– Words & Pics by By Todd Kohli-
When Fred Rodriguez is back in the Bay Area, certain people tend to know. I happen to be one of the lucky one’s that chatted with him this past week, and he invited me along on a “casual” ride on Friday morning. The last time I rode with Fred was in the winter before he traveled to Spain to begin the “serious” training.
The Friday ride: (l-r) Mike Audley, Chris Swain, Fast Freddie, Todd Kohli.
It’s been raining almost every day in San Francisco since March, and Friday was no exception, although it was only a light rain. But Freddie had to train and prepare for Tour de Georgia, so we met at his home in the East Bay, picked up a couple other local riders and 6 of us headed out to what would be a little more than I signed up for.
If you haven’t guessed yet, the pace was a little more than a Cat 4 might expect, and when we started on the first climb, there really wasn’t time for a warm up. Three of us dropped back, while Freddie, Chris and Mike waited at the top of the hill. It would be like this for the remainder of the day.
One hour forty five minutes into the ride, we stop at Peet’s Coffee for refreshments. Freddie, knowing that I am being pushed a bit to my limit asks, “How are you feeling?” I reply that it depends upon how close we are to his house. He starts laughing and says, “We are almost half way through the ride!” and continues to laugh. I think it’s a bit funny too, although not as much as he does, and we saddle up for another 3 hours.
When we finally reach his home almost 5 hours after we departed, I am exhausted, and we begin to gorge ourselves on bananas and pizza as we talk with his wife and friends, and find his son ready to hang out with Dad.
We were both tired, so we postponed the interview until Sunday morning as Freddie was at the airport with his family getting ready to fly to Georgia for the Tuesday start of the Tour.
The Ridley Damocles Freddie calls home on the road…
ON TO THE INTERVIEW!
PEZ: How was the early spring season?
Fast Freddie: It really didn’t go as planned. I am now refining my form, refocusing on the season ahead and looking forward to great racing at the Tour de Georgia and hone in on July.
PEZ: The inaugural Tour de California was awesome, and you had some really great finishes: 2, 3 and 8th. What did you think of the race and how does it compare to Europe?
Fast Freddie: Everything about the race was 5-star, from the promotion of the event, the people involved, all of the fans—it was top notch. A lot of European based teams came over, and it really opened their eyes compared to what they have seen in European races. Levi and others were also really amazed. This event will be one that every team will want to race in a couple of years.
PEZ: How is the team and the synergy with Robbie, Chris, et al at Davitamon-Lotto?
Fast Freddie: Davitamon Lotto as you know is a Belgium based squad with some core English speakers like Cadel, Robbie, Henk, Nick, and Chris–I think we really are able to bring the team up to the next level. Everybody gets along, no egos, great enthusiasm and energy….the synergy between the whole team is great.
PEZ: What are the upcoming races you are going to focus on?
Fast Freddie: The Tour de Georgia will be a great test, I feel really good and I’d really like to win a stage. Then we’ll look at key events like a one day event in Germany, and I will also do the Volta a Catalunya May 15-21. All of these races will help me prepare to be in top form and be able to be 100% in July to help Robbie and the Team.
PEZ: How do you see the change in the US PRO championships from Philadelphia to Greenville?
Fast Freddie: It’s sad that they took the race away from Philly for deciding the US Pro Champ, there is so much history there, and it’s a great course and awesome fans. My team usually sends me back for that race, but not this year, I’ll wait until it happens in September in Greenville. I am sure that they will put on a great race and do a good job—I am excited to come back and race their course.
PEZ: How is the house in Spain and life like there?
Fast Freddie: Spain is great, it is our home away from home, and we live in the town of Gerona, as does George, Levi, Floyd, and Michael Barry. It is a great community for family, culture, people, the people are respectful. It’s an American niche. The roads and views are amazing for training; you really can’t go wrong there. My foundation will have a training camp there in September.
PEZ: So what’s new with the Fast Freddie Foundation? Being a Bay Area resident, I know you are a huge supporter of the NorCal Mt Bike League and Team Swift.
Fast Freddie: The foundation is doing great and is growing. Essentially, we want the youth of cycling to make sure that they are spending as much time on their cycling as their education. The NorCal Mt Bike league and Team Swift are two examples of our growing network. The kids have to write essays and reports on their races and trips to their parents, sponsors and teachers. We hope that through the foundation and mentoring, that we can make them realize their dreams, but that their passion for cycling and getting a good education should be at the same level.
PEZ: You can find out more information on Freddie’s Foundation at: www.fredrodriguez.com
PEZ: How is your Coffee business going?
Fast Freddie: The business is going well. We plan on opening a natural food store in the Bay Area soon too. Cycling and coffee just go together; it’s quite a passion of mine.
Faces don’t lie: Freddie loves being a dad, and his son Aidan seems happy with the arrangement too.
PEZ: Congratulations on becoming a father, how is that going?
Fast Freddie: Being a father is great. Aidan is 8 months now. It’s not always an easy job, it can be hard physically and mentally at times, but it so much fun and the rewards are amazing.
Fast Five Questions:
• Coffee or espresso? Coffee
• Beer or wine or vodka tonic? It depends on the time of year.
• Food choice: sushi, Italian, or? Sushi.
• Music right now? It varies.
• Most vivid race experience? Winning a stage in the Giro.
Todd Kohli is a Cat 4 rider for Metromint Cycling in San Francisco. During the day he is a landscape architect with EDAW, and on the side is an aspiring photographer (www.toddkohli.com).