This week, we return to the A Few Good Questions fireside to chat with the Bearded One, Dan Korienek. Besides sharing a hometown with the Official Father of kolo t.c. (Elsie, Michigan), he’s also one of the nicest gents on the Michigan cycling circuit. The Leadout Racing all-star kicked off his 2012 season by gracing (read: CRUSHING) the kolo t.c. season starter, There Will Be Blood Gravel Road Race. A handful of wins and myriad podiums later, he took second yesterday at the Hanson Hills Challenge. Enjoy!
1. First off, who are you? That’s asked in a philosophical sense, sure, but where are you from, what do you do, who do you care about and what do you enjoy?
Dan Korienek, I reside in Grandville with my wife Laura and we have 3 kids, Keegan, Ellie and Kiersen. I am originally from the very small town of Elsie, MI and moved to Grand Rapids area to go to GVSU and play football…I mean to get a good education. If I could only do one type of riding it would be MTBing. I like to race on the road, but riding alone in the woods or racing are both awesome. Riding alone on the road just plain sucks.
2. What got you into biking? What got you into racing? What is your proudest two-wheeled achievement?
About 10 years ago I was turned around looking in the mirror and I noticed I had fat on my back. Having “back fat” isn’t very desirable and I knew I had to do something about it. The next day I went out and ran 1 mile in a little over 9 minutes. I continued to run and kept going farther and getting faster. After about 6 years of running I was getting bored with just running, so I went and watched a triathlon. I knew that it was something I wanted to do, so I went to Chicago Dr. and bought my first bike, a Trek 1000. I soon realized that I was horrible at swimming, ok at running, but faired really well on the bike. I still like to do tri’s, but my focus is definitely on the bike now. The next year I bought a MTB and started racing. Racing on the road came last, once I was introduced to the guys from Leadout.
The thing I am most proud of is getting the whole family into racing. My wife and all three kids race both MTB and road. It is some times quite a hassle to get 5 bikes and gear to races, but definitely worth the effort. I do not feel bad about spending a whole day at a race, because we are there as a family spending time together.
3. What kind of bike(s) are you riding? Do they have names?
I just got my new Trek Madone SSL with SRAM Red and really like it. I absolutely love my Superfly, it is a 2009 and has over 8,000 miles on it, but it just keeps rolling along. Everything has been replaced at least once, but the frame is still original. I also have a Trek XO1 cross bike that has doubled as my road race bike a few times when I have broken them. I guess I am a little boring, because I do not have any names for my bikes.
4. What are your big goals for 2012? Who do you want to beat this year?
Goals are something I need to do a better job of. I do not sit down and think about what I want to accomplish. I just like to go to races and race hard.
Beating Geoff Kuyper is always sweet. Besides beating people on my team, I would like to beat Derek Witte in a straight up sprint. We have went head to head a few times and I am always on the losing end.
5. What is your favorite place to ride in the world? In Michigan?
I have done limited riding in Colorado, but what I have done was pretty sweet. In Michigan, I love the Peak 2 Peak course. It is super fast and the climb up the hill is challenging, but not horrible.
6. If you had to compare yourself to a pro, who would you pick?
Don’t know. I only know a handful of pros and they are the really good ones. I am not good enough to compare to any of the ones I know. Who is the biggest pro? Any of them over 200 pounds? If so, that would be the one. (Taylor Phinney weighs in at 180 pounds, the largest cyclist in the kolo t.c. weight archive. So I proclaim Dan K. ‘like Taylor Phinney if Taylor Phinney could grow facial hair. Editor’s Note)
7. Who is your favorite person to ride with?
Without a doubt, my son Keegan. I can’t say I have always enjoyed riding with him, but now that he can keep a decent pace it is a blast to ride with him. The first time he “raced” Yankee it took him 2.5 hours and I thought we were never going to finish. Walking up and DOWN hills was killing me, but we finished and he has continued to get better. As for my girls, Ellie is a pleasure to MTB with as she just takes everything in stride and can dig deep when she needs to. I DO NOT like to ride with my youngest, Kiersen. She scares the crap out of me. Downhills are her specialty and she absolutely kills it. Brakes are not part of her thought process and I do not like to watch her decend. Geoff Kuyper usually rides with her and he has complained several times about how scary she is to watch.
8. If you could design a bike race in Michigan, where would the finish line be? Who would you have as podium girls? (Celebrities are in play)
Where ever there is a big crowd and no hill. I hate uphill finishes!
Having any girls at all would be better than the usual dude handing you a medal and shaking your hand. I guess Angelina Jolie would make a perfect podium girl and maybe she could give me a topless bottle handup as well!
9. Thank somebody:
Definitely need to thank my wife, Laura. She almost never complains about me riding my bike. Between her and I both riding, the kids doing school activities and sports the house is crazy. She takes it all in stride.
10. Any last words?
I have to say I am a little stoked that I get to fill this Q&A out. It makes me feel special. Now, I just don’t want to find out everybody got these.
(Not everyone gets these, Dan. Not everyone.)