Race.cx has a bunch more interviews including one from Jonathan Page, so click here to read them!
We’re happy to have Christine Vardaros as our first female CPQ! Christine had a strong 2005-2006 season which she finished by representing the USA at cyclocross worlds. She’s had two top ten World Cup finishes, and right now is headed to Italy for the Treviso World Cup. After that she’ll high tail it back to Belgium for the Vossem cross. Good luck Peanut!
1. How old are you?
Did you ask my weight…it’s 54kg.
2. Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
I grew up in Long Island, manhattan, and brooklyn. I now live mostly in belgium (i am writing you from Leuven where I live now.) When I am in the USA, I live in Mill Valley, CA.
3. How long have you been racing?
As an elite?I started riding and racing in 1995. I upgraded to pro mtb in 1998, elite cx in 1999, and pro road this year for Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam.
4. What was your first bicycle?
Breezer Lightning mountain bike.
5. What is your road/mtb racing background?
I raced for Joe Breeze on Team Breezer MTB four years until the team dissolved. Then I discovered cyclo-cross. I was instantly hooked. I started to race on the road to train for cyclo-cross.
6. Describe your first exposure to cyclocross.
It was a DFL race in san francisco. I liken it to bushwacking with a bike.
7. Would you consider yourself a cross specialist?
In order to call myself a specialist, i feel that I should master the task. I am not even close. Although currently i am ranked 12th in the World in UCI ranking and 14th in World Cup.
8. Do you race full time? If not, what other job(s) do you have?
Yes, but since there is no $$ in cycling - especially for women - I have a few jobs. I do PR and freelance writing (journalist/columnist/etc.)
9. Did you go to college? If so, what was your major?
Yes. I attended Columbia in NYC - Biology Major.
10. Describe the first time you shaved your legs.
Two days ago to prepare for Koppenbergcross. I heard it is a slip-and-slide course and it’s better to have hairless legs to treat road rash. I’m glad i shaved.
11. Do you have any tattoos, and/or piercings?
I have a pierced belly button, but i took it out once it became trendy.
12. Pre race rituals?
I listen music on my iPod. I love everything from techno to jazz BUT NEVER Country. I also visualize race day from beginning to end - I imagine it exactly how i would like it to play out.
13. Post race meal?
ProBar - raw vegan energy bar. The bar is really well balanced in its nutrient content and is easily digestable. And it’s so tasty that my friends and I make growling noises after every bite!
14. How do you wind down after a race?
A very tall glass of red wine. I’ve been drinking a lot of yellowtail lately.
15. Your idea of the perfect cross course?
One where I win.
16. Espresso or tea?
French press, italian roast.
18. Tubulars or clinchers?
Tubulars - how else can you run the tires at 12psi?
19. Write a haiku about 2005 CX Nats.
in stormy weather
go-go dancing in the mud
did i fail my bike
20. My mind wanders when I’m racing. What were you thinking about during your last race?
Oh great, finally a good start - in 5th position. Splat, not anymore. (ran into a woman who crashed in front of me.) OK, 15th. keep calm and knock them off one by one. Darn, I forgot to buy chips for chocolate chip cookies. Stop thinking about cookies!!! OK, just passed another. Oh, cute spectator yelling my name! I wonder if my ass looks fat in this skinsuit? Red and white are not the most flattering colors. Oops, I just rode past a crowd of people and forgot to suck in my gut. Maybe i’ll skip on the cookies.
21. Seen any good movies lately?
They showed a keanu reeves/sandra bullok movie on the plane that was cute. I am most of the way through Dogville starring Nicole Kidman. Very fun!
22. What are the last three albums you’ve listened to?
Bee-gees, diana ross, and elton john. Albums are those big round things, right?
23. Who is going to win USA Nationals this year?
24. In three words or less, describe how you feel about top mount cross brake levers.
a personal choice.
25. Would you use disc brakes on your cross bike if they were UCI legal?
26. What is the craziest thing you’ve done to lighten your bike?
Raced without a saddle. 2004 nationals.
27. Any season goals you’d like to share?
Get a front row callup at worlds.
28. What result are you most proud of?
My first cross race. My coach, elmo, gave me one cyclo-cross lesson on a tiny borrowed bike. A few days later, i took that borrowed bike to PA to race a super cup event. I holeshotted the race and almost made it to the half way mark in first place but ann knapp passed me. It was the most pleasant pass I ever experienced. She congratulated me on a fine ride as she and a bunch of other hotshot gals left me in the dust. I held on for 8th. It’s also cool to have placed top ten in two world cups.
29. Who has most influenced your cross racing career?
My coach elmo. I also got a lot of advice over the years from various racers such as Mark McCormack, Tim Johnson, Carmen D’Alusio, the Jacques-Maynes brothers,marc Gullickson. The influx of support from friends and family make a big difference as well.
30. Is there another rider you train with regularly?
When i’m in California, my main training partner is my coach. In belgium, my training partners are Ronny (elite marathon mtb racer) and Sam Mallfliet (top espoir mtb racer).
31. Why do you think the Europeans are so much faster than the US crossers?
The bicycle is a way of life for them. They are on their bikes all the time. If a kid shows any promise, he or she is nurtured and completely supported. It’s more of a blue collar sport here in europe, so being a pro bike racer gets you out of working the farm or laying bricks!
32. Are you married? Have any children?
No and no. Single and looking. Unfortunately with my hectic schedule, the only time I have for dating is in airports (which is where my last date was. I met him during a layover. It lasted exactly three minutes because he was about to miss his plane!)
33. Any (other) passions or hobbies in your life?
Vegan baking and cooking - but mostly baking.
34. What would you be doing if you weren’t racing cross?
Making a ton of money so I can fly my friends around the world to join me on crazy adventures.
35. Do you have a blog or online journal?
christinevardaros.com. I also have a blog courtesy of a neo-crosser named Dave Shishkoff who just created it last week. Unfortunately I don’t know the address yet.
36. Any words of advice for those new to cyclocross?
Focus most on looking beautiful and graceful on the bike. The speed will follow.