Mike Creed unplugged

A few weeks ago, I chatted with Mike Creed of  Team Type 1 to catch up on all the changes in his life since our last conversation back in the fall of 08. So much had happened since then from his mis-adventures with Rock Racing to his move to his current team at the start of June. We were both already laughing when our conversation took a tangent as a simple question around twitter brought forth the Creed stream of consciousness – which had me crying with laughter.

A contemplative Creed getting ready for US Pro TT Championship

Last time we talked was in September 08. A lot of stuff happened since then.
Yeah a little bit.

The most important thing really is how are you now?
Yeah, things are good. I definitely came out relatively unscathed, I loss that first half of my year for sure. I did Redlands and Joe Martin with Rock, and the only reason I did Joe Martin is because I knew I’d sign with Team Type 1 and I figured I should probably race against them.

Was that your job interview?
The whole time I was at Joe Martin, I was just looking around, just so glad I was leaving, I just watching everything and I was ‘wow this really just sucks, this sucks and they have no idea’. Then the Team Type 1 guys, on the board in the Team Type 1 truck had a memo ‘build Creed’s bike’, so it wasn’t that well kept a secret in Team Type 1 but I managed to get home without Rock finding out.

I guess that’s good.
Yeah, I didn’t want to get stranded in Arkansas.

Not that I want to dwell that much on the Rock situation, but when did it turn sour for you? When we last talked you seemed to be okay and happy there.
I don’t mind talking about the Rock thing because I think it’s one of those things that need to be talked about because it just shows how wishful thinking and that as long as it’s not happening to you you’re still able to ignore stuff. Now I look back at it and oh my God that was insane. I think for going sour, probably a little after Missouri [2008], I was trying to renegotiate my contract and I couldn’t get a hold of anybody. There were two guys that were running the team, then they hired somebody else. At first, it seemed like quite a good deal because they hired this lady Erica and she was coming from motocross and she really seemed like she knew the sponsorship game. She didn’t know anything about cycling, but I told her everything that we would need and she was smart. Rock had offers from everybody for bicycle equipment, money and clothing and they had people eating out of their hands but what happened is they don’t sign contracts because they try to play one off the other and they kept doing this, doing this until finally everybody just called shenanigans and left. So I knew things were bad when Erica left, anytime you’re only on the job for one month, something is not good and then I was in Missouri seeing a physical trainer and I get this facebook message from somebody saying ‘dude, you’re on the amateur team?’. I got on my phone and I’m like ‘that’s not good’. I have no idea what it means but I know that’s not good, it’s not Ed McMahon, nothing good is going to come from that type of message. So sure enough, I get back to the apartment and I get on the internet and I see that there’s this press release , this guy Gary Hanson had made the infinitely wise decision to put me on the amateur team so from there on out and it was pretty much a complete clusterf@%$.

Redlands 2009

What was your contract situation at that point?
I was on for the rest of the year but here’s the thing, now they start renegotiating their contract on you because it is December and they know you have nothing left and they have this power and it happened a couple of times where I took it personally where they made you feel lucky to have anything at all. You know what I’m saying? The economy is really bad and at least the team is still here and you have something. And you know that’s a conversation that I have with my wife, that’s a conversation that I have with my friends, that’s my decision, that’s not your decision when to say when I’m lucky. Okay, do I appreciate that you work hard to save the team? Of course, but it is my call whether or not I feel lucky, it’s not your decision. And the guy Gary, he just didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground and that’s a direct quote, the guy is the the single reason that the team went to shit. That guy, I could say so many bad things about him that would it make him look good because they would make me look insane. Gary and Michael Ball singlehandedly just made my life a stressful living hell. I guess living hell might be slightly exaggerated but as far as cycling goes, it was really unpleasant.

Did you start looking for another team immediately in January?
I did, I called other teams and everybody was really cool, I talked to OUCH, I talked to Team Type 1, I talked to a few teams and they all pretty much said the same thing ‘man, we’d be happy to hire you in June but we just don’t have money right now.’ And they all pretty much said the same thing that it’s probably best for you to wait this out and see how much money you can get out of Rock, see if they pay you because people know me, they know what I am worth, they know what I can provide with a team. Even if I didn’t race and got paid, it’s just a sideways move, not necessarily a bad thing, my stock is not going to go down necessarily.

