Jason Moeschler embodies the spirit of all-mountain riding, even though it's his team-mate and friend Mark Weir who's the superstar. The 30-year-old Novato, California resident manages to still win races despite 'riding his desk' 60 hours a week as WTB's OEM sales manager and one of its product developers.
Moeschler has won the Downieville Classic – the unofficial all-mountain world championships – three times and been runner-up twice. In fact, it was Downieville that restarted Moeschler’s racing career – he was US junior national cross-country champion in 1997 and raced at three World Championships – and introduced him to Weir.
The two became friends and ultimately co-workers, all because Weir – product developer, racer and PR man for WTB – was so impressed that Moeschler put himself on the podium without a sponsor that he offered him a spot on his WTB-Fox-Santa Cruz team. BikeRadar caught up with Moeschler to talk about his job, all-mountain racing and the latest at WTB.
When did you start working with WTB?
My relationship with WTB started back in the Team Devo [John Kemp’s junior development mountain bike team] days and it’s stayed ever since then. I’ve had a good relationship with everyone who works here and they’ve always supported me, no matter where I went or what I was racing.
WTB were always there for me with whatever I needed from them. They’ve always known me as a bike racer, so when I came to work for them it was with the understanding that I was still going to race. They really support that. They support that with everyone, but my job is extremely busy.
How many hours a week do you ride the desk?
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
Please tell us ...
It’s a ton; a 60-hour week is very regular for me.
When do you train?
I don’t train, I only ride. I don’t look at heart rate monitors. I don’t make myself ride a certain amount of hours a week. I just like riding, really. I particularly like riding with Weir. Luckily, he lives right next door to me now that his house burned down. Weir will come and make me go ride. He’ll be like, ‘Dude, your computer will be there when we get back, let’s just go, no-one is going to notice you’re missing, let’s just go!’ and he’ll get me to peel away.
In OEM sales, my customers generally call late and they have an emergency, so they need whatever it is right away. My job is very stressful like that. It’s very fast paced. Weir is really good about making me get out and go ride.
Where do you ride? Are they epics all the time? That’s what you’d imagine with Weir...
It’s pretty rare for me to ride over two hours or two-and-a-half hours on a weekday. We ride near our homes at a private ranch that's owned by this guy named Bart who Weir grew up with.
How big is Bart's ranch?
It’s big. We can go out and ride there for two hours and do a lot of riding.
What bike do you usually ride?
I’m always on the Santa Cruz Blur LT that’s pretty much my primary bike. I ride a Nomad for enduro downhill type stuff and I do have a Blur XC for cross-country stuff, but the LT is my normal bike. Because I work so much, basically I try to find the races that favour a little bit more of a descender. I can still pedal okay, but I’m never going to be a World Cup pedaller again. I’ve come to grips with that.
Moeschler, ripping at Bart's on his Blur LT
Were you always a descender? Has that always defined your riding style?
I think so. You know, back in the day we were always riding those stupid aluminium hardtails with bars that were like this wide [measuring from his thumb to outstretched little finger], so the [all-mountain] bikes have done a lot for me and let me open up even more, and I just feel comfortable descending.
Mark Weir was telling us about a race you guys had done that was just epic. You were the guy making everyone suffer, but then you broke your chain a couple of times and it took you out. What was that all about?
[At the Napa Valley Dirt Classic] it was pouring rain for two hours straight and I was riding the bike that I'd been on all winter instead of building my new bike the day before the race. I built Weir two sets of wheels because I wanted him on the new stuff. So yeah, I suffered. My chain broke a ton, I almost froze to death and it was kind of miserable. Really, my whole race season is crafted around being fit at Downieville. That’s what's really important to me; that’s the race I actually care about. Everything else is for fun, so I only do the races that are fun.
Is that what it’s about now [fun], or do you still want to crush people?
For me, when you get to the start line, it doesn’t matter if you’re fit, you get in that race mode and all of a sudden you're ready to race and go fast. I still enjoy the suffering of a cross-country race and I like to challenge myself to see how well I can do. If there’s someone on some pinner-ass bike in front of me, I like to get past them and beat them.
After winning it three years in a row and getting second another two years, for some reason that race has crafted the all-mountain category. So in a lot of ways people look at Mark Weir and me and really pay attention to what we’re riding, as far as all-mountain gear. And everyone wants to win that race. It’s been this weird thing where I never thought I’d be sponsored by Shimano and Fox right now, but they’re really passionate about that category of riding and really want to win that race, so they’re big supporters of ours.
Moeschler at Downieville
Why is that race so legendary?
That caught me by surprise. All of a sudden the biggest companies in the industry are holding press camps and inviting their best customers up there. It’s the place to be. In the States it’s one of the more talked about races that I know of. I don’t know how that happened and it’s funny because it’s so small. You can only get 600 racers into the event and it sells out in two minutes.
Maybe that’s why people like it even more, I don’t know. You can only fit so many people in the town, too. It’s very interesting what's happened to that race. I can’t quite explain it, and it’s become bigger than I ever imagined. I remember when it was just 150 or 200 riders, but it’s developed a category of bike, literally. That’s where the Blur LT and the Nomad came from.
Latest gear from WTB
After our interview we talked WTB with Moeschler, and when asked about the company’s latest and greatest products, he pointed us towards saddles.
The Valcon is WTB’s newest cross-country saddle and it was officially launched at Interbike last year. It's the same length and width as the Silverado, but with a carbon composite shell that sports a comfort zone cutout, which is available with a solid cover or a hole. The latter does well in the European market, according to Moeschler. The top-shelf SLT carbon comes with titanium rails and weighs a claimed 230g for US$165.
The Aviator was developed because WTB noticed people were using the Silverado, which was developed for cross-country, for downhilling. It’s an unforgiving platform for the everyman gravity rider, so WTB took the shape of the Silverado and added a generous pad mould that comes out past the shell, which with a good dose of soft padding is said to be much more forgiving when landing hard or just logging the miles.
Custom and team saddles
WTB have some eye-catching custom saddles floating around the racing circuit right now, which depending on demand may or may not make it into production. Brian Lopes’s SL55 Silverado is available and a reason to believe we may see some more special editions.
The brand are currently displaying two team saddles for the Santa Cruz Syndicate, special perches for reigning mountain bike world champions Steve Peat (downhill) and Jared Graves (four-cross) as well as a custom saddle for Downieville winners. The latter you'll never see in production; the only way to get one is to win your category at Moeschler’s favourite race.
Moeschler's favourite saddle. There's only one way to get one, and he has three