TWENTY & FIVE QUESTIONS™ WITH KIEL REIJNEN
Your first name is either an alternate spelling/pronunciation for Kyle, the Hawaiian word for “lily of the valley”, or the name of a city in Germany. Which of these inspired your name? Do you see yourself as more of a lily, a Kyle or a German city?
I’m gonna blow your mind here; my name is actually James. But my parents never intended me to go by James. I’m in an elite class of “Middle Namers”. You’d be surprised how many of us there actually are out there, but it’s still a pretty exclusive club.
You are originally from Bainbridge Island, Washington, where the two main characters in the 1996 Tom Hanks showpiece That Thing You Do eventually move in together in order to “raise four children and start a music conservatory”. Is this a cultural reference that everyone from Bainbridge Island brings up to people they just met, since it beats having to say that you’re from “that place that you can take a ferry to from downtown Seattle”? Do you feel a sense of connection to this movie? Do you “identify” with it at all?
I have seen That Thing You Do however I am nearly clinically tone deaf so I didn’t relate to it much.I have seen That Thing You Do however I am nearly clinically tone deaf so I didn't relate to it much.” Everyone from the Island just calls it “The Island” (haha see I even did it by accident in that sentence). By calling it “The” it makes most people think they ought to know where it is and as a result they refrain from asking. I also really loved growing up on “The Island” and I kind of like that its location is a mystery to most. I mean, isn’t it way more fun to watch someone try and come up with an image of what this island might be like—especially if their only piece of information is me?!?!
Rapha-Focus rider Zach McDonald is also from Bainbridge Island. What is it about Bainbridge Island that leads people to become really good cyclists, or to “raise four children and start a music conservatory”?
Rain forces one to learn Bike Skillz. Also if you don’t really, really like riding bikes then you won’t, because it’s an island there are only so many roads to pick from and it is cold and rainy a lot so you really do have to love riding to put up with it.
The first race you ever did featured wild chickens on the road. Are wild chickens on the road a common thing in the Pacific Northwest? Is it like rainy weather in Seattle, or overly tan women in Miami whose skin looks like wet cardboard?
Rain and wild chickens are both very much common place in the beautiful NW. I would say that sweaters and fleece jackets are more common than leathery tans, but even a gray, cloudy day on the water (sailing) can burn you to a crisp. That being said I am probably the tannest guy I know, so I’m not sure how that works.
In the past, you’ve brought your own food, rice cooker and utensils with you during stage races; in order to keep your diet as you would at home. This is admirable, but makes us wonder, is dehydrated beef stroganoff with noodles (which is meant for survivalists or those who camp) really all that good to eat when you make it in a rice cooker while staying at a third-rate hotel? What kind of meals did you make. What were your “go to” food stuffs. What are the PROS and CONS of cooking and managing your own food. What advantages does cooking your own food yield? Do you have any lessons you care to share about all the energy you put into that.
When you are racing full-gas in a third world country that’s what you are, a survivalist. I don’t pack my own food because I’m some calorie counting, vegan, gluten-free Boulderite, I do it because I got an E. coli infection one year in China and I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.
What’s your game plan when grilling out? Gas or wood? Smoker? Dry or wet rub? Have you ever watched the TV show BBQ Pitmasters? Tell the truth.
I take my BBQ VERY seriously. If it ain’t cooked with real wood it ain’t BBQ. I get up at 4:30AM or 5AM to start my brisket and Boston butt (they go for about 12-14 hrs). I took a competition BBQ class and learned a lot but I wouldn’t call myself competition worthy yet. I’ve done everything from bacon to our Thanksgiving Turkey on the smoker. Try it and you’ll never go back. During the summer months we eat BBQ probably 4-5 nights a week. I had to get AC installed in the house just to combat the Meat Sweats at night. I am powered by meat.
Did you really box Alex Howes back in December, or was that just a publicity stunt like most celebrity boxing matches tend to be (we’re looking at you Tan Mom). If you really did box him, how did it go, and did either of you make any Rocky references during the event? If you didnt box, why not? What precipitated that event? What other kinds of man against man type of duels or battles or demonstrations of strength/speed/agility/etc have you engaged in, or would you like to engage in the future.
