Thursday, October 16, 2008

the old guard

Yea im back! cant rid me that kwick, im like a bad habit, or a std easy to get tough to shake, besides that ol Gary owed my some dues.. T gotta chance to touch base via my Boss with a few of the so called OLD guards of our cross scene. intresting reading as you will find out, I can say unlike those pavement pounders, the cross cyclists are rare and thin breed, this season i think we have scene the greatest influx of new faces in the crowd, but as those that have went into the field have found the faces near the front remain the seasoned old guard.

1. Today vs yesterday?

The courses have gotten better, and so has the competition. Robert has done a great job with the course set-up and preparation. After racing out of state for a few years no one has anything on the Michigan scene. As for the competition, Jeff Weinert, John Card, and Rob Foshag have been putting it down year after year.

2. favorite michigan cross course?

I like bits and pieces of all of the courses, but if I had to pick one it would be Vets park. I like the back to backformat and the hills are great to climb.

3. Best michigan cross race ever?

Thats easy, Robert Linden! With out Robert none of this would be possible. His attention to detail (witch is sometimes too much) has made our races some of the best in the country. You might not know this but this weekend at a UCI cat 1 race was the first time that we have ever had chip timing. Not at Nationals, or any of the USGP's.
.The first 5 years I raced cross. Jeff and John would beat me by 5 minutes week in and week out. As for a venue Dexter Mills park. It was too flat.

5. the state of cross in our state?

We have a GREAT opportunity for the sport to grow. Great race sites, Great promoters, and a lot of lot guy's like me that want to pass the love for the sport on to the next generation. There are a couple of things that are missing. Shop involvement, promotion, and younger riders. I very rarely see shops set up at the races with there tents and product, here is a way for the them to sell another bike and clothing to customers. Promotion comes from the promoters and the shops. We are not seeing new people coming into the sport like they are around the country. If you look out east or out west the smallest fields are in the elite class. This has to be due to the fact that it is being promoted from the C class and up. Louisville is a great example of this. Just look in the latest edition of Cyclocross Mag.

6. one coss item you couldnt live without?

My Specialized S-Works carbon cross bike! Thanks to Dave Massey.

7. Most respected rivals?

Jeff Weinert and John Card. These two have been around the cross scene forever. Both are multi-time state champions and Jeff as you know is a National Masters champion. This kind of competition is hard to find and let alone in one state.Wow!

8. conditions that you feel suit you best?

I like courses that flow and do not have a lot of technical aspects to them. The USGP courses are some of my favorite. They have a great mixture of high speed power areas and some technical areas. I would rather race in wet conditions because I feel it takes some of the pure power out of the equation. As for technical sections the Fly overs at the USGP's are fun and the sand pits always add some interesting to the race.

9. decribe your riding style?

Home made. HA HA! I don't know if I have one. It's kind of grown over the years. I guess not overly aggressive but I look to be in the right spot when the time comes to attack.

10. describe a rivals style

Jeff Weinert, Great bike handing skills, very smart during the race, and very smooooth!

11. favorite after race food?

Protein bar and a Diet Code Red!

12. man made or natural barriers?

Both, Barriers are a part of cross and I love the beach at Stoney the run up at Lower Huron. The natural barriers are what make the courses unique.

13. least favoirte course of all tailwind events.

Course or venue? The courses change every year and I like the open ones. As for venues I think that Munson is probably my least favorite. This is only due to the fact that there is nothing that makes the course unique. It's just an open field with a hill in the middle.

14. what would you most like to be rememberd by?

That I raised a great Kid!

15. 1 rider that will or you see leading the NEW breed?

Tony Wieczorek, He is all about cross. Traveling out of state and putting in the time to get better. He is a great kid.

16. which is tougher in general today, or yesterday?

Today! At least for myself. I have a lot more expectations to meet each year.

17. toughest Mi venue?

I think that Vets park is the toughest venue. The competition is what make the races hard.

18. toughest Miscene cross comp?

Jeff Weinert, God he has come up a lot in this interview. He is always a threat.

19. what fuels you season after season?

My ego, what else. Anyone that is willing top spend 10 to 15 hours a week riding in shitty weather and being away from there family would be lying if they said anything else.

20. what bums mike out?

It's growth or lack there of. I want to see the sport grow into a monster like it is out east. From the fist time I raced a "B" cross race on my mountain at Lower Huron I was hooked. It is a great sport!!!

