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Maggie Coles-Lyster: A Track Champion in the Making

Maggie Coles-Lyster, Professional Cyclist

Episode 66

“It was just always a part of my life and just grew up around bikes and just fell in love with it that way. No pressure, never being pushed, just my own gravitation towards bikes”

You’ll recognize this week’s guest from many places: her block of racing in T-Town, killing it on the road, racing on track up in Canada, or in the TCL! This week, Andrew sits down with Maggie Coles-Lyster and talks how she got into the sport, her experiences racing, what the TCL was like, where she’s headed on the road next, and much more– including her favorite post training snack!

Instagram: @maggiecoleslyster

Website: maggiecoleslyster.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007288036250


Maggie Coles-Lyster, Professional Cyclist
Maggie Coles-Lyster

Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Maura Beuttel:

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. This is the Talk of the T-Town Podcast where we discuss all things track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Welcome back to another episode of Talk of the T-Town. I’m your host Andrew Paradowski, and we’re here to talk about all things T-Town and all things cycling. Today, our guest is another rising star from the cycling world. It’s Maggie Coles-Lyster from Canada. She is currently living in Girona, Spain, joining us live on Zoom today to talk to us about her love for the sport and all other neat things surrounding her career. How’s it going, Maggie?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

It’s going well. Happy to be on this.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I’m sure our listeners are super keen to hear about how you’ve been doing in the cycling world recently. Before we get underway with this thing, I did mention earlier that, like yourself, you’re a fellow Canadian. Whereabouts in Canada are you from?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

So I’m from just outside of Vancouver in a place called Maple Ridge, BC. And yeah, I mean, just being born there and from there is really what made me fall in love with cycling and probably stay in cycling, because there’s such good riding. And my dad was from there, and he owned a bike store out there. And yeah, it’s just such a cycling community and was such a great place to grow up.

Andrew Paradowski:

Sure. So you are one of the younger cyclists on the elite scene right now, but you’ve been cycling for quite a long time. How long have you been in the sport for?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Well, that’s a good question. I mean, I’ve been racing track since I was 12, but definitely did road and cyclo-cross and all that since I was much younger. So pretty much my whole life. My parents owned an adventure tour business and took people on mountain bike tours down to places like Moab. And like I said, my dad owned a bike store, so it was just always a part of my life and just grew up around bikes and just fell in love with it that way. No pressure, never being pushed, just my own gravitation towards bikes. So yeah, definitely one of the younger people, although the whole team as a whole on the Canadian track scene is getting quite young. So I was one of the oldest at World’s this year, which is kind of wild.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right. That is true. And it’s interesting. So for myself, I’ve actually had a chance to watch two riders grow up from being a young kid on a bike, starting racing, all the way till the world championships. So earlier this year, we had on the show…. We had Dylan Bibic on the show, and he was here, like yourself, this past summer in T-Town, and like yourself was at World Championships this year, did really well, and at the Track Champions League. So I had a chance to watch Dylan grow up from when he first started in the cycling in Ontario.

And as it happens, I think I had a chance to watch you grow up from your early beginnings in BC. You probably don’t remember me, but I think I was a commissare at one of the BC cyclo-cross races back in 2010. And I remember watching this young girl, Maggie Coles-Lyster, just on the cross bike, beating adults twice her age, even though she wasn’t in the category. But you were on the same course at the same time, and then you’d finish first in front of quite a few of the master and elite women. So I remember thinking to myself, “There’s a young woman who’s going to grow up to be a star.” And of course, look what happened. You’re out there, and you’re racing with the pros now. So congratulations on that.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah, thanks. It’s pretty cool to watch me and Dylan go through it.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. So tell us a bit more about that history. So you’re riding cross bikes when you’re, I guess, 10, 12 years old. What progressed from there? What got you into the position where you are today?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So I was riding cross bikes at that point. I was on the track as soon as I could fit one of the track bikes that we had at Burnaby Velodrome. So that was when I was 12. And then just… I really credit if anybody is from Canada and knows of BC Superweek. So when I was, I think, 14, I think I was the youngest person to have ever raced the elite race at BC Superweek. And I think that was the pinnacle of just really getting me into racing and loving it and realizing how well I could do, because I could race it every year, and the best riders in North America and many international riders too would come over. And then every year… The first year, I didn’t finish a single one of the Crits. But then the next year, I finished three of them. And then the next year, I was top tens, and then on the podium. So just seeing my progression through the sport using like BC Superweek as an example, yeah, I think that was huge for me just growing up.

And then when I was 16 I did… Or as a first year junior, I did cross track and Road Worlds in the same year. And that was pretty epic, although definitely finished the year exhausted and had to take quite a bit of time off the bike. And that’s when I realized, yeah, out of those three, definitely road and track are more well suited for me, my skills. I say on the cross bike, I was pretty good at crashing, getting up, and going again, and just doing that on replay for an hour. So my skills were never fantastic, and I definitely was a little more well suited towards road and track. So still race cross for fun, but those two became the focus moving forward. And yeah, just going through Worlds and winning a Junior World Championship. And then… Yeah. You know how careers in sports go up and down, crashes, pandemic, all that. But yeah, it’s kind of where we started.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, It’s an interesting comment you made about your cross riding or cross racing situation, where it’s a repeat of crash, get up, go, crash, get up, go. And that seems to be a positive theme, I think, in your career as well, where you have that determination, yeah, you get set back, that’s fine, you go and do it again, and then you do better and then better and better. So it’s almost as if… I mean, nothing comes easy to anyone, for sure, but you certainly make a go of it with that kind of determination, and you can see it in your results. So you mentioned you were a Junior World Champion, and then that was in the points race?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

You’ve gotten several medals in a lot of high level competitions. I believe in those same championships, you were there twice, right? You medaled in the Omnium twice, I think, in the two years.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

You medaled in the Elite Team Pursuit, you’ve done quite well in several road races as well. I think Gila was one of them.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. Yes.

Andrew Paradowski:

Races in BC. So yeah, you’ve got quite a history. And then now, here you had, I don’t want to call it a breakout year, because obviously, you do have a solid pass so far, but you did really, really well in World Championships this year, and as well as the Track Champions League that just finished a few weeks ago. So why don’t you talk about that to our listeners? I’m sure they’d like to know what it was like for you to be at Elite Worlds and do as well as you did.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So as I said like breakout, or breakthrough year, I think really the past two years have been that for me. But I felt like after Junior, I had some really bad crashes and concussions, and that took me quite a few steps back. And then the pandemic was upon us, and through my younger years, I’d never really had a training long block of time where I could just train and get stronger. So I think that was a huge blessing in disguise for me, because I could just ride my bike and build that engine. And I think I’ve really seen that pay off and the effects of that the past couple of years.

So yeah, then we bring it into last year, fourth in the Scratch race at Worlds, and got into Track Champions League, and then this year, fourth in the Omnium, which was both something that… Okay. Honestly, I think I went into Worlds thinking, “Yes, a top five is possible. I definitely know I can do top eight.” But then to be fourth and two points off of the podium was just mind-blowing for me and just really showed that, in my own head, I think sometimes I sell myself a bit short. No, no, I’m not quite there yet. But no, I’m there now. I know what I’m capable of, and I’ve been able to show it and been able to back it up then with results in Champions League.

I mean, I had a bit of a slow start there after some medical stuff after Worlds when I got home and procedures that just didn’t quite go very well. So I came into Champions League with no training for three weeks since Worlds and courses of antibiotics and all that fun stuff. So it was kind of a training through the month, but even just coming in with that kind of form, and that happening and still crawling my way back to third place overall, yeah, again, another, know I’m capable of that, but kind of shocked myself. So both were pretty cool experiences, and I think just really set me up to get in the mindset of, “Hey, we have the Olympics two years away from now, and I could actually… I could win there.”

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, absolutely. I would definitely say some of those results would lead everyone to believe that you are a contender. I mean, finishing fourth and third at no small feat, and you talked a bit about how it might have been disappointing to come in forth when maybe you could have been third. You were off by two points there in the World Championships. Tell me what you think about this. I’ve heard quite a few people say that finishing fourth is better than finishing second. If you finish second, you’re sort of like you missed the top spot, but finishing fourth, you’re out of the metals, but it was still a top performance. So would you rather finish second or fourth?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Well, I think it completely depends on the person. Obviously, I would rather have a medal around my neck than be finishing fourth. I think that is pretty cool. But you know what? Obviously, I wasn’t crying over fourth place. I was pretty stoked, and it’s totally how you raced it. I knew I gave my all and knew I needed those two points and fought as hard as I could. And Maria was just stronger on the day, and I just couldn’t get that. So yeah, I wasn’t disappointed with it. It was a little bittersweet, but I think fourth is arguably worse unless you can spin it into a positive.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I think you certainly have, again, with your performance there at the TCL. But just going back to that, that World’s performance, was there a moment somewhere in the race, whether it was in any one of the earlier stages or in the final points race where you realized that, “Hey, I’ve got a shot at this. I’ve got a shot at the podium”? Was there one moment in the race that stood out to you as like, “This is where I have to go”? And if there was, can you talk a bit about it?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. I think what… Well, after the elimination, I definitely knew I was close, and that’s when that flip kind of switched like, “Hey, I… The podium’s within grasp” And then I think at some point in the points race, I fell into the third place. I was watching the points board. So there I was, I had it, and then unfortunately, I lost it. But that mindset, I don’t know, you really just fight for every point. And it’s tough when you have it and then you lose it. You think back to the Omnium. It’s a game of points and consistency. People have been just consistent top fives in every event and have won through that way, not necessarily won a single event.

So just to think back, and you’re like, “Man, could I have done one place better in the scratch race,” or, “Could I have done one place better?” Or, “Could I have just fought a little bit harder to get one point?” Especially when it’s down to that close. But I think that’s when I sit back and look at it, those are the biggest lessons I take away from it, that it can come down to just a couple of points. So hey, in the points race, if there’s a fourth place points up for grabs, just going for it and putting a little bit more energy into that is better than finishing two points out of a metal position. I know I kind of answered your question, but didn’t really. It was such a blur of a week at World’s. I’m not going to lie, I think I raced… I did race every day. And that was a lot of racing, and the whole thing is just one jumble in my head.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. It certainly did go really fast as well. And the French put on a great show there in Paris at St Quentin, and it was really great to have that large crowd there cheering everybody on. Sometimes, especially when there was a French rider in contention for some sort of place, the roof was getting torn off by the cheering of the crowd. So certainly something we don’t hear quite often on this side of the pond at our races. So it’s certainly was a different atmosphere.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

No, a really cool atmosphere, really cool track, and really special that we got to race it at Worlds and Track League, and that’s the track we’ll be doing the Olympics on. So maybe we’re going to get into this, but it’s a very different track than any other track I’ve ridden. And just being able to race it as many times as possible and really learn it, I think, is a huge leg up leading into the games in two years.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, tell us about that.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So it’s massive. It’s like a sea of track. It’s an extra, I think, meter or meter and a half tall. So you can stack up so many more riders, and makes it harder to come around on the outside through a corner, because the corners are longer as well. So just riding it feels a lot different. You get so much speed coming down from the rail. So if you’re able to get up and over, you gained a ton of momentum, but it’s a lot harder to do that. So there’s just all these little things that the same moves that would work on tracks like Berlin and London that are, I wouldn’t say they’re not special, they’re cool tracks, but this one just feels so different to ride than those two. So just doing it and learning these little things, yeah, it’s a cool opportunity. I’m trying to think if there’s other special stuff about it. But yeah, that place gets loud when those stands are full. So even just experiencing that and just knowing the building is things that people don’t really think about, but make a huge difference going into a big competition.

Andrew Paradowski:

So tell us about the atmosphere of the track cycling league. This is your second go at it, and I guess you were one of the more senior riders on the team, along with Kelsey Mitchell, but I think everybody else was… That was their first year, is that correct?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. Yeah. We had… No, yeah, Kelsey and I were the only two returning from last year, and we had such a cool little group, like Sarah Van Dam, Mathias Guillemette, and Dylan Bibic, and then Kelsey and I. And everyone who was there just wanted to win and wanted to do well, so we had a super motivated group. But during the week, we’d go hang out with Jen Valente and Grant Koontz and go adventure around the different cities we were in and go for dinners. So outside of the racing, the whole vibe of just going hotel to hotel with all these international riders, just getting to spend time with them outside of national team cliques and all that kind of show and just asking each other questions.

I mean, Track League, there is a lot on the line, there’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of people watching it. But at the same time, it’s really just a bunch of people out there wanting to race their bikes and try different things and just try to win a race, which that sounds very trivial, but I feel like that’s kind of a rare thing. There’s always something bigger at play than just going out and just trying to win a race. So that’s really cool.

But then also, people are really open to building friendships and even just sharing, “Hey, I was riding this size gear,” or, “I tried this, and it didn’t work, so I know for next time.” Or just talking, just being normal people outside of the track racing. So that was really cool, and I think all five of us Canadians really benefited from that and had a really good experience with that.

And then, yeah, I mean, we can get into the race weekends are just absolutely chaotic and busy. And it’s nice, because as international riders, we had a full week in each place beforehand. So we could have our feet on the ground, get our bearings, and figure out the track, and build bikes and all that way before all the track league festivities started. But as soon as your Thursday or Friday dinners with Track Leagues start, and then you have media, and you’re back and forth from hotel to track and doing interviews and doing TikToks and calls with media sources back home. It’s just craziness. And then just try to get through the beginning part of the day.

And this year was new, we had a points race in the afternoon. So that kind of broke up the day. But otherwise, you’re just hanging out in your hotel room, trying to stay off your legs, which is sometimes really hard in these fun places, and then get as caffeinated as possible to make it from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM, or even later. Most times, we weren’t having dinner, or back at the hotel till almost one. So the night just is like… It’s the longest day you’ve ever experienced. And then sometimes you have a very early flight out, so you don’t get a lot of sleep. So it’s like race one evening, race for three hours, spend the next two or three days recovering.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, it does sound like a lot. So a lot of the people who listen to the podcast do ride and race on the track, and many of them have also been to sort of, we’ll call them, I guess, mid-level races, national championships, or some of the stuff that happens here at T-Town in the summer on Friday nights or whatnot. But racing over there in Europe is different. And you already talked a bit about the racing side of things, but I want to know about what it’s like, just from your perspective, if you go to a race here in North America, whether it’s in Carson, or T-Town, or Milton, or wherever, sitting in the infield, it feels like just a regular sort of sporting event, at any other sporting event and national championships with some other sport. Nothing, no real hype, no fun, no music. I mean, sometimes music, but it doesn’t have the same kind of energy that we see on the TV. So we can see that it looks really, really crazy.

What does it feel like to be an athlete who comes from a place where the sport isn’t as celebrated, to go to the Track Champions League and sit in the infield? Tell our listeners what it feels like to be sitting there with the intensity, the lights off, the screens everywhere, and the whole coordinator of the orchestra of the Track Champions League.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Oh, you feel like a celebrity. So I feel like in North America, people go out to watch racing, because they either know somebody racing, or they, I don’t know, have nothing better to do but know nothing about track cycling. Everybody there wants to be there is there to watch these people who… They’re fans, they’re actual true fans. So yeah, you’re sitting on the infield, and this Track Champions League is such a unique event, because it feels like a club in there. It’s so loud, you can’t hear yourself talk, you can’t hear yourself think between rounds. The lights, you can’t see anything, you’re constantly out with your phone lights trying to search for your gears and search for stuff.

So you can just imagine, it’s wild on the infield. There’s cameras everywhere, so watch your back. Don’t do anything dumb, because cameras are on you constantly, catching everything. There’s news reporters walking around, so watch what you say. I don’t know. These are all thoughts that just go through your head as you’re sitting there between races. Or you’re really upset when you come off, because you raced bad. But again, cameras, people, people listen, it’s watch what you do.

And then during London, I went up, I had a couple family members come to watch race, and I just went up to the stands. And that was the first time I’d really ventured up into the stands throughout the league. And right away, there was a couple people, and I was just in street clothes, and a couple people recognized me as one of the riders and came over and asked me to sign their book. And I was always walking around, searching for my relatives. That happened a couple more times. And my mom was with me, she was like, “Oh my gosh, what is this?” And she was just wow, bewildered, what was happening, and how people just knew me and just wanted my autograph, just little Canadian me, who nobody in Canada really knows. But over here in Europe, people just fan girl or fanboy over all these riders. And it’s such a cool feeling, and yeah, you really do feel like, I don’t know, the hockey player or the football players you watch on TV back home.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s very cool. Before we continue on, we do a little tradition here on the Talk of the T-Town, rapid fire questions, simple question and answer stuff. So don’t think too hard about it. Throw out the first answer that comes to your head. We’ll do a couple of these throughout the interview. The first one here I got for you is, since we’re talking about track, what’s your favorite track event?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Omnium.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, that, obviously, shows with how well you do at it. It’s good. What is your favorite pro race slash competition to watch or race?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Ah, that’s a tough one. Can I confess something?

Andrew Paradowski:

Sure. And if you don’t want it afterwards, we can just edit it out.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

No, it’s okay, because it’s a weird fact about me, but I don’t really like watching bikers, unless I know someone in it, which sounds terrible.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s okay.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

But that’s a really weird thing about me. So I guess… Okay, okay. The classics that the women had been racing these past couple of years, and the actual TV coverage of those. I like those. That’s sweet.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, it’s definitely good to see a lot of that improve over the last couple of years.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Do you have a pro racer, current or former, that you admire?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Laura Kenny, which I’d say current and former, pretty surreal racing with her now. Sorry, I’m turning this into non rapid fire.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s okay. What is your favorite bike? And if you have to say your sponsor, that’s okay.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Well, favorite bike. Yeah, I mean, my Cannondale Road bike, I have loved, and I’ve been on that for three years with DNA.

Andrew Paradowski:

So Maggie, that’s a great segue. We spent a little while here talking about your track career, and this is a podcast primarily about track, but all things cycling as well. So you are not just a star on the track, but you’re star on the road. You’ve been doing road cycling for quite a bit, and you’ve been on a professional team for a while. So let’s talk a bit about what’s happening with you on the road.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So been on DNA Pro Cycling for three years now, and they have been the most incredible people and family and teammates. I think you can ask any rider who’s been on that team, that it’s just wild how well everyone gels and how much of a family it’s become. And I think it’s a really special thing that you don’t find often amongst teams.

But sadly and excitingly at the same time, I’m making the jump over to Europe next year. So yeah, 2023, I’ll be back over here, and this is why I’m living in Girona now, and it’s been… 2017 was the last time I raced on the Belgian team, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve actually raced over in Europe. But I’ve definitely felt that I’m now at the point that I want to get into that world tour scene and start doing the bigger races and try my hand in it. I think I’ll be really good. It’s going to be definitely a bit of a learning curve for a point. But I’m with a really good program that has some incredible mentors on it, so yeah, excited to learn and figure it out.

Andrew Paradowski:

What do you find is the major difference for you between racing on the road and racing on the track?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

The length of the race. Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely… I feel like the road scene and atmosphere is more serious in the track. Not how they take racing, I feel like the racing is taken seriously in both, just the atmosphere and the vibes around it. Track seems to be a little more just fun and goofy, and roads a little bit more serious, which I kind of like the two, the contrast in the two in the season. That’s why I’ve kept up doing both, because too much of one can just get boring.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s fair. Do you find though… You mentioned earlier in the podcast that the one year as a junior when you did three World Championships afterwards, you felt like you know were pretty much done and didn’t have much energy left in you. Do you not find that to be part of the struggle then between doing road and tracks since they sort of span different seasons, and then you’re kind of riding all year? Or have you been able to figure out how to manage that piece?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

I mean, ask me again at this time next year when I have a whole new kind of race calendar and races I’ll be doing. But over the past three years, up to this point, I found a really good balance of just taking a couple, not necessarily months off, but just a couple rest periods throughout the year, so I never just get too fatigued. And I think we’ve nailed that formula of what works for me and what’s kept me just going through the season. I mean, like I said, there’s sacrifices that you sometimes have to make. So coming into Track League this year, I didn’t ride my bike for three weeks after Worlds, and that was kind of my off season. So yeah, you got to sacrifice a bit to benefit the rest of the season and some of the bigger goals you have, but it definitely is a puzzle and a balancing game and something that, I think, each person needs to figure out what works for them.

Andrew Paradowski:

Do you have any races coming up in ’23 that you’re looking forward to?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yes. Well, I mean, it’s all going to depend on roster. I don’t know my specific calendar yet, but I really hope to do some races like Tour Down Under, and some of the classics, and possibly Tour de France. I mean, all to be determined, so not sure, but hopefully, fingers crossed.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, even if you don’t get onto those squads, at least it lets us know which ones you’d love to be in anyways. So hopefully that works out well for you.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yes, yes, exactly. So yeah, thanks.

Andrew Paradowski:

Moving to Europe and getting on a pro team, that means a whole new sort of scene for you, because I know for quite a while, your dad’s been involved in your career, has been a good coach to you, and I’ve known your dad probably for as long as I’ve known you. We worked together a bit in BC when I was there, and it’s nice seeing him at the events every once in a while. So tell us about what that was like, the part your dad played in your role… Or what role he played in your rise in cycling and how he helped you along the way or anything, any other things that you want to say about how great he was for you?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So obviously, he’s the reason I got into it. So I worked with this coach named Jeremy Storie, who, unfortunately, passed away. He was my first coach. And after that, my dad took over. So that was when I was 14, I think. So he’s been my coach ever since, and he still is to this day. So it has worked way better than I think anybody would’ve thought it would, or when I tell them thinks it works. I mean, obviously, results wise, it’s working, but also just personality and just dynamic and father-daughter duo, we’ve had to navigate a lot and just figure out how to make it work for both of us in the best way possible. But I think we’ve kind of nailed that.

I mean, yeah, so basically, my whole career, I can owe to my dad to where I am today. And I think the biggest part for him was that never once did he push me. This was always off my own motivation and my own desire to do well. And being an Olympic gold medalist, this is still what motivates me. And he was just there to help guide me and point me in the right direction along the way. And I think that was the biggest role outside of now his day-to-day coaching, but that’s kind of the biggest impact that he has had on me getting to where I am. He’s always emphasized that, “You know what? If you’re not having fun and you don’t like it, why are you doing it? Seriously? There’s too much else you can do with your life to waste it on not loving what you’re doing.” So yeah, I’ve always loved this and still do, and hence why I’m still here, and he’s still my coach. So yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s a great attitude to have, of course, and we should always be having fun riding your bikes. Let’s forget about riding bikes, go play bikes. It should be something that’s enjoyable, not a chore.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

And I guess if it feels like a chore, then maybe it’s time for a career change. So obviously, it looks like you won’t be needing one of those anytime soon. So why don’t we finish up here, just a few more questions. So we talked a bit about your dad and what kind of impact he had on you. Is there anyone else that you want to talk about that might have had an impact on your cycling career history?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. I mean, I have a pretty massive and supportive family, extended family, and everybody has played a huge role and been super supportive. And I feel really grateful to come from a family where my mom, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, nobody has questioned, “What are you doing? Why aren’t you just doing the normal school path? Why aren’t you going and getting a normal desk job?” No one, even if they might not understand it in their head, no one has said that to my face, which I think is what kills a lot of people in the sport, just the pressure of external pressure. So yeah, really grateful for the people around me who have never done that.

I mean, yeah, I did mention Jeremy Storie, and he was a massive impact on my career as a young rider. Even when I was 13, 14, just the belief he had in me and what I could do is still something that hangs with me, is very powerful with me today. So yeah, he was a huge component to me just, yeah, I guess, loving the process and just wanting to be an Olympic gold medalist. Yeah, too bad I only got to work with him for maybe a year, but he also got me onto the track. So yeah, owe a lot to him for that.

I mean, there’s, obviously, been countless other people. As I mentioned DNA has been a family, and Kathy, Alex and Lee, who, on the team, have literally became my family over the past three years. And yeah, it’s tough leaving teams, but they just are there to support my journey. They supported me throughout Track League as sponsors with that, and they are just the people with the biggest hearts. And just once you’re theirs, they want to see you do well, and they want to see you succeed. Yeah, those are three other huge impacts on my career. Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you said you are leaving DNA. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming next for you in that regard?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah. So I’ll be racing on a Spanish team called Zaaf Cycling Team. And so they will… They’re a conti team, which, I mean, for women, that’s the second highest level you can get. So hopefully, crossing fingers for lots of invites to the World Tour stuff and the bigger races next year. And I already know some of my teammates, so that’s going to be really cool, and some really strong riders on the team.

I mean, getting over here and getting on a European team has been some of the biggest learning lessons and most stressful, complicated times of my life, especially all the whole contract and signing process going on through Track League. I was supposed to be on the B&B Hotels Team. And if any of the listeners follow the media, you can go and see what has happened there. But that all kind of just went up in flames, and, yeah, really grateful Zaaf still had an open spot to take me. So here I am, and I am excited. I mean, this podcast will be out after I meet all my teammates, but I’ll be meeting my teammates over the next week. So excited to do that and just settle in. Settle in. It’s been a lot of question marks over the past couple of months, I’d say. So yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So if you were to talk to another up-and-coming rider like yourself who’s going to have to face the same situation as you, what one thing would you tell them about your journey in trying to move to Europe? So when I say up-and-coming cyclist, obviously, I mean, a North American one who hasn’t had the benefit of racing in Europe since they were a young rider. What one thing would you tell them to as your experience that you learned like, “Oh, I’m not going to do that again”?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Okay. Yeah. Because I’ve had two polar opposite experiences. So when I came over here as a second year junior in 2017, I lived in a team house, didn’t speak the language. I was in Belgium, didn’t know anybody, weather was terrible. It was definitely an experience, but it was one that almost broke me. So a young rider coming over to Europe, some find somewhere over here. I mean, probably Girona seems to be the place where everyone comes. But find somewhere where other people, ideally get an apartment. I mean, obviously, living in a team house has its own benefits, so if that works for you, great. But otherwise finding an apartment with maybe other people you know or know of, I think those are a couple things that if I would’ve done that first time around, it would’ve completely changed the experience for me.

And it’s tough coming from North America over to Europe, you’re far from home, the culture is different, there’s so many changes. Yeah, they say it either makes or breaks you as a North American cyclist. So I think just learning the culture, learning the language is important, but if you can find that person who speaks English and slash that person you know and just have them nearby or have them as a point of contact over here, I think that’s really beneficial, especially for your first year over. So that would be my recommendations.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. All right. Why don’t we end off with another round of rapid fire questions, just to lighten everything up here before we get going? So what is your favorite movie?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Favorite movie? Oh, I’m so bad at rapid fire. What is my favorite movie? Lion King. Lion King.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very nice. What is the best music to train to?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Rap, I would say

Andrew Paradowski:

Any specific kind, or artists?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Artists… I’m going to say somebody that’s not going to be rap, I’m sure.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Let’s put it this way. What’s on your training iPod right now? It’s not… I dated myself. I said iPod.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

iPod. Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

That plays music.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

I can’t think of words, you’re saying iPod. The thing that plays music. Okay, I lied. It’s kind of rap, some rap. I listen to any early 2000s pop. So like early Lady Gaga, you got Katy Perry in there, you have Chris Brown, all that, Usher. I don’t know. All that gets me through training, and I will be heavily judged for it, but that’s okay.

Andrew Paradowski:

What is your favorite post race snack?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Ooh, post race, post long ride, nachos.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nachos, with or without cheese?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yes. With cheese.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

My stomach doesn’t like it, but I love it.

Andrew Paradowski:

Last one, what is your favorite inspirational quote?

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Don’t wait for the storm to pass, but learn to dance in the rain.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very nice. I like that one. I’ll have to write that one down. All right, folks.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah, that’s a good one.

Andrew Paradowski:

This has been Maggie Coles-Lyster here on Talk of the T-Town, telling us all about what it’s like growing up in the cycling world and finding herself at the top and moving up even more as the future rolls out. So I just want to thank you, Maggie, for coming out. It’s been great having you on the show, even though it’s pretty late there in Girona. We’re probably coming up towards 10:00 PM in Europe. But thanks for phoning in, or Zooming in on the internet to talk to us today, and I’m sure our listeners had a lot of enjoyment listening to what you had to say.

Maggie Coles-Lyster:

Yeah, thanks for having me on. This was fun.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. That wraps up another episode of Talk of the T-Town. Be sure to check us out in the coming weeks for more episodes. And of course, check us out on Spotify and all the other streaming channels. And we’re looking forward to you listening to us next time.