Alex and I are both registered with USA boxing. We spent over a month training for an official bout, but due to circumstances beyond our control a stop was put to the operation. It was very disappointing, but we did still get to spar and yes it was AWESOME. My nose still hurts when I squeeze it hard. Although there was no clear victor, we both got some GOOD swings in. I pretty much love anything that tests one’s speed/agility/strength and manliness. Last week I went white water rafting through class 4 rapids on the Arkansas River. We flipped in a bad spot but everyone survived so that was cool. I have also been known to participate and compete in “Aggressive Street Walking” you know just testing out your surroundings and keeping on your toes. Alex, Pete and I once chopped down 20 trees in one day up at the cabin; that was a solid test of endurance. I like challenges of all kinds, they give you a target.
Can you please give us pointers for how to do well in a time trial while wearing fleece sweatpants?
Well, first of all you better pray it’s not raining. Fleece is a great material until it gets soaking wet. So if it is pouring buckets you better D.N.S. that TT. On the other hand if its dry the texture of the material can be of great
Fleece is a great material until it gets soaking wet.”
aerodynamic advantage. I reckon the best case scenario is a shorter 5-10km TT, sunny but crisp, maybe 45-49 degrees. That way not having a chamois on won’t be as much of a problem and the pants will keep your legs warmer than the competition’s.
Sorry to keep bringing up food, but you are a maple syrup enthusiast. MFS (Manual For Speed) recently interviewed fellow MSE (Maple Syrup Enthusiast) Ted King. He said that maple syrup’s list of ingredients should only have two words in it: maple and syrup. Do you agree with Mr. King, or do you ever partake in the delicious decadence of high fructose corn syrup by either choice or necessity from time to time?
Like I said I’m a purist. When I make BBQ I’ll put BBQ sauce out on the table for anyone who wants it and I won’t say a word when you pour a big helping on your plate, but you can bet your ass I’m judging you for it. If it’s done right it shouldn’t need any sauce, unadulterated, pure. So, no I never even think about pouring that fake, impostor syrup on my American Toast, not a chance, I’d rather starve.
List the five greatest peloton jokes/conversations/observations.
At Amgen Tour of CA this year I was riding next to this Dutch guy talking with his Australian friend, it was an easy point in the race and he was going on about how he cheated on his wife with this smoking hot blonde the week before blah, blah, blah, anyway he turns to me as I ride up and you can tell he wants as many people as possible to hear his story of triumph when all of a sudden he realizes that I’ve got one of these new fancy Shimano bike cameras on. He turns white and asks, “Hey that things not on right?” I can’t top that story so I’m leaving it to 1 instead of 3.
Do you ever just talk to new dudes in there? How much talking happens in there? I mean you ARE racing so like maybe there is no talking. But on some days, you talk right?
It really does depend on the day. Milan San-Remo this year was seven-something hours and I don’t think I said one word the entire time. On the other hand a nice warm day, the break goes, it’s gonna be a sprint….all you do is chat. Sometimes it’s the only time you can catch up with friends that you haven’t seen in months. We are all in it suffering together, you share a bond even with the guys that you don’t know well.
What’s the lamest thing you’ve ever witnessed in there – details! We can hide any particulars, we aint trying to out anybody, we just want to know about some of what happens in there.
“Big” name guys are always yelling at guys on smaller teams for doing this or that, and then they go and do the same dumbass move 15 min later. You have to respect everyone you race with. We careen through towns at 60+kph inches from one another, everyone has to trust each other, it ain’t right to put yourself in a separate category. We’re all just bike racers at the end of the day.
Speaking of sugary things, you raced for Team Type 1, but you were not and are not (as far as we know) a diabetic. Not all of the team’s riders at the time were, so it wasn’t like you were lying to get to ride on the team. But we still wonder, did the diabetic riders in the team ever tease you, or call you “sweetie” or anything like that as a result of not being a diabetic?
I used to always joke about going back to Jelly Belly, eating too many jelly beans, then coming back to TT1 as a Type 2 diabetic. When I raced for the team I think there were 6 guys that had Type 1 and I only really raced with 3 or 4 of them, so I wasn’t really an outsider in that regard.
