ALEX HOWES - CANNONDALE DRAPAC
Golden Colorado native ALEX sat down at his computer and typed to us about a woman made of tangerines, the increasing Americanisation of Europe, and a 3m tall naked man reading Hillary Clinton's biography.
When were you born and where did you grow up?
ALEX: Golden, Colorado. Golden boy from birth.
What is your Current City?
ALEX: Boulder, CO
Do you take on any musical tastes from where you’re based or your travels during the season?
ALEX: The top songs in Europe are almost exclusively from the US. *frowny face emoji*
Is that something you’ve noticed about Europe over the years you’ve been living there, That it’s becoming more Americanised? Or is it still pretty tough living there as a foreigner?
ALEX: Europe is still Europe but in so many ways it is becoming the Europe Americans want. All the pretty views with all they tasty food and everyone speaks English. But they speak English the way Hollywood actors speak English when they are playing a foreigner. It has made life much easier but it is killing the adventure.
What was the last race you did? What music did were listening to to get you through the transfers and travel?
ALEX: Worlds in Bergan, Norway. I did not listen to a single bit of music. Shame on me. Shame, shame, shame.
What a tough time that must have been, I’ll listen to a few extra songs today for you to make up for it. What do you do to get you through all the travel, sitting around in hotels and shit instead?
ALEX: Books help. So do good friends.
What music do you remember growing up around? Who was the first person to get you into music?
ALEX: My folks had a six cd disc player. Looking back, that sound system was a big fucking deal. There was a lot of 90’s alternative in that spinner. I also remember driving around with my grandparents and listening to all the country classics. Growing up it was a chore sitting in their car but now, in my old age I’m always listening to the classics from the Grand Ol’ Opry.
Were you parents big into playing music around the house? Any specific alternative or country jams stick out?
ALEX: I remember being into Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows. I used the dial up internet to download their music video. I remember laughing my ass off after spending 45min to download the video to learn the lead singer looked like a Simpsons character.
What is the first song you remember liking?
ALEX: Josephine by the Wallflowers. I remember visualizing a woman made of tangerines.
What does a Woman made of tangerines look like? How old were you?
ALEX: Start with two very large tangerines. Who cares about the rest. Roughly 13.
Did you play a music instrument as a kid?
ALEX: I gave the saxophone a whirl when I was in the 3rd grade. I didn’t want to play the sax but my grandma liberated one from the local high school and the decision was made. I learned how to change a reed and that’s about it.
Changing the reed is an important part of Saxophone maintenance. If you could go back and learn a musical instrument, which would it be and why?
ALEX: I’ve farted around with the harmonica for a while but it’s pretty limited. I wish I picked it up sooner. In the cyclist’s life, portability is king and the harmonica is the king of portability.
It’s a great instrument for an athlete you’re right. Can you play any notable tunes on the Harmonica?
ALEX: Nope. But I can make wolves howl.
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
ALEX: Blink 182 - Enema of the State
What was the first gig / concert you remember going to?
ALEX: A Cake concert with my folks.
Do you remember what it was like?
Alex: I remember being shocked at seeing so many adults with so much energy. I remember that was the first time I felt sound. You know, that deep bass in the chest feeling. I love that feeling.
What's the best gig / concert you've been to?
ALEX: I’m told it was Avicii but I don’t really recall.
The best ones are always the ones you can’t recall. Who's a teammate with the worst musical taste you’ve had to endure?
ALEX: Johan Vansummeren was pretty into dubstep, hardcore, electronic, all sorts of technical music. Really it wasn’t that his taste was all that bad, it was more the volume and the timing. A Tomorrowland playlist at 130 decibels at 8:30 am on stage 18 of the Vuelta is a real test.
That’s a test. Did you room with him the whole three weeks? Did you ever tell him just to turn it off?
ALEX: I only roomed with him for one night during the 4 years or so we were teammates. I’ll never forget it. I came back to the room after massage and he was laying butt naked, reading Hillary Clinton’s Biography. The guy is roughly 3m tall. That’s a lot of nudity for a cramped Euro hotel.
Hillary Clintons Biography is the funniest detail there. How about the teammate with the best music taste?
ALEX: There are a few that come to mind, but I still remember David Millar playing a Talking Heads song a just the right moment at the 2013 Paris-Nice. That counts.
Seems like the timing is a big thing for you and music. Does that mean there’s a time and place for all music, or should some music just never be played?