Michael Wissink

the man who calls himself the blackace. Jon Card has cross change scince you started

To tell you the truth, I still consider myself part of the "second coming". I didn't live in this area during the 90's when others were mixing it up. I still look at myself as a fairly new to the Scene. I think the primary reason that I've had some success is that I have always listened and learned from all X Sceners. Everyone has brought knowledge to my game. And Knowledge is King. I've learned from beginning riders to the old school kings like Overend, Tomac and Tilly. I have way too much respect for anyone out there fighting the battles. I've also learned from local warriors like the Pony, Too White, Q, Russ T, Foshie, Wiz, Simonster, et al. I think that is one of the reasons that has helped me to hang with the younger bucks. I've never thought I could not learn from all.

2. best Michigan course to date.
2001 Stoney State Champ course. It flowed. As long as a course meets the specified requirements for X and "flows", I'm all good.

3. worst one to date
I hate to bash courses because I'm of the belief that racers should race the courses that their offered. Promoters have a tough job. I would never want to be a promoter. It's a pretty thankless job. That being said and so that I don't "stand on the fence", one example of a bad course was last week. It just didn't flow and therefore was not fun to race. It's important for course designers to remember that X races "are not a mountain bike or road races". There are avenues for racers to race on those courses and a X race should not be that outlet. Just follow the correct X course guidelines and if it flows, it will be fun to race and watch.

4. cyclocross or road, heck even MTB if you had to chose and why?
That's tough. I love them all. I've always told myself that I wanted to be a good cyclist. Not just good at one of the disciplines. Road racing is cool because it can be like chess where in you have to think more and thinking at 180 heart rate is never easy. I do sometimes get tired of negative tactics, but then I can go tt or race X and get the rage out of my system. I will say that Elite level mountain bike racing is probably the most painful experience that you can imagine. You start like a cross race and continue the effort for another two or three hours. Not cool. I must admit, I probably like X the best as to me, it's the most beautiful blend of both worlds. Tactical, yet excruciatingly painful in the same regard.

5 sweetest Miscene victory
2006 State Champs. We've all had a dream season. Wiz last year. The Pony too numerous times to count. I guess you could say that was mine. The hardest thing was "coming good" at the Champs at the end of such a good run. I guess I also knew that at 42, that most likely would never happen again.

6. biggest heart breaker
2001 State Champs. For those not in attendance, picture this. One half lap to go and Q, Brent B, Russ T, the Pony and I are all still together after one of the most epic battles I've had the pleasure to be party too. I attacked after the Pony closed down (I think that it was Brent or Russ) and got the gap. I slid out with less than a K to go to completely blow the deal. I still tell the Pony that he owes me Kristy's Rice Krispy Treats for life for "handing" him that one.

7. One thing the most significant you have changed equipment wise scince your first cross foray
The first year that I raced X I used a 53 tooth chain ring. A little over geared, huh? Needless to say, I've dropped the"pie plate". That being said, I would say the most important change I've made is running lower air pressure with proper tread for specific course conditions. Novice riders can't imagine how important the right tires and air pressure matter. I think I started with Red Tufo Elites at 50 pounds of pressure. Not a combination for success in any arena. I would say that X is the only discipline where your rubber set up can truly affect your success. I guess that's not an equipment change, but it is the most significant thing I've altered.

8. whats tougher, cross or TT in?
Cross is harder because the rider is not always in control of the effort. The violence can be brought on by others. T.T.'in is more like self appointed torcher. I don't want to downplay the "toughness" of T.T. 'in, because I think that everyone knows that I try to be fast in the "down low". But the secret to being a good tt'er is the ability to concentrate, more than the ability to suffer. Most people think that tt'in is about suffering. Every good racer can suffer. Successful Tt'ers have the ability to concentrate like their life depends on it for the length of the effort. Not easy.

9. Toughest rivals then/now
Being as old as I am and raced as many years as I have, I've had many tough rivals. But based on the fact that we're speaking of the Michigan X scene and I have to pick one, who else but the "Little Pony". Of course, this "rivalry" is mostly created by everyone but Jeff and I. We're good friends and I know that we respect each other a great amount. Jeff has helped me to improve not just by passing on his Knowledge, but by pushing me harder in races these past seven years than anyone else. I think that we've become less direct rivals as we've both aged and the competition has elevated their game. We're both now fighting off "young guns" like Rev, Underdog and the Goth Warrior just to name a few. I do think that the elevated competition level has helped the local Scene grow and that's a good thing. The only worrying aspect is that we're all to a certain extent, old. We need more teenage and twenty-something's beating our heads in to keep the Scene alive. I see a rider like Little Tony racing elites and that's freaking awesome. He knew that would be how he would grow and he wasn't learning anything riding off the front in the Jrs. If he keeps his head on straight, watch out for him in ten. It's a tough road, but he's a good kid and he's listening and learning from us all. He's taking it all in so that he can woop up on us in a few years. That's what I love.

