Photo by Jaime Nichols
Twenty-two year old Mike Creed is one of the most exciting young riders in the US Peloton. A strong time-trialist and climber, he's also a force to be reckoned with on the track. He's the current and three-time U23 U.S. National Time Trial Champion - he trounced his nearest rival this year by over a minute and a half - and is currently looking to put in a top ride at this year's U23 World Championships is Hamilton.
Michael first began riding a bike out of necessity. Growing up in the wide open spaces in Montana, he didn't have school bus service, and had to ride 4 miles each way to get to school everyday on his BMX bike. When he was 9 years old, one of his teachers showed him a tape of the 1989 Tour de France, and Mike was sucked right in. His parents gave him his first road bike on his 10th birthday.
This year, Mike's put in some strong performances. In addition to successfully defending his espoir TT crown, he also took his first National Calendar win at the Sea Otter Classic in the Laguna Seca Road Race, riding for the Prime Alliance team here in the states; and more recently, he scored a strong 8th place finish in the 5th stage of the Tour de L'Avenir riding with the US National team in Europe.
The Daily Peloton caught up with Mike this past week to hear about his successful season, racing in the US and Europe, his plans and preparation for the Worlds, and how he plans to decorate the Batcave.
Earlier this year in April when you won the Laguna Seca Road Race at Sea Otter, you were relentless; in every break, attacking continuously and finally dropping Tom Danielson in the closing 200 meters for the win. That was your first National race Calendar win and first UCI points, right? Did you decide that day that you would not be denied? How did it feel to win there?
Yeah, that was my first NRC win. I was wondering when or if it was ever going to happen. To be honest it was really unexpected. The day before I rode about the worst TT in my life, and after an extremely disappointing Redlands, I was really down. In fact, after Redlands, I tried to get out of doing Sea Otter, but my team manager Kirk [Willett], made me stay, and that day I felt pretty good and got in the right move.
Its funny but the move started because I saw Chris Fisher go, he caught me the day before in the TT, so I went with him to pay him back. It sounds stupid, but that really the only reason I attacked, was to rip his legs off.
Photo courtesy of PACT
Mike takes the win at Sea Otter
The next day, your teammate, Matt Decanio, won the 4th stage and his first NRC race, and your team Prime Alliance won the Team Prize. A lot of people say Saturn has dominated the 2003 season but with 2 stage wins, Team GC, and 2 riders in the top six at the end of the day, it seems like you guys held your own.
To be honest, Saturn was hands-down the best team in the US. They had 3 guys who could just ride the whole field off their wheel whenever they wanted, but I like to think we tried. What was weird though, was that even though Saturn was 10 times better than everyone, they would still make deals with another team. It made us pretty upset. When Horner was on our team, we were the underdogs, and everyone on the team stepped up and pulled until we were blind. Nobody helped us, and everyone tried to kill us. This year, Saturn has the best team and still makes deals. In a way, I think it insulted some of the guys on their team.
Prime Alliance always seems to have that good team spirit. It was really clear how unified you all were behind Horner, and this year has been another really good season. What do you think really holds a good team together?
The fact that we donít take ourselves very seriously helps a lot. We race hard, and try to win, but if we donít, weíre not going to throw a fit. Donít get me wrong, weíve had some arguments; but we know when to drop it and move on.
In 2004 will you target the Olympics, and if you do, will you go for pursuit on the track, the time trial or the road race?
Right now, I donít know. If I get a good road deal next year, I might not really try to hard to make any of the events. But if I spend next year exclusively in the US, Iíll give the track a go. I think I can make the team in an event. The thing about track racing is, itís a big soap opera. This guy hates that guy; he likes this guy, but won't work with the other... It's so stupid.
A lot of people who race track in the US do so exclusively, so they see and race about 40 different guys every year. So their world is very small. A lot of them donít realize how many good cyclists there are out there who just never got on the track. I could name 10 Americans who would rock in the points race, but havenít even touched a track bike.
How was your Tour D l'Avenir this year? It looked like the US Team had a pretty rough ride. Did you feel the team was prepared and had the right support? What happened out there?
I have pretty mixed emotions about the race. It obviously started off bad with Heavy D quitting on the first day. I think that took a lot of the wind out of our sails.
As far as my race went, I was really disappointed not to finish. That was my number 1 goal, but Iíve never been so wrung out in my life. When I woke up that morning, I knew I was in deep, deep trouble. I felt like I'd sleep-walked into a bar that night and drank until 6 am. But, I only had 2 weeks to train for the race. I'd come down with mono and was out of competition for a long time. So, to come back and get in the breakaway that decided the GC, and get a top 10 was pretty good.
