PEZ Talk: Adam Carr
Ed Hood loves the Giro, the Tour and la Vuelta, at the Classics he is in his element, but were he is the most happiest is in Belgium and northern France at a kermis or one of the many ‘lower ranked’ races that you never hear of, well, outside of Belgium that is. You could say it’s the grass roots of cycling, but there is more to it than that, it’s a different World and one that people come from all over to immerse themselves in.
Trawling those Belgian results throws up some interesting names, like this dude, American, Adam Carr – a spell at Kingsnorth in Gent and some top line Northern France races; he had to be worth talking too. . .
PEZ: Northern France – no messing racing, which events did you ride and how did it go?
Adam Carr: The races in France were actually “Elite Nationale” events and not in the actual “Coupe de France” but I don’t think that changes the overall difficulty. You still see continental teams like French Army, Auber 93, as well as ProTour/Pro Continental feeder teams like Lotto, Astana, Cofidis, etc.
The races were both in Northern France under cold, wet conditions on mud covered, cobbled, and small slick roads. We raced the GP de Gommegnies & GP de Bavay, the second of which has been around for 69 years. As you might expect at races with such history, the fields are very deep. The pace is consistently fast. It’s full on, all the time until no one is left or a large group comes barreling into the finish. The roads are narrow with a fair amount of furniture, so the race stays interesting for the entire three-and-a-half to four hours.
PEZ: How did you get a ride – isn’t it difficult to get in to those events?
Adam: It is difficult yes, however, the organizer was kind enough to find us after seeing our results in Belgium as we were consistently in the top five or 10 each race. We wanted to do more UCI races but we could not manage it logistically. We came here with finite resources and a barebones setup to target 10 races in three weeks. While we have raced abroad, this was largely a dry run for a higher level race program that we have planned for next year when we return.
PEZ: You’re 32 now, how did you get into the sport and how many seasons?
Adam: I am originally from Northern California. My family moved to Vermont when I was in the 6th grade after my father’s job was relocated. I started off as a skier and mountain biking made sense when we moved to the woods. At the time Vermont had some big names that lived close by like Jim Bellinghiri, Greg Randolph, and Andy Bishop. Jim was the guy that got me into racing. Not exactly a bad bunch of guys to look up to in the sport.
After blowing out my knee racing skis I started road cycling. I met Bobby Bailey, from 1K2GO Sports, who runs one of the best teams in New England. Bobby became my bigger brother and brought me into road racing and showed me the path that carried me to where I am now; looking back, that was 12 seasons ago.
PEZ: The Caribbean, Vietnam, North America but no Euro races ’til now, how come?
Adam: I didn’t have a normal route into (or out of) professional cycling. Vermont was a difficult place to move up in the sport. I was a U23 essentially for one year and while I was invited to a regional selection camp for the national team it was largely too late.
Finally I decided to pack two bikes, my suitcase, and a bag full of cookies and moved back to CA. I stayed with some close friends who gave me my “shot” to train full time in my favorite part of the country. My first contract was very fringe, as my “career” always has been, but I have managed to do my fair share of NRC seasons and professional races on almost every continent so I consider myself extremely lucky. I was asked to race the Tour of Tobago followed by the Tour of Guyana one year and realized I was decent at UCI 1.2’s and 2.2’s and really enjoyed them.
You can do some awfully big races around the planet that aren’t the Tour and race in some pretty amazing places. I was briefly on a continental team based in Sweden last year but with a knee injury and some team issues, the season never really materialized. I guest rode in China for CCB after my recovery and they asked me about staying on for the following season. Their projected schedule included a European racing block.
Ultimately it was timing and happenstance that brought me here finally at 32 years-of-age. I think at some point most racers meet people who have burned out in European racing. Honestly I am not convinced I could have made it without having been around as long as I have. I can race smarter than my 21 year old self might have done.
PEZ: What made you decide to head over to the Flatlands – and why Kingsnorth?
Adam: When the team was looking for the best avenue into Europe we wanted to be in close proximity to as many races as possible within riding distance. A friend of the team put us in touch with the Kingsnorth program as a club that could help facilitate our goals. Staf Boone is a name most people in Belgium know and might as well be the unofficial mayor here. Staf is basically a legend with some big names to come through the “farm”. He also had the infrastructure to make it affordable for us.
PEZ: What do you think of Belgium?
