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Kaarle McCulloch: A Happy Kaarle is a Fast Kaarle

Talk of the T-Town Podcast Show Art

Episode 3

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s about having fun and getting out there and putting yourself in a position where it’s quite uncomfortable, and understanding the reasons behind why things happen, and just trying different things.

– Kaarle McCulloch

This week on Talk of the T-Town, we sit down with Kaarle McCulloch, many time World Champion, Commonwealth Games Champion, and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist. We discuss career highlights, Cycling Australia, overcoming setbacks, and funny team memories.

Find Kaarle on Instagram @kaarlemcculloch and Twitter @kaarlemcculloch


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from The Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and Executive Director, Joan Hanscom, along with my co-host, Athletic Director, Andy Lakatosh.

Andy Lakatosh:

Welcome to Talk of the T-Town Podcast. Today’s guest is many-time World Champion, Commonwealth Games Champion, and 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, Kaarle McCulloch of the Australian National Team. Kaarle is obviously joining us by Zoom from Australia where it’s 9:00 AM tomorrow morning, while Joan and I are here at Podcast Headquarters in Trexlertown at 6:00 PM local time. Kaarle, thanks so much for joining us today. I’d like to get started by pointing out that you are by far our most decorated podcast guest ever, or this far. World medals and titles, Commonwealth Games, Olympic Medals, and all across the entire sprinting discipline, not just one particular event. Of all of the races and great results, is there one in particular that stands out brighter in your memory than all of the others? And what is it that makes it so memorable?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Well, thanks for having me, first of all, I’m definitely happy to be here talking to you guys. As you said, I have had a fair bit of success and a lot of great results, but I think probably the stand-out for me was my 500 meter time trial win at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. That was in front of a home crowd, and probably my biggest individual title to date. It was significant because I had my teammate Stephanie Morton go off quite a fair bit before me, and she set a time quite a bit faster than my PB at that point in time. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I really need to pull something special out here.” I knew if I could get to the end of the first lap in front that I would set myself up for the best chance of success.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I distinctly remember the crowd just yelling at me and getting behind me, so I crossed the start-finish line with one lap to go, and because the time is obviously a little bit delayed, I was a little bit further into bend one and I could hear the crowd just really roar, and I thought, “Okay, I’m in front, I’m in front, keep going, keep going.” As I hit half a lap to go, and just passed that half lap mark the crowd got a little bit louder, so I thought to myself, “Oh no, I’m starting to slow down, come on, come on, come one.” I crossed that line and the crowd was just absolutely ecstatic. I looked up and saw a PB, I saw the number one. There was still two more riders to go, so I had to wait that unbearable-

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, the anxiety.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… few minutes. Yeah, until I found out that I had one, and I got to celebrate with my parents and my family, and probably do one too many victory laps. But that was definitely a career highlight to me.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s so funny that your memory involves the crowd, because obviously the crowd here in T-Town is one of the things that we definitely pride ourselves on having more often than not, especially on a regular basis. But my favorite memory was actually setting the tandem flying lap record here. The thing I remember the most about it, aside from the fact that it was scary as hell getting around the track that fast, and the funny thing was at the time, we rode 104 on the tandem, and that was considered huge in 2007. And I actually had to lie to my tandem partner and tell him that, “No, no, no, we rode 102,” because 104 just felt way too big.

Andy Lakatosh:

So we do it, and we cross the line, and the scoreboard’s behind us in turns three and four. I knew we had to get the record, because the crowd just got so loud, and we were trying to get through one and two and look over our shoulders and see what the time was. Yeah, it’s definitely cool when the crowd lets you know that you did something special, Because it all sucks about the same while you’re doing it.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, definitely.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s awesome. Thanks for-

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so different from my bike racing crowd experience, where they’re always like sympathy claps. I race bikes and they’re like, “You’re doing great.” So I get the sympathy claps, which by the way are not nearly as motivating as the cheering that you all receive.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s why you’ve got to take up track racing. I was in London with Kaarle in 2012, and she could probably speak to this more, but that was by far the loudest velodrome stadium I’d… you couldn’t hear yourself think, let alone talk to the person next to you when British person got on track.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so cool.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, I remember that actually. I think I read a statistic somewhere that it was louder in there than the engine of a 747 taking off.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Kaarle McCulloch:

So that probably puts it into context. It was just unbelievable, and I really feel like that was one of the most insane crowds I’ve ever been a part of.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And no wonder their team did so well there then too, because you have that, what is it, the 12th man in sports, they always talk about the extra team player is the crowd. That’s amazing.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, that was definitely a special experience. I’d also like to point out for our listeners that you’ve actually spent time racing here in T-Town, twice in your career. I believe it was 2008 and again in 2017. 2008 we would have probably just met in passing, but 2017 Kaarle came over and had beers at our house, and went down a huge slip and slide on the 4th of July. But back to the racing side of things, for your career-wise those are pretty different stages in terms of where you were at as an athlete and as part of the Australian program. 2008 just missing Olympic team selection but still being part of the National Team, and 2017 your visit was with the New South Wales State team. If you would please talk a little bit about your visits, and the things that were different or the same, and where you were at as an athlete in both of those times.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, sure. So 2008 I guess was a little bit of a consolation prize in some regards, for the three of us who went over, Jackson [Iglett 00:06:28], Scott Sunderland and myself. But by the end of that trip I didn’t really feel like it was a consolation prize, because I had just such a wonderful time in T-Town. And obviously we-

Andy Lakatosh:

How long were you here that year?

Kaarle McCulloch:

… I think we were there for six weeks. So it was quite a long period of time, it was definitely the longest trip that I had ever done away. I was still quite young, I would have been 20 years old. So my last experience probably on a big trip was my Junior Worlds, which is in 2006 in Ghent, in Belgium. So it was definitely not a consolation prize for me, because I just had an amazing time. We spent the first three weeks there in a hotel, and then we were lucky enough that the organizers were able to secure us a little house so we got to actually live together in a house.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I just remember having a great time with the race scene. It really helped me, because I was at the early stages of my career, I’d only been cycling for three years at that time. What I really do feel that it did for me is it set me up for success in the immediate future. So I’d missed out on Beijing, and was quite disappointed on that, but the next season I became world champion and I really feel like my time in T-Town really helped to establish the foundation for that season, and was able to help me to propel forward into the next three or four years of my career.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I do remember I was quite a highly strung athlete at that time. I was so focused on cycling, I didn’t really want to have anything to do with-

Andy Lakatosh:

Fun?

