‘Living The Dream’

Champion Rider: No Regrets On Pursuing Career In ’Burg

Posted: June 15, 2013

Harrisonburg-based pro bike rider Jeremiah Bishop says he’s “lucky to be able to make a living and do what I love.” (Photo by Jeremy Hunt / DN-R)
HARRISONBURG — Just over a decade ago, Jeremiah Bishop faced a fork in the trail.

He was a licensed, “rookie-professional” mountain bike rider staring down a career choice.

He either had to quit working and focus full time on riding, or do the “adult thing,” go back to school and give up on his dream of being a pro at the top of the sport.

“I said, ‘All right. I’m going to do it. I’m going to Harrisonburg and living the dream,’” he recalled.

It ended up being one of the best decisions he ever made, he says.

Bishop, who moved to the Valley from Maryland in 2002, is now a national champion pro rider with the Sho-Air/Cannondale cycling team.

“I’m really lucky to be able to make a living and do what I love,” he said.

The Right Location

That Bishop, now 37, would choose Harrisonburg as his home is a testament to the area’s cycling community and oodles of trails on which he rides religiously.

Here’s someone who has ridden all over the world in exotic places known for their mountainous regions.

“One-third of the world is covered by mountains but …  only maybe 1 percent have good single-track mountain biking,” he said.

Single-track trails, he said, are to mountain biking what powder snow is to skiing. Sure, you can ski on ice, but powder is the bee’s knees.

“This area is home to over 1,000 miles of great trails within a day’s drive,” he said.

And he takes advantage of it.

Bishop is in the midst of the racing season and holds the No. 2 spot in the Pro XCT men’s individual rankings.

Bishop declined to say how much money he makes, but it’s “enough that I can afford my mortgage and pay my bills and still go out for coffee,” he said recently while sitting outside Greenberry’s Coffee Co. on South High Street.

Rules Of The Road

One thing people don’t understand about professional athletes, he said, is how important it is to save money in case of injury.

Also, it’s not as though he’s only “working” when he’s riding a bicycle. He has to plan trips, coordinate with mechanics and fulfill team responsibilities.

Bishop also is active in the local cycling community and hosts an annual fundraising ride.

Last September, his Alpine Loop Gran Fondo attracted nearly 400 cyclists to the area for the journey from Harrisonburg to Franklin, W.Va., and back.

It benefited the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project and Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition.

And then there’s the “off-season.” Here’s the thing about that: It’s anything but off. It’s when he does his most rigorous training and when the races are truly won.

“The racing is more just a show of the ability you’ve reached,” he said.

Peak training involves more than 30 hours a week riding, or about 600 miles.

And you have to do it when you’re sore and the weather is lousy.

“It’s everything you can do to get out of bed the next day and do it all over again,” he said.

But luckily for Bishop, the training demands fit well with his personality.

“Part of what makes me good at what I do is I can’t stay still,” he said. “If I’m off the bike for 24 hours, I’m bouncing off the wall.”

Contact Jeremy Hunt at 574-6273 or jhunt@dnronline.com

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