Saturday, December 15, 2012

Interview with professional track cyclist and vegan hipster, Jack Lindquist

You graduated from Penn State with an Aerospace engineering degree and went to work for the defense industry before becoming a bike messenger and later going pro. Talk about "drop bars, not bombs," when did you first develop a love of cycling?

My love of cycling started as soon as I got my first bike. one of my earliest memories is flying down the hill in front of my grandparent's house, in upstate NY telling my grandma that 'this one is for speed' and not being able to stop before I went ass over tea kettle through her raspberry bushes! I've always loved riding, but didn't understand that there was any intermediate racing, because it wasn't available where I grew up. I thought there were Pro's, and then there were dudes that rode centuries, nothing in between.

You made the decision to go vegan 6 years ago. Why?

I went vegan after Megan (now my girlfriend, interestingly enough) asked me what the difference was between the love I had for my dog, The Reverend, and any animal that was on a farm ready to be slaughtered. I didn't have an answer, so that was that. If nothing I am very driven by logic and reason, and not having a good reason to keep killing animals, whom I claimed to love, I stopped.

At 6'6" and 225 lbs, you're a pretty big dude. How do you meet your nutritional and caloric needs on a vegan diet and has it been challenging for you?

 As far as nutrition and getting my daily caloric needs while being vegan, I haven't had any problems. I feel that I recover faster, and feel better, in general. I do eat, pretty much constantly, but I've always been that way, being a big dude my whole life has made my food expenses an issue more than once. When I head to the track to train I always make sure I've got 3 or 4 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with me, and that usually takes care of my mid-morning cravings, if I'm able to eat after turning myself inside out on the bike (happens more often than you'd think, I have to force myself to eat 2 or 3 times a week, just because I'm so shattered from the workout I have no interest in food). I also have a very good friend that's a registered dietitian, and he and I go over my food intake every few months, just to make sure I'm taking care of myself, we haven't had a problem yet.

You're currently out with a cycling-related injury as the result of a pretty bad crash. What happened? Are gnarly wipe outs just a part of the business?

I did just crash at the Encino velodrome, while riding a flying 200m time trial, and this has been the worst crash of my cycling career. I was just coming through turns 1 and 2, and my front tire blew out. It's not something that happens often (tires blowing out), but it does happen. It probably let go because of a combination of things, it being well over 100 degrees out, the tire being a bit fragile to run on that velodrome (Encino is an outdoor concrete track, and it's a bit rough), and me going significantly faster than I ever have before. I'd been working a little bit with an Australian coach, and former Aussie national team rider, changing my wind up for the flying 200, and it totally worked. A little too well. Unfortunately, crashing is part of being a bike racer, things happen while racing and training that you sometimes can't avoid going down. I've come to terms with it, although I do still complain pretty heavily each time I get hurt, to which Megan replies 'you can always go get a real job'. I rarely crash on the track, but in general I make them as spectacular as possible:

As a track cyclist you've got to be explosive and fast. What's your training like?

As far as my training goes, as a track sprinter I do a lot of work in the gym, and on the track with explosive, and high intensity exercises. Lifting I focus on squats and dead lifts, and do a lot of plyometric work. On the track there is a lot of high speed motor paced efforts, standing start practice (usually twice a week for me), and speed endurance (usually 500-750 meters of all out sprint just to make your body learn to operate at a high blood lactate level) . To supplement this, and to make sure that I have general fitness I also ride on the road 2-3 times a week, for 1-4 hours, and even do some fairly high intensity intervals.

Hobbies outside of cycling?

Other than riding my bike, I really enjoy working on bikes, tinkering with my motorcycle (I have a Buell X1 from 2000 that the previous owner put a lot of $$ into to make it a drag bike, that I now ride on the street), and hanging out with my dogs and cat. I like the idea of going on hikes, but really hate walking, but the Rev has a similar view, so we go out and hike for about 20 min, then sit in the shade and relax.

