Andrew Juiliano Pro Athlete
Andrew Juiliano has been many professional things: magazine editor, writer, dishwasher, EMT, woodworker and oyster shucker. Throughout it all, he’s also been a bike racer. After five season on the US UCI cross circuit, the 29-year-old dives headfirst into the European professional ranks. From October to February, he’ll be in the Holy Land of cyclocross, racing World Cups, DVVs and Super Prestige events across Belgium and the Netherlands. He’ll chronicle the good the bad and the muddy in an ongoing column, which you can follow in upcoming Peloton Magazine issues.
Follow Andrew @drewliano
Getting to know Andrew
- What's your most memorable bike-related moment?
At age six, I took my first bicycle-related trip to the ER. My family was in Idaho for the summer, and we were mountain biking down an old fire road. I yelled “Yahoo!” right as I hit some loose gravel, crashed hard and tore open my knee. The nearest town and hospital were 25 miles away, and we ran out of gas on the way to the ER. Dad jumped out of the car as it puttered to a stop and flagged down the first vehicle he saw. We successfully hitchhiked to the hospital, and 13 stitches later they sent me on my way. In three weeks I was back on the bike. Never learned my lesson…
- Any pets?
Not at the moment. We cat sat for six months last year. I’ve always fancied myself a dog person, but Mr. Kit E was one cool cat. I think I’m down with any species as long as it has a charming personality and doesn’t poop on the carpet when it gets mad at me.
- Favorite breakfast foods?
I grew up in New Jersey and love me a good pork roll, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on a bagel (it has to be a real deli bagel). Ten years of Californiacation still hasn’t broken my taste buds, although on race day I play it safe with oatmeal, peanut butter, honey and some berries.
- Tell us about life in Santa Barbara, California.
Santa Barbara is a far cry from where I grew up in New Jersey, though both are delightful in their own ways. What Southern California lacks in quality pizza, they make up for with some of the best burritos known to humankind. Instead of riding quaint, quiet farm roads of rural New Jersey, I ride up and down the mountains above Santa Barbara. There’s a 3,600-foot road climb right out my front door.
I also, spend a ton of time at the beach. No sun bathing for this guy though–at low tide, I can ride 10 miles in either direction right next to the water. It’s great and soul crushing for long, flat intervals. I’ll also ride lines into the soft sand and spend hours drifting and sliding through the ruts. Hopefully, this beach training can translate to some success in Belgium. I don’t want to be a total donkey brain over there.
I frequently marvel about the good fortune to wind up in a place like Santa Barbara. I suppose falling in love with a woman who grew up here helps. I try to enjoy every minute of it, since I’m not sure it will last forever. Regardless of the next phase in life, there will always be something great about wherever you land.
- What book are you currently reading?
There are a few, and they all serve different purposes. Dutch in Three Months is on my practical reading list, so I can converse (most likely poorly) with the Flandriens when I arrive in Belgium. Elements of Story is some light bedtime reading for my inner writing nerd. We also have a subscription to the New Yorker. Some of those articles are longer than many short stories or even novellas, so I’ll go ahead and throw that on the book list as well.
- What other sports do you enjoy besides cycling?
Recently, cycling has taken up much of my time and physical energy, but my girlfriend, Annick, and I love to surf. I lived the glorious life of a surf bum for three years when I first moved to California, sleeping in a Santa Cruz garage, bussing tables and surfing my brains out. We also spent two years living 10 blocks from the beach in San Francisco, so I’ve spent large chunks of my life bobbing in the Pacific Ocean.
I was a soccer goalkeeper through high school and part of college. The position really toughed me up physically and psychologically, which has helped with bike racing. I probably hit the ground tens of thousands of times over the course of my career, not to mention a few kicks to the face. I’m pretty comfortable smacking into the ground and other people. I try to keep the rubber side down, but the soccer background has made me more resilient than your average roadie when it comes to crashing (fingers crossed).
