road racing is generally considered to be a european sport, because the heritage of roadies is written all across the lowlands, cobbles and mountains of europe. but ever since the 7-11 team made an initial foray into the tour and the giro, progressing to hampsten's win in the latter and eventually greg's win in the former, the epithet 'roadie' has begun integrating itself into the american psyche. then, of course, lance turned up and occupied france for seven consecutive years, and it was almost necessary for us europeans (including those of us in britainshire) to start re-examining our own strategy.
however, having 'roadies' across the pond has to be regarded as a favourable move, because otherwise jamie smith wouldn't have started his blog at ridersready or subsequently written his forthcoming velopress book entitled (what else) roadie, ('perfect for anyone who has ever known a roadie, considered becoming a roadie, or walked away from a bike race completely puzzled') which promises to be one of the joys of 2008. roadie is published in the usa in march of this year, and is superbly illustrated by cartoonist jef mallet (creator of frazz), a few examples of which are reproduced (with permission) below. as is often my wont these days, i asked jamie if he'd be willing to partake of a washingmachinepost interview - read on...
reading a number of your posts on ridersready i infer that you are a broadcaster to 'trade' is this something you still do, or are you more involved in commentating. or have i got this completely wrong? (in other words, for the benefit of those of us who don't know, who is jamie smith?)
You're right, my training is in radio and TV broadcasting, and I spent some time working at a radio station. I'm now living a double life. During the weekdays, I work as the public information officer for a city just outside Detroit, Michigan putting all of my broadcasting skills to work.
On weekends, I travel to bike races and work as an announcer (or racer). I announced my first race in 1985. I was then lucky enough to be invited to work at all of the major US events: Tour de Trump, 1991 US Nationals, Tour DuPont, 1996 Summer Olympics, Collegiate Nationals, and more recently, the Tour de Georgia and the Amgen Tour of California.
My weekday co-workers are completely unaware that I've led this double life.
you have a new book entitled 'roadie' out on velopress quite soon. are you a lifetime roadie, or do you dabble in knobbly tyres too?
Total lifer. Knobby tires? My mountain bike is 20 years old and in great shape with original equipment throughout, if that's any indication.
where did the velopress connection come from?
Out of the blue, really. I had just finished writing the book, and I placed a call to their office in Colorado to ask of their submission policy. It was that simple. A few emails later I was sending the manuscript. The people at VeloPress are a divine treat to work with. I intend to keep writing just so I can stay in touch with them.
in much the same way as we scottish persons are somewhat miffed if someone refers to us as english, is it important to you to be recognised as a 'roadie' rather than as just a weird bloke with a bike who shaves his legs and has a fetish for lycra?
My family is from the Isle of Skye. My grandmother was a McDonald. I feel your pain, and I never make that mistake!
It's funny. We're all brothers and sisters in this sport. But I use "Roadie" as a way to differentiate us from Trackies, Mountain bikers, and recreational cyclists. Of course, if you look in my garage, you'll see at least one of each hanging from hooks. Bikes, not people.
have you been a racer, or is it all about the epic ride?
I'm a racer. I love a good epic training ride with the Club, but I live for Sundays when I can put everything together and match it up against others. Usually with disappointing results.
and is the book a result of blogging at ridersready or is this one of those 'there's a book inside everyone' situations?
Actually, the latter. I felt that by being a serious cyclist for so long that I'd missed out on a lot of normal things like barbeques, picnics, concerts, vacations, golf, tennis, etc, so I was looking for a way to get out of the sport altogether and move on to other things. But because I've done all this bike race announcing (23 years of it), I've accumulated a lot of stories, memories, experiences and such. I decided to write down everything I knew about bike racing and put it in one place, as if I were backing up a hard-drive. The more I wrote, the more I realized that A. I really love this sport and would be a fool to leave it, and B. someone might actually find this information useful. Eventually, I decided to shape it into a book that would explain the sport to outsiders and attempt to help Roadies keep their job, win back their friends, and save their marriages.
from someone who exited a near miss with the observation that you weren't on your good bike, i take it humour is a natural expression?
