What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ-Clusive Double Wham: Michael Barry & Dede Demet-Barry 2-Up Interview(s)! – Pt.1

Assembling two world class athletes is like herding cats so you know how lucky PEZ was to chat with pro cycling’s uber-couple Michael and Dede-Demet Barry. This couple is so nice we interviewed ‘em twice – at the same time! Here’s an up close and personal on Spain, how to train, what athletes REALLY eat, Michael’s plans for ‘04 and even a few distractions…

Our story begins as Michael and Dede are bidding adieu to another year’s traditional December festivities, and getting ready to begin the serious training for the serious road ahead – Michael’s journey could lead to a spot on US Postal’s revered Tour team, while Dede’s could lead to a gold medal in Athens.

But enough about them, let’s talk about us!
PCN: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Pez – how do you like the site?

MB: Yeah, I think the site is really good. Easy to navigate, informative and accurate.
DDB: I think the Pez site is great. I have enjoyed reading many of the rider interviews and profiles. I found the daily distractions section to be a unique addition as well.
MB: No you don’t. You got upset when I was looking at the distractions!

PCN: Hmmm, sounds like it’s time for Hot or Not: Cippolini?
DDB: You mean big Mario? Not my type, but he has nice taste in clothes…

PCN: Yeah, like those shirts with no buttons…Saeco girls? I say they’re red-hot!
MB: Yeah not bad.

PCN: How about Danilo DiLuca?
DDB: He’s not my type either, but if we’re talking Italians, Basso is a cutie.

PCN: PMU girls?
MB: A bit green, but you know….
(ed: PMU sponsors the green points jersey in the tour)

PCN: Speaking of a twelve-month season, how many km’s do you ride in a year including races?

MB: I don’t really keep track of the actual year-end kilometers but I can say I spend 6 out of the 7 days in the week on my bike for most of the year. During the season I am on it every day for between 2-7 hrs and then I take three weeks off the bike at the end of season.
DDB: I am not sure of the total kilometers I ride in the year. I spend a lot of time riding my bikes: road, mountain and city, but I also implement quite a bit of running, hiking, nordic skiing and weight lifting into my training program. I like the balance of doing different sports.

PCN: So if I guess about 30 thousand km’s am I hot or not?

MB: That’s probably close.
DDB: Probably a bit less.

PCN: Tell us about your training at this time of the year.

MB: Today we just returned from skiing in the mountains as the weather was pretty foul. For the most part I am riding 6 days a week, between 2-5 hrs and then in the gym lifting two days of the week. I might do a little hiking or running on my days off the bike if I feel like getting out and being active.
DDB: I am on my bike 4-6 days per week, in the gym two times per week and running, nordic skiing or hiking 2 days per week. As January progresses, I will increase my time on the bike.

PCN: On a scale of 1-10 where is your fitness level at this time of the year?

MB: 6, I guess…
DDB: 5

PCN: How do you measure your fitness?

DDB: We both use an SRM power meter and pay close attention to our physical sensations: sleep, appetite, and general health.

PCN: How many watts does the average European pro generate?

MB: 6-6.5 watts/kg to be in the front group over the big climbs which would probably be Anaerobic Threshold.
DDB: 5+ watts/kilogram for steady state AT type effort for the women.
(ed: grrrl power! – guys prepare to be humbled)

PCN: When do you head to Spain?

MB: I think I’ll be over there at the beginning of Feb as I will most likely be racing in Portugal shortly after.
DDB: Most likely in the middle of February, although I may do the World Cup opener in Australia Feb. 28, in which case, I would go to Spain after that.

PCN: A lot of the North American Euro-pros are based in Girona, Spain. What’s the attraction?

MB: A few of the guys settled there about 8 yrs ago as Johnny Weltz, the USPS director at the time, lived in the area and suggested the U.S. guys come and live in Girona. I think he helped them all get set up initially as well.
DDB: It is a beautiful area, the riding is quite good, the weather is mild all winter and hot in the summer and it is an excellent town to spend time in.

PCN: And exactly where is Girona …?

DDB: 90 kilometers North of Barcelona and about 30 kilometers west of the Mediterranean Coast. It is in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

PCN: Who do you train with over there?

MB: We pretty much train together-all the guys in town. We all live fairly close so it is easy to meet up for rides. But on the other hand we all have different race schedules so it rare we ALL meet up for rides. Usually, we are in a group of three or four.
DDB: I train with Michael often when he is in town, sometimes with a few of the guys, and when nobody is around on my own.

PCN: How’s your Spanish?

DDB: Not fluent, but we are working on it and it’s getting better.

PCN: Spending so much time on the road which cuisine do you prefer?

DDB: I enjoy trying different foods while traveling. The only downside is the food served at the races is often a bit bland. I really like going out for a nice dinner and tasting the local cuisine when I get the chance.
MB: For the most part we eat very similar foods at the races-pasta, meat, salad and yogurt for dessert. Maybe a cooked vegetable in there as well. On the big tours Chef Willy Balmat travels with us to insure we are getting well cooked food from the kitchen. He prepares the pasta and sauces for us, which is a lifesaver when in Spain or France because neither of them have figured out that pasta is not cooked like rice.

When at home in Spain we enjoy going out for a good meal. There are some fantastic chefs in Catalunya and great restaurants. In fact “the best restaurant in the world” is in Roses which is a small costal town close to Girona. And the frites are best in Belgium.

PCN: Honestly, what do you REALLY eat – Cheeseburger or Steak Fromage?

DDB: Bratwurst from wisco…
MB: Peameal bacon sandwich from the St. Lawrence market!

