Because he is 1) An Old Dog That Won’t Quit, 2) controversial, 3) unwilling in many ways to “play the game,” 4) due an immense amount of respect wether you agree with him or not (he’s earned it!), 5) NOT A JOCK, at least not in the pedestrian and typical sense, and 6) because we simply like and respect and revere him as well as what we think he stands for, we asked Adam Myerson Thirty-one questions give or take. Though it was not our intention, having more to do with ineptitude rather than apathy, many of our questions were random, unsophisticated and poorly executed, and many contain spelling and grammatical mistakes on account of not being properly edited, if at all. However, Adam Myerson’s answers to our sometimes sub-excellent questions were, without fail, brilliant and insightful.
What follows are Adam’s answers to most of 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.
Oh, you’ve been saving “Circuit Breakers” up for a while, haven’t you? I was in two crews—this all happened in the early ’80s—that I would call significant in terms of organization and contests. 1) The Low Profile Breakers: I was in 6th grade but the rest of the crew was older, they were all in High School. I was the novelty Cute Little Kid.“I was the novelty Cute Little Kid.” 2) The Street Freaks, which was a crew of Junior High School kids.
How did you find this stuff out?! When I was 11 my parents split up. I left Brockton, Massachusetts and moved-in with a cousin in Weymouth. Breakdancing hadn’t quite made it out to Weymouth yet so there was a little Footloose type thing going on. Meanwhile all the kids in my new neighborhood were in the local Scout Troop, it was actually really fun. One of the Scoutmasters was married to a dance teacher and I guess he saw an opportunity to help me fit in. So I started teaching a group of elementary school girls enrolled in a Modern Jazz Dance class, how to breakdance. Oh, and I danced in their recital.
It was roller speedskating on quad skates. Inline skates didn’t exist yet. Again it was the early 80s and rollerskating was popular, we used to hang out at Skatetown USA in Whitman, MA. They used to have games during skate sessions, one of which was a short race. I won a few of those on rental skates which led to a free pass/invitation to come to Speed Team practice. I was hooked. Roller speed skating resembles short track ice skating. Super fast, always sliding, lots of contact, stepping in and out between skaters. Inline skating really changed everything, but for me there’s nothing like drifting around a short track on quad skates. I can also still roller dance, and I still have my skates.
No question, speed skating made me a natural crit racer. By the time I started racing bikes I already understood pack dynamics, drafting, cornering, and passing.
Those were dark days, watching Chris Horner’s ponytail migrate to his chin. I think we’re all happy to see that period behind us.
I did, actually. I was part of the ‘88 era of hardcore. I listened to everything in the ’80s, post-punk, hardcore, rap, funk; but the peak for me was the youth crew era of Youth of Today, Bold, Gorilla Biscuits, War Zone, Wrecking Crew, Slapshot. Bands like SSD and even Minor Threat were a little before me and I never got to see them, though I obviously listened to them. We’d always listened to reggae and ska in Brockton because our scene was like that. There was no punk in a diverse city like Brockton without influences from all directions. Our best local college radio station was WERS, and they had a hardcore show (hosted by Choke), a reggae show called Rockers, but also amazing hip-hop and funk shows, particularly the Mastermix. So when hardcore was dying and grunge was seeping into everything, ska was a great place to hide for a few years in the early 90s. “I definitely wore second hand suits with bow ties to class every day for most of my sophomore year.” That’s also where my nickname “Jazzy” originated. Side note: There are only a few people around anymore who know about that name or call me that.
Ha, no, that’s not how it works. It’s mostly the opposite. I don’t mind answering honest questions about it, but yeah, it can get tiresome to talk about it all the time because then it looks like I’m the one always discussing it. Basically, everyone has their own, usually wrong, idea about what an open relationship is. They assume it’s a free for all. Ours isn’t. We’re not swingers. We don’t sleep with strangers. It’s a big deal to get involved with someone outside of our primary relationship, and it takes a lot for the bridge to come down over the moat. I don’t need to advertise that I’m available, because anyone I would get involved with would already know me well enough as a friend to know all the details.
Actually my degree is in English, and my minor is Afro-American Studies. At UMass-Amherst you’re part of the 5 College Consortium, which means you can take classes at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire, and get credit for it. I took a lot of Women’s Studies classes, and a lot of classes at Smith, but was a class short of a formal minor. A good example would be a class like Black Women Writers at Smith. It’s in the English department, but crosses over to both Women’s Studies and Afro-Am, and I would get credit toward those minors at the same time. Or at UMass, a class on the Harlem Renaissance would also cross over. My first wife went to Smith and she does have a Women’s Studies degree, our wedding and reception was at the Alumnae House on campus. But that didn’t get me any kind of honorary Women’s Studies degree.
