Manual for Speed does not Press Release. This is the first time we’ve ever done a Press Release. And likely the last. We get lots of emails; like about how Global leader in Electric Aviation Yuneec will showcase E-Go, an electric Skateboard, at Interbike 2015, which we delete before reading, for all the obvious reasons. But this was different.
First of all we didn’t get an email, we got a call. And it wasn’t a call from a stranger named Camden Wicker, and it wasn’t about LifeBEAM’s one-of-a-kind DIY heart rate tracking kit.
It was a call from Tim, Trek Factory Racing’s Press Officer. We love Tim. Tim tells us jokes. He smiles at us. In France at the Tour de France this year he told us a riddle about how you can learn everything you need to know about the French by asking one to say out-loud the number 97. We tried. The experience wasn’t illuminating in the slightest. Maybe Tim was just F-wording with us. Maybe he just wanted to see if we would actually ask a handful of random French Chilleurs to say out-loud the number 97 in an effort to learn more about what makes the French, French. Which we did. And like we said, we like Tim a lot. Anyway, it was a call from Tim and Tim wanted to talk about Kiel Reijnen.“Kiel Reijnen is one of Manual for Speed's favorite subjects. Kiel is one of our Favorite Human Athletes. He is the humanest of athletes, we love him.”MFS
Internally there some dispute over when and where we first met Kiel. Emiliano thinks he met Kiel on the floor of a hotel in Philadelphia. Daniel thinks he met Kiel in a carwash in Boulder with Alex Howes. It doesn’t matter. Over the last four years we’ve come to love and admire Kiel. We’ve interviewed him, we’ve photographed him, we’ve seen him in his underwear, we’ve seen him in yellow, we know his wife, we email him, we have each other’s phone numbers, we like him, he’s our friend. He’s a darling and a gentlemen, and a bona fide sweetie. Also he races good, real good. We can’t say for sure because we don’t do stats and science and facts, but based on anecdotal evidence and observation he appears to be remarkably consistent and capable. He wins shit. And when he doesn’t win shit, he gets close, like second or third. Also, seriously, people, he wears house slippers partly made from salmon, his Spirit Animal is a bear, he loves to barbecue, Genghis Khan is one of his two role models, and he quotes The Fast and the Furious. Kiel is the real deal.
A month ago at the USA Pro Challenge in the parking lot at the bottom of a ski resort in Steamboat Springs, we had this conversation with Kiel:
- MFS: “Hey, how come you don’t race World Tour? Like, aren’t you on a radar or two?”
- KR: “I don’t know why but nobody ever asks me. It’s a little strange. I think about it all the time.”
- MFS: “Interesting. We sorta wondered. We thought maybe you get the offers but you’re not into it, too much travel, too much sacrifice, that kind thing.”
- KR: “Nope, nobody asks. I might go. I mean, it would have to be the right offer, it would have to make sense.”
Ummmm, apparently Trek Factory Racing made an offer and it made sense. Kiel, congratualtions! You made it, you’re going World Tour!
2008: Getting my head smashed in at Tour of Missouri. I got called-up to stagire with Jelly Belly, it was my first stage race with the team. All I wanted to do was try to make the breakaway one day but no matter how hard I tried I kept getting spit out the back. A week later I was still crushed from the race, went to the doctor and found out I had mono…that’s how hard my first pro race was. But I also knew that if I still wanted to race after a week like that, then it was worth it.
2010: Winning the Tour of Thailand. It wasn’t just that we won it was how we did it. I took the leaders jersey on the opening prologue and held it until the 2nd to last day. We had spent every bullet we had defending and the team had no more to give, I conceded a minute and a half that day, dropping to 7th overall. With only 1 stage left it looked like an impossible task to take back the yellow. But we went all in we were either going to lose of DNF the race, everyone of us. The guys set me up perfectly I went up the road with 20km to go in a small group and finished 2 minutes ahead of the main field to take back yellow. It was a heroic team effort and I will never forget it.
2010: Getting 3rd overall at Tour of Qinghai Lakes. The year before I was sitting high up on the overall and got E. Coli (food poisoning) with only 3 stages to go. It was heart breaking, I wanted desperately to try and start the stage anyway, but I couldn’t stay conscious long enough to tell anyone. After a few days in bed and a lot of antibiotics I was able to travel home but I vowed to be back the next year and to make it count. We went in guns blazing. Two of my teammates were out day 1 with food poisoning but they stayed the entire 2 weeks helping with bags, laundry, morale anything they could. That was an incredible display of teamwork. And it kept the rest of us fighting everyday. We were all very proud of that hard fought podium finish, everyone one of the guys deserved it.
2012: Finishing Milan-San Remo, my first monument. I had no idea what to expect from my body or my head. But when I found myself still in the front group with only 25km to go I wanted to give it my best shot. Not having any experience with racing those kinds of distances I made the rookie mistake of not eating enough, or maybe there just weren’t enough calories in the world to keep my legs churning but in either case I exploded spectacularly on the Poggio with about 15km to go and could barely keep my bike on the road descending to the finish line. Crawling back onto the team bus after the finish I felt like I been run over by a steamroller but I also knew I wanted to come back next year and I was proud to be counted amongst those who had finished the nearly 300km race.
2014: Winning Stage 1 of the USAPC in my (adopted) home state of Colorado in front of friends, family and local fans. This was a big win for myself and the team. We were the favorites for the stage and having a target on your back always makes it harder to win. We took the stage and the yellow jersey and I got to share it with my close friends and family.
2015: Getting 3rd at Nationals, 4 times. It is both the most demoralizing and inspiring feeling for me. More than anything I want to wear the U.S. National champion jersey and I have come agonizingly close so many times. I cried after loosing the race this year, but it is also what inspired me to train even harder for the second half of the season. This race has become my white whale.