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Kim Geist: Circling Back

Kim Geist Coaching

Episode 51

On this week’s episode, Joan is joined once again by Kim Geist – multi-time world (Team Pursuit) and national champion as well as owner and operator of Kim Geist coaching and coach for Team T-Town. They delve into the pillars of Finesse and Fury, what Kim has been up to for the last year, with the Kim Geist Academy, and being inducted into the T-Town Hall of Fame.

Kim Geist Coaching
Kim Geist

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom and I’m excited today to have only our second ever repeat guest on the podcast. Today we are joined by two time world champion and coach ordinary, Kim Geist. And we should also say, hall of fame inductee, Kim Geist. So we thought it would be great to get Kim back on the pod this week, because she’s got some exciting follow up to our pod when we first had her on. So we thought it’d be super fun to swing back around and follow up with her and get caught up. Kim, welcome to the podcast.

Kim Geist:

Hi, thanks for having me on, I think I was episode number one. You are well down the line from there.

Joan Hanscom:

You were close to episode number one, Mandy Marquardt beat you.

Kim Geist:

Oh, right.

Joan Hanscom:

But you are beating Mandy to the return to the pod. We’ll have you there. This is episode 51, if you can believe it, which is kind of crazy that we’ve done 51 episodes of this podcast that sort of started as a weird little side project that now I think is a really cool thing. So yeah, episode 51 with Kim Geist. And so we have some fun stuff to talk with you about today. For our listeners who don’t know, when Kim came on last year, she had just announced both the Kim Geist Academy and Kim Geist Finesse & Fury coaching program. And so we thought it would be very fun to circle back around with Kim. If you follow her Instagram, you’ve seen the progress of the Kim Geist Academy coming to life.

Joan Hanscom:

And we thought it would be a really great opportunity to check in with Kim, see how that project’s going and share some more information. Finesse & Fury has surely been fleshed out a bit in the inner reading year and also to talk about the hall of fame induction, because I thought that was a pretty cool thing. So Kim, tell us about first the Kim Geist Academy, the building project.

Kim Geist:

Okay. Yeah, I’m finally feeling like I’m in the home stretch on the project. All of the renovations are actually complete, as complete as they can be. Of course, things keep coming up constantly, and I’m sure that will be ongoing projects. But we actually just put half the flooring, the rubber flooring down. And once we get the other half down, equipment will move in, some finishing touches and that’s really it to go with actually getting the physical location up and running.

Joan Hanscom:

For those who haven’t been following along on your Instagram, this was a major renovation project. You took a, what looks to me at least like a pretty traditional old Pennsylvania building and turned it into essentially a high performance center. And it’s beautiful, like the concrete floors and everything, you’ve raised ceilings. And you’ve done a lot of work yourself. Talk about that? If somebody told me I had to renovate an old Pennsylvania building, I would be like, “Yeah, no.” But you took this project on and you’ve done a lot of the work yourself. Talk about that just a smidge because I find it fascinating?

Kim Geist:

Yeah. Well maybe you would have been to some benefit and knowing what would have gone into that. I had no idea upfront. So being naive I think was a plus. But yeah, it’s actually a bit of a circle building. So it’s in Longswamp Township up by Bear Creek Mountain Resort and is built in the 1860s. The first floor, which is the facility for the Kim Geist Academy was a little bit more modern, but it was an old tavern. So an old bar and restaurant. So yeah, pretty much for the past 16 months, we’re going on a year and a half now, it’s been a process of early morning, late night, learning as I go. I have a handful of helpers who have been instrumental in teaching me some things along the way, but a lot of it’s been trial and error and that’s definitely added to the time it’s taken me to get everything renovated. But I pretty much for the last almost year and a half lived in the same outfit, it’s covered in paint and dust and all of the aspects of construction. So looking forward to like wearing [crosstalk 00:05:21]-

Joan Hanscom:

You’re going to be a contractor.

Kim Geist:

Yeah, right.

Joan Hanscom:

[inaudible 00:05:25] right. It’s the …

Kim Geist:

I definitely have some new found skills for sure. But it’s been fun. I get up and look forward to working on something.

Joan Hanscom:

I know, it’s got to feel really satisfying to see it actually take shape and become a real thing and not just a work site. Like now it’s a real thing. And I can’t imagine, as an event producer, every time an event would happen, get pulled off and I would see the race start and everything go, I’d be like, “Yeah, I made this.” I cannot imagine that feeling of, “I made this,” when you look at your building. That has to be enormously satisfying to say, “I did this with my bare hands.”

Kim Geist:

I definitely catch myself just standing in say the middle of the big room and just looking around like, “Wow, this has come such a long way. and I did this.” It’s awesome feeling.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s super cool. Maura’s going to make sure that she puts links into the Kim Geist Instagram so that folks can go check, because it is really impressive the work you’ve done and people can go back through your feed and so to be like, “Whoa, they’re not kidding, she did a lot of work. Oh, it’s super cool [crosstalk 00:06:37].”

Kim Geist:

Yeah, there’s so much behind the scenes. I mean, being an old building, there were months upon months of work that nobody will ever see, things like plumbing and electrical and structural.

Joan Hanscom:

Just to get it up to code, right? Just to make it pass. And so what’s even cooler though. So now you have this beautiful. It is going to be a training resource that your website at least says is for Kim Geist coaching athletes and the public. So how is that going to work, that piece of the puzzle? Or have you not quite fleshed that out yet?

Kim Geist:

Right. So it’ll be a resource for those who I already coach. So those athletes that I coach will have opportunity to set up personal sessions with me to do small group sessions-

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Kim Geist:

… strength and conditioning and indoor cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

Great.

Kim Geist:

And then the plan is to have some community programs going as well. And that’s actually tied in with the Finesse & Fury program. But the plan is to have with me some opportunities for strength and conditioning and with members of Finesse & Fury to have some opportunities for indoor cycling classes. So folks who are in the local cycling club and general can come in and utilize the facility as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. So that’s a nice segue into what I think must have been even more work than building the building, which is the Finesse & Fury by Kim Geist coaching, which when we last spoke, you gave a really great teaser. And for those who want to sort of see what the great teaser is that there’s video available on Kim’s website, but you really fleshed it out now into what this looks like. And to tee it up. This is a program for young cyclists who wish to really seriously pursue national and international level track cycling competition. And you have outlined essentially four pillars of the program’s sort of ethos. And there’s, some of them are super interesting out of these four pillars. The first one, which to me is, should be obvious for any coaching program, but I think sadly is not, is your first pillar is coaching-based in experience in education.

Joan Hanscom:

And as anybody who’s ever made a joke about having your local cat three as a coach should appreciate, there’s a lot more to that. Though it seems like that should be an obvious one. I think sadly in our sport, it is not obviously an obvious one. But tell us about that first, because I think that’s your first pillar Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about that one?

Kim Geist:

Yeah, I think that is the most obvious part of the program. So you’ve all had say a coach who specializes or has experience in sort of the skills of the sport. So you can use a high school coach as an example, they would teach you how to dribble the basketball or kick the soccer ball correctly. And for us that’s on the track that’s maybe how to execute a standing start correctly, or going even further into tactics. So where to be in the group in a points race to be able to score points in the points sprint. But in our sport, we also have this huge aspect of it where there’s the physical training. So that same coach who can teach you the skills and tactics doesn’t necessarily have the background to tell you what, and more importantly, why to do the training that you’re doing.

