Greg Randolph. This guy has seen and done a fair bit more than most mere mortals. And he’s lived to talk about it. Which, incidentally, is a great benefit for you, dear reader. For you are about to be exposed.
And I mean that in the best way possible. For all parties involved.
What is your name?
Gregory Scott Randolph The First.
What do you like to be called?
Greg is fine. Chopper is ok if I like you.
How were you introduced to cycling?
“Cycling”, huh, well I didn’t own a internal combustion engine until I was almost 21, so bikes were transportation everywhere and even after that. Rode a BMX bike like it was a buick/jeep hybrid until I was about 13 and then I got a mountain bike. Actually lived in a van and rode a bike everywhere for about three years. . But I was formally introduced to “cycling” when I was 20. I called out an art appreciation grad student for being a snob, elitist, and unlikely without talent herself in front of about 250 students. After class a dude comes up and gives me five. Said he was president of the cycling team and he would help me get a bike if I wanted to go ride. One of the best dudes I have ever met.
How did you first hear about drunkcyclist.com?
Not sure exactly, it’s like the dengue fever, not everywhere but catching. Basically the first bike blogsite I ever read that wasn’t written by a dweeb for dweebs. Was hooked by the link dump. How the hell do you have time to find all of that stuff?
Do you read drunkcyclist.com?
Regularly, it’s part of the morning site ritual (coffee, Copenhagen, men’s room)
How does it feel to be interviewed on drunkcyclist.com?
Honored, yet vulnerable, like my mom might read this or something. But pretty stoked.
Where do you work and for whom?
Ketchum, ID. I work for a bunch of cranky Italians vis a vis Smith Optics. Smiff! Yo.
How did you get involved in the eye ware industry?
After essentially realizing I was never going to have the self discipline to be anything better than a clown in the NORBA circus working for peanuts and leftovers, I quit. After quitting the race thing I worked a million jobs: as a laborer and construction worker, wrote some forgettable prose, learned all about reclaimed lumber, was in local politics, started a business and gave it to my partner, but never once collected unemployment. Basically, worked my family into a state of economic despair. Skied about 100 days of backcountry a year. Not living in reality. Sitting in a traffic jam one afternoon in Salt Lake City after being back home in Idaho, Daryl Price called me and said Smith was looking for someone like me to run the bike team. I jumped at the opportunity, salary, life insurance, chance to work for someone who wasn’t either bipolar, a coke head or both.
Do you like pimping sunglasses?
It’s a fun item to be promoting because it is such a “yeah, um”, “in between” purchase for people. It’s not like we are making carbon fiber kickstands or something else which people get all geeky over. Basically it is an education in what I was like as a pro athlete. I would have kicked myself in the nuts sometimes.
Where were you born?
Denver, CO. Bronco’s beotch.
How ’bout raised?
Same place or somewhere different? Very different. McCall, ID. Kind like being raised in an 83,754 square mile biosphere. Grew up without TV and had to smuggle the clock radio into bed so I could listen to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin as a kid. J-105 FM, rock on! It’s still on today in Boise and plays the same friggin songs. It was a killer childhood though, riding bikes, skiing, surviving extreme bouts of what to do next. I bet I built more snow caves, threw more snowballs at cars, rode more long country roads on a BMXer and inner-tubed more class III whitewater before I was 10 than almost anyone in the world. We did what there was to do and because we needed something to do. It bums me out to drive through neighborhoods these days where you know kids live and not see any of them playing in the street. Either they are too busy with all of their “organized” activities, their parents are too busy slathering them in anti-microbial soap, or they are playing Nintendo. The closest thing we had to video games were bb guns and wrist rockets. Man it was rad being 10.
Are you Conservative or Liberal?
Economically I tend to be conservative. Socially, liberal. In other words, I think people are motivated by the need to survive by their own devices and the opportunity to realize their own success. Societies fail when you wipe people’s asses for them. But it’s not the government’s job to tell me who I can poke or what I should believe. At the extreme however, I think people need to get over their compulsive desire to rid our society of ideals like the 10 Commandments. Or a nativity scene. Or the national anthem having us being one nation under God. I don’t know about you but it seems like not killing someone or perhaps not cheating on your wife might be good ideas. It just happens to have come from the school of religion which the guys who set this whole USA deal up were into.
