Interview with Jérémy Marechal
We asked some athletes, customers and friends of Effetto Mariposa to tell us how they live their passion for cycling. We will meet 12 guests who will tell us about their experiences, their skills and how much they love the two wheels world. Today it’s the turn of Jérémy Marechal, Enduro and MTB specialist, who lives on the slopes of the legendary Ventoux Mountain.
Jey Maréchal performing one of his stunts
There are people who seem to live the life we’re all dreaming of: making a living out of cycling, and living with their family in a cycling “Mecca”, always with a smile on their faces. One of these seems to be Jérémy “Jey” Maréchal, a French cyclist with a solid passion for sports, especially for the gravity world, a tough and very technical biker, who does not mind jumping and drifting by whatever means possible. Jey lives near the Ventoux Mountain, a land which is famous for cycling competitions such as Tour de France, and for the historic duels between Armstrong and Pantani, and he has told us about a lesser known aspect of the “Bald Mountain”: its magnificent tracks.
Although he’s more accustomed to the fat wheels, Jérémy doesn’t mind riding a racing bike, especially on the tracks of “his” Ventoux Mountain.
Thanks for allowing us to have this little chat with you, Jey: now you are on the slopes of Ventoux Mountain? How does it feel to live and to ride next to such an important mountain?
“Yes, I’m here, I’m enjoying the good weather and, above all, the freedom to be able to go wherever I want, after the imprisonment due to the pandemic. Ventoux M. is a very important place for me. I think it’s because I grew up here, in this countryside, that I’ve discovered and started loving cycling: I can leave my house and immediately go for a nice road trip on the Ventoux Mountain… ah, Le Ventoux! A very challenging ride, yet every cycling fan has do it at least once in his life. The most famous ascent of Bedoin, on the south side, is literally 22 km without respite. It keeps on going up, and you must have great mental strength, because for a long way, in addition to the final 6 km, it is full of these hot pebbles, and it seems to never end. If there is wind, as it happened to me 15 days ago (and many other times), it’s pure hell… But what a satisfaction once you get up there!”
You really wanna make us cry with these words… what are your favorite MTB routes on the Ventoux M.?
“The dirt roads of the Ventoux M. are very stony, but there are very beautiful single tracks… there’s the Baume du Chat, to name one: a superb valley that flows very quickly through the woods. There is also the Céderaie, at the end of route 5 Enduro south side, designed by some of my friends: it’s a lot of fun, for both beginners and pros. The north side, the famous Col du Comte GR4, has very nice slopes and the fast and scenic descent brings you to Aurel… I haven’t yet explored it all, but I’ll prepare new tracks really often, from now on! “
Jey riding with his son Léni, 19 months, often on the bike with him, fearless. “His older sister Mila,” says Jérémy, “is 7 years old. She uses the bike sometimes, but she seems to love ponies more.”
Cycling is also a profession for you.
“Yes, my first job is to represent the Eastpak brand for the south-east of France, and then I am brand ambassador for Giant Bicycles France, where I‘m dealing with advertising campaigns, images and videos. I therefore need to keep fit and train on average 3 times a week, with a mix of All-Mountain, road, E-Bike and Downhill.
Such a nice view… but look at the top left
You often do spectacular stunts on rocks, dangerous ridges… what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done on a bike?
“I love demanding routes, that are technical and steep. They are my sort of specialty: whenever I am told “forget about it, it’s a mess, you will never be able to get over there”, that’s when I am going there (laughs). I always try to raid over the impossible. But last year, on the Deux Alpes, I’ve seen my life flashing before my eyes. I went up to do a very difficult freeride, then going down on a gravel path, without seeing that there were some constructions at the end of it. So I ended up, at 60 km/h, straight over a pile of soil that was two meters high… I firmly held the handlebar, I’ve managed to keep the balance for quite a long time, and I’ve miraculously landed correctly on the path underneath… it was really insane.”
What if you had to choose between Downhill and Enduro?
“Without any doubts, I’d pick Downhill: the fun you can get with these bikes, going at a certain speed, is crazy and, for me, it is much more fun than Enduro. I also experiment with tricks, my favorite will always be the good old backflip, both for the sensations I get while doing it and for the spectacular nature of the gesture.
Jey performing a nice backflip
I saw that you are trying many e-bikes. How do you feel with them? Is their weight a problem?
“E-Bikes are fantastics, I enjoy doing both uphills, because I can ride single tracks backwards, and downhills. The weight is not a problem at all, because when you get off the bike, it is practically anchored to the ground thanks to its weight, and this is an advantage. During a technical ascent, however, the weight of an electric bike makes you work much harder with your upper body, and therefore causes a more intense effort, except for your legs. In short, I only feel the weight of the bike when I have to load it on the pickup truck (laughs). I’ve been riding my E-Bike also on the Ventoux M., of course: after covering 1800m of road, I only had 10% of battery left, and I still did not have the new 625W/h battery from Giant, which would have allowed me to have 15% left, instead. In short, E-Bikes are not bikes for the elderly, as most people think: they are made to go further and/or faster. I can assure you that they’re still sport bikes: they’re assisted, true, but they can still make you struggle…”
Jey on a very technical ride on a E-Bike. That’s when the electric bike no longer seems like a tool for peaceful elderly people
Let’s take a little step back: when did you start with bicycles?
“I started mountain biking at the age of 14, and I’ve always been attracted to the descents: I won the French Cup for Downhill in 2001, in the stock category.
I’ve attended, then, the first Freeride events, and I’ve also experienced the beginnings of Enduro. I like all the disciplines that concern bikes, because they are characterized by intense and complete efforts, without traumatizing the body.
Bikes have changed so much over the years! I’ve started with 18 gears, 26-inch wheels and cantilever brakes, so I’ve fully lived all the eras of MTB: the arrival of suspension forks, V-brakes, full suspensions… Then again the discs, the tubeless bikes, the single-crown transmissions, the 27.5 wheels, then the 29… and now the electric ones! Today you can get a good Enduro bike with the weight of a racing bike from back then, but with all the technology that allows you to go very fast wherever you want.”
Jérémy in 1994, at the age of 13, at the randonnée de Beaumes de Venise with his Sunn 1000, fitted with an elastomer fork and with one of the first versions of the “Grip shift” handlebar controls
Speaking of technique and wheels, how did the tubeless affect your riding experience?
“Tubeless tires have changed my life as a cyclist! Punctures are almost nothing but bad memories… and that’s better: more time to drive, less time wasted to repair.
Usually, on all of my bikes, I use the Caffélatex with the addition of Vitamin CL to have greater effectiveness on larger holes, up to 8 millimeters. For the most difficult descents, with Enduro bikes, DH bikes and E-bikes, I add the Tyreinvaders that protect the rim whenever I hit the stones very hard. I always take great care of my bikes because, having to use them for videos, photos and news reports, they must always look perfect and work well.”
The important thing is to always jump and go fast
You seem to like jumping in many ways, even with quads!
Yes, I love speed, trajectories and jumps by any means… unfortunately, rallying with a car would be too expensive for me, so I have a Polaris RZR that allows me to have fun while driving, with the jumps and so on… it really is a fabulous vehicle. I also use the motocross bike, that I also need to trace the MTB routes. Now I really want to travel, though, and I am planning to do many things that I’ve been waiting to do for too many months. Obviously, always on top of a saddle”.