TWENTY & NINE QUESTIONS™ WITH ADAM MYERSON
What was the name of your breakdancing crew? Was it the Circuit Breakers?
Oh, you’ve been saving “Circuit Breakers” up for a while, haven’t you? I was in two crews—this all happened in the early ’80s—that I would call significant in terms of organization and contests. 1) The Low Profile Breakers: I was in 6th grade but the rest of the crew was older, they were all in High School. I was the novelty Cute Little Kid.
I was the novelty Cute Little Kid.”
2) The Street Freaks, which was a crew of Junior High School kids.
Describe (in detail) the Boy Scout merit badge for: Teaching Girls How To Breakdance.
How did you find this stuff out?! When I was 11 my parents split up. I left Brockton, Massachusetts and moved-in with a cousin in Weymouth. Breakdancing hadn’t quite made it out to Weymouth yet so there was a little Footloose type thing going on. Meanwhile all the kids in my new neighborhood were in the local Scout Troop, it was actually really fun. One of the Scoutmasters was married to a dance teacher and I guess he saw an opportunity to help me fit in. So I started teaching a group of elementary school girls enrolled in a Modern Jazz Dance class, how to breakdance. Oh, and I danced in their recital.
Tell us about speedskating. Did you speedskate on ice? Or pavement? Or like, wooden floors? If it was non-ice were you on roller skates or inline skates. How does speedskating make you a better crit racer, if, in fact, it does make you a better crit racer. Can you rollerblade? Do you rollerblade? How do you feel about rollerblades?
It was roller speedskating on quad skates. Inline skates didn’t exist yet. Again it was the early 80s and rollerskating was popular, we used to hang out at Skatetown USA in Whitman, MA. They used to have games during skate sessions, one of which was a short race. I won a few of those on rental skates which led to a free pass/invitation to come to Speed Team practice. I was hooked. Roller speed skating resembles short track ice skating. Super fast, always sliding, lots of contact, stepping in and out between skaters. Inline skating really changed everything, but for me there’s nothing like drifting around a short track on quad skates. I can also still roller dance, and I still have my skates.
No question, speed skating made me a natural crit racer. By the time I started racing bikes I already understood pack dynamics, drafting, cornering, and passing.
What do you miss most, Chris Horner’s goatee or his ponytail?
Those were dark days, watching Chris Horner’s ponytail migrate to his chin. I think we’re all happy to see that period behind us.
Real talk, once Dicky Barrett left Impact Unit and joined Mighty Mighty Bosstones, did you follow his musical and stylistic lead, get into ska, and go to thrift stores looking for plaid suits?”
I did, actually. I was part of the ‘88 era of hardcore. I listened to everything in the ’80s, post-punk, hardcore, rap, funk; but the peak for me was the youth crew era of Youth of Today, Bold, Gorilla Biscuits, War Zone, Wrecking Crew, Slapshot. Bands like SSD and even Minor Threat were a little before me and I never got to see them, though I obviously listened to them. We’d always listened to reggae and ska in Brockton because our scene was like that. There was no punk in a diverse city like Brockton without influences from all directions. Our best local college radio station was WERS, and they had a hardcore show (hosted by Choke), a reggae show called Rockers, but also amazing hip-hop and funk shows, particularly the Mastermix. So when hardcore was dying and grunge was seeping into everything, ska was a great place to hide for a few years in the early 90s.
definitely wore second hand suits with bow ties to class every day for most of my sophomore year.”
That’s also where my nickname “Jazzy” originated. Side note: There are only a few people around anymore who know about that name or call me that.
You have spoken openly before about the fact that you are in an open relationship. Do you do this in part to let ladies know that you are open for business, much like how small retail business owners will hang an “OPEN” sign in their front window to let everybody know what’s up. Is it something you want to talk about, or is it now something media (like us) want stop asking you about.