Sorry to not only keep bringing up food, but also the movie Rocky…but after winning Philly for the second time this year, did you celebrate by doing the thing where you run up the steps of the art museum? I did it once, and thought it was funny (to me at least) only to realize that someone does it every twenty seconds. You can almost set your watch to it. Seriously, did you do that? Would you do that? What did you do instead, like to celebrate?
The first time I went to Philly I went to go run up the steps Rocky style and I was pretty excited about it but there was this overweight Asian guy on vacation with his wife and he was running up the stairs Rocky style while his wife took a thousand pictures. That took the wind out of my sails. I never went back. So instead we started a couple of awesome traditions. We go to this restaurant, “The Goat’s Beard” down on Maniyunk, they serve great food there. Have a meal fit for a king then wander down the street to a fellow who owns a t-shirt, ice cream and philly cheesesteak stand. Last year over dinner Mike discovered that I’d never had a Philly cheesesteak so he decided it was high time. Anyway the fellow who owns the place finds out we won the race and is over the moon so he gets me my first philly cheesesteak and all the boys some ice cream. He also makes custom t-shirts for the race every year so he gave me one. This year when we went for dinner and ice cream just the same I wore the shirt he gave me from last year. The background of his phone was still me and him sharing a philly cheesesteak from the year before. He couldn’t believe we won again and said he hadn’t ever seen that in 30yrs of watching the race. It was a pretty rad experience.
You are a world-class nap-taker, and have challenged your cat to see who could sleep the most. What is the longest you have ever slept in one go, and under what circumstances? Why are you so good at naps? Is a mental or physical thing? Or is it both? Or something else? What are the ideal conditions for nap taking? Do you dream? What’s the optimal length of a nap?
Napping is all mental, sleep is king and I love sleep, but last year I met my match. I can’t hold a candle to Lucas. The kid can sleep 10 or 11 hours at night and still take a solid nap after coffee. I love a good nap but the crown has moved on.
In one to five words, explain to us the difference between an NRC race in the US, and a race like Fleche Wallone or Milan San Remo.
NRC races are shorter, not scripted, less controlled, less exhausting.
In one to five paragraphs, explain to us the difference between an NRC race in the US, and a race like Fleche Wallone or Milan San Remo.
Both have their place. Sometimes the WT races can be a bit boring; it’s not always the case but when you have so many riders so close to the same level it’s hard to tear the race apart. Also there aren’t a lot of guys willing to risk it all. Too much is at stake so you start to play it cautious, rely on your team and play into the script. On the other hand the races are often twice as long and much more demanding. If you ain’t fit you ain’t gonna finish, let alone place. There is no room for pack fodder and that’s kind of nice too. The guy who wins never wins by accident. You don’t get as much of the “negative” racing at that level which is something that always bothered me in the domestic races. I’ve gone plenty hard in NRC races but I’ve never been as buckled as after some of those WT one day races, everything hurts. The bottom line is that it’s never easy to win a race whether a local crit or NRC or La Primavera.
Can you give us a list of 10 things aspiring pro cyclists should know or consider about their goal. They can be obvious or less obvious. Basically what is some helpful advice that you wish someone had given you, or that someone gave you and you wish you had listened to.
1) You better like living out of a bag. 2) Chicks dig scars, but not really cyclists. 3) At the end of the day no matter how fast or talented you are, you’re dressing up in spandex and pedaling around a 150 year old invention—it’s not the be all and end all. 4) Mix it up: yoga, rafting, boxing, carpentry; whatever you are into, find other things that get you out of bed in the morning because it will make a better human being. 5) Find one airline and stick with it. 6) It is a sport of patience, nothing happens overnight. 7) It’s easier to train with a hangover than you’d think. 8) Bacon is the breakfast of champions. 9) Buy the Costco pack of 50 razor blades. 10) Sometimes you just gotta giv’er.
What’s the best move you’ve ever made on a bike – maybe you didnt win, maybe you did, but either way it felt like the most daring or interesting or heroic or whatever move ever. It’s the move you’re most proud of. Give us details!
