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More Bright Lights from Interbike
By Staff
Date: 10/21/2003
More Bright Lights from Interbike

Article and photos by Casper Casparian

Former teammate Ron Kiefel (left) points out the stylish photo of Andy Hampsten
on the seat tube of Andy’s personal bike. Hampsten is at right.
Photo by Casper Casparian. Click for larger image.

Andy Hampsten

Looking as fit as the day he retired, if a little more grey around the temples, Andy Hampsten made a couple of stops at the booths of his bike-building partners, Parlee Cycles and Co-Motion.  In recent years, Hampsten has relocated his domicile from Italy, where he operated a vineyard and olive orchard, to Colorado.  Once one of the top competitors in the sport and now an active entrepreneur with a bike business and a touring company, Hampsten sounds like others of us who try to balance our working lives with the fondness for the cycling sport.

When asked why Hampsten appears in the Parlee and Co-Motion booths, he offered, “Parlee makes the carbon fiber bikes in the Hampsten line [and Co-Motion the aluminum models].  We wanted to go with the best in the field in various materials and to be above-board about it by letting people know.”

With his bike-touring company and bike business, “I’m busy these days, but not so busy I can’t get out and ride my bike.”  Even so, cycling is now farther down on Hampsten’s priority list than it once had to be.  “I don’t train at all any more, I never feel lactic acid,” he commented.  “If I get out and ride three times in a week, that’s a good week.  Right now, my little girl is seven and my biggest joy is to ride with her on a tagalong and my mountain bike.  She just loves cruising around.  And when I’m in Italy, I eat like a pig and enjoy really good wine.”

Having moved back to the U.S. from Italy, “I spend most of my time in Colorado now, and I do mope a bit about not being able to go out and walk the vineyard [in Italy], making wine and olive oil.”

Regarding his cycling career: “I was the luckiest guy in the world being a pro bike racer.  I miss being with the guys and working as a team.  It’s good to have some thing really hard to do, and to see how the other guys react when the chips are down and it’s time to act or get passed.  But twelve years was enough for me.  I don’t regret stopping when I did.”

“I hardly see any races, even nearby.  I’d like to be involved with a team and do some coaching, but I have a lot to do with my bike tours and the company.  I do see some of the Giro occasionally, though.”

Although he doesn’t follow the racing scene closely, Hampsten does keep an eye on the development of U.S. cycling.  “It’s really good to see how many teams the U.S. riders are in [on the European circuit] these days,” he says.  “There’s a lot of depth.  Tyler’s doing well, and the Postal team is awesome, of course.  Other riders are doing great things too, we just don’t hear about it as much.”

Bob Roll is now accustomed to the glare of probing TV cameras and adoring fans.
Photo by Casper Casparian.

Bob Roll

Appearing in the Velo Press booth to sign copies of his new book, Bobke Part II, current race commentator and former pro road and mountain hardman Bob Roll drew some of the longest lines of the show.  I put aside my journalistic objectivity for a moment as I purchased a book and waited in line to have him sign it.  I told Bob that my cycling nickname is “Old School,” whereupon he inscribed the book, “To Casper: Keep it Old Skool.”  He said, “Back when I used to be a pro, we didn’t have to know how to spell.”

Apparently, cycling fans gravitate towards Roll’s charming combination of self-effacement, deep knowledge and first-hand experience, and hyperbolic metaphors.

I caught him after his autograph session, as he chomped on a hot dog, rapped with passing fans and friends, and accepted two gift baseball caps, which he wore simultaneously. 

On Las Vegas: “I detest this town.  They should send everyone home and nuke the place.  Of course, without anyone getting hurt.  But I love the show, and getting to see everyone.”

When I asked if he were emperor and were able to create Interbike any way he decreed, he said, “I’d have Interbike in Salt Lake City, and the rental spaces would all be half-price.”

Roll doesn’t mince words when he reflects on his career on and off the bike: “Being a racer is better than being a former racer, hands-down.  Racing as a pro was the best thing I ever did, professionally.”

“When I was racing, usually around July 5th I couldn’t wait for autumn to come around.  October was my favorite time because that meant time off the bike and seeing friends.  That was the best.  Now I can do that all the time, so everything’s good.”

“My schedule now is unpredictable.  I don’t know where I’m going to be in the spring or the summer.  But I’d like to be back home in Durango.  I’ve lived in the same place for 11 years, which is the longest I’ve lived in one place since I left home. [My house] is a long way from the freeway, which is how I like it.”

Several years ago, the U.S. Postal Service conducted a poll in the U.S., asking customers to choose a design for an Elvis Presley stamp.  One version showed Elvis as a young man, circa 1958, early in his career.  The other option displayed the larger, more rotund Elvis that Vegas impersonators like to emulate.  Seeing as we were in Vegas, I asked Roll which one he preferred:

“I voted for the thin Elvis, but what we wound up with was a hybrid – some of the features of the early Elvis grafted onto the more popular image.   When the Elvis stamps came out, I bought a whole sheet, framed it and have it up in my garage.  The real Elvis was a radical ambassador for racial tolerance.  Actually, he was an extraterrestrial radical for racial tolerance.  People listened to him because he was a real, true Southern gentleman who converted himself to play the music he loved.” 

Roll has the highest esteem for the “young” Elvis, but notes that he wasn’t the last of the extraterrestrial radicals. Others, according to Bob, include Manu Chao, Ryan Adams, and Gavin McDrew.

Bob was holding an 8 X 10 photo, handed to him by a fan, of himself climbing a mountain in one Grand Tour or another from back in the 7-Eleven days.  He commented about how skinny he was at the time.  When I asked him how much he weighed then, being a tall guy, he said, “I was skinny, that’s all I know.  We didn’t measure it much, like they do now.  It seems like it would take some of the fun out of it.”  From the way he talks, it seems like few pro bike racers ever enjoyed being on a bike as much as Bob Roll.

Daily Peloton's Interbike 2003 Coverage:

Interviews: Fred Rodriguez and George Hincapie
Interviews: Alessandro Petacchi and Gilberto Simoni
Interbike: Trickle Down
Crazy Jane's Interbike 11
Janna's Word: Interbike Odyssey Part One
Janna's Word: Interbike Odyssey Part Two

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