Andy Hampsten Interview

February 10, 2017

You rode your Giro d’Italia winning Huffy last year at Eroica California; what was it like spending the day on the bike that you achieved so much career success on?
Well, it was comfortable and lively on the all-day ride. I put some new tires on the bike so the downhills were fun. Emotionally, I felt very happy to ride that Huffy; it reminded me of how much I asked of my body and mind when I raced, and how much fun it was to be a bike racer in the 80s.
What will you be riding at Eroica California this time?
Not the original 1988 Huffy. I have a duplicate frame I had made for the 1988 Tour de France, if I can get parts for it I will travel with that bike. Or I'll lean on Wes for something fun. Two years ago Wally’s Bike Shop lent me a Reg Harris from the 50s, and it was a dream ride.
Thinking back, what was your favorite bike during the 70s or 80s, and what made it so special?
The Huffy was #1. It found its way down a snowy Gavia Pass. But I was lucky to have also ridden a TI-Raleigh in 1980 with Campy Super Record. That was the prettiest bike I’ve ridden, and it was the first sponsor’s bike I raced.
Is there one particular section of the Eroica California route that really resonates with you? What about it makes it that way?
All the dirt west of Paso Robles, but I would add the pavement to that area, too. If I can be that unspecific, I can reason that the terrain and scrub growing out of the limestone hills reminds me of some of the best places I have visited. I am taken back to Tuscany and Southern France when I ride near Peachy Canyon, and I am reminded of it every time I drink wines from Villa Creek Winery that the Eroica loop pases. It’s a magical spot to ride in and eat from.
If you could give one tip to an Eroica first-timer, what would it be?
Old bikes need largish tires and new brake pads. I do the Eroica in Chianti often and host guests on our tours there, and my primary advice to them is to shorten their route choice. The company on an Eroica ride should be the focus; there are some very fun people out on old bikes that are interesting to talk to at stops and while riding along the route.
Do you feel that modern technology, i.e. power meters and electronic shifting, have negatively affected the overall cycling experience?
Yes and no. On a bike ride, I am bored by talk about meters and numbers. And I see too many people stressed out fixing electronic problems instead of riding. But that is part of cycling, and it usually involves asking a fellow cyclist for help, so the modern technology is reduced to old fashioned problem solving pretty quickly.
What was your worst traveling adventure while you were a pro?
Nothing terrible. The 80s and 90s were a weekly parade of crowded, smoke-choked, low ceilinged airports around Europe with snarly border guards pawing every page of my passport once they saw my visa to Colombia, but that was part of the fun. And the food was good!




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