Interview with Jordan Cheyne
Hometown: Bellville, Ontario
Homebase: Kelowna, British Columbia
Occupation: Professional cyclist
Next competition: Redlands Bicycle Classic & Tour of California
When did you start cycling?
I started cross-country in high school and competed in duathlons; I thought running was my thing. I played hockey, then started speed skating. My speed skating coach told me to bike and run in the summer to train. I never actually made it back to the speed skating season – I liked riding around on my bike so much.
When was the moment you decided to go pro?
The Peterborough Cycling Club had a program for kids to start racing. I wasn’t a natural by any means - I crashed a lot. At 18 I had a breakthrough placing 3rd in the Canadian Nationals time trial. In university I continued cycling while studying Human Kinetics at UBCO, and that’s when I knew then I wanted to go pro. Graduating gave me the time to focus on my physical performance and in 2016 I joined Jelly Belly Professional Cycling.
What have been some of your greatest cycling achievements to date?
My breakthrough as an amateur - placing 3rd - in the Tour de Beauce in 2015, winning the Tour of Utah with Jelly Belly in 2016, and most recently placing 2nd overall in the 2017 San Dimas Stage Race this past March.
Can you describe cycling in three words?
It’s might not be three words but – “Try hard. Go Fast”.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote you live by?
A big part of racing is chaotic. With 200 guys on bikes it’s very unpredictable, there’s a lot of stuff you can’t control. In a race I like to repeat to myself, “I’m in control”. I ask myself: “How can I make the next 30 seconds the best 30 seconds? Do I need to take a drink? Do I need to move up the side of the road?” That sort of thing.
You now own a coaching business – Peak Form Coaching. Do you prefer to be a competitor or a coach?
I’ve been coaching for years. In school it was a way to make some extra money to buy textbooks. Then, through word of mouth, the business grew and now Peak Form Coaching has over 20 clients.
I’d rather be racing than doing anything else, but coaching is a nice balance. I train athletes for Ironman’s, marathons, and cycling competitions like Big White’s L’Alpe de Grande Blanc. To get people to a level where they can shave 15 minutes off their time is so rewarding.
What is your coaching style?
Cycling can be a very analytic sport with a lot of numbers; your power input, your weight, your heart rate, how many kilometres you’ve gone and so on. I try to emphasize communication. I believe in communicating how the body is feeling and really talking about execution in the races is most important. You could be 80% of the guy next to you but if you execute correctly on race day you could win.
What are your favourite roads in the Okanagan?
Mount Knox is close to my heart. It seemed like the biggest hill in the world coming from Ontario. I’ve done countless intervals up there and suffered all the way to the top. I’m actually getting married up there this October.
I also really love the ride from Kelowna up to Big White and back. The fact that you can come up here and have a coffee, baked goods and fill up your water bottle makes it a great ride that I recommend to people. Cyclists can’t get enough coffee!
You’re on Strava! Why do you like using this app?
I decided to join Strava because I’ve always been quite analytical and I like playing with numbers. When I joined 6 years ago, Strava was this totally new thing where you could compare your time to previous times and or against other peoples times - it was this cornucopia off data! In the beginning, I used it to compete with myself; now I use it to share my cycling with other people (over 400 followers) and I use it for coaching to track clients rides. Strava was a breakthrough in cycling - it’s changed everything for us.
How many kilometres a year do you ride on average?
Last year I did 26 000KM, and this year I’m on pace for more like 28 000-29 000KM. I’ve done more miles than I put on my car! I bought my car 7 years ago and it’s got 100 000KM on it where as in that time I’ve probably done 150 000KM.
Why do you choose to live in the Okanagan?
I had the choice to study in Vancouver or the Okanagan for university, but when I first visited the Okanagan and saw the mountains I just imagined all the training I could do. Training was the reason at first, but since then it’s been the community. People love to enjoy the outdoors out here. People go out and play. You just don’t get that everywhere else.
What is on your bucket list this summer?
I’m not home much in the summer; I’m on the road up to 15 weeks a year. When I am home however, I’d like to recover from racing with a week of mountain biking – Rose Valley, Westside, Bike Big White are all places I’m excited to ride. I also want to try mountain biking up Little White. There’s a trail, I just need to figure it out!
Have you heard of Big White’s L’Alpe de Grand Blanc? Have you participated?
Of course! I’ve always wanted to participate but it falls in a big block of racing. I was away last year in Oregon at the Cascade Classic. My fiancé loves it though, she’s participated the past 2 years and each year continues to shave off time. It’s a really good cycling event- it’s all uphill, you just gotta go!
You just started mountain biking three years ago. What advise would you give to first time mountain bikers?
Spend a little money if you want to get into the sport. Get something with dual suspension and disc brakes – it’s amazing what that can do for you. It makes the whole thing more comfortable. Also, take it slow and go out with other people who are experienced. Don’t think of it like a workout, think of it as a skill building session - it’s a skill sport.
What’s your favourite snack to take on a ride?
Jelly Belly Sports Beans. They’ve got electrolytes and vitamin B but they taste just like real Jelly Belly beans! My favourite Sports Bean flavour is Extreme Cherry and favourite regular Jelly Belly flavour is Coconut.
What do you never leave the house without?
My phone. I listen to a tonne of podcasts and audio books on my rides. Right now I’m listening to “Freakonomics : Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” and a comedy podcast called “The Adam Carolla Show”. It’s good to have a little levity when you’re pushing hard.
Interviewed at Big White Ski Resort / April 24, 2017