Kim Geist:

So from my point of view, if you have a coach who can both explain the skills and tactics part of your support, and also write your training program appropriately and explain the why you’re doing your training program the way you are, that’s really the basis of a sort of really strong coaching program.

Joan Hanscom:

So I’m going to pause there. Because personally, as an athlete, I love the why, like why am I doing these these efforts, because they suck. So I want to know why I’m doing them because otherwise I’m really not super motivated to do an interval that is, I don’t know, four minutes at 130% of threshold sucks. So if I understand why I’m doing it, it helps. So I guess one of my questions for you, and this is probably leaping a little bit ahead in these four pillars is for athletes that you are selecting into Finesse & Fury is curiosity about the why a requirement?

Kim Geist:

Oh, it’s not a requirement, but I think it tracks pretty well with the personality of the athlete who are expecting to take part in the program. If your goals are high enough that you are looking at a national level plus goal, you’re probably going to be really interested in why it is you’re doing what you’re doing. And you’re going to be looking for every little ounce that goes into maximizing your program. So I believe if you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, like you just said, you’re able to get that much more out of yourself. It’s not just a routine daily thing that you’re going in and doing. There’s purpose to it. So that adds to motivation and adds to the drive of your training.

Joan Hanscom:

And that’s a fair assessment of the high performance athlete. So moving on, because we said, that first point seems to be a no-brainer even though I think sadly it often is not a no-brainer in our sport, but you also for Finesse & Fury, and we’re going to get into a little bit more about how to apply and how to get into this program if you’re listening and you’re interested in a little bit, but first we want to tee up what it is. You’ve identified that people accepted into this program are going to have the benefit of a narrowly focused peer group. And I think that’s incredibly powerful, right? Because there is a group energy, right? And there’s also group motivation. And I’ve said it a bazillion times on this podcast. I’m a big fan of the Garrett Thomas podcast because he’s just, I think he’s funny, but what always comes out in conversation is, even for an athlete who’s on the Tour de France and one junior [Perry Rebe 00:13:39] and has been a very highly, multiple gold medalist on the track.

Joan Hanscom:

He’s a highly accomplished athlete, but what you get a sense of when he talks is the importance of the team training, the group training with his peer group. It comes through a lot in just his ability to push himself. And I think that that’s sort of what you’re saying here is that you’re going to have like-minded individuals who are all really focused on the same thing. And there are multiple benefits of that, right? One, it’s your training with peers. So you understand where your peers are in the process. You also get a lot of motivation, I think from being in people on the same track as you, and then there’s just the straight benefit of training with other people at your level, because you’re going to be challenging each other to raise your game. But I think you even go deeper than that on that narrowly focused peer group. So talk a little bit about that and what it means to you?

Kim Geist:

Right. So you definitely interpreted that as it’s meant to be. So I think this is probably the most important aspect of the new program. We’ve really narrowed down the focus to be even smaller than you mentioned. We’re looking to work with young endurance tracks like this. And by young there’s a lot of room in there. I just mean not a master’s athlete who’s looking to race masters nationals or looking at junior elite level riders. And the basis of this really came from my personal experience. So when I was a junior rider, we had as many junior riders do now, training group. So you went through the community programs at the [inaudible 00:15:35], which are all group based, but then also when you moved into individual coaching, that was in a group setting.

Kim Geist:

And as a junior, I had great success. I won more national titles than anyone to that point, met all that junior roles, achieved all my goals. But then when I moved into the U23 and the elite rank, it was the dawn of internet coach. And there wasn’t really a group here at home to train with for what I was wanting to do. And I found out my result really stagnated. Yeah, I was a really good rider. I was winning national championships still, but I wasn’t progressing as I wanted to. And that went on for years of upon years. And it wasn’t until the last handful of years of riding that I just so happened to stumble upon really a training partner. So at that time, and still currently I was coaching Kim Zubris, who’s a partner in the new program with me now, and I was writing a program, and one day I saw we had an overlap in workout and I figured, “Well, we were becoming friends as well. So I’d ask her if she just wanted to go and do the workout with me.”

Kim Geist:

And we started doing that a little bit more, a little bit more as we had overlaps in our programs. And what I found is all of a sudden I went from being the same as I was for years upon years, to having just this little boost that I needed as an elite athlete to get completely different results. All I needed was, sort of cliche, but literally that 1% to make a difference. And it wasn’t that we were in any sort of set program together. We never talked about, “Yeah, let’s train together. This is going to be the magical stat that makes us both improve.” But it just happened. All it took was another warm body being next to me, sometimes literally inside on the trainer, where there’s no competition, doing the same thing to the same end goal. We both wanted to maximize our opportunities on the national team and sort of this unsaid little bit of rivalry and a little bit of support that turned the corner for me and helped her improve significantly.

Kim Geist:

So in our new program that’s really the basis. We’re going to have riders who are close enough in focus and close enough in ability. Those are the two key things that we can do workouts, we can do training. We can go to the track and have sort of that unsaid support and that unsaid competition that makes the difference.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, this pushes you that little extra bit every time, right? You ring that extra little bit out of your training sessions when somebody else is there. Totally, I totally get that. And I think it’s one of the things that’s actually sort of interesting to watch, because it seems to happen more in the track environment than in the road setting, unless you’re really in a full-time road program, it almost feels like, and everybody does group rides on the road. So I’m taking group rides out of the equation, but that really consistent training partner that can consistently push you versus a group ride, which is also great and also pushes you. So I’m not diminishing the importance of a spicy group ride, but it seems the track setting really does have that group thing super dialed.

Joan Hanscom:

And maybe it’s because it’s got a physical location that it’s able to do that, and that that’s what’s missing for us roadies is that you don’t have a consistent physical location, you have roads. But that ability to have a consistent training partner, I think, is super cool about the track. And it sounds like you’re just going to amplify it to something even more powerful, which is very, very cool.

Kim Geist:

Yes. For the track the training is so important. We spend overall in the year so little time actually racing. Especially as you get higher and higher levels, how many world, now called Nations Cups? How many do we have in a year, and how many do you actually go to? Spend so much time training that that’s where the actual biggest benefits come from.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. The third thing on your list, flexible resources. To me, you refer to it as closely related areas of supplemental, physical, mental performance enhancement. And I think that this third point, flexible resources is really to me a cornerstone of a high performance program where it’s not just the training on the bike. It’s not just your time in the gym, but it’s all aspects. It’s resourcing whatever those extra elements are that give you yet another percentage of gain. Whether it be massage therapy or rehab, or dry needling or whatever it is that’s going to put you, mental training, sports psychology, that’s the complete picture of high performance to me. It’s every aspect of your training life is high performance. And so talk about this, because it looks like you’ve developed some interesting, I mean, you’ve got InsideTracker as a resource partner, you have a lot of different things that I think a lot of coaching programs maybe do one or two, but you seem to really be doing this complete high-performance package. So talk about this flexible resource attribute of Finesse & Fury. You’re just aggregating amazing support for your athletes.

Kim Geist:

Right, so we’re really trying to provide a comprehensive coaching program, but with being one coach, Kim Zubris is partner, but she does not write programs and does not do the physical aspects of that. I don’t have the in-depth knowledge as professionals who are specified in their field do. So yes, I have a degree in sports nutrition, but I still work with a registered dietician because she has further knowledge than I do. So we’ve set up a situation where athletes can have easier access to the other aspects of performance to help with their development. So formal relationships we have with a physical therapist, a massage therapist, a sports psychologist, and a registered dietician, which I think starting out takes into account really all the major points that need to be addressed.