10. last meal?
Oatmeal. But if it truly was my "last meal", I would opt for the Wifey's carrot cake and sausage stuffing.

11. funniest person known
HeHateMe. Cynical and sarcastic, but you've got to love him.

12 nastiest known
To be honest, I've not run into too many truly nasty riders. During a race we all have our moments that sometimes aren't cool. But true racers understand that it's because we're hurting and after the race, it's "bygones be bygones" and let's go get a brew. That being said, the nastiest person I've ever met was one of my former Marine Corp D.I.'s that went by the name Staff Sergeant Anthony. Most of the time, Drill Instructors are just being mean to make you hard and so that you learn appropriately. But I do truly believe that Anthony truly was the devil on earth. Man, that guy enjoyed making men hurt. You could see it in his eyes. He liked it way too much.

13. most unique bike ever owned
I still own one of those six foot GT Dyno Cruisers. The thing weighs about 60 to 70 pounds. I used to ride it more when I lived out west as the off season weather was more conducive to chill rides. Don't be fooled though, the beast is not easy to ride because of its length and weight. You have to start turning well ahead of when you think that you should and don't even try a route with a hill in it.

14. worst bike ever ridden
1995 Pro-Flex full sup. Those frames were the biggest pieces of "you know what" ever made. I rode for a team that was sponsored by them as trust me, I would not have ever spent the grip on one. They were only good in the bike shop parking lot for oh...about 30 seconds. No, take that back, those bikes weren't good anywhere at any time. One trail ride and the linkages and pivot points started to loosen almost immediately. Once that happened, the bikes would squeak uncontrollably. I'm also pretty sure that if measured, you would have obtained a greater amount of lateral flex than vertically through the so called "suspension". Word at the time was that Henrik Djernes (who was sponsored by Pro-Flex in the early 90's) actually demanded that Pro-Flex make his rigs with solid bumpers therefore turning them back into "hard" tails. Must have been nice to be the World Champ as they didn't give me that option.

15. Favorite bike of all time ridden.
Colnago C-40. Still in the "quiver". To this day, rides as nice as the day I first threw a leg over it.

16. if you had a soundtrack to yourself what would it be?
Public Enemy, "Bring the Noise".


No, thanks to you (Michigan Scene) for keeping it real. A special thanks to the woman that you've all seen and wondered if she's as special as you think to put up with an old guy to stubborn to "turn out the lights". Yes, she is more special than you can imagine and the primary reason that I can still mix it up "On any given Sunday".


The one refered to often as the LIL pony vs yesterday in Michigan cross:

I'd have to pick yesterday.I think that everyone was pretty equal on the playing field because the sport of 'cross was so new and no one had it figured out yet just what 'cross was all about. There were a few road guys sprinkled in but i think that cross was mostly guys that raced mountain bikes. There also wasn't as much road influence when it came to course design as today. The courses were maybe more suited for us mountain bikers where bike handling was at a premium. Not that we don't have a few mountain bikey courses here or there today but we would have like 4-6 sectors of running sections per lap thrown in with some single track, something you would never see today. I used to tell Robert all the time that it was still a bike race not a running race or he would have had you running like 8 times per lap instead. Is it me or does it seem like people just want to ride around on a dirt oval free of obstacles like some of today's World Cup courses today? Not really my style of riding. We had the "Traditional CycloCross" category because not everyone had 'cross bikes at the time. It sure was so much simpler times back then.

2. favorite Michigan course of all time:

Pontiac lake Rec Area campground. It had a really nice mix of pavement, grass, two track trail and some really tough hills. I could always remember the race just getting blow apart there because of the nature of the course. It would be great to go back there today and run that same course we ran back then and see how we stacked up.

3. best mi race personally:

The Michael R. Rabe UCI cyclocross race at Waterford Hills in 2004. I'd have to say second best day on the bike ever. I went out and just floated over the ground and made it feel effortless. Also my my first and only UCI race win. I remember still to this day attacking 2 laps into the race and knowing that I could hold them off. that doesn't happen very often. I think Mike Rabe was looking down on me that day.

