Interview with Jeremy VanSchoonhoven

I interviewed Jeremy after the Invert '99 Dual Trials event. I couldn't attend the event, but I picked up Jeremy, his dad, and his bike from the hotel they were staying at in Anaheim (about 45 minutes away) and brought them back to Scott Thompson's parent's house, where a lot of us local southern california riders hang out after a ride on Sunday afternoons. We rode in Scott's backyard, hung out, ate, and had this fun little interview in Monica's room, then I took them back at like 2 in the morning and went home!

Stephen (me), Jeremy, and Tim, heading down to the store in search of disc brake pads day before OTM (more silly pics here)

I got Jeremy to sign my Monty pants:

Name: Jeremy VanSchoonhoven (pronounced Van - Skoon - hoven)

Born: October 4, 1982

Hometown: Williams, OR

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 140 pounds

    Left foot forward
    Sidehops to back foot (most of the time)
Oddities on his stock bike:
    Disc brake in the rear.
    Power grips on the pedals.

So what's your town like? If you could call it a town... Well, there's 1 7-11 type store, 1 tiny hardware store, 1 post office, a little grade school. No high-school.

So where do you go to school? I'm home-schooled by my parents.

What's that like? It's great, it's easier to schedule for things... I can ride when it's nice, warm, and sunny outside, which is around noon a lot of the time, and then come back to "school"... In Oregon, it rains a lot, so being able to ride anytime during the day lets me pick the best time. I can also do a whole pile of work before leaving on a trip...

How long have you been a Pro? Well, I got my Pro license when I was 15, but my first pro trials event was Sea Otter this year, at age 16. I came in 9th, 4th place American, I think.

Why do you ride toe clips? I started riding mountain bikes with toe clips, then I checked out power grips, and started using them for xc. Then I got clipless pedals, but thought they were sketchy... They were too dangerous for trials! I learned bunnyhopping with the power grips... I like 'em.

What got you into trials? I was on an xc ride with guys from the bike shop and one of the guys was hopping on his back wheel. I thought it was cool... I tried to do it right then, but couldn't. I tried for 3 hours practicing in my driveway that day. I went back to the shop the next day, talked to the really cool guy (Jason Nelson), and asked if it helps to lower your seat... He said yeah, so I went back home and the first time I tried it with my seat low, I got one hop... Over the next months, I got more and more successive back wheel hops. Trackstanding and bunnyhopping in place kept me busy for 3 months or so.. I tried riding wheelies...

When did you actually find out what trials is? Well, I found out a little bit at a time... In 1996, I went to my first competition ever. It was in Oregon outside of Jacksonville. John's Peak. It's a motorcycle park. I competed in beginner, it was great. I was so excited, I was riding awesome. I was cleaning sections that other riders where dabbing at. Halfway through the event, I watched the experts doing insane stuff, and then went back to riding my beginner sections, and went too fast and was crashing through the sections... Seeing the experts ride really messed me up... I ended up coming in 2nd...

Do you think stretching is important? Yes, definitely. I know I don't stretch enough. It's really hard to do. Doesn't seem like it really helps right then. You don't see any immediate improvement, it's further down the road. I stretch on my bike a lot. Like stretching way over the rear wheel like I'm going to do a big sidehop. That's a good one.

Why do you ride? Cuz I love to ride.

Who's the rider that you most respect or want to imitate? There isn't really one rider that I most respect. I like to watch as many people as I can and learn all the different styles. I liked riding with the Brazillians and the Polish because they both have very different styles from the Americans. But Americans have different styles as well. I really like a lot of the moves Jeff (Lenosky) does because they're big moves and that's my weak point. When I bought his video from him, he said it's like having a "Virtual Jeff." And it really worked! It helped me out so much. I went from being able to just barely bothwheeling a spool I have with a pedal-up to being able to backwheel by bunnyhopping because of watching it.

So you would just watch and slow-mo the video, right? Yeah, slow-mo all the way!