Kaarle McCulloch:

… the good times. Yeah, pretty much fun. My teammates would spend some of the nights after racing out having some drinks with the rest of the riders, and I feel like I definitely missed out on that a little bit. But I guess in the years to come I would start to learn that balance is really important, and come 2017 when I came and returned for that year’s worth of racing, I was definitely far more relaxed. I feel like I got more out of the experience, because I tried to experience all of it. In fact, I actually made our team stay a little bit longer so that we could experience 4th of July in America, before we flew home. That was a really important thing to me, to go there and not only participate in the racing, which was fantastic in 2017 actually, in the women’s field was just outstanding. I really was able to set up my season again, going into 2018 season and winning that Commonwealth Games title, I really feel like T-Town set up that base for me to be able to propel off and have a really fantastic season in 2018.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But I also do think that some of the, I would actually have to say my career highlight was my 2017 trip to T-Town. That is the most enjoyable, most fun, just amazing trip that I’ve ever done. It wasn’t with the National Team, it was with my State team, and I was really grateful for the opportunity to be able to take some younger riders across with me and help them experience what it can be like on the international scene, and then also show them that it is a balance between fun and seriousness. So yeah, I just loved my time in T-Town.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, you are always certainly welcome to come back and race any time you like. And actually, that reminds me, one other thing that I do really like about you and about a bunch of the other racers that came over with you, because this is a lost concept here, with some of our specialists, let’s say. You guys raced everything. And both as a racer who raced everything, and then as a race director who wants full fields on the track, I definitely greatly appreciate that. You always seemed like you were having fun riding the other miscellaneous, the scratch races, the missing outs and stuff like that. I really wish that more athletes locally, domestically would really get behind that and just enjoy the fun in bike racing. Because if you live your life for just 200 after 200 at a time, your whole career’s going to be over.

Andy Lakatosh:

I always thought of it as for me racing, you only get 12, if you’re here full time, you get 12 Friday nights under the lights a year. If you’re waiting for those handful of sprint tournaments, you’re missing out on a lot of really fun experiences. I always appreciated that you seemed to share in that enjoyment like I did.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I definitely feel actually that the Tuesday night racing that I participated in, which was more endurance style, whilst hurt like hell for me, because I was so unfit at that period of time and it was all endurance races, that actually opened up a whole new area for my sports psychologist and I to work in. Because I’d go into those races, the scratch race and [inaudible 00:11:22], and because things weren’t so hectic and fast-paced like a keirin or a sprint, I could see what was happening in the races before things would happen. I was sitting there after those races thinking to myself, “I really obviously understand how tactics work, and that I’m quite a skillful rider, but I don’t understand sometimes why I can’t apply that same decision making to sprint and keirin.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

So when I went home from T-Town, I sat down with my sport psychologist and we started discussing that, and it started opening up this whole realm of brain training for myself. I was doing thing like, it’s a special thing called a neuro tracker, so you wear these special 3D glasses and you have a screen in front of you that’s 3D. There’ll be eight balls on the screen, and four of them will turn orange, and then all of them will go back to yellow, and you’ve got to follow the ones that were yellow, because they’ll move around and they’ll come at you. I got to the stage where I was doing that on a bike, while looking over my shoulder as with sprint race, so the idea was that I was having to make decisions as quickly as possible. T-Town for me really set up that learning for myself to be able to, I think, take my tactics and my racing to another level.

Kaarle McCulloch:

And I really feel strongly about the fact that sprinters should do endurance races, and endurance riders should do sprint races, because you just can learn so much. It doesn’t matter, if you’re to race a Tuesday night race scene, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s about having fun and getting out there and putting yourself in positions where it’s quite uncomfortable, and understanding the reasons behind why things happen, and just trying different things.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

I definitely know I’m a little bit partial, but I’m going to nudge you here and say you should really consider a career in coaching after all this.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. That’s just fascinating to me.

Andy Lakatosh:

See I’ve argued for years that the last three laps of a scratch race, or the last three laps before a sprint in a points race is the exact same thing as the last three laps of a keirin. It’s all positioning, when to make your move, reading the race.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re just more tired.

Andy Lakatosh:

You’re incredibly more tired, but if you’re still there as a sprinter, I can promise even when you’re tired you probably have more sprint than the skinny endurance people, so give it a go. But yeah, I’ve argued that for a long time, because skills are skills, and pack skills in scratch racing they move over into keirin, just the speeds get faster.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s just fascinating because as you were talking, I could visualize you with the lights, training. But how the race here on a Tuesday was like the real world application of that, instead of lights to follow in track you had people. So it’s almost like visualizing their helmets are lights or something, I don’t know. But it’s a super fascinating mental picture to have, and that level of training, and reaction time training, and mental training is super fascinating. Yeah, that’s a cool story.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s funny, because that actually goes into the thing I had written down to talk about next. Leave it to Australia, like GB, to just have all the fancy technological toys.

Joan Hanscom:

Next level.

Andy Lakatosh:

Here it’s like you want to get better at managing multiple things at once, go ride a scratch race. In Australia, wear these fancy 3D glasses and go ride around looking backwards trying not to fall off the bike.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fascinating.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Actually the neuro trackers are U.S. Special Forces training, so I believe they use it-

Andy Lakatosh:

We don’t have access to that, come on.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… with their Special Forces. So I can’t take credit for that, I have stolen that from you guys.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, but you’re applying it in ways that I don’t think we are.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s the cool thing. You say, “Hey look, there’s this cool technology that exists, and we should apply it to our thing,” which is just next level thinking. It’s super cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

But it’s kind of like Cycling Australia’s always been seen from our side here in the States as this mythical organization, with all these fancy secrets, and tools, and special projects. I can’t talk to certain friends in Australia about certain topics, Alex Bird, going quiet, “I can’t tell you, I can’t answer that question.” So to a certain point it is true, because you guys are trying to be cutting edge and always find an advantage here or there, or a better technique. But it’s also perceived on our end that in terms of the Cycling Australia system, you don’t want to leave or be let go, because it doesn’t seem like they’re very keen on letting people back in, they seem very happy to replace and move on to the next one. Part of that is a testament to their depth that they have as a nation, and the state system and how it feeds.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you’re actually one of the few people that I know who had left the National Team program for a couple years following London, and then come back in really in force. As far as I’m concerned, the best form and bast racing tactics that I’ve ever seen you display. It’s awesome as a friend to see that, but it’s that being in, being out, and working your way back in can definitely be a difficult journey. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share a little bit of what factored in to being in there, leaving, coming back, and what that process was like for you?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, I guess it’s a complicated situation. But I guess for me, in London we won bronze in our nine, the team sprint, and it obviously wasn’t the color that we were quite searching for. Up until that point I had done everything that Cycling Australia had asked of me. I did every single road ride, if it was rain, hail or shine, I did every rep in the gym, there was not one stone that I didn’t leave unturned. And I didn’t feel like I had gotten the best out of myself in London.

