TWENTY & EIGHT QUESTIONS™ WITH KYLE MURPHY
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1991-1995
Shelburne, Vermont 1996-1999
Portland, Oregon 2000-2009
San Francisco, CA (Summers in NYC) 2010-2014
On the road 2015-Present
What did/do your parents do for a living?
My mom is a family doctor who also practices holistic medicine. She has worked in ERs, delivered babies, etc. Before that she was a psychologist after getting her masters in Minnesota. In college she interned at NASA dissecting rats for hormone research. They started her on the cats but she decided it was a little too much. In high school she was a waitress.
My dad works for a company pioneering a waterless technique for dyeing fabric. In high school he was a parts runner for an automobile dealership, then became manager of the parts department. One of the service managers tried to get him to drop out of high school but his aunt, who owned the dealership, intervened. In the summers during college he worked for a prefab garage company. He remembers the first summer power nailers arrived on the scene. They had a contest, John Henry style, where the manager, using a hammer and nails, raced my dad using the power nailer. After college, he worked at Outward Bound out of Stanley, Idaho for three summers. Then he worked for Powderhorn in Jackson Hole, WY. They were acquired by a company in Minneapolis, which explains the location of my birth. Then he started working for Field & Stream, travelling to Asia, learning about production and design. He has had his own clothing companies, and a fabric business.
Did you have any nicknames growing up? Do you have any now?
Mike Martin signed my name on an iPad being used as a Square register at their shop as KARL a few years ago. Some how that morphed into Stinky Carl. I didn’t have the best hygiene practices Freshman / Sophomore year of college… I made it my Instagram handle for awhile and I thought it was interesting to be able to tell when someone knew my name because of a photo on Instagram or being tagged in a post.
Those people would call me Carl,
en after I introduced myself as Kyle. Derek Yarra still calls me Carl but I'm pretty sure he knows that is not my real name.”
What was your first job?
My first real job was working for Andy Ring, a woodworker, in the Brooklyn Navy Yard the first Summer I lived in NYC. Before that I was a Woodshop Monitor at California College of the Arts, but that was a FAFSA work-study hookup.
Did you ever see a freshman loose a finger at the shop while you worked there as a monitor?
No fingers. I have seen some pretty gnarly kickback, and have cut myself a few times with dull chisels (a sharp tool is a safe tool) and also had a weird accident where I was holding a rare earth magnet in my hand and then passed it over my workbench and a ⅜” drill bit leapt off the desk and stabbed me. The furniture department at CCA is legit: the students and faculty take pride in their craft, so there are few accidents. The model shop next door, however…
Who taught you how to drive?
My dad in a church parking lot in Portland, OR in a green Nissan Odyssey. In a cemetery.
It’s been said that the Odyssey’s three-row seating is much more spacious than the limiting seven-passenger configuration offered in Nissan’s Quest. Did you ever put the Odyssey’s roomy interior to the test. If you know what we mean?
I’m glad you asked this question, because now I realize we actually had a Quest, not an Odyssey. [Publisher’s Note: not sure why nobody in this conversation seems to know that the Odyssey is a Honda, not a Nissan...] It is less spacious and it wasn’t put to the test, but that wasn’t necessarily the reason why. My dad told me that I said, “The reason I want to learn how to drive is so I can sit in the front seat and choose the music.”
What was your first car, and how much did you pay for it?
It was going to be a VW, but then I crashed. 🙁
Just kidding. I was too punk when I was 16 do get my drivers license. I rode my fixed gear everywhere. You could do that in Portland. My mom made me get my license when I was 18 after I got hit by a driver who ran a red light on Burnside in PDX. I was northbound on 12th? I think. It was the last week of Junior year in high school. I rode around in a wheelchair that day until my knee started to hurt bad enough to warrant a hospital visit. After X-rays they initially told me I had completely torn one of the tendons in my knee and the options were to remove tendon tissue from my own butt to repair it which would require two surgeries, or to use tissue from a cadaver and risk rejection. Then a different tech reread the X-ray and determined it was a partial tear. I was in a brace all summer, but I never had to get surgery. I remember the first day they let me ride a bike again, I rode to physical rehab and it felt so good.
Were/are you good at driving?
Not initially. I was pretty bad at merging. I remember the first time I tried I freaked out and just dead stopped on the on ramp. My dad was like, “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” just losing it. Luckily there was no one behind me and I eventually merged successfully.
