BEING PRO—TJ EISENHART

As unique a racer as you'll ever find

Photos: VeloImages

Team: Holowesko-Citadel

Hometown: Lehi, Utah

Age: 22

It’s your first year with Holowesko-Citadel; how has the adjustment been racing full-time in the U.S. compared to your past European years?

I wouldn’t say that I’ve had many adjustments to make. It’s been really comfortable and natural over here. When I say that, I mean I’m already home right now the day after finishing up [and winning] the Redlands Classic. I can race for a week and then fly home and be in my bed and train on my own roads at home. It feels a lot more fluid since I’m not traveling from race to race to race and showing up exhausted, not knowing how my legs are going to feel. No more random hotels is good.

You seem to be good at climbing and time-trialing. Do you spend more time working on either one of those disciplines? 

I’ve always been that type of rider since I was a junior. I’ve always had a lot of success in the GC when it comes to stage races. Back in my U23 days, it would seem that one year I would be good at climbing and another year I would be good in the time trial. This year I seem to be jelling with both pretty evenly. I spend about 2–3 days a week on my TT bike, and then the rest of the week I’ll be on the road bike. I don’t specifically train on one bike more than the other.

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Last year you got the call up to ride for the BMC WorldTour outfit as a stagiaire for the last part of the season; how was that experience?

At that level I noticed that it’s a lot more of a job. You’re getting paid more, and you’re doing a lot more racing. There were a lot of times where I’m like, I’m getting paid to do my job so I need to do it and I need to be there. It was great, and I loved the BMC team. I’m still really good friends with a lot of them, but it is kind of funny outside of the race because you can have fun and have a good time, but during the race it’s not as relaxed, especially compared to racing over here with Team Hincapie. These guys do it right over here. With this team, we know when to have fun and we know when to be serious. The best part is, we all trust each other and we can all get the job done. With a bigger team such as BMC, there are a lot more riders, so many times you’re racing with a whole new team with different riders each time.

Unlike some other pros, you like to spend your time off the bike doing art and being creative. How long have you been into that?

I’ve been into art for as long as I can remember. My mom would buy me sketch books when I was a kid, and I was always going to art classes. When I turned 10, I was doing more liquid lead airbrush where I was spending a lot of time doing big pieces. I signed with BMC when I was 18, and I was super serious, and for two years I didn’t draw at all. I just spent all my time cycling and training. By my third year with BMC, I was pretty burnt out and ready to go home. I actually went home and signed up at Dixie State University and took a few art classes there. The art class I took was really basic, and I just wanted to humble myself and go back to the basics. We started with pencil, then we moved over to charcoal, and doing that I really fell in love with it again, as it is a very heavy medium art.

I think it was in 2015 when I really started to just draw again with no intent to really sell. It was more of an escape and to be in touch with something new. I would at times forget to go ride on my easy recovery days, as I would be in my studio all day, just constantly drawing. This past winter I stayed with Taylor Phinney in Boulder and went to an art show with him, and that really sparked me up to start painting more. I started with oil and progressed from there, trying to find my vibe and rhythm with it. It is very exhausting, though, so I don’t do it when I’m tired from my training because it is so intense. It’s very similar to racing.

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Are you planning on staying in the U.S. now or are you planning to get back to Europe?

Right now I have no intention of thinking about that, because all I’m focused on is winning bike races and enjoying it. I’m very keen on living in the moment and not viewing things as stepping stones. I believe that’s a bad way of living. Maybe if something comes up at the end of the year I’ll look into it, but right now I’m just enjoying the moment and having a great time racing with Team Hincapie. I’m definitely not done with racing in Europe, as I feel I have some unfinished business, but like I said, it’s not on my mind right now. I’m just focused on winning bike races.

Does living up at altitude give you a big advantage for when you come down to lower-elevation races?

I feel like I’m at the perfect level, as I live at 4800 feet, so it’s the altitude where you’re getting some adaptation but not dying. All the mountains around my house you can easily climb up to 9000 feet, and I can go train up in the mountains and then do all my efforts down here at a lower level. It is an issue when you go up too high, so I back it down a bit, as you can feel the difference going up that high.

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