I think I can answer the last two questions together. I wouldn’t call it guilt as much as an acute awareness of white privilege. Growing up in Brockton, you experience incredible diversity. At the time I was at Brockton High, it was 50% white, 50% people of color. You heard many different languages in the hallways and even on the PA announcements in the morning. Creole, Portuguese, Vietnamese – playing soccer on my junior high team you learned some Portuguese so you could talk to your Cape Verdean teammates. Where we lived in high school, I was the white kid in a black neighborhood; I had never seen so many white people in one place until I got out and got to college. It was shocking, and I understood then that I had escaped something, from a class standpoint, that my non-white friends were not able to, at least not as easily. I’m sure being poor and being punk are part of identifying with being “other.” Understanding what part of that was a choice and what part of that was institutional is a big part of what drove me to Afro-Am.
UMass-Amherst was actually a lot like Brockton High in this specific way. If you wanted to fuck off, you definitely could. If you wanted to get serious, you definitely could. I moved off campus and across the river to Northampton early on. In the early 90s is was less UMass vs. Amherst College as it was the town of Amherst vs. the city of Northampton. The jocks stayed in Amherst, and the punks moved across the river. Smith is in Northampton where the music scene was growing and something was happening. When “punk broke,” we were all in Northampton.
I didn’t listen to Judge. For me that was when things were over, and I couldn’t understand why they were hanging on. Start Today by Gorilla Biscuits is a great motivator. A Time We’ll Remember by Youth of Today reminds me of being a junior in a minivan with a bunch of other kids, no driver’s license, traveling around to all the races with no adult supervision. Wreckage by Rollins reminds me of everything I left behind when I picked bike racing as my path.
Ha, I was out in school and not in Boston when SBC was popular, and the only band I’ve really gone back to listen to from that era is Tree. I love Tree. And I much prefer Street Dogs to Dropkick Murphys. But you can’t avoid some traditional pub rock if you’re into Boston hardcore. How about The Ducky Boys?
Worst music? Christmas music. Holy Mary, Mother of God, nothing makes me angrier than Christmas music. And unfortunately, my wife loves it. Thanksgiving through Epiphany, I’m subjected to it.
Let’s start with the WORST Boston movie. Southie is the worst. It’s fun to watch because all the landmarks are in there and you see all the places you pass every day, but it’s a terrible movie. Good Will Hunting is probably still the best, even if that’s an obvious choice. If you were poor, white, and smart, that’s your story, right there. Cambridge is NOT Boston, and there’s nothing those of us who actually live in Boston proper hate more than when people who don’t say they do, generically. Cambridge is great and has it’s own character, but it’s not Boston. The Neponset is my river, not the Charles. “The Neponset is my river, not the Charles.”
There was no meat. I didn’t stop being vegetarian, just vegan. I stopped being strict about avoiding dairy at all costs, but I’m still vegetarian, and vegan 99% of the time. I just don’t get to wear the vegan crown anymore.
Despite living in a Vietnamese neighborhood and having a favorite local joint, I don’t consider myself an aficionado here. I do think it’s funny how bahn mi has become chic, but the whole point of it is that it’s street food, and a simple sandwich. But this one isn’t my fight.
For me it’s meant looking for other ways to try and create value and increase that stability. So many riders don’t know if they’ll have a job at the end of each season. Once I finally turned pro, I still figured it would only be for a season and I’d go back to my coaching business. 12 years later, the reason I stayed afloat in the sport is just by hustling. Contributing to teams and sponsors off the bike, with more than just pedaling. But also, it’s meant keeping my coaching business alive even after my racing career took off, to make sure I had a job waiting for me if and when the bottom fell out.
Probably the thing I’ve seen most is overspending, over-ambitiousness, and over-reaching. Teams get a little money, they either don’t make a budget or don’t stick to their budget, they get excited, and they run out of money half way through the season.
Honestly? Nothing. It’s the nature of cycling. People with real organizational skills have real money, and those people are running teams at the ProTour level, ideally running them like real businesses. That model is flawed, too, because even though teams are big businesses, they are subjected to the whims of the market, and millionaire cycling fans. At the continental level, you really have to love cycling to want to work for pennies. I traded in making “real” money doing something else to make just enough money living a certain lifestyle and getting to race bikes. I’m not going to get rich coaching, either. So if the money was there, the stakes would be higher, more skilled organizers would get involved, and maybe we’d look like a real pro sport. Don’t ask me how to make that happen, though. I have no idea.