PCN: Maple Donut or pain au chocolate?

DDB: Muffins from Mountain Peoples Coop when in Colorado, a plain croissant in France
MB: Maple donut when in Toronto, pain au chocolat while in Spain and France.

PCN: Paella or Uncle Bens?

DDB: Paella
MB: Paella, for sure. Whenever we get to Valencia we order up Paella…as it is the specialty of the region.
(ed: for Michael and Dede’s famous recipies see the website listed below)

PCN: Michael, you finished 7th at the World Road Championships in Hamilton – what was your plan coming into the race?

MB: I came out of the Vuelta healthy and fit so I had a good feeling going into the Worlds. I was relaxed as well. When I got to the start line I thought to myself that I had nothing to lose so I might as well take chances and go for it in the final. The crowds were awesome which made me really want to show the flag at the front a few times.

PCN: Did the race unfold the way you expected?

MB: Pretty much. I thought it would have split up more in the final laps but there was never a really hard selection lap. I think everybody was waiting for the Italians to blow the races to pieces but it never happened. In the end all the best guys were in the front and Astarloa will be a great World Champion. Steve Bauer told me in June that any rider with 10 seconds at the top of the last climb would win the race. He was right.

PCN: Is Steve a mentor of yours?

MB: Growing up he was a hero of mine. I had his posters on my walls and imagined I was racing alongside him in Flanders etc. In 96 I had the opportunity to race with him leading up to and in the Atlanta Olympics. He was an awesome roommate. He taught me a lot and became a good friend. He is easy going, mellow, very insightful and a good person – and also one of the greatest bike racers of all time.

PCN: Describe what happened from the time you started to bridge to the breakaway group until the finish.

MB: Well, I saw that the group ahead wasn’t too far and I figured it was my last chance to make it to the front. I had made the front groups on the precious laps but had been too far back when the group got away on the last lap. My legs were still good and I knew I had at
least one solid effort left in me. When I made the initial attack to get across I wasn’t feeling my legs as the crowd was so incredibly loud. When I caught them I knew I had to go again as I wasn’t going to have a great sprint against the likes of Bettini, Valverde and
Van Petegem. As I caught them they hesitated so I went again, or more simply kept going, with everything I had left. Paolini made the effort to bring me back and caught me as we hit the descent. He chased Astarloa until we went under the bridge and then sat up. I came into the final corner a bit too far back for the final sprint.

PCN: Dede – what were you thinking as you watched?

DDB: My heart was beating super fast and I was really excited for Michael. The final two laps of that race were really great to watch. I could see that Michael was fresh, but was still surprised to see the power he had on the final climb. I was hoping he could bridge the gap to Astarloa, it was close at the top, but then as they descended, I knew it was not possible. I think he rode a super race regardless and showed he is capable of winning a race like that.

PCN: Michael, you had the best finish of any North American rider on a tough track. Tell us about the classics you want to ride.

MB: I would like to ride in Fleche, Liege, Amstel, and maybe Milan San Remo and Flanders. At the end of the year I would like to have a good run at Zurich and the Worlds. In laboratory testing my endurance has always been very good-I am mechanically efficient. Therefore, I am able to sustain my power for many hours. So, with that in mind the single one-day races that are long and attritious suit my abilities. These are also races that I have dreamed of doing well in since I was a kid.

PCN: Hmmm – sounds like all of ’em. Do I smell a World Cup?

MB: We’ll see what the next years bring.

PCN: Michael in addition to the worlds, you had strong individual results at the Vuelta. Now that Roberto has left USPS, do you want to ride the Tour in support of Lance or would you prefer the chance at a leadership role in the Vuelta?

MB: It would be great to ride the Tour for Lance. It was an excellent experience racing with Roberto at the Vuelta last year and would be an honor to go back and support one of the other climbers this year.

PCN: You lived and raced around Annemasse, France. How would it feel to have a stage finish nearby?

MB: It would be neat to race along the roads I know so well from my time there and with all the people lining the road who supported me as an amateur. I still have many friends there and consider it to be a home.

PCN: There are some tour climbs in that area. Can you tell us about some of the tour climbs you have ridden there?

MB: I have ridden nearly all of the major climbs in that area – Joux Plane, Colombiere, Grand Colombier, Croix fry, Ramaz, Morzine – Avoriaz…..
DDB: I have ridden many of these climbs as well and this region is perhaps one of the most beautiful I have ever ridden in.

PCN: What has Johan told you regarding your ambitions for the classics and the tour?

MB: We haven’t sat down and talked much about the upcoming season yet as I haven’t seen him since the Vuelta. In two weeks, at our training camp in California, I’ll get a much better idea of what I should prepare for.

PCN: Dede, what do you tell Johan?

DDB: I don’t really know Johan all that well, as I have just met him a few times, but he is always friendly.

PCN: What would you tell him regarding Michael’s ambitions?

DDB: I would leave it up to Michael to tell Johan his ambitions, but I think that Michael has progressed the past two years on US Postal. He has the capabilities to progress further and achieve great things in the sport.

PCN: Michael, have you spoken with Lance about your ambitions for the tour?

MB: No. It is pretty simple on our team….14 or so guys will be expected to be flying before the Tour. They will decide which guys prepare for the Tour at our January camp and then will select the best 9 in June.

PCN: Good luck with that and keep us ‘posted’…

Stay tuned – we’ll have part deux as promised on Friday morning, when Michael and Dede give us the inside scoop on romance, Lance, and the Tour de France. And speaking of tours, we get a pros-eye view of a very special course…

More Michael:

More Dede:

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