Maura Beuttel:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcasts. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com to check out the show notes and subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Dave Underhill: New Year, New Programs

Dave Underhill - Community Programs Manager

Episode 65

Join us for the very first podcast of 2023 as we invite our very own Community Programs Manager, Dave Underhill, into the Studio. Dave is excited to tell us and the Valley Preferred Cycling Center Community all about the new additions and changes to the current program offerings, as well as sharing a little bit about his history in the sport. As a bonus, listen all the way till the end to hear about the nuances of officiating an Elimination race. It’s a great way to start off the year.


Dave Underhill - Community Programs Manager
Dave Underhill – Community Programs Manager

Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Maura Beuttel:

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. This is the Talk of the T-Town podcast where we discuss all things track cycling. Hello everybody and welcome back to this week’s Talk of the T-Town episode. I am this week’s host, Maura Beuttel stepping in for Andrew. And our guest this week is someone that if you’ve raced here, if you’ve come and done programs here, you’ve definitely seen him around the track. He’s raised here himself, he’s been an official, and now he is our community programs manager. And without further ado, our guest, Dave Underhill.

Dave Underhill:

Ah, good morning. Good morning.

Maura Beuttel:

Thanks for coming on the pod, Dave. So we wanted to bring you on the pod to talk about the community programs for people that don’t necessarily know what they are, if they have kids, and want to get them into the programs here at the track. And I also understand that we have some changes coming to what those look like this year.

Dave Underhill:

Oh, yeah. 2023 is going to be a big year. Our community programs have a long history at the track. I’ve just started last year and had a quick trial by fire and I’ve learned a lot during last year’s programs and we’ve taken what I’ve learned and what Andrew and I have discussed and learned. And we’re going to create a much fuller program for this summer. A lot more opportunities to get kids on bikes.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah, I know we’re definitely looking forward to it. Starting to climb back out of the hole that was COVID and seeing more kids on the track and getting them through the programs and seeing that filter into racing as well.

Dave Underhill:

I’ll just jump in and talk about some of the programs, some of the things we’re doing. So for our youngest folks, the Squirts & Wee Wobbles and the Pee Wee Pedalers, not much is changing their. Last year, we got feedback from new parents and we’ve extended, we went through September. We will do that again this year and give more opportunities for the little ones that maybe don’t have a great sense of balance yet.

Get them off their training wheels and then as they get a little more skilled and little more independent, get them on our track. We also teach them basic bike rodeo skills, stopping, starting and ensuring that they fully understand how to use their brakes and ride their bike safely. Even drills such as turning back and looking, that they’ll know to look for cars and things like that. Once they’re old enough and ready to venture on roads, it should be second nature.

Our big change for this year is our youth cycling the eight to 16 year olds. We have our traditional Monday, Wednesday mornings in the summers from 08:10 to 10:00, but we’re also adding weekends. So we’ll have a Saturday series that runs from May through September. And then we’ll actually have two Sunday series.

We’ll split them up. And again, it’s the May through September, we’ll just have a divider line in the middle of the season. So [inaudible 00:03:22] more opportunities to get kids out there. And that’s the real fun group with that eight to 16 year olds. And then we also have our BRL changes. Which, last year we did the spring BRL. And in talking with the kids, the parents, we said, okay, we’re going to try to do a fall BLR. That was quite successful and we had a lot of fun.

We had a lot of kids. Again, I’ve learned some lessons and so we’ll change the format a little bit. But in realizing these opportunities, what we’re going to do this year is add a summer BRL. And this way we’ll have more opportunities during the summers. It’ll be in the evenings. And also listening to feedback from parents, we’re going to shift the hours a little bit. 5:30 to 7:30 to help folks to get off from work, be able to bring their kids to the velodrome.

And we’re going to change the format a little bit. Each BRL, spring, summer and fall, we’re going to have our individual competitions, but we’re going to have a season long competition.

Maura Beuttel:

I like that.

Dave Underhill:

And so when you join one team, whether you’re here just for one season, one session, or if you participate in all three, we’re going to keep scores throughout the season and we’re going to have winners for the overall season, whether the Bolts or the Flames. We will have the award ceremony.

And what we’re going to do is for each session, spring, summer, and fall, we’re going to have special activities for the last day. So the spring and summer will have their big races on Friday Night Under the Lights. In the fall, we don’t have any more Friday Night Under the Lights, but we’re going to have a season end picnic. It’s something we want to do for our community and we want to bring in our volunteers and the people that worked with the track, worked for the track and have a big year end picnic. And that’s where we want to showcase our BRL. For the final races. And that’s where we’ll have our season championships and ceremonies and it’ll be in front of the velodrome community.

Maura Beuttel:

Very nice. Always good to foster a little bit of friendly competition and have that in front of the whole community, cheering them on. That’s great. So going back to the Air Products, youth cycling changes for having those Saturday and Sunday extra sessions in there running from May through August. We have racing on Saturday. So is that going to be after racing then or?

Dave Underhill:

Yes. So we actually will have very full weekend schedules in 2023. So after Masters and Rookies, our traditional Saturday offering, what actually we’ll have next is part of our new try the track program. And that will run for four hours total on Saturdays. And then we will have our youth cycling after that.

Maura Beuttel:

Very nice.

Dave Underhill:

So I guess since I mentioned it, our try the track is going to be changing. So we traditionally had a single four hour class and some folks thought it was kind of long, so it was split up a couple of years.

Maura Beuttel:

A lot of information all at once.

Dave Underhill:

Yeah, yeah. I’m going to get this all done in 10 minutes and then you’re going to say, “Okay, what are we going to talk about?” You’ll have to listen to me a reminisce about the old days or something. But we had split it to one and two, whereas one was kind of focused on getting on the track and two was kind of focused on getting you ready to race. And the reason it’s always been a four hour session was to meet a requirement from USA Cycling to be upgraded from category five or what’s now called a novice racer to category four.

And in looking at the past couple of years, we really haven’t raced category five separately. We’ve been combining them with the fours. And it’s been four, five racing. So we started looking at, okay, how can we make try the track program one a little more informative, a little more open to casual riders potentially. Because folks may want few hours of lessons and education but not necessarily have to feel obligated to have to jump into racing.

And so we decided to make it a six hours series total, two hours each. We’re going to call them, try, ride and race the track. And the try will be, hey, this is what a velodrome is, some interesting factoids, some history. And get folks on a track bike. Get them to see what it’s like to ride a fixed gear bike with no brakes. And then get on a track and get a feel for it. And see if it’s something they like or not. And without any need to push people and say, okay, we’re going to pair you up and race against this person.

It’s going to be just kind of a casual, hey, this is what it feels like to ride the bike. And anyone that has a minimum amount of balance should be able to do try the track and have some fun. So that’s a two hours session that we’re going to have separately for the try system. And then the ride and race are the two classes that we’re going to use to qualify people to become category four racers. And those two classes, well, the ride the track, we’re going to basically give you orientation onto riding a track, doing pace lines. How to maneuver on the track, how to react to different speeds. Proper etiquette while riding on the track.

They don’t have to scream rail half a lap away, but if you hear the word rail, know what it means and be prepared.

Maura Beuttel:

And act accordingly.

Dave Underhill:

What’s coming from behind you. And then the race the track that will be dedicated to learning different types of race formats and practicing them and doing them and getting firsthand experience. One of the key things that anyone who’s doing the try the track with me is, we’ll also teach you how to keep pedaling after you sprint. Because after you sprint, you’re done and you want to stop. And on a track bike you got to keep pedaling. And I will go pedal, pedal, pedal until my throat is course. But it’s a new opportunity to maybe encourage more people to try the track.

And then a certification program will help make our cat four or five type racing safer. Because we’re looking at having everyone to be cat fours to race with us on Saturdays. And so in order to accomplish this, these programs are being offered very frequently. In the beginning of the season it’s going to be every weekend starting in April. And it’ll taper off just so that in September, we’ll probably only have one complete series. But we always have people that are always, “Oh, yeah. I want to become a cat four.” And it’s September and it’s [inaudible 00:10:38].

Maura Beuttel:

We’re like, we’re not having racing until next May.

Dave Underhill:

Well, so we don’t normally offer it that late, but we are trying to have a full season to maximize the use of the track during the warm weather. We might start off chilly in April, but we’re going to get out there and try out. Get folks out there that want to do it because I’m coming here to the velodrome, 30 degrees outside and I see people riding their bikes leaving [inaudible 00:11:04] velodrome. So if it’s only 55 in April, it’s still good to ride the bike.

Maura Beuttel:

Hey, as long as the sun is out and there’s no rain or snow, have at it.

Dave Underhill:

I mean, we do have some of our enthusiastic riders here that will shovel snow off the track in order to get their training going. Which is, when you’re actually shoveling snow off the track, my first hand experience, it is quite slippery. So I don’t recommend that for the faint of heart and I now have my lesson. I know [inaudible 00:11:41] when it’s snowy. Maybe I’ll supervise or something like that.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Yeah, I think the try the track program is probably the most well-rounded thing we can offer to the community in really getting people in here and understanding that we’re not just a place for elite athletes to come and watch racing. And I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand that. So breaking it down into smaller, more bite sized chunks and having that first class being like, “Okay. Well, this is what the place actually is and what it actually does.”

And then filtering into the next section of it and teaching them how to train on the track and what all of the etiquette is and what the words mean. That I think filters into the next area, not necessarily… Well, yes. Going into the next racing part of try the track to get that certification, but also into the next change that we have coming for this season, which is switching to more of a membership based model. So getting those people knowing how to train so then they can actually use the facility and come get a good workout in.

Dave Underhill:

Yes. Let me think. I’ll say that mid-January probably we’ll have most of this finalized and on our website. So this is basically a preview. But yeah, we’re looking at having a low cost membership for riders. It’ll be in tens of dollars that will basically give you an opportunity to be able to ride on the track. And we have some confidence. We’re still going to have some public hours if people just want to come by themselves, but they’re going to be limited because we will have a lot of programming. And we will have basically members only time for people to ride on the track.

And then we’ll actually have different types of times, we’ll have training times, we’ll have motor times and we’ll also have structured training classes. Which will be led by coaches and we’ll have exercises and drills or lessons for folks. And they’re not necessarily only for racers.

So we’ll have three levels of structured training classes. The highest level will be motor pacing and it’ll be a motor pacing coach that will run the class. It’s open to basically the membership and the folks that are part of that class structure. And it will be an opportunity to also learn how to be motor paced. And of course not anyone coming off the street could jump into motor pacing right away. So that’s why we have three levels.

And so the level one could be basically the non-racers, an exercise class. Kind of more fitness oriented. We’ll have some drills, you’ll be able to apply some of the skills that you may learn in ride the track, in those types of classes. So that when you’re doing pace lines and things, you’ll be able to do them properly and safely. And we’ll also have some drills that get you comfortable riding with other people and close to other folks.

And the level two would be more of a training specific, hard efforts, sprint type things. Be good training exercises. And level two is kind of the cross between, okay, we got some racers that are getting in training, and maybe we have some advance folks from the area. Lehigh Wheelmen and different organizations that, hey, they want to ride 25, 30 miles per hour for a few laps and if they’re going to ride, if they could ride safely.

And we’ll work on making sure that all that does happen safely and be able to have more opportunities to ride the track and enjoy themselves and have fun. So that maybe the Derby isn’t the only place where people go out and go hard.

And then I guess we’ll jump back to the try, ride and race is I’m actually going to open up the age groups a little more. Bring it down to nine years old because part of what we want to do for BLR, which is nine to 16, is have an introductory session that’s equivalent to try, ride and race in the evenings for BRL kids. Well, I want to open up our [inaudible 00:16:04] try, ride, and race so that they could also, if they’re only available on the weekends, be able to basically qualify for BRL. And then the last way is if you do youth cycling in the summer, you could qualify for the fall BRL after that because BRL is kind of community racing. It’s not hardcore. You have to have a license. You’re in training and you’re going for the BRL National Championships.

But we also want folks to have plenty of opportunity to be smart, be able to ride a bike, be able to react when you’re maybe going fast and people are going slow in front of you. And we want to be able to use the dynamics of the track and expectations, other riders so that you can come up on a group of folks that are going slower than you and properly react to the situation. So we’re going to have a lot of opportunities for kids to get smart enough and qualify for BRL. And part of that is rather than going from 12 to adult, we’ll drop it down to nine to adult.

And the question I got asked most last year was, wherever we put an age limit, “My son or my daughter is one year younger, two years younger.” And, “Can I get them in? Can I get my child into this program?” And that’s been a question over and over again. So I do want to make it more feasible, more possible to have more kids in the programs, but we also want them to be old enough and mature enough to ride safely on our track.

Maura Beuttel:

That’s definitely the most important thing is safety. And then it’s just, it’ll be nice to see this summer having a full track. Seeing people here all the time utilizing the facility and just having those opportunities available for everybody.

Dave Underhill:

And also part of the new format of what we’re doing with membership is that… I don’t know if either of you know that my nickname… But most people called me the tax collector this past summer. Because whenever I showed up they knew that they were supposed to pay their $5, but there’s a number of folks that did their best not to pay their $5. And when I showed up they knew the tax collector was there and they’d have to pay their $5. So hopefully I won’t be doing that too much this year. So you can just call me Dave. Rather than being the tax collector. The tax man. Different variations to that.

Maura Beuttel:

Oh, no. Dave is here I have to get… The Bike Reg page didn’t load for me. Oh, I forgot.

Dave Underhill:

And I got very handy at working on Bike Reg on my mobile phone because at first I was like, oh, boy, I got to go back to home to get on my desktop and figure out how to do this. And it’s like, okay, now I can figure out all these different dropdowns. The app is always different than the web version and it was just like, okay, I know I could change this. How can I change this? Because for some reason it might have closed the hour that the training started and it’s like, ah, no, no, I got to move it and open it back up.

And then I also, what I had to figure out is an IOU system that worked. If you couldn’t get your Bike Reg to work and I still got you to sign the waivers, but then your waivers sat at my desk until I got the $5. And my memory isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but when I have a piece of paper and I have someone’s name on it, waiver and their name on it, I know that they owe me money. But so hopefully most of membership and the way we’re going to price things out, that $5 per session is a thing of history. We won’t be doing it.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Yeah, I think the listeners will definitely be happy to hear that and see that we’re making that change.

Dave Underhill:

So part of the reason, being able to drop the $5 is we’ll have the track membership. And then we’ll actually have base… I don’t know our final terminology, but training passes. And for the structured training we’ll have costs per course. So the training passes, it’ll be a monthly pass that gets you into the open training. The motor sessions and structured training classes. And we’ll offer a discounted annual pass.

And then the structured sessions, you could pay for those individually. But ideally if I was donning my cleats and racing again, I would definitely be all over the annual pass. It is a pretty good deal. And that’s what we’re also doing with the youth programs. We’ll have the session fee, but if you want to sign up for everything, if you want to sign up for the complete season of BRL, there’s a hefty discount for that. Complete season and youth. And if you’re in that kind of nine to 16, eight to 16 range, you want to sign up for everything.

There’s an incredible deal on that and you could be on the track all the time. And so the track will be programmed from early morning to a little bit later at night, 10:00, 10:30.

Maura Beuttel:

Hey, that’s what we have the lights for.

Dave Underhill:

Yes. We’ll turn off the music at nine so we’re quiet but we’ll have lights on and I don’t think we’ll hurt [inaudible 00:21:43] light pollution because we have plenty of that here. But it is an opportunity that we will have coaches on hand and we will update our coaches page. There’s some changes coming to that. We’re going to get a small raise and we’re going to change the credit system that is basically something you earn per hour rather than having to reach certain thresholds. And so that makes things a little more straightforward and more easy and more predictable.

And we will expand our training beyond just CPR and AED to basic first aid. So coaches always had the first aid kit, but maybe we haven’t been using them the most effective manner. And so that’s some first aid training that we’ll receive from the EMTs that support the track and be able to help our head coaches better address the minor wounds and more quickly assess anything. So that if help is needed, we know we could act very quickly on that.

So we’ll have the new coaches page up, we’ll have the credit program explained and I think it’s still an attractive program. And then for our assistant coaches, generally the folks who are under 18, don’t have a USAC coaching license, we’ll have a enhanced credit program for them. And then those that are looking for community service time, we’re more than happy to sign off on that. And so it’s an opportunity, even for the younger folks to give back and contribute to the track that they’re actively participating in very frequently.

Maura Beuttel:

I think that’s one of the coolest things is that a lot of the coaches here, assisting coaches, a lot of them are either athletes that race here or they’re people that have gone through the programs themselves and getting back into coaching. It is a great way to give back.

Dave Underhill:

And I’m enjoying it. I mean, when I hung up my cleats for the second time in my life, I got into officiating. And since I’ve basically retired and moved here, I got into coaching. And it is a lot of fun. It’s very rewarding to see kids on bikes and have kids pretty excited and want to tell me that they got their first track bike. And I was like, oh, this is great. Or even some of the declarations like, “I’m going to be doing this the rest of my life.” I was like, oh.

Maura Beuttel:

Yes, you are.

Dave Underhill:

And there are some folks that have done that. So it’s interesting. It’s a lot of fun I think. And there’s a lot of enthusiasm. And sometimes there’s some chaos. Like BRL, one third of the kids were on the track racing, two thirds of the kids were running around like they’ve had too much sugar, too much caffeine. And so that’s part of the little bit of the structural changes that we’ll do also to BRL is that we’ll have a race director, dedicated race director to run the races. Whereas then each team will have a dedicated head coach and then hopefully we’ll have an assistant coach or two of each team.

And we’ll also kind of formalize a little more. We’ll have race numbers, we’ll do some officiating. Not necessarily USAC officials. Maybe parent volunteers. Hint, hint.

We’ll get out the mics and the PA system and have a pretty good race environment for the kids. And you mentioned Air Products but also Schearers, sales and service that our BRL sponsor… We’re very thankful for them helping us out on this and basically make it, I don’t want to say the premier kids racing program. It will be a lot of opportunities and hopefully the BRL in itself is a great program. They have a lot of fun.

But hopefully number of kids will say, “Yeah, okay. I want to take it up to the next level. I’m going to become a junior racer and race elites and race in national championships.” And as our history of the track is showing you, Pan American Championships, World Championships, Olympics, the things start in our community programs. And so that’s a lot of opportunities and it’s a great path to take.

Maura Beuttel:

And speaking of that pathway, this is a perfect segue into the one program that we haven’t necessarily talked about yet, but I understand that there are some changes coming is Team T-Town. Because naturally you finish BRL and you’re like, “Okay, I love the sport. This thing is really great. Where do I go next?”

Dave Underhill:

So yeah, as a person who was kind of away for a long time and Team T-Town came back to here and it’s a junior team and someone mentioned a rider aging out. I was like, what do you mean aging out? “Well, he’s turning 18. So he’s got to leave T-Town.” I’m like, what? And that kind of chuck me aback a bit. Because I’m definitely a club oriented person. I’ve been a member of Somerset. We won for decades. And now I started asking the question, why is Team T-Town limited to juniors?

And so Andrew and I spent a good amount of time talking and I’ve talked with some of our community leaders, longtime cyclists and folks that are coaching and leading teams and saying, hey, what does your club do? How do you support folks and what are the benefits of being in your club versus something else? And do you think there’s a benefit for another club or something? And so based on that feedback and discussions we’ve decided what we’re going to do is Team T-Town is going to become a more traditional club.

It’s going to be a natural place for kids coming from BRL that if they don’t necessarily say, “Okay, my goal is to become an Olympic champion right away.” Is kind of make that transition into a community supported club. And so we’re going to heavily recruit some of our mentors, people in the community here and see if we can get them to join Team T-Town with us. The club basically will be sponsored by the the Valley Preferred Cycling Center and we will basically have club like structure. We’ll try to have race support, food, drinks, things like that for different races.

The heart of it is track racing, but that doesn’t mean we won’t go to some crits, won’t do some cyclo-cross. If someone could point me to a mountain bike race, I might try to find one to see what that’s all about. Sorry, I’ve never been to a mountain bike race.

Maura Beuttel:

Me either.

Dave Underhill:

It’s something new to me.

Maura Beuttel:

Oh, just kidding. No, I have been.

Dave Underhill:

But we want to open it up. There’s a lot of folks here that race all the time. I think they have a lot they can contribute on an informal basis and/or potentially a more formal basis. And so I still want to support junior riders and have them grow and fulfill their cycling dreams as best they can. But Team T-Town, a lot of Ts, is a good place for folks to start and basically grow themselves as a bike racer. And we’ve been talking with Lehigh Wheelmen. We’re looking at partnership with that group. It’s a very longstanding club in the area and also I am a member of Lehigh Wheelmen.

Maura Beuttel:

Shameless plug.

Dave Underhill:

And we’ll look at some collaboration that make their rides available for our folks and some of our rides could be available to them. It seems like half the rides in Lehigh Valley leave from the velodrome anyway, so why don’t we all ride together and there’s some insurance benefits to be riding in formal club rides. And so we’ll be looking at that for Team T-Town. Trying to set that up so that we’ll have additional coverage when we’re out there on the roads. Once we leave the concrete crater we don’t want people necessarily be only on their own.

So there are some benefits to having that. So we’ll look at Team T-Town, it won’t be very expensive to join. It’ll be on par with other club like structures. It’s not Olympic training, not dedicated professional coaching 40 hours a week, but it is a good opportunity to transition and be part of a community. And as the community programs guy, I definitely want the velodrome community to be together and have a welcoming environment that folks could come, they could race, they could ride, they could spectate, they could coach, they could share wisdom.

And then we have a lot of track racing experience here at this velodrome. And we have just a depth of knowledge we could tap into just walking across the street. We don’t have to go far.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Yeah, I just think again, the whole thread that ties this episode together is highlighting that sense of community because in the grand scheme of things, if you think in the entire world and all the different sports that there are, cycling is pretty niche. And I think playing into the fact that the name of the place here is the Valley Preferred Cycling Center is making it that cycling center, not just necessarily having everything be super track focused. So welcoming those folks with different backgrounds, mountain biking, cycle-cross, all that sort of different stuff and just kind of being a melting pot of things here is cool.

Let’s just ask Dave some personal questions because he’s just been a pillar in the cycling community here for very long. When did you start racing here? Not to date you or anything.

Dave Underhill:

I think my track racing started in ’80 or ’81.

Maura Beuttel:

Okay. And how different are things now compared to when you were racing?

Dave Underhill:

Well, it wasn’t so bad on Tuesdays as a junior, but when I got to Fridays I definitely learned it was a contact sport. And there may have been some initiation that happened when, “Hey, there’s a junior in our field now. Let’s go see how he feels up on the wall.” But I stayed upright every Friday I raced.

Maura Beuttel:

There you go. That’s the goal.

Dave Underhill:

But yeah, the gears were a lot smaller too and it was all about spinning rather than pushing. And so we had astronomical leg speed then, but our legs were much spindlier and smaller back then too. So when I watched some of the young juniors wind out their junior years, I was like, oh, yeah, that looks familiar. That’s the way racing used to look. Rather than pushing these 120 inch gears and just massively pounding away.

Yeah. So raced here in early ’80s. Went into the Navy afterwards and started getting that adult figure. I started growing that adult figure that I have now and no longer looking like a bike racer. And then basically it came back in the 2000 teens, and wanted to get back into bike racing. And in the ’80s, okay, I raced track twice a week. But I raced, rode in crit three, four times a week.

And so bike racing was pretty big and you could race some almost every day of the week. Monday was usually the only real dead day of the week. You could find two races on Saturdays and then you had training races Wednesdays and Thursdays. And so I was like a full-time bike racer back then. And so as an old guy, I started losing weight and I said, I’m going to get back into bike racing. And I was like, yeah, I’m going to start with the track. I really loved the track [inaudible 00:35:16] racing. And in three years of riding as an older guy, I only did two crits.

And one was actually a Virginia… It was International Raceway automobile racetrack, which was to me in my head kind of like track racing until they got to the final sprint. I had never seen such chaos and I placed at a decent spot in that, but I was dodging people left and right because they had leadout trains and guys were sitting up in the middle of the field because they were done and. It was like, oh, my God, this is crazy.

And then I did a proper four corner criterion. And for the life of me, I could not understand why I was hearing squealing brakes in every turn. I was just like, go around the turn. You could just put your right leg down, left leg up, go for the turn. There’s no need to hit your brakes.

Maura Beuttel:

You’re like, “There’s four turns. You think you would’ve figured it out by now.”

Dave Underhill:

And it was just like… And road racing or crits, I just… It’s crazy. So when people come to the track and they’re like, “There’s no brakes. I can’t do that.” I’m like, oh, my God, this is so much safer than riding on the road, riding a competitive road event. Because there aren’t unpredictable people hitting the brakes. There aren’t. And the track racing rules are pretty clear, pretty specific. You always have officials looking at you. It’s not like a road race where maybe the motor ref won’t catch me crossing the center lane.

Most of the officials don’t see you, most of the race. Crits, the same way. You have most that officials sitting on the home straight and you’re hoping that motor might catch something. But track racing, it’s much more discipline, it’s much more predictable. Sprints, almost might want to say they’re boring because people do the same thing. You don’t have to decide whether you want to dive to the left or the right of a rider that decided to stand up. [inaudible 00:37:22] stood up.

So it’s much more predictable and I’m like, oh, my God, it’s so much safer. So after those two crits I’m like, I’m not doing this anymore. And so all I did was race track. And felt much more safe pursuing. So as older guy, we don’t bounce so well anymore. And so stayed upright for three years without any concerns. The only time it scared me were those two crits.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Well, now that you’ve been on both sides of the coin as a track racer and now you officiate track, what was your favorite track race to race and what is your favorite track race to officiate?

Dave Underhill:

I always like the elimination. It was a race that you could sit there and play the devil. The person that sits in the back of the field and just tries to pick off people. And it’s usually reserved for sprinters. But you could play the devil or I was able to get on the front and hammer along and try to get in that number two spot. And just sit there and just have a long, long enduro pursuit type event where you’re just going hard the whole time and you’re listening and counting the laps down to see how many people you’re losing until [inaudible 00:38:43] is like, okay, at some point the surge is going to happen.

And if you’re the guy sitting in the number two spot, you’re part of that surge. You’re in the number one spot, it’s like, “Okay, I’m getting fifth.” So that’s always been the most fun of race because there’s a lot of tactics and there’s just a lot of different ways to do it and it’s a very different type of workout if you try to play the devil versus if you want to hammer at the front. And one thing I never like to do is just sit in the field and get picked off when getting stuck in traffic. So I had a tendency never to be there.

Maura Beuttel:

That’s always been one of my favorites to watch and sit underneath the judges’ stand right at the line and be like, okay, can I call the right person that’s gotten out before the officials call it? But it’s a fun little game. Both for racing and officiating for you, the elimination?

Dave Underhill:

Well, elimination is a little bit more scary as an official. Because on a Saturday, Masters and Rookies, I’m afraid if you don’t quite get it right, the consequences aren’t big. But if you’re doing a national championship or something like that, the consequences are very high. And you want to absolutely make sure you want to get that. And so one of our visiting commissaires basically said, “Dave, you’ve got the call. But if I hear a moment of hesitation in you saying that call, I’m calling for the camera.” And that’s if I said four or 104. Yeah, he was fine. Happy with it. If [inaudible 00:40:25], “Camera.”

Maura Beuttel:

Camera.

Dave Underhill:

And we want to be able to make that call quickly and get it out…

Maura Beuttel:

Whatever did we do before cameras?

Dave Underhill:

We made the call and sometimes it was a committee. Basically, ultimately depending on the level of the racing, who has that call responsibility. And if it’s the commissaire or president of the commissaire’s panel, they’d pass it on to the chief judge perhaps, or perhaps they’d want to make that call.

Or if you’re no camera like, “104.” Your assistant judge says, “Well, no. It was like 103.” “[inaudible 00:41:10] 103. Okay, 103.”

Maura Beuttel:

103 it is.

Dave Underhill:

Two out of three [inaudible 00:41:13]. But we don’t want to do that for national championships and things like that.

Maura Beuttel:

No, certainly not.

Dave Underhill:

And it’s a race that’s happening real time and you can’t go back. So if you accidentally call a wrong number, you have, at least on a 333, one lap to figure out how you’re going to correct that. Because you may have just cost someone a medal or a place. How do you fix that? And you need to fix it within 25 seconds or so because they’re going to be there. And at a 250 you have a little bit more time but not a lot. So some of those decisions have to be made and whether you’re the chief judge or the starter, because you may fire the gun, if you fire the gun, you started a cascade of events that not everyone may agree with. And so I was like, I stopped the race. Then you might have someone going crazy. I’m sorry I’m doing hand motions here.

