In the lead up to Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight Criterium (AOCTC), MFS spoke to MFS Human Athlete Evan Murphy about wazzzup with crit traveling, training, racing, cornering and participating. SIDE NOTE: The photographs featured in this interview are from the Delray Beach Twilight Criterium in Delray, Florida. Thank you Robert Badillo.
Can you answer some questions about ACs?
What is your favorite town in America to race in and why, what's the first thing you do when you go to a new town? Coffee shop, co-op, laundromat, hotel? Do you listen to local radio stations?
I do like to find the local hip hop station, and a lot of our recent races have been in the South, so they've been pretty good lately. Usually the first thing I do, however, is find a restroom because honestly at that point we've probably been driving/flying or taking a shuttle from NY for hours and consuming way too much coffee and water.
It sounds so lame, but it never hits you to do anything touristy or fun, you're usually just focused on the race logistics.
I think in a lot of people's minds, with a whole weekend to race two 90-minute crits they are like, dude you have soooo much time. But after getting the rental car, finding the hotel, finding food, bike building, etc., you just need to rest/stretch/recover for the insane race you're about to do, and it doesn't leave a lot of time nor energy to go explore or hang out. But maybe I'm just doing it wrong?
What's your favorite race and why? If it's not a crit, why do you love this race more than say a crit race for example?
Last year, my dad drove from Portland, OR, where he lives, to Boise Twilight. He drove me around the mountains in Idaho the day of the race to show me spots where he used to mountaineer and live in his 20s, we had lunch. I raced the best race of my season that night, placing 15th, and he played a little soignny for the team, bringing everyone cold Cokes after the race, and tailing everybody in the car so they could safely ride back to the hotel. Maybe not the usual reasons to love a race—just cause your dad was there—but I always get good vibes when I think about Boise.
Please give us a 12 song play list - like from "now", not the top 12 of last year, but like the 12 you're loving now.
- Like Me by 2 Chainz and The Weeknd
- Twenty Eight by The Weeknd
- King Push by Pusha T
- Shut Up by R. Kelly
- Live For by The Weeknd and Drake
- Live For by The Weeknd and Drake
- Live For by The Weeknd and Drake
- Birthday by Katy Perry
- Doves by Future Islands
- Raindrops by Jeremih
- Sleep The Clock Around by Belle & Sebastian
- 4AM by Melanie Fiona
Please tell us what you listen to when you're training. What songs, what type of music.
Lots of current R&B, hip hop and pop for intervals or when I wanna BOOM BASH it. When I'm just chillin, spinning or have no agenda I've been listening to Spanish and French language lessons. I wanna be able to talk easier to some of my teammates who speak Spanish. I also think for me emotional, sexy, teenager music just like, does something in my brain or heart, and like releases endorphins or something cause I can feel Sooooo Goooood and so fired up when I listen to music like that. I dunno. Like I wanna smash and go sooo fast when Melanie Fiona sings about her lover cheating on her, like, I wanna go fast for Melanie. To make up for her pain, hmm... I dunno.
How do you train or practice or prepare to dive into a corner, like it's GNARLY, it's so sketch, how do you force yourself to get better at sketch and speed???? Also, do you see all the shit they put in corners; trash, drains, metal shit, condoms, grates, holes, dead rats, standing water, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GO INTO THEM SO FAST.
I don't know. Every time I snap out of it, after the race, I realize it's fucking insane. You can't practice it, you either can or you can't.
How do you get better at going fast and loose? I know if you descend over and over and over and over again, you get more confident. Same for cornering?
I bet if you ask most super fast guys, they can't explain it. I bet if you ask the guys who suck they can tell you all sorts of BS about oversteer or tire pressure or weight shift, or whatever. I'm lucky, it has come naturally to me; my brother, he's had to work on it for crits, but he's gotten better. You're right though, it's definitely a confidence thing, and it helps to do it over and over. There are plenty of guys who've been doing crits waaaaay longer than me who don't get bonkers in the final few laps like I do. If you're hungry, you'll eat anything, you know?
Please write us 300 words on being the in The Zone. What it sounds like, feels like, how you get there, how you know you're there when you're there, YOU KNOW what we're talking about, like when you ride through traffic super fast and sketch and you're are feeling it so hard you're willing to take risks, you're like Neo in The Matrix, everything else is slow and predictable. Talk to us about that!!!
