Sideburn caught up with 2021 AFT SuperTwins champion after a few days of the achievement, and the drama of the Charlotte Half-Mile finale, sank in, for the heartfelt and honest interview. Here's what he had to say...
SB: You were injured earlier in the season, can you give us a few details of what happened, how you think it affected you, and for how long?
JM: It happened right after the opening round of Barberville [Volusia]. It really effected me at Atlanta and then Lima. The effect mainly kept me from training hard till around middle to end of July.
SB: You had a run of run of four straight wins to take the lead going into the finale, what did you do, change or focus on to achieve that run?
JM: Focused. The miles lately have been good for me. We have a great package for the miles, engine package and also suspension and geometry. It seems lots of bikes are shaking a lot more on the miles than in the past, I feel we have a good handle on that. People don't realize when the shake is really bad it breaks your focus around the entire track and makes riders ride a lot more tense. The miles, out of all places, you need to ride relaxed. Think slow.
SB: There were some background murmurs about the points you picked up at Atlanta, that some high-profile people thought you weren't due (because of AFT's 107% qualifying rule - every rider must have a qualifying time with 107% of the pole sitter's best time). It's not your job to exclude yourself, I'd say it's your job just turn up and ride until someone tells you not to, or you physically can't, but how did the comments affect you, if at all?
JM: Yes, when we had our rider rep meeting prior to the start of the day the Competition Director stated that they were not going to enforce the 107% rule because they were not doing the heat races, which per the rulebook the Singles class [should have] due to the amount of riders that turned up. It was not mentioned at the riders meeting nor was there a bulletin written which there should have been. The rumours are coming from a certain someone's podcast [Chris Carr's Carr On Two Wheels] who seems to focus highly on the negatives of the sport. And, at the end of the season, my crystal ball says that Atlanta's situation didn't have an impact on the championship, so now we can move on.
SB: You are one of the most positive forces in the sport, so how does the whole Anyone But Mees stuff make you feel?
JM: Thanks for starters. I love it. Are you kidding me? I thrive on this type of criticism and at the end of the day I can make a couple bucks on the lovers and the haters [laughs]. Tom Brady is the best football player EVER. He is also probably the most respected and most hated. I love that guy and it wouldn't matter what team he plays for. I root for him.
SB: How does this title rank among the others?
JM: Honestly, probably top tier. Coming back from the injury was hard to explain. Like I was in a Rocky movie or something. Laying there damn near in tears due to the pain at one time thinking I wasn't going to have a season, to holding the plate up was just pure heart. I wanted to beat Briar so bad for the plate. So far in my career I have been able to take the plate back from everyone who has taken it from me at least once. I didn't want Briar to shut me out on this. Whether I beat him again or never beat him, I can say I got it back from him at least once. That is a personal achievement that I never spoken of and doesn't mean a damn thing to most.
SB: Have you treated yourself, or the family, to anything as a reward for winning?
JM: I love espresso. Im trying to see which espresso machine I wanna go with [laughs]. Other then that I did get a new TV, but that was mainly because I came home after Charlotte and it wouldn't turn on.
SB: What can you do to continue improving?
JM: Well, I think they're going to change some rules around this off-season so staying ahead of that as best as we can. I think there is always room for improvement especially as others improve. I used to be the king of the half-miles and lately Briar has been really tough to beat on those. I feel we went back to the drawing board this year and moved some things around and got back some of what I lost on the half-miles back. To answer the question I don't have one exact thing I'm working on. I can tell when we start to get weak and I quickly try to focus in on why and fix it.
SB: How many hours did you give yourself off before starting preparation for 2022?
JM: Well the clock is still ticking on that one. I do a big end of the year trail ride in Northern Michigan with my buddies, but there isn't much training just lots of fun. I also went and checked out Kenny Tolbert [the tuner Mees has worked with for many of his titles. Above, getting a kiss from Nichole Mees] getting inducted into the Hall of Fame and also did a surprise retirement party for Bryan Smith. I usually take a couple months off and get the business side of racing taken care of and now we are promoting another event, the Springfield Mile, so that will require some time. Giving the body and the mind a break is very needed for athletes. When the grind starts it's gruelling and non-stop and building the body back strong is better than carrying through non-stop.
JARED MEES CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
2009 GNC1 Twins Champion
2011 GNC1 Twins Champion
2012 Grand National Champion & GNC1 Singles Champion
2014 Grand National Champion
2015 Grand National Champion
2017 Grand National Champion
2018 Grand National Champion
2021 Grand National Champion
Photos: Scott Hunter, Kristen Lassen/AFT