Kaarle McCulloch:

The fall-out from London was that I started to not quite get along with the coaching staff the way that I thought that I needed to in order to take my career to the next level. So what actually ended up happening was that I decided that I needed to go and work with a different coaching system, which ended up being Shawn Eby, who at the time was actually working down in Cycling Australia and he had coached Shane Perkins to some success, and Shane is a regular attendee of T-Town, and of course now he actually rides for Russia not for Australia. I found myself in a really difficult situation politically, because Shawn ended up relocating back to Sidney, which is my home state in New South Wales, and I followed him because he was now my coach.

Kaarle McCulloch:

So I wasn’t I guess being seen or heard down in the Adelaide environment, which is where the high performance program is, and I had a pretty average season in 2013-14, where I didn’t improve my results, but I also wasn’t probably, I don’t think I really deserved to lose my scholarship. But I guess Cycling Australia are always looking to give other people opportunities if their current athletes in the system aren’t progressing, and going on in a forward motion. So I found myself sitting outside on the steps of gym in New South Wales, basically in tears after I had the phone call from the coach at the time at Cycling Australia. I was 25 at the time, and I realized to myself, “I’m 25 years old, I’ve just lost all my source of income.” I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to achieve in my career yet, and I didn’t know that Cycling Australia believed I could. I had no skills or qualifications, because I hadn’t finished my uni degree, and I was just like, “Wow, what am I going to do?”

Kaarle McCulloch:

At that period of time, I had to really decide whether I was going to continue on, because there was a very great chance that I probably wouldn’t get myself back under scholarship, because it is very… In fact, I don’t know that I know another athlete that has actually got themselves back onto scholarship, at least at my level. So I knew that I was really up against it, and particularly considering we were two years out from the Rio Cycle. I guess I was really lucky that I had Shawn, because Shawn really believed in me essentially, and that’s what I felt that I was missing. We just worked really hard together, and I decided that if I was going to continue on to Rio, that I had to also look after myself as a person. So Shawn and I actually came up with some really fantastic I guess rules for myself when it came to making a comeback.

Kaarle McCulloch:

One of those things was a happy Kaarle is a fast Kaarle, so every time I left training on a Friday afternoon, he would say to me, “Don’t come back for training on Monday without a story.” That meant that I had the freedom to go away over the weekend and actually live my life, and figure out what does Kaarle like to do away from cycling. I also re-enrolled in back in my university degree, and that helped me to focus my energy on something else other than cycling as well. It’s this balance, right? Yes you have to be all invested into your cycling career, but if you’re just invested in that, it can drive you crazy. I have to admit, I went a bit crazy because I was just so focused on that and not enough on who I was, and what I wanted to do away from the bike.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I re-enrolled in my uni degree, and I’m pretty happy to say I’ve got two subjects to go now, which has been a long time but I’m almost there. But that’s definitely helped me. And I managed to get myself to the Oceania Championships in 2014, and basically just really had a great meet. Put myself out there, Stephanie Morton and I went to the Mexico World Cup in Guadalajara and won the team sprint, and then that saw me get re-selected to the 2015 World Championships in Paris, where Anna and I teamed up to win bronze. I was quite emotional from that, because I basically was told that there was no chance for me getting back in. I rode the fastest first lap of any Australian in that Olympic cycle in Paris. It didn’t eventuate in a selection for Rio, but it put me on the course of where I am right now.

Kaarle McCulloch:

So I got myself back in there, I’m still in there, I’m the oldest in the team now, it feels a bit weird.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s awesome.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But I’m back, and I’m still here, even with Tokyo being postponed the way that it has been. So yeah, I guess that’s a little snapshot or summary of that period of time in my career.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. That is such a cool thing though, right? That’s the power of just wanting it. But figuring out that wanting it isn’t enough, and that there’s got to be a different pathway. The sports psychologist I work with says the same thing, happy racers go faster. And where do you find the happy, and I think Andy’s living a little bit of happy racers go faster now, he’s rediscovered his love for the bike, but it balances. There’s something to really be said for that. You can make yourself completely, absolutely bonkers if the wattage on one effort isn’t right, and you beat yourself up, and you’re not worthy. Or you can have perspective, and you realize that it’s a spectrum, it’s a continuum, and you’ve got to have all the pieces in place. It’s such a cool story to hear you say yeah, I had my mid-life crisis at 25, and I fought back. So cool.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, pretty much.

Andy Lakatosh:

Because I’ve been there, we call that a quarter life crisis.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay, quarter life crisis.

Andy Lakatosh:

I experienced my one third life crisis.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I hope there’s not another one. I’ll tell you what, it was some tough years. I definitely wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, but it made you who you are now, and it’ll make you who you’re going to become, and that’s really cool. That’s a thing that you can pass on, that’s a legacy learning. That’s super cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, but for me, re-discovering enjoying riding again, because I took eight years where I did not like a bicycle at all, and now I absolutely love it. It’s interesting because when you go through that kind of stuff and you come back for the right reasons, and you come back with balance and stuff, at least what I find is I see it very differently now. I’m choosing to get up and do the training, and it’s like I want to do this. I definitely understand, we were discussing in the office Chloe’s interview where she said, “Some days I just really don’t like the bike, I don’t want to ride it.” I know Joan that was confusing for you, but for me it really resonated with me. Yeah, no I’ve been there. I’ve hated the bike, I’ve hated everything to do with riding, and you get up and do it anyway.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m not sure how it feels for you Kaarle, but I definitely feel more free about training now, and also once you find that balance you don’t feel as guilty when you need to live life. You realize that living life and taking care of X, Y, and Z and your happiness actually helps you to do better when you’re on the bike. At least that’s how it is for me.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely translates, right. Happy racers go faster.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Definitely.

