It’s that time of year, you know, when the air is cooler, the leaves are falling off the trees and Jorden Wakeley is in a constant state of “flannel.” With Iceman right around the corner, I decided that today was a great day to sit down at Brew TC for a nice chat with Jorden; mostly to see what all of the fuss is about.
Wakeley is a proud member of the M22 race team and is also sponsored by Cannondale. He is well known for his 6 foot 3.5 inch build and his outrageous power on a bike. Although he is an amazing athlete, he also maintains a normal livelihood. In the summer, he works on the Ausable River doing restoration and building trout beds; while in the fall, he cuts and splits firewood for a living. He enjoys spending time with his family, hanging with good friends and eating cereal.
I heard through the grapevine that you like to ride bikes. What's your favorite emoji? "Wait. What? Oh, I really like that cat with the heart eyes and that monkey who is covering his mouth.”
Interesting. So, you look like a normal dude but people talk about you like you are a local celebrity. Is that weird when you are out shopping for groceries? "Honestly, it makes me a little nervous because I don’t view myself as anything special. I'm very honored that people know my name. Any place I go in Grayling people say hi. I don’t know if everyone understands what this sport is all about and that’s ok. Sometimes I wonder if maybe they assume I ride a bike everywhere because I don't have a driver's license or something.”
That's actually a funny way to look at it. You do have a drivers license, right? “Yes.”
Earlier when we were chatting you mentioned how much you love flannel shirts. What would you wear every single day if you could only pick one thing? “I would wear flannel shirts with blue jeans.”
What about on your bike? “I’d just wear cut-off blue jeans…with my flannel shirt.”
That makes sense. So in all seriousness, being a professional athlete isn't something that everyone can do. I don't mean just the physical aspect, I mean the psychological part too. You keep getting better and faster and you seem to be under a magnifying glass; how do you feel about that? “It’s really hard to explain this part. In TC everyone knows me and they expect me to do well. This is probably where most of my drive comes from when I train. If I was going to a different state, no one would know me, so it would be different. I’m very humbled by the cycling community in TC and I always appreciate it. I think there will always be pressure when racing at any level, but I always try to turn it into something good.”
You’ve made it very clear that you love riding for M22; what makes it so special? “It’s really just about being in the woods with your friends and people who have the drive to go fast. The guys on the team want to ride hard and push each other. M22 takes really good care of its athletes and I’m very appreciative of that. What’s even more fun is watching the banter between Matt and Keegan (Myers) on Strava after a good ride. A perfect day would be a 100 mile ride through the woods with a beer stop halfway with the team (as long as Sean Kickbush didn’t come).”
Ha ha ha, “Sean Kickbush.” He sounds nice. You do a lot of different races every year. Which two are your favorite and why? “I love Ore to Shore in Marquette, Michigan. Marquette is one of the greatest towns and that race has awesome competition. I also love Iceman. You can’t beat the atmosphere, the competition is crazy, and when it’s over, the pressure is off for a bit.
What and who inspired you to get into this sport and who helps keep you in it? “When I was first starting to race it was Brian Matter and Ron Sanborn. Those two were my inspiration and they pushed me more than I can put into words. I’m also lucky because my parents come to all of my races and have sacrificed so much to get me across the Country to different races. My Dad does my hand-ups and as most racers know, this can make or break a race. I’m lucky in all aspects of support.”
I hear you will be signing autographs at the Iceman Expo this year. Any words of advice for those aspiring athletes out there who want to get into the sport? “I’m signing autographs? Wow. That’s pretty neat. As far as this sport goes, you have to have fun. There’s no point in getting into bicycle racing if you are not going to have fun. Also, be patient. It takes a lot of time to get fast, it won’t happen overnight.”
Okay, one last question: what is this bicycle that you ride and what do you like the most about it? “I ride a Cannondale FSI. My favorite thing about it is the fork and that it has not broken.”