12 Things With Eric Wohlberg
Continuing our "Things With" series with the Men's Team Director, Erick Wholberg.
From becoming a Commonweath champ to a dalliance with medical organ modeling and his quest to become a YouTube sensation, we sat down with Rally Cycling's very own Derek Zoolander, team director Eric Wohlberg.
A good coach is not someone who is there when their riders are winning. It's when their riders are struggling, that's when a good coach or director shows their worth - if you can somehow turn things around for that rider or the group in general, you're doing your job right.
Years ago I became a breatharian. That's where you don't eat, and you just subsist off the elements that float around in the air and you spend basically a good 20 hours of the day meditating, and you can live like that. If you just want to simplify it, I'm the epitome of mental, physical, and financial perfection - that's how I'd describe myself.
In bike racing, you can have a run of bad luck. That’s tough on everyone, but you’ve just got to keep on putting your best foot forward. Riders get tired, or you have some sickness that goes around the team, colds and stuff like that, and that’s the emotional part right there – how to just stay positive during those tough times. I think that’s a sign of real mental strength in the riders and the staff, their ability to pull through those hard times.
If you're not a big name you have to fight a little bit harder. We’re definitely a smaller team and we’re slowly but surely making in-roads to the professional WorldTour race system, which is ultimately where we aspire to be. As we continue to work on that big breakthrough, it’s sometimes difficult dealing with the more established teams and the governing body.
I'm a Commonwealth Games champion. I won in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur in the ITT and I took bronze, or ‘the dirty gold’ as some like to call it, in the road race. Then in Manchester in 2002 I didn’t have the best time, I think I was fifth both in the TT and the road race. It was OK, wasn’t as good as I was hoping for but it was still a respectable showing.
In the past, I actually have written personalized haiku for all my riders. I go one step further than most for sure.
It was great to represent Canada in three Olympics. The Games were great, and it was difficult of course, a bit of a darker period back then. I wish I could point to a superb result, but my results are getting better every month if you know what I mean. I will be awarded a medal pretty soon.
I have done some medical organ modeling. I don’t really like to specify that it’s medical though, I just let people think I’m a Derek Zoolander type of guy, a male supermodel. Actually, it is ultrasound – so my beautiful facial features are not really shown. They say I’m a ‘glass model’ because it’s a good scan, the ultrasound waves go through me quite easily. God has given us all gifts, and I guess transparency is mine.
It's easy to get emotional about a race win or loss. I guess you have to kind of sit back and enjoy the good when you win, that’s always great, and not get too down on yourself when things go bad. There are a lot of elements out there that are beyond your control. We know our riders train hard and we have a great staff, our soigneurs, and our mechanics, so we just try to control the variables that we can.
I've been a huge gear-head all my life. I love vintage things, particularly automobiles. They’re fun to work on but a real challenge honestly because the things don’t run on love, that’s for sure. They run on a lot of effort and parts and money too. If you can’t fix them yourself or try to make them work yourself then it’s not a good car to own because they can be a little challenging to operate and pricey to fix.
I have a 1964 Buick LaSabre estate wagon. It’s a classic, but it’s been a kind of a love-hate battle. When I picked it up, it would not run at all and I had to leave it on the side of the road for a couple of weeks, I couldn’t even get it home. That relationship didn’t really start off too great, but now it’s working well. I can haul a lot of stuff in it and I actually got evacuated a couple of nights ago because of fire hazards here in the San Jose area, so we threw a mattress in it and were totally prepared to wait things out.
During the pandemic, my family created a music video together. It was my brother’s doing, really, and he got us all to perform Talking Heads’ This Must Be The Place. It’s the first step on my journey to becoming an internet influencer.
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