Nobody seems to want to admit to being a hipster, yet ironically or not, you embrace it. What exactly is a hipster anyways, and why doesn't anyone want to own up to it?
The whole hipster thing, yeah. That started when I was working as a bike courier in LA, the dudes in down town didn't really like me (go figure, an educated white dude taking their work, while he 'slums it'), but I just rolled with it, and eventually every one took me for who I was. Since then, it's just been funny, working in a bike shop when the whole matchey matchey anodized track bike thing happened a few years ago, I would build myself the most absurd bikes, and just fall down laughing while the 'cool kids' drooled over them outside the shop. By owning the label it makes it a lot less exciting for people to try and mock you for being something, so this way I get everyone to look past the 'hipster' and, hopefully, see who I am.

Is it true that you work at Shimano? What's that like?

I did work at Shimano, for about a year and a half, in technical support/customer service. It was awesome, honestly. I really enjoyed helping bike shops and customers get a handle on what was going on with their components, and helping them fix the problems that they were having. It reminded me a lot of the volunteer work I've done at the Bicycle Kitchen here in LA, but without being able to see the bike, and having to really talk everyone through everything. It was a super rewarding job, and the people I worked with are great, but I felt it was time for me to focus on cycling, and see where I could go with it, and I left there a couple of years ago, and have been riding/training full time since.

Anything rad you've been listening to, reading, or watching that you want to share with us?

Since I've had a bit of time (like 3 weeks of doing NOTHING) on my hands lately, I started watching a bunch more movies than usual on the Netflix. I just watched the Avengers movie (yeah, I'm late, I know, I've been busy, ok?) and it was awesome. Joss Wheaton rules, and after seeing that, I had to rewatch Serenity and Firefly. Since I'm finally off the pain meds, I'm probably going to start reading some more, I've got a pile of books some friends dropped off for me to use to pass the time, but I've been so unable to focus (stupid drugs) that I haven't even looked at them yet! For music, I'm really into this whole punk rock music that seems to be coming out right now (sarcasm). Like most bike racers, I really do like electronic music, yes dubstep included, but I also really like hardcore (early 2000's east coast mostly), punk and metal (adventure metal is pretty awesome for warming up before races, I've been using Turisas to get fired up for my last few races).

Training and racing at the track has got to eat up a lot of your time but are there any other kinds of cycling you're into or would like to do more of in the future?

Training to race the track at the level that I'm aspiring to is a huge commitment. I workout, whether it's in the gym or on the bike, probably 50 hours a week, and have to spend at least that recovering, or else the work is for nothing. This does leave some holes in my life, I would really like to mountain bike more, but my coach, and my girlfriend, have forbade me from it, to prevent me from hurting myself. I tend to really 'go for it' when I'm riding in the dirt, mostly because it reminds me of being a kid, and not caring what happened, because I was totally invincible. I am also (oddly) interested in ultra-endurance cycling. Megan is out racing the Furnace Creek 508 right now, and there is a standing plan for the two of us to race it on a fixed gear team, at some point in the future. I'd like to some touring, but credit card style, with just enough stuff to get to the next hotel, up and down the west coast too.

What's next for you (cycling-wise) in 2013?

My plans for 2013 had included the UCI World Cup races in Glasgow Scotland, and Aguascalientes, Mexico, with the Irish UCI trade team BGN Sports Management, but my crash has cancelled that. I'm planning on getting back to it, and hopefully heading to Trinidad to race, mid-March for their Southern Games, and possibly stay for the Beacon Cycling festival. I raced in Trini a couple of years ago, and had a blast. The people there are so into cycling and absolutely love the international racers, that it is an absolute joy to race in front of them. Hopefully my recovery goes well, and I get a chance at the summer UCI World Cup dates, either with a Pro team, or even the US National squad. This is all a prelude to 2016, when I will, hopefully, be representing the US in Rio for the summer Olympic games there.

Lance: guilty or not?

I have no problem telling you that I know he cheated. Unfortunately most people in the pro tour peleton, and even on euro tour teams, were cheating at the time. It's a very shameful thing, not just for him, but for cycling in general. I recently had someone accuse me of cheating, because I was able to gain a lot of speed and strength in a very short period of time, and it's hurtful, especially when you are making a concerted effort to break away from the culture of illicit drugs in cycling.
His cheating doesn't mean he didn't work hard, and put in the time training, but it does mean that he, and hundreds of others, sacrificed their reputation and dignity for money.

Anything else you'd like to say?

Thanks for the opportunity to help you promote veganism, and highlight an athlete competing at the highest level, without being 'held back' by their diet.

You can visit Jack online at:

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