Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview with Thom P. - part one

In an effort to boost readership, which in turn boosts my sense of self-esteem (you know, if there's lots of people reading, everyone must like me . . . . won't you love me?!), I've added a hopefully new feature to my blog - an idea that I've been kicking around for a while: interviews.

I read a lot of bloggers in my spare time, some for different reasons: training/racing info, humor, industry insiderness'ness, bike mechanical knowledge, every day'idness, etc. I've got plans to bring you more interviews (maybe once a month or so - depending on if you like it or not, so please let me know). Purpose, besides getting more people to read me and love me, is to expose you to some good people (in my opinion) who you may share a common interest and/or find what I find in them while reading their blogs.

I've been reading the following blogger for a while now and he never fails to crack me up with his humor, his ill temper, and his bike knowledge.

Name -Thom "Thom P." Parsons
Age – Uh, I always have to think about it...35? The whole racing age thing screws me up, I'm always tacking a year here or there because according to The UCI my birthday is five months before it actually is.
Residence – Somerville, MA USA
Occupation – Service Manager/ Cycling Advocate for International Bicycle Centers which has locations in Newton Massachusetts, Brighton Massachusetts, and Liechtenstein
Blog - Big Bikes

Do you have a 'Bawston' accent?
Not at all. I grew up in a pocket around Boston where no one has an accent. They breed newscasters there. I do have a couple words I pronounce with a slight Boston accent like "Far-est" (forest) and "Heff" (have) as in "I heff to find my way out of this far-est". That might not sound like what you think of when you think of a Boston accent. The Boston accent is really much more complicated and nuanced than people realize.

I just watched “The Departed” again the other night in preparation for this interview. Are you Irish? Do you belong to an Irish gang? Have you ever “whacked” somebody?
Nope, not Irish. I do have Irish roots intermingled with my Scottish roots going way, way back. Speaking of Boston accents though...The Departed was a great showcase for Hollywood having no idea how people in Boston talk. The only passably realistic accent was Matt Damon's. Even Wahlberg was pretty much crap. He's spent way too long trying to lose the thing, you'll notice he doesn't even try it in The Perfect Storm. And Jesus Christ...Jack Nicholson. He sounded like The Lucky Charms Leprechaun. OK, OK, you got me "Staaahted", here I go. Blown Away with Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones...Forest Wittaker the "Police Psychic" has a Boston-Irish accent...Forest (or Far-est) is black. Given, it's a pretty horrible accent, he basically speaks normally and then says "Arse" a lot, the point is that if you can find me a Black man with a Boston accent in reality (or Boston), I will find you a sober Irishman (I can say that, I sort of have Irish heritage). You wanna hear a decent Boston accent listen to Adam Sandler's "Tollbooth Willy" skit or even that douche bag Jimmy Fallon from Saturday Night Live. Actually Casey Affleck wasn't terrible in Gone Baby Gone Either. Great accent, horrible film. Alright I'll stop now. And no, I have never whacked anybody.

How many bikes do you own?
Gary Fisher Superfly Single Speed 29er, Gary Fisher Ferrous Rigid Single Speed 29er, Trek Remedy 8, Lemond Maillot Jaune set up Fixed, Schwinn Varsity Basket cruiser (also fixed), Bomber Cycles MTB Cruiser (lives in San Francisco with its adoptive parents, I get to ride it when I'm there), De Rosa "UD" road bike with 8 too many speeds. How many is that?

How long have you been riding for? Racing?
Riding mountain bikes since I got my first Rockhopper in the late eighties, racing since '99? Tyler Hamilton was just coming off his first Tour De France with postal, he did the Expert race and got like 5th or 7th. Maybe he wasn't juiced yet. I did my first and only Sport race and I remember thinking the Experts looked larger than life, so scary...all those big, pointy sideburns.

When and why did you start racing ss?
I raced it a couple times in 2005 and converted completely to SS in 2006, I've raced the geared bike maybe four times since then. I got the SS through a barter thing with Independent Fabrication, it was originally supposed to be a winter training tool. One day I was feeling unmotivated to race so I went to a race in the other series than the one I was doing. I went into it with the attitude "Let's just see what happens, if it doesn't work out, who cares?". I wound up winning the Expert class, beating all sorts of dudes who I had never beaten before. At that point I decided I was just too dumb for gears and that I should start riding the Single Speed full time.

What the hell is “demi-pro racer” mean anyway?!?
When the MTB categories changed over the winter and Semi-Pro riders were given the opportunity to go down to Cat 1 or up to Pro I went Pro but felt pretty silly doing it. I'm a 35 year old guy who works 45-55 hours a week in the middle of race season, it's not exactly ideal. A Demi-God is a Half-God, a Demi-Pro is a Half-Pro. Although claiming I'm even half a pro these days is a bit of a generous stretch.

Best time on the bike?
Ah, too many to name. Just this past week I went to Highland Mountain Bike Park and had more fun than I can remember, then Saturday me and two of my favorite Bros went out for a five hour single speed epic. That's as good as it gets for me.

Worst time on the bike?
Riding the road bike across Kansas into a steady 30MPH headwind in 100° temps going 8MPH on flat ground for eight hours at a time (I'll leave the metric conversions to you!). It was so windy you couldn't even tell you were sweating but I'd have rings of salt around my mouth and eyes and all over my clothes. It was probably one of the most thankless and stupid things I've ever done.

Toughest race?
Mile for mile the toughest race has got to be Mt. Snow Vermont. It always sucks it's always harder than Hell, but it I keep going back year after year. It's impossible to gear right for it. You have to go so low that you are totally spun out and out of control in the singletrack, when you try to pedal out of a corner in a 32 X 22, you feel like you've dropped your chain. I suppose that's true of and nasty ski area race done on a single speed. Man, it's gonna be fun if I do it as a pro this year. Close second, you probably don't want to hear this but...The Wilderness 101 a couple years back.But it was my own damn fault, I had pulled my ITB bands running during a Le Mans start at an Enduro event the weekend prior. I got down to Pennsylvania and couldn't ride up a hill to save my life. It was one long walk.

What’s the hardest thing you struggle with as a racer/rider?
Balancing work and racing. Trying to maintain race weight throughout the season.

* part two with Thom P. tomorrow . . . . underwear, being arrested and superstitions. This guy is a freak!*


Anonymous said...

Been reading that blog for a while now - that dude is funny.

Peter Keiller said...

Note to Barlow.

The trouble with INTERVIEWING or INTRODUCING your readers to more interesting peoples is that they may LEAVE you and not come back...unless of course they come back to see who ELSE they would be better reading. So they can leave again.

That's why I NEVER link out.
Too riskay.

the original big ring said...

Pfffffttt . . . who wouldn't want to come back for seconds of 'this'!?!?!

I'd interview you, but the influx of readers would blow the Empires circuit boards to smithereens.