There are towns, correction, streets in Colorado or California that can claim more European professional cyclists than New Hampshire. While this is to be expected, 2010 marks the addition to the highest echelon of bike racing yet another Granite State resident as Kirk Carlsen has signed with the Garmin-Transitions pro team.
Admittedly, Kirk and I know of each other, but we don’t really know each other. Given that Kirk has recently moved to Girona – precisely the town where I have my European home base – I thought it would be prudent to allow Mr. Carlsen the honor of being the first iamtedking interviewee.
Unfortunately, Kirk suffered a crash earlier this week at the Tour of Qatar breaking both his collarbone and scapula. Mind you, this is an email interview. So while he finds himself with a bit of extra time on his hands in these next few days, it could be excruciatingly painful to type, therefore we at iamtedking won’t be upset if he keeps his responses in the twitter-like 140 characters or less.
I’m not one to beat around the bush, so let’s jump right into the hard-hitting questions. First off…
iamtedking: Adam Sandler is not only one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, he is also a New Hampshire resident. Early in his career Adam headlined in such masterpieces as Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, yet more recently he has regressed to films like Click and Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. Do you believe Sandler can rally back from his current state of comedic mediocrity to the Adam Sandler we both know and love?
Kirk Carlsen: I used to name drop “The Adam” because, hey, he’s from New Hampshire, so that makes us practically brothers. He should call me and ask for my professional and personal advice (so if you’re reading this Adam, give me a call, long time no talk). I think I can set him straight. He has been in LA too long, he needs some good ol’ New Hampshire “Boot in the Ass” to get back on track.
(For some well deserved props, click HERE to see Kirk ripping it at the front of the Qatar TTT, where Garmin scored a respectable 3rd behind Cervelo… until Cervelo received a rather rubbish time penalty knocking them to DFL.)
iatk: The B.i.t.A. trick works every time. Well said. So Kirk, we are both cyclists from NH who made the jump to Europe. High five! No pun intended, but obviously you fell on some hard luck at your first race in the big show. Similarly, I was in the third day of racing with Cervelo when I hit the pavement and broke my arm at the 2009 Tour of California. I don’t want you to stew on it any more than you already have to, but do you know what the prognosis is from here? (p.s. My best advice, and I always tell people with this broken bone malady: drink your milk. Seriously.)
KC: At the moment, I’m in a five star Ritz Carlton and I’m in no rush to leave my plush bed and Showtime movies. I’m not sure what will happen from here, I head back to Girona and then maybe back to the US where I can recover and begin to start training again. I was going to start riding again today, but the doctors strapped me to this bed and keeps giving me shots of milk, I’m a bit drunk.
iatk: Since joining the team, how many times have you been asked, “Aaaand which one is New Hampshire again?” (For you geographic geniuses out there, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t know New Hampshire from Vermont.)
KC: I’m lucky if the reporter can spell my last name correctly, let alone know where I’m from. For those who don’t know New Hampshire is, seriously, you know, NEW HAMPSHIRE, where real men are made? Live free or die!
iatk: I already had this question in mind before I saw that you are on the Dunkin Donuts Pages of Facebook. I don’t know what the eff “Pages” are on Facebook, but that’s not my point. Question: You a Dunkins dude or a Starbucks prettyboy?
KC: Dunks is in the same block as Starbucks in Tucson (my winter training destination). I can often be found at the Starbucks Patio at 9:30 AM setting off on the group ride. But let it be known, I roll down to Dunks prior to departure, pick up a fresh brew, stroll back to the Starbucks outdoor seating area, and sip my deliciously smooth blend in front of the Starbucks employees. They get their panties all in a twist about it, but they’re just jealous.
(Please note every element of FANTASTIC in this picture, including the Gray Wolf at left. I see at least two ‘bucks cups and two DD cups. Way to represent, Kirk.)
iatk: That’s the New England sass I like to see! Follow up: you are therefore aware that Dunkin Donut by default adds cream and sugar to your coffee, right? Because I think that’s so New England and so awesome.