That race was really fast though. I had my SRM on and we would average over 300 watts everyday. But man, I just wanted to finish.
What was the effort like at that level? Most of the riders there in L'Avenir are riding with Credit Agricole and other pro Teams in Europe.
I donít know how they do it. I guess thatís why it was so hard to drop out. I was thinking, "damn, if I canít finish a 10 day race, how am I going to finish a 21?"
You've raced over in Europe with the National U-23 team, and from what I hear you do well in Europe. Which do you prefer, racing domestic races or Europe? How would you compare the daily and weekly routine and challenges and differences from racing stateside or Europe?
When you're racing over in Europe, its more of a job. In the US, for 80% of the pack, itís a hobby. So naturally it's going to be a lot more aggressive, and I think thatís why a lot of Americans struggle when the go to Europe. Theyíre used to having fun when theyíre racing, but like I said, itís a job over there.
When Iím on form, I race much better in Europe than the US. I could be on good form in the US and miss the move because one team likes it. When Iím riding good in Europe, there are no tactics - just hang on and get into the move.
Looking at your palmares, I notice you finished 2nd in the Tour of the Gila in 2001 when you were 20, right behind Scott Moninger. That's impressive! What do you think of the tour of the Gila? What is your favorite race in the NRC Calendar? Favorite type of race? In the future is your goal the Grand Tours or Classic races or both?
Silver City, New Mexico is one of my favorites places in the world. Some might think Iím crazy for saying that, but I really fell in love with it this year. I trained there from January to late February. It's nice riding in the mountains by yourself. In town like San Diego or Tucson, a lot of pros show up on group rides and we end up getting in a big pissing match. In Silver City, it was just me, my power meter and my mini disc. The people there were really laid back.
Chris Grelish hooked me up with a place to stay, heís one of the nicest people Iíve ever meet.
I donít know if I really have a specific strength. In the future, I just want to be feared in any type of race. I think that would be sweet, just to roll up to the line and have people take note of you.
You're training for the U-23 TT at worlds; how is it going as you approach the last weeks? Have you had a chance to check out or ride the course earlier this year?
This TT has a lot riding on it for me, as far as getting on a team for next year. The job market it so bad right now, and if I donít get a decent offer for next year, who knows what Iíll do. I love to ride my bike, but I don't necessarily love racing my bike. It would be hard to walk away, but at some point in you life you have to start making more than 15k.
As far as training goes, Iím getting a lot of input from John Vaughters and Dean Golich, I trust them a lot, 2 very smart guys.
Is there anything special you're doing to prepare for the U23 TT?
Lots of short intense intervals at race pace. Iím really just trying to get comfortable on the bike. Itís a hard position to hold on climbs, so Iíve been doing a lot of adjusting to try and get my fit on the bike perfect. Thereís only so much you can do thanks to the UCI.
Who's Dean Grolich, is he your coach?
Heís a bald guy that works for the coaching corporate monster called CTS. Heís married to Mari Holden, which is his only claim to fame, and heís milking every second of it. But heís smart, so Iíll listen to him.
What do you love about riding/racing your bike? What would be the hardest thing about bike racing to walk away from for you?
The guys. I really love having a good time with the team. I donít have a group of friends like that anywhere else. But really thatís it, Iím not going to miss bo-funk crit in any town USA, getting in fights with other riders for 10 bucks. I wont miss that one bit.
If everything went perfectly as you wish it would, where would you
see yourself in five years?
Well, I guess my ideal situation would be that I've replaced Batman and live in the bat cave. Iíd fight crime and evil, and of course drive the bat car and the bat plane to do it. My cave would be filled with one Batgirl that looks like Wynona Rider, one that looks like Angelina Jolie, and one that looks like Mandy Moore. In the back of the cave would be a 24 hour burrito stand that only I could eat at, and the refrigerator would always be full of diet rite soda. I would have a big cookie jar always stocked with Safeway (or Vons for you Californians) cookies, and the cabinet would be stocked with all types of cereal, I like cereal.
Iíd have a huge TV with TIVO, I would have it programmed to record Trigger Happy, south park, Reno 911, Jackass, MADE and any cycling shows that OLN plays. I would have about 4-5 dogs. I haven't decided what kind yet, but they would have the be the no-barking type, the barking would echo off the bat cave walls and the batgirls hate that. When I wanted to go out and not be noticed Iíd drive my Subaru STI, the blue one of course. I think that would be pretty ideal.
That, or racing the Tour with a D1 team; either one would be ok with me.