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Jones pedals with a purpose

World Class cyclist relishing his brief break from pro circuit
By: Brian L Morris Special to the Journal
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Though they chose Auburn by chance, wanting only to live far from the city, Chris Jones now considers the Auburn area world class in its bike riding possibilities. A professional cyclist, Jones came to Auburn three years ago when his wife, Cassie, was recruited as a pediatric nurse practitioner to Sutter Hospital in Roseville. “I encourage my teammates and other pro riders to consider Auburn as a home,” Jones said. “And after they visit, they agree it’s a phenomenal place to ride and train.” Bicycle riding started as a hobby for Jones, 30, but for the past three years it’s been his career. As a pro rider for Team Type 1, he rides to win races and instill hope and inspiration for people around the world affected by diabetes. Sixty-nine men and women ride for Team Type 1 and of those, 36 have Type 1 diabetes while another 18 have Type 2. Though Jones does not have diabetes, he is passionate on the subject.   “I wish people could spend a day with the diabetic riders to see how they manage the disease so it does not negatively impact their lives,” Jones said. Jones began riding bikes during his senior year at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego when his uncle, a football coach at American River College, decided to take up triathlons as a. way to get fit and lose weight. Jones joined him but soon discovered the only part of the sport he liked was the biking. In San Diego he commuted to work on his bicycle and joined the San Diego Bicycle Club where he was introduced to racing. Expert riders in that club and a club in Redding coached and encouraged him to an elite level of riding. A training week early in the season typically includes 25 to 35 hours of riding and takes him to places as diverse as Sacramento, Placerville, Meadow Vista, and beyond Foresthill. When asked how many days a week he rides he said, “Seven. Some guys take a couple days off. I don’t, simply because I like to ride so much.” Though not a bike rider herself, Cassie assists Jones a couple days a week using a small white scooter to simulate race conditions with motor pacing. Cassie, whom Jones calls “My number one fan,” uses a wireless power meter to measure his effort as he rides behind her. She often accelerates the scooter to speeds of up to 40 miles an hour. “She loves to torture me,” Jones said. In May, Jones rode in his second Amgen Tour of California and finished 16th overall out of field of 127. His first professional stage win came at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas in 2009. He describes the peloton, the main group of riders pedaling in tight formation at more than 25 mph, as very physical and social. “There’s always a lot of communication going on,” Jones said. Jones must be ready for the unexpected when he’s racing. He encountered a bouncing basketball while riding in the Tour of Morocco in April and narrowly escaped a crash. The road racing season runs from January to October and Chris will next be seen in the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Ore. later this month and then in stage races in Brazil and Utah. When the road season concludes he will join the cyclocross pro circuit, a sport he’s quickly developed a passion for and in which he’s already had great success Before his professional career ends he hopes to win a stage of the Tour of California and ride in the Tour de France, the Super Bowl of bike racing. Between seasons Jones can be found on the slopes high in the Sierra enjoying a few weeks of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Recently he’s discovered skate skiing, a sport he says translates nicely to bicycling because of the altitude work and the cardiovascular workout. With a graduate degree in Construction Engineering, he eventually plans to return to the construction industry as a project manager, where he will experience the mental challenges of building heavy infrastructure such as dams and bridges. You can follow Jones’ progress through his website, www.christopherjones.info and on Twitter (cjonez). For more information on Team Type 1, vsist www.teamtypel.org.