Joan Hanscom:

It all goes back to that, yeah. A happy Kaarle is a fast Kaarle.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Exactly.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’ll go back for a second though, to Shawn. Because that is a character and a half. And you have to understand, I knew Shawn as a racer here in the early or mid-late ’90s. Shawn as a racer was not the same bubbly, friendly individual that he is now. I remember watching him, and Darren Hill, and Gary Niwon square off in keirins with Marty and the other guys here. We’re talking ’90s rules, keirin racing very liberally, at its best.

Kaarle McCulloch:

No rules, in other words.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. I actually have this concept where we’ll do racing here, except we’ll set it by rules by the decade. And then you have to go to the gearing, and also the rules from that decade. So ’90s was kind of like anything goes, but no bigger than a 92. So it would be interesting, to say the least.

Kaarle McCulloch:

That would be really cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

Did you know Shawn, angry Shawn I’ll say? Did you know him at all, or did you just get good, polished, more mature, it’s kind of like the version I hope people will come to know of me is like, “Oh, that’s nice Andy, that’s not angry Andy.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, that’s a funny one actually. Shawn is from my home state Sidney, and when I first started cycling I did not like Shawn at all. And I’ve told him this, he was this big, scary, loud character, and I was this very serious, have to do everything like this kind of person. He tries to get you to understand yourself, but it can be quite confronting, because right we don’t want to sometimes look at ourselves. So some of the questions he would ask me I’d be like, “Why is he asking me this, and what is happening here?” When I eventually went to him to ask if I could work with him, it was one of the most I guess revolutionary things for me, because I realized I didn’t even know this person.

Kaarle McCulloch:

We sat down and we had a coffee, and I just blurted out all this stuff that had happened over the London cycle. He just sat there and he listened. He didn’t interject, he didn’t ask me any questions, and at the end I just sat there waiting for him to respond. He just said to me, “I believe.” I was like, “What?” This guy is this big, over the top character who is quite scary, and he’s actually very grounded and he listens to you, and he wants to know you as a person. I just go so much out of him, I really learned so much from Shawn, and things that I still use today. Like I said the happy Kaarle’s a fast Kaarle, he wanted to know me as a person first before an athlete. I’ve been to his wedding, hist 50th birthday, I really feel like I’ve made a connection with Shawn, which I really value.

Kaarle McCulloch:

If I did step into coaching, I think that would be quite a critical thing for me. Because at the end of the day, the coach is the person who holds the athlete’s hopes and dreams in their hands, they’re quite responsible for it. An athlete invests a lot, they want to feel like that coach is on that journey with them, and it really felt like Shawn still is in some way, even though he’s not my coach, because he was just so integral in getting me back, and getting me to this point. When we do have a catch-up, he doesn’t ask me how my riding’s going first, he asks me how I am first. That was important to me. Shawn, I’ve had some great experiences with Shawn, and I’m so grateful to him. He can, as you mentioned, seem over the top and a little bit scary, but he’s at the end of the day quite a grounded person who really wants to help people discover themselves, which can be quite confronting for some people.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s funny, because you have to get to actually know Shawn. I guess with any burly sprinter, you have to actually get to. Maybe it was more common in the early 2000s, where you went to a race and, at least we were taught, you have to hate everybody that you’re going to race, and don’t be friends and don’t talk to anyone, and there’s all these secrets, don’t tell anyone what you’re doing. I haven’t been at that level in a while, but the couple of guys I do talk to, some of the Australians, when the Dutch riders come over, the GB riders now, everybody’s very open book. Because at the end of the day, we’re all doing the same stuff. There is no silver, magic bullet to this, you have to work hard and be smart about things.

Andy Lakatosh:

But Shawn, yeah it’s cool because he’s one of those guys that I know I would see at any World Cup, any time, and just instantly pick up right where we left of, have a great conversation, laugh about all kinds of stuff, not just what’s happening on the track. That’s definitely something that’s fun, and I think it’s very easy in high performance sport to not make those connections, especially with people from other teams and other countries. And it’s definitely… Yeah, I love Shawn, I think he’s great. I hope he comes back over here sometime soon so we can… Actually I want to have a coaches and legends keirin, I’ve been talking about this for a couple years now.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Oh, wow.

Andy Lakatosh:

Let all the coaches square off and race them.

Joan Hanscom:

That would be amazing.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m not-

Joan Hanscom:

We talked about that last 2019 summer-

Kaarle McCulloch:

That would be cool.

Joan Hanscom:

… what that would look like here. Because the season here in 2019 was a bit bonkers, it was a crazy season.

Andy Lakatosh:

We wrote our most aggressive UCI schedule ever, and we somehow lived through it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, we survived. We just say we survived the summer of 2019.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Well done.

Joan Hanscom:

But yeah, we kept talking about doing that there, because of who was here and it would have been super cool to do it. So maybe 2021 is the year, Andy.

Andy Lakatosh:

I know, I’m just trying to hold on, which one do I fall into now? Do I fall into the elite side, or do I have to do the coaches, or the legends?

Joan Hanscom:

You’ll have to do the coaches, and you’ll have to crush everybody. That’s the… sorry.

Andy Lakatosh:

And on that note, let’s take a quick break for our sponsors, and we’ll be right back.

Andy Lakatosh:

The Talk of the T-Town Podcast is brought to you through the generous support of B. Braun Medical Incorporated. A global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B. Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They’re also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Andy Lakatosh:

We here at the velodrome have a special affinity for B. Braun, because not only are they innovators in the medical field, but they like to race bikes. Every season you can catch the B. Braun team competing in our corporate challenge, and man does their team bring out the stoke. In 2019, they packed the stands with employees cheering for their team, and we can’t wait to see them out on bikes again soon.

Andy Lakatosh:

And we’re back with Kaarle McCulloch, on the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. We just finished talking about your journey in and out of Cycling Australia, working with the great Shawn Eby, and some of the things you had to overcome personally, and also personality-wise with USA Cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

No Andy, that’s you dear.

