Question dump. Top to bottom.
He’s been there done that on the road racing thing ATMO.
Usually a shower and then doing whatever else I have to do that day.
For most people I think it’s a little bit of both. If all you love is competition then it’s far easier ways to scratch that itch then bike racing. On the flip side if all you love is riding your bike then racing seems pretty counter intuitive since it’s generally a lot more enjoyable to go ride without 150 other dudes trying to be in front of you constantly.
Yeah, pretty much.
I’ve spent my rest week commuting like it’s 2007 and planing for the most idiotic first day back to training ever.
Question dump. Top to bottom.
My plan is to just not do anything for a week. Go ride a mountain bike if your bored and not tired.
I like to. But some people prefer the solo grind.
10 questions with Neil Bezdek
1. I think I met you around 2010. We were teammates on Kissena and you were working for Breakaway Couriers. So where are you from and how did you end up in New York City at the time we first met?
I moved to NYC in 2007 after finishing college. I grew up in Denver suburbs, went to school in Santa Barbara, and spent summers guiding rafting and mountaineering trips back in Colorado, so I’d never had a meaningful urban experience. This city seemed like the best place to find that, and immediately after graduating was the right time to do it.
2. How did you come to cycling? I feel like bike messenger isn’t what most people go for when they are looking for work. How did you get into that and racing bikes in NYC?
Bikes have always been my thing. I rode a lot of singletrack while growing up in Colorado and worked at a bike shop in high school before transitioning to mostly road during college. Racing seemed attractive but I always had something else to focus on, so I didn’t start that until 2008, after my stint as a messenger.
For me, moving to NYC was about exploring the city and being immersed in an urban setting as much possible. Working as a messenger was perfect for that. It offered a glimpse of a cross-section of city life, or at least Manhattan. Not only of streets and buildings, but of people, too.
3. You went through the ranks pretty quick. But where did your path towards a pro license start?
Moving up quickly definitely helped. Cat 5 to 1 took about 14 months, and I signed with SmartStop (then Mountain Khakis) a month later. My results weren’t as good as the typical neo pro, but the rise itself had attracted some attention. Charlie Issendorf had watched me in his races, so he also contacted some folks on my behalf.
I was 24 at the time, which is a very late start for road racer. I knew that time wasn’t on my side, so I was planning to quit my job, leave the city and focus on racing the following year, with or without a pro contract.
4. I remember you telling me something about a talent ID camp for SmartStop. What was that like? That must have been an intensely competitive environment.
In 2009 the team announced that they would hold a week-long tryout. Aspiring racers could pay to spend a week at team headquarters in North Carolina and race a week-long series alongside the team. Attendees would also undergo physiological testing and get directors’ feedback on races, so it promised to be worthwhile even without the prospect of joining the team.
Dave Trimble, my roommate at the time, saw the announcement first. Without hesitation I sent the team my resume and booked a plane ticket, which was my first time flying with a bike.
Fortunately, the “competitive” elements of the week were actual races, which are certainly intense but also familiar. I tried not to be competitive off the bike. The week was a personality tryout as much as athletic one, so I focused on making friends and trying to figure out if that was an environment that I’d want to stay in.
5. You raced pro for two seasons with the team being amateur for a season in between those. That must have been a really stressful year. What was that like? Were you guys still expected to be full time during that year?
We lost the UCI license in 2011 because of a budget shortfall in 2010, since teams have to shell out a lot of money at the end of each season in order to apply for the license for the following year.
The team was back on track by the 2011 season, even though we were technically amateurs. Everyone raced full time, and expectations did not change. The team invested in new vehicles. Everyone got a raise. The team attracted better sponsors. We won the individual and overall in USA CRITS and plenty of other races. Aside from missing out on a couple of events like Philly and pro championships, things only got better.
2010, when we did have the license, was the rough year. It was perfect storm of bad luck: One sponsor didn’t follow through on a commitment of about $80k. When a lot of equipment didn’t show up at team camp, we discovered that another person had fabricated many of the sponsorship deals that the team relied on by using fake emails to pose as marketing staff at major bike companies. Then he stole a team car a skipped town. Meanwhile, the slow economy prevented the team owners from being able to float the team, so we basically started to season in the hole.
It wasn’t ideal, but it also produced one of the program’s finest moments. Management told us that we were at a crossroads: we could choose to go to races or to get paid, but not both. Some guys chose to stay home and take a paycheck, but the rest of us jumped in the van and hit the road. We lived off prize money until things stabilized mid-season. The year finished well but by then it was too late to organize a license application for 2011.
6. After that amateur year I think we had a chat about you coming to ride for Foundation but you elected to stay on with Smart Stop as the team got its pro license back. After that year as a pro you elected to come race with us. My understanding is that you could have stayed on but you chose not to. What can you tell us about making that decision?