Reacting very quickly and passionately as to why did you do what you just did and you shouldn’t have done that. And so there are some split second decisions and the elimination is the one that really, really requires it. A points race, okay. Cam review, we got second and third wrong in the sprint. We correct it. Race goes on.

Maura Beuttel:

Right.

Dave Underhill:

[inaudible 00:42:47] elimination, you just can’t correct something. You pulled the wrong person out or there’s some confusion in the number. You read the number wrong. How do you react and how do you react quickly that you just don’t basically throw off the results of the race?

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Yeah. The elimination is not something that you can stop the play, stop the race, review the footage, and then just click resume like you can with a lot of other sports.

Dave Underhill:

So I’ll say for the Nationals we had a couple years ago, the chief judge spent an hour with the photo finish people because there was a disagreement on how many laps down the person was. In post processing you could always figure out what that result is in something like a points race. And figure out, “Okay, why did commissaire two thought this person went down but others didn’t?” And you could actually lap by lap do a replay and figure out what happened. It’s not the quickest thing to do. But it’s something that if you’re a national championship, then you want to make sure that result is right.

Maura Beuttel:

You take the time and you do it.

Dave Underhill:

You take the time to do it. And other formats have that ability to do that. Elimination, no.

Maura Beuttel:

What would you say that as an official is the biggest faux paw, I guess you see riders or athletes make?

Dave Underhill:

That they don’t know the rules. So the riders, with coaches are pretty much coached that the coach will come talk to me. Riders who don’t want to come up on their own. And I’ve had riders tell me that’s not a rule and that they’re allowed to do this. And I’m like, okay, I’m the official. And by the way, I do work at the nationals. And if I see you doing that in the nationals, I’m going to call it because you’re violating this particular rule. And if I have to pull out the phone and get the rule number for them, so they can go back and read, I usually do.

Maura Beuttel:

Oh, it’s not a rule? You mean this rule, right here? On my phone?

Dave Underhill:

And part of the challenge, and it’s been learning experience for Andrew of the USA Cycling rules versus UCI rules that they don’t match. And there’s slight differences and that’s a challenge. And it’s good that our national championships, the elite are UCI rules. So we bring in the most senior officials. Everything is by UCI rules, everyone has a common playing field. But if you’re doing a different level event, a Masters Nationals potentially, or Friday Under Lights, technically we’re under UCI rules only for the UCI weekends. And then we switch the USA Cycling rules when we’re not, because why should we enforce UCI rules? Technically that’s not a rule set.

So that was always… My example is in sprint races that the UCI walking pace for the slow part of the sprint is not in the USA cycling book. And USA Cycling is, you shall not stop.

So you could go pretty darn slow and not stop. And then there’s actually another rule book for American Track Racing Association, which actually says you shall not go backwards. So technically you could stop, but you can’t go backwards. And if you do a track stand, you roll half an inch backwards, then you’re going backwards, I assume. But there are nuances on rules and officials spend a lot of time, especially in the spring, dusting off and reading the rules and then officiating at T-Town with our international racing here.

Okay, I’ve done a couple of Masters and Rookies, I’ve refreshed myself on all the rule changes for USA cycling, now I have to shift to the UCI rule book and look for the rule changes there and refresh my memory. And it’s actually a very common thing is that before an event, I’m going for the rule book. One, looking for changes. And two, refreshing my memory so that I don’t have two events mixed up. We want to make sure we get it right. The riders put a lot of time, a lot investment into racing. So as officials, we want to respect that investment and make sure that we’re doing the right calls. Not making up rules or misremembering rules. So we spend time, want to make sure we have them right.

Maura Beuttel:

So you could say there’s a lot to keep track of.

Dave Underhill:

Yes. She’s been holding that one for a while.

Maura Beuttel:

I had to.

Dave Underhill:

But that said, the more stressful parts are kind of falling onto the senior officials. So I don’t want to scare away potential officials out there. Junior parents, racers, former racers as an assistant it’s basically, “What did you see?” And you are slowly learning the rules, but when you’re the starter chief ref, the judge referee, that’s when you really have to have the rules down because you’re the person making the decision.

And I was just going through some pictures. And I saw the one from a couple of years ago, it was a picture taken from the judge’s stand and it was a circle of the officials, the race director, track director, the photo folks, all in a circle. Because something had happened and that we were trying to figure out, “Okay, how are we going to rule on it?” And it was okay, everyone had their perspective. And basically how were we going to rule in a situation. That turned out to be kind of a sprint situation where folks were catching the field as the field was crossing the finish line.

And I was like, “Okay, how do we want to interpret this?” And it’s a nuanced thing. Well, a new official doesn’t have to make that decision. But I was surprised that as a new official working at one of my first UCI races, I was on the back straight and the international commissaire called me up on the radio and said, “Dave, what did you think about that sprint?” Because we had two riders riding up on the rail and wanted my input as to whether there was enough room. And I was like, you’re asking me?

I’m just out here hanging out in the grass in the back straight. You want me to help you make that call? But I had the angle, because the commissaire was on the other side of the track and they’re relatively perpendicular. Whereas I was able to see that, yeah, they were both close to the wall. But the rider left enough room. So it was a case of whether he was impeding or not. So I was like, oh. That was a big day.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. Oh, I get to give my input.

Dave Underhill:

So that was something, and that’s one thing that here at T-Town is, we do have the international racing. And so there is a high level of racing that new officials get exposed to very quickly. We have tremendous depth of experience. Andy, Ellen, Sally that have all mentored me, helped me out quite a bit to get me up to speed. But most officials, as a new official, you don’t get exposed to international racing. That’s something that potentially you might be able to do an apprenticeship with and travel across the country to come to T-Town to kind of witness an international race.

But here it’s kind of a little bit unique in the US. So we’re the only track in the country that has a consistent international racing schedule. The only other one is LA. We will have Masters Worlds from time to time. We’re going back to the UK this year. So we’re it. But it’s incredible experience and it’s incredible racing to watch. So when we have a good international field and they’re strung out, and you have 30 riders in a single pace line going as hard as they can. It’s a sight to see.

It’s like, wow, they’re just flying. And then people in the back are holding on for dear life. Trying to stay with this line because it is just going so fast that it has just stretched out everything. And that’s something that, it’s kind of rare. And being able to witness that here at T-Town is just incredible.

Maura Beuttel:

It still blows my mind after working here for however long that out of all of the places in the world, people come to this small town in Pennsylvania of all places and it’s known across the world. And I tell all my friends that and they’re like, “What?” I’m like, yeah, exactly. All of these really cool, talented, fast people come here.

Dave Underhill:

Well, we do kind of have a legend status.

Maura Beuttel:

But going off of that, just to wrap things up, Dave, I think you probably have sort of a legend status here too. Going from racer to coach to someone who officiates racing here. You’ve kind of run the gamut of it all. And I think we’re very lucky to have you here as a part of our community kind of heading that area of the track here. So thank you for taking the time to come on today and explain the list of changes that we’re making here in our programs for this upcoming season.

Dave Underhill:

Oh, thanks. It’s been a lot of fun. And anyone that’s seen me track side knows as I like to talk. So don’t be afraid if you see the big guy. Come up, ask me any questions, anything you want, and we’ll see how we can help you. Whether you want to ride the track, try the track, race the track. Just, hey. If you just want to ask me when this place was built, I’ll answer those questions.

Maura Beuttel:

You’ve got all the answers.

Dave Underhill:

What are all those little lines painted on the track for? So yeah, I’m looking forward to 2023. I feel like I’m a little more knowledgeable and a little more prep time. And we’ve got a lot on our calendar and so it’s going to be a pretty good year. We just get everyone out there and get them on their bikes.

Maura Beuttel:

So we will have all of this information updated on our website under the community programs pages as well as you can see all of the changes reflected on the calendar when that goes live. So be sure to keep posted for when that goes live. But this has been another episode of The Talk of the T-Town. We hope you enjoyed it and please subscribe, give us a like, give us comments. Any sort of feedback to help us grow the podcast on your favorite podcasting platform. Thanks so much for listening and we’ll check in next time.

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk of the T-Town podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcasts. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, the velodrome.com to check out the show notes and subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Kaio Lart: A Kiwi Summer in T-Town

Kaio Lart

Episode 64

“You send four Kiwi boys off into the distance and see what happens and it’s a bit of a laugh”

Can you place the accent of this week’s podcast guest? He’s been a crowd favorite all summer, and we were certainly sad to see him leave. Andrew is joined this week by Kaio Lart, a cyclist from New Zealand. Kaio ventured out to T-Town this summer with a group of mates to get a solid block of training and racing done, as well as pick up some valued UCI points. Listen to learn how Kaio got his start in cycling, what it’s been like racing here in T-Town, and much more.


Kaio Lart
Kaio Lart


Instagram:
@kaio_fart


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Voice Over:

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. This is Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things, track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Welcome back to another episode of Talk of the T-Town. I’m your host, Andrew Paradowski. And we’re here to talk about all things T-Town, and all things cycling. Today, our guest is Kaio Lart, from New Zealand. One of the young riders who has joined us for the prior UCI Racing Block that we had here in June. Kaio, how are you doing?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, I’m good, thank you. And thanks for having me. It’s been pretty cool here so far. So, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, we’re glad to have you and all of your other Kiwi teammates, you certainly have come in full force. I do realize that a lot of the team have left to other events and races. I know there’s a big push to the Commi games, but you and a few of your brethren have stuck around to continue racing here in T-Town. So, we appreciate you for being here as well. And also, for being on this podcast, this show with us today here. We’ve had a chance to get to know you over the last couple of weeks, watch you race and learn a bit more about you. And you’re a young racer, you’re just getting into school now and you’re doing quite well in the racing scene, but that’s not who you are only.

You’re not just Kaio, the racer. I found out that you are also Kaio the coach, Kaio the commissar and Kaio the volunteer and all things cycling. So, you’ve got all your bases covered. So, let’s talk a little bit about that. You don’t see that very often in young racers. It’s usually just, hyper focused on cycling and maybe after the career winds down a little bit, then they move into something else to stay in the sport, like coaching in cycling. So, what has given you the spark to stay, or sorry, to get involved in all these things so early?

Kaio Lart:

I’m not really too sure, to be honest. Normal thing, is I’d probably just blame my dad for it, but I guess, it felt like the right thing to do. I guess, I’ve been around the sport, since I was eight, nine, so that’s a good part of my life. Feel like I owe something back to the sport. And now, I’ve finished school, I’m first year at university, I can’t do schools racing at home anymore. And it seemed like a really cool opportunity to then go back and be a commissar, help out and get to punish all the kids I don’t like. But nah, just, it seemed like a cool opportunity. And I guess, when I moved up to Cambridge at home this year, where our home of cycling is, I had a couple of plans that I’d become a coach at the track.

It would give me access to track time. And then, if I became a commissar, or got my technical license, I could just help out and try and learn how to run our timing system. Because, there’s only a few people who could do it. It’s just, gaps that need filled. So, I just thought, “Why not?” And then, yeah, I’ve done a couple of shadow commissar work through our junior track nationals and criterium nationals at home. And then, when I was knocked out the first weekend here in T-Town, early on in the sprints, I was like, “Oh, well I’ve got nothing to do this evening. So, I’ll just go ask if I can bum around and watch it. And yeah, ended up being pretty cool.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, how would you say that affects your outlook on cycling in general and racing in general? Having seen it from different angles. Commissaring, timing, as you said, sitting out there at the table trying to get results for people, helping out, volunteering. How has that affected your racing style and your attitude towards cycling?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, I mean, it goes without saying, that most people respect the work that the volunteers and commissars do, but until you sit with them and actually realize how stressful it gets sometimes, you don’t really realize it. Us riders, we just try to pin our numbers in the most aero, trendy position possible. Turns out you can’t see that if you’re a comm. What other things there was, trying to get start sheets out, trying to get result list out, or points races in the middle of a points race, things that, as a rider, you just expect to happen immediately. Like, why isn’t there numbers on the lapboard? Or, why can’t we see it straight away? And there’s a whole load of decisions that have to be made behind that.

And it’s obvious when you think about it, but when you’re in the middle of the heat of a race, you don’t really have that obvious thought pattern and to actually have some evidence behind it yourself, to make you process those decisions whilst you’re racing, is good. And I guess, being able to deem, also where am I making a dodgy decision? Am I going to send it under this rider? And is it going to get me disqualified? Or, is this thing going to slip? You get to learn where those boundaries are in racing. And I’ve noticed myself, watching my own racing, watching my friends race, where I think decisions will be made, or what might happen. But yeah, I guess, you learn a lot of the rules as well, as a rider. And I guess, as it should, it should carry over, there should be a pretty close comparison between the two of them.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s interesting. So, it sounds like it affects your strategy as well, a little bit. Before you actually started doing a little bit of officiating, would you say that you had a good command of the rules and regulations? Or, was it only afterwards, when you sat down and read the book for doing that thing, that you discovered the full, broad scope of the rules?

Kaio Lart:

Mm, I’d like to think, I’ve always known the rule book reasonably well. Just through, I guess, trying to push the limits like everyone else is trying to get as close to as possible. And everyone’s always asking, “Is my bike legal?” Or, “Is this right? What’s the rules here?” And I guess, you just go to learn the quick fire really and-

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, you mentioned earlier that you were blaming your dad for getting involved into cycling. Is that your cycling origin story? Was he the one who got you into cycling and racing, or?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, sort of. So, he doesn’t really ride, himself. Well, he likes to think he does. But, I was at the age eight, nine years old, just every sport in the back of the school newsletter, dad was like, “Right, you’re going to do that, you’re going to do that.” Was going everywhere, left, right and center. And I guess, cycling’s the one that stuck. I mean, from the first day I went to school, I rode my bike. I think, pretty much, from year seven onwards. So, the last seven years I was in school, I missed one day riding to school and it’s something I’ve done my whole life. It’s just what happens.

Andrew Paradowski:

How far from school is your home?

Kaio Lart:

Ah, about 10K.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

So-

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s a pretty good ride.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, it’s good. I love the morning commute.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Especially, going home after school. All my mates would always hop on the bus. It’s always a race home, because I can beat them out of town real quick. But then, once we hit the highway, it gets a bit more even. So, there was a consistent period where, when I was older, I was always beating the bus. But, in that, I guess, 14 to 15 year old age gap, every day it would change, who would win, me, or the bus?

Andrew Paradowski:

Did you ever get in behind the bus and just draft the bus all the way?

Kaio Lart:

Oh, definitely. I love a good bit of car surfing. Definitely, illegal and I do not recommend it. But, heck yeah, I love it.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s a good disclaimer. I like that. And I-

Kaio Lart:

They’ve got this awesome hill, outside the school I went to, and it’s just one straight big run down into town, and then you get traffic lights. I know the entire Nelson traffic light system off by heart.

Andrew Paradowski:

And the timing as well?

Kaio Lart:

Yup.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice.

Kaio Lart:

I can get through that… I reckon, I can get through town in about a minute and a half.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, at least after all that too, you’ll also have a good story for your grandkids to be like, “I rode to school, both ways, uphill, for 10 kilometers.”

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, exactly. So-

Andrew Paradowski:

And then, you just continued on through high school. And then, at what point did you get into formalized racing?

Kaio Lart:

Oh, I reckon I would’ve been first year, under 15. I think, it was probably when I started traveling around the country, racing, for… Yeah, that would’ve been when I did my first track nationals. And then, yeah, I just kept going. From then, done track nationals most years. I think, my first win came in second year, under 17. I won the 500 and the sprint event. Nearly broke the national record that time. And then, I got pretty annoyed that I didn’t. I was out by maybe, 400th of a second. So, came back half a year later and smashed it, which I was pretty stoked on.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice.

Kaio Lart:

And that record, it stood for a while. Everyone knew about it. And then, that was just before Oceania Champs in 2019. And then, we went on to win the team sprint with Sebastian Lipp, who’s here with us. And one of my mates, Hamish Coltman, who’s now at university. And then, that was it, before the world wrapped up for a wee-bit. And oh, we got to Bundaberg in Australia. That was my first overseas, international competition. And that was pretty cool to be invited to that.

Andrew Paradowski:

You made an interesting statement there, you said before the world wrapped up a little bit. I guess, you’re referring to COVID?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. That’s probably, the politest way I’ve ever heard of it either on this podcast, or elsewhere. “The world wrapped up for a little bit.” Yeah, it shut the doors and-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Hid for a year and a half.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. So, I was supposed to go to both, Junior Worlds, as I got selected for both of them as a junior. But, obviously that was 2020 and 2021. So, that didn’t happen. At the time, bit of a shame. It wasn’t great, I wasn’t stoked on it. But, in hindsight, it was probably one of the best things that happened to me. It meant, I knuckled down a wee-bit more at school. I focused, achieved the academic goals that I had set out. And to be fair, my dad probably pushed me pretty hard as well, but I ended up being the head boy of the school I went to and getting the highest level that New Zealand recognizes, academically.

Andrew Paradowski:

For our listeners at home, head boy would mean, I guess, the top scholar.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. Class president, top of the school, basically.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

So yeah, that was a pretty cool opportunity. It ended up being quite a rough year for other reasons as well, but we won’t go into that.

And so, yeah. And then, that, along with all my cycling results, worked out pretty well and got me an awesome scholarship at the University of Waikato, where I am now. So, yeah, had COVID not had happened, I would’ve gone to Junior Worlds, probably wouldn’t have got the academic results and the leadership results that I did otherwise. And now, I think about it, it was a good opportunity to step away from the sport a wee-bit, just have a wee-break, it’s all I’d done for the past 10 years. So, to have that wee-break and reset-

Andrew Paradowski:

Reflect?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

About the future.

Kaio Lart:

Definitely.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mmm-hmm.

Kaio Lart:

And yeah, like my dad said during that first initial lockdown period, it was some of the best conversations we’ve ever had, because I wasn’t coming home tired and just burnt out every day from training and whatever. I just had a chance to relax. And I think, I actually grew a lot, as a person in that period.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, it’s always super interesting to learn about the silver linings that everybody seemed to have discovered over that period, when the world shut down for a little bit. But, we’re back open now and you’re here racing and you’ve had some pretty good results in some of your sprinting, so we’ve been certainly impressed with that. Is this your first, big block of racing that you’ve done outside of New Zealand? I know, you mentioned that you went to the Oceania Championship, so maybe an event here, or there, but-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah. So, we did Ocies, which was at home, in Waikato. And then, we did Bundaberg, which was just a week in Australia. But yeah, this was the first, big, overseas campaign we’ve done.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mmm-hmm.

Kaio Lart:

So, I’m here for a month and a half. So, start of June to mid-July. And then, a couple of the others staying here for maybe another three weeks afterwards. But yeah, this is our first big time away. And basically, for all of us, this is our first big international trip. And-

Andrew Paradowski:

So, how’s that going for you?

Kaio Lart:

It’s been interesting. You send four Kiwi boys off into the distance and see what happens and it’s a bit of a laugh. But, nah it’s been awesome. So, you got the four of us, and then we’ve met this other fellow, Dalton, who’s rooming with us. He’s Australian, gets on real well. We’ll just Dodge past the Australian bit. But nah, it’s been awesome. There’s been ups and downs, we’re all racing each other. So, we’re in the head space to get racing, but then it’s also like we’re here on a cool trip. It’s-

Andrew Paradowski:

Can you think of… So, this being your first, large trip away for cycling, or in general as well? You haven’t spent this much time outside of-

Kaio Lart:

Not by myself.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, okay.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, what would you say, is your biggest challenge? Or, possibly a culture shock? Or, something that you found interesting and unique when you came here to the US?

Kaio Lart:

Everyone says, “Yes.” When you say thank you, or something, rather than, “You’re welcome.” That’s the one that gets me the most.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Driving on the wrong side of the road, that’s always a laugh. The amount of times we’ve pulled out the car park here and just ridden straight down the wrong side of the road. And then, everyone looks at you funny. I don’t know. I guess, the language a wee-bit as well. Talking to the kids out there, coaching today, I’m calling them mate and, “You’re all good bro,” and things like that. And they just look at me blankly and go, “All right, then.” Yeah. I guess, just a couple of things like that. Maybe, we are a bit casual, but yeah, it’s a bit different, but similar in a lot of ways, I guess, you can see where everything’s built its own little ways of going around.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Is there anything that you miss from back home?

Kaio Lart:

Oh, a pie. There’s no pies here.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right now-

Kaio Lart:

Mince pie.

Andrew Paradowski:

What’s a pie to you?

Kaio Lart:

Well, I don’t know. You got some pastry, and then you’ve got some mince inside of it. And-

Andrew Paradowski:

So, you mean meat?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, most people here, when you think pie, they think apple pie, cherry pie.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right?

Kaio Lart:

The amount of times we’ve asked for pies and people pointed us to sweet stuff, we’re like-

Andrew Paradowski:

Right.

Kaio Lart:

“No, no we want a mince pie.

Andrew Paradowski:

You want a meat pie?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

They’re actually pretty popular up in Canada. You might have to take a trip to Quebec to get-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yourself a meat pie.

Kaio Lart:

No, I would be keen actually.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

But yeah, we’d have them at, say, gas stations, not servos, but anyway…It turns-

Andrew Paradowski:

Is that what the gas stations are called in New Zealand?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, we just call them servos, yeah. And they’re like, “Oh, we’re off to the servo”. And everyone’s like, “Oh, you’re going where?” But, yeah. And you can’t-

Andrew Paradowski:

We could sit here and probably, talk for half an hour-. All the slang-

Kaio Lart:

Definitely.

Andrew Paradowski:

What’s that?

Kaio Lart:

But, yeah. And we go to the hot cabinet expecting to find some pies and oh, well there’s nothing there. So, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Just hot dogs.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

I mean, we’ve succumbed to eating them, it’s not the end of the world.

Andrew Paradowski:

Have you been to a Wawa yet?

Kaio Lart:

A what?

Andrew Paradowski:

Wawa.

Kaio Lart:

Nah.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s the big servo here. There’s two competing gas stations, Wawa and Sheetz. I think, there’s even a cross-Pennsylvania, the fight over which one’s better. But, full-service gas station, with a convenient store. And then, they’re serving food as well. And you can get hamburgers and-

Voice Over:

And milkshakes.

Andrew Paradowski:

Milkshakes.

Kaio Lart:

Maybe, we have. I mean, we don’t have a car with us, we’re riding our bikes everywhere. So, there’s that slight thing.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. And you’ve got the school in Kutztown.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. Oh, we were-

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

We just moved to Bob’s house, but-

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, no, we’ve been at the university as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right.

Kaio Lart:

But yeah, for a bunch of sprinters who normally, are pretty lazy. Drive to the track, track’s indoors at home, it’s a bit cozy-

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

To having a ride back and forth every day. I think, all of us have easily doubled our K’s for the year, while we’ve been here.

Andrew Paradowski:

There you go. And that must be tough for a sprinter, huh?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah. Hard life. Yup, real tough.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right, let’s do some rapid fire questions.

Kaio Lart:

Okay.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, you’re mostly a track racer. So, what’s your favorite track event?

Kaio Lart:

Madison.

Andrew Paradowski:

Why

Kaio Lart:

Love getting slung into the middle of a race. That’s just wicked.

Andrew Paradowski:

Even though, you’re a sprinter, that’s your-

Kaio Lart:

Yup.

Andrew Paradowski:

Favorite race? All right, cool. What would be your favorite pro race around the world? Any discipline. Road, track, stuff that you like to watch, or that’s just, your big favorite?

Kaio Lart:

Probably, saying UCI Track League. I really enjoyed that last year.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

To see that the sport developing in that way, going more to the performance side of things. Yeah, probably something like that. Just any short, hard and fast, that gets crowd involved, or a six-day, that style, party event.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Favorite bike? And it’s okay, if you have to say your sponsor’s name. We understand.

Kaio Lart:

Oh, I don’t. I can say whatever I want here. Favorite bike? I mean, I’m quite a big fan of The Hope. I know a lot of people aren’t, I reckon it looks wicked. The Avantis that we all ride, as a country, they’ve been pretty awesome. They’ve obviously stopped now, but I love mine. It’s stiff. It handles well. But yeah, there’s a lot, I’ve worked in a bike shop, so I’ve got a chance to ride a lot of bikes and try a lot of things. But, there’s still a rather large list I’d quite be keen-

Andrew Paradowski:

All right.

Kaio Lart:

To try a Titanium, hand-built, or something like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, we spent a lot of time talking about the past. Let’s talk about the future. You’re young, you’re at the top of the sport at this point, going around doing international events. You see yourself continuing on for the next number of years? Maybe, trying to get up in bigger events? Nations cups? World championships? That thing. What’s-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, definitely.

Andrew Paradowski:

What’s the plan?

Kaio Lart:

I mean, I think the dream of any young kid, is to make it to the top, right? And in our case, that’s the Olympics. So, being, I guess, back here, in LA for 2028, that’s the main game for my age group and that’d be a dream come true. Like I said, the aim is to make it to the top. So, yeah, the world champs along the way, nations cups, things like that. And I guess, yeah, this is the starting point for it. But, I guess, it always comes back to, I guess, why I’m still here? Is because, I love the sport. And so, as long as it’s fun and I’m enjoying it, then that’s wicked.

Andrew Paradowski:

And then, what about afterwards? At some point the cycling career gets a bit tougher, you’re older, and then maybe, not as fast anymore. So, how do you see yourself? I mean, we talked about it a bit earlier, but how do you see yourself evolving out of the racing side of the sport, but staying in cycling?

Kaio Lart:

Oh, I don’t have a clue really.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah?

Kaio Lart:

But, I guess, I’ll probably always be part of it. I guess, either through coaching and commissaring, like all the other, I would say, old buggers, but I probably can’t. And yeah, I guess, just staying a part of it. There’s always going to be someone to help, someone to get involved, inspire some kids. Yeah, I had never really thought about it. I guess, I’d just always ride my bike. So, it’s pretty easy. But, I’m doing engineering at university, so people often ask me, “Oh, why’d you choose engineering?” I was like, “I know dad did it. It’s got some maths, seems fun.” But, probably something to do with that. Maybe, something to do with performance hardware, or software, or something in the sport. Helping the team that helped me, I guess.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. I guess, I feel like I haven’t been here in the sport long, compared to some other athletes. But, I still feel like I owe this world a lot.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, you led into my next question there. I was going to ask you about what you’re studying at university.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, engineering… I mean, that’s a broad subject. Are you-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, so I’m-

Andrew Paradowski:

Specializing at this point?

Kaio Lart:

Doing Mechatronics Engineering.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Which, is a cross between mechanical and electrical. Once again, 100% my dad’s fault. He did mechanical engineering at school-

Andrew Paradowski:

Mmm-hmm.

Kaio Lart:

Been an engineer his whole life. And I guess, as a kid, that’s just how you get brought up. Everything’s math and logic based.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mmm-hmm.

Kaio Lart:

So yeah, dad, that’s 100% your fault. But, he knows it and yeah, just, I guess, it seems like a bit of fun. I was good at maths at school and I just enjoy that problem solving side of things.

Andrew Paradowski:

Hmm.

Kaio Lart:

So yeah. And then, the opportunity, being able to test things about bikes, where are we going faster? Where are we not? It’s just, that seems obvious, so yeah-

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s very neat. Yeah, it’s always good to have a plan for-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, definitely.

Andrew Paradowski:

After-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. The scholarship really helped me set that up. So yeah, I’m full time this year and I’ll slow things down next year, but this is just to make the most of the scholarship in the first year. Thanks to some of the rules.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, what are your plans for making sure that you can still train, while going to school? I know, it’s a challenge. And I’ve seen a lot of professional cyclists do it. I even know one young woman who managed to become a doctor while she was still racing and aiming for the Olympics. So, it’s possible, but you have to have a good focus. So, what’s your goal for this coming semester?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, probably try slow things down a wee-bit. I was pretty, flat out before I left to come here. I was working at the track, I was training, and then I had full time at uni. So, basically, I’d be up at 5:00, I’d be at the track until 8:30, then back to uni for 9:00 until 3:00. And then, come straight back to the track, go coaching, and then train afterwards.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mm.

Kaio Lart:

And I wouldn’t get home until 10:00. And there was maybe, three days a week, I was doing that and I was getting pretty burnt out. So, definitely for the first wee-bit of the semester, just slow things down, I probably won’t train as much, just because I need a wee-bit of a break after this. And then, just ramp back into it. I don’t really have much of a choice for this semester. I have to stay at full time, but definitely next year I’ll slow things down to probably just two papers a semester and allow myself to really hit training a bit harder. But, if I drop too much on the work side of things, I’ll end up with free time throughout the day and I’d prefer not to. I perform better when I’ve got more going on than less.