I am a lot better now. I think my main problem is my mind wanders a lot and I really like to listen to a wide variety of music. So I might be listening to something like this and just smashing along at 80 mph like a boss, OR maybe doing 35 mph in a 50 mph zone on two lane no passing country road holding up like 9 cars not even realizing it because something like this came on. So it is probably good I have not been driving much lately.
What was the first poster you hung on your wall?
I don’t know. When we moved into our house in Vermont, there was a Chucky poster already hung in the closet of the bedroom I shared with my sister. It kinda freaked me out.
What was the first record/song you consciously purchased/downloaded of your own accord?
Incesticide by Nirvana. I was choosing between Incesticide and Nevermind and Incesticide was 2 dollars cheaper. It was in the music section of a grocery store, probably browsing while my dad was shopping. I want to say it was a Fred Meyer.
Childhood celeb crush?
I think I had a crush on Jennifer Anniston and the other lady on Friends, with the black hair?2
My parents didn’t let us watch a ton of TV but for some reason I have a lot of early memories of Friends. But I have not seen a single episode of Cheers, which can irk people.
Where do you currently live? Why?
My DS jokes that Evan and I “live where we land.” I went all in this year, and decided the only way I was going to be able to make it financially as a pro cyclist would be to cut out some major expenses in my life. The biggest one was to quit paying rent in NYC. Plus my student loans kicked in, so I might have just ended up homeless anyways. At least this way, as a pro cyclist, I can rely on the kindness of an incredible network of host families, teammates, friends, and sometimes even strangers.
Is this you? I’m pretty sure it’s not, but I want to be sure.
I wish. I think skills on the dirt translate into huge gains on the road. There are a shocking amount of riders who can’t really turn their bikes. I’m not amazing, but I race cyclocross, and my buddy Kasper leant me his 26″ cross-country hardtail mountainbike to shred on this spring, which helped me a ton coming into this season. I am totally okay with being called “Murphdog Kyle Murph” like that dude.
As a kid, did you ever think your face would be on an Official Team Candle?
Nope. I didn’t really think about candles at all. Melissa Brown-Higginson, our host at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, put the candles together. She is a sufferer of Lupus herself, and it has been really gratifying for the team to work to raise awareness of the disease in partnership with the Lupus Foundation of America.
High-level sports performance can lead to a measurable amount of or notoriety. This often has little to do with the very reason that an individual first became interested in task at hand. How do you negotiate this?
I just know that I love racing and I love riding my bike, and I’m not amazing at social media. I guess the concern for me is always that I could say something on the internet and anyone can just take that and criticize it or judge it or whatever, and the thought is that if we were just hanging out and drinking a coffee or some club soda or a beer or eating some toast or going for a bike ride or whatever things would probably be pretty cool.
Much has been made of your evolution from riding fixed gear bikes in a non-track racing kind of way, to riding geared bikes in a racing kind of way. What compelled you to follow that path?
It’s funny because the first sanctioned racing I did was on the track, at Alpenrose. Portland was great because there was a huge alleycat scene, and also sanctioned OBRA weekly racing series. I was compelled to race because I felt that racing was the pinnacle experience you could have on a bike.
But yeah, that doesn’t mean I understood it or what it could turn in to. I loved it in Portland because you could ride your bike to most of the races. For a junior, a year license was like 5 dollars, and then most races were 5 dollars, so it was just this fun, casual thing I did. I mean I went super hard in the races and had funny ideas about fitness and training, but none of it was a very serious like junior development pathway. My friend Walter and I think I thought it made a ton of sense. I wanted to be in Eugene, I didn’t have a car, didn’t want to pay to take the train or the bus, so riding our bikes felt the easiest, even though it definitely wasn’t. I had a track bike because they were cool and cheap and they didn’t break. Will Meeker went to high school with Walton and Evan and I and after he graduated he went to school in San Francisco and got involved with MASH. He had a sweet track bike, and then helped Walton get ahold of a Cannondale Track. Then Evan got a Bianchi Pista, and after he graduated, I got one. It all goes back to MASH, and I am happy I was lucky enough to travel and race with such an amazing crew for the Redhook Crit.
You race with your brother, which most probably think is comforting, cool and interesting. But is it ever not comforting, cool or interesting? What’s the best part? What’s rad about racing and traveling with your brother? Are you guys are team within a team? How competitive has your life together been so far?
