#TheFirstSecond by Jérôme Clementz: solitude and inner strength
© Maxime Moulin
Tuesday, 10 July 2018

#TheFirstSecond by Jérôme Clementz: solitude and inner strength

Putting on goggles or sunglasses is the last thing to do before setting off. It's the gateway into our own little "bubble". That special private moment, full of emotion and a sense of being super-present, is what we could call "The First Second". It tells the story of each individual above and beyond the athlete.


#TheFirstSecond by Jérôme Clementzsolitude and inner strength  


"Alone facing the track, I'm in my own little world"


As soon as you see the eyes of Jerome Clementz behind his goggles, firmly fixed on the track, you already know how much concentration, determination and pure force he's going to unleash on the descent. Giving his competitors little chance throughout his racing career, how does he get into the mindset of the "lion chasing its prey"?

Jérôme : "I love traveling. I ride my bike to travel. I also need "other" time. Last fall, I went to Nepal for two weeks just to ride, have fun and see the scenery.  I've got my girlfriend and my friends on one side and racing on the other. They're two completely different worlds..."

Is competition mostly a mental thing?

Jérôme : "In competition, your character changes. When you're training, you're calm and composed. As soon as it's time to race, you get more like a wild animal, your emotions ramp up and you turn into a warrior. You're like a lion chasing its prey – which in our case is the finish line. You have to get to it as fast as possible, so it can't get away from you!"


What's most important – analysis or action?

Jérôme : "I used to do biathlon and the two disciplines are similar. You have to mix the composed, technical and concentrated side with the aggressive side. Like a lion or eagle who starts out by analyzing its prey: it will stalk or soar around it, and then pounce. It's all about being super-accurate!"


What's going on in your head before the start?

Jérôme : "I try not to think too much, but what bothers me most is the choice of perfect line, and the level of risk I'm going to take. Ideally, you want to have put these intrusive thoughts to bed before you get to the start line. I've been racing for 20 years now, and with age and experience you learn how to empty your mind."

Do you have a special ritual before you set off?

Jérôme : "Before the race, there's a very calm period of analysis and preparation. I wait until the last 10 seconds before I put my goggles on, and from that point onwards everything starts to accelerate. It's the last adjustment before I go. For me, it's a ritual: I always stretch the strap so it's just right, I automatically press the goggles into the helmet for good contact with my face. And then I adjust my goggles in the last few seconds, just to reassure myself.

From that moment on, even if the clock hasn't yet started, the race has already begun in my head. Once the guy in front of me has gone, the route's unobstructed and I face the slope for the first time. I then switch from being calm and holding myself back, to putting it all on the line!"


Is that when the warrior or animal kicks in?

Jérôme "You go from the imaginary – visualizing the run you want to do, the performance you want to achieve, dreaming of doing a particular line – to reality, to real life: you see the route take shape before your eyes. Even if physically I'm on the starting grid, in my mind I've already gone. I'm alone looking at the track. Nothing matters any more, the wind, the rain, the sun... I'm in my own little world, I'm ready."

Jérôme Clementz :

The first champion of the Enduro World Series in 2013 and a six-time World Cup winner, Jérôme morphs into a warrior at the start of each race: "Alone facing the track, I'm in my own little world"

Team present in the article

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