What the most extreme thing you've ever done? Jeff (Lenosky) and Chris (Clark) were filming eachother at the OTM comp the day before the event and I was riding with them. I said to Jeff, "Hey Jeff, do this drop!" He said, "No way! I'm not gonna do it, but if you do it, I'll film you..." So I was on top of this huge rock... I asked one of the guys down below to stand up next to it so I could see how big it was... It was like 8 and a half feet if not higher from a rock down to another rock. I did the drop fine, then the next morning I looked down and noticed I busted the seam on my Snow Cat rim! That would've meant I couldn't compete, since I didn't have an extra wheel, but I run a rear disc brake, so I could ride on it!

What kinda stuff do you like to ride on? NATURAL! Yes! Natural all the way! [we high-five] Rocks... None of that concrete junk! Logs. I have this pile of tree stumps with the roots attached where I live... There are big gaps and crazy lines to take, it's so ridiculous. Very European... technical riding. Smaller stuff instead of the big moves American comps have... Like 4 or 5 big moves and that's the section... I don't like big stuff. But I'm practicing it a lot now, just because I'm not good at it...

When you go for a ride, do you go out with a goal set in mind? Yes, I have a goal. When I train, I think about what I'm bad at in competition, and I'll go and practice on what I'm bad on... I'll practice certain moves, or I'll try to go fast... I don't just go out and ride.

How much do you ride trials in a regular week? I practice trials like twice a week for 2 hours a day, and I ride all but one day a week. The rest is cross country. 2 hour xc rides, usually... Longer on the weekends.

What do you do besides Trials? I do XC, cyclocross, road race, and I buck hay. I am also a Magician.

What's bucking hay? [entire room laughing at me] Stacking hay on a truck or in the barn... That's why I'm so big and buff [flexes muscles, laughter].

When you practice do you find yourself trying the same thing over and over and not making it? Yeah, sometimes I'll try something 15-20 times before I make it. You have to try stuff that you can't make. Just try to go a little over what you know you can do, but don't make it dangerous.. Like if you're gonna try a big gap, do it a foot off the ground, not 3 feet.

What kind of a mind set do you recommend riders go into a competition with? I think when you're riding in a competition, you should always try and ride smart and plan your dabs. If I don't think I can make it, I'll dab it, and make it through, then I'll go back after the competition and see if I can make it, cuz then it doesn't matter if I don't make it...

What is the most important thing for a beginner to do? The most important thing for a beginner to do is wear a helmet and shinguards.

What's your worst crash? I was sprinting on my mountain bike the day before the road bike state championships, doing warmup sprints.. I was going like 30 mph, and something went wrong with my Wellgo clipless pedal and it clipped out on me and my foot went into the front wheel and I flipped over and went sliding on the ground... I partially ripped off my fingernail and ripped the skin of the tip of my finger and got a gnarly cut on my left elbow...

Tell me the story about you beating Cristiano Santos in an arm wrestling match. Well, I was staying at a condo with Cristiano (Santos), Neilson (Reis), and the Poles, and they had games in there. The Brazillians (Cris and Neilson) speak hardly any English, so I pointed at the checker board and asked if they knew how to play checkers and they said yes. So we started playing checkers, and everything was going just fine. And then, all of the sudden, Neilson jumped backwards over one of my checkers, then forwards over an another, and then backwards again over another! I said that's not legal. And he said, yes it is, and called Cristiano over and asked him.. Cristiano said, "In US, not ok, Brazil, ok." So we finished the game out like it was ok, which was kinda weird... He beat me.. then we played a game with US rules and I beat him. Then we played with Brazilian rules again, and I went to go backwards and he said it wasn't ok "in Brazil, not ok!" Then I figured out that you have to hop over a checker to go backwards... So he beat me again with Brazilian rules. After that we arm wrestled. I beat Cris in an arm wrestling match! Cristiano is the Brazillian national champion in kickboxing! Then I arm wrestled Neilson, and he slaughtered me! He's 19, and he's like 5'3" or so... I was really surprised because he doesn't look very strong and Cristiano looks really buff...