Andrew Paradowski:

Good. Very good. So, tell us a bit more about Kaio, the guy. Not Kaio, the racer. What do you like to do at home? What’s your favorite hobby in your spare time?

Kaio Lart:

I ride bikes, really.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

That it’s-

Andrew Paradowski:

You’re not the first person who said that. It’s bikes.

Kaio Lart:

Funny that.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

No. So, where I grew up in New Zealand, a place called Nelson, it’s quite a mountain bike area. So, I did what every other kid who rides bikes, just pull up at the local bike shop. “Well, can I have a job please?”

Andrew Paradowski:

Does that work?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, it did actually.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

I claimed I could make coffee, because coffee is part of our business. Turns out I actually could. And so, I made the boss a coffee and he was like, “Oh, it’s not bad. Come see me in a week and you got a job.” So, sure enough, five years later, just left the job after moving up North. But yeah, at home we all ride mountain bikes. The shop has a huge array of bikes. So, after work all of us hop on our bikes and go for a ride. And eventually, got my work mate to all ride mountain bikes down to the track. They all binned it on their first attempt, but they deserved it, to be fair. So yeah, I guess I just rode bikes really.

It sounds bad, but yeah, it is pretty much my whole life. I played guitar a wee-bit as a kid. I probably still could, hopefully. And what else do I do? Oh, yeah. So, this is a bit of an odd one, but after COVID, like I said, I had that wee reset period. I was like, “Right, I’m going to learn how to dance.” So, dad had been to some dance class maybe a couple of years before I think, to meet partners. So, after my parents split up. Being successful, apparently. But, anyway, and then, so I was like, “Oh dad, those dance classes you went to, can I go to them?” He’s like, “Yeah, all right. I don’t know if they’re still running, but okay.” And sure enough, I turned up and it was a relaxed ballroom set up. And I did that for the past year and a half, until I left home, which was wicked. I mean, you turn up to school balls and formals and you blow the socks off everyone.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, we’re talking about pure ballroom dancing?

Kaio Lart:

Nah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Tango? Waltz?

Kaio Lart:

Sort of.

Andrew Paradowski:

Paso Doble?

Kaio Lart:

Bit more relaxed, but yeah. Not all the stringent rules of it, but yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

The Foxtrot?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, I’d give it crack.

Andrew Paradowski:

You keen?

Kaio Lart:

But yeah, my mum’s Brazilian, so there’s some bit of natural ability to dance. And when you grow up with a mum who’s in samba her whole life, you get used to it. But yeah, no, I don’t keep it on the down low intentionally, but it just doesn’t come out a lot. So yeah, that’s probably one of the other cool bits that I get up to.

Andrew Paradowski:

That is really neat. And to tie that back into cycling, would you say that learning to be nimble on your feet, has sort of helped you navigate the chaos, that is the Peloton?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, a wee-bit. I like to think I’m one with a bike, it might sound a bit cheesy, but I like the feeling of being able to just lean your bike over and just send it around someone, or leaning on someone and being able to pull away from it, knowing you’ve got all your own weight, feeling. I guess, yeah, really connected with the bike. You can control it really well. You can quite happily, ride into someone, or the fence, or just do something. I’ve got this challenge for when I get home, that I want to be able to ride basically, directly up the track and do a u-ey and come back down the other direction. I started it and I got closer and closer, but I haven’t quite got to the corner yet. So yeah, this is on an indoor 250 as well, so…

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, if you ever get video of that, you’ll just send it our way.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, definitely. I’ll give it a crack, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Even, riding backwards on the track, is unnerving to a lot of people. Just…

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, to be honest, I’m still scared by that one.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mm.

Kaio Lart:

It really does feel like you’re going the wrong way.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

But, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Just like the roads here, right?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah. Exactly, the same actually. Yeah, you feel like you’re going to slip off. The hard one with the roads here, is looking the right way.

Andrew Paradowski:

Mm.

Kaio Lart:

You pull up to an intersection, look, oh, wait, I’m supposed to look that way. And by the time you’ve realized which way you’re supposed to be looking, you’re too late.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Or, coming into the track here, all of us go into the middle lane, and then look left behind us, and then realize that the cars are coming from forwards. Consistently, the whole group of us will do it.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I’m glad that you’re still safe.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. We were still when none of us have crashed yet, or caused any accidents-

Andrew Paradowski:

Just look both ways. And then-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, we-

Andrew Paradowski:

All right, let’s do another rapid fire. Get to know you a bit better. What’s your favorite movie?

Kaio Lart:

Ooh, well right now, it’s probably the new Top Gun. We watched it right at the start of this trip and it’s become quite a theme around the house. Dalton’s tried to grow a mo, we’ve been playing it.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’ve seen it.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah. It’s… Yeah. We’ve been playing the playlist quite a bit. It’s become a bit of a hype song really. So, we’ll probably go with that for the moment.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right on. What about music? What’s your favorite music? Whether, just relaxing, or training to, or whatever?

Kaio Lart:

Dire Straits, U2. I guess, once again, blame my dad.

Andrew Paradowski:

80’s fan, very cool.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, Elton John, Snow patrol-

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Midnight Oil. Yeah, wee-bit, not so much.

Andrew Paradowski:

Men at work?

Kaio Lart:

Oh yeah, of course. Down under, I mean, it’s not quite New Zealand, but it’s close enough.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Kaio Lart:

So, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

I actually don’t know any New Zealand artists that I could name.

Kaio Lart:

Six60.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Kaio Lart:

Stan Walker.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. It’s the same thing-

Kaio Lart:

Lorde.

Andrew Paradowski:

From Canada, right?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Oh, Lorde. That’s right, yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Lorde is from New Zealand. Same thing from Canada. I mean, we had rules for the radio for the longest time, where a third of the music had to be Canadian content-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So, we have all this music that we listen to, and then we come down here and we’ll say some name and we’re just next door. And they’re like, “Who? What?”

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Couple of big hits, but yeah. I know what that’s like.

Voice Over:

Justin Bieber?

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I mean… Drake.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

What about food? What’s your favorite snack in general? Or, maybe even after riding the bike?

Kaio Lart:

Go-to, is definitely sushi. There was a joint just across the road from where we worked and it was quite a common lunch stop.

Andrew Paradowski:

Have you found good sushi here?

Kaio Lart:

No, actually, I haven’t had sushi while I’m here.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’ve been more-

Kaio Lart:

Is there a sushi place here?

Voice Over:

Yeah, yeah. I could recommend one.

Andrew Paradowski:

Oh, yeah.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, right. I mean, not, we’ve been tight on what we’ve tried to spend, but we’ve been pretty lazy. We try to avoid just getting by with the food-

Andrew Paradowski:

Mm.

Kaio Lart:

So, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, it’s not cheap to do a big project like this-

Kaio Lart:

No, no, it’s-

Andrew Paradowski:

Over here.

Kaio Lart:

Definitely, it’s been a big cost, but it’s cool, so…

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Well, let’s wrap this up maybe, with one last question here. What do you think is the big difference between racing in New Zealand, and then racing here in the Americas?

Kaio Lart:

I’m not sure. So, racing here… Well, racing at home rather, it’s me, Dylan, Sebastian, Ruben. We all race each other, all the time. So, to come here and race other people, I guess, it’s foreign really. It’s a bit odd. We’re so used to how each other race and how each other ride. But, definitely, on a track like this, there’s a lot of running from the back. I can’t remember many races that have been run one from the front, versus at home, the track we have, it’s got quite a short, straight for an indoor. So, the runs from the back don’t always work as well, versus the one in Waikato, at home. It has quite a bit of a longer straight. So, the runs normally win. So, I guess, yeah. And that’s the other thing, we grow up, we’re used to riding on an indoor track. Just, we always ride indoor, it’s just what we do. And so, having to deal with the weather here is a bit odd, things like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s interesting, because up until I think, Atlanta ’96 was the last time the Olympics were held outdoors.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

And prior to that, it was really an outdoor sport and of course, there were odd, indoor tracks around the world and stuff being run there and stuff. But, now it’s exclusive, especially for the Olympic-bound of world championships, it’s all-

Kaio Lart:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Indoor thing. So… But, would you say that the indoor culture is a bit different from the outdoor culture?

Kaio Lart:

Yeah. I mean, and with the indoor track at home, it’s definitely, it’s a business it’s called the Grassroots Trust Velodrome. I guess, it’s similar to this, in a way that we have programs that we run to get people involved, corporate challenges, things like that. But, definitely, it feels like maybe, it’s a bit more relaxed here, the gates always open, we can just rock up and ride, which is awesome. And where I originally grew up in Nelson, that’s what I’m used to. In fact, our track’s actually modeled off this, Jason Craig, who’s the man of the town in Nelson. He raced here in his youth and loved it. And ever since then, he is been pushing to get a track like that, built at home.

But yeah, I guess, it’s just that bit nicer, relaxed feel. But somehow, with the grandstands, you still get that big party atmosphere, that first Friday night, or the first UCI class one, we had. Having a grand stand full of people, like the Beer Garden, that’s awesome. The only time we see crowds like that at home, was at the world cups and stuff like that. And you got 5,000 people in there, stomping for their home country, man that got rowdy, but I bet it’s cool to see that thing existing elsewhere, and especially on an outdoor track and yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cool. Well, we’re glad to have you. You think you’ll be back next year?

Kaio Lart:

Oh, definitely. But yeah, without a doubt, it’s been awesome. We’re already talking about how we can do things better, where else can we link stuff up?

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool.

Kaio Lart:

So yeah, no, it’s been awesome to hear and thank you very much for having me.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’ll have to sit you down next year again, to see how Kaio Lart has advanced in one year and all that stuff. So anyways, thank you very much for coming in today. I really appreciate having you and I’m sure our listeners learned a lot about you and what it’s like to do a big trip from New Zealand all the way up here to the USA. So thanks for sitting down with us and we’re looking forward to seeing you continue race here and what the future holds for you.

Kaio Lart:

Yeah, no, it’s all good, hey bro.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right.

Kaio Lart:

Thank you.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. All right, that wraps up another episode of Talk of the T-Town. Be sure to check us out in the coming weeks for more episodes. And of course, check us out on Spotify and all the other streaming channels. And we’re looking forward to you listening to us next time.

Voice Over:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of The Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcast. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, to check out the show notes and subscribe, so you never miss an episode.

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Joe Truman: British Racing Green

Joe Truman - British Track Cyclist and World, Euro, Commonwealth Medalist

Episode 63

“Racing riders quicker than you is always [good], you’re going to learn something”

If you joined us for racing over the summer, chances are you saw some dark green kit go by in a blur. One of those belongs to this week’s guest, British Sprinter Joe Truman. Joe and his teammates joined us for a two week block this summer. **As a disclaimer, this episode was recorded in June 2022– Joe went on to compete at the Commonwealth Games where he went down in a crash in the Keirin Semis. He is on the mend, and we wish him continued recovery.** Andrew and Joe discuss how Joe came into cycling, what it’s like being coached by a former teammate, racing Japanese Keirin compared to Keirin, and much more.


Joe Truman - British Track Cyclist and World, Euro, Commonwealth Medalist
Joe Truman – British Track Cyclist and World, Euro, Commonwealth Medalist


Instagram:
@joetruman1


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Maura Beuttel:

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. This is the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right, everyone, welcome back to another episode of Talk of the T-Town here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I’m today’s host, Andrew Paradowski and sitting with me today in our studios is Joe Truman from Great Britain. Joe’s one of the racers who’s here today, or this month, for our UCI racing block here at T-Town. He’s come with a bunch of his teammates and his coach to show the rest of the world how sprinting is done in Britain.

Joe Truman:

Try to.

Andrew Paradowski:

There you go. So thanks for being on the show with us today, Joe. How are you doing?

Joe Truman:

Sure. Thanks for having me. Yeah, it’s great to be in T-Town for my second time. Always a lot more sunnier than back home, so it’s good to be here in the summer.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, that’s true. And the weather has been really good for us so far. Let’s hope that we can keep that going and that you haven’t brought any of that famous British weather with you.

Joe Truman:

We bring it everywhere we go, but not here yet.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you said this is your second time here in T-Town. When was the first?

Joe Truman:

Came in 2019, same time of year, I think, just for another two weeks. And yeah, it was a really good experience. We came there, different coach and different team last time. And this time, we got a couple new riders, new coach, but still a really good experience. So yeah, I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s right. So your new coach is Jason Kenny.

Joe Truman:

Yes. Sir Jason Kenny.

Andrew Paradowski:

Sir Jason Kenny, so someone that you used to ride with.

Joe Truman:

Yes.

Andrew Paradowski:

And now is a coach. How is that working out the dynamic with a former rider now being in charge of the program?

Joe Truman:

Yeah, really good. He’s just like, I couldn’t really imagine him not being part of the team and he still is part of the team, so it’s really good. He knows the system, so it was a pretty seamless transition for us and he’s just a really good guy to have on the squad, obviously. A lot of history in the squad. Well, Britain’s most successful Olympian, so he’s a good guy to have on your side at races and he’s been and done everything in the sport, so I think he knows what it takes to win really.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. Well, we’re here today to talk about you. So how did you get into the sport? What gave you the cycling bug and brought you into it and brought you here today?

Joe Truman:

So I was a footballer as a kid. Well, soccer player as a kid up until I was like 15 or 16. I just started cycling the summer really for fitness. I just got into it from there really. There was a local outdoor track 550 meters down in Portsmouth, South Coast of England where I’m from and yeah, hired a bike there for a bit, enjoyed it and it went from there really. I was lucky to get on the under 16 British team after a few years of riding. And I think when you’re in the squad, you’re then looked after quite well and you progress through the levels. So for me, it’s been quite a natural progression through the British squad and I went full time in 2015 and have been riding for the squad since then.

Andrew Paradowski:

So how did that happen? I mean, how do you go from picking up a bike and just riding around the local country roads to getting on the team? Were you scouted or did you have to prove yourself on the races? How did that come to be?

Joe Truman:

Well, I was always pretty shocking at the road races. I think I did a few national series races, didn’t finish any of them. But if I was there in the bunch, I’d always be decent in the sprint so it’s pretty natural for me to then try the track, because a lot of people just stick with the road because they’re naturally good at it, but I was naturally awful. Yeah, as I said, I’d never really finished any of the circuit races as a kid, but I enjoyed the sprinting so I focused on that at quite an early age and it went from there really.

But I think we’re quite lucky in Britain. It’s quite obviously a small country. There’s quite a few different cycling hubs around. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t really have any indoor tracks anywhere near me, really, so all my training as a junior and as a youth was on the rollers or the turbo and I probably got on track once every six weeks or something crazy. And I think that’s why I was able to make really big jumps in progress when I did go full time, because I was on the track four times a week.

Andrew Paradowski:

That was in Manchester?

Joe Truman:

So I moved to, so as I said, I’m from Portsmouth, South Coast of England. I’m actually the other end of the, I mean, for us, it’s a long way, like a five hour drive for you guys is probably not too much, but yeah, that was a big transition. 17, 18 moved there straight after school and yeah, I went full time. And then since then, I’ve been up there with the team going for the Olympics.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, you certainly had some success ever since then taking a look at some of your palmares here and you’ve certainly done well at the World Cup. You’ve gotten a couple of gold in the team sprint, once in Glasgow, once in Apeldoorn and you’ve done well at the European Track Championships and got a few more here as well. But why don’t you tell me about some of the more exciting moments where you’ve done really well?

Joe Truman:

Yeah. So I think for us our first big win was in 2016 when we got double World Cup champs. Yeah, Glasgow and Apeldoorn, that was crazy. 12 months really went from me, Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens, we went from kids really, and then straight into full time training for 12 months and end up with a couple of World Cup wins, which was pretty crazy. And then from there, it’s World Champs and things like that. And I think a couple of years later, we got silver at the World Champs. Just another one win with the Commonwealth Games for us as Commonwealth Games is pretty big for the Aussies, the Kiwis, the Canadians. That’s quite a big competition for us. I’ve got one in a month actually.

And we picked up a silver there a few years ago, but for us, it’s been trying to beat the Dutch really in the team sprint. That’s been our biggest challenge in the last five years and it’s still one we’re going for. Hopefully over the next two years, we’ll get even closer. But yeah, it’s always been we’ve been there or thereabouts in the team sprint, especially, but hoping to get a couple better in Paris.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you mentioned the battle between the Netherlands and British cycling here in T-Town. You guys have been going head to head at the Keirin and the sprint tournaments here. You’ve done really well I’ve seen. So I think last week you finished fifth in the Keirin and you went home with a podium finish in the sprint tournament last weekend.

Joe Truman:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

What’s it like competing against the Dutch powerhouse team?

Joe Truman:

Yeah, as I say, they’ve been setting the gold standard for the last few years and it’s just a good experience. Racing riders quicker than you is always, you’re going to learn something. You might got less chance of winning, but you’re going to come away with a learning point and I think that’s where it is at the minute. Harry took me 2 and 0 in the semi-final last week, so hopefully, I’ll get one closer this week. But I think, yeah, as I say, that’s setting the benchmark in terms of team sprint times. And obviously, they’re super strong and Harry’s a nine time world champion so if you’re running close to him, you’re in good form. So that’s given me some confidence, I think, going into the rest of the season.

Andrew Paradowski:

You also mentioned the Commonwealth Games. What are your goals for the upcoming event that’s coming down in next month and where is that again?

Joe Truman:

Yeah, so it’s Birmingham is holding the event, but we’re using the track cycles in London, because it’s a bigger facility.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Joe Truman:

I’m just buzzing for it. It’s going to be great. London, it’s got to be the best velodrome in the world. You’ve got 9,000 seats. It’s pretty much going to be packed out. It’s two tiers of seating. It feels like you’re at a football match, so that’s going to be great. I think, yeah, I hope to come away with a few medals. I’d like to get the final in the Keirin, get a ride off in the team sprint would be really nice. I think if we came away with that, it’d be a pretty positive experience.

Andrew Paradowski:

For sure. And with the hometown crowd there cheering you on-

Joe Truman:

Yeah, exactly.

Andrew Paradowski:

… It’ll be exciting.

Joe Truman:

It is odd for us though, because obviously, we’re Great Britain and for Commonwealth Games, we get split into England, Scotland, Wales. So we spend all this time training for the team sprint in a real dialed trio and then Jack Carlin, who’s our man too, he then goes to Scotland and we all split up. So we end up coming together in a new team and it’s a new challenge to learn how each person rides again. But it’s great fun, because I think I feel a lot more patriotic I think when we get split into teams. We get a lot more competitive with our teammates, because obviously we’re racing against them this time. So yeah, no, I was buzzing for the experience. I think always games format like that is always good fun, because you’ve got all the branding, you got all the media and attention on that, TV attention, so I know I’m excited.

Andrew Paradowski:

For sure. It does sound really exciting. All right, let’s break it up a little bit. Let me throw some rapid fire questions at you. What’s your favorite track event?

Joe Truman:

Track event, I have to say probably Keirin for the adrenaline, but we focus mostly on team sprint for obvious reasons.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. What’s your favorite professional race out there to watch or ride or anything?

Joe Truman:

Track cycling?

Andrew Paradowski:

Anything really? Anything?

Joe Truman:

I like Paris-Roubaix if it’s on the road, but for track it’s just yeah, World Champs.

Andrew Paradowski:

Is there a pro racer or a former racer that you look up to, a hero?

Joe Truman:

Well, we got two in the British team. We’ve got Jason Kenny, Chris Hoy, and I think they’re both on similar level of how I look up to them, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

What is your favorite bike that you’ve ever ridden? And if you have to say your current sponsor one, that’s okay.

Joe Truman:

No, it’s not. My favorite bike’s a, I raced out in Japan and I got a custom steel bike and it’s a Bridgestone British Racing Green. It’s pretty cool. So I got it made to custom colors, custom sizing and everything so it’s got to be that. It’s still in Japan unfortunately. I haven’t bought it home yet, so I have to get that at some point.

Andrew Paradowski:

So that’s actually a good turning point there. You brought up Japan. I understand that you spent a little time racing in the Japan Keirin Association.

Joe Truman:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ve got a ton of questions about that, but I think it would just be best to leave it to you to tell us about what that was like racing in Japan in a place where it’s completely different from the UCI and there’s betting involved and you’re wearing outfits-

Joe Truman:

Yeah, it’s great.

Andrew Paradowski:

… Stuff that would help you if you got into a crash. Yeah, so tell me about that time of your life. And I think our listeners would love to hear about it.

Joe Truman:

Yeah, it’s too much to go into really, but it’s like, I was there for two seasons. I got a two year contract, 2018 and 2019. It’s just the most opposite you can imagine to any UCI Racing. You’re on steel bikes. You’re racing outdoors. You’re in colorful kit, like horse racing sort of kit, big mushroom helmets. You’re allowed to throw hit. You’re allowed to hook up to other riders and head butt and shoulder barging and that’s the reason people wear American football armor almost on their shoulders. A lot of crashing. You’re racing in all weathers. I remember one of our first races I was in the start gate looking up to turn one and you’ve got a waterfall coming down turn one and you race in all weathers because obviously, the people are betting on it and they can’t cancel those bets. It’s just crazy. Probably the biggest thing for me was that when you’re at races, you’re in complete isolation.

So you come in on the first day, which is called Zenken Day, which translates to that inspection day. And on that day, you’ve got a eight point inspection, all your frames, all your kit, your shoes. You declare your tactics to the media on TV. You form lines with your opponents like small allegiances in your races, a form based on how you declare your tactics. And then you’ve got three days of racing. You’ve got one race a day for the next three days and your results in that determine what final you’re in on the last day so if you’re going to be in the big money one, or you’re going to be in one of the lower ones. And as I say, you’re in isolation so you got no contact with the outside world. All I had was a little iPod Nano with about three movies on it on a one inch screen that I was watching and a book.

And that’s pretty much all I had for four days. It’s a pretty crazy experience, especially that we spend three weeks at the Keirin school to start with, to get qualified, which is nothing compared to the Japanese students because they’re there for 11 months. So we get a short tracked course, learn all the rules and what you can do, what you can’t do, things like that. And it’s just a bit of a little culture shock to start with, but you get used to it and then it ends up just racing your bike. It’s great fun.

Andrew Paradowski:

What would you say would’ve been the biggest culture shock for you spending time in Japan? Not necessarily in cycling, but just in general in the culture?

Joe Truman:

Not sure really. I think the polite, I really like the politeness, so yeah, queuing for the train and things like that was quite… I’d always walk straight to the door then I’d realized there’s a queue of 20 people waiting to go. Things like that took take a bit getting used to.

Andrew Paradowski:

You mean they were better at queuing than the British?

Joe Truman:

Is that what we’re like? I don’t know. I don’t think we’re that great, but yeah, even better than that I guess. But yeah, really polite. Everyone’s really, when someone has a job, they do it amazingly. So at the races, you’ve got someone that sweeps the track and it’s like, they’re so detailed and they really take pride in all their work. It rubbed off on me quite a lot I think. I got some really good training efforts out there and I think really nice lifestyle for training, living at the Keirin School for six months each of the years or just down the hill from the Keirin school, but training there every day. Yeah, I got some really nice routines and probably some of the best training blocks I’ve had was out there.

Andrew Paradowski:

So how would you say that experience in training informed your Keirin racing under the UCI style of racing?

Joe Truman:

I think for me it simplified it a lot. I always went into UCI races with a million ideas. And obviously, you can’t really do that, because anything can happen when the bike pulls off. And out in Japan, it really is simplified. There’s three main tactics. You’ve got senko, makuri and oikomi. Senko is basically, you’re going to do a long sprint. You’re going to go off at least 400 meters to go. You’re going to be on the front and hit it pretty hard. Makuri is when you’re going to leave it to about 200 meters to go and you’re going to do a bit of swinging and try to protect any riders in front of you, hold off riders behind.

And oikomi is basically going to have a last ditch fight for the line. And they are the guys that usually wear all the body armor because they’re the ones going through gaps and doing little dangerous moves. I think for me, it’s simplified a bit, because I can look at it as am I going to sit unaware or am I going to go early and now that’s pretty much how I look at it. Yeah, I think, yeah, it was definitely a positive experience in terms of tactics.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. So this is a question that we’ve been asking a lot of our guests recently and it’s pretty pertinent to recent history. Obviously, the world has gone through a massive shift with the pandemic having occurred over the last couple of years and it’s certainly affected a lot of people’s racing careers, some positive, some negative. I understand that you actually had to go through some surgery during the pandemic and for good or bad, that might have been a good time for that to happen because with less racing around, then you get more recovery time. So do you mind talking a bit about that with us?

Joe Truman:

Yeah, I think for me, it probably made it worse because there was less physio time and because we were in complete isolation I had no access to a physio or a doctor for quite a few months. So when England first went into lockdown, I think it was it April, 2020, that’s when my back was really bad. So yeah, we had a gym at home and I pretty much, I didn’t touch the bike for four months pretty much. I barely trained and then yeah, it got worse and worse and worse, progressively worse. I went to a rehab center for my back down south of England for a month. That did nothing. Helped a little bit, but then as soon as I started training, it went back again. And the Olympics got delayed and it got to the point where even if I fought through the pain any longer, I wasn’t going to make the games anyway because I missed that much training and Jason was doing amazingly in P3.

So yeah, we just took the decision to have surgery after about 18 months of struggling with it. So in hindsight, yeah, I wish I did it straight away when the injury happened, but I was looking at it and I was seeing I’ve got a year until the games, I can probably get through it and if I get to the games and then I can sort my back out after. But in the end, it got delayed and then it was too long to struggle on with a back problem. So yeah, I was at a point where I literally couldn’t put my socks on, so I was still training or I was still trying to train, but I couldn’t bend down to put my socks on and I took a step back and I was like, this is ridiculous, long term health is more important.

So yeah, I had lumbar surgery I think in November of 2020 and then it was like a six or seven month rehab from there really. So it was almost like getting on for two years without proper fully training. But weirdly, six months after my surgery, I started banging out personal bests again, so it was almost like, yeah, hindsight’s a great thing, isn’t it? I should have done it earlier, but yeah, now I’m pretty much pain free from it. I still get a little bit here and there like long plane journeys aren’t the best because I sat for a while and static nerve gets a bit sticky. But yeah, I’m in a position I can fully train and I can fully race and I don’t really have to, there’s no lifestyle changes I have to make, so that’s good.

Andrew Paradowski:

That is really good. And you can get your socks on now.

Joe Truman:

Yeah. It’d be nice if someone else did it.

Andrew Paradowski:

There’s a lot of buzz about the British team green socks. Everyone loves them.

Joe Truman:

Oh really?

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Joe Truman:

Well at least someone does. I’m not sure on them.

Andrew Paradowski:

The kids in cycling today, they’re all about the socks.

Joe Truman:

Really?

Andrew Paradowski:

So we had our local Tuesday night grassroots racing last night here.

Joe Truman:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was watching.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay, that’s right. You had the team there and cheering on Sophie Capewell while she was there and we have our kids on team T-Town, but a bunch of young kids mid teenage range and the coach went out and they had a little contest on best socks and they were crazy the different types of prints and animation and stuff like that. So when the kids say they like your socks, they truly mean it.

Joe Truman:

The green kits are all right. It’s obviously, that’s our trade team so we still race in the red, white, and blue for international races, world cups and stuff. But yeah, the greens are still a little bit British because it’s British racing green. Yeah, it divides opinion. I think it’s okay. Some people really don’t like it, but I’m glad some other people do.

Andrew Paradowski:

Let me do a few more rapid fire questions for you.

Joe Truman:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Do you have a favorite movie?

Joe Truman:

Saving Private Ryan.

Andrew Paradowski:

What is the best music to train to?

Joe Truman:

Train to, I mean, I got into it last time I was out here, but I got into country when I was out here last time and now I’m fond of country rocks on Spotify, which I really like. But Oasis is a big band in the UK. I don’t know if you know them over here, but-

Andrew Paradowski:

Oh yeah.

Joe Truman:

… Yeah, they’re always really good for getting motivated.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Post race snack?

Joe Truman:

Protein shake straight away and maybe a banana if it’s been a big session.

Andrew Paradowski:

You mean you actually like the protein shakes?

Joe Truman:

Oh, they’re great. Yeah, we’re sponsored by Healthspan Elite and they’re really, really nice actually. Yeah, no, I love them.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. So Joe, it’s been great having you here. I got a couple more questions just to finish off, just some personal stuff. When you’re not racing or training, what do you do in your spare time? Tell our folks about Joe in his off hours.

