The Pro’s Kit: Jess Cerra

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In our new series, The Pro’s Kit, we’ll take you behind the scenes with some of the world’s best. Each interview will cover the nuts and bolts of how they do what they do — their favorite gizmos, gadgets, gear, and the hacks and habits behind their mental, physical, and emotional health.

Last week we looked at what’s in the toolbox for pro triathlete @chelseasodaro. This week we get into it with pro cyclist, chef and JoJe Bar founder, Jess Cerra. We featured Jess recently in her podcast with the king of gravel, @iamtedking.

Reading

Books: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat; The Chicken Soup Manifesto

Newsletters: Sonya Looney (@sonyalooney); Eliel; Cycling Tips

Listening

Podcasts: How I Built This; Up First; The Daily; Wild Ideas Worth Living; The Sporkful; King of the Ride; Freewheeling; The Sonya Looney Show; The Adventure Stache; Veloworthy; Girls Gone Gravel (@girlgonegravel); In the Dark; Dirty John; Blood Ties; Accused; The Dropout

Watching

Eat, Race, Win; Little Fires Everywhere; Dirty John; Emily in Paris (forgive me, I couldn’t stop myself)

Resources: Go-to apps, gizmos and gadgets that help you do what you do?

  1. Genius Scan: phone app used almost daily for JoJé
  2. Trailforks: Montana MTB trail necessity
  3. Klaviyo: for email campaigns
  4. Vivino: wine app
  5. Top 5 Kitchen gadgets: one GOOD knife, mandolin, food processor, cast iron pan, coffee/milk frother

Nutrition and Hydration: Your strategy before, during and after a big event or ride?

Before: ALWAYS pancakes (QOMcakes to be exact). On rare occasions, French toast or Belgian waffles make an appearance. This season I’ve also been adding BUBS collagen protein to my coffee- it is unflavored.

During: As much real food as possible, which is why I created JoJé Bars (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip is my favorite flavor right now) and love other brands with the same philosophy. Like…Untapped (Chai waffle is favorite right now) plus lemon tea mapleaid and syrup packets (I actually use the syrup packets a lot for traveling or camping so you don’t have to pack or buy maple syrup container). QOMcake sandwiches, my favorite being cream cheese and maple syrup (big surprise). Cookies and baked goods.

If the ride or event is short and intense I will use liquid calories, maple syrup and chews. Additionally, on hot (or long efforts) I add Nuun tablets to my bottles.

If the ride/event is long, I try to front load my solid calories and save the simple calories for later in the race when it is hard to eat. Getting solid food in before a long descent is a good trick, so your body can process while you are descending.

On Training Rides: Add dried fruits and nuts, savory homemade pop-tarts and pre- or during-ride bakery stops!!

After: Chocolate milk is all you need for a recovery drink. Although I love berry smoothies in the summer with BUBS Naturals collagen protein.

Nutrition: Your philosophy. What would people find in your refrigerator or pantry?

EAT ON THE DANG BIKE! I eat a big breakfast and a lot on the bike. I’ve trained my body to be able to handle this b/c I don’t like finishing rides depleted and having to make up for not getting enough calories on subsequent days.

My rule of thumb: breakfast calories + ride calories = calories burned (i.e. if you do a 3-hour ride and burn 1,500 calories you could eat 800 calories of pancakes and topping for breakfast and 700 calories on the bike).

Pantry Finds: pancake mix, poptarts, boxed soups, broths, variety of oils and vinegars, oats, pasta, rice noodles, potatoes, baking supplies and spices, nutritional yeast, beans, canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, canned artichoke hearts and hearts of palm, Pinks & Whites and Maple Cookies from Trader Joes.

Fridge Finds: eggs, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, sharp cheddar, almond milk, butter, maple syrup, peanut/almond butter, hummus, Bitchin’ sauce, Sir Kensington’s mayo and ketchup, ginger and lemongrass paste, garlic-chili sauce, turkey bacon, chicken sausage, salmon, sirloin steak, bone-in pork chops, loads of veggies and berries, apples, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, tortillas.

Freezer Finds: POPCORN (if you don’t currently keep your popcorn in the freezer, you should try it). Ice cream (I love Trader Joes chocolate coconut-milk ice cream and Alden’s ice cream sandwhiches). Ground turkey. In-a-pinch items from Trader Joes: Naan bread, breaded chicken tenders, dumplings, veggie medleys, pie crust, berries, gnocchi, back up meals.

Mind: anything you do for your mental health?

Ride my bike.

Sleep rituals or habits?

No screen time in bed. The right mattress has been a huge help; we have a Casper. Nine hours is my sleep sweet spot and I prefer to go to bed early and rise early. I do not nap — it is rare for me and usually makes me feel worse.

Strength and Mobility: How much, how often and what type of work do you do?

My strength and mobility focus is in the off season when I usually get a 3-month gym membership that I use 2-3 times per week. Recently, it has been adapted at home with bands, balls, heavy items like a tool box and jug of simple green, a chair, a couch, a table, and a yoga mat.

Mobility, core, maintenance, stretching are habits I like to keep throughout the season. Even if only 1-2 times per week, doing a core workout and mobility exercises for my week spots (hips), makes a vast difference in how I recover and feel on the bike.