Andy Lakatosh:

Sorry. Cycling Australia. A little bit too similar at times. It’s massively impressive that you were able to come and find the motivation to fight back into the system and get to that level. A lot of riders could see that as a massive setback, and possibly just give up eternally. We all have setbacks, and aside from that, is there any particular biggest setback that you’ve experienced personally, either on or off the bike? And how did you overcome it, because obviously it’s not holding you back right now?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, I can think of a couple of things. I think the period of time between London and that 2015 era were some of the toughest years in my personal life and on the bike as well, because obviously I lost my scholarship in that period of time. But I learned a lot about myself in that period of time, and I worked really quite closely with my sports psychologist for a number of years and we didn’t talk about anything to do with the sport because I needed to help myself figure out who I was and recover from the situations that I was going through in my personal life. So I really am a big advocate for sports psychology, and I believe the foundation of sports psychology starts with actually understanding yourself first. Because if you don’t understand who you are, and how you think, and why you behave sometimes, then you’re never going to actually truly understand how to get the best out of yourself. I guess that my whole motivation in life is to get to be the best potential of Kaarle McCulloch, both on the bike and in my life. So I’m quite into trying to figure out how I can make myself better.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Fast forward some years, really up until this point in time I think, I’ve said it every time I’ve been injured in my career, I’ve said, “Oh, this is the worst thing I’ve ever gone through.” So it’s probably just because you’re living it right now, but I would have to say I’m actually recovering from a back injury at the moment that I had suffered… well I hurt myself in, it’ll be a year exactly next week, actually. And I was in the best form of my career up until that point in time. It was a Friday, the end of a really hard training week, and I didn’t feel anything happen in my back, but as soon as I started cooling down my back started to spasm up. I thought, “Oh, that’s a bit strange, I’ve been feeling a bit tight all week, but nothing out of the ordinary.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

24 hours later I basically couldn’t move, and I had injured, or slightly irritated a disc. So it wasn’t anything catastrophic, my MRIs didn’t show anything really that severe. This is in November, and we’ve got a lengthy selection and qualification, so basically I had to try to get through that season really not in a good place. That ended up with me having six cortisone injections into my back just to keep me ticking along. Get to the World Championships, and manage somehow, I have no idea how, to get the silver medal with Steph Morton in the 10 Sprint, but I just had one effort in me in that World Championships, and that was the semi-final ride where I managed to do an 18.7 and Steph just brought it home for us, and give us a chance to ride and defend our World Championship jersey, which unfortunately we were unsuccessful, the Germans definitely have set the bar now.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But the rest of that competition for me was just an absolute catastrophic failure. I was really well off the pace that I was in 2019, and I was really quite worried actually about whether I was going to get myself into some kind of form to be able to contend for gold in Tokyo. Obviously a few weeks later COVID hits and the world just implodes. So for me it’s been a slight blessing in disguise, but I’ve actually been in this really challenging position where I would feel okay for a little bit in my back, and then I would regress quite badly, I’d have to rest and then get back up again. That resulted in me, about three and a half months now, basically saying to my coach Nick Flyger that I couldn’t go on if that was going to be the resulting pattern.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I’m a bit emotion about it, because it’s been quite tough. I had pain in day to day life, I couldn’t get out of bed without having pain, I couldn’t bend over or pick anything up. So it wasn’t just on the bike, it was in life, and I was just like, “Wow, I can’t do this any more.” I stopped everything, I stopped training. I said to my coaches, “I can’t do it, but I will commit to a different course of rehab.” We were talking more cortisone injections, and I just didn’t want to do that. So I went and saw a specialist in Sidney, I went and saw a physio that I had worked with in 2013-14 to rehabilitate a knee injury, and I have been, the last four weeks, pain free. Touch wood, I just want to touch wood right now, and I was back on the bike last Friday for the first time.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Just talking about enjoying riding again Andy, I forgot the feeling of the wind going past your ears when you ride. Mind you I’m doing a murder pace 500 at 50 k’s an hour, so it’s not very fast, but-

Andy Lakatosh:

Wind is wind.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… it’s like, “Wow-

Andy Lakatosh:

Speed is speed.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… I’m so excited to be on my bike again.” And I’m not lifting particularly heavy weights in the gym, but I’m progressing, and like I say my back is getting better. In the end, as I mentioned, it wasn’t actually anything catastrophic with the structural parts of my back, but I was diagnosed with a high degree of active neuro-tension, which just means that I couldn’t relax my muscles. So this first month of my rehab was literally me setting a timer on my phone for every 20 minutes, and checking in with my body to see if there was any areas where I was just gripping. Basically for the first two weeks, every 20 minutes I would unconsciously have this tension in my body, and I had to start to teach my body-

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… to just relax. Just take a step back, it’s okay, we’re not doing anything dangerous any more. So it’s been a challenging time, but I feel like I’m giving myself the best opportunity now to hopefully get to Tokyo in 2021, as long as everything goes well in the world with COVID, and put myself and Steph in the best chance, in the best position to take out the gold. Because I really do believe that we haven’t quite seen the best of ourselves just yet.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. That is a story. And I say that as a person who has had cortisone shots in my spine. When I had my cortisone shot in my spine, it was similar, for a sports injury. I’m lying on the table and they shot my spine with the needle, and nothing happened. My doctor was like, “How does that feel?” I was like, “Fine.” And he’s like, “Oh, bad news.” I was like, “Really?” And he’s like, “Yeah, that’s not the reaction I need, I’ll be back.” And then he gave me the second shot, and I remember screaming, “Fire,” because it felt like he’d set my spinal column on fire. He was like, “Oh, that’s what I was looking for.”

Joan Hanscom:

So to go through that as many times as you did, I have a whole world of sympathy for that, because I just remember yelling fire, and thinking that my entire nervous system had been ignited with lighter fluid, and it was not a good feeling. So kudos for you for enduring more than one, because I wouldn’t. I was like, “No, not doing that again.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

Well, I didn’t want to have any more. The thing with cortisones is they don’t actually solve any underlying issue, they just mask it. Which is what I needed to do to get through that 2020 season, but if I wanted to be better than I ever have been in Tokyo, I needed to address the underlying pattern, which was basically that I was probably slightly over-trained up until that point, and my body was just not coping with the workload. So we’ve learned a lot, which is fantastic, and we’ve got some strategies in place that will hopefully stop any repeat back issues, for the whole team, actually.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, wow.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I think that it’s been a blessing in disguise, but not an enjoyable one.

Joan Hanscom:

Right, right. Wow.

Andy Lakatosh:

There’s a whole generation of Australian sprint cyclists behind you who need to thank you in advance for what you went through-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

… to set things up better for them. Remind me how old are you now?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Do I have to answer that?

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, come on.