Kim Geist:

When you’re looking to become national plus level athlete, it’s really a lifestyle. So taking everything into consideration is the best way to go. But at the same time, even though we have alliances with these certain individuals and recognize that not everybody is going to mesh personally with them. Just take the sports psychologist for instance, if your personalities don’t quite align very well, you’re not going to be able to get the most out of that relationship. So we’ll help to set you up with those who we think are best in the field, but we’re not going to, this is a key point, we’re not going to require that you work with those other professionals who are involved with us.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. I have to say, I mean, that’s to me also such an important aspect of a good coaching program is that in many ways that takes the coach’s ego out of it. That you are aware enough to say, “Yes, I have a degree in nutrition, but I’m not as knowledgeable as a sports nutritionist.” That’s like that absence of ego, again, that is I think in a high performance setting really important. And you’ve talked about that this program was based on the best and the worst of what you experienced. And again, I don’t want to speak for you, but to me it seems like having a coach that has the ability to take the ego out of it and say, “I’m not the best sports nutritionist in the world, or I don’t have the best depth of knowledge. I’m competent, but I know to pull in other resources,” is incredibly valuable.

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s certainly something that I have valued in coaching relationships where people don’t pretend to be everything and they know when it’s time to resource out. And I think that’s pretty admirable. And again, I wonder if that hasn’t been something that you’ve come across in your past as an athlete where it’s like, “Oh, wait, I would have benefited from being resourced additionally, in addition to the coach I was working for.”

Kim Geist:

Oh, absolutely. And most of the professionals I’ve worked with personally, and I would say that that’s a characteristic of them as well. I’ve challenged them with questions that they’ve honestly said, “Yep, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m going to ask another colleague or I’m going to do research and get back to you [inaudible 00:25:53].” And I’m like that as well I think, even though my specialty is the coaching aspect, the exercise physiology side of things, I ask other coaches too. Sometimes I get stuck and I need another pair of eyes or some other thought. And that’s why we do it.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s always super interesting to know just how collaborative coaches are with each other and understanding that oftentimes like, “Well, I can’t get this athlete over this hump. This is how I’ve been approaching it. How would you approach it,” kind of thing. And sometimes that’s what it takes to bust through a leap forward. Super, I find it all fascinating. Again, that’s when the ego comes out of it and it’s just doing the best for the athlete and there’s no ego involved, and that is pretty cool. Your last component is interesting, and I think probably the most challenging. You identify that there is a character component and that you said that, “The program supports admirable personal character in both training and competition, as well as life through daily commitment, a selective admission process and a unique,” essentially you’re offering unique work study program options for people who may not be able to afford access to what is a highly expensive sport.

Joan Hanscom:

So that’s a lot in one little bullet point, but I’d like to sort of focus in on admirable, personal character, and ask you what I think is going to be your biggest challenge. How are you identifying that? I mean, it’s obvious on the surface, but what’s your process for really drilling down into a person’s character to understand if they’re going to be right for the chemistry of your program? Because I think it’s another one of those duh things like, it seems obvious on the surface, but I think it’s really challenging to do. So how are you going to approach this piece of the puzzle?

Kim Geist:

Yes, I agree. I think it is going to be challenging. We’ll find that out. But there will be an admission process. So the plan is to have a brief questionnaire basically, and then the more important part will be an interview. And I think you can get a lot from an interview by asking the correct questions. And since this is a local type program, you do need to reside in the area to benefit from it. It’s not like we’re in a situation where we haven’t seen you out and about before. And I think you can tell by people’s mannerisms and how they act around other people, what their character might be, how they act after race when they win or they lose. And really, we’re just looking for people, going back to ego.

Kim Geist:

So looking for people who can support others in the program. Who can put their own ego aside a little bit, despite needing to achieve their own goals, to still support those who are alongside them. So we’re really looking for yes, the ability to work hard and be there every day, show up and do your best. But also being respectful to other people and have, I think you need to have some sort of humility as well. So that’s what we’re, we’re going to attempt to try and figure out first.

Joan Hanscom:

I think for your small peer group focused training, the chemistry of the group is super important. So yeah, I think it’s a challenging thing, but to your point, these people are going to largely be known commodities and sidebar here kids, don’t be a Dick, because if you are, it comes back to haunt you. Cycling is a small world and you never know how your behavior will come back around one of those days, I think there’s the sidebar on that. Mom always told you to be good and to treat others as you would like to be treated. And certainly that kind of thing can come into play for selections in these types of programs. General life lesson, don’t be a Dick. So you’re going to start an application process. How many people are you targeting for this first class of Finesse & Fury?

Kim Geist:

We’re going to keep it small. So a maximum of eight I would be up to starting with.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Kim Geist:

Honestly, if I get significantly less than that, as long as I can call it a group, I think that’s all it’s going to take. As I said, from my personal experience, it took one other person to make the difference, and that’s it. The key is really going to be selecting people who fit the program the best. So who are close in abilities, who are close in focus. We might not necessarily take the rider who’s currently vying for a national championship if they don’t fit within the group. We might be working upfront with riders who all racing for fifth place. As long as they can push each other to race for fourth place, then that’s what we’re looking for.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And what if, and I say this because, T-Town, when it’s open in the summertime, attracts people from all over the country, you’ve identified that this is going to be a local year round program for people who live in the area who are reasonably local. What if you get a kid from California who says, “This is super cool and I want to relocate to the Lehigh Valley to be part of Finesse & Fury.” Because we have listeners everywhere. We have listeners in the UK and Australia who may say, “I want to be an endurance athlete like Kim Geist.” What is your position for that to start? And it may change, who knows?

Kim Geist:

Yeah, absolutely. I wouldn’t expect it to start like that. I would be very happy if it would, but yes, I would absolutely be welcoming of that. When I first started out, we did a small group study and one of the things that came up was that exact point, what riders would need to be able to relocate take part of the program and the biggest striving factor behind that was housing. Which I think upfront we have great host housing networks and friends in the community who could help out with that. Part of the building here at the Kim Geist’s Academy is that there is residential space as well. That’s been part of behind the scenes work. So not immediately available, but it could be an option in the future if there is interest in riders wanting to relocate that we could also be able to provide that ourselves.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s sort of an interesting thing to tease out five years from now. Sorry if I’m getting ahead, And I was like, [inaudible 00:33:50], knowing you and knowing how well you do everything and knowing that you think big, I was sort of teasing this out. I’m like, “Wonder what her five and 10 plan is for this?” So then for our listeners, you can’t see Kim, but we’re on Zoom and she’s got a little twinkle in her eye. Clearly she’s got the Cheshire cat grin going on. So clearly there’s bigger plans in the works that we’re circling around, I think is the, or bigger goals long term maybe. Global domination for Kim Geist Academy is where we’re going with this. No, I think it’s super cool. And so when do you anticipate opening up applications for this? I mean, because I’m certain there are people who are listening right now who are like, “I want to apply. I want my kid to apply.” So what’s the plan for that?