Recovery: Do you have a strategy or ritual, or health metrics you watch?

I LOVE RECOVERY- probably because I’m old and likely getting arthritic (insert crying/laughing emoji). I watch Sam abuse his body all year and will lament once in 12-months about being sore or tired. For me it’s daily.

For travel, compression pants are GOLD. I use EC3D– not a sponsor. I also love the compression boots, especially after 12-14 hour chef days when my ankles look like Bratwurst.

I also use a foam roller, vibrating roller, vibrating massage ball, regular massage balls, massage stick, massage gun (I have both Backmate and Theragun, equally as good but Backmate is twice as loud while half the price).

Anything surprising or unconventional about your approach that you might not have mentioned?

I find traditional training very hard to bare and often felt judged for this in road cycling. However, for gravel, it seems advantageous to be able to feel your way through a workout, or even to try and not feel anything. I love group rides that are so hard you can’t even look at your power meter. I’ve had PR’s and QOM’s on legit segments without using power data. I find power most important for recovery and not over-doing it, but feel it limits me when it comes to pushing myself.

I have not looked at my Training Peaks since I raced Colorado Classic in 2019. Yet I was able to set a new 20 min power record this summer. With that said, Training Peaks is key on a normal year when you are racing and traveling full time, unlike this season, it is key to not overcook myself.

Gear: Favorites in your Kit?

  1. @ornot handlebar bag- not sponsored.
  2. Scicon bike bag: not sponsored but wish I was b/c you only take the wheels off your bikes and you’re ready to travel.
  3. Recently switched from Garmin to Wahoo; will not go back as I find @wahoo is very user friendly with the best maps function.
  4. ROAD ID: not sponsored but is good idea for everyone to have.
  5. JoJé Bar: who doesn’t like a bar that tastes like a cookie and shameless self promotion?
  6. Kedge: not a sponsor but computer mounts and chain catchers are great.
  7. Po Campo: not a sponsor but makes cool saddle and commuter bags.
  8. Giro: Aether (road) and Manifest (MTB) helmets combine MIPs technology with spherical technology to protect rotational force movement at impact. The MIPs and spherical technology have two shells that work independently for each other- EPP vs EPS. The outside shell is made of EPP for higher speed impacts, while the inner shell is EPS for slow speed impacts. There is also a little layer between for airflow. I wish I had the opportunity the wear these helmets my entire career.
  9. Eliel Cycling Apparel: Love the pocket zippers in the Soledad and Solana jerseys, plus flattering and fun colors. The Diablo jersey material is clutch on hot days. The variety of base layers is a game changer and none soak up sweat and make you wet and cold. The Soledad bibs are the type you put on and never think about on your ride, the highest compliment you can give a bib. And the thermal bibs and leggings are my favorite winter riding discovery!

Bikes: Your go-to for each discipline?

Gravel: Canyon Grail– the signature double cockpit absorbs shock and provides an ergonomic position for the wrists. The split seat post also absorbs shock. The Grail CF SLX is also one of the lightest gravel bikes on the market. Despite this feature, it is durable- I have been riding it on single track trails all summer as well as mountain bikers watch in awe.

Road: Canyon Ulmitate CF SLX– honestly, the first time you climb a hill on this bike, you will think it has a motor. It’s a game changer if you love climbing. I started riding tubeless tires this season and they are the best if you are willing to maintain them properly (or have Sam maintain them properly HA!). Sam also go me riding 30mm tires on my Ultimate- they give you a smoother ride and way better feel and control on descents. I don’t find them to slow me down at all.

Mountain: This summer I got into alpine riding for the first time and tried the Canyon Strive 170mm/160mm set-up. I thought it would be too much but it made me fearless and I rode features that I would have never tried before. Plus, it got me invites on some insane alpine rides that I had previously only seen on social media. The component on the bike that I enjoyed the most is the proprietary Shapeshifter which allows you to lock-out your rear suspension with the “Click” button and release it with the “Clack” button, both on your handlebars. With the massive amount of travel, the Shapeshifter is pretty genius for a quick-click advantage on a climb.

Tires and Tire size/pressure: Your go-to for MTB, gravel, road?

TBH I don’t work with a specific tire sponsor. I have tried quite a few and would rather give feedback on size/ not brand.

I’m thoroughly enjoying my 30mm tubeless road tires, which I ride at 75-80 PSI (I weigh about 135lbs).

For gravel, I run a lower profile 30-42 mm tire with around 32/34PSI front and 34/36PSI rear. I hit a lot of MTB trails on my gravel bike so I enjoy the lower pressure especially if the trails are wet.. You will also find that gravel tires are not meant for 50PSI and while counterintuitive, this will make you roll slower, even on a climb.

For MTB, I’m really only riding terrain I couldn’t take my gravel bike on so I prefer the beef- 2.3 to 2.4. Keep in mind I don’t race MTB.

Are you partnered with any brands or causes?

I’ve been an ambassador for Chefs Cycle| No Kid Hungry since 2017 and fundraise for that cause throughout the year.

Recently, I started working with Gelvio, a subscription snack box. Unfortunately, Sam keeps eating all my snacks so I can’t weigh in on how much I like everything, but I really like the variety and being able to choose the type of snacks (salty vs. sweet, bars vs. cookies, etc).


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