Friday, February 29, 2008

The Tilford Interview

The 2008 Racing Season is upon us. HRRC is kicking off its season in the coming weeks.

Here's an interview with one of Cycling's most seasoned professionals.
Amber spoke with Steve on the phone while he was off the bike in Austin, Texas, after the Pace Bend race. (For full coverage of the race, see his site

What do you like most about the 5.5 2008 Madone?

The stiffness of the frame and the weight- that is the lightness of the weight.

What keeps you on your bike training day in and day out?

Enjoyment of cycling- I’d ride even if I didn’t race. It’s never gotten boring.

What’s the best bike you’ve ever ridden? And why?

The new Madone frames- the innovation and the carbon. Again, they're lighter and more stiff. I know it's cool to dig the old steel frames and stuff, but you just can't deny how rad the new carbon is. My favorite ride is the newest because it’s the best. Very few times have I gotten on a new bike and immediately noticed the difference. But this bike felt weird because it’s so stiff. The first time I got on the bike and pushed the pedals I was like "God this is f***ing cement."

What’s your favorite training ride?

Well, I used to live in Switzerland. I used to do this one road ride a ton. It's a loop around the southern, Italian part of Switzterland. The roads overlook a valley and wind through the mountains. If I could do it everyday I would.

In Kansas?

My favorite training ride in Kansas would be riding from Topeka to Lawrence on gravel roads- on 2nd Street to Lawrence to the coffee shop. The ride is all along the Kansas River and its sheltered along the bluffs.

What race are you excited about for 2008?

Cross Nationals in KC. I have kind of a chip on my shoulder because of the mechanicals I had last year in the elite race. That said, I'm racing in over 100 races this year. I get excited about every weekend. I haven’t picked one that’s the focus. It really depends on the race and how it unfolds.

What’s your favorite post-ride chow?

A fruit smoothie- with protein and yogurt. I hadn't thought about it, though. I should have one more often.

What do you want fans to yell at you when you race past?

Well, I guess just encouragement. I don't want them to yell 'Catch that guy!' or things like 'You can go harder.' I always go my hardest.
I had a weird experience last year at mountain bike race. This guy in his 40s came up and told me that it was such an honor to meet me. He told me he used to race and enjoy riding his bike. Then he gained 60-70 pounds. Years later he picked up a magazine and saw a story about me still racing. He said it gave him motivation; that he thought if I could continue riding for so long, he could too. He said he just started riding. He lost the weight and he's the happiest he’s been.
I don't know if I'd tell somebody that- even if they did inspire me. I don't think I deserve credit for the work it took him to get better. But it was cool.

Many racers have come and gone in the past twenty years. What do you attribute your staying power as a racer to?

The sport has so many facets. I don’t think people realize how intellectual cycling is. Most people who race understand the physical side of it.
But I race all types of bikes. And it takes a bunch of knowledge to get good results. Especially because in races nothing repeats itself. You could race with the same guys on the same course every day for a year and never get the same results. It’s an ever changing thing and you can always learn. I love athletics and endurance athletics. It’s a healthy lifestyle. I love the travel, the friends. There’s nothing about cycling I don’t like- except if you’re feeling bad and go race anyway. Those hours are the only 'chores' I'd say there are.
But I was talking to Eric Heiden [1980 Winter Olympic ice skating medalist turned professional cyclist]. He was like “Hey Steve, Thanks for holding up our generation." I didn't really think of us in the same generation, but okay, sure.

What training tools would you recommend?

Well, as a resource I’d advise people who want to get better on their bike: Ride with better riders. Pick the brains of older guys. It takes a long time to learn how to get fast on a bicycle.
We were riding with cat 1 guys who have been racing 6 or 7 years and they're good for only racing that long. But six years is not that long to have been racing. Lance didn’t win Worlds until he was 24 and he started racing at 16. The fastest way to skip levels is not to read magazines but ride with guys who are better than you. Emulate them as best you can.

What’s your favorite race?

I’d guess I’d have to say the World Cup Championships in Vail, it's a mountain bike race. It's in Vail and I don’t ride all that well at altitude. But they close down the town and you race through downtown. There are people sitting outside at coffee shops watching the race go by.They shut down Vail, not for like an hour or the minimum amount of time, but all day. It’s like racing in Europe because it gives the racers a lot of respect.

1 comment:

Shane A. Jones said...

Nice interview. I was bummed for Steve at cross nats. 08 will be his year.