Kaarle McCulloch:

No, I’m 32. But you know what? It’s so weird because talking about riding, I still feel like I’m 21 when it comes to the bike. There hasn’t really been a day where I’ve gotten up and not wanted to train, or go and get on my bike. I keep saying to my coaches, if you can get me to Tokyo and my back is good, who knows, maybe you’ll see me in 2024. But it’s really dependent on whether I can rehabilitate this back to a point where I can just go and do what I want to do on the bike.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, think about how lucky we are, you are that this happened to you in 2019, 2020, that this didn’t happen to you in ’99, 2000 or before that. Because it just would have been you’re done. There would have been no chance, no we’re going to try to figure this out, it’s either do the shot and make it or don’t, and we don’t really care otherwise. So in a way you’re almost lucky that it happened when it did. I only ask your age because as I train I encounter things that are like, “That didn’t used to hurt that way, and that didn’t use to bother me, and why can’t I just,” because I still, in my head, I still think like I’m 21. And God help us when I get back on a bike, if I try to race like I’m 21. According to those rules, it’ll be entertaining, I would suggest everyone buy tickets for Elite Nationals next year. But-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, okay. But let me tell you, as the old lady in the room, it doesn’t get better.

Kaarle McCulloch:

It’s interesting you know though, because I really feel, particularly with sprint cycling, and even really for endurance cycling too, we participate in a sport that is non-contact, unless you obviously have a crash. So I really think that there’s longevity for people in this sport. If you look at people like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, who are some of our greatest Olympic champions in the sprint, they were in their mid-thirties. So I get this fact that we see this young talent coming through who are exciting and definitely great prospects, but it’s our own athletes who have experience, and time, and races, and training history under their belt that if we can really look after them, and cater for them. And this starts from when these young talents come in. If we look after them, their careers could be 15 years.

Kaarle McCulloch:

That is really probably how it should be, because I feel like I still have more to give, and I think that it’s because of this massive training history that I have behind me. If I can get this back sorted, then I really feel that the best is yet to come. This is because of the time and energy that I’ve invested in these years previous. Andy, who knows, maybe you’ve got your best years to come too.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, I did go faster here this year than I ever did in my elite career before, so there is that.

Kaarle McCulloch:

There you go.

Andy Lakatosh:

But I’m going to chalk that up to a 60 tooth chain ring.

Joan Hanscom:

And the best boss ever.

Andy Lakatosh:

And the best boss ever that I-

Kaarle McCulloch:

Exactly.

Andy Lakatosh:

… Gray hairs have given me wisdom, not just high blood pressure. Or which came first. Thank you a lot for sharing that story.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, thank you.

Andy Lakatosh:

Because we all encounter something like that during our careers, and that’s, especially to have it all going on compounded by COVID, it’s just like you’ve got to be-

Joan Hanscom:

But with the looming pressure too of Tokyo, right?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It was a cauldron, no doubt, right?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It was a cauldron.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s definitely one of those things where, and you’re talking about, it would be interesting to really know what is the dollar amount that Cycling Australia has invested into you, or GB has invested into Jason Kenny over his entire career to get these results. And you definitely don’t want to, I wouldn’t want to just walk away from that investment. And with new technology and training tools and stuff, we’re always striving to keep athletes injury free, and there’s definitely an aspect of mental and emotional fatigue that comes from dealing with recurring injuries and illnesses, and the stress of competition and everything else. It’s one of those things that can really make an athlete start thinking about what is the next step after cycling. At the same time it can also stop them from wanting to think about it, because they don’t want to face that reality.

Andy Lakatosh:

But I’m sure at some point the thought has crossed your mind like hey, if there isn’t Paris, what is next for you? You said you’re finishing up your uni degree and stuff, but have you thought about beyond that, do you want to share? What are you thinking post-cycling career Kaarle’s life looks like?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Definitely I’ve got to get this degree done, because I started this degree in 2006 when I left school, and it’s been-

Andy Lakatosh:

Well mine isn’t done yet either, so there’s that.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… it’s been quite intermittent. I didn’t really do any study when I got first accepted into Cycling Australia in 2007 through to basically 2015. I did maybe one or two subjects. I’ve just been slowly chipping away at it since, so as I mentioned I’ve got two subjects to go. I will complete them in the semester post-Tokyo next year, so I’ve got a period of time now where I’m study-free. I know I talked about balance, but I’m actually quite looking forward to the prospect of not having to do that. But I am seriously considering potentially looking at the coaching.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I’m involved in a project at the New South Wales Institute of Sport with the women’s… we’re trying to get more women sprinters into the sport, because if Stephanie Morton and myself decide to retire after Tokyo next year, there’s quite a big gap. We don’t have quite the depth that some of the other disciplines have, and we’re in a situation where the team sprint now goes to three riders instead of two, where we have maybe one rider who’s on the cusp of potentially breaking it into being somewhat competitive, but still probably a cycle away from being super competitive in terms of medals. So we’re embarking on a bit of a talent transfer project where we’re looking at riders from other sports who don’t quite make it to Tokyo for their respective sport, and trying to entice them over into cycling, and seeing what we can do with them. That’s something that I’ve been somewhat involved with, but obviously with Tokyo being pushed another year further, to next year, it’s stopped my involvement in that project a little bit.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But I am considering coaching. I’d really like to coach females, particularly female sprinters, that’s obviously what I know, but I think with my degree, which I’m studying to be a P.E. teacher, but there’s a high degree of exercise science subjects in there. There’s a lot of new research coming out with how to train the female athlete, and working with their menstrual cycles, and trying to understand a little bit better how that works and how it impacts. I think, to me, we talk about the gap between men and women, and I know women are never going to reach what men can do, but I think the key to us getting closer is actually understanding how the female body works a little bit more, and how we can actually optimize performance for females within their menstrual cycles. That’s something that I’ve been really keen to looking at, and also understand why we don’t have more females in the sport. Because I think there’s a cultural thing there, and I think that needs to be looked at and potentially changed a little bit as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Amen to that, and I think that’s something that we care a lot about here. We’ve seen the numbers here go against the national trend for participation in bike racing, which is amazing. I think USA Cycling does about 88% male, 12% female, maybe on a good year, 85% male, 15% female, and we ran our numbers this year and we’re running 70%, 30% female here. It’s a huge, if you’re not paying attention to 50% of the population, you’re missing a huge opportunity. You’re missing potential, you’re missing the next you, you’re missing the great athlete if they’re just not coming to your sport. I think it’s something that we really, just as an entirety of the sport, really need to pay attention to, because it’s something we all struggle with, why are we so male dominant.