First off, thanks for saying so. I blame that entirely on my family. They're mad.
what do you like most about being a roadie?
Having to sit down in the shower after a really hard ride. It's an amazing feeling.
and what do you like least?
Having to ride hard enough to make me sit down in the shower. OK truthfully, I don't like the lack of respect that the sport gets from outsiders. Hence the book.
how many bicycles do you own?
Hang on. I have to take my socks off for this.
At one point, I was up to eleven. Then I was down to five, but I recently inherited two Guerciottis when a friend died. So really, seven. (I'd gladly trade the two bikes to have the friend back.)
in the wonderful world of road racing, do you have any preference between stage races and one day classics, or are you quite happy watching anything on skinny tyres?
I like the big Tours and get no work done in July, but I love the one-day classics for their "one shot at greatness" factor.
have you any truck with compact chainsets or is it 53/39 everytime even up the angliru
No, I'm old-fashioned in that way. I'm 53-42.
When I was younger, I actually rode a 55 on the front. It was entirely by accident: I bought a Saturn Team bike at the end of the season (from the Saturn Cycling Team in Wisconsin), and couldn't figure out why it was so fast. I mean, it flew! I actually stopped riding, got off the bike, and inspected the chain rings only to discover that the big chain ring was an extra large pizza! I still have it, but it's hanging above my garage door as a decoration (or a warning to visitors).
you said that your first road bike was a colnago super (which should endear you to washingmachinepost fans) - what's the current steed of choice?
Please don't shoot me: it's a 2006 Trek Madone 5.9. It's a fabulous bike, but it lacks character. I'm working on my local bike shop to give me a deal on a Colnago. I've always been partial.
do you have the standard roadie yearning for lugged steel, or are you happy with carbon?
I'll take carbon. I'm only old-fashioned in my gear selection.
are you a competent mechanic, or do broken bits end up in the local bike shop?
If you ever see me tinkering on your bike, intervene immediately.
campag or shimano?
Lovely weather we've been having, what?
money no object, which frame/bike do you buy?
Does Ferrari red bring out my eye color? If so, and even if not: CF6
do you wear a cycling cap, or casquette, when riding - if so, which one(s)
Helmet only and always.
long socks (armstrong) or short socks?
Short. Asics Kayano to be precise.
i asked illustrator dave 'brintoni' brinton whether he had a preference for macs or pcs. since i already know you use a mac, are you an all-things-mac enthusiast, or is it just a tool for the job?
Just a tool for the job, really. But I like the stigma that goes with being a Mac user.
do you have an uncontrollable urge to ride the paris-roubaix sportive at any time?
I'm free that weekend. Where do I sign? Seriously, can someone please pick me up at the airport?
any cycling heroes that we should know about?
Chris Horner - I keep bugging him to let me write his life story. He was almost at the end of his career when he made the hard decision to try one more time at a career in Europe. And he succeeded. That's pretty amazing.
Frankie Andreu - A Detroiter that we Michigan riders have been living vicariously through him since he made it big.
the mighty dave t on thewashingmachinepost has always maintained that he's not old enough to play golf (he's in his mid-sixties). would you find yourself in agreement with this?
Not in the least. Sorry Mighty Dave; I've played since I was 9 years old. I long to play the Old Course at St. Andrews before I'm done.
with your self confessed desire to make films (there's always imovie) will we ever see 'roadie-the movie'?
--- I'm always mulling over plotlines when I'm on a solo ride. Thus far, I've determined that it'll have to have elements of The Flying Scotsman, some of Breaking Away, and a pinch of Knocked Up.
One last comment: Though I treated it lightly above, I am seriously committed to helping the sport of cycling (all facets) gain the respect of outsiders. I hope to help bridge the chasm between us and our non-cycling friends. They're missing out. We're just too busy riding to take the time to tell them about it.