KC: “Extra Extra” and I don’t mean the gum.
iatk: You mentioned Tucson. I’ve definitely logged in my requisite training time in sunny Arizona. You and I have crossed paths on the open roads in Boulder too. We therefore have NH, Tucson, and Boulder in common – three very different geographical areas. What’s your all-time favorite place to train in the USofA?
KC: In a perfect world, New Hampshire is the best in the fall, Boulder in the summer, Tucson in the winter. Walpole, New Hampshire, near Keene has some of the best rides. Boulder obviously has some cool climbs, and Tucson pretty much just has Mount Lemmon.
iatk: Lemmon and Kitt Peak, my friend. With the exception of the past six months, I think in our entire racing careers you and I have exchanged maybe two dozen words total. What was your first impression of me? You are being capped at a ten-word answer.
KC: He’s from NH? He’s my brother, no need to talk.
iatk: Ten words on the nose. You win. The King of Style is my alter ego – a well-spoken, very handsome, self-proclaimed pillar of all things stylish. We at iamtedking.com maintain a very international readership, but as we in the USA all know, there’s a rule of style that you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day. Similarly, you’re not supposed to break out the pastel-colored clothing until either Easter or Memorial Day.
Question: have you considered training exclusively in an entirely black kit instead of team issued Garmin-Transitions’ blue and orange to live up to the KoS’s rules?
KC: Well if I had the motivation or the money to buy an all black kit, I would. I am pretty used to being called a “Poser” and being asked the question “Did you buy that kit on ebay?” If I had an all black kit, I could go total stealth mode and either rip legs off at certain moments of a group ride, or get dropped without falling into a deep depression.
iatk: Staying on topics, someone asked me this question recently and I didn’t know how to answer, but you’re a better candidate. Have you been formally introduced to Vaughter’s sideburns?
KC: Not sure exactly how to answer this question…
iatk: P.C…. smart. Moving on, obviously the argyle motif is a passing fad like the mullet or slap bracelets. Which NH clothing style stands the best chance of replacing the Garmin argyle: hunter orange, flannel, camouflage, or some sort of denim/Carhartt number?
KC: I don’t think anything looks better than a red and black flannel, how else are you supposed to represent New Hampshire? The red flannel puts out the New Hampshire vibe, especially because I can’t grow a beard in a day like my fellow comrades. So I have to make up for it with the flannel. From a cycling kit standpoint, a mixture of all of the above would be sweet, we could do some hunter orange cycling caps, a flannel top with camo arm and leg warmers (to blend in the terrain), and some Carhartt cutoff bottoms (no shammy because if you’re from New Hampshire, you have balls of steel and a taint of gold).
iatk: What aspect of the Cervelo TestTeam kit makes it the unequivocal most stylish kit in the pro peloton?
KC: I’m not sure, because usually when I pass them (at high warp speed) the kit looks like a big blur. Actually, in all fairness, after Googling the image, I do like the é lettering on the back because it is the impression of my face when I was trying to hold the wheels here in the Qatar cross winds, “EEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.
iatk: I did one year at the USA U-23 house in Izegem, Belgium. How many seasons did you spend there?
KC: Two seasons, and the mountainous terrain was perfect for my training.
iatk: Ahh yes, the infamously craggy Belgian mountains. What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word Izegem? Mine is “Shenanigans.” And if I can follow that up, it’s “Team-America” because we watched that movie literally every day for three straight months. For clarification, it is hyphenated and therefore one word by iatk standards.
KC: “Pronunciation.” That is the first word. Seriously, is it pronounced IzeGem, or IzeHem, or what? I’m from America, I don’t have time for this technical language barrier stuff. “Shenanigans” is too much of a Vermont trademark for me to say and you should probably get Pistol Whipped!
iatk: You’re obviously well versed in at least one excellent movie (Super Troopers) and I applaud that. Let’s now delve into the personal side of Kirk Carlsen; how do you occupy your time off the bike?
KC: I usually just eat when I’m not riding, or think of ways to try not to eat, while eating. Facebooking is a pretty good way to stay occupied, and bothering my girlfriend with e-mails. Internet surfing is great, although my roommate Pete Stetina wants to break my computer in half because it’s so loud, it’s not my fault I can’t afford a laptop and just travel with a desktop everywhere I go… It fits pretty nicely in my suitcase.
iatk: Off the bike, I like to think of myself as something of a foodie. What’s the best thing you know how to cook?