Joan Hanscom:

And so much of what you said too is true, it’s like sports science is all performed on men. We don’t appreciate that women athletes are different, it is a different animal, and how you optimize a different machine is, if you look at the body purely as a machine, how you optimize a different machine, you have to explore that and understand it better to really do it. Fascinating stuff.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’ll speak to it from the male coaching side of it. The conversation about your menstrual cycle and stuff, that’s one of the first conversations I have with my athletes, it’s noted in your training. It’s just a very matter of fact type of thing, because it is important to know. So I’ll be super interested to see what you find in research and studying and stuff, so please share that and keep me in the loop of it, because I agree with you that the potential that we’re tapping across the board in terms of human potential in general is very limited. The more we remove what we think the limitations are, and I think we’re seeing that in sprint cycling specifically with the gears going just out of control, well why not give it a shot. I think the same thing with training techniques, and how fast can a woman go and how fast can a man go, I don’t think we actually know the limit, so why set one or why have a preconceived notion of one, let’s just approach it as a totally clean slate and see where we can go with it.

Andy Lakatosh:

So that’s very exciting. I’d love to see you as a coach, and then you can partake in the coaches and legends keirin with me..

Joan Hanscom:

There you go.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Oh, I don’t know about that. Not sure, I don’t know, I don’t know. I think you’d be too rough, all the boys from that era with the no rules keirin, I’m not sure about that.

Andy Lakatosh:

We talked about doing it with Lynne, who’s going to be on the podcast coming up here, and she was super game for it. She had the same kind of concern, I said, “That’s all right, we’ll just put the guys on an 81 and we’ll let you ride whatever gear you want, we’ll keep it interesting that way.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. No, I’m all for fair play. Just like we, actually one of the big changes since the last time you were here is we are hard on the equal prize payout men and women, no matter what.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yep.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was one of the big things I was excited about when I started to get involved, Joan since she’s been here 100% on board with that. The 70/30 split we had this past year was just from our participation in COVID, I looked up our International Unique Entries from the UCI last year, and I think we had 75 or so men and maybe high 50s for women. Granted that’s a little bit different, it’s kind of like a World Cup, field limits are field limits. But it’s motivating to see that we do draw good crowds of high caliber bike racers of both genders.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, 100%. It matters.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s neat to see.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It matters to survival, to be very honest.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah. Yeah, well I think if I was to get into coaching I would probably, well I would most definitely see big value in using T-Town as a foundation building-

Andy Lakatosh:

That is what we love to hear.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… Yeah, program or even to go to assist the athletes in becoming better. And racing the endurance races, and experience a fourth of July, and just getting out there and having fun with their races while learning something.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. We like that.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, no 100% on board for that. Shifting gears a little bit, just because I’ve known you a very long time, and I knew the Kaarle who did not leave the house after about 7:30 PM. I remember sitting at the training center in Colorado Springs, and I’m chatting with Alex and Gideon, and Kaarle’s there, and the sun is well up, the sun is not going down for hours, and we’re all just hanging out, shooting the shit and having a good time in the cafeteria. Which normally can turn into hours in the OTC cafeteria, and Kaarle’s just very casually like, “All right, I’m off to bed.” I thought it was a joke, I looked at her and to Alex, and “Well what is she actually going to do?” He’s like, “No, that’s what she does, she goes to bed.”

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s the Kaarle I knew, never missing a training session, never having a cheat meal, never going out, going to bed before dark, which is basically I’m describing my own personal life right now. But you talked about happy Kaarle, and having a balance and stuff, so now that things have loosened up a little bit, what does Kaarle like to do besides going to bed before the sun goes down?

Kaarle McCulloch:

I do like to sleep, but I have to admit my bed time has blown out a little bit now. It’s definitely well past the sun going down, so you’ll be happy to know that. But I still manage to get eight or nine, sometimes 10 hours of sleep a night, which I just love.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m jealous.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But I guess the things that I like to do for fun, I think I’ve been really, really blessed I guess to have met my current boyfriend Kevin, who’s actually, well was a diver, he retired three weeks ago. He’s from Mexico, he became Australian citizen just before Rio, and he is a Mexican. So he loves his tequila, he loves to go out dancing, he’s very care-free, but he can be serious when he needs to be. And he’s really helped me to just relax a little bit and to get out and enjoy life. He likes to skateboard, I’ve never skateboarded before, he’s taught me how to do that. Taught me how to salsa dance, which is not very good but I can sort of say that I can do it.

Kaarle McCulloch:

And I do make a point now, when I go away on trips, if some other riders from different countries and some of the Aussies want to go and have a drink after a race, I’ll be one of the first down there. I really feel like it’s important to just relax after a race, and just experience other, go and talk to people from other countries, and like you said Andy, you realize at the end of the day that everybody’s just trying to do the same thing. Everybody wants to go to the Olympics to win a gold medal, so when you can just get out there and have a little bit of winge about your coach, or teammates to somebody else, everybody remembers that they’re in the same boat at the end of the day.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, 100%. That’s definitely something I regret is not making more friends through the process. Obviously I wound up having some great friends out of it, like Kaarle’s here on the podcast, and I know if I ever bump into her at a race, or World Cup. And that’s one of the things that’s really unique about this is the Milton World Cup up in Canada, that’s just a six hour drive for us. I went up the last couple years that it was here, and you’re just bumping into these people from literally half way around the world that you haven’t seen in months, maybe years, and you’re just catching up and shooting the shit, and that’s definitely one of the fun, unique things that I love about this sport. Like Chris Hoy is larger than life, until you talk to him. Then he’s just Chris Hoy.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Right, right.