Mother fuck George Bush, or thank god he’s our President?
Oh fuck that fascist. If you took all of the people who need to be punched in the mouth or kicked in the balls and melted them down into a single pot of useless, privileged scum and poured a mold you would get a bust of this jerk off. The really tough thing to swallow about GW is he is such an embarrassing cretin. I lived in Europe for over three years and learned just how much respect we get from the international community to begin with (it ends right around McDonalds) and then we get this clown for a president who is the archetype of the ugly American. Uncultured, ignorant of the international community, couldn’t tell you what the capitol of Germany is, has zero command of the English language, fakes his way through Spanish, can’t produce a winning baseball team, flunked his way through Harvard, can only speak in generalities, is hopeless without a script, looks like Alfred E Newman, and we fucking elect him as our leader? Just shows you that 50% of this country are idiots and religious zealots and the other half can’t seem to find the time to show up to punch a couple of chads through a piece of cardboard. What is even more depressing is you know he doesn’t sit on the side of the truck with the steering wheel. Our country has a president who rides “bitch”.
Iraq War: Good idea or fucking huge mistake?
At the outset, I felt that if we had this “clear and present danger” then the guys with the dark sunglasses knew what was up and we needed to do something about it. I am not one of those people who denies they ever supported what we did. If someone really pisses me off, I am the kind of guy who is going to retaliate. But this wasn’t the case. Saddam was just another asshole tyrant who happened to have some sweet rotten dinosaurs on his spread. I can’t even figure out how we got where we are now. I think with time we would have vetted out that GW & Co. were lying sacks and the present catastrophe could have been averted, but they did a great job of creating this monstrous threat. I guess I was dumbshit enough to think the Gulf of Tonkin would only happen once and that Saddam the Sunni of Iraq for some inexplicable reason would collaborate with a radical, fanatical Shiite. And I thought Condoleezza Rice was hot. That said, I think the most damaging fallout from Iraq (aside from the carnage) is yet to come. We will have not only another generation of our country affected by the cancer of war-wives, children, dependants, social programs shelved to buy tanks, but also this no win gash in our humanity which bleeds in a perpetual cycle of hate and violence.
I was actually on the city council of a small town when this happened and we were asked to sign a resolution against the war. I was beginning my career as a civil servant and the first thing I had to face was how corrupt our system is.
Unfortunately the only way this is going to disappear is if we leave and pretend we never heard of the place. What was actually good about Saddam was he brought a balance of power to the region and was at least capable of keeping the lights on. Now we have a nation-state which will never see peace and once we leave, we be replaced by another ruthless, selfish, dictator who creates another religiously fanatical regime that will fuck with the good ol US of A. This war will never end and every moment we are embroiled in the Middle East’s scene we are creating another terrorist.
Coffee or tea?
Thanks for asking. Both. Black. Coffee first and then a super strong cup of good ol Lapsong Souchong to get the lungs cleared up. Black tea is good for asthmatics.
Do you drink alcohol? What’s your poison?
Yeah. I have tried to quit, but no one likes a quitter. I have learned moderation is helpful, in moderation. I like cheap beer and good tequila. Ferrentino has some really good scotch too, which I have found to be another weakness.
My daughter might be reading this in 2nd grade computer lab so I will have to plead the 5th. The hardest thing I ever tried was mushrooms, but they weren’t shiitake. Realized I like to be in control.
Ever had a problem with either?
I don’t know, guess that’s relative or a matter of which one of my relatives you ask. There have been things I haven’t done because I was too hungover but also have thought of some pretty cool shit under the influence so I think it ends up being a wash. Without the bike and the ski I would be a mess though.
Atheist or true believer?
