Written by Nooky Lair of Team Oasis
For our third issue we’ll have a chat with manager Doctor Love form the US-based Cokol Breakaway Team. The team has a preference for cobbling and did TT’ing on the side in the past. With cobbling the team managed to gather three Gorillas, two of them back-to-back by Tyson Jefferson. Cokol also won the first World Championship ITT (U23) back in season 39. Noteworthy further is that the team was originally based in Georgia and moved to the US. Although not specifically asked at the reason for that, it becomes clear in the interview why those two places were picked.
1a. To which race location here in OCM would you like to go for a holiday?
“Thank you for inviting me to your show, Nooky! I would love to travel to the Faroes Islands again. It is a magical and unexplored place. My wife and I went to Iceland a couple of years ago, and while we feel in love with the seemingly extraterrestrial landscape, it was too touristy for me.”
1b. Why is it that you picked this place?
“I love to hike, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so in the Faroes. You could climb a mountain peak (Slættaratindur) or walk around a lake that appears to spill out into the Atlantic Ocean (Trælanípa). You could check out a lighthouse against a stunning background (Kallur) or take a ferry to see a puffin colony (Mykines). You could explore a 900-year-old wooden home (Kirkjubøur) or stop by many picturesque villages and churches. Typing that paragraph up brought back so many good memories. Just remember to stop for any sheep - they outnumber humans on the Sheep Islands.”
1c. What would you like to do there?
“After all that hard work, you also need to replenish your calories. The gastronomic scene is outstanding in Faroes, which may surprise some people. They are one of the leading salmon exporters in the world, and I had incredibly fresh sushi in the capital Torshavn (Etika). There is even a two-star Michelin restaurant, tucked away in a remote hillside (Koks). It features a modern take on traditional Faroese cuisine.”
1d. Would it include some real life cycling as well?
“You gain a lot of respect for the harsh and unforgiving nature of the Faroes. If you want to see how professionals do it, check out a short by NorthSouth productions. But I would not do it. It is quite dangerous to navigate one-lane tunnels, as they are unlighted and don't have anywhere where you would pull off in a bike. Instead, I would recommend renting a car, strapping your bike to it and exploring some back roads or mountain biking.”
2a. You've mentioned two places with that are not known of having a great climate. The weather of such places isn't bothering you?
“I was born in Batumi in the Soviet Union but grew up in Siberia. So the weather does not typically bother me. In a way, it feels similar to visiting home. My wife and I made a pact though to alternate warm and cold trips each year, so next year we are due somewhere South, sandy beach with coconuts type of place. Happy wife, happy life.”
2b. I've heard that the cuisine in those places can be challenging. What is the weirdest dish/food you've tried? And how good was it?
“In the Faroes, I ate skerpikjøt or dried, fermented mutton. Local chefs have designated huts close to the Atlantic Ocean, where the winds cure the meat. It typically takes between five and nine months for the lamb to get ready. Taste is similar to prosciutto. We also had guillemot, a type of wild bird. When we were hiking around a local lake, by mistake, I walked near one of their nests. They are surprisingly territorial, and when a B&B in the North Faroes offered them on the menu, I had to try it to get revenge. Do not recommend, stick to the lamb and fish.
I try to be adventurous with local foods too, but unfortunately, food options are not diverse everywhere in the US. I had a beef heart kebab (anticuchos) at a Peruvian restaurant once. Spicy foods are my kryptonite, though.”
3a. What is actually your own homebase?
“I now live in a small town in Iowa, located in the heart of the American Midwest. Most people picture a gravel road through a cornfield leading up to a barn. Another nickname is a flyover state because passengers on transcontinental flights never set food in rural states. But most folks live in the cities, and it is not as conservative as you think. While I am moving away soon, I truly enjoyed living in Iowa, and it has a certain charm to it. Some call label the friendliness as the 'Iowa nice' phenomenon. So next time you fly over, give us a wave. We will wave back; we are friendly.”
3b. Is there any interesting to do nearby where you live?
“If you do decide to make a stop, I recommend Pella. Since Dutch is probably a language of choice for OCM, you may feel at home there as Dutch immigrants settled the town. One of the main highlights is a still-functioning windmill from
the 1850s. The local bakery uses it to make tasty treats. The city celebrates its heritage annually during the May tulip festival. In my opinion, it is as beautiful as Iowa gets.”