Adam: Belgium is rad. Cycling is a foundation in the culture here and they grow up with it. Each morning a rooster would wake me up before the sun, and rain or shine I saw people riding bikes to work. I also love the European history and lifestyle in general. Aspects of Belgian culture go way back and there is plenty of it to go around between the architecture, art, and medieval landmarks. Oh, and the beer and chocolate of course are second to none.
PEZ: And the kermis scene?
Adam: The kermis scene is hard to comprehend until you see it. You could race a Grand Tour made of kermises there are so many. There is also no such thing as an easy kermis. It is full on from the gun with attacks every couple of minutes. It’s one of the few places where people race so hard that a chase group attacking each other won’t lose time to a break. The history of the races is also difficult to comprehend. We regularly entered races that have been around for 50 plus years with prestigious lists of past winners. Beyond the dynamic of the race itself, you see a culture’s true love for cycling, as people of all ages come out to watch rain or shine. It’s amazing.
PEZ: Tell us about CCB Racing, your US team.
Adam: CCB Racing is one of if not the longest running elite teams in the country. It has helped develop riders like Tyler Hamilton as a junior, Tim Johnson, and Gavin Mannion into the professional ranks. Steve Pucci started the team and Tim Mitchell (a former world masters champion) is our captain.
It’s an amazing group of young, talented riders that has consistently been one of the most competitive elite teams in the country. The goal of the team is to develop young talent into professionals and I would say it has done a great job of that. It’s a privilege to be on a team with such history for me.
PEZ: How did you fund the trip?
Adam: Our team budgeted very early on for this trip so there were no surprises. We brought six riders and consistently won enough prize money to pay for all our meals and part of our stay on the farm. The racing itself is so cheap as far as the entry fees so it is difficult to lose much on that with five Euros a race. Planning ahead was key.
PEZ: What’s been your toughest race yet?
Adam: They’re all tough in their own way. The hardest part was simply getting used to the lack of rhythm and teamwork and the stereotype of slow corners with full gas sprints out regardless of the bend are true. The hardest races have been the ones where you roll the break. It always goes but it’s hard to be there when the field is already doing 40 plus KPH. We did an invitational criterium in the Netherlands that we won in Zierikzee that was entirely on cobbles of various kinds on roads less than 10 feet wide: that was also tough!
PEZ: I hear you ran into Rambo, the Legend that is Niko Eeckhout.
Adam: Niko is a super nice guy off the bike but there is plenty of yelling in races here. The instant someone thinks you aren’t going as hard as you should they let you know through hand gestures and shouts. I don’t think Niko knows what ‘easy’ means so riding a break with him can be a tall order if he doesn’t appreciate your company. He is classy rider though, who knows how to win.
PEZ: What’s the story with you being ‘coffee guy @ 1K2GO’?
Adam: Bobby and I always enjoyed projects, be it his team or other adventures. We are both coffee nuts and live in a state that prides itself on it’s natural resources, organic foods, and generally awesome consumables like maple syrup and well, coffee! There is a roaster down the road from us that we worked with to start our brand thinking that both cycling and coffee go together so well. We also wanted to learn more about the process and methods.
You can buy it and our other products online at https://1k2go.bigcartel.com
PEZ: What do you think of Belgian coffee in general? (Personally, I think it’s dire – but the Giro spoils you for cappuccino for life, EH).
Adam: The espresso is great, although I find that to be consistent in Europe. However, here it’s often paired with a small pastry. Our favorite spot was Soul Urban Coffee in Zomergem.
PEZ: You enjoy writing about your experiences – is that a road you might take when you finish racing?
Adam: I am not altogether sure. I have a degree in Business Management with a focus in CIS. I have done a good bit of marketing and design work for sponsors over the years however and have more stories from every continent than I can recall. Writing about them is enjoyable as is recalling just how crazy this sport can be and where it has taken me. I’ll have to ask Lee Rodgers what he thinks! I love reading his writing and Matt McNamara’s coaching articles.
PEZ: What’s still on the Adam Carr ‘to do’ list?
Adam: Well now that I have the Pez interview box ticked… I know I have a couple of good years of progression in me before I move on from racing at a UCI level. I also have a few 2.2’s I would really like to take a shot at as well as still trying to get a win abroad. We are headed to China in a couple weeks so perhaps I will get my chance before the year is over yet. Other than that I want to help the CCB Racing program continue to grow.
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,100 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.