Jered leads the bunch up Paris Mountain during the USPRO in 2008: “David Zabriskie was already up the road, but I got a big enough gap on the field to get a chance to enjoy Paris Mountain and its thousands of fans all by myself. It was special. It would have been special just like that, but it hit unforgettable for me, because a lot of my friends, including Ashley, were in the first kilometer of the climb.” Photo by Darrell Parks
Jered Gruber left behind a career in America as a pro cyclist to pursue a life travelling with his wife Ashley across the roads of Europe. Since first picking up a camera just two years ago, the duo have photographed and reported from Grand Tours and the Classics, capturing some stunning images along the way. His work can be seen in magazines such as Peloton and Bicycling Australia, and on the official poster of the 2012 Giro d’Italia. It may sound like a dream come true, but as Jered reveals, it’s taken a lot of hard work and perseverance to get this far…
Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I started riding in 2002 after spending most of my childhood playing golf. After graduating high school in May of 2001, I traveled to Europe with a friend, Teddy. We did the European Trip and one day ended up mountain biking with my uncle and Teddy. Teddy kicked my ass. He always kicked my ass though, but for some reason, this time it stung. I wanted a bike, so bought a bike at the very end of the year for $400 from a guy in Athens. Shoes, bike, wheels, pedals, everything.
After that, it was a slow, slow process to getting reasonably fast. Cat 5 to Cat 4 in 2002, Cat 3 in 2003, a year studying and racing out of Heidelberg, Germany in 2003-2004. Cat 2 at the end of 2004, Cat 2 and 15th at U23 Nats in 2005, Cat 1 in 2006. In 2007, things started to pick up. I had been working hard since about 2005, but it took until 2007 for things to start to come together. I signed on with a great squad, the TIME Factory Development Team, and suddenly everything clicked. The people behind that program really made me the bike rider I became (plus of course my good friend, coach, training partner Jacob Fetty).
How long have you been writing about and photographing cycling? I’ve been working with PezCyclingNews since the end of 2003. I can’t believe it, but that makes for eight years now. I started working with PEZ while studying in Germany for the 2003/2004 school year. I began with Homeboy articles, then went to EuroTrash, articles, etc etc. I didn’t make any money until 2005, and at that time PEZ offered me a little something to take on some more responsibilities. That stipend of sorts really got me through those lean years when I raced full-time and made no money on my bike.
The magazines didn’t come until I met Ashley. We moved to Europe in 2008 and that’s when things really kicked off. Ashley’s continual desire to travel got us on the road and taking pictures. We got lucky and made a contact at ROAD Magazine as well as Bicycling Australia. They were happy to have our work, and we were so happy to have the chance to see our pictures and words on paper! We moved over to Peloton Magazine at the end of 2010, and that brings us to our current set up: PEZ, Peloton, Bicycling Australia.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that couldn’t be more true when it preludes a five hour ride on a frosty winter’s morning. Lunchtime is usually come and gone by the time you return home hungry and exhausted, so you need some serious fuel in the tank before setting off.
It’s no secret that porridge makes for the perfect cyclist’s breakfast; it’s got all that low GI slow-energy release stuff, sustaining you well through the morning, and it provides some welcome warmth before stepping out into the cold. And it’s cheap, offering far more healthy nourishment for the pound than any other breakfast cereal on the supermarket shelves (most of which are horribly over processed, and over priced). Yet, porridge can also become a joyless stodgy glop that’s a chore to force down if you don’t get it right.
My bike fit was undertaken at the Cyclefit studio at Pearson Cycles, 232 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 8AG. For more information visit their website.
The Man-Machine: one half is a complex mechanism of joints and moving parts, the other is a bicycle. One is endlessly adjustable and adaptable, the other is a cyclist. The ideal is a perfect union of the two separate entities, working in harmony and efficiency – except the reality is usually much different, involving wonky knees, sore backs, and cricked necks.
I’ve come to the new Cyclefit studio at the new Pearson Cycles shop in Sheen to iron out a few glitches and doubts I’ve had about my own riding setup. And it’s very early into the session that I become aware of just how little thought I’d previously put into getting my bike set up correctly and to how my body sits and moves when it’s on it. My first surprise was really just how much discomfort I was willing to accept as part of trying to ride a bike quickly – and that these discomforts could so easily be eliminated without compromising on speed.
The bike fit, perhaps unfairly, has garnered a reputation of advocating comfort over speed, practicality over style. Stuart Jeffreys of Cyclefit who will be doing my bike fitting, admits this perception has been reinforced by the type of customers they often see – many returning to sport after years of a sedentary lifestyle, backs hunched in front of computer screens. It’s these cyclists, and others who encounter obvious problems – perhaps caused by poor flexibility, or by previous injuries – can most easily see the significant benefits of having a bike that fits their body properly. But almost everyone – including experienced cyclists – can benefit from one too.