Jay McCarthy is an Australian racing cyclist who is currently riding for Bora-Hansgrohe. He has completed both the Giro and Vuelta as well as finishing 3rd place at the Tour of Turkey in 2015.
I met Jay when I was cycling with a friend in Lucca (Italy) a over a year ago. That is where Jay lives. He was kind of enough to ride at my pace over the rolling hills and quiet roads of Tuscany in the sun, a memorable moment for me on the bike. I asked him a lot of the questions during that ride and followed up the conversation with an email exchange which lead to him agreeing to answer the Local Riders Q&A.
It is also worth mentioning the way he bolted up the side of a mountain on that same ride, probably the most impressive display of climbing I'd ever seen in real-life on a bike.
Jay has been really supportive regarding Mamnick too and he sported the Sheffield made stainless steel bracelet at this years Tour Down Under, where he wore it on the podium whilst wearing the leaders jersey. I thought that was pretty cool.
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
2nd in the world championships when I was a junior is always a proud moment, as that's when I realised that I had some sort or a future in professional cycling.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
Home being Lucca, I love Pizzione. It's a hard, steep climb and its just in my backyard. Great hard start or finish of a ride.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
I love doing my training camps in Livigno, Italy using all of the passes - Gavia, Posso Motorolo and of course the infamous Stelvio.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
There's so many! But the one that tops it is in the Giro 2014 - getting the chance to go in the breakaway in stage 17 and grabbing a 3rd.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
Of course there's parts of the year when you've raced a lot and you feel like your not getting anywhere and you hate it, but when you look back they are the moments that make you stronger.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
No, I've been with my girlfriend for 8 years and she's been a part of getting to me where I am today.
We are in the midst of a well publicised boom in cycling in the UK atthe moment. Has it affected you? Do you have any thoughts about why it has happened and whether it will continue? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?
Defiantly no negatives to the popularity, it's great as an athlete to meet people with the same passion for the sport from all different ways of life. I think Team Sky has given the UK a good insight into cycling too. It’s always great to see a Glen Country team doing well.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
I think sometimes people forget that it's not about the bike, it's about the shoes and the sock height!
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
No, I've always wanted to be the best and I'm still on that journey. I never got onto the bike to only improve fitness but to kick arse.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
I look up to Mick Rogers because he's an extremely professional athlete that doesn't have his head up his arse.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
Mine because I'm apart of it!
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
I just like sunglasses and brand new socks!
What do you think about Strava?
Not against it, great motivation for up and coming cyclists all over the world!
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
Couch pro’s! People who think they know about professional cycling and cycling in general when they just don't. #keyboardwarriers
Cotton cap or helmet?
Cotton cap, although a helmet has saved my life a time or two. However always have a cotton cap in the jersey ready for my cafe Doppio stop.
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
85-90 - although I am a spinner.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
We just talk smack.
Which three words best describe you?
'Up' 'and' 'coming’.
Did you used to listen to music before a race? If so, did you have a
favourite tune or playlist?
I don't have anything particular but Spotify always finds sometime to suit the mood.
When were/are you most happy?
When I finish a monster ride that feeling of hitting the numbers and floating on the pedals.
Are you the type of person who likes to have a plan? Or do you prefer to wing it?
I like to have base plan. But can make decisions quickly if needed.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
No regrets, it's all been a journey, I have learnt from any decision or mistake I’ve made.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Learning Italian. I'm on the way but I need to focus a bit more on it. It would make life in Italy so much easy.