4.worst mi cross race ever:

2005 State Champs at Stony Creek. The body just froze up and wouldn't work in the cold, snow and ice. That first cold race of the year is always a crap shoot as to whether you have the form or not. That year it was for not, but Jer Walker rode out of his skull and won, that's where we came up with "too White" for his nickname.

5. the state of cross in our state:

The state of 'cross has seen some good and bad times but in general I think we're heading in the right direction. We don't see the volume of riders like other regions around the country but the riders that do show who have never seen or been involved in the sport instantly fall in love with it. A 'cross race has the same type of atmosphere that mountain biking had back in the 90's, minus guys burning one in the parking lot prior to their event. The past few years I've had more people come up to me or I've heard more people say how they are going to be focusing on 'cross for the following year. I think its a testament to the sport that has always felt more like a "fringe" sport and didn't get the respect it deserved accordingly even though it's the fastest growing sport in cycling right now. And I've seen over the years almost every top rider from other disciplines of cycling come out and race 'cross. But, I think park of the problem with the state of cross in Michigan is that our road and mtb season starts just so early in the year (march) so by October guys are just cooked. The MTB schedule probably helps the most because guys use 'cross to keep their form for the Iceman but we tend to lose them after that point. I also like what Rick has done with the KISS cross series along with JB and the Ithica race. I could never understand why riders from the west side don't race the Tailwind Series and vice versa? What we really need to do is form a unified series that encompasses all three promoters! We Should take a few of the best KISS cross races, tailwind races and the Ithica GP and put them together for a Michigan Trophy series. We need to also get more local clubs to put on cyclcross races like my teamTeam Giant did. The one problem is that 'cross is such a short season and we already have difficulty not putting events on top of each other. Maybe doubling up event on the same weekend? I think it's a good problem to have too many choices instead of having races getting canceled like the road scene had this summer. Overall 'cross is still on the way up and has room to improve... cross item you couldn't live without:

What Pro doesn't have them...Tubulars. I prefer Challenge or Dugast

7. Most respected rivals:

To be honest I'd have to say everyone that I've ever lined up next to in years past and present. In any sport you can never take a victory or placing for granted so you must show equal respect to everyone. But if I had to pick I'd have to pay homage to three men Scott Quiring, Jon Card and Michael Wissink. They were or are guys that always command huge amounts of respect when you line up next to them and have been my biggest nemesis's.

8. conditions that best suit you best:

I tend to like it when it's wet and muddy which tends to throw a lot of people off their "A" game. I've had 2 huge wins (USGP and Nationals) in the mud and have been referred to as a "Mudder" in New England terms by Richard Fries many times.

9.describe your riding style:

I think I excel in technical courses where you have to quickly get on and off the bike. I don't really have that enormous amount of power or strength as other riders do so I rely more on my technique and mental game to pull me through. It also helps to have what we refer to as a good "power to acceleration ratio" since 'cross has a lot of out of the saddle burst's and sprints. I'm also not one to miss a pull which sometimes get's me in trouble, I'd rather lead into a section then get gaped off coming out of a corner. Make them chase you...

10 describe one opponents riding style, you chose..

Obviously someone I have great respect for is Jon Card. He's kinda my polar opposite in that he has loads of power and strength to spare from his time trailing abilities. Where my body size is more suited to the technical side of the sport. I'm also like a foot shorter then him so that gives me a bit of a edge going around corners since I have a lower center of gravity.He's also a great runner from hiscollege days and is Marine tough.

11. favorite after race food:

Always a coke and typically my wife Kristi makes me a killer batch of rice crispy's for after the race that most of my friends can attest too. If you see me at my car after a race stop by, you won't be disappointed!

12. man made barriers or natural?

Who doesn't like going ala natural...

13. least favorite tailwind course of today:

Don't really have one. I always feel that the racers make the race, not the course. There is always that one course that doesn't suit you but may for someone else. I think that is what makes 'cross or cycling in general so fair for all. Plus, I know how much hard work goes into each and every venue from helping Robert the past 10 years.

14. name one thing you would like to be remembered for after your time is done:

Of course I want to be known as a cyclocrosser first and foremost but being a good role model for younger racers coming up is equally important to me as well. I'm working on a project next year, a cyclcross clinic for kids under 18 called "KidsCross" which will be FREE. I'm just trying to give back to a sport that gave me structure as a kid and helped me through my rough times growing up.