My first two seasons were exciting and challenging as I made new friends and learned the nuances of racing and navigating the industry. But by year three, I felt like most of what I’d gain from the endeavor was behind me. I’d accomplished much of what I could realistically expect, and rather than signing up for another season doing a familiar job in familiar races, I wanted to focus on something new while continuing to race as an amateur on the side. Or as I told people at the time: with respect to cycling, instead of being only decent at my job, I’d rather be great a my hobby.
7. Can you tell me a crazy New York City racing story? You don’t have to name names.
The first that comes to mind is the time I was riding with the Burrowes and Ricky Lowe in Prospect Park late at night and we saw some thug shove a cyclist off his bike in order to steal it. We were about hundred meters back, but we all sprang into action without saying a word. Ricky Lowe – a former Green Beret, body builder, and professional football player – led the chase. It took a quick one-armed shove from Ricky for the thief to crash on the side of the road. He stood up to confront us but immediately ran off into the woods when he saw what he was up against. The owner of the stolen bike was quite surprised when we rolled up with it a few minutes later.
8. How about a ridiculous story from your days as a pro? Same thing about the names applies.
There isn’t a single story that stands out as much as the general theme of travel: planes, trains, and automobiles. This is what the typical season looked like (drawn on the pages of an in-flight airline magazine):
9. Hey remember when Evan crashed you out of RHC Milano, then won, then you got him on Foundation?
To get up off the ground and chase back to win like that took a lot of skill and fitness, but above all it took grit. Evan’s best quality as a racer is that always rides out of his skin and never, ever wants to give up. You’d have to kill him first.
10. I feel like a lot of people don’t know this, but you’re actually the captain on Foundation. It was really nice having you in charge at the Dave Jordan Classic. Having someone else make the calls on the road is so relaxing. Do you like that role? Or is it more stress then it’s worth?
Thanks, Dan. I really enjoy that part of the role—playing DS and making tactical decisions. One reason I wanted to be captain on Foundation is that I would be able to share a lot of what I learned from racing so intensely for a few years. Cycling can be a terribly self-indulgent sport, and giving something back, even as trivial and self-serving as this, validates the time and energy I spent focusing exclusively on pedaling in circles. It would have been a waste to just quit.
The less enjoyable part is managing the logistics of planning trips, helping lining up sponsors, etc. But having experience and industry knowledge pays off in that realm, too, so I’m happy to contribute what I can.
Question dump. Top to bottom.
Your totally right. Im not frustrated I didn’t make it through. That’s always a possibility at this level no matter how good you are. I’m just bummed I got sick at literally the worst time all year.
Mostly bike racing.
I think the Tour de Beauce is the biggest race I’ve ever done. Finishing was a big goal but that unfortunately did not happen.
Question dump. Top to bottom.
I doubt your friends commitment to sparkle motion.
I do have a stretching routine but I could totally be better about it then I am. My advice would be to stay consistent with the stretches that work for you.
Big crits like that have a pit area with neutral support. So if you flat you can take a free lap and get a spare wheel and get back into the race. On my race wheels I usually run nice, light weight, grippy tires. Because they stay on my race wheels the tires last a long time. My training wheels use tougher tires.
We can agree to disagree on this point. However what you are suggesting is a race to the bottom. Which has never helped anyone. Riders should understand the value of the services they provide to a team. For me that means I won’t fly someone else’s flag for free. It’s very much common sense for me to expect a higher level of pay for a higher level of service. Unfortunately on smaller budget teams a lot is expected for free but that doesn’t make it right.
10 questions returns tomorrow with Neil Bezdek! I asked him no questions about the Red Hook Crit. It’s going to be great.
Watching a race I should be in is probably top of my list of depressing activities. So this is me making the best of a disappointing situation. The guys really put on a hell of a show during the circuit race. I wish I could have been a part of it.
Hopefully the final product of these photos is going to make it worth it though.
Last discount code for Rip Van Wafels is “timeforabreak” good for 10% off.
Time to hit the dirt.
Cascade Stage 3 - DNF
Cycling is a sport of really low lows. This is probably the lowest I’ve been all year. After not being able to push the pedals in the TT at anywhere near a number that I felt comfortable telling people I started to suspect that there might actually be something wrong with me. Like physically. But it was still extremely disappointing to wake up the next day with the aches, the chills, and green shit coming out of my nose.
Whatever. I started the stage. We started racing. I bunny hopped through a round about (life long goal accomplished). Then I was in a crash. Chased back on the bumper of the Jelly Belly car. All this happened in the first 5 miles of the race. Then we started racing up Mt Bachelor. Fourteen miles and twenty five hundred feet later I pulled over in the feed zone and quit.
I’m really hating my body for not cooperating with me on this trip. Sure we went up that climb fast. But I was just nowhere near my best and that’s the frustrating thing. I could have been there. It was within my abilities.
So it goes.