A Game of 20 Questions with Jess Cerra
This week we are super excited to feature our first international athlete! Jess is based in Oceanside, California and rides for pro cycling team Hagens Burman Supermint (team bio here). Jess is not only super talented and accomplished on the bike, she is also the creator of JoJe bars (gluten free, dairy free, awesome real food bars), which are one of Noa's favorite snacks on the go! Jess's story is so awesome and inspiring that we plan on working with her more in the future - stay tuned!
Meet Jess Cerra
1. How long have you been riding bikes?
I started riding mountain bikes in 2007, that’s when I did my first mountain bike race. I then read about XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon in a magazine and wanted to try it. I raced XTERRA from 2008-2011. In 2010 I won the Amateur XTERRA National Championship, and then raced the 2011 season as a professional. In 2012-2013 I switched to mountain bike racing, where I raced the USAC Pro Ultra Endurance Tour both seasons. During the 2013 season I started racing on the road for fitness and decided to pursue that in 2014. I signed my first professional road contract for the 2015 season, and am now in my 4th year as a professional on a road.
2. How did you get acquainted with cycling?
I moved to San Diego to attend grad school at SDSU. My research focus was looking at calcium lost through sweat in elite male cyclists, and how this contributed to osteoporosis. Living in the So Cal area, I saw so many cyclists out on the road and secretly desired to ride a bike, but was intimidated. One of my professors suggested that I complete the protocol that I was putting my cycling subjects through in the lab, which included a VO2 max test. I had a VO2 in the low 70’s (which on paper is of Olympic caliber). The same professor offered me a mountain bike to borrow and took me out with her mountain bike team. That team took me under their wing and taught me how to ride, train and race.
3. What kind of riding do you do? (track, mtb, road, cx, all of the above, etc)
Currently road. I do ride gravel and mountain bikes in the off season for fun. I raced 2 seasons (2015-2016) on UCI Domestic Continental Team Twenty16 (currently Twenty20), and am currently racing my second season with the UCI Domestic Continental Team Hagens Berman Supermint.
4. How many bikes have you owned throughout your time cycling?
19 I believe- all sponsored bikes.
5. How many bikes do you currently own?
Currently have three bikes with the team, but only one I get to keep at the end of the season. I also own one gravel bike.
6. What is your dream bike?
I have my dream road bike right now. Scott Addict is great all around road bike that is light and good for climbing. My dream components and wheels are what stand out. SRAM outfits all of my bikes with SRAM Red Etap, Quarq Power Meters, and Zipp wheels. Those components make my bikes special.
I do dream of owning a mountain bike again. I’m not sure of the brand but definitely want a full suspension 27.5.
7. What is your most memorable cycling experience?
Toss up between winning XTERRA National Championship and a big win I had this season. I recently won the Redlands Classic Criterium. I was in a break from lap 2, won all the sprint points, and attacked the last one to go solo for 5 laps, winning the crit and the green sprinters jersey.
8. How many of your friends ride bikes?
The majority of my friendships were formed in the cycling community. I have friends in all cycling disciplines, as well as triathlon. My boyfriend also races at an elite/pro level.
9. Do you prefer riding alone, in a small group or a large group?
There is a time and a place to do specific training on your own. I spend time in Montana each summer where I love long rides while I listen to music. However, my favorite training is hard group rides, where I am pushed by mostly men. That is the reason I live in So Cal, the group rides!
10. Have you ever traveled with your bike? Where?
ALL over the US, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia
11. What is the biggest challenge you faced when you started riding bikes?
I’ve faced many challenges and injuries. When I first started riding, I was experiencing some severe pain in my right leg. By 2012 I was having trouble competing and my leg would go completely numb and lose all power. I found out I had Iliac Artery Compression in my right leg. My artery was closing and had kinked over allowing only about 12% blood flow to my leg. I had a very invasive surgery to repair the artery at the end of 2012. In 2015, I had the same surgery on my left leg.
12. What are your cycling goals for this year?
My goals are to be the best teammate and team captain as possible. This means I need to be fit and good enough to be a strong all around rider and make sacrifices for my team.
13. What is your post-ride ritual?
After an intense training ride I have a chocolate milk or recovery smoothie. Then I shower and eat lunch. If it’s more of an endurance ride I usually just shower and try to have lunch within 30 minutes. I then roll out on the foam roller and sit in my compression legs. Usually, I’m rushing off to the JoJé office or to a private chef client to work as well.
14. Bibs or non-bibs?
15. Do you believe that your socks should be at least 5” long, or, short?
Not a fan of short socks. I’m happy to take the funky tan lines…
16. What is your hairstyle preference while cycling?
I don’t like my hair in a braid bopping around. I put it all the way up in a little bun.
17. What snacks are always in your jersey pocket?
I own an energy bar company called JoJé bar- we have 7 flavors. I ALWAYS have these in rides and in races. White Chocolate Coconut Blondie, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip With Pea Protein, Espresso Chocolate Almond, Lemon Blueberry Quinoa, Apple Walnut Cake, Pancakes & Bacon (yes you heard that right). We are about to release an 8th flavor called Salted Chai with Chia
18. Cycling specific sunglasses or casual glasses?
Love the Oakley Zeros for riding. All wear Radar EV and Jawbreakers. Casual LOVE LOVE the Oakley Latch
19. Bar tape loud and bright, or black and classic?
Chillax- always black!
20. What advice would you give to other women who are just starting out?
The best way to improve is to keep doing things that make you uncomfortable. To achieve this in training, hiring a coach is a great way to reach your goals. Address what scares you and what weaknesses you have. For example, completing a skills and descending clinic may be intimidating, but is so invaluable to improving and staying safe. Seek advice from more experienced riders. Try to schedule rides with people you look up to and ask questions, and learn more from them. Also, try finding a group of other riders who at a similar level. This will help you feel included in your cycling community and give you a chance to be accountable to friends for rides and training.
Stay tuned for next week's feature... If you want to be featured, fill in our ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE. We would love to feature ALL women who ride bikes, regardless of where they are from, their age, ability or experience level.