During the Tour of Thailand I got the Jersey the first day and held onto it until the second to last stage. The team worked their ass off for me but it was only five-man teams so we just didn’t have enough by the second to last stage. I gave everything but a move of 10 guys attacked away and I had to fight all the way to the line. I dropped to 7th place or something overall. It was a disaster. The next day we had a meeting in our hotel room. It was 115 degrees out and everyone was exhausted from the week’s effort but we decided then and there that we weren’t fighting for anything other than a win. The guys attacked the peleton for 130km straight, taking everyone over the limit. I waited until 30 km to go and made my move. Head down, everything I had. That was it, I got the jersey back on that final stage. I threw up everywhere when I crossed the line. I’ve never been so overheated in my life. It wasn’t that we won, as cool as that was, it was the attitude we had that final day, fully committed to one goal. We were set on only one outcome and the plan worked. That was special, I’ll never forget that day, we were a Band of Brothers.
What’s the dumbest move you’ve ever done. Be honest! Details. We can not print specific names or dates if needed.
On Jelly Belly at Tour of California 2010 we had had an awesome spring, just killing it every race, winning left and right and we were doing it with teamwork. We ran a lot of drills that spring to get ourselves really good in the crosswinds as we wanted to be able to react quicker than anyone and take advantage. Well the cross winds hit maybe stage 3 or something like that and we were there waiting for it. We reacted faster than anyone else and caught all the big teams off guard but we didn’t have the HP, so after 3km everyone was together again and the big teams were riding next to us calling us idiots. We were in the doghouse for a few days after that one.
When did you first realize that you can win, at like the serious big-time PRO level. Dudes talk about this switch that happens after the first win, like suddenly you realize you can literally actually win. Did you expereince that kind of shift at some point, what are the details?
Wait I can win big time? Why didn’t somebody tell me? Here I was just trying to finish most of the races every year.
What’s your race, what race DO YOU NEED to win. How are you going to win it?
Nationals. Period. There are bigger races out there but I want that flag on my back more than I want anything else. It is my destiny.”
What are the last 5 things you’ve looked for in the internet? Please provide a little detail or context as to why you’re looking those things up?)
The last 5 things I have looked at: Café racer motorcycles (thinking about trading my supermoto for one), an episode of Eastbound & Down (Kenny Powers inspires me), Maytag Dishwashers (ours busted last week and there was a sale going on at Home Depot, there are a few brands in the price range I was looking but Maytag is the only one made in America so that’s why I picked it), the synonym for dorky (I honestly can’t remember why but that’s kind of funny), and the weather in Woodland park (I did a super sick point to point ride yesterday, climbed for almost an hour through heavy fog and ended up in sunshine at 8,500 ft in a National Park).
You take the spirit animal thing seriously – like even before it became like a “thing.” We like that about you. You’re a bear. Tell us about that. Why a bear. Try to get in there in your brain and really think about it. Also, are you spiritual, like for reals?
I believe, in what exactly I don’t know, but I am most at home when I’m out on a 6+ hour ride Vision Questing (due to lack of food and water), and something other than me is leading the way. I’m a bear for a few reasons but the first time I realized this was when I was out Vision Questing through the mountains above Boulder on my bike and there, not 20 feet away, came a family of black bears. I’m sure that I was one of them just for that moment. My grandma also had this book North West Native American Animal Myths or something like that. When I read the section about bears it sounded like me. In the NW the bears always go to the Salmon runs in the fall so we saw them every so often growing up. Watching them fish for Salmon is an amazing experience. I also love salmon and berries. The bear spirit is a very grounding one and grounding is something that I need lots of. I like to think of things as energy, that’s all anything is, we just transfer energy from one medium to another. I also race with an Energy Rock a friend gave me. She has a matching rock and does Reiki on it when I’m racing to help keep my energy centered. My grandma was really into Reiki so I like the energy I get from that a lot.
Do you believe in telepathy? Of all of them – telepathy, telekinesis, etc. Which would be the most interesting to have? What would you do with it?
My best friend growing up was also my neighbor. His name is Francis. We have spent a lot of years being best friends and we have telekinetic abilities but it’s limited, I can’t do it whenever I want or anything. Whenever it happened we would just yell “brain wave!” and then not explain anything and the other person would always know exactly what the other was talking about. For example we were walking along the road by our house one day and Francis yelled “brain wave!” Without another word we both bolted off the side of the road and started climbing this giant redwood. We were up over 100ft before we finally stopped. There were all kinds of things like that, it happened at least once a week. So ya I’d say we are in the club.