ALEX: There has never been a time in my life when I though, “You know what would sound tasty in my ears? Reel Big Fish.”
Do you still have or remember any old playlists you made when you were younger? For what or who did you make them for?
ALEX: I had a classic rock mixtape that I ripped off the radio. It was reserved strictly for road trips. The one and only time I listened to it while not road tripping, I crashed my truck into an off-duty cop. Things have a purpose for a reason.
That’s some voodoo shit. How’d you end up crashing into a cop?
ALEX: There was an ice storm. I was doing a casual 10mph. She was parked illegally. My truck dipped into the gutter and I casually slid into her. It was the slowest accident since the phase out of the horse and carriage. She yelled at me for a good half hour and tried to have her cop buddy put me in cuffs and take me to the station. After being overly apologetic and patient with her I finally snapped and yelled, “You made a not good choice with your parking! Call my insurance company! I have to go to fucking calculus!” I added the calculus bit because I sounded like such an idiot after the first sentence. I missed calc class.
What song would you listen to put you in the right place for a race?
ALEX: The good the bad and the ugly title song. It inspires me to take risks.
I just watched De Plus fly over the barriers in Lombardia. Is racing now days a lot more about taking risks?
ALEX: Those guys racing around without helmets back in the 90s were bonkers. That’s real risk. I don’t think they were really going any slower or fighting any less back then. Plus they had special pills that eliminated the governor on the human engine.
Does anyone take control of the music on the bus and what do they play?
ALEX: The musical tastes of Matti Breschel have no equal.
What sort of music does he play?
ALEX: It’s all over the place. Classic rock, old school hip hop, that band you’ve never heard of that payed in some bar in Italy. Matti himself is in a band. They’re actually pretty good and super fun. He’s you’re next Disc Breaks interview.
Have you ever had a ‘victory’ song or a track you associate with any performance, good or bad?
ALEX: When the body is working correctly, Phantom by Justice is the perfect speed and rhythm for a 4min VO2. I know that when I synch to that song, results are coming.
Have you ever worn your ipod during a race?
ALEX: My iPod has participated in nearly every time trial I’ve done for the last 6 years.
Brilliant. Do you always listen to music or have you ever popped on a podcast or audiobook?
ALEX: It’s still a race man! Can’t be listening to Harry Potter out there.
You ever been busted? Come to think of it, Is it even actually against the rules?
ALEX: For sure it is illegal during road races. But TTs? No way. If it is, it would be a classic case of the man trying to oppress the people. In which case a rebellion would be necessary and appropriate.
What song do you play to get things started when you’re throwing a party?
ALEX: Burning down the House
That songs a bad omen for me. I played it at a house party a few years ago and next thing the building caught on fire and we were all evacuated. I shit you not. Smoke and shit everywhere. The next morning we were cleaning up and I opened the laptop and it kicked off playing again halfway through. I have no idea what that is meant to mean but I’ve never listened to that song since. Does musical taste influence how well you’re going to get along with someone? If so what’s a song that if someone played would let you know you’d probably get along?
ALEX: If someone plays Take it Easy by the Eagles I know we’ll be just fine.
A song that would instantly turn you off someone?
ALEX: I don’t rate most beliebers.
You say ‘most’, there are some exceptions?
ALEX: My cousin is a Belieber but our family doesn’t talk openly about it. We love her dearly and she’s family, but I suppose we all have skeletons in the closet.
Have you ever played a song to impress a person or group? If so, what was it?
ALEX: I learned all the words to a Killers song to impress a girl back in school. Now I can’t remember the name of the song.
Hahahaha. What about the girl, more importantly, did it work? A song you’re embarrassed to admit you like, but listen to often?
ALEX: My affection for the Decemberists has put me in hot water one more than one occasion.
More than once? Same people or different group?
ALEX: Listening to the Decemberists will bite you pretty much everywhere other than downtown Portland on a rainy day.
Which song would you choose to soundtrack the highlights reel of your career?
ALEX: Could it be anything other than Chariots of Fire?
Is that a rhetorical question?
What’s the best way to listen to music?
ALEX: Around a campfire.
If you were colonising Mars and could only take one album, what would it be?
ALEX: Chulahoma by the Black Keys. Mostly because the album cover is very mars esque. Red, orange, yellow, for the color of mars. A pistol because we’d be declaring war on the Martians
Nice one, thanks man. Take it easy.