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A level of Creedence

An interview with Mike Creeed, May 19, 2004

Since hitting the big time with US Postal Service/Berry Floor, Mike Creed's life as a professional has felt a little surreal at times. But as Cyclingnews' US correspondent Kristy Scrymgeour discovers, there's a level of credence in the Colorado native that keeps both feet firmly on the ground.

If you have seen his website, the question most of you will want to ask of Mike "Crusty" Creed - nicknamed Crusty because he is messy - is, "What is the obsession with Mandy Moore?"

Well, Crusty thought he should clear that up once and for all: "Maybe we should set this straight," he says. "She is a very cute girl. It's not anything more than that. I just starting writing about her and it grew."

Well, it may be nothing for Creed, but he certainly has people fooled.

"I guess somebody heard that she broke up with her boyfriend. When that happened, I seriously had 10-15 people tell me about it. Who knows, maybe if I keep talking about it, maybe... "

Creed is certainly the joker and explains that most of the stuff he writes is all just for fun.

"The only bad thing", he says "is when people read your website and don't get it or they regurgitate the joke. What I say on my website is all tongue in cheek because I don't want to be too serious. Does anyone get sarcasm? I like messing with people's minds. It's my way of goofing off and killing time."

On a more serious note, Creed is both honoured and excited about being a new recruit on the US Postal/Berry Floor team and explains how his life has certainly turned around since signing with the team. One thing that is a little weird for him was how little he raced during the early part of the year.

"It's kind of surreal at times because they don't race us too much. They don't want to push us too hard in the first year, but it's weird because you have the kit and you have the bike but you don't race so much. But you have to be careful what you wish for because when you start racing... "

He has, however, raced the Clasica de Almeria in Spain, where he placed 20th in his first race with Postal. Then he was back to the US for Redlands.

"I wanted to have a better race at Redlands but I had no racing in me. Horner was kind of a zero factor. It sounds funny, but if Horner wasn't there it would have been exciting. It's a cool race though. They are trying to improve it every year.

Creed was one rider that disagreed with the rider protest on day one where, reminiscent of the same race on a different course last year, the Cat 1 men's field decided not to race the first stage because they thought it was too dangerous.

"The first stage was so stupid," he says. "I've never been more embarrassed to be a professional cyclist in all my life. Nobody in the other two categories got injured. Somebody in our field decided it was dangerous and that we should call it off. I don't know what the bunch's problem was.

"I feel sorry for the other guys who really wanted to race. They don't know that it's OK to tell the pros to piss off. I mean the other guys pay their money and they want to race. If we had have raced flat out from the start, it would have been tricky for the first few laps but then it would have sorted itself out. This sort of thing wouldn't happen in France, but perhaps that's because they don't have those accident attorney lawyers advertising on TV."

Georgia was the race that Creed was looking forward to, commenting before the race that he was anxious to prove his worth to the team and have the experience of riding with Lance. When I caught up with him again after the race, he has certainly earned his position in the team and was happy to have had the experience there.

"It was a little harder than expected, but I think that was due more to the distance of the race and the heat," he says. "I was OK with my form; I wasn't very sharp but I did what I had to do. There was one day where I didn't make it over a category one climb with the pack. I was about 20 seconds behind the last guy to make it back to the pack, so I was disappointed there. But beyond that, I was fairly happy."

The big impact was being a part of the famous blue train, which Creed says was a shock to the system.

"The first stage that we set tempo, it was so hard for the first 40k and I started to wonder a little bit if I could do it for another 150. I started to think that it was a mistake thinking I could set tempo for so long. But after a while I realized that because it's so hard, I'd take so much more pride in it. Lance doesn't race in the States much, and to set tempo for him and while wearing the yellow jersey is something I'll always have and I'm very grateful that they gave me that."

Creed's impression of the race was just as positive as the general consensus of all of the cyclists who raced there and of the many cycling fans who followed the race. Creed, however, had an added surprise to his race during the toughest stage up to Brasstown Bald.