Related to my answer above about how I’ve stayed afloat in the sport, I think my personal relationship with sponsors has been a big part of it. You have to understand that early in my career, in the 90s, when I was in my early 20s, no one really knew what to do with me. I had pink hair, a face full of piercings, the internet was new, so many people had never seen anything like me. And I was trying to turn pro in the era where cycling was looking for an all-American, palatable marketing image, during a bad economy where there weren’t many teams to go to, and all the money that was there was moving to mountain bike racing. I saw a guy like Pistol Pete Loncarevich getting featured in print ads and knew I was fighting an uphill battle on the road side. So in this second half of my career, the professional part, my appearance has become more acceptable. Through social media and the internet, my story has been better told. I’ve become appreciated for my choices, and people have gotten to know me. Teams have been willing to back me up even if I still alienate some others. My relationship with sponsors is a key part of that. I don’t just want free stuff. All my sponsors are friends. I think about their businesses, what they’re trying to achieve, what I like about what they do, how lucky I am that they understand me and want to associate with me. For example, when I needed a wheel sponsor for cross I immediately started talking to Mercury. I knew they were a fan of mine and wanted to work with me. When a company is genuinely excited to work with you and be involved in what you’re doing, it feels amazing, and it makes you want to to pay it all back. Another example is Kindhuman, a small company guided in part by a social justice mission attached, these are the types of sponsors I want to associate with.
Fuck no. Never. All I see is fatigue, unhappiness, debt, bad health, and misery. I am a millionaire, in my own mind. I have a college degree, I own a home, a vehicle, I have health insurance, a business, a wife I adore and a relationship we worked hard on. I am successful beyond my wildest dreams as a kid on the streets in Brockton. “I am successful beyond my wildest dreams as a kid on the streets in Brockton.” I’m not on drugs or in jail, I’m not homeless or dead. I can pay my bills when they show up, no one’s knocking on the door to turn my heat or electricity off. And once I’m done racing full time, I’ll start turning my attention toward business and creating more security for myself and my family and my employees. No man, I have everything I have ever wanted.
It’s a move I make a lot. I don’t start my sprint early enough. I hide until it’s too late, and I get 4th a lot. Can’t think of any one big, dumb thing I’ve ever done.
Hmmm. Probably my best tactical moment was when I lapped the field at Race for the Rock in Plymouth, Mass a million years ago. There were four of us: me, my teammate Charlie Issendorf, 2-time pro crit champion (and best friend) Kevin Monahan, and Victor Rapinski from Saturn. Once we lapped the field, Rapinski was focused on Kevin. I jumped across a small gap to a rider we’d lapped who was off the front, and rode away with him while those two bluffed each other, and Charlie marked them. It’s not often I lap the field, never mind ride away (for a second time) to finish solo. That was a good day.
I’d guess that it was under 6,000. And I just looked. Around 4000!
Come on, dawg. Lee from Beat Street.
SSD. The kids will have their fucking say.
The Smiths. Morrissey’s poetry and voice have been mediocre and on the decline for the past 20 years. It’s hard to watch.
- Favorite Food: Ice cream, sadly.
- Favorite Color: Baby blue
- Favorite Band: Prince
- Favorite Movie: Dune, Purple Rain
- Pre-Race Ritual/Superstition(s):
Opening and closing my quick releases on the start line
- If you weren’t a cyclist, what would you be? An English teacher
- What do you do when you’re bored? I am way, way too busy to be bored, ever.
- Family: My wife and 2 cats. My 3 younger sisters and mom don’t live too far away.
- First Financial Splurge After Going Pro: My first contract was for $2000, so there was no splurge.
- Guilty Pleasure(s): Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts.
- Sign: Taurus
- Prized Possession: 1979 Bajaj Chetak scooter with 2500 miles
- If you were a super hero, what would your power be? Teleportation
- What’s most surprising about you? I’m a sweet and tender hooligan.
- Celebrity Crush: Winona, ugh. Johnny and Winona 4 EVA!
- Role Model(s): Ian Mackaye
- Worst Fear(s): Poor health
- Bad Habits: Texting and driving
- Favorite Quote: “I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”
- Ticklish? Extremely.
- What’s your favorite smoothie!? Berries, a banana, and soymilk.
- Weirdest Dream: N/A
- Hidden Talents: Uncanny and exceptional ability to catch falling things. Missed a career as an NHL goalie.
- Fanmail Address: @adammyerson