It was one of those times where I was in a room, ready to be sociable but too little sleep the night before meant I wanted to keep an exit plan in place. Small talk, conversations where I could slip away unnoticed, back to a cozy bed or sofa, falling asleep to bad TV, was the plan. But then Mike introduced me to SkullKrusher, the man behind Speed Metal Podcast. Nudging me and murmuring “that’s the guy, the one with the podcast,” I figured Mr. SK would find more knowledgeable people to hang out with and talk to about all things pro peloton.
He didn’t. We ended up joking around, talking about “flooring” [don’t ask], and generally acting like idiots [see picture below]. Well, until two 20-22yr old Korean girls walked in. Then I got dropped so fast, I would have been offended if the spectacle wasn’t so amusing [as well as the subsequent text-stalking that I've been privy to].
In the few weeks since, I persuaded SK to participate in an interview [my first!] via email about SMPC, cycling in Colombia, his favorite races, and bro-deals. Enjoy - and make sure to subscribe to his podcast!
KS: Okay, let's start with some basics: how did Speed Metal PC start? What was your original idea behind it and has it changed since?
SK: Well, my brother Lucho was getting so much attention with his silly blog (Cycling Inquisition), that I felt a little left out at family gatherings. Lucho would be the center of attention telling Gramma and Aunt Maria Fernanda all about his internet fame. I had to do something about it!
Actually, that's all bullshit. We have no Aunt Maria Fernanda. We do, however, have an Aunt Maria Magdalena, a Claudia Marcela and a Marta Lucia. OK, seriously now, here's the story: I really got into listening to podcasts while riding a while back. Not only cycling, but F1, soccer and football. I noticed that most cycling podcasts (especially those in the U.S.) were about cycling culture and not about the sport itself. It was a little frustrating. I'd get my fill of news and analysis from my F1 podcast, for example, and I'd learn nothing new about the pro peloton from any of the cycling ones. All I got, if I was lucky, was a rundown of the GC of the major tours. What I was SURE to get though, was plenty of ranting about riding your bike and what frame was better and some local century and the hosts new set-up. It's a very American thing, I've noticed. People who are "soccer fans," play the sport, but don't go to the stadium. Meanwhile if you show up to a pub early Sunday and meet a bunch of British fans, less than half actually play the sport. I'm a huge cycling fan. I love the sport. I have loved it since I was a little kid. Buying a road bike and riding it is a relatively new thing for me and I'm not that interested in hearing people talk about riding. I'm a fan first, a rider second. I guess I wanted to create the podcast I'd like to listen to.
How has it changed? Well, I don't think I'm as bitter towards "bike culture" as I used to be. People can do whatever they want, who am I to tell them otherwise. If you want to buy a Cervelo and ride it once a month without ever hearing about the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne or some other race, it's fine with me. Enjoy. Another thing that changed was my original co-host, DJ Dezzy Dez, left the show. He moved. The dynamic we had was fun, since he knew nothing about cycling, but I think his departure has helped move the podcast in a better direction. I've done a few episodes with my brother Lucho and with Mike Spriggs as co-hosts and I like it better. I feel we get more in depth and they get cycling inside jokes.
KS: Also, you told me earlier that you didn't expect people to be so into your podcast and what you were doing with Speed Metal. Did that change your own expectations of what you wanted it to be or become? Any additional pressure from all the fame?
SK: I'm not sure I knew what to expect, but I was overwhelmed with the amount of feedback we got, even after the first episode. Now, I think I feel a certain amount of responsibility to the people who listen. That sounds so fucken lame, but I do. I feel a certain amount of pressure to get new episodes done and to keep the quality of the information and the humor high. One of the biggest things for me now is to "take advantage" of the relative popularity of the podcast to launch other projects, like the T-shirts I'm doing and eventually (read: hopefully), develop Speed Metal Cycling into a brand. Jerseys, underwear, loopy straws, trading cards and incense.
KS: Loopy straws, huh?
SK: Dude, loopy straws are the shit! Your milk has a roller-coaster ride before it touches your lips. Not only are you happy 'cuz you're having some milk, but the milk is happy 'cuz it just went on a loopty-loop of fun. Can't wait to make some Speed Metal PC ones. Until then I have the Jens buttons. They've have been a real hit. Of course, they've been a hit 'cuz they are free, but I'll take whatever success I can get. My next big project is a limited edition set of 60 pins each featuring 60 of the best cyclists of all time. I'm doing 200 sets and releasing them 6 cyclists at a time. The first wave will be done soon.
