Surprisingly, it didn’t require any peer pressure whatsoever. All he needed, I think, was the assurance that it was possible.
A few days ago, Colombian Janier Acevedo, fresh off his podium performance at last week’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, was railing his road bike down pristine Colorado singletrack behind his U.S. teammates.
The dirt road we had chosen for training at Snowmass ended unexpectedly at a trailhead, so naturally the yanqui contingent of our squad, composed of part-time cyclocross racers and mountain bike enthusiasts, wanted to forge ahead off-road. For the U.S. guys like me, also collectively known as the Jamis-Hagens Berman gringos, this experience was a little victory in our season-long mission to introduce Janier and the other Latinos on the team to our training methods and culture, as they concurrently attempt to do the same to us.
My team is based in the United States, but has a strong Latin influence. Director Sebastian Alexandre hails from Argentina, and our roster boasts riders and staff from his country as well as the U.S., Colombia, Cuba, and the Spanish Canary Islands.
It means that communication is sometimes difficult, but each of the gringos knows a few words of Spanish, each of the Latinos knows some English, and we all seem to be naturally gifted at cycling-related charades.
“Seba” does an excellent job selecting riders and staff who possess the relevant ability and a predilection for such cultural accommodation. On our team you can find U.S. riders drinking yerba mate and going by their Latino nicknames. My monikers include “rubio,” which means “the blond guy,” and “garrafa,” which idiomatically translates to “propane tank” in Argentina, and which the Latinos claim is a compliment to my ability to keep suffering until the bitter end of a race. Jamey Driscoll is “motoneta,” the scooter, and Carson Miller goes by “Carlitos.”
Even though Janier has looked to us gringos for help purchasing a power meter and for advice on modern training, I think instead we should be learning from his old-school, streamlined training techniques. His antiquated approach to his craft is effective, as evidenced by his podiums at the tours of California and Utah.
Instead of using heart rate or power to guide his workout regimen, like most modern professional cyclists, Janier has numerous benchmarks along training routes by his home in Medellin, Colombia. He times himself between mailboxes and light poles along climbs and knows from these yardsticks how much work remains to be done. When he’s outside of Colombia he seems to use his teammates to measure his form on the climbs.
While his road-bike singletrack skills could use some work, from my perspective, Janier is ready for another assault on a major domestic stage race this coming week at the USA Pro Challenge. And he has a united band of gringos and Latinos to back him.