Did you ever realize that one of your sponsors, Vans shoes, sounds quite similar to VanSchoonhoven? No.

How long do chains last for you? I dunno, probably 3 or 4 months. What? Chains only last me like 6 weeks! What do you do to them?! I don't know, I'm a buff guy, I pedal-kick big gaps! How do you get them to last so long?! I use dry lube.. Icy wax... If it's raining a lot, I've gotta do it allot , but when it's dry, I lube it up like every week or two.

What was it like meeting Hans? Jeff introduced me to "the living legend Hans Rey" at Invert '99 today. He was really nice. It's funny to me that everyone seems to think that his riding is going downhill with age, but it's really the level of riders today is going up so fast.

Do you think brakes are over-rated? No.. But I don't think you need to use tar, because you can't roll stuff easily, you can't modulate. I love modulation. I love disc brakes. (Jeremy has one in the rear of his stock bike, which is very rare) I think tar sucks! Especially when it's wet out. When it was dry out at Mt. Snow (finals), everyone was making fun of my disc brakes... until it started raining.. I let Alex Cubbage ride my bike and he exclaimed "hey your brakes still work! They're awesome!" And for the rest of the day, no one said a word about my brakes...

How were the finals in Mt. Snow? It was the day before my comp and it was very nice. I think it was like 65 to 70 degrees. I was staying with Ryah Radomsky in a house that the Schwinn team rented for the week. I got all of my riding stuff and my bike and left for the race site to look at the trials sections and to see about riding with some other riders. Checked out all the sections that I would ride the next day, and after that I went to find somebody to ride with. It did not take very long to find some OK riders, like Jeff Lenosky Schwinn pro, Chris Clark GT pro and Lance Trappe Volvo Cannondale pro. All really great riders. I was excited to be riding with them. We rode all over the place and over anything we could find, then I went back to the house and kicked back on the couch. I talked with some of the Schwinn racers for awhile, then went to bed. The next morning I looked out the window and saw that it was raining. I could not believe it. The day of the National Observed Trials Championship event and it was raining out. I started getting my NAC riding pants on, then my team jersey, shin pads, Vans shoes and I was ready to go. I got to the race site at about 8:30 for the riders meeting at 9:00 and then I would start the Juniors open at 10:00 and have until 1:00 to finish and then I would start the Pro stock at 2:00, if I had not killed myself by then. So I started the Juniors and of course it was raining, so all the sections were very slick, but I was riding better then I had ever rode before. I cleaned the first section and all the others on round one and round two and on the third round I cleaned all but the last section. I got a one! I was done by 1:30 and they said I had won! I could hardly believe it, and I was very happy. I started the Pro event at 2:00 and again I was really riding the best I had ever ridden. I was doing great until I made a stupid mistake and rode the wrong line, an instant 5 points. Then I started getting tired and it was raining so bad my grips were slipping. I had to dry them of after every section. I really struggled on the last few courses. I made it through and won the Bronze medal. It was great! There were some problems with getting my medals, but everything ended great for me. I wish the events would have been more organized. Still I rode the best day of my life. Of course I had a big advantage over the other riders. My brakes work in the rain. Plus the rain kept some of the better riders from being able to do the big ups that I could not do. These two things helped me out a lot!

Give me two "Happiness is" one-liners, one serious, one silly... Happiness is believing in God and doing what He says. Happiness is riding my trials bike! (said very sillily)

Jeremy was asked at a dual trials event: If you could beat up one person here at this event so they could not compete, who would it be? Well, I don't want to beat anyone up. What if you had to? I suppose if I had to pick someone, it would be Shaun Miller, he wins all of the dual trials events.

Jeremy would like to thank his sponsors: for providing a Junior rider with the chance of a lifetime.

    NAC Bikes for helping me through the rough times and for the greatest bikes!

    Vans Shoes, great trials shoes.

    Speedplay Pedals (for xc and cyclocross) the best pedals, period!

    Lush Glasses

    Core Rat

    Power Grips, the people that help me stick to my pedals.

    Plastic Clothing

    Jog Mate