Kim Geist:

Right. So not being quite open yet, that will be happening shortly, but not quite being opening yet and sort of coming into the season. I don’t want to onboard anyone right now and disrupt their bigger picture. I would hope and assume that riders are preset in their plans for the year. So I’m looking to open up the application period this September for then a fall start. So then be able to sort of seamlessly work into the next season.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. People start thinking, if this is on your radar, be nice all summer long, train hard, show that you’re a good candidate at T-Town. So that if you’re interested in this program, you’re behaving appropriately. Speaking of behaving appropriately, and this is going to be my weird, awkward transition. But for our listeners, we inducted a class, two classes actually of riders into the T-Town Track Cycling Hall of Fame over the summer. And I thought it was a really great list of folks that we inducted and you amongst that class, I thought you gave, and this is no disrespect to any of the other induces. I thought you gave an incredible speech and you didn’t read it off a piece of paper, you spoke from the heart. And I thought that the whole speech was great.

Joan Hanscom:

You though at one point said, “You’ll lose more races than you win.” And essentially to paraphrase, “This shit’s hard, but it it’s worth it.” And your speech blew me away. Honestly, I stood back on the track and listened to your speech. And I was just like, “God dammit, I wish I was recording this right now.” Because it was so good. And I feel sorry for every person who didn’t hear it, because it was really powerful. But talk a little bit about that speech and where that came from. Because like I said, I thought it was incredible. I’ve been dying to talk to you about it ever since. It came from a, I thought a really deep place inside of Kim Geist. So talk a little bit about that speech and what the points you were making in that if I can take you all the way back to August, because a lot’s gone by since August?

Kim Geist:

Sure. Well, funny story. It did come pretty much from the heart because when you called me up and told me about the induction I had asked, “Well, do we need to prepare anything? How long should we be speaking?” You said, “Oh, just keep it short. Just real informal.” So I show up that night, having thought about some points that I would make, but Becky Quinn is there and she has pages and Paul Pearson’s there with like a thick index card stack. My shoot Joan, so it did come from deep within.

Joan Hanscom:

It was so good. It was, Maura, chime in here Maura. I was blown away by it.

Maura beuttel:

No, it was good. And again, no disrespect to anybody else, but we appreciate that you didn’t have pages or a thick stack of cards. No, it was so good. I mean, Joan, we talked about it for weeks afterwards.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I mean it was really powerful. And I think you just spoke from somewhere so profound and it feels like what you said in that speech is really also sort of been forming Finesse & Fury with the character aspect. I mean that speech that you gave for the Hall of Fame induction really spoke to character in my mind. And what perseverance means and what the experience, even if you don’t win, what the experience of trying and the experience of discipline sort of means to you. So maybe talk about that?

Kim Geist:

Yeah. Maybe the best example would be, and the last coach I had on the national team, Gary Sutton came on a couple years before I retired and he sat down with us each individually as riders, and in my meeting he opened up with, “Well, Kim, I heard that you have been kicked in the teeth, but you keep coming back.” And yeah, I was sort of taken aback by that because no coach had ever spoken to me like that, being that honest, a lot sort of fluff up your ego a little bit. But I think that encapsulated my career pretty well.

Kim Geist:

I took a lot of losses, like I said in my speech, but I kept coming back because I thought, and it turned out that it was, it was worth it. Now being, like I said in the speech as well, being able to stand beside so many athletes and influencers in the sport who I really looked up to when I was growing up, and Sarah Ulmer’s mom was standing next to me at the Hall of Fame induction. And I remember watching her win junior roles at Trexlertown and that was so inspiring to me. I wanted to win junior roles because I was able to see that. Being able to stand next to those people it’s absolutely worth it, to able to look at that and say, “Hey, I accomplished something that put me into that group.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it was such a cool speech. It was so good. It was one of those, I don’t know, it’s like good sports writing is like magic. And to me, your speech was like really good sports writing. It was like a little bit of magic. It was a little bit of what the poetry of what makes sports so great and makes sports so compelling is that just … I don’t know, it’s the wide world of sports. It’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It was all encapsulated in your speech. And I thought it was just brilliant. And I don’t think I’ve had an opportunity to tell you that since then, but it was profound. So bravo to you. And I hope that-

Kim Geist:

You enjoyed it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I hope that speech for the people that were in the audience was as inspiring as it was to me. But I really hope that it was that inspiring to like the Team T-Town athletes and who said, “Shit, that’s my coach. Look what I’m standing next to every day when I go to practice.” Or the Kim Geist athletes, I know Joanne Trimpi and I talked about it, how good it was. And yeah, I hope that other people found it as inspiring as I did. Even at my grizzled old age and cynical nature, I thought it was just really profoundly inspiring. What else is going on, Kim? You’re getting ready to take the Team T-Town athletes into yet another season. We have national championships coming up at T-town in the summer, which is yet to be determined dates, or yet to be finalized dates, I should say. So what else is in the future besides of probably a bit more polishing on the physical site and getting ready to head into a new season? Tell us what’s going on. Tell us about your plans for 2022?

Kim Geist:

Yeah, Team T-town’s still plugging along. So they’re doing their winter training currently over at [inaudible 00:43:05]. And we’re still on the search for a warmer, less snowy day so we can get outside on the weekends. Yeah, good luck with that.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re still feeling good with Women’s Wednesdays?

Kim Geist:

Yes. Yeah. Preparing for another seasons of Women’s Wednesdays. So I’m sure we’ll be talking about it soon what that will look like. But those are the other two major things right now.

Joan Hanscom:

You’ll keep busy at all. I mean, good Lord. So yeah, let’s run this down. We got the building construction. We have Team T-Town. We have all your Kim Geist coaching athletes. We have Finesse & Fury. We have Women’s Wednesdays. You stay busy. You stay very busy.

Kim Geist:

Yeah, that’s the way I like it. I do not like to be bored.

Joan Hanscom:

Kim got 27 hours in a day. Do you sleep?

Kim Geist:

I do, believe it or not, yeah, pretty well.

Joan Hanscom:

Pretty impressive actually. You are finding time to do all of this stuff and still sleep. And I don’t know, not in the five degrees snow and sleet and ice, but do you still find time to train yourself? Are you still pedaling a bike, or?

Kim Geist:

So that portion has gotten significantly harder. I do ride with the Team T-Town kids. So that’s a given, that’s very reliable. And if I can get out additional one day a week, that is great. That has not been happening all that often, but okay.

Joan Hanscom:

So there is something has to give in the work-life balance, right? Yep. Is it a relief to not train at the same level that you used to?

Kim Geist:

It is, yeah. I mean, I was so goal driven, not having goals for myself on the bike now is really just about enjoyment and staying fit and healthy. So, I know that I don’t need to be on seven days a week and I don’t need to be completely tired from doing that at the end of the day-

Joan Hanscom:

You have other-

Kim Geist:

It feels good.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re still goal-driven, you’re just, the goals have shifted?

Kim Geist:

Exactly. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny. I was speaking with Brent Bookwalter weeks ago and he’s just retired from the world tour and he is becoming a normal human and talking about that, redefining his relationship with the bike. You’ve had a couple seasons now to redefine your relationship with the bike. Do you still enjoy it?

Kim Geist:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I love being out there, and I actually really enjoy the winter. So I do like being out there in the cold. Yeah, five degrees. That’s fine.

Joan Hanscom:

See, this is why I belong in California. It’s going to be 70 here today and I’m going to ride my bike and it’s going to be delightful. I am not a five degree person, but more power to you. You don’t ride on the road, you ride off road? Or do you ride on the road?

Kim Geist:

I ride on the road.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Kim Geist:

As long as the roads are clear, I’m out there.

Joan Hanscom:

I can hear Maura’s head going, “That’s a no for me.”

Maura beuttel:

No, thank you.

