An Interview with David Millar
Over the past 14 years, David Millar has worn every jersey at the Tour, won National road & time trial championships, and taken stages at every Grand Tour. Just as important, though, he’s maintained a strong sense of altruism that’s extended itself to his final season via the Eloquence in Movement Project. True, he’s had highs, and he’s had lows, but he’s come out the other side as an open book, full of unabashed opinion and candor. And because of this sense of openness, there isn’t much that we don’t know about his career. Luckily, though, my interests tend to be more human than professional. In this interview, we discuss favorite authors, who has the best record collection in the peloton, and what David plans on doing with his life post-retirement. Enjoy.
Photos courtesy of Fi’zi:k
JS: Let’s start it off easy — walk me through what’s going on here:
DM: I was going to win the stage, and I had been racing for over five hours with less than two minutes of racing left when my chain snapped. I was super pissed off. Those occasions only happen when the stars are aligned — I had missed the start that morning as I was in the start village chatting with Max Sciandri. I had no intention of going for the stage, it just all unfolded that way as I felt like ten men, then my fucking chain snapped. Robbed.
JS: I once saw an interview with Jens Voigt, where he said that, post-retirement, cycling would be relegated in his life to trips to the ice cream shop twice a year. Do you share this sentiment, or do you look forward to riding for pure enjoyment?
DM: I can’t wait to ride for pure enjoyment, not worrying about how slow I’m going, what numbers I need to hitting, etc.. Not that I concern myself too much with that, although, it is omnipresent in the back of my mind. It will be nice not to have that there nagging me.
JS: What aspects of professional cycling will you miss, what will you take with you?
DM: The racing. The camaraderie. The equipment.
JS: Are you looking forward to a life out of the spotlight? Do you have any loose ends in cycling to tie up?
DM: I’m looking forward to not living on the road — I think I’ve spent most of my life travelling. I want to move into our new house and just stay there. I can’t think of any loose ends to be honest.
JS: Take me through the process of writing Racing Through the Dark. Did you find writing to be challenging, cathartic, or both?
DM: A real challenge, it was like starting a new job (where, perhaps, you had over sold yourself a little in the interview). The first few months were quite tough, then I began to figure it out. Jeremy Whitle was a great help; he was a mentor through it all. A great teach, the last third of the book I rattled through, it was all encompassing. I basically became a Howard Hughes like figure — I went quite feral.
JS: I read in an interview that you did with the Guardian, stating that you’re currently involved with a couple of feature films. Is film a medium that you’d like to pursue in the future?
DM: That’s something that I’ve sort of fallen into. They’re two completely different films — on a major motion picture, and the other, a smaller artistic production. I’ve learnt a lot, it’s an amazing art form, it couldn’t be further from writing a book, where one is constantly filling in details and creating a narrative arc. With a film, one is forever stripping down the details, while also creating a narrative arc. One is about filling in the gaps, the other is about stripping down to the absolute essentials.
JS: This year, you’ve taken the shoe game to another level with An Eloquence In Movement Project. Tell me about this and the Small Steps Project that’s the recipient of the auction proceeds.
DM: They’re a small UK-based charity who help children and their families move off the rubbish dumps they live in and survive by supplying them with shoes/clothes/education. The CEO, Amy Hanson, is very hands-on which is amazing. I wanted a charity where I knew where the money was going rather than have it disappear into a massive fund. Small Steps Project seemed perfect, then there was the fact that we were making shoes and selling them to buy shoes for children who had none. There’s a nice symmetry.
JS: Has Taylor Phinney asked for a pair yet?
DM: Negative. I like his Giro shoes, though — quite cool.
JS: Although we’ve never met, allow me to say that you come across as eloquent and contemplative. Do you have a favorite author?
DM: Very kind of you to say so. I feel like I’m becoming contemplative as of late, I need to reset my brain, start afresh. As for an author, there are a few. I liked Arthur C. Clarke when I was a kid, J.G. Ballard, Cormac McCarthy, and others as I grew up. Now, I don’t read so much, I’m sure I’ll get back into it, though. Life’s a bit hectic currently.
JS: Who has the best record collection in the pro cycling?
DM: Zabriskie’s was extensive.
JS: Lastly, and granted, rather loaded, describe your perfect day.
DM: Waking up. Spending time with my boys. Drive in the mountains. Lunch with my family. Read. Nap. Bath time with the boys. Dinner out with my wife and friends.
JS: Thank you for your time, it’s been a pleasure.
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