Saturday Feb 28 2009
What a ride for Auburn’s Jones
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
Just three years ago, Chris Jones was behind a desk for 40 hours each week. Now his desk has two wheels, pedals and it goes real fast when he’s on the seat. The Auburn resident rode in the Tour of California for the first time as a member of Team Type 1. Racing against the top field ever assembled in the U.S., Jones finished a respectable 62nd among nearly 200 riders that started the race. “This was a huge step for our team,” Jones said. “For me it was a big step up. It’s the most stacked field I’ve ever raced in. It was cool to start in Sacramento, which was as close as you can get to Auburn. It was great to have so many friends and family members there.” At age 29, Jones has a unique perspective on road racing. He spent several years working as a civil engineer after graduating from Point Loma Nazarene College with a master’s degree. When his wife was accepted to a school in Connecticut, Jones’ career plans took a sudden turn. “I was an amateur racer, living in San Diego and when we moved, I decided to not get another job,” Jones said. Instead, he pursued his dream of becoming a professional cyclist. He hooked up with Nerac Pro Cycling and after an impressive 2007 season, Team Type 1 signed him for the 2008 season. His strong riding last year earned him another one-year contract with Team Type 1, which features two riders with Type 1 Diabetes. “They were looking for a climber who was an American,” Jones said. “The fact that they’re not a traditional, sponsored team definitely factored in. There’s more of a mission with this team. It’s an added benefit — you’re inspiring people with diabetes.” At 5-9, 140 pounds, Chris Jones isn’t exactly cut out to be a football player. But his uncle Jerry Haflich — the head football coach at American River College — was a major influence on Jones’ cycling career. “He got me into triathlons and I couldn’t swim or run, so I settled on cycling,” Jones explained. Jones and his wife moved to Auburn last year after she landed a job at Sutter-Roseville Medical Center. He couldn’t ask for better training grounds. Climbs up Mosquito Ridge Road and long rides around Folsom Lake help keep him sharp in the offseason. During the cycling season, it’s tough to keep up with Jones. His team is currently defending its title at the Vuelta Mexico. Team Type 1 will compete at the Tour of Taiwan later this month. The summer will see Jones riding all over the U.S. and even in Europe. A small professional team compared to many that were featured at the Tour of California, Team Type 1 has lofty goals. “The long term goal is to compete in the Tour de France in 2012,” Jones said. Jones, who was born in Redding, is also aspiring to greatness. He said last week’s competition was good motivation for the rest of the season and beyond. “It was a brutally tough race with the weather and the speed of the race,” Jones said. “I’m happy I made it through and I was able to race instead of just ride. But I was hoping for a little more — that’s part of being a competitor. Now I know what to expect for 2010.” The real motivation for Jones comes from knowing most guys his age only dream of making a living on a bicycle. “That keeps me going,” he said. “I know what it’s like on the other side.” Todd Mordhorst’s column runs Sundays in the Journal.