Kim Geist:

We’ll just go over how you dress then you’ll be fine. Don’t stop. That’s the key, don’t ever stop.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I just know there’s no cafe rides in five degrees. Get out and get it done. That’s funny. Is there anything else you’d like our listeners to know, Kim, anything else or have we summarized everything for our last year’s update?

Kim Geist:

If we could maybe take a moment and just loop back around to the work study program for Finesse & Fury. I think that’s a really unique aspect of it.

Joan Hanscom:

I like that-

Kim Geist:

Little bit of that [crosstalk 00:47:10]-

Joan Hanscom:

… is not just scholarship, that there is a commitment back component. So yeah, absolutely. Talk about that.

Kim Geist:

Yeah, so the work study program is sort of solving two issues. I mentioned that I did the focus group. And I had identified prior to doing that group that there were programs that existed that were trying, that were sort of keyed high, I hate that word, but high performance elite level programs, but they hadn’t succeeded. And they basically turned into master’s programs again, where they came from. And I figured that the reason that that was happening was because they were too highly priced for the athletes that they were trying to get into the programs. And it was really the one thing that came out of the focus group that was steadfast and that we really need to try and bring down the price to athletes. But I also needed to solve the issue of, “Well, this is my full-time job as a coach and I need to sustain myself. So I can’t do the work for free or for less than it’s really worth.”

Kim Geist:

So to solve that problem, I pitched the idea of a work study and everyone was fully onboard because everyone who was an athlete or involved with athletes at that level knew that you had to support yourself. You got to pay for your coaching, your travel, your entry fees, everything. And why not do it tied into something that you’re already involved with? You were already at the location, you already had a passion for. So athletes in the program will have the opportunity to pay the full cost of the program, the full tuition if they’re able to, but if they’re not able to, they still have opportunity to take part, but they will essentially help me, for a coach time is money. So they will help me save time and do some of the tasks that I would otherwise need to do.

Kim Geist:

So that could be anything like at the academy wiping down the equipment after a session and cleaning the area, it could be providing social media content for followers. Or what’s super cool, I think, because it comes full circle, is helping to run the community programs that we have at the Kim Geist Academy. So not only does the athlete have the opportunity to bring down the cost of their tuition and make the program affordable, but a member of the community by taking part in something that’s going on at the Kim Geist academy helps the person in the Finesse & Fury program continue their training.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Kim Geist:

So it’s a win-win for everyone. I had more time that I can work on programs and my job, the athletes can essentially earn a credit off their tuition and the community has opportunity to come in and take part of our facility. That’s I think really unique and I think it’s going to work out super well.

Joan Hanscom:

I like it. I mean, I think again, just because there is that aspect of you’re giving to the thing that you’re benefiting from. And I think that’s super cool and it requires that level of character commitment that you are seeking. Which I think is super cool and probably will help in the selection process. You know, if you’re not [crosstalk 00:51:01]

Kim Geist:

Yeah, absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

Wipe down equipment, maybe the humble athlete aspect is missing, so yeah. I think it’s really admirable and I think it definitely addresses one of the big problems. I know at T-Town we’ve tried so hard to keep the programming accessible price wise because the cost of entry into our sport is so high and that I think it’s really important, if you want to get better athletes doing our sport, the pathway in has to be easier.

Joan Hanscom:

And unfortunately I think we’ve gotten that wrong, not T-Town per se. I think T-Town’s gotten it quite right in terms to pricing. I think our sport in general has gotten it wrong. I think our Federation quite honestly has gotten it wrong a lot of the time, in that they haven’t prioritized supporting youth programs or development programs in the way that they could have. I just look at, and this is not an overt criticism maybe, and I understand that there’s a lot of factors weighing in on them. But what I don’t think people appreciate is that, even for programs like the ones we run, there’s a surcharge for every day of insurance on a youth that’s $5.05. So if you get those kids together in a program that has a permit, so that you’re insured, so that your coaches are insured. So that everybody’s covered from an insurance standpoint, $5.05 of every day, every time the bike wheels touch the track, that’s $5.05 that’s extracted from the ability to cover the cost of the program because it goes to the Federation.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’d love to see the Federation be a bit more progressive on the cost of permitting youth programs. But I also understand that insurance is incredibly expensive. We’re a litigious society and they maybe can’t do it, but I wish there’d be more discussion around that so that we could keep the price of entry into these programs super cheap. But I think finding solutions like work study that help bridge that expense gap for people who really truly want to commit, it’s important. And bikes aren’t getting cheaper. And the cost of doing the sport isn’t getting cheaper. So it’s great that there’s innovative thinking going into, how do we address one of these major hurdles. So kudos to you for creative thinking around that. And for finding people who are willing to do it too, which is awesome. And yeah, takes a little bit of the entitlement out of the picture.

Kim Geist:

Yeah, absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah, that was a downer to end on, because everything else was super good. And then I went on a tirade, sorry. Budgets though. Budgets are real. Budgets are hard. Yeah, cool. Well Kim, thank you for making time for us on this cold Pennsylvania day to chat with us about what’s going on and please do, for our listeners, check out the show notes and we’ll have links to Kim Geist Academy. We’ll have links to Finesse & Fury, so people can read more. We’ll certainly link to your Instagram account. Tell our listeners where they can follow you on the socials, because you do a great job with that. And then Maura will include that in the show notes. So it’s Instagram handle is?

Kim Geist:

Yeah, Instagram is kimggeistcoaching and Facebook is as well. Twitter sort of falls along. I don’t have a whole lot of activity on there, but that’s @KimGeistCoach.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. So our listeners can follow along for the rest of the journey, and I do encourage you all to go see, because I’m telling you those concrete floors were beautiful. And the raising of the ceiling was super impressive. So I can’t imagine. So yeah, follow along with Kim and her progress and we all will look forward to seeing you out on the track once the surface is done and the track reopens and warmer temperatures arrive and stay safe in the cold weather. And don’t get the COVID and yeah, we’ll I’m sure circle back around with you again when things kick off, but for now, thank you. And this has been The Talk of the T-Town podcast with Kim Geist of Kim Geist Coaching, Kim Geist Academy and Kim Geist Finesse & Fury. We look forward to bringing you more news as it develops. Thanks for listening.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the The Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at the velodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

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Chris Meacham: Rule Number One, Don’t Die

Chris Meacham

Episode 50

“I’ve always considered myself more of just like a bike racer. I try not to keep myself in like a box.”

What is your first goal that comes to mind for racing or training? For this week’s guest, it’s always the same: don’t die. Join Joan this week as she chats with Chris Meacham, a Doylestown Bike Works athlete and forensic engineer. Joan and Chris discuss everything from balancing track and gravel racing, fitting in training around work schedules, summer plans, how Chris’ work aligns with cycling, and much more.

Chris Meacham
Chris Meacham

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the valley preferred cycling center, I’m your host and executive director Joan Hanscom. Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Town podcast. I’m your host Joan Hanscom. Sitting in my apartment in sunny Nor Cal in Santa Cruz and this week I am joined by Chris Meacham. Chris Meacham is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

Joan Hanscom:

He is a bike racer for Doylestown Bike Works. He has in the past done things like race with Chris Horner on the Safeway Airgas team. And in real life, his day job, he is a forensic engineer. But important to our listeners, he races at T-Town Town on the track as well. You may remember Chris from his cameo appearance when we were discussing with Brian [Boger 00:01:15] and [Ge 00:01:16] Nelson, our record attempt on the high wheel bikes. Chris has been part of that crew, so we thought we’d bring Chris in to have a solo chat without the Ge and Brian show this time and just catch up with Chris and see what he’s up to. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Meacham:

Thanks for having me, Joan. I’m excited to talk about whatever we’ll stumble upon.