So that’s kind of what happened, I raced Redlands but I had no form going into it just because… I didn’t know I was doing Redlands until five days before, a week before, so I’m not training then. And then around the fifteenth of May or so, I got a phone call from Chris Baldwin telling me he was fired and for cited performance reasons and this is a guy who just got second or third overall at Redlands, I mean he was sure riding a hell of a lot better than I was. So that’s weird and then there was this pause and I said ‘well I didn’t get this letter’, and he said ‘yeah, but I think you’re fired too’, so I was ‘mmm that’s interesting’. And I checked my email again and I call him up and ‘dude I don’t have this email, I hear you and I feel bad for you but I don’t know what happened’. Chris is a good guy and he went ‘I hope it’s no true, it’s just that I heard too and just get a hold of him’. Of course, nobody at Rock picks up the phone and the only thing I could do is communicate with them via text message. Then yeah, I was basically told via text message. I got an email a week later saying that apparently, they didn’t need my beautiful face anymore. So I just basically decided to quit, close up shop for the rest of the year, try again in January and work part-time at SRM and just figure that out. I’m lucky that I have really good friends, Ian MacGregor and Sergey Davidenko who really pushed for me inside Team Type 1 and Vassili Davidenko and Phil Southerland got me on board and it was really quick, no BS. [I told them] this is how much I need to make a month to not totally freak out over bills, and yeah they didn’t try to cut me back down a couple of hundred bucks, they just yeah sure. It was really a pain-free decision.

Looking back, what did you learn? Were there any warning signs?
I guess, it’s hard when you’re getting paid well because you want to keep getting paid well, but I guess the lesson is an obvious one, and it’s so funny that you have to say it to yourself but ‘you’re only as good as the person you’re doing business with’, so that’s fine, if you want to make this much money because this guy is offering this much then… there’s a reason he’s offering this much, it’s because no one takes him seriously. If he was sure bet, everybody would sign with him. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that I knew that the team would be a risk.

Should USA Cycling have done something with the whole UCI Continental and club teams?
I don’t know if there was much they could have done. I mean they went out of their way to help get the license, which they should have done, because at the end of the day it’s not the riders’ fault necessarily. And, I don’t really know if there’s anything that USA Cycling could have done, I don’t know the details, maybe there was something, maybe they worked out a deal. I guess that the only thing that can be done now is race promoters picking teams more carefully, and you know Planet Energy got the spot over Rock at Missouri and who knows what that’s for? Planet Energy hasn’t won any stage races, Rock has won a lot more races, maybe they just don’t want to feed this guy’s hobby anymore.

Creed was active in breaks at the Tour of Missouri

So you joined Team Type 1 in June as soon as it was allowed by the rules. So you ramped up pretty quickly there.
It was pretty funny, because I signed within a week or two of being let go by Rock and I hadn’t ridden my bike in a while, and Vassili Davidenko is ‘have you been training’ and – I think I haven’t ridden my bike in two weeks – I lied to him and said I hadn’t ridden it in one week. Then I said ‘what do you think about this, what do you think if we keep it a secret and I go and do Joe Martin with Rock so at least I get some good racing in’, and he said ‘yeah that seems like a good idea’ so that’s what we did. Went and just used Joe Martin for fitness. Then again, it just reinforced everything that I though about Rock, it just everything in the showroom and nothing in stock, like we have new team kits but try to sleep six people to one Motel 6 room for $40 a night. It’s like ‘alright, I’m going to get my own hotel room’. You guys stopped paying me but I’m getting my own hotel room because this is stupid. This is stupid, I’m not going to let you use me like this.