Somewhere in between. Not an atheist for sure but have a hard time believing that one dude would only spawn one chosen race and that you had to pick the right persuasion of belief in order not to burn in hell. All you have to do to believe in a God is head out on your bike, open your eyes and senses and realize that all of this did not come from some random, interstellar collision. But that argument is as pointless as any other. I am as confused, filled with doubt and fucked up as the next guy.
What religion were you raised?
Lutheran. Go frozen chosen! But it was a great group of people and my parents are very devout, the kind of true, honest and consistent devotion that makes you see religion in a positive light. My mom is some kind of clairvoyant, like a mystic. She knows when something is up. Like she picks up signals from outerspace or something. In fact she called when I was starting this interview, but I didn’t answer. “Come on Mom, I’m at work!”
Getting 19th at the 1999 mtb world’s in Spain with only two gears, starting in the absolute back row.
Realizing that all I had to do to get the other 22 gears back would have been to twist the barrel adjuster all the way out.
Do you have a significant other?
You bet, Cameron. She is a babe and a rock. Stud athlete too.
3 younger brothers. All studs and I am very proud of all of them.
Do you get along with your parents?
As long as they don’t stay too long. My dad and I are golden as long as we are fishing or hunting but sometimes after the dishes are done and the coffee is served, it can get a little tense. My mom is a sweetheart and compassionate without end. They both have been through a lot raising 4 boys. I just hope there isn’t such a thing as karma.
What was your childhood like?
Outdoors always, carefree. I was really into fishing and riding bikes and skiing. Still am so I guess I was doing the right stuff.
Did you fucking hate high school?
Yeah. I had a tight little group of buddies but I was very driven and there was something about wanting to be the best at everything I did that made it hard for the other 200 kids to accept me. I wanted to win at everything, but was always a good sport. When I graduated I was stoked to be done, not bitter at those who had made my life miserable, but I was ready to go out in the world and get laid.
Did you go to your high school reunion?
Nope. Won’t go to the next one either.
Who pisses you off, and why?
The people who elected George Bush president. The self absorbed, religious, do gooder, hypocrite who has no time to realize that they are completely fucking up our scene, planet, society and sense of hope. People who think they need a Hummer to get the mail at the post office because it snowed. People who need an extra large trash can because they have so much shit to throw away every Monday. People who bitch and moan and then do absolutely nothing to make things better. People who get to Starbucks and need ten fucking minutes to get their order straight. People who think you need to be drug tested to work at Blockbuster. People who shop at Wal Mart. The jackass that stole my brother’s Nomad. People who swipe my elbow in their Â¾ ton truck as I try to ride my bike the 15 miles home from work and then sit there pissed when I pass them at the stoplight. People who live in 5,000 square foot McMansions and gripe about needing more space. People who think that being into a sport means buying all of the right, new gear and then never use it (but I should love their lame asses cuz it pays the bills) Sheesh, am I that bitter?
Who do you want to meet?
My maker. Not now, thanks, but when the time is right. Like when I am 100. But I think kicking it and not learning that final piece of life’s mystery would be very bogus.
What music do you listen to?
Heavy rotation right now goes to LCD Soundsystem, Wolf Mother, Wilco, Mars 3, Snoop, Dre, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Neko Case, Darc Mind, The Dark Angels, Calexico, and Earl Greyhound. But I am always falling back on Sabbath, Zeppelin, Ray Charles, Jonny Cash, RL Burnside, Buddy Guy, Robert Johnson, even lately Springsteen (except Born in the USA-what the hell was that all about? Career suicide? Ferrentino again, props) a lot of classic blues and rock stuff I guess. I listen to music a lot. Two hours a day on the bike path to and from work, at work, at home, in bed. I am an Audiot.
What do you read? Books? Magazines? Newspapers?
I used to chainsmoke books lighting one with another, but having kids seems to have done something to that. I read a lot of magazines, Wired, BIKE, Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic…all of the mags that come to the office so a lot of Surf, Moto, Ski, Snowboard, fashion, lifestyle stuff that drives our business. I have a short attention span and use the term “read” very loosely. Newspapers are bullshit. That’s what the Internet is for, stop cutting down trees so you can run 10 pages of Dillard’s underwear ads, ‘cept maybe the women’s lingerie page. I read nytimes.com everyday.