Ha, no, that’s not how it works. It’s mostly the opposite. I don’t mind answering honest questions about it, but yeah, it can get tiresome to talk about it all the time because then it looks like I’m the one always discussing it. Basically, everyone has their own, usually wrong, idea about what an open relationship is. They assume it’s a free for all. Ours isn’t. We’re not swingers. We don’t sleep with strangers. It’s a big deal to get involved with someone outside of our primary relationship, and it takes a lot for the bridge to come down over the moat. I don’t need to advertise that I’m available, because anyone I would get involved with would already know me well enough as a friend to know all the details.
You have a degree in Women’s Studies. Can you help us understand the idea of performativity within the context of gender studies in Judith Butler’s work? We usually get stuck around the “doing straightness” part, and then lose track of things.
Actually my degree is in English, and my minor is Afro-American Studies. At UMass-Amherst you’re part of the 5 College Consortium, which means you can take classes at Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire, and get credit for it. I took a lot of Women’s Studies classes, and a lot of classes at Smith, but was a class short of a formal minor. A good example would be a class like Black Women Writers at Smith. It’s in the English department, but crosses over to both Women’s Studies and Afro-Am, and I would get credit toward those minors at the same time. Or at UMass, a class on the Harlem Renaissance would also cross over. My first wife went to Smith and she does have a Women’s Studies degree, our wedding and reception was at the Alumnae House on campus. But that didn’t get me any kind of honorary Women’s Studies degree.
Annie Lennox (from the Eurythmics) recently talked about how twerking is not feminism. Do you agree? Do you like twerking? I think the whole thing was about how Rihanna isn’t a feminist? If you could spend a day with either Annie Lennox or Rhianna, which would it be? Should dudes twerk?
You also have a degree in African American studies. Did you double major?, and what drew you to those two fields of study in particular? It’s starting to feel like a theme. Something about minorities, and minority experience or something.
Do you have white guilt? Half of Manual for Speed HAS white guilt. The other half, and the dude who wrote the majority of this interview (Klaus from Cycling Inquisition), dont, can’t, because they’re not white, so they don’t understand. They can never understand.
I think I can answer the last two questions together. I wouldn’t call it guilt as much as an acute awareness of white privilege. Growing up in Brockton, you experience incredible diversity. At the time I was at Brockton High, it was 50% white, 50% people of color. You heard many different languages in the hallways and even on the PA announcements in the morning. Creole, Portuguese, Vietnamese – playing soccer on my junior high team you learned some Portuguese so you could talk to your Cape Verdean teammates. Where we lived in high school, I was the white kid in a black neighborhood; I had never seen so many white people in one place until I got out and got to college. It was shocking, and I understood then that I had escaped something, from a class standpoint, that my non-white friends were not able to, at least not as easily. I’m sure being poor and being punk are part of identifying with being “other.” Understanding what part of that was a choice and what part of that was institutional is a big part of what drove me to Afro-Am.
During your time living in Amherst, was there tension between UMass students and Amherst students? Apparently there used to be a yearly snowball fight between the two camps to settle matters every winter. But that stopped in the late 80s, when a UMass student put rocks inside a snowball, hit an Amherst student in the eye, and his eyeball popped out. Any thoughts about that?
UMass-Amherst was actually a lot like Brockton High in this specific way. If you wanted to fuck off, you definitely could. If you wanted to get serious, you definitely could. I moved off campus and across the river to Northampton early on. In the early 90s is was less UMass vs. Amherst College as it was the town of Amherst vs. the city of Northampton. The jocks stayed in Amherst, and the punks moved across the river. Smith is in Northampton where the music scene was growing and something was happening. When “punk broke,” we were all in Northampton.
Can you come up with song lyrics that unintentionally apply to cycling more than Judge’s “New York Crew”: “I want it back again / The spirit that we once had / Showing all these new hards / They’re not so fucking bad / You and your crew / Would have / never made it through / The days we hung out / In 1982”
I didn’t listen to Judge. For me that was when things were over, and I couldn’t understand why they were hanging on. Start Today by Gorilla Biscuits is a great motivator. A Time We’ll Remember by Youth of Today reminds me of being a junior in a minivan with a bunch of other kids, no driver’s license, traveling around to all the races with no adult supervision. Wreckage by Rollins reminds me of everything I left behind when I picked bike racing as my path.