It was funny too because I sold all my Rock clothes almost immediately. When I got fired, I sold pretty much all my Rock clothes within a week, like there was some French guys who literally went crazy, I told him what I had and he took it all. It was funny because then I had to go back and do Joe Martin so I rang up and asked what kit are we using for Joe Martin and she said the anarchy kit and I’m like ‘oh great, I’m a size medium’. She goes ‘what happened to the kit we gave you?’ This being Rock Racing, big money, flash, flash, they give riders one kit a piece.

Yeah, because we’re rock and roll, only squares have more than two kits. We’re rock and roll. She kept on asking me what happened to the other kit and I just wouldn’t really answer her. ‘Terry, you fired without notice, with no reason, I have a mortgage to pay, put the two together’. And then she kept bothering me to send stuff back, ‘hey we’d like shoes back’. They wanted the Louis Garneau shoes sent back. The balls to ask for something sent back when you fired me without notice after taking away half my racing season. I don’t know what’s going on with that team. Whatever. They had enough money to sign Dominguez, they are so strapped for cash but then they have enough money to sign Dominguez. They don’t pay one of its riders, I won’t say which rider because I don’t want to get him into trouble, but they don’t pay one rider since end of May and then they just use that he wants to race to make him drive to races now, they do all this crap but yet they have the money to sign Dominguez. This is the same guy that said he wanted to start a riders’ union to protect riders’ rights. Everything is in the showroom man, nothing is in stock.

I love that expression.
I couldn’t think of a better way. I really, really f@%$ing couldn’t.

You moved away, it’s good now right?
Yeah, with the help of Ian, Phil, Sergey and Vassili. It’s just funny to race again, it’s funny to get better from racing, instead of going one month between races. ‘Oh wow, I’m actually getting the fitness thing’

As soon as you started racing with Team Type 1, you were out there in the breaks, and you haven’t stopped.
Oh man, I’ve been cursed with the f@%$ing early stick. It’s always when I’m not going for it, it’s always when you’re covering moves and helping the team, that’s the time man. I think others should know not to go with me because I have not pulled one it yet. I think, just as a service to me and themselves, if they see me in another move, everybody should just shut it down and we should all go back to the pack, I’m early break kryptonite.

Everybody should just sit up, Creed’s here…
Yeah, they should just ‘Creed’s here, lets go back’. Or pay me off to go back to the pack by myself, they just carry twenty dollar bills in their pocket.

Is that all it takes?
Yeah, I’m cheap man. You sign mid-year, you can’t get a big contract, you have to be willing to wheel and deal, you have to be willing to cut down a little on your price.

What’s your role on the team?
I told them when I signed with them, ‘look I’m not the best climber, I’m not the best sprinter, I’m not the best time trialer, but I’m pretty good at all of them’. I don’t really think I want to be a leader or a protected guy as such but it’s where ever it gets me, I just want to race my bike. Being in the early move is fine, I make jokes about it, but it’s fine. You get out there and you’re just trying to kill it, it definitely suits me better. I made top 10 in a few stage races, Cascade didn’t go so well because I missed the split, but I was still aggressive and still got top 10 in the time trial. Elk Grove, I was mad at myself because I pretty much botched every day, really bad. If I would have gone a second and a half faster and I would have been in sixth place and some BS, I was really upset with myself after that but as far as my role on the team, I really don’t think that it’s different than anybody else. I don’t see myself as a leader but as a strong guy, you can send me to the crit and I’ll do them, you can send to stage races and I’ll do them. I want to be the Swiss Army knife, that’s my role on the team, I want to be the Swiss Army knife. Not really good for anything but you help out a lot. You wouldn’t go to a worksite with just your Swiss Army knife but it’s really good to have in your pocket. Maybe a Leatherman tool, I think a Leatherman is a little better than a Swiss Army knife.

What do you think you bring to the team?
Aside from helping the esthetics of the team, there’s a bunch of homers on that team…

Yes, aside from that.
Besides making the team look overall a lot more handsome. Comedy level, I feel like I’m trying to enlighten the guys on being a sarcastic racing prick, from the point when you wake up to the time you go to bed.