KS: Can I get a bro-deal on those?
SK: Bro-deal? The only deal i know about is the ho-deal, when a prostitute gives me half off cuz it's my bday...
KS: Oh...so...um, how's riding in Colombia different?
SK: It's really, really, different. As a past-time, riding a road bike is almost non-existent. I can tell you that out of all my friends in Colombia, actually of all the people I know in Colombia, 50% of them may like cycling, but I can't think of one who owns a road bike. The majority of people who ride are people in the lower economical strata. Usually kids (farmers) in small towns in the mountains trying to use cycling (if they go pro) as "a way out" of poverty. In recent years that has changed a little and you might see an upper middle class dude here and there riding a carbon frame around the city, but overwhelmingly it's considered a sport for the lower class. I'm almost embarrassed to tell my friends there I ride a road bike for fun. They will most certainly make fun of me and ask me how my potato crops are doing this season.
KS: And tell me about the curses and witches!
SK: Colombia is a country (not unlike many Latin American countries) that is very superstitious. The amount of weird superstitions that exist in the sport is insane! My bother Lucho has done a couple of lengthy posts about the topic on his blog. Personally, believe in a lot of that stuff and I have too many superstitions to list, but I can tell you I'll never go anywhere without a silver key my mom gave me to "keep me safe." Not sure what that means, but now I don't feel safe without it. There's a few more amulets I take with me when I'm on my bike and I cross myself five times before a long ride. My mom got it in her head a few years ago that someone, probably and ex, put a curse on me. I now fully believe it, but I'm doing something about it! I wash my face every morning with holy water, in my wallet I carry a piece of folded white paper I must NEVER unfold and I sprinkled some weird powder thing my mom sent me on threshold of my front door. Colombian pros are nutty about that shit, too! We're all nutters over there!
KS: Okay so if you're so superstitious, do you believe that things were meant to be? Like you just happened to sit next to Mike, or that we just happened to be the only minorities at the Rapha event a few weeks ago?
SK: Hahaha! We were, weren't we? Everyone probably thought I was the delivery guy from a Mexican restaurant and you, of course, from a Chinese place. But, no, I do not think that everything was "meant to be." If I did, I wouldn't bother with all my weird rituals, you know? I think that each of us is destined for certain things, but on everyday bullshit, we write our own destiny. I know, though, that without all my rituals, I'd be writing a really bad destiny.
KS: Were you destined to get into cycling then?
SK: Being born in Colombia, I think I was. It was hard to escape the craziness in the early 80s. The country was obsessed with cycling.
KS: And switching gears a bit: best race to watch, and why?
SK: Damn, that's a tough one... On TV, for me, it's a toss up between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Both races have such tradition and history of drama and usually live up to the hype. If I may use the term; these two races are "epic."
KS: Personal favorite race/race stage, ever? (and of course, why?)
SK: Damn, another tough one... Off the top of my head, 1990 Paris-Roubaix. It was a photo-finish between Eddy Planckaert and Steve Bauer. At the end the race was decided by an inch or something. It was a nail-biter all the way to the end. Maybe the '84 Roubaix. It was a total mud-fest and Sean Kelly won it like a man. Fuck, I'm sure there's probably an Alpe d'Huez stage I'm forgetting. Oh, shit Il Passo di Gavia in the 1988 Giro!! Freezing cold, snowing, windy and zero visibility. Breukink and Hampsten couldn't even stand on their own after the finish. Shit, if you have a chance to watch that, take it. THAT is an epic stage.
KS: Out of curiosity, because you obviously love watching/following pro cycling, what do you do when season's over?
SK: I masturbate a lot... is this part of the interview? I hope so...Actually, I watch a lot of classic cycling and Formula 1 races, I watch American football. I have an extensive collection of old cycling videos, so I get me fix while I fantasize about the Spring Classics to come.
And there you have it. The mysterious Mr. SkullKrusher. If you're inclined to stalk, follow him on twitter here, follow the podcast here, and subscribe to it here. Because you should.
* Note: Last image = SK supporting Colombian transplant George Hincapie in the cobbles of Northern France at this year's Paris-Roubaix (image courtesy of SK)...Lucky bastard!