Joan Hanscom:

Whatever wacky path we go down.

Chris Meacham:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

You’ve done a lot of bike racing. You’ve been at the pro level with arguably people of a world tour level. You’ve raced at the track. You raced collegiate. You raced professionally, now you’re racing what I’d say is on a strong regional program with Doylestown. Yeah, you race an interesting schedule I think. This year, and we’ll dive into this a little bit more, you’re going to mix it up. You’re going to do some new things. Is this correct?

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. I can start at the beginning of last year. My roommate, Matt Moosa, he’s the owner of Moose Packs. He was doing a bunch of gravel races and I was always kind of like a tester of his bags that he made, being his roommate. Because we would train together and stuff and bring them through a lot of abuse I would say. He brought me on as like an ambassador, I guess. We started just going to a bunch of gravel races and trying to talk up his product. That’s kind of how I accidentally got into gravel racing, but indirectly. Now I’m purposely going to these gravel races to race.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. I don’t think we’re breaking any big news, but you’re going to be doing it on a BMC URS. Which is of course a weird convergence of my current life and my former life.

Chris Meacham:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

But I know we’re excited to have you giving the bike a good test.

Chris Meacham:

I know. I’m so excited for that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s going to be fun to see it out in the wild. With the COVID we haven’t had domestically too many folks out racing at your level on them, so it’s pretty exciting to see what you’re going to do. You’re in some good company now. We’ve got Lex Albright. We’ve got Starla Teddergreen. Again, I’m breaking news here. I guess I’m telling stories out of school. Brent Bookwalter is going to be on our bikes. He’s coming back into the BMC fold, so it’s kind of a fun group are going to be putting that bike through its phases here domestically and I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with it. But that’s another story.

Chris Meacham:

I’m so excited. I’m so excited to get on a bike. Because I was doing these gravel races sort of as I knew I wasn’t ever in contention because I was either doing them on my mountain bike or my road bike. The Giant TCR is a solid bike, but it’s certainly not a gravel bike. I was taking it through some pretty treacherous single track at some point, like mud bogs. It was getting to the point where I was like, okay, I need a proper gravel bike. I need to take this more seriously. This is coming together perfectly. Coming with the supply crew. Sorry.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m curious. Yeah. Yeah. The supply of bikes is challenging for sure. I’m curious Chris, because you’ve come from a, I think as far as I know, you’ve raced a bunch on the track. You’ve done a bunch of crit racing, which are short events, generally speaking. They’re not 200 miles. It’s a very different discipline. It’s not on perfectly smooth pavement. It’s a lot more distance. It’s a big change from example, from a scratch race on the track.

Chris Meacham:

Totally.

Joan Hanscom:

Tell me a little bit about how you’re approaching that. Because you’re going to keep racing on the track, I understand.

Chris Meacham:

Totally. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

How’s the balance work there between track racing and gravel? Certainly Ashton Lambie has shown us that it can be done at a high level.

Chris Meacham:

Right. I’ve always considered myself more of just like a bike racer. I try not to keep myself in like a box. I go into every season just training and/or riding how I want to. I have a lot more direction this year than last, because I’m being coached by Bill [Alston 00:05:59]. So that’s been very, very helpful. But with the track being about an hour away from me, I figure it’s never a bad thing to have speed in my legs. I try to get up there as much as I can.

Chris Meacham:

A lot of my goals haven’t been track oriented probably since I was a junior. It’s a lot of fun and I love making or thinking about it in a serious way. But it’s not like I’m at the beginning of the season saying like, I need to be a track racer for the season. But it definitely doesn’t hurt any of my form. Last season, my main goal was not dying at Leadville I think. Being an East coast-

Joan Hanscom:

Not dying is a really good goal. A solid goal, yeah.

Chris Meacham:

Being an east coaster, I think I’m literally at sea level right now. I had to do it at least once, to see what I was dealing with to kind of have more aggressive goals. I got that out the way. Racing on the track, trying to get ready for endurance mountain bike races is definitely like a wide array of preparation. But my training usually just consists of going out and just doing longer rides kind of fast.

Chris Meacham:

I think that’s almost like what gravel racing is, except if you’re mixing it up at the end. I think if anything, gravel racing the longer harder stuff, offroad. That kind of appeals to my training style anyways. It’s almost like I’m coming back to what I had been preparing for when I was either doing road racing or crit racing.

Joan Hanscom:

Gotcha. How did you prepare for Leadville? I’m curious because of course, I lived in Colorado for a while and I lived in the Springs, which is above 5,000 feet. But I would go from the Springs to Leadville for example, Breckenridge, where you’re starting at 10,000 feet. Even for somebody who lives at altitude, it’s a big jump. Did you do the go in real early, like three weeks early? Or did you do the go in super late and just like deal with the altitude that way? If you haven’t experienced it, it’s crazy how you get to 12,000 feet and you want to die.

Chris Meacham:

Oh totally. Bobby Lee did it before and we spoke super briefly about what it would be like. Our director, Brian Boger also spoke with him about what it’s like going from sea level to Leadville. You’re kind of screwed either way. If you don’t live there. I think if you lived there for maybe a year, in Leadville, then you might be better off. But basically I just did the show up a couple days before.

Chris Meacham:

I think this upcoming year, I don’t know if I’m selected yet, but this upcoming year I would plan on getting there even more so like the night before the race starts. If I can control it. Just with work, I don’t know if I can swing being out there for a few weeks. But basically my training consisted of, like I said before, just kind of going hard for a really long time. I think like on my mountain bike going from different single track, kind of linking them together with road segments and stuff.

Chris Meacham:

Obviously it was more structured than that. But the rides that would most closely mimic Leadville were just longer. I think my one ride was like 158. It was from Doylestown to Gettysburg, which is pretty great. I averaged like a pretty good clip doing that, so I’m trying to compare it in my head. I’m like, this might be close to Leadville. I’m not really sure. It’s like nothing can really compare to it.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Right. That’s a tough one to simulate.

Chris Meacham:

Exactly. Just going longer. Trying to get the endurance in. Trying to overall just improve my fitness in any way that I can. Because I don’t know, you can’t-

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny. When I worked at USA Cycling, I distinctly remember Jim Miller who’s their head of high performance. Jim was in my office and we were just shooting the shit one day. He’s sitting in the chair in my office, the guest chair my office and he asked me, “How’s it going? How’s your training going here in Colorado?” This is before I knew I had the external iliac artery stuff going on too. I was just like, “Man, it kicks my ass every day.” Jim’s answer was, he’s like, “You never have a super good day on the bike here.” He’s just like, “That’s just how it is at altitude. You never feel like you’re having that super good day on the bike.” I was like, “Cool.”

Chris Meacham:

That is not motivating.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, exactly. I was just like, oh great. Okay. But yeah, he was just like, “Yeah, you never feel super good.” Then he was like, “Yeah, but when you go home, like when you go back down to sea level, it’s going to feel amazing.” I was like, “Yeah, all right.”