3c. Would you happen to have some cycling tips in your region too?
“The highlight of cycling in Iowa is RAGBRAI. The acronym stands for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It is not a race, and there is no prize for coming in the first place. The atmosphere feels more like a party vibe. You get your friends together and stop in local towns. You dip your wheels in Missouri river and seven days later dip them in Mississippi river. Lance Armstrong typically does at least one of the days each year. RABGRAI is how I got interested in cycling and found this website. As a result of this race, many people cycle to work, and local governments invest in bike lanes and infrastructure that most cities in America don't have.”
3d. How about interesting sights in the US. It is very big country, but what would you recommend?
“It is such a hard question to answer. I was fortunate that I had to travel across the US for work reasons last year, and I think 'America the Beautiful' is an apt description. Chicago is the biggest town nearby, and we had a chance to visit it a lot. If you are not into crowds of people, I suggest Mackinac island in Michigan. The cars are banned there, and they have plenty of biking trails to explore. The drawback is its location far away from big airports, you would need to fly into Detroit and rent a car to get there, but the tranquility is worth it in my opinion.
4a. You had your team stationed in Georgia before and mentioned you were born in Batumi above here. Can you tell a bit more about that?
“My family is from Georgia. I was born in the port and resort town of Batumi. I got to visit my family a lot even though my parents and I moved to Siberia. I don't remember a lot, but one of my earlier memories is eating Khachapuri or traditional cheese and egg bread dish that my grandmother used to make. Maybe that's what launched my interest in food? We would go on vacation to the Black Sea each summer there for a while, and I do miss it a lot.
4b. What makes Georgia great and what would be a good itinerary over there?
“To me, the beauty of Georgia lies in the juxtaposition between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. I would start by exploring the history and churches in Tbilisi and then venture out to the Svaneti region. There are many beautiful hikes there, but Mestia (as featured in our own Mestia - Mestia race) is a good home base to start. As a final spot, you can reward yourself by lazing out in Batumi. The legend goes that Georgians have been making wine longer than anywhere else in the world, so it's obligatory to sample some as well.”
5a. Now next episode we have Cremtec who is living on the east coast of Australia. His region is full MTB'ing options. Would that be fun for you to do on a holiday?
“I have a poor sense of balance, but I would be up for pushing myself, especially if MTB involves beautiful nature. It would be fun to do an activity together, something like a casual bike ride downhill to a beach - it's a holiday after all.”
5b. Strangely enough Aussies are not fond on road cyclists, though there are interesting routes too. Would that scare you? Or have you dealt with bad behavior from car drivers before in Iowa?
“Luckily, I don't have many bad experiences. I use a separate bike lane to get to work, and I don't cycle in winter, so I avoid the worst of traffic. That's the benefit of living in a less populated area. The story is much different in Russia, though, if you ask the dash cams.”
5c. You mentioned that multiday event in Iowa. There is a great one day event in Cremtec's state but it truly does require a lot of endurance. Would you be up for such a challenge?
“Man, Australia sounds scary now. There is a saying that everything in Outback is trying to kill you - snakes, sharks, and now endurance events. I am afraid I will have to sit that challenge out. The pace in Iowa RAGBRAI is more leisurely. I love seeing a range of ages in the riders. I will cheer for any Australian competitors from a comfortable seat.”
5d. Good question then would be if Australia has any appeal at all for you ;)
“I would love to visit Downunder. The problem is how long the flight is between the States and Australia. So I have been thinking of combining a trip to Australia and New Zealand.”
5d. Let's not forget the most important thing. Would the east coast with plenty of good beaches, lots of sun and nice walks, but less frequently coconut trees, fit the happy wife, happy life motto?
“I guess we will have to ask Mrs. Dr. Love. I am looking forward to Australian travel tips, would have never guessed that Cremtec lives in Australia. Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me, it was a pleasure to be on your show!”
You’re welcome. If you don’t get there any time soon maybe you can go on a food adventure meanwhile. Cremtec advises you to try and find Vegemite. He describes it as the following: “ Vegemite. Only Aussies seem to like it ;) very salty. Taste like food stock.”