I don’t know. Everybody on that team is really good, everybody is really nice, funny. I wouldn’t really want to say that I offer anything, putting myself above them but I think that I am another card to play. I feel I can strengthen the team, I’m the guy that can chase the breakaways in the crit and give them another GC card to play in a stage race.

Chasing down a break at the Tour of Elk Grove

Tour of Ireland, US Pro, Tour of Missouri. A lot of racing at the end.
I’m just happy to be racing. I got so tired of racing, I am so over training.

Training for no racing is you know…
Yeah, that’s a cop-out, the training for no reason, but I’ll be honest with you I’m just tired of training. I’m going to figure a way to race all the time. I’m going to talk to the team in doing some racing in South America in December or something.

So you’d rather race almost the full year instead of training?
Yeah, we could take November off , take the break in maybe mid-October, November and then…

You should go to Australia and New Zealand for the races in October.
No, if we go to South America, I can just say ‘yeah I don’t speak Spanish very well’, nobody expects it but when you go to other English speaking countries, they expect you to know the language but you don’t know what the f@%$ they are saying. You might as well put a big dunce cap on, I feel so unbelievably stupid when I’m there, I’d rather not go.

So you go places where you don’t speak the language?
I’d just rather go to places where they expect me not to speak the language.

You speak Spanish don’t you? I thought you did.
If an English-speaker speaks Spanish, I speak Spanish. If a Spanish-speaker speaks Spanish, I don’t speak Spanish. I remember the first time – I took three years of French class – and every time I go to France, I wouldn’t understand and then one day we were watching the Tour de France on tv, and Lance won a stage and he gave an interview in French and it was the first time I heard somebody speak French that I understood what they were saying. ‘Wow I really understand French when Americans speak it’.

Maybe I should try speaking French with you, and see what happens.
Yeah, I might be able to pick up a little bit. So as far as French french, no so much

What’s your contract situation for next year?
Yeah, I’m hoping Rock will take me back, I’m not going to lie, it’s the abused syndrome, we go back to the bad boys, I don’t know what it is. No, I don’t know, I talked to Phil, he’s happy with me, I’m happy with the team, loyalty only goes so far in cycling but I definitely feel like I owe a little bit of something for picking me up mid-year and I’m definitely grateful for that. That being said, if Phil reads the interview, it doesn’t mean that he can low-ball me on any contract so…. I know the team wants me back and I don’t see any reason to change, it would be nice to ride with guys that I grew up racing with like Jonas, but the beauty of Jonas’ team is that they don’t need me. He’s gone from a team where he was begging me to join to a team where he’s kind of like ‘no I don’t need you’ and then in one way ‘are you sure you don’t need me’ and then other times, ‘that’s really cool that he’s in that spot’. I’m really happy for him that he can shrug his shoulders and be like no deal because he’s really harvested a great team.

[Note: Following our conversation, Mike  re-signed with Team Type 1]

Last one. Are we seeing the old Creed rants on twitter?
It’s hard man, you really want to do something but then you have to do it in 140 characters. The way the rants go, they go from top to bottom so you almost get the punch line before you get to the setup. For that, I was thinking of doing my twitter backwards so then you could read it from top to bottom but I don’t know if people would figure that out.

If they can’t, well they’re idiots.
Yeah, but… I don’t want to be rude, I’m trying to be fair… The latest thing that has been getting me is the cycling quote unquote fans. These people who call themselves fans but yet aren’t fans. They’re like “I am a fan, I am a fan”. What I really hate on facebook and twitter is when people use it for self-promotion via connection. I may be going out on a dangerous platform here but when Chris Hipp died, I didn’t know Chris Hipp and it was interesting that a lot of people knew him, because you’d see it on their twitter or facebook pages, and you’d be ‘that’s interesting’. And then you’d see people who go ‘Chris died and I was once in the same room with him in 1978 and I never met him and that’s really a bummer’. Wow, these people really need to link themselves to something tragic. You know, ‘you didn’t know him. I was on the same team with Steve Larsen and he did, I felt bad but I didn’t want to connect myself to him because I didn’t want to take away from him, he has a family, children, it’s just tragic, I didn’t want to take away from his life by trying to include myself into it. Steve Larsen didn’t think about me, it’s not chapter in his life, he had a lot of great chapters in his life, a lot of great things. So it’s stuff like that.

