Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger Visit Oakley Headquarters

J&H

Last week, mountain bike’s golden couple, Jeremy Horgen-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger stopped by Oakley. The Boulder, Colorado based couple took a break from the cold for a week of what they thought would be warm weather training in Santa Barbara, only to be hit So Cals biggest storm in 10 years. Before their arrival the talk around the compound sounded the same. “These two are legit…both top pros in their own right. The real deal.” After they toured Oakley and, of course, went for a ride, we caught up with the double US marathon and cross-country champions.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

J: The national championships which we won last year are going to be again just outside of our hometown in Colorado. I’m looking to defend my title. Then there are two world cup races mid-summer that I would like to have good performances at. One is in Switzerland and one is in Italy. They are both good world cup courses for me. At the end of the year the world championships are in North America for the first time in like 10 years so that is the other one I am looking forward to.

H: I would like to defend my national titles again. I would like to do better in the World Cups overall. I would like to be in the top 5 or 10. The world championships are pretty huge too. It is not often that we get to be in North America.

Do you do other sports to cross-train?

J: At home we go back country skiing which we have gotten more and more into. We’ve been doing big ski days, skiing up to the peak and then skiing off it. It has been fantastically fun. In Colorado, when the weather gets bad, it is a good substitute for riding.

You are both so similar in so many ways. How are you different in your training and overall how are you different?

H: We are really different in our interests and we compliment each other really well. Jeremy is really into architecture and art and I am more scientific..into the physiology of things. We have different knowledge stimulation.

J: I think training wise I’m more inclined to be the guy who always wants to see over the next hill or keep going or I’ll ride everyday because there is another fun ride I could do. I think it is easier for me to run myself into the ground than Heather. She has a little more of a tempered approach. It serves her well and it serves me well because she definitely keeps the brakes on me sometimes.

H: That would be the logical, scientist part of me.

Do you think that you’ve had more success because you met one another?

H: Jeremy was well into his career when I met him and I was into cycling and I wanted to be a pro. I wanted to go to the Olympics. I’ve always had my own dreams but he was at a much higher level than I was in college. He was always my example that you can do it. He was proof. He helped me there a lot.

J: We have definitely helped each other to be successful. Having two people living the same lifestyle and see what the other person is going through day in and day out absolutely contributes to success. To see someone grow in their training, to see them successful in a race, to see what the other person is capable of pushes both of us to be professionals.

Was there ever another sport for you?
J: Not for me. I played a couple sports recreationally. I played soccer and lacrosse. I ran cross-country, but when I discovered mountain biking as a teenager that was it. I fell in love with it right away. I have been solely pursuing mountain bike riding for a long time.

Life span of the sport?

H: Mountain biking requires a lot of time to get good. You definitely have your phenoms that are 19, but, even then, a lot of them don’t last. They burn out. It definitely is a sport with longevity. Both of us could be doing it for 10 more years. I’m not sure I want to do it for 10 more years because then I will look like I’ve been doing it for 10 more years. There are women that are 39-40. You just get faster every year.

What are your career interests after the sport or what would you have you done if you were not a pro mountain bike rider?
H: Cycling kind of ruins you for a career. Well, it ruins you, but it definitely benefits you too. I used to be interested in becoming a veterinarian, maybe going back to school. But now I can’t imagine not doing something more entrepreneurial or independent. Jeremy just started a company with a business partner and I have taken a big role in the company with accounting and marketing, very non-scientific things.

I think when you are an athlete you develop a lot of traits that would serve you well in business.

J: You learn to be very self-motivated. I have an engineering background, a passion for math or anything architectural. I think something in the design and architecture world is something I could see myself doing beyond my bike racing years. My business partner and I have just started Studio Shed or www.studio-shed.com. They are well built and well designed backyard storage sheds.

What are you doing for fun while in California?

J: Go to dinner, enjoy the nice weather, go wine tasting.
H: I would like to rent motorcycles, but, even though I have been riding for a year, I don’t have a license yet.

Heather and Jeremy’s next race will be in Fontana, California on March 27, 2010. Then they’re off to Guatemala, then back to CA, then to Europe for the world cups.