Goal tending is also one of the most mentally taxing positions in all of sport. There’s little room for error, and your mistakes have the biggest impact on the score, team morale and the ultimate outcome. I learned how to channel that pressure, and the experience definitely keeps my brain game in check when racing.
- Three things from your bucket list you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years.
I don’t necessarily have a bucket list–I would call it more bucket guidelines. There aren’t specific goals on there, just general scenarios that I think, “Wouldn’t that be nice?” I’ve found that a dynamic, rather than static list, allows you to find great opportunity that you never knew existed. For instance, I spent three years as the editor of ROAD magazine, and during that time, I worked from home quite a bit. I started to really enjoy the fact that I could wear whatever I wanted to “work.” When the magazine closed in February 2017, one of my new bucket guidelines became, “I want a career that doesn’t require pants.”
With that disclaimer out of the way, this season will hit many bucket flies with one swat. I love to race bikes and I love to write stories. I have done both over the years in both professional and semi-professional capacities, but to be able to pursue both at a high level, as a career, will really be special. Plus, I race in tights and write in PJs, so no pants required. I suppose I’ll be checking off three bucket items this season–nine years ahead of schedule for the purpose of this question.
- Most challenging bike race you've ever competed in?
About 10 minutes into every cyclocross race, I am convinced I have made the worst career decision ever. Ten minutes after the finish, I can’t wait to do it again.
More specifically, the toughest race I’ve ever done is the Galena Grinder. The race starts at 7,300 feet of elevation and has a total of 3,500 feet of climbing per 22.5-mile lap. The single-lap cross-country race is hard, but the two-lap marathon is downright brutal. The Grinder takes place at the Galena Lodge, an old gold mining town turned mountain bike and ski resort about 20 miles north of Sun Valley, Idaho. I worked there as a cook during the summers, and every year they’d give me the day off (or at least the morning off) to race. One year, it hailed, I got hypothermic and had to DNF. Another year, I rode the 45-mile marathon distance and was cramping so savagely on the final loop that they nearly sent out the sweep moto to peel me off the trail. I’m not one to learn my lesson though, and I’ve raced the Grinder several times since, with slightly better, though still painful, outcomes.
- How did you get connected with Rock Lobster?
When I first moved to California, I was working at Santa Cruz Millwork, a custom door manufacturer. This was after graduating from the table-bussing gig. Our shop was in an industrial building on the West Side of town, and we were a few doors down from Paul Sadoff and his Rock Lobster shop.
Jeff Traugott, a luthier who works next to Paul, really got me involved with the Rock Lobster team. When he found out I had raced mountain bikes, he encouraged me to come on the Tuesday Hammer Ride–it goes nine miles up the coast, climbes 1,200 feet up Bonny Doon Road then screams back into town with a stout tailwind. For a big guy, I was a decent climber, and it impressed Jeff. He bought me a Rock Lobster team jersey and told me I was racing ‘cross the next season. Paul built me a bike and threw me into the Elite A race at Fort Ord in Monterrey. That was six years ago. Paul’s been an incredible supporter of my career and an incredible friend since then. He and Jeff really deserve a great deal of credit for anything that I’ve been able to accomplish in the cycling world, both publishing and racing. Without their encouragement, I’d probably be sitting in a cubicle, and most likely be wearing pants.
- Tell us about your plans for the 2017 / 2018 ‘cross season.
I’m really going all in. The season starts with a trip to China, followed by CrossVegas and the West Sac Grand Prix. I’ll then move to Belgium from October through February. For five months, I’ll race in the Holy Land of cyclocross, from the dunes of Koksijde and Zonhoven to the dank woods of Gavere and Namur. I want to taste the muck, smell the Duvel and fully embrace the life of a Flandrien cyclocross racer. It will be full Hunter S. Thompson status, diving headfirst into the world of European ‘cross. Although there will be no aviator sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts or mescaline benders, I will be writing about the characters, places and experiences of this whole wild ride. You can follow the shenanigans via my weekly column at Peloton Magazine.