Chris Meacham:

Point your fitness. You’re like, awesome. I feel like shit now.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It was pretty funny. I was like, all right. If there’s a person who know the drill on that, it would be him. So yeah, it was pretty funny. It always stuck in my head. It sounds like a solid plan though. You’re doing the best you can barring moving to elevation.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, basically I’m excited to again, grant I get picked again. I’ll just know how to race it this time. I’ll know how to pace myself a lot better. I know hydration and nutrition is three to 10 times more important than it is at sea level. I’ll keep those things in mind. Hopefully I gather enough fitness to be on a better page than I was in 2021. That’s really all I’m kind of shooting for.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s your big goal for the season if you get in, is Leadville?

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. I really want to do Steamboat, but it doesn’t look like I got picked for that. That would be crazy though, if I could do those back to back. That would be huge, huge goal. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, right on. That one just from a logistic standpoint, that event. That combination is intense. Just getting from A to B. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed that Leadville’s in your future. I know because you are a full-time bike racer. Well, you’re a professional bike racer with a full-time job I should say. I am a hack of a bike racer with a full-time job. I know it’s hard to fit the training in. How are you doing it? I see you on the lifts occasionally. How are you managing? Particularly now that winter has found the east coast.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. With the last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to not have COVID. My training has been like whenever I feel like I have a sore throat, I shouldn’t ride today. Because I don’t want to kill myself and then wake up the next day and be sick.

Joan Hanscom:

I want to go and say, so far, you’ve named two big goals, which was don’t die at Leadville and don’t get COVID. You have like a solid life plan here. You’re like, don’t die-

Chris Meacham:

I just want to get the bases covered.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. You’re solid on the basics of not dying. I like it.

Chris Meacham:

Right. Yeah. Brian Boger, the director of our team. He’s also like one of my best friends. Our discussions usually start off with like, okay, so what’s our main goal here? Don’t get kicked out of the race. Main goal number two. We sort of put the big goals first. Yeah and then go into more specifics.

Joan Hanscom:

I wish that’s how I was doing goal setting for my races. That’d be like, yo Bill, what are my goals for this? Don’t die. That’s a good one to start with. Yes. I like that. Don’t die. You’re very handy.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. I guess I should be more specific. The training around now is kind of, I get home from work. I try to do a relatively hard-ish hour on a trainer because it gets dark at like 4:30 here, which is just miserable. Then on the weekends, a few hours a day. Trying to mix it up. In the Northeast, we have such nice tiny back roads and gravel roads. I try to mix it up. I destroy my road bike as best as I can. It’s like my motivation for the week comes from my riding on the weekends.

Joan Hanscom:

I can relate to that 110%. Because that’s what I’m doing too. I moved to California and I’m still riding many days a week. But it’s for the same reasons. Just because you’re in California doesn’t mean it stays light any longer. Winter is winter.

Chris Meacham:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

It gets dark early and got to be peddling. Zwift it is. That’s a shout out because Zwift is sponsor our pod. Oh yeah, no, no I’m doing a lot of the same, which is funny for my goal races. It’s a good tool I guess, but it definitely makes you look forward to the weekends when you can get outside. But you guys are getting spanked right now with nasty weather. If you ride the off road, it’s a little easier than if you’re trying to be on the pavement.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. With just the snow, the roads are even more narrow. I don’t know. It’s raining right now and there’s snow on the ground, I can’t imagine the worst thing for riding conditions.

Joan Hanscom:

That is just the worst. It is what it is.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Forecasted.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s cold. It’s miserable. Your bikes get real dirty. It’s the worst.

Chris Meacham:

It’s going to be like 12 degrees or something in the next couple days. Trainings a lot of fun in the Northeast. Get a lot done. By the time it starts getting nice, everyone is just exclusively riding out. Actually. It’s funny. It’ll get up to like 40 and people are like, “How couldn’t you be riding outside right now? It’s so it’s so nice out.” I’m like, “Well, 40 degrees is, I wouldn’t really consider it nice. But it’s better than it was.”

Joan Hanscom:

Doesn’t quite suck as bad as 20, but so not fun.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Yeah. Ge’s that way. He’s like, “Yeah, winter finally hit.” I’m like, “Winter hit a month ago. Are you kidding me? I’ve been inside for.” He tries to be hard.

Joan Hanscom:

I saw Ge post that and I was just laughing. I was like, oh, it’s got to be back there if Ge’s cracked and getting on the trainer. Although I think he rides a fair bit on the trainer too.

Chris Meacham:

I think he does. He rides more than he lets on. Also his wife. She’s recovering with a broken foot right now, so I think she might get on his Zwift account too. We’re unsure about it. But we’re looking into it.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s tanking his numbers. It’s going-

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. His mileage is going way up.

Joan Hanscom:

Mileage is going up but somebody pedaling with a broken foot can’t be putting out the normal Ge wad.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Average speed is like 10 miles an hour. But he and his wife are putting in good mileage.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. Good to know. Speaking of Ge, because why not? Because Ge brings me joy. What’s the latest on the high wheel bike? Did it ever get finished?

Chris Meacham:

I’m not an official releaser of information regarding this project. But from what I could see, it’s a lot of just sorting out compatibility issues with the tires and the rims. Because if the tire and it just needs to seat a lot deeper in these rims than they are right now. Or also it’ll just roll off just like a tubular, except for this, it’ll roll off a lot easier than a tubular.

Joan Hanscom:

I think one, one could safely say, falling down track on a high wheel bike is not desirable at all.

Chris Meacham:

If I had to guess, your head is like 15 feet off the ground when you’re up on one of those bikes. It’s probably less than that. But I think at 15 feet. If you’re falling down and you take the radius from the track all the way down to the apron, your head is going to hit the ground pretty hard.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. We want the tires to stay on the wheel, for sure.

Chris Meacham:

Yes. Seating is the first, second and third following my motto, don’t die kind of thing. It’s very important. They’re trying to sort that out and also the bike shop is just, it’s just crazy right now with, like I mentioned before the supply chain stuff. Ge is always doing a million things at once. I think that project, although we’re super stoked on it and trying to make it happen, I think it’s just put a little bit by the wayside. But whenever I talk to Ge, it’s a topic.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so funny. Well, we want him to do it. We want it to happen. I want him to break the record.

Chris Meacham:

We truly tried the best.

Joan Hanscom:

I know. It’s like, what can you do if you can’t get the tires to work? This is not exactly like current technology. We’re going in the way back machine to make this work.

Chris Meacham:

Right. That’s I think why we were so full of confidence. They’re like, what? They put these together in the 1800. How couldn’t we do it present day? I think we just kind of got caught like, oh wait, we don’t know this or we need to think about this a little bit longer.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s funny. Speaking of thinking about things and I’m going on the sidebar tangent. It’ll come back around somehow. You are a forensic engineer by day.

Chris Meacham:

Right. Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

What is a forensic engineer?

Chris Meacham:

Basically like accident reconstruction.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay.

Chris Meacham:

Basically with car accidents. I do bike accidents as well. Just trying to figure out why things happened, how they happened. Try to figure on them next time kind of thing. More specifically the human factors. Which is within the accident, the decision making that led to the accident. It would be more so like a psychology engineering type of thing.

Joan Hanscom:

You understand how interesting that is when you tie it back around into the goals you have so far expressed today.

Chris Meacham:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

Don’t die.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Don’t crash.

Chris Meacham:

Right. So my life is-

Joan Hanscom:

You have a very complete picture.