Joe Truman:

So I play guitar, play a lot of guitar. So I do that. I probably play every day, varying length of times. That’s good to take your mind off it. I had to play a bit less when I had my back problem. I couldn’t sit down for very long so I had to play it lying on my back, which wasn’t so good. And then also, bought a drum kit when I was injured as something else to do. But again, I sat down, bad posture, so that wasn’t the best. Yeah in the summer, I go surfing a bit. I’m from the south coast so I like to go surfing in the UK and I’m learning Japanese as well. So they’re the three things I do. I’m also part-time at university.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. What are you studying?

Joe Truman:

Sport science in Loughborough in the UK.

Andrew Paradowski:

Anything in particular in sport science?

Joe Truman:

I’m still pretty early in the… But I’m interested in, yeah, I’ve got a few interests, but I quite like biomechanics and human movement and things like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you’re looking for a career in sports after the racing portion of it’s done?

Joe Truman:

I’m just looking for options really. That’s why I’m keeping options open. Not sure how long. Hopefully, I got a few more years yet before I need to make a valid transition, but I think it’s always, have some options. Do a degree, do a few other things up my sleeve and see what happens.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Well that’s great, Joe. Thank you so much for coming out and sitting here with us today. It’s been great getting to know you. We’re looking forward to seeing you tear it up this weekend at our final race at the T-Town Summer Games at Discover Lehigh Valley UCI Race, and then watching your career as it unfolds in the future. So thank you very much for coming out.

Joe Truman:

Thanks for having me guys. Cheers.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cheers.

Joe Truman:

Thank you.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right everyone, so that’s it for Talk of the T-Town. We’re looking forward to having you join us next time as we continue interviewing different riders and personalities that come here and visit us in T-Town. Talk to you all soon.

Maura Beuttel:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcasts. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com to check out the show notes and subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Erin Hartwell: Champion of Cycling

Erin Hartwell - Olympic medalist. National Sprint Director, USA Cycling. USA Bicycling HoF.

Episode 62

“I think I figured out fairly early on that I was going to be a lifer in the game.”

Do you know your T-Town history? If so, you’ll recall that this week’s guest was a former director here at the VPCC. Andrew is joined by Erin Hartwell, coach, race director, cyclist extraordinaire. They discuss Hartwell’s rich history with the sport, his time in T-Town and his residencies in coaching across the globe.

Erin Hartwell – Olympic medalist. National Sprint Director, USA Cycling. USA Bicycling HoF.


Instagram:
@erinhartwell


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Transcript

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, this is the Talk-of-the-T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Welcome back everyone, to another episode of Talk-of-the-T-Town. I’m today’s host Andrew Paradowski, and today I’m sitting down with Erin Hartwell, coach, race director, cyclist extraordinaire. The name is probably familiar to many people in our audience. He’s been all over the world doing different things, but mostly within cycling. And we have him here today while he’s in town for our UCI international racing block with the USA national team, training some of our future stars and helping them get through this high intense racing block. So, Erin, welcome.

Erin Hartwell:

Thanks Andrew. Glad to be here. Always great to come back to T town.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, we’re glad to have you here and it’s certainly been different from last year when we were still reeling a little bit from the effects of the pandemic. A lot of the countries that would normally be here still weren’t coming back, but this year, they’re all back and team USA is here in full force as well.

So we’ve had a great block of racing and one more event coming up, or one more competition coming up this weekend, the big one, the big Madison point grab that everyone’s looking to do and lots of sprinting [inaudible 00:01:34] available and stuff like that.

So we’re certainly looking forward to watching you and your team perform again this weekend, but we’re here to talk about you and allow our listeners to get to know you a little bit more. So we were just chatting a little bit before we got into the podcast studio about some of your career and where you’ve been. So why don’t we start from the beginning? How did you get into cycling in general, but then more importantly, what got you into the business of cycling?

Erin Hartwell:

Wow. I think it’s going on 36 years now that I’ve been in cycling, and it started after a pole vault injury my sophomore year of high school. My career track, even going back to when I was seven years old in 1976 watching Bruce Jenner when the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, I wanted to be an Olympian, but I wanted to be an Olympian in track and field.

And I had a trajectory that was going pretty well at that time in athletics, but an injury. And then seeing the Tour de France on TV in ’86 and Greg LeMond win, that famed tour that year, and then seeing [inaudible 00:02:30] on TV for the first time also, I was just enthralled by this bike racing, something I didn’t understand, hadn’t seen before. A couple of friends had bikes and I thought, wow, this is maybe something I could try, in addition to what I was doing the track and field.

And rehabbing for the injury, I stayed more and more on the bike. The Pan Am games were coming up in 1987 in my hometown of Indianapolis and an opportunity to go watch that competition. And actually I had started to ride just before that. My first license was in 1986 and I won every state championship possible back when state championships were a big deal in the US.

And it really showed me that there might be some other opportunity here. I ended up going to junior nationals, won the pursuit and second in the kilo, actually that year. And that was just a few months of experience and training in a masters rider’s basement on an old ergometer to prep for the competition.

Ended up going the junior worlds that year. And for a kid from Indiana that hadn’t been out of the country yet, that opportunity to go to Bergamo, Italy and to represent the United States and to have that experience was very profound for me. And what I realized is that I could still meet my Olympic objectives through cycling or there might be an opportunity there. And again, I think watching the Pan Am games in Indie later that summer really solidified for me that this is a path that I want to take.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s really interesting how some of these large scale events can spark that interest in sport for those riders at a young age and stuff like that. So you had a fairly good career as a junior racer. And then obviously, adult times come calling and some pressures come in and school’s calling and jobs and family and all that stuff.

And this is where you see a lot of riders too, that transitionary period. Either they continue on in the sport or they fizzle out or they find another way to be involved. Some riders decide to become coaches or they get involved in the administration of the sport or become officials. It sounds like you went the coach and administrator way after that. Tell us a bit about that.

Erin Hartwell:

Yeah. I think I figured out fairly early on that I was going to be a lifer in the game. I genuinely love cycling. I love high performance sport. I love winning. I love competition. I love the Olympic movement, the Olympic games, all of it. And after three Olympics, I retired in 2001, took two Olympic medals, bronze in 1992, which was the first medal, I want to say, in almost a hundred years for a male athlete, a male cyclist at the Olympic games for the United States. And I was the first back to back Olympic medalist on the men’s side ever, or I should say, I want to say, in over almost a hundred years back in the 1908, 1904 games, 1900 and whatnot.

And so, and then four medals in the World Championships, obviously all on the track, kilometer time trial, team sprint, ended up going to the road after knee surgery in 1998, [inaudible 00:05:25] for a couple of years, made the Olympic team [inaudible 00:05:27] in 2000 with Derek Bouchard-Hall, Christian Van de Velde, a few others, [inaudible 00:05:32].

And it was a great experience, but I did one more year, another injury, and I just realized that my body couldn’t cash the checks anymore. And so it was time to go to school. Went up to University of North Dakota for commercial aviation, did a couple years there, really enjoyed it, but that got expensive. I had a wife, two children, and I just realized that I was pining for cycling. As much as I wanted to fly, there was an industry downturn at the time and I just didn’t know where it was going to shake out.

And so I decided to put my foot back into cycling, so found some opportunities in Europe, then came back to the United States. After that, a great opportunity opened up here in T town, in 2005, to work as community programs director. Ended up moving up into the presidency overall after that, and suddenly found myself in an administrative role where I didn’t quite expect to be a couple years before that. I really thought that coaching would be the primary trajectory.

And it’s where my heart was at, at the time. But T town is such a venerable institution and a place that’s near and dear to my heart. I had been coming for years, had some great successes here, and some great disappointments too. And it was really wonderful to be provided that opportunity. I created the valid preferred sponsorship, landed the naming rights to the facility, worked with county officials to amend the lease agreement that allowed us to do that, brought us some of the biggest sponsorships in Valley Preferred Cycling Center’s history. And created the World Series of Bicycling and a few other major events.

And I really enjoyed my time here, but I don’t know, maybe if I just get antsy and I wanted to coach or whatnot, but it was time to move on at the end of ’08 and formed a coaching business, ended up taking an international role in Trinidad and Tobago. And then a couple years after that, ended up at Cycling Canada, which was my first, I would say, genuinely big opportunity to run a world class national program. When I got there, though, there was, Andrew, you would know, there was very little going on.

It was almost like cycling Canada thought, Hey, we we want a sprint program. We don’t necessarily have sprinters right now. There were a couple guys, Hugo Barrette and Joe Veloce, were essentially the program at the time. Let’s see what we can do with this, especially leading into Rio 2016. And so, had a great experience there, and to this day, I truly cherish my time in Canada. My wife is a Trinidad and Tobago national. She was up in Canada with me for a couple years and it got to the point of she missed home. I missed Trinidad. And we decided to look at an opportunity there.

And so ended up going to Trinidad in 2017, and had a lot of success there. World record in men’s 200 meter time trial with Nicholas Paul, essentially dominated the Western hemisphere of the Pan Am region, took all the Pan American records in the sprint events and really built a world class program. Qualified two guys to the Olympic games, just missing team sprint. And that was a really profound experience for me.

Professionally, it became a little bit of a liability in the sense that… And again, my experience in Trinidad was very good and I worked for the ministry of sport, wasn’t working directly with federation, but there were a couple of incidents that suggested to me that, I think long term, it’s going to be difficult to stay here. And so took an opportunity with China, and COVID here, didn’t realize it was going to be COVID in 2020 when I took that role. I probably wouldn’t have if I knew that it was going to blow up as it did.

But overall we can, we can discuss this in a little bit, but China was a profound and very good experience for me. And it was very difficult, essentially being locked in and sequestered for months on end. It was hard, but overall it was a very, very good experience. And actually I recently saw some of the Chinese athletes and my old teammates at the Milton Nations Cup. And it was a really nice homecoming and get together with those guys. They’re great, great people, and really, really, really appreciated seeing them again.

And then after my contract came up, I was talking with Jim Miller USA cycling, and this opportunity came around to build a program in the United States. I have everything to thank USA cycling for in my own history and my own career. They’re obviously instrumental in where I’m at. I had a overall, a very, very good experience with USAC for almost 15 years as an athlete. And so an opportunity to give back to the program that had given me so much was something that I could not turn down under any circumstance.

And so here we are, obviously mid 2022, just coming off COVID, building a new program, looking towards Paris 2024, but obviously long term LA 2028. That’s our real goal here. And I couldn’t be more excited to be in the sport at this time. At 53 years old, I feel that I’m rejuvenated, renewed, enthusiastic, and just loving it.

Andrew Paradowski:

So Erin, that was quite the lengthy CV there, and it’s brought a couple of questions into my head as you were going through that. So I’ll try to see if I can remember them all as I go through them. So the first one has to do with your time in Canada and in Trinidad. So if I’m correct, both of those times lined up when both nations received a fairly large brand spanking new velodrome.

Erin Hartwell:

Yep.

Andrew Paradowski:

… for their athletes. And prior to that, the track programs, while existing, weren’t anywhere near as developed or as intense as they were after the fact. So do you want to talk a little bit about how having that kind of infrastructure can play out and have an effect on a team’s success and development and the future of the sport, not just in track cycling, but I think across all the disciplines?

Erin Hartwell:

Look, to be clear, you can’t do it without it. You’re never going to find success without that level of infrastructure. I made a pitch to a high performance summit late last November with USA Cycling on essentially what the spring program would need to be internationally competitive. And if you look worldwide, you see that every successful program is a centralized program. They’ve got their home base indoor 250 UCI class one homologated velodrome, which is the standardized size and style of track that we race on, year in and year out now. That’s not going to change.

And so to me, that’s absolutely requisite and stepping into Canada, I knew that, obviously with Pan Am games coming online in 2015, there, in Toronto, it was going to be a huge deal, tracked us outside of Toronto and Milton, that cycling Canada and the COC and whatnot were going to put some serious resources into it.

And so to me, it was a viable project and opportunity. And one that, I’ll tell you what, I think if I look back at my athletic and coaching career, I would say that my greatest success and my best memories are of the Pan Am games in 2015. And I say that because I challenged our athletes and even Cycling Canada pretty early on in saying that, “You know what? The Pan Am games in 2015 are going to be the sprint program’s Phoenix rising,” from the Curt Harnett and Lori-Ann Muenzer days, and there was obviously a dearth of performance for a long period of time. It’s like, “This is our comeback.”

And got laughed off. Women’s track endurance was the queen of the program at the time in road, and even men’s track endurance was coming online. And we weren’t being taken that seriously. Jacques Landry to his credit was, and they were providing us the resources that we needed. Did a talent ID scheme across Canada, brought in athletes like Kate O’ Brien and Evan Carey, and got Monique Sullivan to come out of retirement, and so I saw the makings of us to do something special.

And we won five of the six gold medals available in sprint cycling. Canada. Listen, we hadn’t been competitive for years, even at the Pan Am level. Took five or six golds, seven of, I want to say, eight medals total, including a couple of silvers. We dominated… Women’s sprint went 1-2. Won both team sprints. Won the men’s sprint. The only hiccup was Hugo Barrette’s bronze [inaudible 00:13:19] and I think we just let our guard down for their second after he won this sprint and how great that was.

And to me, that was just such a wonderful, wonderful experience, and we could not have done that without the track, obviously. And having access to it leading into the Pan Am games was just critical to the development and having just come back from Milton, what was it, a couple of months ago for the nation’s cup up there, I see what Frank [inaudible 00:13:43] was doing with the sprint program, obviously the great success they’ve had with the work that we had put in early on, leading into Frank’s arrival.

I actually hired Frank. Jacque and I looked at, when we… I had been complaining that I needed an assistant coach for a long time. And we did the interviews and whatnot, and Frank was, was absolutely rock solid. A great addition to the program. I ended up going back to Trinidad soon after that, just again, some family pressure that had me needing to up and leave, but they’re in great hands right now. And again, all of that’s born from what happened back in the lead to the Pan Am games. Could not have done it without that infrastructure.

And in Trinidad and Tobago, it was somewhat the same thing. When I was here back in 2010, there was no indoor track yet. We were dealing with a large concrete outdoor track in Arima, a town outside of Port of Spain. And it just wasn’t feasible there at that time. You’re just not going to find success without that type of infrastructure and honestly, financial support, whether it comes from government, private sponsors, whatever, it needs to be there.

So when I returned to Trinidad in 2017, it was with the understanding that the resources would be there, that we were going to chase Tokyo 2020. We’ve got the new track coming online. We’ve got some great athletes in the mix, guys like Jessain Philip, Quincy Browne, obviously Nicholas Paul, was a junior Pan Am champion at the time. So I saw the makings of being able to do something similar.

And we did end up going to Pan Am games, you know, dominated there in Lima, Peru in 2019. And really enjoy the successes that we saw there. And both experiences are still molding me today, and how I approach what I did in China, and now here in the United States.

Andrew Paradowski:

So that’s a good segue, Erin. You brought up China again, and that was my next question after you talked about it briefly earlier. It’s a different world for sure in China. And I think it sounds like you had two interesting points having gone there. One, going to coach in a part of the world that is markedly different from the Western part of the world.

They do things differently. The sports system is different. The culture is different. The politics, the government, all that stuff is different there. So it’s a whole different set of rules going over there to be a coach and learning to adapt to that. But on top of that, an unprecedented by a century worldwide pandemic where things just changed month to month, week to week.

So tell us about that time. What did you find interesting? Are there any anecdotes from that time that can explain what it was like for you to be in this environment that, on a good year would be wildly different, but also in the middle of a pandemic?

Erin Hartwell:

God, how much time do we have? It was such an important and profound experience for me. Look, and I took that role. My title there was executive coach. And so the way the Chinese system had worked is that you had Benoit Vetu too there leading into Rio 2016 and he was falling on the heels of Daniel Morelon, who had been the French coach that had built the program between Beijing and London 2012.

And what really allowed those guys to succeed is that they had central governance over their programs. They were the only ones in charge. And after Benoit left in 2017 for Japan, the Chinese system shifted in the sense that if a provincial athlete qualifies into the national team, his provincial coach comes with him or her.

And so what ended up happening after Benoit left is that you would have a foreign coach come in to head the program, but then you would have 3, 4, 5, 10 provincial coaches all acting as national coaches too. And so it just created an almost untenable environment for those foreign coaches. And when I was hired, the real goal was not to coach the athletes themselves, but to coach the coaches. And to me, I saw that as a very challenging opportunity and one that I was chomping at the bit to give it a go again.

Politically, there was some issues in Trinidad that I felt that I wanted to look at other opportunities and therefore did. And the Chinese opportunity came around at a great time. I left Trinidad January 17th, 2020, and this is literally, was it, maybe a month before COVID began to explode. There were some whispers and whatnot that there was this new virus or illness or whatever going around, but it’s not that we weren’t taking it seriously. None of us really knew what was happening.

So I go over there and I integrate into the program and culturally, it’s a lot different. And I’ll say this right now. The Chinese people are beautiful people. Literally some are just the absolute nicest, nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. And I will forever cherish those relationships, from the coaches to the athletes, to the persons in the country. It was just an amazing experience. And we bounced between mainland China between Beijing and a city called Taiyuan in Shanxi province. But then also Hong Kong, spent a lot of time in Hong Kong because we ended up locked up, not locked up, but we were unable to return to mainland China after the world championships because of COVID.

And to repatriate, it must have been 25 people, all the athletes, staff, et cetera. It was such a huge undertaking in the way that China was managing COVID at the time that we ended up stuck in Hong Kong for months. This would’ve been between March, and then I think we finally were repatriated back in at the end of July. And in Hong Kong, it was the same thing, lockdowns, obviously mass policies and whatnot, and so being inside a sports center for weeks on end, unable to venture out, is difficult. But again, I was surrounded by great people. We had great food.

And I will say outside of the Chinese people just being amazing people, it was the food. The food is unmatched. Chinese food in China is absolutely unreal. Some of my best culinary experiences, foodie experiences were there. And I look back on that and just smile and just, that was an overall great experience. So no regrets there at all. Ran the course of my contract act.

And at that point with COVID and just the difficulties of managing COVID, it’s not that I didn’t want to extend. It was just like, I need to look at a way to get back to the US at this point. I was looking at, Hey, you’ve got Paris upcoming, then LA. There was some whispers that USAC wanted to reinvest in sprint. I’m an ex sprinter from the US, a product of USAC. And to me, it was like, wow, that’s something that could be really, really cool if I could make it work.

Andrew Paradowski:

So the prodigal son returns.

Erin Hartwell:

Yeah. I’ve been gone almost 12 years actually, out of the US.

Andrew Paradowski:

And from some of your successes in the past, it’s a good omen for USA cycling to have you on board to help shape the team here in the US and Paris 2024 is coming up soon. And then of course you said earlier, you have the long term goal of LA in ’28. So do you see those two goals as working together, ’24 as a springboard to ’28 being the culmination of six years of training and strategy? And I guess in addition to that, without giving away too much of your secrets to the world, what’s the general plan to build that program up here in the US over the next six years?

Erin Hartwell:

First, Andrew, there are no secrets. Outside of a few of the countries that really might have some secrets, GB, Australia, couple of those, the reality is, it’s good planning and hard work and respecting that it takes time to build these programs. One thing that’s worked in my favor in this role is that I’ve produced some really good results over the past 10 years. But importantly, I was able to do it in a relatively quick period of time, two, two and a half years in multiple locations.

And so I think that was one of the attractive features in bringing me back is that, can we turn this around somewhat quickly? Look, we don’t necessarily have six years to start seeing results. We’re an impatient bunch here in the US. We want to see those results now. And so to me, it’s Paris is the first stop in having this program start to shine. But look, Olympic qualification starts now. Literally it might be starting at this year’s Pan Am championships. That’s the impression we’re under with the IOC and UCI releasing the Olympic qualifications system literally just yesterday, I want to say.

And so we’re seeing that this year’s Pan Am’s may be included. We’re not ready yet, unfortunately. I think on the women’s side, obviously with Mandy Marquardt and Maddie Godby, we are. And those are two very competitive athletes, but on the men’s and development women’s side, we’re not there yet. And so I think we could do a lot in a couple of years. We’re really only six months into this with the development program. I’ve seen great strides already, but we do have a long way to go.

And funny, one of the concerns I hear from athletes is that, is the plug going to be pulled? Is our funding going to be cut? How long is this going to last? Six months, nine months, a year, 18 months, whatever. So guys, I’m under the impression that USAC and the USOPC is in this for the long haul, that they want to see sprint cycling succeed. It’s 50% of the medals available on the track. It’s 27% of the total medals available in cycling at the Olympic games. How do you ignore it? And that was my pitch to, at the high performance summit, we need to make a decision. Either make a real investment or tell us that you’re not going to, but it’s got to be one or the other. It can’t be a gray area. It’s a yes or no answer.

And so the impression I’m under now is that it’s a yes, and that they’re making the investment. We’ve just relocated the program to Los Angeles. We’ve got a six year sponsorship agreement with look, arguably the biggest in USAC history for the sprint program, the first time the sprint program itself has had its own deal. It’s a huge deal for us. We’ve got a huge grant that’s upcoming for talent ID programs, that’ll be piloted out in Los Angeles, that’s sprint oriented. And again, it’s a big, big deal for us. So things are going in the right direction. We’ve got a great development pool of athletes from which to work. We’ll start bringing more in through talent ID.

And I see some momentum. The inertia that we had been in is shifting. That momentum is starting to build. And I’m truly encouraged where we’re at. It is going to take some time, though. Do not expect results in a year. That’s the reality of how this works. Talk to me in 18 months. Talk to me in two years. I am seeing a lot of progress, but if you want world class results, it’s going to be 18 months to two years, minimum. And look at any world class program. All right. Whether it’s the Dutch, the Brits, whatever, the point at which they started to see genuine, consistent predictable world leading results is eight to 10 years. Cycling Canada, it took six years, seven years.

Andrew Paradowski:

Two Olympic cycles, basically.

Erin Hartwell:

Two Olympic cycles. And so we’re six months in. My thought is that we can dominate LA six years away. We cannot dominate Paris. We won’t dominate Worlds in 2025. But I think by the time you get to 2026 and 2027 [inaudible 00:25:02] Olympic qualifications system leading into LA, and then even Brisbane in 2032, the US is a dominant factor in international sprint cycling, just as it was in my era back in the nineties when we had great financial and resource support.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, it certainly sounds like you got a good plan, and I think we’re all going to be waiting in anticipation over the next couple of years and watching those results come in and the program grow. And I think, yeah, it does sound LA in ’28’s going to be the moment. And hometown crowd. You can’t ask for anything better with that goal, so.

So before we send you on your way back to the track to keep training those athletes, I know you’ve got some more training blocks coming up today before we get into our racing, why don’t we talk a little bit about Erin Hartwell the guy, just to let our listeners know a little bit about you, when you’re not surrounded by athletes and teaching people how to ride their bikes and training sprinter’s athletes, tell us a little bit about the man. What do you do in your spare time? What kind of hobbies do you like to do? Music, movies, all that stuff.

Erin Hartwell:

Man, I’ll tell you what, I, and I hate to say this and I do not wear it as a badge of honor. I’ve got very little spare time in reality. We’re pulling 60 to 80 hours a week, week in, week out. I have not been home in two and a half years. I have not seen my wife and daughter in two and a half years.

Andrew Paradowski:

Ouch.

Erin Hartwell:

And it’s not good. All right. And it’s not that I’m a slave, or that I’m committed to work or on that grind. That’s not it, but I’m very serious with my work, or I should say, I take it very seriously, and I’m committed to what we’re trying to do here. And it’s a huge effort. And so, granted, some of that was I was in China for a year with COVID. I couldn’t go back. My family couldn’t come over. The Trinidad and Tobago border was closed up to, I want to say, November last year. And then it just got to a point where, look, I’ve got to get this program up and running. And so fortunately my wife and daughter are understanding.

I’m going to go back after Pan Am championships this year, so in a couple months I’ll be home, I’ll be able to see the family again, and I’m working to bring them into the US. But those are those challenges. And so I do do very little other than focus on the bike right now. And again, it’s not a badge of honor, and it’s not necessarily a good thing, but having done this for so long and just knowing what it’s going to take for us to succeed, it’s an all encompassing effort.

But I will say, outside of the bike, I love food, love cooking, love my west Indian food, my Trinidadian food and cooking Indian and fresh Mex and things like that. So that’s my mental break when I get home after a day at work. I had been running, but my body at 53 after years of physical effort is giving me some fits, so I’m trying to stay relatively fit and eat well and whatnot, but it’s been a challenge.

I really enjoy reading, non-fiction, philosophy, things like that. I tend to be quite introverted. And I think that would surprise people. I’m quite extroverted when I’m in my coaching role, but I think, because there’s so much intensity with that. When you’re out barking orders all day, it’s good to go home and just sometimes sit in quiet and think.

So, I do enjoy my personal time, my private time, and now I literally just moved to Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago before we came out here for T town and I was able to find a great place that’s super quiet in a large city of 13, 14 million people. And it’s been great.

So, but no, I think, I don’t know. I feel like I’ve been wanting to get out of the sport or high performance for years, just because it is so all encompassing. It’s very, very stressful. And listen, a coach that doesn’t admit to that is lying. It’s a hard gig. But it’s something that we relish and cherish. And again, I feel that I’m in a position of great responsibility and leadership, and I take that very seriously, and never let my guard down in that sense. So it’s an honor to work with USC Cycling, to work with the United States, to work for my country. And that’s my driving goal right now. So there isn’t a lot else going on, man. That’s it.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right, Erin. Well, thank you so much for coming in today. That was a great hour sitting down here, talking to you about your life, your career coaching, all the great things that you got planned. Like we said earlier, I think everyone here is excited to see what the USA program’s going to be over the next couple of years. And right now we’re just excited to see your athletes compete here this weekend at our final UCI race at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, so. So thanks for joining us. And we’ll keep an eye on everything that’s going on there.

Erin Hartwell:

Appreciate that, Andrew. And it’s a season isn’t complete until you’ve come to T town. So I’m glad to be back this year and for our month in June. And it’s just been wonderful, man. So I really appreciate the hospitality and you guys have been great as always. And I feel like the organization is in good hands. Kudos to you guys. It’s good to see everybody back.

Andrew Paradowski:

Thank you very much, and we’re looking forward to having you back next time.

All right, folks, that’s it for our episode of Talk-of-the-T-Town. We’ll see you next time as we continue interviewing all the different personalities of writers, coaches, and other such luminaries that come to T town here and have some fun on the track. We’ll see you all next time.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk-of-the-T-Town podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcasts. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com to check out the show notes and subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Dillon, James, and Daniyal: The Boys

Daniyal Matthews, James Swart, and Dillon Geary

Episode 61

“I’m not sure why the South African guys are always on their own mission, but hopefully that changes in the new year”

One of this week’s guests coincidentally got into cycling because his dad didn’t want him to get a hamster… Andrew is joined by three South African cyclists this week, Daniyal Matthews, James Swart, and Dillon Geary. The boys joined us for our block of UCI racing this summer, and this episode delves into their experiences at T-Town, how each of them got into the sport (hamster or no), and what it’s like to come from a lesser funded federation.

 Daniyal Matthews, James Swart, and Dillon Geary
Daniyal Matthews, James Swart, and Dillon Geary


Instagram:
@daniyalmatthews
@dillon_geary
@james_swart_


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Female Announcer:

Broadcasting to you from the valley preferred cycling center. This is the Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Hello. And once again, welcome to Talk of the T-Town. I’m your host, Andrew Paradowski. And today we’ve got three wonderful young gentlemen from South Africa who have joined us here for our racing block of UCI events in T-Town. Sitting next to me I’ve got Dillon Geary, James Swart, and Daniyal Matthews. How are you guys doing today?

Daniyal Matthews:

Good, thanks.

Dillon Geary:

Hey Andrew. Nice to see you.

James Swart:

Good to meet you. Yeah, I’m also good. Thanks.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very good. Very good. So you guys are here to race at the UCI races, hopefully looking to get some points and stuff like that. What brought you here to T-Town specifically? I mean, there are races all over the world that you can go to. What makes T-Town so interesting to want to come to?

Daniyal Matthews:

Well, this is my third year in T-Town and I love T-Town because it’s like a great community with the stack cyclists. And it’s just so much easier than moving it on from city to city, looking for points. Whereas you in T-Town, you’ve got four weeks of solid racing with UCI points up for grabs. It just makes a lot of sense.

James Swart:

Yeah. I’ve heard about T-Town multiple times over the years, and this is the first year I’ve really had the opportunity to come and race here. As Daniyal says, it’s a great opportunity to be in one place and race multiple weekends of UCI racing and get points.

Dillon Geary:

I came here in 2019 and ever since then I wanted to come back. But of course I couldn’t in 2020 and 2021 due to a lot of COVID factors. So this is the first day I could come back and I conveniently started studying in the US as well. So it was not a long travel to get here and I just wanted to come have some fun racing my track bike again.

