Q & A with reigning 40-44 Master National Road Race champ.
While 2012 Masters National Road Race champion Matt Carinio hails from San Luis Obispo he’s well known on both ends of California, winning both the 2012 SCNCA 40-44 time trial and road race, and frequently swapping paint in Northern California events. I caught up with Matt to hear about winning a national championship, soccer, and at which end of the state the best masters racers live.
For starters, congrats on the great season – those Hot Tamales are ballers! (note: Matt coaches an under 12 girls soccer team in SLO)
MC: Both seasons were great, cycling and soccer. I won a championship and my girls got runner up in the SLO City Finals. I couldn’t be happier about how both turned out.
Tougher accomplishment: coaching a young ladies’ soccer team or bagging stars & bars?
I got more anxious coaching the girls than I did at any bike race. Maybe it’s because the effort during the match is all on their shoulders where in a race I’m in control. I’m now the assistant coach of the All Star team and looking forward to many more anxious moments in the upcoming months.
How did you get started with road racing?
I jumped on my dad’s road bike when I was 13 and within a few months I convinced him to take me to a crit in Los Angeles– West Covina I believe. My start in the sport is nothing to brag about, far from it. I got dropped in every race my first season. In road races I’d finish 45 minutes behind the winner and in crits I’d get dropped within the first few laps. I really didn’t care though, I felt like a racer. My greatest accomplishment that year was that I never dropped out of any race. Finishing no matter what is still something I believe in today.
Within a year or so, I became obsessed with going to Belgium to tackle the mud and cobbles. When I was 16, I made my first trip to cycling’s Holy Land. I would go back five times in the next seven years before retiring from racing at 23.
At Masters Nationals in 2011 you were close: second in the TT and fifth in the road race, which can be a blessing and a curse. What were you thinking on the drive home from Bend that year?
I went to Nationals in 2011 with the goal of winning a medal in both the RR and TT. The silver in the TT gave me a lot of confidence and I came very close to pulling off the RR title by joining another rider on the attack in the last 20 kilometers only to be caught three kilometers from the finish by three riders. What I remember most of that weekend was seeing all the jerseys being awarded; it really hit home when the rider next to me on the podium pulled one on. That feeling of jealousy really motivated me and was my inspiration for 2012.
How did that shape your perspective on 2012?
One thing that I noticed in 2011 was that most of the guys on the podium in the 35, 40, 45, and 50 races were from California. This gave me a great benchmark by which to test my progress throughout 2012 knowing that every race in California is basically a National Championship caliber event. I knew that if I could be successful regionally that it would translate to success at Nationals.
Walk through the national championship road race. What were you thinking when the group made the turn onto Cascade Lakes Highway largely together?
My teammate Nate Erickson did an amazing job working tirelessly and unselfishly with racers from NorCal to bring back a race-long break, led by Chris DeMarchi from Monster Media, and guarantee we hit final climb all together. At that point, all I thought about was dropping as many riders as possible when the climb started. I had done hundreds of 10- and 20-minute hill repeats this past season with this moment in mind. Chris Phipps and I battled on the same climb six weeks earlier at Cascade so I considered him a huge threat. After two kilometers of climbing it was down to Phipps and I, but there were three really strong riders giving chase. All five of us came together with 2k to go.
How about once you hit the parking lot and 1k to go?
I really had a sense of calm. I was hypersensitive to the moment: the wind, the road, and the gearing of the other riders. The urge to win the jersey was so overwhelming that I never allowed the thought of losing to enter my mind.
The feeling of winning a championship is a very individual reaction. What did it mean to you?
The last hundred meters felt like a dream, like I was watching a movie. I had pictured the finish so many times that 25 meters from the line I was in shock. I couldn’t even get both hands off the bars. I slammed on the brakes just after the finish and collapsed, not due to exhaustion but because I was in disbelief. I kept repeating to myself, “Did that just happened?”
Ok, no more cream puff questions. Since you sit in the middle, who are the better racers, Nor Cal or So Cal?
Road races and time trials are NorCal’s domain while SoCal’s top sprinters can dominate any crit in the country. I believe there are 10 guys in NorCal who can win a RR or TT National title on any terrain. The strength of NorCal is really the depth of the top racers. I have heard rumors that many of the stronger NorCal riders will be joining forces and riding on the same team and if this happens NorCal racing will become more similar to SoCal, which is dominated by Monster Media. SoCal road races tend to be less aggressive in nature because of Monster Media’s dominance. In contrast, NorCal races have been very aggressive due to the lack of control by any team and it’s usually the last man standing that takes the victory. I definitely prefer this style.
How is your team looking for 2013?
Our team added a few riders for next season. Most notably is Derek Johnson. He will be a huge asset on flatter terrain and give us more options when it comes to our aggressive racing style. The core of the team remains unchanged with Craig Nunes, Nate Erickson, Patrick Hampton, Blake Reed, and myself.
One piece of bad news from this offseason is that we lost our primary financial sponsor. This was a blow because we feel that we have a lot of momentum given our five State Championships as well as a National Championship this past year. We looked tirelessly for a replacement but came up empty. We will continue to search for a partner who enjoys the sport and what our team stands for. Having said that, we are extremely happy with the continued support of our long-time primary sponsor Art’s Cyclery (artscyclery.com). We also have a great relationship with our clothing supplier Voler. They are located in SLO and everything they do is done right here in our own back yard. Both have been amazing.
What events are you guys looking at?
MC: Districts and Nationals continue to be the primary goals for the team. Additionally, my schedule consists of Valley of the Sun, San Dimas, Merco, Tour Del Sol, Gila, Baker City, Mt. Hood, and Cascade. Basically every stage race in the West. I’d also like to give Masters Track Nationals a serious attempt concentrating on the individual pursuit and if any team has an extra spot, the team pursuit as well.
That about does it, anyone you want to give a shout-out to?
I have to plug my coaching business. My clients range from National team members to Cat 5s and every category in between. I really enjoy helping riders of any age and category develop and reach their full potential given the time they can have available. I’m dedicated to making my clients the best racers they can be through unlimited communication, completely customized training programs, recovery, nutrition, and race tactics. For anybody interested in learning more, please email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One last should thing… Mr. Lyman, I can’t wait to see you back out on the road with a number on your back. The races will be better with you in them. See ya soon!