And there’s the Astarloza tests positive, then if somebody tests positive, then it’s like ‘won’t these people ever learn?’, ‘man this guy is stupid’ blah blah blah. And you’re like ‘wow thanks for sharing dude, that’s totally awesome’. You know what I think, with my wife I call it the Glen Beck syndrome, you know how Glen Beck has his own tv show and he doesn’t say anything brilliant, he just reiterates common sense things with a sarcastic look in his face and all of sudden, he’s a f@%$ing genius. I think ‘people who rape people should go to jail’. Holy shit Einstein, they should make a law – oh they already have a law – never mind. You’re probably 300 years late on that one chief, come back again.

‘Astarloza is a jerk and should be kicked out of the sport’. Yeah I think somebody is on that, I think he might be having some paperwork, don’t worry about it, I think Astarloza is up to his eyeballs in paperwork. When Tyler tested positive, these people were dancing on his grave ‘this is what he deserved for not admitting whatever’. I am Tyler’s friend, I like Tyler, I really do and whether or not you believe he did something in 2004 is irrelevant to what it cost him since 2004. If you really think he hasn’t paid a price since 2004, then you should just give me your address and I’ll come over and just smack you because you’re obviously not curing cancer in your off time, because you are an idiot. It’s shit like that, ‘I don’t know Tyler Hamilton and he doesn’t know me but I’m going to link myself to him through my moral’…. It’s stuff like that, a way of upping yourself, of promoting your own awesomeness. Come on dude.

Does that mean that you’re not going to stick around for long on twitter?
I don’t know. I definitely don’t follow anybody that I don’t agree with. I’m not a journalist, I like journalism and I want to get into it eventually but I can say that I am a fan of journalism, I read it, I listen to it, I love reading interviews and listening to interviews. There’s nothing better than somebody that’s good at interviews, that’s a really good skill to have but I wouldn’t write somebody who does interviews and tell them that their interviews suck because I don’t do it. I don’t want an email from a guy who’s a cat 4 telling me how I need to get on a different team, or how I botched this race, or why I’m wrong about pro cycling. Maybe the guy is right, maybe he’s got a point that I am not picking up but the fact is that I am a professional cyclist and you are not, so that makes me more knowledgeable than you. Now whether or not, I’m an idiot that’s up for debate. But what is not up for debate is who knows more about pro cycling. The debate is whether or not I’m an idiot, we can do this, but the debate is not whether you know more about professional cycling or tactics.

I’m not saying this to be rude. I was having this debate with one of my teammates the other day. That’s like me walking into somebody’s office, at their 9 to 5 job, and pushing them off the computer and saying ‘no no, I’m going to use your computer now because I know how to use it better’. ‘No you don’t work at my job’, ‘no you’re an idiot and you don’t know what you’re doing’. ‘Okay I may an idiot but I do have this job, obviously somebody thinks that I’m good at it, so don’t be mad at me, be mad at my boss for hiring me, but don’t be mad at me’. (at this point, I burst out laughing once again) I know, this is what goes on in my head.

This sounds like the old Mike Creed. I assume that you won’t go into these really wild rants like you use to do, or…
I want to set up a webpage and I want to do interviews. I want to interview people, I got myself an audio recorder. I need to get myself some lapel mikes or something and I want to do a one hour, one and half hour podcast style interview.

That’s a long time.
Yeah it is a long time, but sometimes you know I can’t talk in 15 minute soundbytes and if you only listen to 15 minute soundbytes than go listen to bullshit because I’m not interested in giving it to you. I’m not making money here. The NY Velocity guy started doing podcast, people are ‘I don’t have time to listen to this’. ‘Who are you?’ and ‘How do you not have time to download this to an mp3 player and listen to this while you ride?’ So anyway, like an hour or an hour and half.