Andrew Paradowski:

So Dillon, that’s a good segue way there. So I understand that you’re studying at Lindenwood University.

Dillon Geary:

Yes, yes I am.

Andrew Paradowski:

So was it sort of the inter Scholastic cycling leagues that they have here in the US that attracted you to come here? Or did you want to come here to study in the US in general?

Dillon Geary:

I wanted to come here to study in the US in general, but cycling part made it, helped as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

So I’m assuming you’re on the cycling team there?

Dillon Geary:

Yes, I am.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. So we’ll see you at collegiates this fall in September?

Dillon Geary:

Yes you will see me there hopefully. Hopefully it goes well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Perfect. What about the other two guys? James, are you studying now or have you finished university?

James Swart:

I have just finished school. So I am currently on a bit of a gap year and just racing my bike.

Andrew Paradowski:

And Daniyal yourself.

Daniyal Matthews:

I’m studying through the University of South Africa. It’s all online, which is really flexible and allows me to travel around the world and race my bike. And I’m studying mathematics and statistics, which might be a bit counterintuitive because I’m a cyclist. But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy school and maths as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, there’s always a good transfer of skills over from any part of life to cycling, right? I mean, maths, you have to figure out how to figure out how many points are left available for the points race and when to go and all that kind of stuff. So I’m sure that kind of stuff helps.

Daniyal Matthews:

And also like all the time when I’m riding the bike, I’m calculating average speeds and average power output just in my mind, even though my garment’s doing it for me, I just enjoy doing that to pass the time.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice. So we were chatting a bit earlier and I think all three of you are from different parts of South Africa, is that right? Yes. Yes. Daniyal. You’re from-

Daniyal Matthews:

I’m from Cape Town, the best city in South Africa.

Andrew Paradowski:

Uh oh.

Daniyal Matthews:

I’m sure you guys would agree.

Andrew Paradowski:

James?

Daniyal Matthews:

If anybody comes for tourism, they’d probably come into Cape Town for the sites and maybe a safari somewhere else in the country.

Andrew Paradowski:

How about you, James?

James Swart:

I come from Durban. I don’t have anything against Cape Town. I don’t really, there’s nothing wrong with it. I do believe Durban is better though, but that is my opinion.

Andrew Paradowski:

And Dillon?

Dillon Geary:

I come from Johannesburg and I will admit that I am probably in the worst town out of all of them, but we just don’t have a beach, come on. Yeah. But I guess it’s not that bad.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very nice. Yeah. So what’s it like to be cyclists in South Africa?

Dillon Geary:

Dangerous.

Daniyal Matthews:

Yeah. It can be really dangerous in Cape Town, even though it’s a beautiful city. We have some obstacles to face, especially after COVID. The pandemic really set some people back financially. And so they’re looking for other means to gain financially, one being stealing bicycles. I’ve had my bicycle stolen from me while I was riding it. And so that’s always a dangerous aspect. And so I often stay out in another town called Paarl, which is close to Cape Town just so that I can have the peace of mind when I’m out training. But yeah, it’s good overall, I’d say.

Dillon Geary:

Yeah, it’s got its problems with like traffic as well and cars, like people getting hit by cars, but in general, it’s quite beautiful riding, and yeah, it’s great roads to ride on. Good quality roads.

James Swart:

I’m quite fortunate in out where I live. It’s really good riding. It’s safe. I can go right on the road or I can go mountain biking, just a few kilometers down the road from my house or the track, either track in Durban is around 40 minutes away from my house. So it’s not horrendously far either.

Andrew Paradowski:

So the three of you are here in the US. Actually, there are four South African riders here. Jean Spies is here as well at the UCI races, we had him on the podcast last year. So we thought it would be your turn to come on and join us here. Now, none of you are riding together as a team, you’re not here with a coach. You’re not here with support staff. You hear all on your own. Is that right?

James Swart:

Yeah, this is correct.

Andrew Paradowski:

Which is a tough thing to do for sure. So what does it take for an athlete from literally halfway around the world to come here and do this kind of thing?

Dillon Geary:

I think it’s just a lot more planning because everything rests on you as a rider. Getting to the track, getting from the track, make sure your equipment’s all in order. It takes a lot more dedication than having someone do it for you. But I also think it’s a good experience because you don’t always have managers around to help you.

Daniyal Matthews:

Yeah. It definitely teaches you how to adapt and survive as a lone wolf out there. And typically I’m not sure why the South African guys are always on their own mission, but hopefully that changes in the new year. We spoke about it a bit while we were in Germany, some of the South African guys maybe teaming up to make it easier. So yeah, hopefully that can make our racing easier next year.

James Swart:

You do have to become quite self-sufficient when you don’t really have the backing of managers or mechanics. So looking after all your equipment yourself, getting to and from the track, as Dillon said, organizing your own accommodation and just making sure that you eat and drink enough.

Dillon Geary:

But we also like being here four of us, we all help each other out a lot. If I need help Jean will be there. If we need help on our bikes, everyone’s willing to help each other out. So in that sense, we make up for not having a manager here.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s good. Always good to have team solidarity. All right. Let’s do some rapid fire questions, sitting in front of me from left to right it’s Dillon, James and Daniyal. So we’ll go in that order. And just quick answer right off top of your head. Favorite track event?

Dillon Geary:

Points race.

James Swart:

Kilo.

Daniyal Matthews:

Elimination.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Favorite professional race across all the spec, all the disciplines road, track, whatever, what’s favorite one to watch?

Dillon Geary:

Paris-Roubaix.

James Swart:

Paris-Roubaix.

Daniyal Matthews:

Tour de France.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right there you go, the classics. Do you have a pro racer that you look up to or like a hero from the past?

Dillon Geary:

Filippo Ganna.

Andrew Paradowski:

Let’s start with Dillon.

Dillon Geary:

Filippo Ganna.

James Swart:

Harrie Lavreysen.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Daniyal Matthews:

I can’t think of anybody.

Andrew Paradowski:

Daniyal can’t think of anyone and James, your hero’s here. So what’s it like to line up against Harrie?

James Swart:

It’s really cool to get to line up against Harrie. I mean, he walked into our accommodation like two days ago while I was lying on the floor. So that was an interesting experience. I kind of freaked out. Not going to lie, but yeah, it’s awesome to be able to race against some of the best in the world.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very good. So Daniyal, tell me, how did you get into the sport? What got you on the bike into cycling?

Daniyal Matthews:

I actually started a long time ago, maybe about 13 years ago. And that was as a result of my father being in the sport at the time. He still rides, but just recreationally. So he introduced me to the sport and initially I hated it, but I was too scared to tell him that I didn’t want to do it. And then eventually I actually started enjoying it and enjoyed training and racing. And now we, yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

How about you, Dillon?

Dillon Geary:

I think I started about eight or nine years ago. And what got me into riding was basically my parents supported it as well. I started doing coffee rides with them in my one break every single day. And I basically just getting coffee every morning after a ride got me hooked to it. And I was also a bit of a bigger boy. So it helped me lose weight as well. So that’s how I got into it.

James Swart:

I kind of got into cycling at a very young age. My dad’s always been involved in the sports. It’s quite a funny story in that I was begging my parents for hamster. They really, really didn’t want me to get a hamster. So on the trip that my dad finally gave into to take me to the pet store to get a hamster, he came up with the bright idea of, oh, James wouldn’t you rather get a bicycle. So that kind of started the whole process and looking back at it now, I’m quite sure he would’ve preferred if I bought a hamster.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, it certainly would’ve been a lot cheaper.

James Swart:

Exactly that.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. So now that you’ve been doing this for a while and you know, you’re here in the US, can you think back on your career of cycling to your favorite moment, the moment that stands out for you that you’re always thinking about in racing or training or anything in cycling that just sort of like, you’re going to keep with you forever and that’ll be the moment that you always talk about.

Daniyal Matthews:

I will never forget junior worlds when I was second year junior, it was in Montechiari, Italy, and obviously the prestige of going to a world championships. I can remember almost every detail of that event. And I really enjoyed being there.

James Swart:

I would say my first individual continental title really stands out for me, was something I’ll never forget.

Dillon Geary:

For me it was my first national title that I won, points race in 2019, I think.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. That’s a nice spread of memories there for sure. All right. Let’s do another round of rapid fires. This way we’ll go this way. We’ll start with Daniyal and go over. Favorite movie?

Daniyal Matthews:

Shutter Island with Leo DiCaprio.

James Swart:

My favorite movie would have to be Cause. Cause One.

Dillon Geary:

I honestly do not have an idea. If I have to guess I’ll just say Fast and Furious series.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very nice. Best music to train to?

Daniyal Matthews:

Hiphop. I love hiphop and rap music, rap and trap. That’s my style.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right before we go on, I have to ask. So there’s a band out of South Africa called Die Antwoord.

Daniyal Matthews:

Oh yeah. They are crazy.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s that’s my little bit of South African music knowledge right there for you.

Daniyal Matthews:

Do you like them?

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah not bad.

Daniyal Matthews:

They’re very controversial but entertaining at the same time.

Andrew Paradowski:

For sure. For sure.

Daniyal Matthews:

Not to play with your parents around.

Andrew Paradowski:

James.

James Swart:

I would have to say some EDM and a bit of rap.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Dillon Geary:

For me, it’s a mix of everything, but if I’m doing intervals, definitely some Suicide Boys. Yeah, that’s for me.

Andrew Paradowski:

All right. Best post race snack.

Daniyal Matthews:

It’s always a protein shake if it’s been a hard ride. Otherwise, if I’m feeling for something sweet, I wouldn’t mind an ice cream after hard ride.

James Swart:

Best post race snack would be a [inaudible 00:13:13].

Dillon Geary:

For me, it would be a sandwich from Subway, Jimmy Johns, anything just the sandwich.

Andrew Paradowski:

Are you sponsored by any of those companies or maybe looking?

Dillon Geary:

Yes, please.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you guys have been here for, sorry, I have to, forgive me all the races we’ve done. You’ve been here since the beginning. I know Daniyal you were here for the first C2, were you not?

Daniyal Matthews:

Yes, I was that on the 10th of June.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right? Yeah. And you guys came for the second one or just the C1s?

Dillon Geary:

I came for the second one.

James Swart:

I’ve just been here since before the first class one.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right. Okay. So little bit of different arrival times and different opportunities. So how do you think about what’s been happening here so far? How’s your racing going?

Daniyal Matthews:

Well, it’s definitely been picking up, obviously more guys coming for the C1 event, but I’m not looking forward to the end of this weekend because everybody’s going to start leaving and it’s going to be quiet and I’m staying on a bit longer.

James Swart:

So I’ve been here since just before the class one events and I’ve really been enjoying it. I haven’t exactly performed as I would like to, but I’ve been enjoying getting stuck into the pro am I’m racing but I haven’t made it through as far as I would’ve liked to, just to get a bit more racing out of the day. So yeah, as Daniyal says, I’m also staying on a bit longer.

Dillon Geary:

For me it’s been a good two weeks of racing so far and many lessons learned the first two weeks and I’m hoping to apply what I’ve learned. This weekend’s racing and see what I can do.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well it should be good. Everyone’s looking forward to it. It’s probably going to be the largest turnout so far. So I think everybody’s looking to score some extra points and there’s going to be some athletes who are heading down to Cali for sure after this, with the nations cup. Are any of you looking to go there?

Daniyal Matthews:

No, I went last year from the USA to Cali, but not this year.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right on. So we’ve talked a lot about you guys as cyclists and you know, all things on bikes, but tell us a little bit about yourself, what do you do in your spare time? What kind of hobbies you might have? Let our listeners get to know the real you starting with Dillon.

Dillon Geary:

In my spare time, I like to sit in front of the TV and watch the TV. I like baking and cooking as well. And I just like being in the outdoors a lot. So hiking, stuff like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

You get a lot of chance to do that here when you’re at school?

Dillon Geary:

I haven’t had a lot, but since summer started, I have had more time to do it.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cool. James?

James Swart:

So my entire life revolves around cycling. So if I’m not riding my bike, I’m either looking at ways to get faster or make my bike faster. Otherwise, a little bit of hobby, cars in my spare time.

Daniyal Matthews:

Like Dillon says, I also enjoy TV and Netflix, I love a good TV program or a movie on night occasion. And I think my biggest passion is traveling. Just seeing new places and cycling has definitely afforded me the opportunity to go to some places that I never thought I would’ve been able to go to. So it’s great to see new sites and explore a bit. So now that the UCI events are almost done, I’m planning to maybe make a short trip to New York and Washington DC and see what it has to offer.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very nice. Not a super short trip to Washington. I think what, it’s about four hours from here. I think so, three and a half. So it’s certainly a good place to go and view. So what does the future hold for the three of you? What plans do you have in cycling and then after cycling? What are your goals like? Where do you want to, what’s your bucket list for cycling? Where do you want to be? And hopefully you get there and then after the cycling’s all over, where do you see yourselves?

Dillon Geary:

I’d like to go to the Olympics one day. That’s my big goal. Short term goal I want to win a collegiate national title, hopefully this fall, but we’ll see. And after cycling, I don’t know, just settle down. If I ever finish cycling, just settle down with my family. Spend time with them.

James Swart:

I think for myself, same as Dillon. I want to get to 2028 Olympic games and be able to hold my head high and know that I’ve given my best and being able to compete. Short term, just get faster really. That’s what we all want to do, but needs to be done. And after cycling I’ll probably just still be involved in cycling, maybe just not in racing. So become a mechanic or a manager because I love the sports. It’s my passion.

Andrew Paradowski:

Have you thought about becoming a commissaire? They’re always looking for young folks to take on the role of a official.

James Swart:

I think knowing the amounts of hassles that commissaires get given, not from myself personally, but I’ve seen from other riders. It’s probably not for me.

Daniyal Matthews:

My big goal is the Olympics. Whether it be the next one or 2028 in LA, that’s a big goal of mine. And I think it’s a good journey to take on. And after cycling, while I’ll ride it out, as long as I can, because I’m having a lot of fun, but I suppose I might study a bit further and definitely travel as much as I can.

Andrew Paradowski:

Sounds great. All right. With us today, we had Dillon Geary, James Swart, and Daniyal Matthews, three young riders from South Africa making their way here on their own and mixing it up with all the big international athletes here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in today.

Daniyal Matthews:

Thanks for having us.

James Swart:

Thanks for having us.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very welcome. And we wish you the best of luck for this weekend’s racing and also for your future endeavors and to our folks at home we hope you enjoyed today’s podcast and we’re looking forward to the next one. Take care now.

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Dylan Bibic: Young Phenom

Dylan Bibic

Episode 60

“I found the deeper into racing I got, the faster I got and the more I got back into the track cycling.

~DYLAN BIBIC

If you joined us for our international racing block in T-Town this summer, then you’ll recognize this week’s guest! Andrew sits down with none other than Dylan Bibic of Canada to discuss how Dylan got into track cycling, what his path has been and what it’s going to look like moving forward, what training through COVID looked like, and what his favorite bike is!

Dylan Bibic
Dylan Bibic


Dylan Bibic on Instagram: @dylanbibic


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, this is The Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Welcome back to the podcast, everyone. My name’s Andrew Paradowski and I’ll be your host today. This is Talk of the T-Town podcast, the regular chat show, where we talk about all things track cycling, but especially here in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, at the T-Town Velodrome, the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Today, we are here with young racer Dylan Bibic from Canada, who has had an inauspicious career, starting from a very young age and rising through the ranks to become one of the world’s top track cyclists, and certainly not doing too badly on the road as well. He’s gone from a local rider in youth races, all the way up to being on a pro team. Dylan, how’s it going?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, I’m good. How are you?

Andrew Paradowski:

I’m not too bad. We’re super happy to have you here. Dylan is here as part of our UCI racing block. We’ve got four UCI races happening here in the month of June in 2022, while the last one’s in July and he’s been here for the entire block and looking forward to completing the last one, which is coming up in just a couple of days now, collecting some points and looking to improve his status and, of course, win some of the cash that we have on offer here today. Before we get to that, I just wanted to talk to you a bit about your history, where you came from, where you went, how long it took to get here, the sort of trials and tribulations of what it took to rise to the point where you are today. Tell me and our audience, how did all of this start?

Dylan Bibic:

I guess I was about nine or eight years old and I just really loved riding my bike so I asked my dad, “Could I have a racing bike to go enter races?” And I guess he just didn’t really know what racing was so he looked up racing bike and bought like the first one on Kijiji that would fit me. I showed up to my first race and I got, I think, third or second and I really enjoyed it and I liked the feeling of doing well so I kept going with it.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right on. As some of you, listeners, will know, I’m also from Canada. Dylan and I are from the same part, down near Toronto. I actually think I was there at that first race when you and your family showed up, I think it might have been the Newmarket Eagles race, the youth race?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, my first proper road race. That was it. Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

And I remember having a chat with your dad about it and saying like, you know exactly what you just said like, Hey, we’re new to this whole thing. What do we do? Where do we go? So, you’ve got this career now where you’re certainly on the rise. And there’s been a lot of people who have been involved in that from coaches to the cycling federation and all the other different people who’ve helped you get here. I’ll lay a little bit of claim to say all I discovered you after having gone to that first race and told you where to start your journey but of course that was it. That’s all I have everybody. There’ve been a lot of people helping you along your way. So tell us a little bit about that. Like after that first race, what kept you going? Did you get the bug, what was your sort of motivation after that first race?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah I remember after the race, like you said, you recommended me to go to Midweek Cycling and I did their Monday night learn to race program. And that took me like up a step in my racing you could say, and it made me understand it a lot more and it developed me really well. Yeah, it was good.

Andrew Paradowski:

So you started off with road cycling, but that, isn’t your big passion though. I would say your big passion would be track. Is that right?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, I’m definitely better at track.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, we’ve certainly seen some of your action here. The last couple of weeks. You’ve certainly put on a couple of clinics here in the Omnium and in the Madison races with Mattias when he’s down here with you as well. So yeah, you definitely are really good at that at track cycling. So, where did that come from? I mean, I know when, if you started, I guess it was back in the early tens, there were no real Velodrome in Ontario at that point. Where did it go from there?

Dylan Bibic:

Well, I guess when I was that age, I probably rode the track in London, Ontario once or twice, but what really started it for me in 2015, they completed the Mattamy National cycling center for the Pan Am games. And that’s when I really started the riding the track a lot and consistently, and I had my own bike and I remember they had really good programming for me back then. And I was just riding with a lot faster people was really encouraged me to keep going and always wanted to beat the next fastest guy, the next fastest guy until I get up there.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right on. So they built the Velodrome in 2015. That was seven years ago. And last year so six years after you started riding the cathedral in Milton, Ontario, you had the opportunity to ride at junior world championships. Tell us a bit about that.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah. Junior championships was really interesting. I didn’t really properly train for it. I was in Belgium most of the time, so I didn’t actually ride a track like five months before going. I just used my general knowledge of the track and fitness from the road. And I showed up in Chiro, Egypt. And I guess I signed up for as many races I possibly could, I was doing the Kirin, the Omnium, the elimination race, and points race, the one I won and it was just a good experience. I found the deeper into racing I got, the faster I got and the more I got back into the track cycling. I think it was really good that I got to go and I’m very happy.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I’m sure you were being able to jump up onto the top of the podium and put the rainbow stripes on. Tell us about that. What did that feel like? The moment that you got to go on the podium in front of the entire world and put on what would ostensibly be one of your biggest, if not top five, career goals as a cyclist?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, it felt really good in the moment. Probably one of the coolest feelings having it handed to me just before I go up to the podium, but I always want the next thing, the next thing until I’m the best in the world out of elites.

Andrew Paradowski:

So what is the next thing for you then?

Dylan Bibic:

Next thing for me would be this T-Town race. And then I go to Pan American championships and my goal is to win the Omnium there. And then I want to win nationals for track for Canada and then go to worlds. And then I want to get a medal at the Omnium in elite worlds.

Andrew Paradowski:

Those are some pretty impressive goals you have there and judging by the way that you’ve been racing they’re not out of the realm of possibility, that’s for sure. Now, have you noticed Canada not being one of the bigger cycling nations in the world that as you are starting to branch out internationally, how do you find the shift in the caliber of the racers that you have to compete against?

Dylan Bibic:

It’s definitely different from racing in Canada. When I race in Canada, I honestly get like a little bored in the races and kind of toy with the race a little, but here I have to actually pay attention and in the Omnium you have to be very patient, especially in the last points race. Like if I were to just go out and win the first five sprints, then someone could attack me and I might not be able to follow.

Andrew Paradowski:

Right. So you’re also riding for a development under 23 team. That’s a premier tech.

Dylan Bibic:

Yep.

Andrew Paradowski:

How did that come about? How did you get to get on that team?

Dylan Bibic:

I had some okay road results last year. And with one of the directors, Kevin Fields, he contacted me about the team and it’s a really great opportunity for me. And I got a really good block of road racing this spring in training. And it’s definitely like showing this half of the season, I guess. My endurance is just, compared to what it was before, is so much better.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. All right. I’m going to hit you with some rapid fire questions.

Dylan Bibic:

Sounds good.

Andrew Paradowski:

Favorite bike race.

Dylan Bibic:

Ooh, that’s a hard question. Like, favorite bike, race I’ve ever done, or favorite bike race I’ve ever had recurrent?

Andrew Paradowski:

All right we’ll split it in the two. What’s the favorite of race of yours to do, like style of race?

Dylan Bibic:

I guess where I have the most fun would be like at the end of an Omnium and a points race where I can just really mess up the field and put big gaps into people.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cool. What about favorite big international race? Road track, whatever, anything.

Dylan Bibic:

Junior Worlds was cool, but here’s pretty cool too. I mean, it’s cool to win in the elite field and it’s good to know where I stand.

Andrew Paradowski:

Favorite bike racer or your hero?

Dylan Bibic:

Whew. I guess Steve Bowers always, I’ve always looked up to him as probably the best Canadian cyclist of all time, but right now it’s like maybe Mark Cavendish, he’s pretty cool.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. Favorite bike?

Dylan Bibic:

Favorite bike I’ve ever ridden or like…?

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Dylan Bibic:

Ooh, it sounds weird, but my favorite bike I’ve ever- if I could only have one bike, it’s just a fun bike I use at my house. I probably in all honesty, it’s probably the bike I have the most kilometers on. I’ll go do training all day at the track then I’ll come home and hang out with my friends and ride that bike around for another 15 kilometers every night. Just for fun.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice. I have it on a good authority that you also know how to ride a unicycle.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah. I add a unicycle phase for a while. The only time these days I really ride unicycles if like a guest comes over and they’re like, oh unicycle. And I’m like, yeah, I can ride it.

Andrew Paradowski:

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done with unicycle, like race wise or event wise?

Dylan Bibic:

I got okay at tricks. I could do like 360s and like jump off things. But besides that, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever done any crazy unicycle events.

Andrew Paradowski:

No, I could have sworn I heard somewhere that you entered a race, like Paris [inaudible 00:11:05] on a unicycle, no?

Dylan Bibic:

I showed up to the Midweek Cycle Cross once on a unicycle.

Andrew Paradowski:

Is that what it was? Okay.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. Do you do cross as well?

Dylan Bibic:

Just mostly just for the bike handling scale. I’m not very good at it, but yeah, I’d say it’s one of the more important things to do as a track and road cyclist, because the skills on the track bike have saved me in a lot of road races.

Andrew Paradowski:

So actually that’s an interesting point because a lot of people say that it’s good to have diversity of skill when it comes to cycling. And then also other sports. Are there any other sports that you like to do in your spare time?

Dylan Bibic:

These days not so much. Like I said, most of my free time when I’m around is just riding my bike for fun. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing tricks, I can wheelie forever. I can do tricks while wheeling. It is one of my things I like to do.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. So let’s go back to sort of the beginning again and talk a bit about your history. There’s a lot of youth out there who, they start riding a bike and they all have dreams and aspirations of turning pro or going to worlds or getting up in development teams, national teams, all that kind of stuff. What would you say to someone if you could go back and you talk to 12 year old Dylan and said what are the things that are important to know about that journey? If you become successful enough and you’ve got the talent and skill to go there.

Dylan Bibic:

I guess just at a young age, I think it’s most important just to learn tactically everything. I think that’s why I’m also pretty good on the track. I like to think I’m tactically better than most people along with my power. So it’s really good, important to teach kids at the young age, all the little tricks and stuff. And then always just I don’t know, keep motivated, I guess, or I’d say maybe at a young age, don’t take it too seriously. Just do it for fun. That’s what I would think.

Andrew Paradowski:

And then looking towards the future. So you just, I guess you just finished high school recently.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

And so you’re looking to take a few years off and see where this pro thing goes then?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah. I mean, I’m banking on going pro or making a living at a cycling.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cool. Well, you certainly have the skillset to take a good run at it and that’s for sure.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

So a lot of this, especially when you’re a young racer, depends on having parents that are at least committed to helping you, if not being involved. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Like have your parents been involved in your career and how they helped you?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, but I’m very thankful for my parents. They do everything, a lot for me. They always get me, drive me to the races I need to be at. They get me the little things, if a part breaks in my bike, my parents will help me get a new part or just being supportive and things like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. All right. Let’s do another rapid fire. Let’s find out a little bit more about Dylan, the guy. So favorite movie?

Dylan Bibic:

Oh, it’s a hard question. Maybe like Star Wars?

Andrew Paradowski:

Star wars? The whole thing or do you have a specific one?

Dylan Bibic:

Oh, Episode Three.

Andrew Paradowski:

Episode Three, Revenge of the Sith, very cool. Yeah. What about music? What kind of music you into?

Dylan Bibic:

Oh, I like Oliver Tree. Okay. I liked him before he was cool. He’s gotten very popular, but I always like listening to his music.

Andrew Paradowski:

Do you listen to it when you train?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah, it’s good to hype me up before races and stuff.

Andrew Paradowski:

Video games?

Dylan Bibic:

I played a lot of Fortnite, not so much anymore, but it was mostly just during the pandemic. I had nothing better to do. These days I don’t really play too many video games.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. And then what do you like to do in your spare time?

Dylan Bibic:

Oh, I just ride my bike around for fun, like wheely and just hang out with my friends.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice. So you mentioned the pandemic there. How do you feel like that has affected your cycling career?

Dylan Bibic:

I don’t think too much. I got enough training throughout the pandemic. I really like 2020 the year. It was probably one of the better years of… It was probably the most entertaining year of my life. I consistently trained enough to keep my fitness and there’s no stress with racing so I could go bike packing or I could go just camping and do a bunch of crazy things without having to focus on racing. It was entertaining.

Andrew Paradowski:

Oh, I’m sure it was. But now that it’s over, we’re back to it.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’re super glad to have you down here in T-Town. And like we said, we’ve got one more race coming up this weekend and I’m going to guess that your focus will be get once again on the Omnium and also the big Madison, right? We got the big Madison points coming up now you’re riding the Madison as well?

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah. I’m riding with Riley Pickrell.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Okay. So you’re going to change it up a little bit.

Dylan Bibic:

Yeah.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, we hear that team Canada’s coming down in big force this weekend. So it should be really interesting. And once again, I’m sure you’ll put on a good show for us. So thanks Dylan for coming in and sitting down with us for our podcast here, I’m sure our listeners were thrilled to learn a bit more about you and I’m sure we’ll be watching your career with some keen interest. Before we go is there anything else you want to say or give a shout out to somebody?

Dylan Bibic:

I guess just the track it’s such good racing here. Such a pretty, really deep field. I haven’t not enjoyed a race here. I love it. Thank you.

Andrew Paradowski:

Very cool. Well, folks that was Dylan Bibic from Canada, who is down here for our UCI racing block, a young phenom who has done really well so far. And like we said, at a career that we’re really going to be watching with some interest. So join us again next time as we continue interviewing riders who have come down here to join us for our UCI block. My name is Andrew Paradowski. Today’s host for Talk of the T-Town and thank you for listening and we’ll see you all soon.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk of the T-Town podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcast to find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, to check out the show notes and subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Andrew Paradowski: True North, Strong and Free

Andrew Paradowski - Expert Executive Consultant

Episode 59

“It’s the best seat in the house. You get to watch bike racing and have fun doing it.”

~ANDREW PARADOWSKI

Have you gotten to know our new director here at T-Town? Here’s the perfect chance– Chairman of the Board, Rick Beuttel, sits down and chats with Andrew Paradowski, our new Expert Executive Consultant. Andrew has jumped in the deep end here, and this is your chance to get to know him better!

