Michael "Meatball" Friedman is a professional rider with Team Garmin-Chipolte H3O and a soon to be Olympian. Friedman will compete with Bobby Lea, his former college roommate, in the Madison for Team U.S.A. Other accomplishments of Michael's are coming in 12th at Het Volk (above) after being in a breakaway from kilometer 9 to kilometer 190, and winning a shitload of national championships. Oy Velo managed to grab an interview with Mike before he takes off for China.
Oy Velo: Hi Mike, thanks again for the interview.
Mike Friedman: No problem.
OV: First things first, where do you get your eyebrows done?
OV: I see on your blog that you have fantastically shaped eye brows, there’s no way you got good cycling and eyebrow genes.
MF: Thanks. I'm blushing. I actually do them myself. Mostly just get rid of the unibrow and trim the top. It's too sensitive to pluck around the lower part of the lids.
OV: That's not so metro. If your answer was, "I get them waxed at the salon," this interview would be over.
OV: Second order of business, congratulations on the Olympics! Mazel Freaking Tov. I’m really happy for you. What’s your preparation like?
MF: I'm doing mostly uphill motor-pacing.
OV: Do you live in a bubble to avoid germs?
MF: No way. You gotta live it up. If you live in a bubble, your immune system suffers.
OV: Okay, no bubble boy. Next order of business, this is a pretty popular cycling website among my immediate family, but not so much in Europe. This means that this is the perfect forum for you to trash talk Cavendish, one of your rivals in the madison at the Olympics.
MF: Tempting, but since he's won four Tour de France stages, I'll lay off Cav.
OV: That's very glass is half-full, he has lost ten stages so far too.
MF: Yeah, you're right. He sucks.
OV: There we go! Another question for you, why didn’t you join the Garmin-Chipolte H30 mustache club?
MF: I don't want to be a follower.
OV: I think the whole team needs to do it, like the highway patrolmen on Super Troopers.
MF: That's a great idea, I'll run it by JV (Jonathan Vaughters) and the guys.
OV: Why are you nicknamed "Meatball? Why not "Matzot Ball" or "Brisket?"
MF: I guess because I'm short, fat, and low to the ground. Supposedly I look like a meatball on the bike.
OV: Sounds like "Butterball" would be a good one too. Are you really fat, or just fat for a cyclist?
MF: Fat for a cyclist. I've got a big ass and legs. I have a hard time fitting into jeans. Dr. Allen Lim actually calls my ass the "Cottage of Wattage."
OV: What's your height and weight?
MF: 5'9 /170
OV: According to the Body Mass Index (BMI), you're "overweight," but not "obese." Incidently, there are over ten health conditions associated with being overweight, none of which are saddle sores and pulmonary embolisms.
MF: We've never even met. Either you did your research or you're stalking me?
OV: Both. I started researching/stalking you yesterday. In my defense, that saddle sore did receive a lot of media attention. I found one article about how you tried to soothe it MacGyver-style with a banana. I've also read a lot of articles about how the saddle sore required surgery, which led to a pulmonary embolism. It's a bit infamous.
MF: Saddle sores suck. I actually dated a girl and introduced her to cycling. She wound up getting a saddle sore and went to her gynocologist because she thought it was herpes. I told her it was a saddle sore but she didn't believe me. She took herpes medication for a few weeks before she finally agreed to try saddle sore medication, then it went away in a few days.
OV: That's really funny. What's more painful, taint surgery or a pulmonary embolism?
MF: Pulmonary embolism, hands down. Taint surgery is just a local anesthetic.
OV: You're tough. You get to go to the White House before the Olympics, any other VIP treatment?
MF: Yeah, everything that's going on is amazing. Team Garmin-Chipolte hooks me up too. It's really a dream come true.
OV: Good for you.
OV: It is time for the Six Questions With Oy Velo. Are you ready?
MF: Bring it.
1) Swedish Meatballs or Italian Meatballs?
MF: Hmm. Tough, but I'm going with Swedish.
OV: Sorry, you're wrong. Italian are superior.
MF: One of my grandmothers is from Sweden, she can make fantastic swedish meatballs. Plus Maggie (Backstedt) is a Swede, so when we're together, people call us Swedish Meatball.
OV: You make a good argument. My family wasn't big on Swedish meatballs, so I've actually only had Lean Cuisine Swedish meatballs.
MF: Are you kidding me? Who are you to judge meatballs?
OV: You can have half credit.
2) Better way to train for the Beijing Olympics, altitude training, or rollers in an enclosed space with the car running?
MF: I see where you're going with this. Pollution is pretty bad in China, so it would be good to become accustomed to carbon monoxide. . . but, if I train at altitude, I create more red blood cells, enabling myself to breath in more polluted oxygen.
OV: Good answer. You're aware, but logical. For the record, air pollution in China is five times above the World Health Organization’s safety standards, even with reduced motor traffic and the closure of 144 gas stations.
3) According to Kosher rules, you can eat dairy six hours after eating meat. How long must you wait before eating meat after dairy?
MF: Not sure on the Kosher front, but I don't eat meat after dairy because it inhibits iron absorption. I'll guess twelve hours.
OV: That's a great incorrect answer. You only have to wait one hour, though exceptions do apply.
4) What is the name of the Jewish community native to China since 231 BC?
MF: Can I use google it?
OV: No, that's cheating.
MF: I can't even guess on that.
OV: Kaifeng Jews. Neighboring Chinese communities called them "tiao jin jiao," which, loosely translated, means the religion which removes the sinew.
MF: It sounds like you're allowed to google.
OV: Of course I am.
5) Name a difference between "eastern style" toilets and "western style" toilets.
MF: There's no toilet, it's just a hole in the ground.
OV: Correct. I also would have accepted, "no toilet paper."
MF: Oh yeah. Forgot about that, but I always travel with a roll of toilet paper, so it's not a problem.
OV: Oh, you've been?
MF: Yes, World Cup. I won the scratch race. You're not a very good stalker.
OV: Sorry, it blended in with your other accomplishments. What do they use in China instead of toilet paper?
MF: No clue. I did not see a substitute.
6) Where was the madison invented?
MF: Madison Square Gardens here in the U.S. It's actually called Americana in Europe.
7) Bonus question: Who is going to win the Madison for the 2008 Olympics?
MF: I know you want me to say Bobby and I and I hope you're right, but the madison is a tough race and luck plays a factor, so we'll do our best and try to come home with gold.
OV: Get gold or stay over there.
OV: I'm just kidding. You got four and a half Stars of David out of Seven. Mazel Tov and good luck in Beijing!