You know, I could put this on a podcast.
Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff I want to do. It’s kind of an interview, there’s a basis, an outline of where you want to go but at the same time, it would be fun to talk about other things that the person might know about. You could interview Nicola Cranmer from Proman, on cycling ‘talk about your team’, ‘what does it need’ and then you could go off on theories, funny little things, and that’s it. Not like (in a serious voice) ‘I want to ask you about x, y and z’ in ten minutes because apparently my readers need ritalin to pay attention to anything. I’m not interested in that.

If you want to do this, I’ll host it.
Yeah, I just need to figure out how to get it done. I have the audio recorder, I need to buy the editing software, I need to buy a new computer.

Digital audio recorders are easy to buy with a small mike.
I would want to get the lapel mike type thing, so it could be informal. Both of you could sit across each other on a couch at a table, drink a beer and bust chops. I think people would like that.

I would love to do that.
I think people would listen to that. I think people would listen to one pro cyclist, or get three or four mikes and listen to a round table table of guys just go through whatever, between busting chops and going through whatever topics come up about this race, that race, this rider, that rider.

The other thing that could be interesting is just to have the guys talk about the race that just happened and all the shit that happened in the race.
Yeah and you could just bust each other’s chops about it. Like ‘remember when you shot the inside’ or ‘that guy won’.

Which is what you do anyway after a race.
Right. The race is fresh and is in your heard. The other thing like the Contador vs Lance bullshit, how great would that have been. There was one roundtable audio discussion with the iTV guys and they would talk about it a little bit, and they were pretty much the most sound guys but even then, they were pretty biased and they didn’t want to step on toes, they still wanted to get interviews. But if you got it from the riders, the riders could care less.

And the end of the day, all these supposed cycling fans… Cycling is still the dirtiest thing. Wiggins gets fourth in the Tour, publishes his blood profile yet cycling is still the most dirtiest thing, something that you can’t have any fun with because Lance and Contador are showing human emotions. How dare they not be these PR speaking, soundbyte perfect robots. And it’s like holy shit, you’re telling me this guy worked since November to bring himself back from a three year hiatus, dieted like crazy, trained like crazy and he honestly showed a moment of human emotion and we’re going to say how tasteless it is. That’s insane, that is exactly what I want, because I read interviews on most website and I just read them and ‘wow who wrote that? Your PR guy?’ Oh you guys are going to work with each other and see who’s strongest going up the climb, oh brilliant. Awesome, feed me more. Dude, that gives me nothing, absolutely nothing but if you show people ‘that guy showed no respect’ and ‘that guy is taking sides’, that’s something different, that’s something real, that’s something I can believe in because otherwise… I don’t get what fans want these days.

Good question.
I know what I want and I consider myself a fan. I just want to see dudes talking shit and laughing. There was a hockey player who made insinuation that he had sex with another player’s wife.

You know what hockey fans did? They laughed their asses off, they thought it was hilarious. And you know what happened, that guy sat out three games. Nobody cared. There was this false outrage. Whether it be, football, boxing, people can’t believe that Mike Tyson does crazy things. This guy gets paid money to do something that if he did it in the street, he’d get arrested. This guy is committing a crime for money, you can just punch people and have people cheer you but yet as soon as you leave the ring, we expect you to act like a normal human being and talk in quotes. Football, you dress up in pads and you tackle people, that is your job, to tackle people, but we want you to be this business suit wearing gentleman as soon as you get off the field. I think it’s idiotic, I think we should encourage individuality and thought process, I don’t know when that’s going to come around in cycling.

I don’t know if cycling fans want that, I wonder.
I don’t think that they are used to it. Once you get a team doing it, once you get a group of riders doing it and they’re not so scared off by it and they don’t see it as classless.

I agree that personalities don’t come out. Everybody in their kits looks alike and individual personalities don’t show up. That’s a problem.
The one thing that is going to blow this up is the twitter type stuff because PR people aren’t going to have control of that and the facebook stuff.

Mike Creed (Team Type 1) at the US Pro TT Championships

Please note that minor editing was done for readability and for my own sensibilities.

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