Andrew Paradowski – Expert Executive Consultant – Valley Preferred Cycling Center



Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Voiceover:

Broadcasting to you from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, this is the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling.

Rick Buettel:

Hello, listeners. Welcome back to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. After a bit of a hiatus, hopefully during the hiatus, you’ve enjoyed some of the interviews that we’ve been posting on our website of some of our athletes and some of the personalities, in and around the track, which was recorded and presented by Service Electric Cable TV. I’m your host for today, Rick Buettel, board chair of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.

Rick Buettel:

I’m going to be interviewing our new leader here at the track, Andrew Paradowski. Without any further ado, hello, Andrew. How are you doing today?

Andrew Paradowski:

Hi, Rick, not too bad. Thank you very much.

Rick Buettel:

Well, we’re really pleased to have you on board. We did go through a change of leadership earlier in the season as probably most of our listeners and most people around the track now, because of that and because of the exciting summer of racing, which we’ve had here in T-Town, we’ll talk about it with our great UCI block.

Rick Buettel:

Just coming off nationals, it’s been of a bit of a busy first summer for you. You want to tell us how things are going so far?

Andrew Paradowski:

For sure, things are going great. It has been busy because I wasn’t able to get down here until the end of May, which means we’re jumping in feet first into the pool as the summer’s already going on. There was a bit of a reprieve because we were doing that recoding of the track over the winter. The season didn’t start in April like it normally did, but even then it was still jumping in as things were moving along. It’s been a little bit of catch up and a little bit of running things here.

Andrew Paradowski:

I think overall, the season that was planned by Joan and the group here at T-Town before I arrived has been able to be run well and successfully. People have had fun. We’ve had great increases in the number of riders that we’ve seen over the last couple of years at the UCI events. Participation in the community programs is a little bit slow this year, but it started to ramp up over the summer as more people realized that the track was open after the closure for the winter.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then also, for getting the word back out that we’re here and we’re open and it’s a lot of fun to be had here at T-Town. A bit of a slow start, but I think we got the wheels turning and I think everything is coming along quite nicely right now.

Rick Buettel:

As I think about the slow start and you’re right, it was a bit of a slow out of the blocks. Most of that was due to the resurfacing. Especially, that impacted community programming pretty hard. What feedback have you been getting about the new surface? Are people happy with it? Is it faster? It certainly looks 100 times better than last year’s track.

Andrew Paradowski:

I think the feedback is super positive about it. You’re right, the looks are night and day for sure. If you look at photos from previous years, even just 2021, you can see cracks and ruts all over the concrete and this year it’s nice, almost looks like a painted smooth surface. People are pretty excited to be on it. It’s quite smooth to ride on and maybe a little bit faster, and that might be evidenced by the fact that quite a few track records have dropped this summer.

Andrew Paradowski:

Now, of course, that’s also from the great training that those riders have done, but it certainly does help that the track is a bit smoother to run. They also had some good weather on those days too to help get them to those points. It’s certainly a great thing to come here fresh for me as well when the track is new and not to come in a couple of years ago when it was at the end of its resurfacing life. It’s nice to have that fresh start for my new start here.

Rick Buettel:

I’m certainly hoping that we can get another 10 to 12 years out of this surface as we’ve got out of the last time we did this because it’s not an inconsequential amount of money and it’s an investment in the future here in T-Town. Great to see the times are faster and hopefully the athletes are happy with it.

Andrew Paradowski:

For sure.

Rick Buettel:

Maybe just by way of background, tell our audience a little bit about yourself. Probably a lot of people have seen you around the track. Maybe people have said, “Hello, how are you doing?” Had a little bit more colorful feedback from time to time. Maybe just to fill in, riff a little bit on your background in cycling in particular and why you’re so passionate about this sport that we all love?

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ve been in cycling pretty much most of my life. I’d say every young child got on the bike as soon as possible as it’s a good activity for young folk to get into. I was spurred on at a fairly young age by one of my uncles who was competing as an amateur pro back in the ’80s. I just aged myself a little bit there. My uncle who was a Cat 1, 2 racer back in the eighties, I looked up to him a bit and I was like, “This racing thing looks really cool and I want to try that out.”

Andrew Paradowski:

When I got to my early teen years, I decided that I wanted to get involved with that and I got my first race bike and started doing some road cycling back then. It lasted for a couple of years when I got to the junior, the true UCI junior age group, that 17, 18 group before I hung up my bike shoes and stopped for a while. A lot of that had to do with how the development was going in Ontario at the time.

Andrew Paradowski:

There weren’t too many kids in racing at that point. There wasn’t a lot of development going on and not a lot of support. As I was getting later into my high school years, I tuned out and dropped out like a lot of young racers might do, especially when they get even older into college and university. That happened for me a bit earlier.

Rick Buettel:

There’s a saying here, we lose a lot of young riders once they get to be a certain age to three deadly liquids, perfume, gasoline, and alcohol a little bit later in their life.

Andrew Paradowski:

I like that, I’ve never heard that. That’s good, I like that. I was away from the sport for maybe the better part of a decade as I went off to university. I still rode my bike casually transport and all that sort of stuff. I left racing just because I was maybe mildly disillusioned by it in my teen years. Then you graduate and go out into the real world, you get a big boy job. I started thinking, “Well, I should probably get some fitness involved in my life here and I’m working a lot. Fitness is good for both your physical and mental health.”

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, a lot of people go to the gym and all this stuff. I said, “Well, I liked bike racing as a kid, so why don’t I get back into it?” I said, “Well, I’ll try to look around for a bike club to join.” That’s what I learned as a kid, that you join a bike club. Also, back in Ontario and when I was racing as a junior, there was a requirement that you had to go to a learn to race program before you were issued a license.

Rick Buettel:

Before they give you a license, really?

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah.

Rick Buettel:

That’s a good idea actually, if you see some of the people that are just starting out, maybe that’s a good thing from a safety standpoint.

Andrew Paradowski:

We do that kind of thing here at the track with try the track a little bit. It’s not quite a certification, but it certainly does give people the opportunity to try it out in a controlled environment as opposed to just jumping into the deep end and going right into a race. That wasn’t the case when I got back into cycling in the late zeros, but I didn’t know this. I did the online search and I found this cycling club called Midweek Cycling Club in Mississauga, Toronto. By the way, I don’t know if we mentioned yet, I’m from Canada.

Rick Buettel:

You’re from Canada? Take off, you hoser.

Andrew Paradowski:

This was the club that came up first when I typed in learned to race and I called them up and said, “I want to join your learn race program.” I found out later that I didn’t need to, but I said, “Well, this is a good enough club and it’s close to where I live and this is great.” I got back into racing there in the late zeros. I have a work history of working in the events field.

Andrew Paradowski:

When I say that it was mostly in the event production, audio visual stuff, was a DJ for a while. Worked with a company that did a lot of corporate events and all that kind of stuff. I have a background in running events. Turned out this club was also an event-driven club.

Rick Buettel:

Interesting.

Andrew Paradowski:

They put on a lot of events in Ontario, including the weekly two-day night crit, quite a few of the larger races they call them OCups, Ontario Cup road races in the summers, as well as provincial championships, a few time cross races. In the late zeros, they ran a couple of UCI cross races in Toronto. I got involved with them and I was a natural fit to help them out because of my event background and I just kept getting tagged to do more and more.

Rick Buettel:

You became the guy.

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah, that’s always the case. It’s like, “You want to come help out?” You get dragged into it and soon you’re enveloped by this whole thing.

Rick Buettel:

I can relate a little bit of that. The next thing you’re the chairman of a nonprofit board. Everybody’s got lots of feedback for you. You’re familiar with that.

Andrew Paradowski:

Next thing I knew I was the president of the club.

Rick Buettel:

Careful what you wish for.

Andrew Paradowski:

Careful what you wish for. I did a lot of work there and I started organizing more and riding less and I never really got past being a Cat 2, Cat 3 rider. The systems don’t compare in Ontario and in the U.S. here, but I was never a top rider and I never would be because I’m more of an endurance guy. Time trialing was my thing and the only way I ever upgraded was because of winning stage races, short stage races where setting a good time trial time and staying with the pack.

Rick Buettel:

While everybody’s chasing you the rest of the way.

Andrew Paradowski:

That was the only way that I could get up there. A couple of years of doing that and at one point I’m helping out with racing and I get tapped on the shoulder at the finish line saying, “You’re pretty good at this finish line scoring stuff.” I go, “I don’t know, it seems pretty straightforward.” Have you ever thought about being a commissionaire? I’m like, “No, what’s that?”

Rick Buettel:

There you go.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ve been in cycling for over a decade at this point and it was obviously with a gap in, and I had no idea what a commissaire was. I guess I understood the concept of a referee, but these are of the people that just operate in the background and produced this result that I looked at on paper I was like, “That sounds like a cool thing.” 15 years later here I am. I’m a UCI commissaire in track cycling in the elite national road. That was quite a big and long journey for me there.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s where that started. Again, just getting roped into it as a volunteer and being involved in the sport. Let me tell you, being a commissaire is a great way to stay in the sport if you find out that you don’t have the same time you used to for training. It takes 10, 12 hours a week minimum of training just to stay in and more if you want to compete.

Rick Buettel:

I think we all suffer from that. Your journey along the way I think is indicative of a lot of people who maybe did it when they were younger than got a job or got married, or had kids. I think one of the best things about cycling in general, whether you’re racing or not is you can always go back to it. I think we see a lot of our athletes here, people that were great.

Rick Buettel:

Then maybe life and everything else got in the way for a while. Then, we get them back as masters.

Andrew Paradowski:

For all of you out there, if you’re interested in becoming a commissaire let us know, and we could always use a few more to help out with stuff like that. It’s the best seat in the house. You get to watch bike racing and have fun doing it. For any of you who play or go to watch baseball, it’s very similar. You sit there in the stands and you got little score book and you’re counting the runs on the sheet and stuff like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s like every sport, there’s people who want to track it and that’s essentially what it is. It’s a great way to watch. Especially, if you like road racing the best seat in the house is in the car following the pack instead of sitting on the side and seeing it come around once every 40 minutes. This is a little PSA, it’s a little shameless self-promotion here to get more officials out there. If you’re interested, reach out to us here at the track.

Rick Buettel:

For sure. I’m sure USA Cycling would appreciate that because that’s not just a local problem here in T-Town, we’ve got an official shortage I believe nationally.

Andrew Paradowski:

Anyways, to make a long story short, too late, we’re getting into the early teens here of my cycling life story. I actually moved out to British Columbia for a couple of years and did my thing out there and came back in 2011 to Ontario to help run the road national championships in Milton, Ontario, where the track was built there about five years ago or seven years ago now, sorry.

Andrew Paradowski:

We put the event on and the Ontario Federation, so the Ontario Cycling Association was pretty impressed with what we put on and liked what I did for the event and they offered me a job at the Federation as their technical director to help other organizers learn the skills of the trade and how to run an effective bike race and stuff like that. Spent the next three years there helping out all the local organizers develop and learn and put on a really good cycling scene.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then after that, then my next stop on the cycling tour was at the Pan Am games. I was the chair of the cycling events there in 2015 for road cycling. I was officiating on the track cycle, but I ran the road cycling events in Toronto and Milton.

Rick Buettel:

It was right in your backyard, you didn’t have to go to Columbia or Argentina or any place like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

No, no. It was literally right in my backyard, the road circuit took place. It started at Ontario Place, which is on the waterfront in Toronto and went westward along Lake Shore Boulevard, which I’ll call it, it’s not a service road, but it’s the road parallel to the major highway that goes into downtown Toronto. We shut the whole thing down and big three lane, multi lane road in both ways.

Andrew Paradowski:

It ended up going detouring into High Park, which is probably the second biggest public park in downtown Toronto. It’s several hundred acres. It’s pretty much the only climbing year to get in Toronto. I think it might have been a 30 or 40-meter climb, but with the circuit, we did it a few times and it actually had a switch back in it, so it was a neat course. That was only maybe a few miles from where I lived.

Andrew Paradowski:

Literally, in my backyard. That summer, and this is of where the story gets interesting, I suppose. Organizers would contact me and say, “What happened here? You’re not with Ontario Cycling anymore.” I said, “I’ve moved on to different things.” They’re like, “Well, who’s going to help me with our bike races?” I said, “Well, I don’t know, I’m sure they’ll have somebody there for you.”

Andrew Paradowski:

They’re like, “Well, can we pay you to come out to our bike races and help us?” I’m like, “Yeah, sure.”

Rick Buettel:

Pay me to do something I love.

Andrew Paradowski:

I did a couple of gigs and then I said, “I wonder, maybe I can make something of this.” I wasn’t sure especially in Ontario it’s a fairly small scene, it’s a population of 15 million, a little bit small in Pennsylvania, but a lot of it is concentrated in Southern Ontario, but it’s a fairly small cycling scene, much like cycling is in North America, it’s a European sport. We try our best out here, but it certainly doesn’t have the numbers that they have out there.

Andrew Paradowski:

I said, “I’ll give it a shot.” I spent a year doing it just as I don’t want to call it a hobby, but I was trying to see if it would work as a business and it turned out it did. In 2016, I went full gas into it and opened up my own event management company, and had been doing that ever since. Basically, running my own events, running other people’s events across the spectrum of cycling, road, little mountain bike. Definitely, a lot of cyclo-cross.

Rick Buettel:

Gravel probably, the beginnings of gravel.

Andrew Paradowski:

A little bit. Then of course, odd events here and there and I also started doing a lot of timing and scoring with a colleague of mine, Doug Pogue. He’s been here a couple of times helping out with our large races from race timing and dossier. Shameless plug.

Rick Buettel:

You’re welcome, Doug.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then, growing the business and growing and growing and things were going well. Fall of 2019, I’m looking at the books going, “I actually might end up in the block this year. Come next year, it’s going to be great. 2020 is going to be my banner year.”

Rick Buettel:

As they say, “God has a sense of humor.”

Andrew Paradowski:

We all know what happened the next year and everything just shut down. People in events and not just in sports, but any event they were the first ones to go. The last ones to get back in, because it was all about gathering people together, restrictions, basically I had nothing to do in 2020. There was a small reprieve I guess in the late 2020 when it looked like they were lifting restrictions and we almost got the engine cranked over.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then, the second wave came in Canada and then we shut down pretty quickly after that. Just a year of doing nothing, the business flat lining, and uncertainty ahead. What did I do? I decided to get married.

Rick Buettel:

Well, there you go.

Andrew Paradowski:

I had proposed to my wife Chantal back in August 2019. Again, looking forward to this big 2020 wedding. Of course, as it happens, things changed in life changed. We still got married in the fall and it was a nice small wedding on her parents’ back deck up in Nobleton, Ontario for a very, very small group. It was nice to have that small group and do that small wedding. Big weddings can be expensive [inaudible 00:17:23]

Rick Buettel:

No, no, no, precisely. You probably had the people that really meant something to you that you wanted there anyway. That’s what you’ll remember.

Andrew Paradowski:

2021 rolls around and Canada was probably a bit more stricter on the restrictions than you saw down here in the U.S.

Rick Buettel:

My gosh, I was going to Canada for business and I think the people that were doing this swab testing for COVID when you get there wiped half of my brain out, I think that’s how far up. Very, very enthusiastic on making sure that COVID spread any further.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then there were some choices that were made in Ontario that made the restrictions’ role right into the summer. Here I am looking at year two of no business and I’ve got nothing going on and I get this call from a colleague of mine down here, Tom Mains. He does a lot of the timing is scoring here at the track. I think he was on the podcast.

Rick Buettel:

We had a podcast with Tom. Our listeners that come frequent to track will know Tom. Tom does a little bit of track racing, a little bit of racing. You see him out in a boot, as you would say as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nobody says that in Canada. It’s fake news. Tom gave me a shout and said, “I was talking to my friend, Joan who was my predecessor here.” They said that they had this really big block of racing coming up and they could sure need some help. I know that nothing’s going on for you up in Canada right now. It’s basically everything’s shut down if you want to come on to help out? I’m sure they’d appreciate it.”

Andrew Paradowski:

I spoke to Joan. I said, “I’m free. If you need some help, I can come down and pitch in whatever.” She was like, “We’d be glad to have you down here.” I came down and helped out with some of the racing at the UCI block and Elite Nationals last year and had a lot of fun. This is a great track. It was actually my first time at this track.

Rick Buettel:

First time to T-Town.

Andrew Paradowski:

First time to T-Town last year, I’d heard about it and I heard all the great things about this track from before legend in the U.S. It’s been around for almost 50 years. Not surprising it’s built up that reputation and it lived up to a lot of it too. It’s a great place, a great community down here. I’ve been to obviously a few other tracks and we’ve had Milton in Canada for now about seven years that was built for Pan Am games.

Andrew Paradowski:

It was a nice, refreshing change to come to an outdoor track and see how different things are running and all that kind of stuff. I left after that, came back to Canada and the restrictions were being lifted and we were able to get back into things. I had a great cross season, started off a new cross race, which I was pretty proud of because it was a nice, fun little thing in Northern Milton.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then after having been down here, I was chatting with Joan on the phone for some things. She’s like, “By the way, I’m leaving the track.”

Rick Buettel:

She got the offer she couldn’t refuse, I mean, terrible. Moved to Santa Cruz, California and have the dream job working for BMC, get a bunch of free BMC stuff. That sounds awful, I’m sure I wouldn’t like that one bit.

Andrew Paradowski:

She’s like, “They’re going to post for the job and you seem to fit in really well down here. You have a lot of knowledge and a lot of skills. You seem to track cycling and a lot of this can be glutton for punishment sometimes. If you’re interested, throw your hat in the ring.” Track has come to be my favorite discipline as evidenced by that’s the discipline that I’ve focused on in terms of my commissaire life.

Andrew Paradowski:

I live in Milton, Ontario. When Chantal and I decided to buy a house together we were priced out of Toronto, I’m sure everybody knows that Toronto is one of the most expensive real estate markets in North America. We’re like, “Well, we can’t live in downtown Toronto. If we’re going to move to the outskirts, we might as well move to a town where we’re going to spend most of our time anyway because of the track.”

Andrew Paradowski:

We moved there and I spend a lot of time at the track. I do a lot of stuff there. Well, this is the kind of opportunity that comes along I think once or twice in your life. When it came along, I was like, “Well, what’s the worst that can happen? It shows that I’m still interested in being maybe a part of T-Town and that I like my time here. If they choose somebody else then great and I can come and maybe hopefully still come down and help out here and there. Maybe officiate some races and whatnot.”

Andrew Paradowski:

Threw my resume in and got an interview. Then a couple weeks later got a call and it was actually Rick. It was you who called me. I’ll let you tell this story.

Rick Buettel:

Speaking from the other side of the table, maybe right, we we’re all a bit surprised when Joan announced that she was going to move on, stay within the world of cycling, which is good. Actually, she’s helped out some of our athletes that have come and raced at the track this summer. Some of you have seen [inaudible 00:22:13] with his brand new BMC track bike. I think he’s doing a nice job and he’s an ambassador for that brand and the happiest person I’ve ever met, which is wonderful.

Rick Buettel:

Anyway, I digress. We were surprised, we shined the bat light up onto the clouds and said, “We’re looking for a new executive director.” We had a number of folks apply who were interested from literally all around the U.S. and Canada. You can imagine running a Velodrome you can go put an ad in the paper and get five people locally. Literally, we had people from all over. The board, we looked at all the applicants, we shortlisted, we interviewed three or four candidates that were shortlisted.

Rick Buettel:

I think it was wonderful having you express interest and then ultimately having you come back because you had been down to T-Town the summer before, and you knew how the place was run, knew some of what I’d say quirks and features, good and bad. Now, I think you hit the ground running. We would’ve been much happier to get you down here a little bit before may, but that is due to our friends at the United States Border and Protection Agency.

Rick Buettel:

There’s some vetting that had to be done in order to legitimately get you into the country and have everything work out as it’s working out now. Now, speaking from the board perspective, we’re very happy you’re here and hit the ground running. You said it earlier, I’ll echo it. Maybe since you’ve been here, what’s the biggest surprise? Maybe there weren’t that many surprises because you were down here the summer before.

Rick Buettel:

Now, you’re in a different role, you’re in the big chair as it were good or bad or maybe a good one or a bad one. What knocked your socks off a little bit when you’re like, “Wow, this is wonderful or okay. Wow, nobody told me about this.”

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ll give you one of each. Probably we’ll start with the good, I was really surprised, but maybe not so much about the passion of the community here. Those that are involved with the track, whether they’re racing or they’re volunteering or officiating or being on the board. There’s a lot of people around here who have a deep connection to this place. It’s not surprising because it’s been around for so long.

Andrew Paradowski:

There are people here who are multi-generational even Mara came to the track when you were racing here when younger, and then now she’s here working for the track. It’s got a long history and the devotion that people have for this place while surprising, it’s also understood. It’s got a really, really good culture that I think it has been lying dormant for a little while that if we reach back out and get people more engaged and more involved, that will reawaken a little bit.

Andrew Paradowski:

On the bad side, I would say it’s probably one of the comments that I hear about when I first got here, I was trying to meet a lot of people and talk to a lot of people, including participants in our community programs and stuff. One of the refrains that I kept hearing was, “I didn’t know about this place. I didn’t know it existed. I live one and a half miles down the road and I didn’t know it was here.”

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s not uncommon in Milton, this thing was built in the last decade and there are people in town who still don’t even know there’s a world-class cycling facility in their town that their taxes are paying for. It’s something that I’d like to change and get more people in the community to know that this place exists. Also, not that it’s just for high end UCI racing, but it’s a track for everyone, the community to come out to ride their bikes, to learn how to ride a track.

Andrew Paradowski:

For it to be more of a community hub that already existed. I think we just need to spend a little time rekindling it. Those two things, the good and the bad are intertwined a little bit. I feel like that can be rebuilt back up.

Rick Buettel:

Now, it is interesting, I’ve been coming here since the ’80s. I didn’t move to the area until 1990, but it is totally different in terms of the racing’s still phenomenal. That’s one thing that’s been constant all along and attracting the best people in the world to come here to T-Town in the summer on a Friday night, that’s something that existed then existing now. The show really isn’t a whole lot different.

Rick Buettel:

It’s just interesting and I wonder how it contrast to Milton in terms of what is your feature race event look like in terms of, I’ll say it butts and seats. It’s really changed a lot here and a little bit of it, I believe is that in the 1980s, on a Friday night, there really wasn’t a whole lot else to do in the Lehigh Valley. There was the Lehigh Valley Mall. There wasn’t a baseball team. Everybody didn’t have 500 channels of television.

Rick Buettel:

People didn’t have the Star Trek communicator and being able to literally beam content from anywhere in the world on their phone. I think the pace of the world and the pace of life back then, and maybe I’m showing my age now, but things just seemed a bit simpler then. We didn’t all hit Friday and just collapse through exhaustion onto the couch on a Friday night, go, thank God the week’s over where I’m going with all of that is it’s changed a lot.

Rick Buettel:

We don’t have as many people on a Friday night or there are ideas that you have in terms of things that have worked at Milton in terms of promotion, getting the word out, that sort of thing. We have had a bunch of people move to the area. You ride your bike around here, there’s 10 million new houses everywhere thoughts on just even awareness in the community.

Andrew Paradowski:

There’s a lot to unpack there. You started off earlier in the question about comparing Milton to here. It’s tough to compare. This is an outdoor 333 in Milton is an indoor 250, but it’s also in two different places. In some ways it’s night and day, or should I say summer and winter because there’s nothing really going on here, much past of the fall time. You might get the latter who is brave enough to come out here in the cold, if the track is dry enough to come and ride round.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s essentially not running between, let’s say October and March, the six months there. It’s the opposite of Milton, even though it’s covered and it’s protected from the elements year round, people don’t want to spend their time in the summer riding on an indoor velodrome. They’d rather be outside in the beautiful sunshine and getting that vitamin D and riding on their favorite roots and hills and stuff like that. Participation at the track drops off a cliff literally.

Andrew Paradowski:

There’s a cliff just up the street from Milton, the Rattlesnake Point to nice view from the track, but nobody goes there. Basically, they have junior nationals in April. Then it’s basically over for track cycling until September when Elite National starts up and then they’ll have a winter training riding program and then racing season.

Andrew Paradowski:

Hopefully, anybody who’s in this area and they’re interested in some winter training for sure. It’s only about seven hours drive to Milton from here. I know there’s several people in the community who are trying to encourage more U.S. masters to go up there for the program than they have in the winter. Hopefully, we can convince some of the Canadians to come down here.

Rick Buettel:

Come down here and race in the summer.

Andrew Paradowski:

Maybe do some camps or something like that. The riding around here is amazing. It’s farm roads everywhere and the traffic is low to minimal and everyone around here is really respectful. The cars they wait and they’re not angry. I’ve heard of trucks in places where they’re not so respectful. Do something like rolling coal, for example.

Rick Buettel:

I haven’t seen much of that around here.

Andrew Paradowski:

Around here I have to say the community is pretty tolerant of cyclists and vice versa. I think everyone’s they good respectful road users. I will tell anyone from Canada, if you’re listening to come on to the area because the bike riding here is phenomenal. In terms of how to sustain a track, how to build it better, what kind of events put butts in seat? It’s tricky, I think if you look at the history of velodromes any track that has tried to be just a track is usually on a one-way course to failure.

Andrew Paradowski:

There are tracks who have survived in the world, especially in Europe that can just be a track and there’s enough support, whether it’s through sponsorship or government funding, or even just from participation that can keep it running. For the most part, I think if you want to have a successful velodrome, it has to be a facility that is, I don’t want to necessarily say multi-sport, but multi-use anyways.

Andrew Paradowski:

There are limits to how many people can be on the track at once. There’s only so many hours in the day that you can program a track. Obviously, you don’t want to be getting all of your funding from race fees and participation fees because then it would be too expensive to-

Rick Buettel:

You’d never get the first person.

Andrew Paradowski:

Cycling has a history of being a working class sport. In recent years, the way that prices have gone for bicycles and stuff like that is getting away from it. In however you want to look at it, it should be a sport that’s open to everybody and you don’t want cost to be a barrier for sure. You have to find revenue from other sources and sponsorship it’s here one year and it’s gone the next sometimes. It’s hard to keep the same people happy all the time.

Andrew Paradowski:

You’re always shifting around. There are a lot of really good partners here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Obviously, our title sponsor is one of the key players and keeps this place running and we have a lot of great sponsors, LVHN and we’ve got service electric helping us out and I’m going to miss a few. Hopefully, I got them all in my mind. We’ll call them local community sponsors like Schearer’s and Master Supply. Help me out here, Rick.

Rick Buettel:

Well certainly, I’d be remiss for not mentioning the Air Product support air products and running the Air Products Program and a lot of our great athletes that we’ve had over the years and have started on the Air Products Program and just even a lot more than that of people have just come in and learned some healthy habits and learned a love for cycling.

Rick Buettel:

Maybe they never go on and ride a competitive race, but that’s okay, because I think you’re right. We can’t just thrive as a track, we need to be a cycling center and then even an extension of a cycling center.

Andrew Paradowski:

We also can’t forget the Rodale Institute as well.

Rick Buettel:

Of course, the Rodale Institute, the track wouldn’t be here without the grace of the Rodale family. Almost 50 years ago, the patriarch of the family going visiting [inaudible 00:33:25], falling in love with track cycling and saying, “You know what, we need one of these here in the Lehigh Valley.” Without that, we wouldn’t be sitting here, this beautiful facility wouldn’t be here.

Rick Buettel:

Even without the continued support of Heidi and the rest of the Rodale family and the Institute today, that’s been a very strong partnership and look to that continuing in the future for sure.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s great to have big sponsors and smaller sponsors like Shangy’s and Ocean Spray. I apologize if I’ve missed anybody, but we do value and enjoy the relationships that we have with all of our sponsors and partners here. That only gets us part of the way. We have sponsorship and then we have entry fees and ticket sales, and all that kind of stuff, but there’s still going to be a gap with this kind of thing.

Andrew Paradowski:

We have to look to other ways to support the track in ways that can bring in some revenue. It’s not just about the revenue too. I mean, everything is built on eyeballs and butts and seats as you said earlier. I think we need to shift a little bit to having more activity here at the track that will do those things.

Andrew Paradowski:

We already have some things running here like VeloFest, which brings in people who are already in the cycling community, but we have hundreds of vendors and several hundred, if not over a thousand people come in and participate in the spring and fall expo that bring more people into the track, and supports the track through revenues through that program.

Rick Buettel:

I understand you’ve set a date now for VeloFest for the fall. You want to tell the audience when that is?