300 words? Yeah, I think everyone who's had sex or played sports or even just, like, driven on the highway knows this feeling a little bit. But I definitely think it's highest, most intense and oft-experienced while racing crits. Cinema often tries to narrate this experience; The Matrix, like you said, or movies like Wanted, Fast and Furious, and Premium Rush all use a slow-motion effect to illustrate how quick one can process, evaluate and react to a high-stress situation. However in my personal experience, it's not slow, it's insanely fast, and I rarely "think," in the sense that, I rarely ever weigh my options and consequences, decide on the best course of action with the least amount of risk, and take it.
In truth it's: gap, close it, space, move to it, crash ahead, jerk to left, open space, sprint, etc.
This is also why the good guys, the organized teams, can really use tactics to surprise, frustrate, and dominate their competition. When you're in The Zone you're not always thinking about exterior stuff, stuff outside survival. The Zone is also why I have a lot of sympathy for competitors throwing their bikes, or punching bars, or just generally getting pissed. In the moment, in The Zone, only one thing matters: destroying everyone around you. The minute you stop competing, it doesn't just go away, and you can make brash decisions in the threshold between civilian life and The Zone. It really, truly, honestly is just that nothing else exists, not even Evan, not even the self, and you hit a higher plateau of awareness. I don't know how you get there, try racing a pro crit I guess?
Have you ever front flatted?
Yeah, in a collegiate road race. I was lucky and stayed upright. Most flats are rear though, I saw Gavi Epstein blow a rear tire in the final laps at Base Camp. He fishtailed and there was tubeless sealant flying everywhere, it was like, I swear, in the apex of a corner, and he kept it upright. I bet most guys racing the pro crits could handle a rear flat at top speed, everyone is so friggin' good at this level.
What's the gnarliest crash? Was it your fault?
An old teammate on a team I used to be on, Phil Penman, went down on a steep descent during Killington Stage Race when someone just f'd it up and slid out in front of him. As I passed him he was tumbling rag doll-style into the ditch on the left side of the road. I didn't look back, you can't, I wasn't even sure if it was Phil. They had to stop the race for the ambulance, it turned out he broke a few bones, but he was back racing later that year. I'm so glad I don't race lower category races anymore.
What's the dumbest thing you've ever done a bike, something you'd never do again, like something you're embarrassed about, like in a race or a group ride maybe?
I took my hands off my bars and pushed this guy and yelled at him in the Milano Red Hook Crit after he almost crashed me out. I was really mad, I was yelling a lot, I wanted him to know I was pissed. After the race Neil was like, "Yeah, he pulled a messed up move, but never take your hands of your bars."
Once you've done that, once you use your hand and physically shove someone out of anger or rage, it's no longer racing, it's pathetic and it's fighting. So I'm embarrassed about that. And I've never done it since, I use my superior racing skills to shut fools down now.
What are the dumb moves fools be doing in races?
Headbutting is lame, stop doing it. Also don't chop the inside of a corner if you suck and can't handle it. Chopping inside is fair game IMO—UHC does it like it's their only move—but slow guys fuck it up for everyone if they chop it and hit the brakes. You gotta keep it smooth. Another dumb move is fighting for a wheel, then dropping it in the next corner and opening a gap, that sucks. But honestly I'm so new I shouldn't talk, I'm sure I do dumbass stuff allllll day.
What are the smooth or like nice moves fools be doing in races?
Luke Keough moves around like everyone is standing still. That's not to say he has more power (he probably does though), he just slips into gaps and spots that you don't even know are there. It's very hard to follow Luke through the field, because as soon as he wants to move up, he slides into a gap, and it closes behind him. Snake in the grass style.
What race do you need to WIN before this is over?
Elite Criterium Nationals, Red Hook Crit, or Iron Hill.
When is this over?
If I get another major concussion I'm gonna have to quit. Barring that, I never want it to end.
This is the end of the interview. Evan, if you're reading this, would you mind conducting a second interview? An exit interview. So what happened was this: after the fact, it was clear to us that we should have asked you if doing a 2-part series was okay, an Entrance and Exit interview—you know, wazzzzzup on your way to Speed Week followed up a "okay so that happened" and so wazzzzzup now that you're home interview. We kind assumed that it would be cool, cool?