Andy Lakatosh:

He’s not Sir Chris Hoy, he’s just, I’ll still call him Sir, but yeah, everyone’s pretty down to earth. And if they’re not I don’t know what their problem is, but hey. One final Australian stereotype I’d like to talk about is that all Australians are crazy. What I mean is there’s a reputation of the Australian team of always getting up to something crazy at training camps, post events, junior worlds especially, I know because I witnessed some of it. And that’s just to put it nicely. I know chatting with Ryan Bailey he’s got a whole list of stories from that late ’90s, early 2000s era. But you guys have always been full of some colorful characters, and I was wondering what the craziest story or experience you have that is de-classified that you can actually share that won’t jeopardize your scholarship that you’d like to tell the listeners here on the T-Town Podcast?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah, I think the thing that I always notice when we go away to World Cups or World Championships, especially when we’re sharing a hotel and therefore dining rooms with other teams, is Australians are the loudest, laughing like crazy at dinners and every other country just seems to be quite serious. So definitely I think we’re probably have rightfully earned that crazy stamp, but I think it’s probably more the fact that we just enjoy a good old laugh, and this not taking things too serious, which is a little bit ironic seeing as I was that serious person, but I’ve tried to loosen up a little bit.

Kaarle McCulloch:

But in terms of a crazy story, there’s so many really. Nothing that’s super bad, but I actually had a different story in mind that I wanted to tell you about you just mentioned-

Andy Lakatosh:

You can tell them both.

Kaarle McCulloch:

… Well, you just mentioned Milton, and probably one of the most funniest things that’s ever happened to me was at the Milton World Cup. It must have been not last season, the season before. We had done three races in three different weekends in three different continents in a row. We had a race in Adelaide, then a race in Paris, and then a race in Milton. Steph and I, we just got faster and faster and faster, to the point where when we got to Milton, we actually rode an Australian record in the team sprint. We’re sitting in our hotel room on the last night before we had to fly out, and she said to me, “Do you feel like a champagne?” I said, “Yeah, yeah I do.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

So we got into a taxi and we just Googled where their closest pub was. We pulled up to this pub and it just looked dead, you couldn’t see anybody in there. We told the taxi driver just to stay there while we went in to just see if there was actually anything going on. We walked in, and everybody in the pub paused, looked at us, and then the whole pub goes, “Yeaaaaaaa!” It was a full-on cyclist, and we were like, “What the hell?” That was just an amazing experience, and we had a glass of champagne, we talked to all the people in the pub, and then we were home tucked in bed before midnight, and the next day we went and saw Niagara Falls. It was just one of those spur of the moment, let’s just go and see what’s out there, and have a bit of fun.

Kaarle McCulloch:

As a team, we had decided that we weren’t going to go and do anything, and we’d done it on the sly to try and not let the coaches see us, but it was so funny because the next day, it was neat because the coaches that were out in the pub from the other countries, and our coach came up to us and said to us the next day, “So, how was the pub.” We were kind of a little bit like, “Oh no, we’ve been caught.” But we were responsible. And I think that that’s the key really. You just have to be responsible with that sort of thing, and not be too silly.

Joan Hanscom:

You hear that Andy? Don’t do anything too silly.

Andy Lakatosh:

My stories are not de-classified enough for T-Town Podcast. See, when I went to Junior Worlds both times, USA Cycling had this brilliant idea to deter us from going out. They were like, “We’re going to book them on the 4:00 AM flight out, so that there’s no way they’re going to get up to shenanigans, because they’re going to have to get up early.” Well, we sure showed them, when we decided, “Oh, we’re just going to stay up all night.”

Joan Hanscom:

That’s the obvious choice, yes.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

The rest of the story is thereby classified. However, there’s always that rule of no, don’t go out, stay in. We obviously live in a different world today than say early 2000s, but yeah, there’s always a certain aspect of doing those things that makes it really fun. Thank you for sharing that story. You were the hero of the bar that night.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s it for all of our extended talking questions. We have a couple of lighting round questions that we put everyone through, so you are not going to escape those.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Okay.

Andy Lakatosh:

Here we go. If you had a pet parrot, what would you teach it to say?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Oh gosh, I don’t know. Probably Kevin, my boyfriend’s name.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s awesome.

Andy Lakatosh:

It would be even better if it sounded exactly like you, and he wasn’t sure if it was you or the parrot. Let’s see. Favorite country you’ve been to?

Joan Hanscom:

New Zealand.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well that’s basically next door, that’s like New Jersey for us.

Kaarle McCulloch:

I know, it’s not really fair, but the countryside there is just amazing.

Joan Hanscom:

Fair.

Andy Lakatosh:

I’ve never been, so I’ll add it to my list. Favorite color?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Blue.

Andy Lakatosh:

Ah, me too. Favorite smell?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Oh. Probably spaghetti bol, the smell of spaghetti bolognese. That’s just, as a kid I just loved to eat that, so I love the smell of that cooking.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, it’s dinner time here so now I’m hungry, thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

Right, thanks for that.

Andy Lakatosh:

Cat or dog, and I already know the answer to this one.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Dog.

Andy Lakatosh:

100%. Vegemite, love it or hate it?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Love it.

Andy Lakatosh:

I don’t understand that one at all. If we can’t see air, does that mean fish can’t see water?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yes.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. And how do you feel about wearing socks with sandals, yes or no?

Kaarle McCulloch:

Well, I have to say that I’m a bit of a, I do do that sometimes, especially at cycling races. But if it’s casual setting, no.

Andy Lakatosh:

And final question. Do you think we will actually be able to get Alex Bird onto the podcast? Get him to divulge his secrets?

Kaarle McCulloch:

I would say 50/50, and I’m actually going to catch up with him on the weekend, so I’ll try to swing it to the way of yes.

Joan Hanscom:

Put your thumb on the scale, all right.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

I haven’t even hit him up yet, but when I do I’m going to use all my best, “Listen come on, I really need you to do this as a good friend, we’ve been friends a long time.”

Kaarle McCulloch:

Yes, definitely guilt trip him into it.

Andy Lakatosh:

My job is dependent upon it.

Joan Hanscom:

Nicest boss ever.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right, I think that wraps it up for us. Thank you very much Kaarle for being on the podcast, it’s been a pleasure. And thank you for sharing all those great stories. We look forward to having you back here in person racing, sometime in the near future. And when you come back, you will have to partake in keirin revenge-

Kaarle McCulloch:

Okay.

Andy Lakatosh:

… which is a very fun keirin team racing that we do here.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Oh.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, it’s quite a good time. And a little bit of Andy’s rules. Thank you very much.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Thank you.

Andy Lakatosh:

And best of luck with Tokyo 2020, or 20 whatever it’s going to happen. Yeah, we’ll be rooting for you.

Joan Hanscom:

Thanks so much.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Thanks guys.

Joan Hanscom:

Bye.

Kaarle McCulloch:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with hosts Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode, brought to you by B. Braun Medical, Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.