Recently, we sat down and chatted with long-time Source Endurance athlete Joe Schmalz of Elevate Pro Cycling Team. Joe has a long background in cycling and has found great successes this season at the Pro Road Tour. He is also a great athlete to work with and an all around great guy.
Tell us about you- where you are from, how long you’ve been riding.
I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, racing with the local junior scene there. I’ve been riding since I was 12 and started with road racing. When I was 16-17, I started doing more cyclocross and went to Europe to race two winters over there for my first and second year U23.
How did you discover cycling and decide to focus on that as a sport?
I played soccer and ran track throughout junior school and high school. I was introduced to cycling through my grandpa who owned a bike shop. He got into it through my dad who got into it for fitness. My dad loved cycling and got my grandma to retire as a schoolteacher and buy his friend’s bike shop. I was always around the sport growing up.
You’ve had multiple great results…podiums, wins, and most recently top 10s at Redlands and Joe Martin and now Winston-Salem… What type of rider do you consider yourself?
I’m more of an all-around…more specifically, I’m suited to punchy, longer road races and more circuit type races.
A lot of your best results have been at incredibly challenging races. What gives someone the edge to be a winner/contestor for the win versus a never-winner?
The edge is being there at the end. You first have to gain experience of being there. Another major factor is having the confidence and the mind-set to just go for it and not being afraid to fail. You have to be okay with getting nothing out of going for it. Others might not be willing to take that risk and are just happy with whatever.
What are characteristic differences between a cat 1 and a professional racer in your opinion?
Overall physical ability may not be that much different but you do have to be able to ride really hard the entire stage. Most cat 1s can only manage 2-3 hours of it, whereas Winston-Salem, for example, was just as hard the first lap as it was the last lap. There is a major drop off after the three hour mark.
Having the ability and confidence to put yourself out there against the pros is also a different. Positioning, etc. adds up. A pro race is a different experience.
You’ve worked with Adam for a long time as a coach. How has your training evolved as you approached and joined the professional level of racing?
I’ve worked with Adam since I was in high school and a lot has changed. When we started I was managing high school and then college and racing cyclocross overseas. Training was focused for those shorter events but also to balance a busy schedule.
When I transitioned to road, I had to start to put in a lot more hours with a really big winter and spring build up. Adam has me do a lot of long rides with intervals stacked at the end of rides.
What recommendations do you have for someone looking to find a good coaching relationship?
The main thing is to find someone who thinks and has similar logic to you. You may not have the terminology but you know you can work with them because you think the same way. You can’t have opposite personalities. What do you focus on as a coached athlete: the science behind coaching, do you like to give a lot of input, or just do what the coach tells you?
A support system is something that is essential to staying on the top level, who are your biggest supporters?
My girlfriend A’Laina, my grandfather and parents. They come to a lot of races! Of course my coach Adam has been huge…I’ve been working with him for 8 years.
What advice do you have for someone looking to “go pro”?
Be prepared to work really hard. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be times where you want to hang it up and quit and thoughts of “I’m not good enough” after you get your teeth kicked in at a race. You have to be very resilient and tough when that happens because to be get there, you can’t have a lot of self-doubt.
On the flip side you can’t take it too seriously because it’s just a bike race…we’re not launching a spaceship. It’s important to keep a good perspective on everything.
What do you enjoy off the bike?
Honestly, I enjoy just being home and doing “normal at home things” such as sleeping in my own bed, hanging out with people not in a cycling kit, seeing friends and family. I also relish the times I don’t have to think or talk about bike racing!
Thanks Joseph! We’re eager to see how the rest of your season pans out.