December 19/07 6:50 am - An Interview with "Cyclist" Trevor Linden
Posted by Editor on 12/19/07
An Interview with "Cyclist" Trevor Linden
Amy Smolens, who has assisted us with coverage from events such as the Tour of Georgia and Tour of Missouri, also works in TV production for hockey. As she explains below, this gave her the opportunity to talk with Vancouver Canucks star Trevor Linden about his passion for cycling.
PHOTOS of Trevor Linden competing at the 2007 TransAlp
I usually work with the visiting teams' television production when the Canadian NHL teams come to the Bay Area to play the Sharks. So when the Canucks were in town for an exhibition game in September (only Canadian teams televise NHL exhibition games!) I was catching up with P.R. director T.C. Carling after the hockey off-season. When I told him that I'd worked a lot of bike races in the spring, summer and autumn a lightbulb went off in his head and he was excited to tell me that longtime Canuck Trevor Linden had spent part of his summer holiday racing in the epic TransAlp mountain bike race. When I got home that night I did a little research and discovered that the 2007 TransAlp was an 8 day stage race for 2-person teams. The course ran from Mittenwald, Germany to Riva del Garda, Italy, and covered 628 kms over 17 mountain passes for a total of 20,836 meters of climbing - pretty impressive for anyone, let alone a 37-year-old right wing who stands 6'4" and weighs 220 lbs! I quickly emailed T.C., asking for a bit of time with Trevor the next time the Canucks came into town. Time is a precious commodity in the organized world of the National Hockey League, but T.C. promised to set me up with a chat with Trevor on their first regular season visit. As promised, 10 minutes after the team arrived at the Shark Tank, T.C. delivered the Medicine Hat native to the Rogers SportsNet studio. Trevor preferred to stand in the hallway near the lockerroom so he could see when the team was going out to warm up, so that's what we did:
Amy Smolens: When T.C. told me that there was a gearhead on the Canucks I was pretty excited. How'd you start riding?
Trevor Linden: You know what, my wife started cycling probably about 10-11 years ago, road biking. We had some friends that were doing it so I started tagging along and one thing led to another and during the lockout (the 2004-2005 season) I really started mountain biking a lot just to get away from things, I'd just go up to Squamish, Whistler, and spend some days on the bike up there. I really enjoyed both, they're both so different, the road biking and mountain biking are very different, so it just kind of grew and grew, I guess.
AS: And how did it develop to the point where you're in one of the most physically tough sports as a profession and you decided to spend your summer holiday competing in something as demanding as the TransAlp stage race?
TL: I did a couple of single-day races and then I've got a lot of friends in Vancouver who do a lot of multi-stage stuff. You know, it's just one of those things, I just thought it'd be fun, I thought it would be an adventure and I got approached last January. So I kind of kicked it around a little bit, and I'm always up for an adventure and I love Europe, so I love spending time there. So I thought "what better thing than to go to Europe and ride your bike" and I said "yes" and that's all I needed to do!
AS: Talk about the specs of the race - stages, distance and elevation gain - how tough was it?.
TL: Yeah, it was tough. I think the distance isn't the toughest thing, it's the elevation obviously. I think we did about 21,000 meters of climbing through 8 days. And it was extremely hot, it was 36 to 40 degrees (Celcius) every day, around 100 (Fahrenheit) every day so it was tough. You know, I had a great partner (John Ramsden) who did it the year before and he helped me with managing your body through something like that. Obviously keeping hydrated, eating properly is key anytime you do a stage race like that.
AS: What was your goal and how satisfied were you and John with 48th out of 111 teams in the Masters Division? That sounds pretty impressive!
TL: Our goal was to go in and have fun. John's very competitive, he's very strong. I just wanted to be able to be compatible with him, that's part of being a good teammate. So I trained my butt off so we could be compatible on the course. And the other thing was we just wanted to go out and have fun, and we did that, we had a great time. We raced hard but at the end of the day we finished with smiles on our faces.
AS: Olympian Alison Sydor of Victoria teamed with German Carsten Bresser to win every single stage in the Mixed category and the overall by over 2 hours - did you ever see your neighbour and get any tips?
TL: Yeah, I usually talked to her at the start, before the race started and at the end. (Laughs) I did not see her on the course! Those elite cyclists, it's amazing to think of the times they were posting and what we were posting.
(Informational note: the winning Men's Elite Team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm spent 27 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds on their bikes over the 8 stages. Sydor and Bresser's winning time in the Mixed category was 32:10:50. Linden and Ramsden's time in the Masters division was 41:58:30. So Linden and Ramsden spent an average of 1 hour 48 minutes per day more on the bike than the Men's Elite champions.)
AS: 512 teams started, over 1000 riders took part - talk about the experience and the atmosphere, racing with and against 1000 men and women from all over the world.
TL: That race is special because you've got these wonderful destination cities and these little villages you wind up in, the scenery's incredible, and there was a strong group of Canadians over there, which was fun. There are some people from Whistler that I knew so we tagged along with them a little bit.
AS: Do you consider this good hockey-specific training for you or is it more general fitness?
TL: You know what, for me I would say that cycling's not the best hockey-specific training you can do. But in the overall scheme of things for me it's just a matter of staying fit and staying active. I'm always looking for new ways to get through a summer, to maintain my fitness. So it can't hurt, but I wouldn't recommend it for the optimum hockey training. When I got back from that I worked really hard doing a lot of speed, power, quickness type things, to re-engage in that type of activity.
AS: What do your younger teammates who take it easy during the summer think of your summer holiday - do they think you're a bit crazy?
TL: Yeah, they don't really get it. They were like "wha-wha-why would you do that?!" Most people who haven't spent much time on a bike don't really understand the appeal, but once you do it, and once you get into it, it's pretty special.
AS: Do you know Ryder Hesjedal? He lives in Victoria.
TL: Yeah, yeah.
AS: When I interviewed him at the Tour de Georgia during the NHL playoffs he told me that he always roots for the Canucks. In Geoff Kabush's bio he lists his favourite TV show as "Hockey Night in Canada when the Vancouver Canucks are in action." Do you know any of the pros around the Vancouver area and root for them, too? [Editor's Note: Roland Green is also notorious for his support of the Canucks]
TL: Yeah, for sure. I mean, there's a lot of young cyclists that I know with some of the local teams around there, and I know a couple of kids who have gone over to Europe and so I try to follow them a little bit. You know, I have a lot of respect for the Alison Sydor's of the world. I mean, when I look at my level of cycling and I look at how they ride, the technical ability and their overall endurance are amazing.
AS: I read that the TransAlps is scheduled for July 19-26, 2008 - have you registered yet?
TL: No, my partner's trying to get me to do the TransRockies. So he's working on me for the TransRockies - he'll probably win that one but I'm holding out for now.
AS: Do you have other goals in cycling?
TL: I just enjoy it and it's fun. I mean it's a great hobby, it's something I can do with friends and stuff. Maybe the TransRockies road bike race!
And with that, Canucks' Head Coach Alain Vigneault peered out from behind the black curtain separating the lockerroom from the media area and shouted "TREVOR!!," a subtle signal that it was hockey time now. Linden gave me a little nod and then went off to warm up for the competition in his primary sport. But it's nice to know that in his 19th NHL season, one of Vancouver's stalwarts still dreams about the bike like the rest of us. Who knows what he'll do when he opts for retirement?