How many tattoos do you have? Can you list them, with a brief description, in the order received. With, if possible, the location of application.
If you are from the Boston area, are you contractually obligated to pretend that Dropkick Murphys and Sam Black Church are not the worst bands in the world?
Ha, I was out in school and not in Boston when SBC was popular, and the only band I’ve really gone back to listen to from that era is Tree. I love Tree. And I much prefer Street Dogs to Dropkick Murphys. But you can’t avoid some traditional pub rock if you’re into Boston hardcore. How about The Ducky Boys?
What is the works music in the world, according to you?
Worst music? Christmas music. Holy Mary, Mother of God, nothing makes me angrier than Christmas music. And unfortunately, my wife loves it. Thanksgiving through Epiphany, I’m subjected to it.
What’s the BEST Boston movie and why? I hate Ben Affleck in spite of that Town movie, I mean, that shit was good, but I just can’t stop not liking him. Is cambridge the same as Boston?
Let’s start with the WORST Boston movie. Southie is the worst. It’s fun to watch because all the landmarks are in there and you see all the places you pass every day, but it’s a terrible movie. Good Will Hunting is probably still the best, even if that’s an obvious choice. If you were poor, white, and smart, that’s your story, right there. Cambridge is NOT Boston, and there’s nothing those of us who actually live in Boston proper hate more than when people who don’t say they do, generically. Cambridge is great and has it’s own character, but it’s not Boston. The Neponset is my river, not the Charles.
The Neponset is my river, not the Charles.”
What was the first piece of meat that you ate in 2006 after your meat hiatus? How did that go? Was it an event, or a non-event?
There was no meat. I didn’t stop being vegetarian, just vegan. I stopped being strict about avoiding dairy at all costs, but I’m still vegetarian, and vegan 99% of the time. I just don’t get to wear the vegan crown anymore.
List the ingredients that must be in bahn mi, and those that should never be in bahn mi.
Despite living in a Vietnamese neighborhood and having a favorite local joint, I don’t consider myself an aficionado here. I do think it’s funny how bahn mi has become chic, but the whole point of it is that it’s street food, and a simple sandwich. But this one isn’t my fight.
FOR THE RECORD
40.CONTRIBUTE MORE THAN JUST PEDALING
"12 years later, the reason I stayed afloat in the sport is just by hustling. Contributing to teams and sponsors off the bike, with more than just pedaling."
SEE ALL FTRs
Over the years, even casual cycling fans have to come realize how financially unstable the sport is. What does that instability, and the uncertainty it causes, mean to someone like you racing year in and year out?
For me it’s meant looking for other ways to try and create value and increase that stability. So many riders don’t know if they’ll have a job at the end of each season. Once I finally turned pro, I still figured it would only be for a season and I’d go back to my coaching business. 12 years later, the reason I stayed afloat in the sport is just by hustling. Contributing to teams and sponsors off the bike, with more than just pedaling. But also, it’s meant keeping my coaching business alive even after my racing career took off, to make sure I had a job waiting for me if and when the bottom fell out.
Over your time racing, have you come to see glaring errors in how domestic cycling is run and operated, financially or otherwise?
Probably the thing I’ve seen most is overspending, over-ambitiousness, and over-reaching. Teams get a little money, they either don’t make a budget or don’t stick to their budget, they get excited, and they run out of money half way through the season.
What could be done to fix these issues?
Honestly? Nothing. It’s the nature of cycling. People with real organizational skills have real money, and those people are running teams at the ProTour level, ideally running them like real businesses. That model is flawed, too, because even though teams are big businesses, they are subjected to the whims of the market, and millionaire cycling fans. At the continental level, you really have to love cycling to want to work for pennies. I traded in making “real” money doing something else to make just enough money living a certain lifestyle and getting to race bikes. I’m not going to get rich coaching, either. So if the money was there, the stakes would be higher, more skilled organizers would get involved, and maybe we’d look like a real pro sport. Don’t ask me how to make that happen, though. I have no idea.
