visible on the local mtb and CX scene as “the little kid with big skills.” However, a whole lot of intelligent training and a growth spurt later and Josey’s been mixing it up with the Minnesota Cat 1-2s in 2012. It will come as no surprise to those 1-2s who have been “schooled by a 15-year old” that Josey is also making a name for himself nationally.
Eurocross Camp, which is in its 10th season, is the brainchild of National Junior/Under 23 Cyclocross Coach Jeff Proctor. The camp is a 14-day trip to the heart of cyclocross, Antwerp Province, Belgium. The idea is to take young, green Americans across the pond and immerse them in the challenging European racing culture. Proctor advertises his camp as, “the starting point for international experience” and alludes to the camp being intentionally overwhelming. “What does it really take to be successful at camp? 1) Ambition 2) Guts 3) Willingness to Fight.”
Josey qualified for Eurocross Camp because of his results in the Junior UCI field at the November Cincy3 Cyclo-Stampede and Louisville Derby City Cup USGP. He notched two 7th place finishes in Cincy and then an 11th and 12th in Louisville. These results are all the more notable when you consider that Josey raced in the 17-18 year old category. (Cyclocross racing age is the age one will be at the end of 2013. With a December birthday, Josey will always be at young end of his age class. The 15-year old is racing age 17 for cyclocross!)
The achievement of qualifying for Eurocross Camp cannot be overstated. The list of former participants reads like a who’s-who in U.S. Cyclocross: Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon, Danny Summerhill, Jamey Driscoll, Cody Kaiser, and Zach McDonald. For a elite junior rider, making Eurocross Camp is pretty much “having arrived.”
As a Minnesota rider making Euro Camp, Josey is following in some pretty big footsteps. Bjorn Selander, David Hackworthy, and Jordan Cullen were all previous participants.
Before turning you over to the interview, I’d like to put in a plug for donations to cover Josey’s expenses. Like so many great athletic opportunities in youth endurance sport, this honor comes with a pretty staggering price tag. Josey leaves for Belgium on December 19th and needs to have $5000 raised by December 12, 2012, which also happens to be his 16th birthday. Josey’s blog http://www.joseyweik.blogspot.com/ has a link to donate via Paypal.
- Last year you began the season as a Cat 4 rider, and ultimately finished mid-pack in the 3s at State. How did you make such a big performance jump this year?
Good question! I think it's just been a culmination of a lot of hard work and tough lessons since I started racing. Also, I’m enabled by my growth spurt finally coming. Just not having the muscle mass to do things was my biggest inhibitor for a long time. I had to learn how to go fast and do things as the small kid, so when I finally matured it was a domino chain of things falling into place, allowing me to jump to that next level and really start to learn.
- What are your goals for this season and next?
My most immediate goal is obviously to be as well-prepared for Eurocross Camp as possible. After camp, I pretty much get home right before Nationals, which is obviously another season focus. Unless I have some really good results in Europe and qualify for Junior World Championships, the only goals I have left for this season are to learn a lot and have fun at Euro Camp, and then come home and do my best to podium at Nationals. As for long-term goals, I’m doing a lot of stage races and time-trialing on the road next year and learning more about tactics and team dynamics. I want to go to Europe next year in cross and have a solid base of experience to give me the opportunity to pull some really good results. I also want to shoot for the Worlds team and the National Champ jersey in cross next year.
- I know that you are home schooled and live on an organic farm. How does your life at home help you succeed as an athlete?
Being home schooled pretty much makes everything I do with cycling possible. I ride every single day, I put my biggest hours per week in during the winter in a place were it’s far too cold to ride in the dark, and I put a very large amount of my mental energy into cycling. I'm not saying I wouldn't or couldn't do cycling if I wasn't home schooled, but I don't think I could do it the way I do. Living on a farm is very valuable too. I really do get an unfair advantage on my competition because of my organic, fresh, and free-ranged diet. Plus, living on the farm has just taught me so much, and keeps me humble and grounded in reality.
- Who helped you achieve your success this year?
Phew, I think that is the toughest question you could ask. Cycling really is a team effort and there have been so many people who have helped me get to where I am already, even though it's still pretty early in my career. The first and foremost is definitely my parents. Besides the obvious fact that I simply wouldn't exist without them, my parents really have gone the whole nine yards in supporting my aspirations. Our great local shop in Duluth called SkiHut has been supporting me pretty much since I got into the sport and has continued to be a huge help this year. Obviously my cycling team ISCorp has helped out a lot this year, and finally my coach has done a lot in developing me as a rider. Also, not so much this year, but I am grateful to the folks at MNJRC for helping me get into cyclocross.
- What would you tell a 10-12 year old rider who looks up to you?
As a young Junior, a lot of people will simply tell you, "be careful, don't burn out" and little else. My experience has shown me that this is wrong. Of course it is important to always make sure you are having fun and doing what you love, but it is very important to always be pushing your limits as a rider and as a person: going out and doing that training ride when you really don't want to, being up-beat and positive after you just had a bad race and you want to just be angry, taking extra care to recover after a hard race or ride when you're so tired you just want to lie on the couch. If cycling is truly something you want to chase, you have to be willing to accept that you have to work hard. Another thing I have learned is to never ever give anybody a legitimate reason to not like you. Be aggressive, don't let people push you around or anything, but you should always represent yourself, your sponsors, and your team in the best possible light. Most importantly, always be looking for ways to improve and have fun.
- What excites you most about Euro Camp?
Really, the whole thing is pretty overwhelming. I get to fly with across the Atlantic Ocean, visit another continent for the first time ever, race in the cyclocross capitol of the world (I mean really, cyclocross is the sport in Belgium. Seriously, 60,000 people pay to go watch the big races.), travel with other kids that I have tons in common with and will likely become great friends with, and race on some of the coolest courses with the hardest competition in the world. I think one of the biggest things though is just how big of a leap I have made to qualify for this. This spring, I already knew that I wanted to qualify, but that I would actually make these improvements and get to go? It's crazy.