15. name 1 rider who you get picture leading the new breed brigade:

I've been thinking of this for a long time...Tim Saari. The guy is a hot air balloon just waiting to burst on the scene. I think he's just missing that one little piece of the puzzle to make it all come together, maybe confidence or big race experience is all he needs, or just one win and he's off and running. He's had some good races in the past particularly at States. Tim always seems to be near the front of the race at the start but hasn't finished the deal yet. I say yet....just wait ! he won't be the "underdog" for long

16. today or yesterday, which one is tougher:

Today for sure...the racing is way harder,faster and people actually train specifically for 'cross now. Also doesn't help I'm older and slower.

17 toughest venue ever in mi:

Pontiac lake campground

18. toughest competitor ever in mi.

pick 1 I could have picked a few guys but I'd have to put Michael Wissink out there today. He's dominated that last few years wining races with a consistency like I used to. Always in the mix Mike has really stepped out of his shell last season and become a complete rider by winning a USGP race in New Jersey and the State Championships last year. I always said before that he was just missing the confidence to win races, well he found it ! Plus what makes it better is that he's just a super nice guy and good friend.

19. what motivates you year after year:

Don't really know. Probably just that I really enjoy riding my bike first and foremost (mtb, cross, road, bmx). I've always said that when I quitracing that I'll still ride no matter what. Most guys would just hang it in the garage and never ride again. That's just not me, It's my way of relaxing and getting away from the every day stress that accumulates in life. I'm also glad for all the friendships I've made with people over the years through riding and group rides are a nice way of keeping those relationships going as well. Another National Championship in cyclcross is always in the back of my head especially this year.

20. what bums you out with cross in mi:

Lack of racers..If we could get 200 racers out there each weekend it would be a lot more fun for all. I've raced my bike all over the country and the 'cross scene here is extremely well run and organized. Sometimes you have to step out of your backyard to relies what it's like here. I always have said it's the "mitten syndrome" because we just don't draw racers from surrounding states like others states do as easily.

there you have it fools.


Anonymous said...

Nicely stated.

Anonymous said...

Awesome job Mr.T

Anonymous said...

1995 Pro-Flex full sup. Those frames were the biggest pieces of "you know what" ever made. I rode for a team that was sponsored by them as trust me, I would not have ever spent the grip on one. They were only good in the bike shop parking lot for oh...about 30 seconds. No, take that back, those bikes weren't good anywhere at any time. One trail ride and the linkages and pivot points started to loosen almost immediately. Once that happened, the bikes would squeak uncontrollably. I'm also pretty sure that if measured, you would have obtained a greater amount of lateral flex than vertically through the so called "suspension". Word at the time was that Henrik Djernes (who was sponsored by Pro-Flex in the early 90's) actually demanded that Pro-Flex make his rigs with solid bumpers therefore turning them back into "hard" tails. Must have been nice to be the World Champ as they didn't give me that option


Anonymous said...

So true about the Iceman comment. It's like the Iceman training series... till Novemeber at least. If I was a MI promotor, I would bank on it and have more races in September and October.

YES! Thank You! said...

Fun! Fun! Fun!
Now THAT'S what I'm talk'n'bout T!
Love it!

Anonymous said...

good reading here home boys.

Anonymous said...

Enough of the lovefest with the "old guard".

How about interviewing the youngbloods!

I'd love to see an interview with Tony W or Hank or Vince.

Otherwise, keep up the great work TMS!

the michigan scene said...

I'd love to see an interview with Tony W or Hank or Vince.

would love to fool. gotta get ahold of em first, not easy kids to track down, any help would make T pleased.

®andyA said...

Nice job T! A really great set of interviews from the veterans of the MI Scene. My compliments to Wiz, Card, and Pony.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

How about a Foshag interview?

Anonymous said...

foshag interview would be great, that guy has been on the cross scene as long as the rest, theres a few others that would be good too. how about T ms

sworksredace said...

Sceners check this out and lend our support.

the michigan scene said...


CX said...

Hank??? Hank is a homo wanabe!!!! The dude smokes too much dope, and will never be a contender!

Dude get a job and marry that sweet piece of ass that supports your sorry ass week after week!


CX said...

State of CX in MI is in real trouble!!! Get a grip people - not enough support or riders! Word on the street is that Robert is planning on droping the CX series in MI not enough $$$ to justify the effort! I love CX, but unless other clubs & shops step it up just say bye bye to CX in MI. - Born2CX

P.S. interview the man himself Robert Linden!