The best part is that we can talk about everything. We always have each other’s backs. He is a lifelong teammate, I mean come on, family, blood. I love traveling with Evan because he has such a do or die attitude, all in, go big or go home. With everything, diet, training, racing, the guy goes fucking hard! And I love to be around that enthusiasm, it is contagious. Sometimes, because we have such a long history (i.e. my whole life), and we know how to push each other’s buttons, it can get annoying. Like our dynamic is pretty complex, but in a race situation or around strangers, it becomes pretty simple. You help each other out.
What would you like to do and what else are you doing in your life aside from riding a bike?
I would like to give pro cycling my energy and dedication for the next few years. This first year has been tricky, learning how to manage my time during back to back stage races, manage the increased training load, and still make time or save the energy for other things. I’d like to get better at having little background projects that are portable and fun and easy to pick up and set down. When I was in school, cycling was always this escape, and now I am riding my bike all the time. It has definitely been an interesting transition.
Please watch these two videos A and B by musical performers named Kyle Murphy, and give us a full and thorough review of each.
+ Honesty / Realness
+ Athletic stride
+ Creative camera angles
– Lip Syncing not synced
– Photobooth-esque filters
+ Red Shirt
+ Bow and classy post performance smile
+/- Cute factor, but maybe a little too old
– Limp left arm for most of performance
– Looking at the music stand, eyes up fella
– Missing teeth??
What about non-bike accomplishments? What are you most proud of as an artist?
The proudest I have been as an artist was when I completed my undergrad thesis project. I learned so much from everyone who participated. It was such a joy.
What’s it like to work with Tom Sachs? What do you do?
Work to code. The first rule…
Why do you love RiFF RaFF? If you could hang out with RiFF RaFF for a day, what would you guys do? What would you talk about? If he was like “yo kyle dawg, tell me about that mafaucking nationals shit dooo.” What would you say to him. Please describe your race to us now, as though you were telling RiFF RaFF.
Psh, RiFF Raff doesn’t care about bike racing. I would try and find out who does his hair and then offer to accompany him to le salon, then setup some freaky gnar shoot where I mirror image his every move and he raps all metaphysical. We should just do that. It’d be fun to have cornrows for like two days. And maybe I’ll get a grill out of the whole thing. Not sure who would pay for this, but yeah.
In his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Erving Goffman frames face-to-face interactions in everyday life as a theatrical performance in which we control or guide the impressions that others have of us. Do you think Goffman’s take on social interactions gains greater meaning today vis-à-vis social media?
I’ve written and deleted 8 or 9 paragraphs in response to this question. It’s my favorite question but also the hardest and I keep getting academic, but because I have not been using that part of my brain much lately none of what I wrote feels very insightful.
What is your dream commission?
Right now, I really want a car. So if someone just handed me the keys to something, on the explicit condition that I customize the shit out of it, that would be pretty dream-like. That would be my dream off season project, to learn how to work on a car in like an art-way.
What’s your biggest regret in life?
That is not really how my brain works. I definitely think about how different decisions I have made would change where I am today. For instance, in highschool, I was on track to take IB and AP classes, competing on swim team, doing Model United Nations, like that is what my friends were doing and what I was aspiring towards, and then after one year of that at Lincoln Highschool in Portland, OR, I transferred to an independent arts highschool, The Northwest Academy. That is where I started drawing and painting, screenprinting, taking photographs, and riding track bikes. We also moved a few times during my childhood. Where I ended up for college is another one of those decisions that was so clearly pivotal. It is pretty fun to think about.
Do you want to pursue a career in the arts or continue to race?
I think the key is to not worry too much about where you are or how you got there, but to just focus on being the best you can be. I have so many friends from college who have ended up in some pretty amazing positions just by being committed, intelligent, and hard working, and then taking advantage of the opportunities that they have been presented with.
Do you like boys or girls or both? Do you online date? Pretend MFS is an online dating site, can you write your profile in 200 words or less. Also, what would your handle be?
I like ladies. I have a Tinder but I have never been on a Tinder date. For me, I still use it kinda of a lot while I travel. It is really fun to see the differences between the kinds of people you see in Silver City, NM and Winston-Salem, NC or Palo Alto, CA. It shouldn’t be that different than walking around and interacting with locals, but it is. Some people really show their vulnerable sides on that site, and I am not the kind of person who is going to get in touch with that when I am only in town for a few days. It is a like a messy, fun, unmoderated, self-absorbed, location-centric Instagram for me, that is the role it currently fills.
Give us your MFS hypothetical online dating site profile in 200 words or less.
I bought myself pizza.