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Off the Beaten Road with Taylor Phinney: racing to balance

July 5, 2012

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) on his TT bike

Taylor Phinney of BMC Racing Team regularly opens the door into his professional and personal life via Twitter, his website, and interviews.

So Phinney’s a perfect fit for a ProVéloPassion Off the Beaten Road interview, a format for pro-cyclists to answer a set of “not your usual interview questions.”

In late June he opened the door to his 2012 Olympic preparation during a press conference in Boulder. He wore for jewelry a black woven bracelet on his left arm and a lacy pink bracelet on the right.

Referring to the black bracelet and its significance, Phinney said, “Max Sciandri, my team director, gave this to me…it has a cross on it. And then there’s ten of these [knots]; I’m not exactly sure what that’s supposed to mean. I believe it’s a religious significance but I’m not very religious. I just wear it because Max gave it to me and I like it.”

Max’s daughter gave him the pink lacy bracelet.

Q: What passions do you have outside of the bike?

“I’d say my dad’s health and my dad’s foundation is probably the most important thing in my life other than the bicycle. Anything beyond that…if you want to be a successful athlete you have to limit the amount of distractions and limit the amount of passions you can pursue. So, the bike is my main thing. I like to eat but I’m not really allowed to eat as much as I would like to.”

Phinney has donated to the Davis Phinney Foundation in the past; he recently provided pink jerseys for the foundation to auction off for fund-raising. In early June Phinney participated with his dad Davis, mom Connie, and sister Kelsey in the Road to Victory Bicycle Classic, a ride around Boulder, Colorado that benefits the foundation, whose mission is to improve the lives of people living with Parkinson’s.

“I just try to do anything that I can to help…whenever I’m back and whenever I have time I always like to make myself available.”

Q: What foods tempt you?

Phinney first responded to this question on the June 3rd TourChats web show where he mentioned American food, specifically hamburgers and chili cheese fries.

For Off the Beaten Road, Phinney added, “I usually have a buffalo burger over a normal burger…or a soy tofu burger [he smiled as he made this up – ed.] They do have an Ahi tuna burger at Lark Burger which is pretty good and probably healthy.” [Lark Burger is a fast food burger and fries place in Boulder – ed.]

As his cousin wrapped apple fritters for Phinney at Skratch Labs on the day of this interview, she mentioned Taylor prefers his training rice cakes with pieces of fruit.

Taylor Phinney enjoys an egg sandwich at Skratch Labs before training

Recently Phinney tweeted about his favorite sandwich from Dish Gourmet in Boulder. It’s now named the “Phinney Benny” in honor of Phinney as he prepares for the 2012 Olympic road and time trial races. The “Phinney Benny” is a breakfast sandwich with two fried eggs, spinach, parmeggiano grana, house roasted tomatoes, and garlic aioli on foccia bread.

Currently 10% of sales of that sandwich go to the Davis Phinney Foundation. If Phinney medals, the restaurant will match the amount raised through sandwich purchases.

Q: Why is it so hard to balance romance and racing?

“Well, you gotta find a girl – at least I gotta find a girl, that really understands what I do, understands the fact that I have to go to Europe and race my bike. For a lot of people in general, a lot of people who are outside of the sport don’t really understand [my lifestyle] fully. And it’s a tough balance because it would have to be relatively long distance and that takes a lot of time and energy and is also difficult.

“I had a pretty serious girlfriend last year but I didn’t ride my bike very well last year, and I’m riding my bike a lot better this year.”

When asked to further explain why he “didn’t ride my bike very well last year,” Phinney said, “She [girlfriend] would want to go shopping and go to the beach and go to Florence. She came and spent a lot of time in Italy with me…I was a little bit more focused on trying to make sure that she was happy and less focused on doing my job.

“It’s hard to do, because basically we don’t check into an office every day and have deadlines, and things like that. We are just expected to do our training and then go to races and that’s where we prove ourselves. So you have to be really motivated, really focused, and dedicated every single day to get out the door and do your job. And I was also new into the sport last year making a fair, a lot more money than I was the year before and that also changes things a little bit.”

Phinney summed it up with a gentle laugh: “For me it’s just easier to live by myself, sleep in my own bed by myself.”

Always giving

Just like his tremendous capacity for speed, it appears Phinney possesses a tremendous capacity to love, which fundamentally means giving of self.

It’s just a guess, but perhaps to thrive even more he needs to also be on the receiving end. He’ll get a huge helping of love from his family as he prepares for the Olympics — he’s staying with them in Boulder.

Why not supplement that? Love is in the air for you, Taylor Phinney.

***

Teams

2011 to present — BMC Racing Team

2010 — Team RadioShack (stagiere)

2009 to 2010 — Trek – Livestrong

2006 to 2008 — Slipstream Sports: junior team / 5280, TIAA-CREF, Team Felt-VMG

Career Highlights

  • USPRO National road time trial championships, 1st 2010; National individual and team pursuit, points race track championships, 1st 2009; National individual and team pursuit, TT track championships, 1st 2008; National pursuit track championships, 1st 2007
  • 2012 — 1st prologue, and three days in leader’s jersey, Giro d’Italia; 1st team time trial, Giro del Trentino
  • 2011 — 1st prologue, Eneco Tour; 2nd prologue, Tour de Romandie
  • 2010 — 1st U-23 World TT Championship; 1st prologue and stage 3 TT, Tour of Utah; 1st individual pursuit, World Track Championship; 1st U-23 Paris-Roubaix;  1st overall, Olympia’s Tour; 1st stage 4, Tour of the Gila; 1st prologue, Tour de l’Avenir
  • 2009 — 1st individual pursuit, World Track Championship; 1st prologue, Fleche du Sud; 1st U-23 Paris-Roubaix
  • 2008 — 1st, Junior World pursuit Track Championship; 7th, pursuit, 2008 Olympic Games
  • 2007 — 1st, Junior World Championship time trial

Taylor-takes

As I refocused the video camera on him and commented that he was taller than the person I had test-focused on in the same seat, Phinney said, “Global warming.” Recently the six foot 5.5 inch tall Phinney tweeted, “I think I have finally stopped growing. Just in case you wanted to know that…”

As he rolled into the Skratch Labs store after a serious training ride on his TT bike and passed several journalists who awaited him for interview time, Phinney asked, “I have time to go home and get sexy?”

Taylor leaves Skratch Labs for training ride with Giro shoes

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