"The race was great and the crowds were awesome," he says. "On Brasstown Bald there was even a Michael Creed Fan Club if you can believe it. I couldn't. The organization of the race was impressive. It was a testament to the sponsors of the race and all of the people that worked so hard to put it together. I wish we could see more of that level of organization and community support throughout the country for bike racing. I hope that Georgia continues this race and that other states look to that race as a template for their own state. To take a glimpse and see the line of folks gathered to see us tackle Brasstown Bald shows that bike racing is alive and well in America."

As for Creed's biggest concern, that of doing a good job for his team, he is pretty confident that he did that in Georgia. The experience has made him even keener to use this opportunity in the best way he can. "Johan doesn't say much", says Creed, "but that just makes whatever he says that much more important. I think he was satisfied. And I'll just continue to work as hard as I can and fit into the structure of this program. USPS, Berry Floor, AMD, Bissell - all of our sponsors have given me an opportunity of a lifetime and I intend to work as hard as I can all year."

Creed has just finished The Four Days of Dunkirk in France, a race that he was hoping he'd get picked for after Georgia.

"[Dunkirk] is a place I'd probably only go to for a bike race," he says. "It's cold, windy and wet. It made for a very interesting race. I placed in the top 30, which was a surprise to me, but most importantly, the team won two stages. So that was awesome."

For the rest of this year, Creed doesn't know his full schedule, nor does he have any really specific goals. "Basically any race they ask me to go to, I just want to be consistent. The race in Vail is important to me. I always race well at altitude and it being in Colorado (Creed's home state), it's important. Lance will be there and if there is anything that is a major goal for me, that would be it."

Creed will also be racing Olympic Trial but is not aiming on making the Olympic road team realistically just yet. "To be honest, it's kind of a pipe dream. There's an automatic qualification spot for the winner of the road race, but I think we'd be looking to get another Postal guy in that spot."

Creed will try his hand at the track when he returns from Belgium this month. As well as being a good rider on the road, Creed is very talented on the track, but believes there has been no proper system in place for potentially good track riders in the US.

"I was thinking about racing the track when I get back. It's a tricky selection procedure for the Olympics, but look at the track guys in the US. There's nobody. Colby [Pearce] and Jame [Carney] are talented but who's pushing them? I don't want to sound like a jerk, but I went to a WC qualifier last year with no specific training and won two events, and I am by no means a top-end rider. In another country they would say, "Wow, here's a young guy who is good," and they would encourage them to continue.

"There are so many guys in the US who could do well in the points' race like Alex Candelario and Tyler Farrar. Jame and Colby will do well because they have the talent, but they need to be pushed. Look at the Aussies: if you can't do a pursuit in under 4'30 in Australia you've got no hope of making a team, that's how much depth there is. In the end, it doesn't matter if I lose a WC qualifier. If I can just turn up and make them freak out then I've done my job. If I just make their job a little harder, that's good."

The one thing about riding on Postal this year is that it is the first time since he and his friend Danny Pate were 16 years old that they are not on the same team. Pate is also a rider that is constantly talked about as one who has the talent to be riding on a big European pro team.

"We still live in the same city, so we still see each other," says Creed." Now we just swap stories about our team-mates," he laughs. "Danny's in a different spot than I am. He's married and he just bought a house. He's not as motivated to go away."

Adds Creed, "There are bigger things for us than bike racing. Bike racing is incredibly temporary. As long as I see improvement and as long as I wake up and I want to get on my bike and race, then I'll keep doing it. I love it and I like the lifestyle because you don't have to get a real job. But at the same time there are other things to do in life. There's only so much riding around in circles, getting into fights and dealing with egos. It can be like such a soap opera some times. Every day there's always something else."

Without Pate, Creed says he has a lot of fun on his new team, especially with Patrick McCarty. "Pat McCarty and I have the same sense of humour. We can just start talking and we can go on and on, on these tangents like, 'Wouldn't it be funny if... ' We'll just roll on that for hours.

"But all the guys on the team are really cool, especially the Spanish guys. One race in Spain, I made the breakaway and they all came up to pat me on the back... even [Jose Luis] Rubiera."

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