KC: Does French Press coffee count? I’m pretty decent at cooking up a nice pot of coffee. I know you’re saying to yourself “Man, that looks extremely difficult to make”, but let me tell you, you’d be surprised. Don’t get discouraged though, it takes practice. Come over sometime and I can teach you.
iatk: Besides pressing French coffee, what is Kirk Carlsen’s hidden talent?
KC: At the moment, I’m getting pretty good at using my left hand/arm. Why even use the other one now? Got to lose some weight anyways, let’s just cut it off. My power to weight ratio just skyrocketed. “Got to get the baby off Top-Ramen.” I can also eat massive amounts, which no one believes, but there are no good eating contests I can enter at the end of the season to prove it.
iatk: We share a lot in common Kirk. I can eat pretty much everyone I’ve ever met under the table. See you in October, eh? Okay, favorite New Hampshire race… or New England if there’s one that trumps NH’s races?
KC: Exeter crit gets me pretty juiced. Sunapee road race is a wicked good one too. Watch out Mount Washington hill climb, I’m coming for you!
iatk: Are you edumicated… did you go to college?
KC: I went to University of Colorado and left somewhere in my junior year with a degree in Cosmo’s pizza eating and slacking off. Seriously though, I’m a junior physiology major, but there are only so many online classes your girlfriend can help you take.
iatk: I imagine your TV remote is getting the workout of its lifetime with you strapped in bed right now. So let’s jump to some rapid-fire New Hampshire trivia.
What is the NH state tree, state flower, and state bird? I will brag that I know all three thanks to Mrs. Hartford’s third grade class. (Hint: they are all two-word answers and one word in each is a color.)
KC: Maple tree, screw Vermont! NH makes maple syrup just as good, if not better. Flower? The hell if I know. Bird? Obviously the Firebird Trans Am, I mean, look how cool Billy Madison looks coming out of it on his first day of High School, that has to be the state bird.
iatk: Good Lord, Kirk, I like your style. Unfortunately from the standpoint of correctness, you went oh-for-three… although we will give you a half-point for the Firebird answer.
More trivia. And if you don’t get this right, I’m ashamed. What’s our incredibly bold state motto? (Hint: you’ve already said it once in this interview.)
KC: If you ain’t Living Free or Dying, you’re not living.
iatk: We will accept that for five points. Besides Ted King (and his alter egos), Kirk Carlsen, and Adam Sandler, can you name at least one (or more) famous person from our state? My criterion for “famous” is that folks from outside of NH should recognize the name.
KC: Me and Triple H hangout all the time when we are back there, it’s cool to catch up with him, but he’s always on a rage, so I get a bit frightened. Mandy Moore keeps trying to get me to hang out, but I just tell her to keep it in her pants. I’m pretty sure out of those three people you mentioned, no one else is much more famous.
iatk: Is Mandy Moore really from NH?! Whoa, I’ll have to get back stateside more often.
Okay, here’s the last question. I’ve been following this little snowstorm on NYTimes.com and NPR and it’s driving me absolutely bonkers. Perhaps you are aware that Washington DC is suffering from a Snowpocalypse. As a result the federal government has been closed for several days. Additionally, nearby states including parts of Maryland have closed roads and made it temporarily against the law to drive on these roads. As a snow loving New Hampshire-ite myself, I am embarrassed by our southern brethren’s inability to navigate through a bit of the white fluffy stuff. Growing up, snow was an excuse to skip school and go skiing or sledding. What are your thoughts on this entire situation?
KC: I would wake up at 5 am, two and half hours before school even started, checking the news scroll for school closures. Sometimes, if my school wasn’t closed, I’d get a big lump in my throat because I was banking on the fact that school would be closed so I didn’t do my homework. Shutting down the capital for a few inches of snow? Psh, I’d be riding my bike in it, that’s what a real man would do, would that be against the law? Shorts and jersey, no booties, hard as nails.