Tj just wrapped up a very impressive Colorado Classic campaign where he came close to winning a stage and was also close to winning the GC. We caught up with Tj at the beginning of the year where we talked with him for our “BEING PRO” segment in our magazine.
Team: Holowesko – Citadel p/b Hincapie
Hometown: Lehi, Utah
It’s your first year with Holowesko – Citadel, how has the adjustment been racing full time in the US compared to your past European years?
I wouldn’t say that I’ve had many adjustments 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 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. I haven’t been going to random hotels it just feels more relaxed and i enjoy it a lot more actually.
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. When I was first in my u23 years 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 on the week I’ll be on the road bike. I don’t specifically train on one bike too much more then the other.
Last year you got the call up to ride for the BMC WorldTour outfit as a stairgae for the last part of the season, how was that experience and what did you notice that was different at that level?
At that level I noticed that it’s a lot more of a job. Your getting paid more and your doing a lot more racing. There were a lot 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 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. Those guys do it right over here. With this team we know when to have fun and we know when to be serious and the best part is that we all trust each other and we can all get the job done. With being on a bigger team with such as BMC there are a lot more riders so many times your almost racing with a whole new team with different riders each time.
Unlike some other pro’s 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 back 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. When i signed with BMC when I was 18 I was super serious and for two years I didn’t draw and I just spent all my time cycling and training. Maybe my third year with BMC I was pretty burnt out and had 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 2015 time I really started to just draw again with no intent to really sell but 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 and 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 and 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 its very similar to racing.
Are you planning on staying in the US for the coming years to race or are you planning to get back over to Europe?
Right now I have no intention with 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 thats bad a 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 its not on my mind right now. I’m just focused on winning bike races.
Living up at altitude do you feel that gives you a big advantage for when you come down to races?
Ya I feel like I’m at the perfect level as I live at 4800 feet so it’s the altitude where your getting some adaptation but your not dieing. 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.