We asked Kiel Reijnen Twenty & Six Questions. Though it was not our intention, having to do with ineptitude rather than apathy, many of our questions were random, unsophisticated and poorly executed, as in they contained spelling and grammatical mistakes on account of not being properly edited, if at all. However, Kiel Reijnen’s answers to our sometimes sub-excellent questions were, without fail, brilliant and insightful. What follows are Kiel’s answers to our questions. If for whatever unimaginable reason you can’t enjoy the answers to our questions without access to the questions themselves, and because we believe in transparency and process, the original questions are annotated in the form of corresponding footnotes.
I’m gonna blow your mind here; my name is actually James. But my parents never intended me to go by James. I’m in an elite class of “Middle Namers”. You’d be surprised how many of us there actually are out there, but it’s still a pretty exclusive club.
I have seen That Thing You Do however I am nearly clinically tone deaf so I didn’t relate to it much.“I have seen That Thing You Do however I am nearly clinically tone deaf so I didn't relate to it much.” Everyone from the Island just calls it “The Island” (haha see I even did it by accident in that sentence). By calling it “The” it makes most people think they ought to know where it is and as a result they refrain from asking. I also really loved growing up on “The Island” and I kind of like that its location is a mystery to most. I mean, isn’t it way more fun to watch someone try and come up with an image of what this island might be like—especially if their only piece of information is me?!?!
Rain forces one to learn Bike Skillz. Also if you don’t really, really like riding bikes then you won’t, because it’s an island there are only so many roads to pick from and it is cold and rainy a lot so you really do have to love riding to put up with it.
Rain and wild chickens are both very much common place in the beautiful NW. I would say that sweaters and fleece jackets are more common than leathery tans, but even a gray, cloudy day on the water (sailing) can burn you to a crisp. That being said I am probably the tannest guy I know, so I’m not sure how that works.
When you are racing full-gas in a third world country that’s what you are, a survivalist. I don’t pack my own food because I’m some calorie counting, vegan, gluten-free Boulderite, I do it because I got an E. coli infection one year in China and I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.
I take my BBQ VERY seriously. If it ain’t cooked with real wood it ain’t BBQ. I get up at 4:30AM or 5AM to start my brisket and Boston butt (they go for about 12-14 hrs). I took a competition BBQ class and learned a lot but I wouldn’t call myself competition worthy yet. I’ve done everything from bacon to our Thanksgiving Turkey on the smoker. Try it and you’ll never go back. During the summer months we eat BBQ probably 4-5 nights a week. I had to get AC installed in the house just to combat the Meat Sweats at night. I am powered by meat.
Alex and I are both registered with USA boxing. We spent over a month training for an official bout, but due to circumstances beyond our control a stop was put to the operation. It was very disappointing, but we did still get to spar and yes it was AWESOME. My nose still hurts when I squeeze it hard. Although there was no clear victor, we both got some GOOD swings in. I pretty much love anything that tests one’s speed/agility/strength and manliness. Last week I went white water rafting through class 4 rapids on the Arkansas River. We flipped in a bad spot but everyone survived so that was cool. I have also been known to participate and compete in “Aggressive Street Walking” you know just testing out your surroundings and keeping on your toes. Alex, Pete and I once chopped down 20 trees in one day up at the cabin; that was a solid test of endurance. I like challenges of all kinds, they give you a target.
Well, first of all you better pray it’s not raining. Fleece is a great material until it gets soaking wet. So if it is pouring buckets you better D.N.S. that TT. On the other hand if its dry the texture of the material can be of great “Fleece is a great material until it gets soaking wet.”aerodynamic advantage. I reckon the best case scenario is a shorter 5-10km TT, sunny but crisp, maybe 45-49 degrees. That way not having a chamois on won’t be as much of a problem and the pants will keep your legs warmer than the competition’s.
Like I said I’m a purist. When I make BBQ I’ll put BBQ sauce out on the table for anyone who wants it and I won’t say a word when you pour a big helping on your plate, but you can bet your ass I’m judging you for it. If it’s done right it shouldn’t need any sauce, unadulterated, pure. So, no I never even think about pouring that fake, impostor syrup on my American Toast, not a chance, I’d rather starve.
At Amgen Tour of CA this year I was riding next to this Dutch guy talking with his Australian friend, it was an easy point in the race and he was going on about how he cheated on his wife with this smoking hot blonde the week before blah, blah, blah, anyway he turns to me as I ride up and you can tell he wants as many people as possible to hear his story of triumph when all of a sudden he realizes that I’ve got one of these new fancy Shimano bike cameras on. He turns white and asks, “Hey that things not on right?” I can’t top that story so I’m leaving it to 1 instead of 3.
It really does depend on the day. Milan San-Remo this year was seven-something hours and I don’t think I said one word the entire time. On the other hand a nice warm day, the break goes, it’s gonna be a sprint….all you do is chat. Sometimes it’s the only time you can catch up with friends that you haven’t seen in months. We are all in it suffering together, you share a bond even with the guys that you don’t know well.