Andrew Paradowski:

We have, it is September 24th. Hopefully, this program airs before that and we’re not still dating-

Rick Buettel:

Well, hopefully it does and hopefully there’s no rain on September 24th, unlike the soggy spring VeloFest that we had this year.

Andrew Paradowski:

I got to give a big shout out to the crew here. I actually didn’t make it to the spring VeloFest. Everybody here from the track, Kelly, Mara, and Wendy and our summer staff and all of our volunteers who come and help out for these events, they made that event run off without a hitch. It was still a good event despite the downpour. This track takes a lot of people to run from the small staff that we have all the way to volunteers.

Andrew Paradowski:

Certainly, that community aspect really does help keep the place run as well. We’ve been trying out a few new things. This year, my predecessor Joan had organized the Hincapie folks to come here and do their first Grand Fondo in the area. The Hincapie Lehigh valley Grand Fondo started this year, it was the day after our opening night on June 4th.

Rick Buettel:

Which was pretty incredible, a bit of a hectic opening weekend. The event itself, the Hincapie event and of course opening night just seemed to pair beautifully. There were a lot of people that were in town for the Hincapie Fondo maybe for the first time came and saw high level track racing and the Fondo itself. Tremendously well-ran, lots of people. I was here volunteering the day afterwards and it just seemed like everybody was very, very happy.

Rick Buettel:

They really loved the [inaudible 00:36:34] challenging, but I think that’s what a lot of Fondo athletes are looking for. Everybody said, “Geez, I’m going to come back next year and I’m going to bring a few friends along.” Hopefully, that snowballs favorably.

Andrew Paradowski:

They’ve already set a date. It’ll be the same weekend next year. I think what we shift back one day, so it’ll be June 3rd next year. Pretty excited to have the Hincapie folks back. It was great to see a lot of those folks that you mentioned come up here. I remember there was this one group of friends from, I think it was South Carolina that came up just to ride up here.

Andrew Paradowski:

They had done the one down in their neck of the woods and they came up to Friday night racing. All the Hincapie folk were given a free entry into the Friday night racing that night. They had a blast, they were up in the stands, cheering. They’d never seen this kind of racing before. Then, the next day they got to finish on the track, which made it a fairly unique thing. Some people say, “What does a Fondo have to offer?” I’m like, well, they have offer a lot of good things, especially in this area.

Andrew Paradowski:

Even if you’re from this area, you can sign up with them and go on rides that maybe you’ve done before, but maybe they haven’t been controlled by marshals or police, so you get to have a bit more freedom on the road. Plus, there’s a lot of great stuff that happens before and after and you get to finish on the track, which is a neat thing. Look for that next year to come back and keep bringing new faces and new bodies to the track to learn about track cycling and that I think that’s key to this whole piece.

Andrew Paradowski:

You talked about how do you build the community and you make this place a hub for the community. There’s already a lot of groups that start their rides out of the parking lot on Wednesday evenings or Saturday mornings. You’ve got the Lehigh Wheelmen and other clubs that start their journey rides here, start their rides here and end here. This place already has a community feel, so expanding on that will just serve to help bolster that culture that we talked about earlier.

Andrew Paradowski:

The more often people come here, the more use they get to being here and it just becomes a place they instinctually think of when they think about cycling.

Rick Buettel:

I used to think of Lehigh Valley had two draws for cyclists. One obviously being the Velodrome. The second was that Bicycling magazine was based here. Bicyling magazine, still in the valley, but now way at the far edge of the valley, I think over in Easton. One thing that bicycling used to run very well and used the track as a cycling center was they would run the Bicycling fall classic that hasn’t happened for a few years.

Rick Buettel:

Maybe Andrew, do you want to talk a little bit about the idea of maybe we start to dip our toe in the water and run a velodrome fall classic, or I don’t know what we’re going to call it, but start to fill that gap, because that was a wonderful ride. I think a lot of people would come to the area for it. I think we also had a lot of local participation as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Obviously, we saw the success of the Hincapie Fondo in the spring, that basically got the creative juices flowing and we said, “Well, why don’t we see if we can get something going for ourselves?” We’re going to try something small this year. Not certainly up to the same level that the hi Hincapie folks did, because they did work all year and that was their sole focus for that one event and a large scale kind of thing.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’re looking at doing something in September, the date isn’t hyper finalized yet, but we’re looking at maybe September 17th, where we’ll organize a small little Fondo for the community to start here at the velodrome. We’ll have some morning snacks and then head on out and do a ride around the county and maybe stop at a few places. We’re thinking of stopping maybe at a lake or we can certainly have our friends at the Rodale Institute provide another rest stop for us. It’s a great place to stop.

Andrew Paradowski:

They’ve got a lot of neat things happening there. I think they have a little museum or a shop that talks about a lot of stuff. They do there with the organic farming and stuff like that. Then, come back here for maybe lunch in The Plaza, low key, small, but everything starts small. You test the waters out, see how it goes.

Rick Buettel:

See what works, see what does it. Learn from it, do better the next year.

Andrew Paradowski:

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out our website soon at thevelodrome.com. You’ll see some details for that coming up within the next week or two. Think of it as a large group ride in some respects and then we’ll see where we can go in future years. There’s a lot of other stuff that we want to do, Rick, the last part of your question is what are the things that we want to do to add to the value here at the track.

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, we’ve got a couple of things that we’re doing coming up over the next year that I think will be really interesting. The first one is we’ve got a movie night coming up in a couple of weeks. I think we’ve got this infield and it’s a great place. It’s a controlled venue where we also have a concession where we can sell food and drink and a bar as well. If there’s some adults who want to enjoy an adult beverage while they watch a movie.

Andrew Paradowski:

We want to give it a shot to see what it looks. We’re going to bring in one of those large inflatable screens like you see at some of the movies in the park type thing. We’re going to be showing The Bad Guys, which is an animated feature about some animal criminals who decide they want to fly straight. It’s all about their adventures doing that. That’s happening on August the 20th, we’re calling it Spinner & a Movie.

Rick Buettel:

I like it, I see what you did there.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ve gotten into that dad pun part of my age. Like dinner in a movie prior to the movie we’re going to be doing a spin session, so there’s the spinner part from 6:00 to 7:30, like the adult fitness classes we run in the morning it’ll be a guided spin session with one of our coaches just doing some skills and drills, that sort of stuff, not a learning one. If you’ve not been through it, try the track or some sort of skill set on the track might not be for you.

Andrew Paradowski:

Anybody who has been to any of our community programming would certainly be welcome to come and try that out, and then come off the track at 7:30 and then we’ll start the movie just after dusk 8:00 PM. That’ll be interesting and fun. It’s something that I’d like to if it works out and it’s great and people like it, that’s the kind of stuff that I’d like to see continue on here at the track.

Andrew Paradowski:

Especially, if we find the funding to replace that scoreboard in corner three and four, because then we have a built in screen where we could show movies once a week, a summer series [inaudible 00:42:38]

Rick Buettel:

We don’t have the cost and the hassle of renting something, setting something up every week, and then taking it back down at the end of the night.

Andrew Paradowski:

If anyone out in listener land knows of anybody who wants to sponsor a new screen, now we know we’re happy to discuss putting your name under that board for a couple of years to get it going.

Rick Buettel:

Very receptive to that, absolutely.

Andrew Paradowski:

The venue itself, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s already here. We’re looking at doing a beer sampling festival.

Rick Buettel:

I’m very much looking forward to that. Tell us a little bit about it.

Andrew Paradowski:

We’re working with our main beverage supplier Shangys is The Beer Authority and they’re going to bring a whole host of craft breweries to the velodrome ones that I bet you that you’ve never heard of. There’s a list of maybe 30 or 40.

Rick Buettel:

30 or 40, wow.

Andrew Paradowski:

We may not get them all, but certainly these are the ones that we’re looking at bring into the velodrome. I look down the list and I’m like, “Yes, I’m not from the area, but through the last year I’ve seen the different views that are on and offer and I recognize five of them.” We’re talking about a lot of really interesting craft brew from Europe, from Asia, not your normal kind of sampling festival here. 

Andrew Paradowski:

I think it’s going to be a great addition to the roster of non-cycling things that we do here to bring people to the track who have never been here before, and to see what we can offer, but then also bring in some revenue for the track.

Rick Buettel:

Bring in some revenue for the track, but you’re right though, also bring in people that have never been here before. Like you said, the people that live a mile and halfway didn’t even know it was here. One thing I’ve always struggled with is this area and you see it if you go for a bike ride pretty much in any direction, any time of day you’ll see riders everywhere. There are a lot of people that identify themselves as cyclists. One thing I’ve never understood, even in my competitive days, I never understood it.

Rick Buettel:

We have the crit across the street on a Thursday night, we just don’t get a lot of crossover between the participants, the people that identify themselves as bike riders, serious bike riders, people that watch the Tour de France on TV religiously every day when it’s on in the morning, or a recap in the evening, we don’t get a lot of them here on a Friday night. I think I had a view that maybe there was a chunk of the community that became a bit disillusioned with a prior director.

Rick Buettel:

Let’s just leave it at that. We would see a bit of a changeover with a change in administration and a new direction and more of an outreach. We’re still struggling with that. I think things we can do beyond just VeloFest , we’ve been doing VeloFest for a long time. That gets people here, whether it’s Spinner & a Movie, whether it’s this Fall Fondo. Hopefully, we can build that into something really big over a few years or getting people to come here and drink beer. I really do want to have an outreach to the cycling community and we’re here for them.

Rick Buettel:

They’re here for us, we wouldn’t exist without one another. Without this, velodrome being here, this would just be a cycling center, a cycling area and a cycling culture like any other small city in the U.S. I think the track is one thing that really distinguishes Lehigh Valley. I would just like to see more people here and out. Not necessarily participating, just come out and watch racing on Friday night, or enroll your kids in community programming, or do something to support the track. I mean, it’s a help us help you.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s interesting when we talked earlier about some differences between T-Town and the Milton track. The one thing that T-Town does have going for it, that’s really great is even in today’s lower numbers, a really good fan base that does come out on Friday nights. Thank you to everybody who still comes up continually on Fridays.

Rick Buettel:

For sure, 100%.

Andrew Paradowski:

That’s something that continually impresses me, we’ll call it a regular Friday night, which is like it’s national race or a local race really outside of the UCI stuff that happens here in early June. You’re going to see even these days, 300, 400 people in the stands. In Milton, that’s the turnout they would expect for a nation’s cup.

Rick Buettel:

Really?

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s a little bit more, so they’ll get 1,000 or 1,500 on a night, but for what is equivalent to the Friday night racing here, if there were 50 people in the stands, I would be surprised.

Rick Buettel:

You’d be really surprised. That would be a good night.

Andrew Paradowski:

There are some logistical things around that and every track has its own issues and stuff like that, but it hasn’t been around long enough and there hasn’t been that community culture that’s been built here over time. Hopefully, we can take the seed of people that are coming here and convince people to despite all the different things you mentioned earlier that there’s so many different things to do on a Friday night now, whether it’s to see one of the other sport teams that are here or go to right now, we got Music Fest going on.

Andrew Paradowski:                                      

That’s obviously a big draw and I wouldn’t blame people to go into that versus a Friday night because it’s something it’s a great offering that Lehigh Valley has, whether it’s all those things or even just like you said, staying at home and staying on your electronic device. I think there’s some things that we can do to entice folks back to the stands and make racing a bit more interesting here.

Andrew Paradowski:

At the very least, tighten it up and offer them an interesting enjoyable night out on a Friday, even if you’re not into cycling and you don’t understand cycling-

Rick Buettel:

It’s still a heck of a show. It’s still a heck of a spectacle.

Andrew Paradowski:

We can spend some time educating new people that come to the track and letting them know how great cycling is sport to watch.

Rick Buettel:

Maybe one more serious question before we move on to the lightning round, which is a podcast tradition here at Talk of the T-Town. We had an incredible block of UCI racing this summer. We had a lot of track records falling. You’ve mentioned that earlier. We had a lot of Olympic champions, a lot of world champions here, a lot of people who wore both hats, Olympic end world champions. I’m speaking of a couple of Dutch gentlemen that were here.

Andrew Paradowski:

Lady.

Rick Buettel:

That’s true, thank you. Keep me honest. UCI racing is something that really distinguishes T-Town from every other track in the United States. Can you talk a little bit about what that means? I’d like to hear your view on it in terms of hosting something like that. Then also maybe explain to our listeners of what that means and what having UCI racing in the United States means in terms of what the benefit is for the Federation?

Rick Buettel:

I think a lot of people don’t really know that or understand that we’re providing a lot of value for not just ourselves here.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’m assuming that maybe 80%, 90% of the listenership knows what the UCI is.

Rick Buettel:

Well, but for the 10% who don’t.

Andrew Paradowski:

For the 10% who don’t. the UCI is the International Cycling Union or the Union Cycliste Internationale. Now, it’s the governing body for the sport as sort of appointed by the IOC, the Olympic committee. Every international Federation is basically placed in charge of the sport-based on what the Olympic committee sort of deems as the international federation. Then from there, it goes on and identifies a national federation within each participating country.

Andrew Paradowski:

In the United States, it’s USA Cycling, in Canada, it’s Cycling Canada, and those national federations are charged with administering the sport within their country, and then collaborating with the UCI on international events that happen in the country. Then also, the high performance of their athletes as they move on into more international racing. That’s where the big key part comes in running these international events. It does a bunch of things.

Andrew Paradowski:

One, it allows our riders a chance to compete against riders from around the world to see what the competition is like. Like we said earlier, cycling is a bit more of a European sport, so a lot of the big riders are from Europe. It draws these riders into our own backyard to give our local riders a chance to compete against those riders and understand how racing works in that part of the world and different skills and tactics and whatnot.

Andrew Paradowski:

It also has a bit of a practical and administrative thing in that there are a lot of regulations around what’s required for both athletes and countries to participate in some of these large events. For athletes, they need to basically gain points which are on offer at these UCI races. Different levels give you different amount of points, and however you finish in the race. If you finish first, you can easily get several hundred points all the way down to just a few points for coming in down further down the list.

Andrew Paradowski:

These points are important in several respects. One, actually it’s the brand new regulation and I think this was talked about at a previous podcast with Z Manno, one of the international commissaires here in the us about how riders now need points to enter into class one events, which is the level of event that’s right below a nation’s cup, which is right below world championship world. Third from the top basically.

Andrew Paradowski:

You need 10 points just to enter in a race. Having international races here allows our local riders a chance to earn these points without having to break the bank and travel to Europe or somewhere else to gain these points. It’s great for those individual riders to do that. Also, the USA Cycling as the National Federation to not have to send riders away. It keeps things low, because it’s expensive to travel, especially now these days with the price of flight and gas going up and everything.

Rick Buettel:

It’s expensive and it’s also problematic and dependable. Other than that, it’s terrific?

Andrew Paradowski:

Yeah. Having that in the backyard in your own backyard is certainly very helpful. There’s another practical reason, there’s a regulation that says that if a country wants to send athletes to world championships, they must run an international race. USA Cycling is required to host one race somewhere in the U.S. that I believe it’s the minimum is a C2 for sure, which is the one below the C1, obviously. That’s the lowest level of international racing that you can do after that. It becomes a national race.

Andrew Paradowski:

You have to have one of these races. The UCI does that to ensure that there’s racing around the world so much like Canada, they have to do it as well. They’ve chosen the high road and they’ve been running world championships and world cups and nations cups for the last little while in Milton because they have the facility, they have facility to do it right. There are certain restrictions.

Andrew Paradowski:

At the current list of what can and can’t be done, we could never run a Nations Cup or an Elite World Championships here. Of course, we’re still allowed to do the class one and two events and I’d have to look again. Don’t quote me on this, but there might be a lower level championships might be able to run maybe worlds or junior worlds still. I know the UCI is shifting towards more like indoor 250.

Rick Buettel:

Indoor board two 250s.

Andrew Paradowski:

Partnering with USA cycling is pretty key because if we like running UCI racing here, it brings in, like you said earlier, the big guns from Europe and it adds to the prestige of the track. It does draw in a bigger crowd for those nights who are coming here to see those athletes and the higher level of racing. It certainly fits into our program here, but I also want to call it the cherry on the top of the Sunday that we’re trying to build.

Andrew Paradowski:

I don’t think it’s the [inaudible 00:54:16]. All of everything we’re doing here, but it’s certainly is the culmination of it can be the culmination of everything that we’re doing. Especially if we’ve built a very, very strong development program here underneath and not everyone is going to go that way. There are several tracks in sport and in cycling, one of them is cycling or active for life. They’ll call it, you may not go pro, but you’ve developed this lifelong love of cycling and you keep doing it for the rest of your life, but some may go pro.

Andrew Paradowski:

Having that pathway for them here. Also, our friends at USA Cycling to help develop athletes from around the country is certainly important. There are not a lot of tracks that can do this in the U.S. There’s maybe a handful that could put on these kinds of events. Maybe I don’t want to sell any one track out, but between Carson and Los Angeles and here, there aren’t too many tracks equipped to handle an event like that.

Rick Buettel:

An event like this and attract the athletes and host them.

Andrew Paradowski:

I think that relationship is really important on both sides. USA Cycling can support us in what we want to do, and then we can support them by hosting these events for our athletes and their athletes as well. That is certainly a relationship that I think is important.

Rick Buettel:

I like what you said too, it’s the cherry on the top, it’s the really, really visible part. Our mission here starts with community program, community involvement and getting that built up and it becomes the pyramid. It gets narrow as you get closer to the top. Anyway, all so we’ve been talking for a while. We’re going to bring this thing to an end shortly, but it would not be a talk of the T-Town podcast if we didn’t have a lightning round of questions.

Rick Buettel:

These questions were developed and submitted blindly. I’m not sure exactly who wrote them, so here we go. Andrew, what’s your favorite food?

Andrew Paradowski:

I like a lot of food. Good food is great. I’d probably have to say, so this is a shout out to my mom, her home cooking there’s nothing like going home and having something that’s homemade that you grew up with. There’s quite a few Polish dishes that she makes that I like. Every time I go back to Canada, I’m sure I’ll be hitting her up with a list of all those that I want to have, but stuff that I make probably actually there’s a chicken Curry dish that I make that I really like. That’s okay.

Rick Buettel:

A little curry, a little spicy. That absolutely good. I like it. I like it. Favorite rock band?

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I don’t know if this qualifies as rock, but my favorite band in the world is to Depeche Mode at the risk of dating myself again, I’m not quite old enough to say that I grew up with a band, but I certainly listened to them when they were playing on the radio. My dad listened to a lot of alt rock in the ’80s and I got into bands like that, the new wave and the post punk stuff.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’ve seen Depeche Mode on pretty much every tour since the early nineties and usually several times on that tour, I would say.

Rick Buettel:

Nice. We’re going to go from favorite rock band to favorite bike brand?

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I’ll give a shout out to Fuji Bikes because we were kind of like a small time distributor of Fuji Bikes in Canada. But for me, it’s probably my racing bike. It’s a company that is no longer around, guru.

Rick Buettel:

I remember Guru.

Andrew Paradowski:

They made some excellent custom bikes out there and I’ve been on quite a few carbon frames and haven’t been on one that is compared yet, maybe somebody will surprise me and I’ll change my mind in the future, but that’s going to hold onto it for now.

Rick Buettel:

Guru it is. Here’s a question. Maybe it’s lost a bit if it’s lost or over the years, but can’t be your [inaudible 00:57:54]

Andrew Paradowski:

Can’t be.

Rick Buettel:

There you go. Old school, I like it. Preference in adult beverage?

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, beer’s probably the go-to for me, I’m a big IPA fan, especially a nice unfiltered hazy IPA with a nice citrus back.

Rick Buettel:

We do sell something like that.

Andrew Paradowski:

We do. You, we should check it out at the Shangy’s handlebar when you hear next Friday. In the summer, I’ll also be seen sipping on a gin and tonic with a nice cold gin and tonic with a nice lemon. Then if I have a nice steak, I think a nice pinot noir would be great.

Rick Buettel:

Hard to argue with any of that really. Best vacation you’ve ever taken?

Andrew Paradowski:

Well, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say my honeymoon.

Rick Buettel:

That’s a given. Where’d you go for your honeymoon?

Andrew Paradowski:

We went to the Dominican Republic.

Rick Buettel:

Dom Rep.

Andrew Paradowski:

Nice down there. Outside of that, probably every time I’ve been to Europe, I love going to Europe it’s great, and I’ve been there for different reasons across the continent. Looking forward to getting back and probably the best vacation ever taken is one that I’ve never been on yet.

Rick Buettel:

To look forward.

Andrew Paradowski:

I’m looking forward to some of the new stuff that it might happen in the future.

Rick Buettel:

What’s the best bike race you’ve ever seen?

Andrew Paradowski:

You mean live or on TV?

Rick Buettel:

Live.

Andrew Paradowski:

Man, I’ve been to so many. They just blur together. Now it’s really tough to say, probably one here, I don’t know. I think to be honest, the one that’s popping into memory right now, I don’t know why, because I think it’s an interesting story. Maybe not the best bike rides I’ve been to, but probably an interesting story from one if you’re okay with that?

Rick Buettel:

Sure.

Andrew Paradowski:

I was one of the motor commissaires at the Grand Prix Montreal up in Canada, those the two big UCI world tour races that happen up there pro tour where they keep painting the name. I don’t know what it is these days. I was on the bike and I was at the back and I think the Peloton had decided that they weren’t going to get too active and they weren’t racing really hard except there was this breakaway four or five riders, a couple Canadians in it, off the front showing off the hometown crowd, everything.

Andrew Paradowski:

Those of you who’ve been to the race, it’s a circuit race in downtown Montreal. I think maybe 20 kilometer circuit at most. It’s not very big. And I think they had put F 15 or 18 minutes on the pathway at this point, we’re getting sort of feedback from Moto info and stuff. And so the president of the commissaire’s panel gets on the radio and he says to me, it’s like, “I want you to stop and let me know how far behind they are.” They were getting close.” We knew the circuit time was probably around 20 minutes.

Rick Buettel:

Can you lap the field? [inaudible 01:00:42]

Andrew Paradowski:

You can’t. If they lap the field, they would’ve had to have basically pulled the entire field.

Rick Buettel:

They’re not going to do that on that level.

Andrew Paradowski:

I asked the motor pilot to stop and started the stopwatch and then sure enough, they come by two and a half minutes later. They’re literally 150 seconds behind the back of the Peloton. I get on the bike and I speed back to the front and I can hear on radio tour that the radio operator comes on and says, “Everyone, the president of the search panel has decided that if the breakaway catches the field, that they’re going to pull the whole group.”

Andrew Paradowski:

The reason they did that was to light a fire under your [inaudible 01:01:26] Let me tell you, they caught that break in two laps. It was just bang.

Rick Buettel:

It rattled wide open.

Andrew Paradowski:

I admit it back to the group by that point when they did that. Now, I’m on the motor we’re trying to catch up. Luckily I guess, or luckily I don’t know my motor pilot, great guy. He was the ex Moto GP guy and he is like, “Strap in.” I’m holding on for dear life when he’s doing 120 kilometers an hour on a motorcycle up and down the University of Montreal. Life flashing before my eyes.

Andrew Paradowski:

That was a really cool race. A lot of those neat scrappy one-day races can certainly be interesting.

Rick Buettel:

Maybe you just foreshadowed. What do you like better classics or grand tours?

Andrew Paradowski:

Neither.

Rick Buettel:

Neither.

Andrew Paradowski:

Neither. I’m going to throw a curveball at you.

Rick Buettel:

Go ahead.

Andrew Paradowski:

2.2’s. For those of you in the radio and that’s sort of the lowest level of stage racing that can happen on road cycling. [inaudible 01:02:28] for example is a 2.22 and class two dot two, meaning it’s a multi-day race. I like it because that’s the same kind of thing I like in most other professional sports. I don’t necessarily like the top level. I like watching mid-tier sports because it’s kind of like in any given Sunday, weird things can happen.

Rick Buettel:

It’s not unscripted.

Andrew Paradowski:

Especially, you look at some of the racing nowadays rider goes off the front stays out for 180 kilometers gets caught within [inaudible 01:02:54] “Cool, I knew the outcome of this race before it even started. But with these lower level races, we have the up and coming stars, which is also another benefit. You get to see people well before they’re prime. If you looked at some of the Canadians that happened, the tour Hugo Hugh and Michael Woods are now top contenders in the tour.

Andrew Paradowski:

I saw these guys racing when they were just starting and that stuff was fun to watch because they tried stuff and it was scrappy.

Rick Buettel:

You can tar stuff and people let you go. Then finally, back to where we are now, what’s your favorite competition on the track?

Andrew Paradowski:

I like them all. I think if I had to pick one, I’d probably say the Omnium. I think that’s probably the most interesting one just because of the nature of how the tournament is structured. It’s four races. I like all of them. A lot of people complain about the tempo race. I think it’s an interesting race. It certainly can change the outcome of the race.

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s evolved over time since they’ve introduced it. Obviously the UC guys is trying to fix it a little bit and try to make it fit the mold a bit better elimination race. It’s got all the greats, all the great endurance race in one. Elimination is a great race to watch. Then all those points that you’ve just earned now come into the points race, which is probably my favorite single race as well.

Andrew Paradowski:

Then just the strategy, the tactics that go on riders get a road race riders get let go off the front. These guys who are down and they’ve only got 20 or 40 points. Nobody cares if they go off and lap the field and riders are marking themselves. You even see it earlier on in the early races when riders don’t care if they finish third or fourth in a tempo, because all they needed was that one point just to get in the top five, just so they can get those 36, 38 points, whatever. The strategy is really important and obviously you need to be able to stay in the race, but it’s a great race.

Rick Buettel:

No, I love the Omni and we just had our Tokyo Omni and Olympic champion here for a couple of weeks. Jim Valente was here for UCI block, came back for nationals. That was really cool. It was so maybe final question. People, when you leave, you leave a legacy, you leave your mark and I know you just got here, but what is it that your view of the most important thing to do to leave your legacy when 10 years from now, when we talk to you again and you’re running Cycling in Canada or president of the UCI?

Rick Buettel:

No, I wouldn’t wish that on you. What’s important for you in your tenure here at T-Town while you’re in the chair? What is it you really want to accomplish? You want to look back fondly on and people want to say, “Wow, when Andrew was here, this changed and this changed really, really for the better, and we’ll always remember you for that.”

Andrew Paradowski:

It’s interesting because I’ve never considered myself an out front kind of guy. I’m behind the scenes, try to help build stuff and make stuff work and all that kind of stuff. To say, people remember me for doing something I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with that, I want to continue building the community that’s already here and engage everybody to help and make it be like a group effort kind of thing.

Andrew Paradowski:

Maybe when Andrew is here, this happened not Andrew did this, for sure. I think we touched on it earlier we talked about the pyramid, you mentioned the pyramid and this can’t build the top of the pyramid and then expect it to float in midair. You start with the base and you build everything up and everything will build from that. If people remember the tenure that I was here, that the group, the community, the staff, the volunteers, we all helped to build that base layer, the community programs.

Andrew Paradowski:

Getting new people into the sport, getting new people to the track that I would consider a successful time here at the track, because everything will just build on top of that. It’ll almost happen by itself. You build that base, it’s easy to then go, and just build the next level and start trying out new things and building racing, and getting bigger stuff happening. You can’t build from the top down. I think if I’m known for having rekindled that community spirit here, then I think I’ll be satisfied with that.

Rick Buettel:

That’ll go a long way for sure and I look forward to that. Andrew, thank you for the time today to all of our listeners, thank you for the time and for your years, for our valuable sponsors and our supporters. Thank you very much. Have a great rest of your day.

Voiceover:

Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you heard, please rate us and leave a comment on wherever you consume your podcast. To find out more on this week’s guest, head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com to check out the show notes and subscribe, so you never miss an episode.

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SEN Bonus Episode 9

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Now that we’re back in full racing mode at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, we’re turning the reins for Talk of the T-Town over to our friends at Service Electric Network for the next few weeks. Dan Fremuth, host of the daily Sports Scene show welcomes visiting athletes into the Studio for candid chats about their careers, lives, and what brings them to the Concrete Crater in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. For more info about the show or the athletes, send a message to info@thevelodrome.com.

Sports Scene – Youtube


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

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Now that we’re back in full racing mode at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, we’re turning the reins for Talk of the T-Town over to our friends at Service Electric Network for the next few weeks. Dan Fremuth, host of the daily Sports Scene show welcomes visiting athletes into the Studio for candid chats about their careers, lives, and what brings them to the Concrete Crater in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. For more info about the show or the athletes, send a message to info@thevelodrome.com.

Sports Scene – Youtube


Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.