Willie Myers burst onto the NorCal scene this year with several early season wins for the Fremont Bank Cycling team. Today it was announced that Myers will be moving to regional powerhouse Marc-Pro Strava. The move will enable Myers to attend some regional National Calendar events and get a taste for what might be possible down the road. I still think his name sounds like a baseball player from the 50’s.
Interview conducted by Chris Harland Dunaway
NCCN: How did you start and what got you into cycling?
Myers: I started racing with Team City in 2010. When I was 19 I started riding my old blue Schwinn too work every day and was having fun just riding around town with my friends. My step dad Eric is an avid cyclist and asked if I wanted to do a tour up to Seattle too raise money for histiocytosis research. It seemed like a fun idea so I said yes. One of Eric’s friends let me borrow a bright yellow/orange Moser and I started riding with him once a week. After riding up to Seattle I started working at a bike shop and riding every day. After a few months at the shop my co workers tricked me into entering my first race. I won and was hooked.
NCCN: How did they trick you – did they tell you it was a century ride or something?
Myers: Maybe tricked is the wrong word, lets go with convinced me.
NCCN: You’ve won 3 races this year: 1 road race and 2 crits. How did those play out?
Myers: My first win of the year was the Bicycles Plus Winter Crit, I went into the race just wanting to see where my fitness was and be as aggressive as possible. I spent most of the race trying to get a break going to no avail. After the last hectic laps of the race I came through the last corner 4th wheel and was able to take the win along with most aggressive rider and a handful of primes. It felt good to get my first result sense July of 2011 out of the way.
The next weekend was the Cat 2 Coppertown circuit race which came down to a 6 person break . I was able to take win and then, 2 hours later, I took 3rd in the P 1/2 race.
At the Bariani RR I spent the first 2 laps of the race being aggressive and trying to get a break going, on the first lap I got into a 3 man break which had a max advantage of 48 seconds but was brought back 3/4 through the second lap. After a few more attacks I decided I would sit and wait for the sprint and just hope everything would come together. Going into the final 1k I found myself on Chuck’s wheel and was able to come around him in the final 300 meters for the win.
NCCN: You have become a sprinter/breakaway rider. Strong enough to get into a move yet able to win from a field sprint. What lead you to develop that racing style?
Myers: I have always enjoyed the thought of being in a break. I can get very antsy in the pack just because I don’t want to miss the winning move so I find myself feeling more comfortable attacking and getting in the mix, helps mellow me out a bit. My coach Harvey Nitz always tells me it’s a better chance of winning if your only sprinting against a few dudes instead of 100. But hey I like field sprints too.
NCCN: Talk about your coach and your training plan- I have heard that you put in a lot of hours on your bike improving your overall fitness.
Myers: I started working with Harvey at the end of 2011. He has been hugely helpful not only in my fitness but my overall mentality in races. Also having a coach who rode for 7-11 and has a few Olympic and World Championship medals is pretty rad. Because of my injury in 2012 I never had to take any time off in the winter and was lucky enough to have a lot of free time on my hands so I was able to put in some big blocks and get some solid base in. Riding is pretty much all I do at the moment so I do spend most of my time pedaling around.
NCCN: What upcoming races this season are targets?
Myers: Really looking forward to races like San Rafael Twilight Crit and doing some bigger races like Tour of America’s Dairyland and Dana Point Grand Prix. I’ve never raced at that level so I’m really looking forward to getting in there. I really enjoy the Cal Cup races too, those are always fun
NCCN: You and all the serious Sac riders train in the Sierra Foothills a fair amount right? Any good stories of angry gold miners chasing you or getting a scatter gun pointed in your direction?
Myers: I think everyone that rides in the foothills has at least a few stories about angry mountain people. I’ve been yelled at and had many objects thrown at me over the years. A few years ago I was riding near Georgetown and had some guy in a beat up truck tell me, “You’re either real brave or real dumb for riding up here by yourself.” Needless to say I turned around and pedaled to safety. Who knows maybe he was just worried I was going to double flat and be stranded. Or he was going to murder me.
NCCN: At Merced Crit you got to mix it up with USA Pro Crit Champ, Ken Hanson, as well as Adam Switters. What was it like getting into the break with both Switters and Krit Master Ken?
Myers: At the Merced crit I was feeling pretty good so I attacked early in the race and was quickly joined by Switters. After a lap or so Ken bridged up and we quickly built up a sizable gap. After a few more laps Switters started sitting on so Ken and myself found a good rhythm and kept it steady. Around 10 laps to go we had a 40 second gap and Mikes Bikes put all their riders on the front to try to close down the gap, 5 laps to go our gap was down to around 20 seconds but Ken and myself just kept out heads down and with 2 laps to go it was clear that we were not going to be caught. After going through the start finish line on the last lap Switters attacked right as Ken pulled off from a monster pull so I had to put in a big effort to bring him back. Coming into the sprint I dont think I realized how tired I was and just wasnt able to come by Ken and the fresher Switters, but hey 3rd isnt too bad when your standing next to those dudes.
NCCN: So now you’re on Marc Pro – Strava. How are you feeling?
Myers: Really looking forward to to riding the rest of the season with Marc Pro Strava. The team has some major horse power and cant wait to mix it up with everyone. And I get to wear a sweet yellow helmet, what more could you ask for!
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