“Big” name guys are always yelling at guys on smaller teams for doing this or that, and then they go and do the same dumbass move 15 min later. You have to respect everyone you race with. We careen through towns at 60+kph inches from one another, everyone has to trust each other, it ain’t right to put yourself in a separate category. We’re all just bike racers at the end of the day.
I used to always joke about going back to Jelly Belly, eating too many jelly beans, then coming back to TT1 as a Type 2 diabetic. When I raced for the team I think there were 6 guys that had Type 1 and I only really raced with 3 or 4 of them, so I wasn’t really an outsider in that regard.
The first time I went to Philly I went to go run up the steps Rocky style and I was pretty excited about it but there was this overweight Asian guy on vacation with his wife and he was running up the stairs Rocky style while his wife took a thousand pictures. That took the wind out of my sails. I never went back. So instead we started a couple of awesome traditions. We go to this restaurant, “The Goat’s Beard” down on Maniyunk, they serve great food there. Have a meal fit for a king then wander down the street to a fellow who owns a t-shirt, ice cream and philly cheesesteak stand. Last year over dinner Mike discovered that I’d never had a Philly cheesesteak so he decided it was high time. Anyway the fellow who owns the place finds out we won the race and is over the moon so he gets me my first philly cheesesteak and all the boys some ice cream. He also makes custom t-shirts for the race every year so he gave me one. This year when we went for dinner and ice cream just the same I wore the shirt he gave me from last year. The background of his phone was still me and him sharing a philly cheesesteak from the year before. He couldn’t believe we won again and said he hadn’t ever seen that in 30yrs of watching the race. It was a pretty rad experience.
Napping is all mental, sleep is king and I love sleep, but last year I met my match. I can’t hold a candle to Lucas. The kid can sleep 10 or 11 hours at night and still take a solid nap after coffee. I love a good nap but the crown has moved on.
NRC races are shorter, not scripted, less controlled, less exhausting.
Both have their place. Sometimes the WT races can be a bit boring; it’s not always the case but when you have so many riders so close to the same level it’s hard to tear the race apart. Also there aren’t a lot of guys willing to risk it all. Too much is at stake so you start to play it cautious, rely on your team and play into the script. On the other hand the races are often twice as long and much more demanding. If you ain’t fit you ain’t gonna finish, let alone place. There is no room for pack fodder and that’s kind of nice too. The guy who wins never wins by accident. You don’t get as much of the “negative” racing at that level which is something that always bothered me in the domestic races. I’ve gone plenty hard in NRC races but I’ve never been as buckled as after some of those WT one day races, everything hurts. The bottom line is that it’s never easy to win a race whether a local crit or NRC or La Primavera.
1) You better like living out of a bag. 2) Chicks dig scars, but not really cyclists. 3) At the end of the day no matter how fast or talented you are, you’re dressing up in spandex and pedaling around a 150 year old invention—it’s not the be all and end all. 4) Mix it up: yoga, rafting, boxing, carpentry; whatever you are into, find other things that get you out of bed in the morning because it will make a better human being. 5) Find one airline and stick with it. 6) It is a sport of patience, nothing happens overnight. 7) It’s easier to train with a hangover than you’d think. 8) Bacon is the breakfast of champions. 9) Buy the Costco pack of 50 razor blades. 10) Sometimes you just gotta giv’er.
During the Tour of Thailand I got the Jersey the first day and held onto it until the second to last stage. The team worked their ass off for me but it was only five-man teams so we just didn’t have enough by the second to last stage. I gave everything but a move of 10 guys attacked away and I had to fight all the way to the line. I dropped to 7th place or something overall. It was a disaster. The next day we had a meeting in our hotel room. It was 115 degrees out and everyone was exhausted from the week’s effort but we decided then and there that we weren’t fighting for anything other than a win. The guys attacked the peleton for 130km straight, taking everyone over the limit. I waited until 30 km to go and made my move. Head down, everything I had. That was it, I got the jersey back on that final stage. I threw up everywhere when I crossed the line. I’ve never been so overheated in my life. It wasn’t that we won, as cool as that was, it was the attitude we had that final day, fully committed to one goal. We were set on only one outcome and the plan worked. That was special, I’ll never forget that day, we were a Band of Brothers.
On Jelly Belly at Tour of California 2010 we had had an awesome spring, just killing it every race, winning left and right and we were doing it with teamwork. We ran a lot of drills that spring to get ourselves really good in the crosswinds as we wanted to be able to react quicker than anyone and take advantage. Well the cross winds hit maybe stage 3 or something like that and we were there waiting for it. We reacted faster than anyone else and caught all the big teams off guard but we didn’t have the HP, so after 3km everyone was together again and the big teams were riding next to us calling us idiots. We were in the doghouse for a few days after that one.
Wait I can win big time? Why didn’t somebody tell me? Here I was just trying to finish most of the races every year.
The last 5 things I have looked at: Café racer motorcycles (thinking about trading my supermoto for one), an episode of Eastbound & Down (Kenny Powers inspires me), Maytag Dishwashers (ours busted last week and there was a sale going on at Home Depot, there are a few brands in the price range I was looking but Maytag is the only one made in America so that’s why I picked it), the synonym for dorky (I honestly can’t remember why but that’s kind of funny), and the weather in Woodland park (I did a super sick point to point ride yesterday, climbed for almost an hour through heavy fog and ended up in sunshine at 8,500 ft in a National Park).