What movies do you like?
Haven’t seen many lately, doesn’t make the cut. You have to go inside to do it. I work inside, so screw that. But Cars was good and so was Flushed Away, but in the PG13+ category I think the last film I saw where I was super pumped was Star Wars.
Do you watch television?
Only football. I hate TV. I hate how it insidiously prioritizes our lives and sells us a nonstop message of fear and inadequacy. I was in SoCal for the Tour of CA and was watching a lot of hotel tube when I started to lose hope for mankind. We are a bunch of idiots.
What shows to you like?
The Colbert Report and Southpark, because they are about the only non-fiction programming on the idiot box anymore.
Do you watch sports?
Live? Highschool football, bike stuff. TV: Football, bike racing, March Madness (because we drink beer) and I really like the weird stuff like cricket, semi truck racing, world’s strongest man, roller derby, rugby etc.
What? You need to ask, THE Team. Denver Broncos! I was born in Elway City.
Do you drive much?
Too much, but commuting by bike is a 9 month deal here if you don’t mind frostbite. We have a bus that I ride a lot too but have trouble with being on time. My wife bought me a cheap Timex for Valentine’s Day as a not so subtle hint. I always break my watch.
What do you drive and why?
1992 Subaru Legacy wagon. 190k miles and going into the shop this week. So not strong. Being deprived of motors as a kid made me a complete caveman when it comes to taking care of vehicles. It runs, I had a sweet Ford truck which was my first and only nice car but sold it because I felt like an asshole driving it around. Should buy something else, so no one dies when a 100 year old oak falls on us going to the store. 99% of the vehicles on the road are overkill for the owner but somehow everyone gets convinced that there are no roads where they live.
Where do you want to be in five years?
Right here man. Maybe I could be a little higher up the food chain, but honestly I have never felt as right as I have these past three years here at Smith.
How ’bout in ten years?
Let’s see my youngest will be 13, so I would say hopefully not in jail for killing one of her boyfriends.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would really like to have a big, glorious head of hair. Deep wavy black, totally out of hand, a head of hair that makes babies cry. A white guy afro.
I kind of got cheated on the hair thing. I am about at about 75% at this point and my only hope is Welcome Back Kotter will come back. My folks always insisted the “do” be tight and now that I am able to do all of that stuff I always wanted to do, alas, it’s too late. I did manage a sweet mullet once. Wore turtlenecks for three months one winter.
Any final thoughts or words?
This is where I sum up all of my wisdom and make people think I am really brilliant? Unlikely. But I just want to say, “Keep it up Jonny.” The world needs your voice to be heard.
Bonus Question: Feel like commenting on the decade old story involving you being named to the Olympic squad while Frank MrCormack wasn’t?
Backstory link: www.ltolman.org/93arch/61196.htm.
Olympic Road Race.
Man what a crazy deal that was. People wanted me lynched and all I did was ride my balls off for a summer. And I didn’t ride a moment of the Olympic Trials with any notion of making the Olympics. I started each race hoping to at least be able to say I finished. I was a freaking pitbull of a domestique. To me, the other guys were so good I didn’t need to worry about winning; I had only been racing bikes for 3 years. I was greener than a five dollar bill. But I was hungry for a damned paycheck for once and ended up riding a good Olympic Trials. About half way through Motorola said they were stoked and that I wouldn’t be a stagier after the trials. They were putting me on the roster and I would ride the rest of the summer with them. Seriously, and this is very difficult to say because you have to understand this situation, I fell into the right place at the right time for the kind of rider I was. We had Lance Armstrong, pre any Tour de France run, who was already one of the best raw talents in the world and a true player on a course where he was good bet. The tact taken by US cycling was very plain and simple. We were going to build a team around the only realistic card we had. The guys who were truly in a position to be bummed out were Norm Alvis and Michael Engleman, two of the finest guys you could ever meet. Carmichael had basically guaranteed them that they would be a part of this team because they were without a doubt the perfect steady eddy engines the race car needed to control the race in the final 50 km or so. But he ruined them in the pre season with this insane training he had lifted from the Aussies and modified. It was nuts. Going into the trials, Chris Horner was actually the best rider in the US and in my mind was at an entirely other level. Honestly, he was the guy who would have been a more dynamic and very capable team member. But I was a goddamned freight train. Anyway, that was my first and only road bike Olympic Trials so it is not my position to really comment whether or not this was a typical US trials. But a lot of teams’ riders were riding against their own teammates. It was weirder than a Cat 5 crit. The lack of focused tactics didn’t make any sense to me, but the trials breed a very unique dynamic. I think the people who were selecting the team were looking for someone too dumb to be a maverick.
