Thursday, January 28, 2010

Interview: Matt Seagrave

I first met Matt while racing as a junior on Team Diabetic-Mapei several years back. We had several rides together including one that turned into hiding out under an overpass on Mopac during a thunderstorm. At the time, he seemed to me a PRO. Someone whom I wanted to become. Already an established Triathlete, Matt turned to road racing early this decade and quickly moved up the ranks of local bike racing. His race exploits have given him "legend status" many times.For example, early on, he once raced the at the Pace Bend road race as a cat 4 and, after breaking away early on, he won by over a minute. The very next day, while still a cat 4, he lined up with the cat 3s at the Lago Vista Primavera and pulled the same tactics, again, winning by over a minute. After the race, they asked for his racing license and upgraded his category on the spot.

To say Matt is a great cyclist, is an understatement. He is a class guy, exceptional rider and a part of the family here at Jack and Adams. Back in 2006, after several seasons proving himself both locally and nationally, he set off to Belgium to race amongst hardened Euro elite and PRO cyclists. Prove himself he did, placing many times in the top 10 of races that go over the same roads as the Classics.

Me: Explain yourself.
Matt: Matt Seagrave, Athelte, Mentor, Coach

Me: What does the phrase "to be Belgian" mean to you?
Matt: From my expereince living and racing in Belgium. When I think of a person who can call themselved Belgian. I think that person to be a hard worker, with alot of determination. Who also likes festivals/parties in the town centrum. Anything that I think of that is Belgian I think of being tough or hard and well worth the experience good or bad.

Me: What is really the best embrocation for Belgians?
Matt: I could not tell you the name of the stuff I just know its smell is really strong and makes the legs warm. Also make sure you dont still have it on the legs when gettting into a hot shower or your legs will feel as though they are on fire.
Nutella or Peanut Butter? I really like Nutella, but when you combine both together it is perfect.

Me: Do you ever say that you are from Belgium to impress the ladies?
Matt: No, because most American girls dont really care about that.

Me: VDB or Museeuw?
Matt: Museeuw

Me: Boonen or Devolder?
Matt: Museeuw

Me: Flanders or Roubaix?
Matt: Tour of Flanders hands down. I have raced most of that course, brutal.

Me: How steep is the Koppenburg? (27%, ludicrus steep, hope i dont die steep?)
Matt: All Im thinking in my head is got to get to the front so I can get on the smooth concrete section and hopefully make it to the top without stopping. (like the steepest part of jester but with cobbles steep)

Me: Waffles or Frites?
Matt: Waffles covered in sugar or chocolate.

Me: Hold your line or "Stomme eikel, recht rijden?"
Matt: Hey.

Me: What is "the beer" of the Vlaanderen people?
Matt: We had free Augustijn.

Me: What stylish haircuts have you seen during your stay in Belgica?
Matt: Everything from a shaved head to a crazy russian mullet that the whole team was sporting.

Me: Ok more serious questions...What led you to go to Belgium to race?
Matt: Just figured if I was to have a go at racing my bike I shoud go to Belgium so I did.

Me: How long where you there?
Matt: 7months (120 day longer than legally supposed to, never got a visa)

Me: What is the typical lifestyle of a bike racer there?
Matt: Fair amount of training, good bit of recovery and good bit of reading or movie watching.

Me: What type of training did you do while racing?
Matt: We raced so much that once the season got going real training was not happening (3months straight I raced 3-5days a week of one day races, with riding to and from races so could be an extra 1- 3hrs on top of 3-5hrs of racing)

Me: Explain the Kermesse racing system. What is the typical course, riders/field, conditions, aggressiveness, days, etc.?
Matt: Kermesse is more like a curcuit race in the U.S., but the spectators can wage money on the riders. The course is usually say 10-15km in length. The cost to enter the race is 5euro with the refund of 3euro when you turn your number back in. Now if you dont turn your number back in you are suspended from racing for a week by the belgian cycling federation. The courses usually start in a small village and can be on really smooth roads the whole time or crappy cobbles just depends on the course. Living in Gent (Ghent) during the summer you could chose from 2-4 different races a day within riding distance of the house (15min-1hr bike ride). The races are agressive just "get to work when they say go."

Me: Explain the bookies over there. How long did it take to be on the boards? Is that a big honor locally?
Matt: For me I was on the boards on my second race in Europe first race in Belgium. had a good first race and just never looked back. Yes getting on the boards is an honor and good feeling when the people waging money on you are checking how you feel before races and buying you a pint post race. Also had a few times where I would hear "hey look the American is here today you need to watch him." Sometimes the rider will get a kick back if the wager makes enough money off your success, but on that note if you lose them money because you took a chance during the race then they would let you know this also.

Me: Did you get a chance to race over the same roads/courses as the Protour riders?
Matt: Yes, I had a chance to race and train over the roads of Tour of Flanders, Gent Wevelgem and other Protour races. I even had a chance to race against team such as QuickStep, Unibet, Dovitomin Lotto among others. This was a good experience and made me stronger/ smarter racer.


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