Tell us about your relationship with sponsorship. Getting on teams. Getting personal sponsors. Getting paid from deadbeat sponsors. Give us the low down. What’s your best sponsor relationship and why. What’s the worst, and why?
Related to my answer above about how I’ve stayed afloat in the sport, I think my personal relationship with sponsors has been a big part of it. You have to understand that early in my career, in the 90s, when I was in my early 20s, no one really knew what to do with me. I had pink hair, a face full of piercings, the internet was new, so many people had never seen anything like me. And I was trying to turn pro in the era where cycling was looking for an all-American, palatable marketing image, during a bad economy where there weren’t many teams to go to, and all the money that was there was moving to mountain bike racing. I saw a guy like Pistol Pete Loncarevich getting featured in print ads and knew I was fighting an uphill battle on the road side. So in this second half of my career, the professional part, my appearance has become more acceptable. Through social media and the internet, my story has been better told. I’ve become appreciated for my choices, and people have gotten to know me. Teams have been willing to back me up even if I still alienate some others. My relationship with sponsors is a key part of that. I don’t just want free stuff. All my sponsors are friends. I think about their businesses, what they’re trying to achieve, what I like about what they do, how lucky I am that they understand me and want to associate with me. For example, when I needed a wheel sponsor for cross I immediately started talking to Mercury. I knew they were a fan of mine and wanted to work with me. When a company is genuinely excited to work with you and be involved in what you’re doing, it feels amazing, and it makes you want to to pay it all back. Another example is Kindhuman, a small company guided in part by a social justice mission attached, these are the types of sponsors I want to associate with.
When you see or hear about people who you went to high school with, and the vastly different paths that they took in life, is there ever, if only for a second, something you envy about their lives, as a result of them not having gone in the cycling-centered path that you chose?
Fuck no. Never. All I see is fatigue, unhappiness, debt, bad health, and misery. I am a millionaire, in my own mind. I have a college degree, I own a home, a vehicle, I have health insurance, a business, a wife I adore and a relationship we worked hard on. I am successful beyond my wildest dreams as a kid on the streets in Brockton.
I am successful beyond my wildest dreams as a kid on the streets in Brockton.”
I’m not on drugs or in jail, I’m not homeless or dead. I can pay my bills when they show up, no one’s knocking on the door to turn my heat or electricity off. And once I’m done racing full time, I’ll start turning my attention toward business and creating more security for myself and my family and my employees. No man, I have everything I have ever wanted.
What’s the dumbest move you’ve ever made in a crit. Please describe.
It’s a move I make a lot. I don’t start my sprint early enough. I hide until it’s too late, and I get 4th a lot. Can’t think of any one big, dumb thing I’ve ever done.
What’s the smartest? Again, please describe.
Hmmm. Probably my best tactical moment was when I lapped the field at Race for the Rock in Plymouth, Mass a million years ago. There were four of us: me, my teammate Charlie Issendorf, 2-time pro crit champion (and best friend) Kevin Monahan, and Victor Rapinski from Saturn. Once we lapped the field, Rapinski was focused on Kevin. I jumped across a small gap to a rider we’d lapped who was off the front, and rode away with him while those two bluffed each other, and Charlie marked them. It’s not often I lap the field, never mind ride away (for a second time) to finish solo. That was a good day.
Do you think the number of daily riders that use the Fields Corner station is over or under 6,000? Don’t cheat by looking it up.
I’d guess that it was under 6,000. And I just looked. Around 4000!
Ozone or Turbo?
Come on, dawg. Lee from Beat Street.
SSD or DYS?
SSD. The kids will have their fucking say.
The Smiths or Morrissey?
The Smiths. Morrissey’s poetry and voice have been mediocre and on the decline for the past 20 years. It’s hard to watch.