In the end, Norm and Michael were led down a path which left them very tired and over trained, I won the National TT as an amateur and though Frank McCormack was super fast, the team strategy did not have room for two contenders. I mean McCormack is without a doubt one of the best racers to come from the US, ever, and also a hell of a good guy, but the moment was not his.
Me, “the big dumb muscle” (read the link), was sitting at the trials Olympic Team presentation in a t shirt and sandals with a ratty head of hair. I was there to support my teammates on Motorola who were already on the team and was curious to see who the US would select for the final spot. I honestly don’t think I had a solid bet who it would be.
Paul Sherwin, team media liaison at the time, comes in, looks at me and panics. “Greg,” he says, “What the hell are you dressed like?” I look down, laugh because I think he is messing with me, and say, “Paul, I just got out of bed.” Because I had.
5’6” Paul takes 6’0” Chopper by the arm to the car park and rips open the trunk of his rental, pulls out a suitcase and grabs a spare set of his clothes. “Put these on,” he says. “Do I look that bad?” I am thinking to myself, “Fuck this guy is an uptight Brit.” But I put on the clothes, trying to pull the pants down so they at least hit the tops of my socks which are cutting off the circulation in his size seven loafers which I am wearing, like, mule sandals.
All the while my girlfriend (now wife) is laughing at me.
So we sit down, there are some speeches, people clap, basically it feels like we are searching for a beauty queen. The final envelope (I am not kidding here) is presented and the person says (choking on her own bile I believe) “Greg Randolph”. My hands are already together for the lucky bastard when it strikes me that I am the bastard. I taste my own bile. The room wobbles a little and all I can do is stand straight up like someone just took a cattle prod to my sack.
The next few minutes are kind of like waking up from being blackout drunk. I don’t know where I am and can’t figure out where I got these midget clothes I am wearing. Memory returns when a reporter asks a very fair question, “Greg, what does it feel like to be on the US Olympic Team?” Someone shoves a cell phone in my face and says to call my parents, I’ve never even used one to this point in life. “Wow, it feels great,” I begin, “I feel like I just won the Miss America Pageant.” No shit, that is all I could say. The coolest thing in the world had just happened and all I could say was I felt like the tiara was a good fit.
Seriously, if you don’t believe me go back and look at the report from the event. It was a complete shock. There was immediately an outcry mostly because no one even knew who the hell I was. And I had to crack a cynical joke. I am an ass.
Two things of note happened after that. The first was the host family we stayed with in Atlanta, coincidentally, had signed on to the “Free Frank McCormack” petition. Big “Franky Fans.” It was pure happenstance that we were placed with them, my folks were of very modest means and this was a very generous hookup. In the end it didn’t matter, they were a really great family and we got on just fine.
The second came after riding my guts out at CoreStates US Pro in Philly later that summer prior to the games. Chris Horner came up to me and buried the hatchet. He was on fire and obviously the best all around rider based in the US at the time. There were some weird politics I think which made him kind of this black sheep, but any idiot could have seen he was fucking fast. Anyway, Horner came up to me and said, “Man that was a great ride, you deserve to be on that team.” For me, he closed the case in my mind. It was more than a compliment and I honestly think he meant it. No one really “deserved” to be on the team but I had earned it. I wasn’t apologizing to anyone.
Print that shit.by