I believe, in what exactly I don’t know, but I am most at home when I’m out on a 6+ hour ride Vision Questing (due to lack of food and water), and something other than me is leading the way. I’m a bear for a few reasons but the first time I realized this was when I was out Vision Questing through the mountains above Boulder on my bike and there, not 20 feet away, came a family of black bears. I’m sure that I was one of them just for that moment. My grandma also had this book North West Native American Animal Myths or something like that. When I read the section about bears it sounded like me. In the NW the bears always go to the Salmon runs in the fall so we saw them every so often growing up. Watching them fish for Salmon is an amazing experience. I also love salmon and berries. The bear spirit is a very grounding one and grounding is something that I need lots of. I like to think of things as energy, that’s all anything is, we just transfer energy from one medium to another. I also race with an Energy Rock a friend gave me. She has a matching rock and does Reiki on it when I’m racing to help keep my energy centered. My grandma was really into Reiki so I like the energy I get from that a lot.
My best friend growing up was also my neighbor. His name is Francis. We have spent a lot of years being best friends and we have telekinetic abilities but it’s limited, I can’t do it whenever I want or anything. Whenever it happened we would just yell “brain wave!” and then not explain anything and the other person would always know exactly what the other was talking about. For example we were walking along the road by our house one day and Francis yelled “brain wave!” Without another word we both bolted off the side of the road and started climbing this giant redwood. We were up over 100ft before we finally stopped. There were all kinds of things like that, it happened at least once a week. So ya I’d say we are in the club.
- Favorite Food: Salmon, preferably raw or smoked.
- Favorite Color: Blue because when the skies are blue I don’t have to wear sixteen layers of spandex.
- Favorite Band: Modest Mouse or Old Crow Medicine Show, willy Watson is a BOSS.
- Favorite Movie: All of Wes Anderson’s movies.
- Pre-Race Ritual/Superstition(s): I’m not superstitious, but I have a couple rituals like pinning my numbers in a very exact order every time, and I race with a hawk feather on my helmet and an energy stone in my pocket.
- If you weren’t a cyclist, what would you be? I would carve chainsaw art and sell it at a roadside stand, or intern for Radiolab doing story research and fact-checkin. Or become a Navy SEAL, all three are post-cycling career paths I’d like to pursue.
- What do you do when you’re bored? House projects!
- Family: I have a large family, and most of them live on the peninsula near the island. Its pretty remote out there but I love it. We do everything from berry picking, oystering, and boat trips together. My brother still lives on the island just down the road from my folks who are still in the same house I grew up in. My wife is rad.
- First Financial Splurge After Going Pro: A new mattress and materials to construct my first bed frame. I had this POS old beat up mattress for a few years it was awesome to get something nice to sleep on. I later used birch from the frame I made to construct night stands my wife and I still use which is kind of cool I guess, a little piece of history from the early days.
- Guilty Pleasure(s): Noosa yogurt. I think my dad and I single handedly keep that company afloat.
- Sign: Yes, I do know how to sign. My best friend Francis has been together with Marina (who is deaf) for a few years now and hopefully they are moving to Boulder soon, so I have been practicing.
- Prized Possession: A Modest Mouse tape. It was all Francis and I listened to in high school. And a hand-written note my brother gave me in middle school, my meat smoker and my hatchet.
- What’s most surprising about you? I can’t dance.
- Celebrity Crush: I never remember celebrity’s names or understand why we like them so much. I mean it’s kinda hard to judge someone without knowing them, but if I had to say someone it would be Nichole Kiddman. [sic]
- Role Model(s): My parents for sure, my grandpa too he’s one of the best men I know. After that I guess I would say Chief Sealth and Genghis Khan. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum but I think they both bring some solid characteristics to the table.
- Worst Fear(s): Forgetting my shoes/kit/helmet at the start of a race, I have stress dreams about it all the time.
- Bad Habits: Underestimating the time it will take to do things. Feeding the dog at the table.
- Favorite Quote: ”It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car. You better learn that.”—Dom, The Fast and the Furious. “Sometimes ya just gotta give ‘er”—The Deaner
- Ticklish? I dare you to come find out.
- Weirdest Dream: It wasn’t really weird so much as it was informative and cool but basically to make a long story short, I took a long look at the Grim Reaper and jumped instead of waiting for him to push me. I then battled my way out of purgatory back into the real world, so I know that I am pretty much born ready and equipped to survive the apocalypse/any circumstances that involve fighting off death.
- Hidden Talents: Apocalypse survival, carpentry/woodworking, knot tying, water skiing.
- Fanmail Address: I like getting things in the mail, not this electronic messaging crap so here’s my address (normally my preferred method of post is a message in a bottle but since my current address is in a land locked state normal post will do): 850 Mohawk Dr. / Boulder, CO 80303. If you write me I hereby guarantee that you’ll get a letter back.