Chris Meacham:

Right. I was totally the risk taker in college. Then when I got this job, I was like, okay, we need to reassess. I should stop taking risks. That was the first thing. Second thing, I really haven’t sorted that out yet. But when you’re surrounded by that stuff every day, nine hours, you go to hop on your bike and you’re like, well, maybe I should take the bike path. Maybe I should take this little side street that cuts off like a little section of highway that I would typically ride. It’s all these little modifications where I’m like, okay, rule number one. Don’t get hurt. What am I going to do now? I don’t know. It’s not maybe like more boring. I think I’m just like before I do things, I just think about it. What’s the goal here? I don’t know.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s super interesting though. I love that. Because your goals make me laugh because they’re always what’s in my head. But your goals are coming from your profession. Your one profession is informing your passion, which is pretty cool actually. But yeah, it’s funny.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to perform at these races. I’ve always been, I don’t know, when I think about a gravel race, I think of a really rainy, disgusting road race that has a little dirt sections like that and something like that. I’ve always liked the type of race where you’re surviving, I guess. That always has appealed to me. It’s not risk taking, but more so just like not using the brakes and corners and stuff when you definitely know you’ll be okay.

Chris Meacham:

I think I’ve kind of thrived in those types of races. Not every time, but I’ve found that in the past I have kind of a mudder if you will. As far as like horse races. Yeah. From horse racing, I guess that’s how you would refer to me as. But like my best results in crits, definitely a rainy crit. Trying to think of other. Like that one year it rained at Bucks county. The crit that was fantastic. Just no brakes. Cutting the corners. Obviously I’m trying to do it safely, but at the same time, I’m like, well, if I’m passing all these people then and they crash, I’m passing them. So it’s okay. I will not crash.

Joan Hanscom:

What’s funny is, so gravel. Well, up to a certain point, I like hard conditions for gravel because I feel as though I’m very good at just putting my head down and plowing ahead. It’s more of a stubborn factor for me though than being gifted. But you could not catch me dead in a rainy crit anymore. I have an ex teammate who man, if it was a rainy crit, I knew she was going to win because she loved it. My teammate Katie, she’d be like, “It’s raining today. Today is my day.” She just loved it. I was like, oh, it’s raining today. I’m watching.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, exactly. The first lap peel off like-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh no, not even that.

Chris Meacham:

I think some people… Oh geez. Yeah, Ge wears three different bass layers because he just knows he’s going to slide out of one term. Not knows, but he’s preparing for. He’s been racing for so long. But yeah, some people just put on a different set of lenses, metaphorically and physically when they start those races and it’s just like different bikers are just so cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah I get that way for the gravel thing. If it’s miserable up to a certain temperature that is, I can just be like, okay, sure. I can just grind it out. I get it for gravel. I don’t get it for crits. But did you do unpaved last year? No.

Chris Meacham:

No I didn’t. No.

Joan Hanscom:

It was miserable. That one was definitely-

Chris Meacham:

I didn’t miss anything, I don’t think.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It was awesome day. It was a super fun. I had a stupid grin on my face the whole damn day.

Chris Meacham:

Oh that’s nice.

Joan Hanscom:

It was terrible conditions. Yeah. But it was-

Chris Meacham:

I had a few teammates who did it. They looked like they had been to war afterwards. I would love to do it this year. I don’t have the date in my mind. This summer I’ve just have so much crap. I’m literally getting married in July. There’s just-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh congratulations.

Chris Meacham:

Thank you. That’s the most important thing. I can’t miss that.

Joan Hanscom:

That goes against don’t die.

Chris Meacham:

Right, exactly. Yes. The fiance/wife would definitely kill me. But Wilderness 101 is that weekend. I usually try to get to that race. Horrible mountain bike race out by Penn State. Horrible is in very, very hard and fantastic. But anyways, it’s going to be a hectic year. Would love to do unpaved. Not sure when it is though. Also, all my friends are getting married, so it’s just a shitty time. June 4th. That sounds like a good time.

Joan Hanscom:

June 4th. Yeah. June 4th. There you go.

Chris Meacham:

All right.

Joan Hanscom:

Put it on the list. You never know. You might have a way in.

Chris Meacham:

It’s possible. We can talk about that when we sort out our schedule.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. What other ones? If your professional life allows for it and your wedding timing allows for it, what are the other events on your list that you’re looking at this year? Well this is a track podcast force and foremost. Elite track nationals are coming to T-Town. Going to do it or no?

Chris Meacham:

It’s hard not to.

Joan Hanscom:

I know the dates are TBD.

Chris Meacham:

Given the dates to be determined. Given my bike set up. Given those types of things, if they’re a 100% golden, then yeah. Because if it’s in T-Town, being supported by a sponsor of the track, I could not do it and they’re fun. Good quality racing crowd.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Cool. Cool. Cool. You heard it here. If it works, Meacham’s doing nationals. We like it. What other events besides, are you looking at anything in the fall? Anything along the, I don’t know Iceman or any of those type events come the fall? Or is it Leadville and then the rest are all sort of added bonus?

Chris Meacham:

Right. Those, I have to sort out the logistics for those races. But I know Gravel Locos now has a race in Colorado. I know I got the text today that we’re going to go do that, which is going to be a lot of fun doing the Gravel Locos in Texas. Which is going to be fun. The day actually before a wedding that I’m in here. That’s going to be logistically fantastic. Then [Ruddicks 00:27:16] going to be great and I’d do that again. All these races going to be fantastic. I don’t have to specify. I’m going to do that. That’s going to be a lot of fun. That’s in Montana. I want to come out to a couple rides out in California. If you guys will have me, that would be a lot of fun.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Chris Meacham:

Because I know there’s just a ton so, I can make at least one or two work.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. We want that. Plus you get to see some nice weather.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. That would be nice. Not humid. It’s either freezing or humid here.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m not going to try to make you feel bad, but it was 70 degrees today here and perfectly sunny and delightful. Now I say this, having we’ve gotten like 33 inches of rain since October 1st, so it has not been perfect weather here. But this weekend was delightful. I’ll take it. It has been delightful.

Chris Meacham:

How does the environment respond to that when it rains so much? Is it just a catastrophe or is it good?

Joan Hanscom:

Well, because we’re in a drought here, it’s really good. The reservoirs that have been below 50% are now up over 75%, which is amazing towards reducing the threat of drought. Up north or yeah, I guess north, Tahoe and the Sierras have gotten just literally 100s of inches of snow, which restoring that snow pack is incredibly important for the environment. Because as it melts, it’ll replenish all the stuff downstream of it that needs replenishing and really great for the groundwater and all that stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s been funny, literally it’s been raining here for two months straight and not a soul complains about the weather. Because I think everybody here has such an appreciation that, oh, when this doesn’t happen, we have fires that ruin whole communities. I think everybody has that perspective of yeah, it’s raining, but we really need it. As a person who’s used to being on the east coast where everybody grumbles about the weather when it gets shitty, here it’s been raining every day and everybody’s like, woohoo, that’s good.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s been refreshing. But it does have impacts, like the roads here will wash out, because when you get 10 inches in one storm, you’ll have mudslides. You’ll have then stuff come out and wash out the roads. You can be doing a descent and then all of a sudden there’s a sign that says, wash out. You’re just like, oh there’s half the roads gone. You got to be careful of that kind of stuff. So yeah, it does have impacts. It’s definitely one of those things where 10 inches, 12 inches of rain falling at a pop, water always finds its way.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. That’s a lot. I was thinking though, well, it’d be better if it was spread out.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. A little bit more.

Chris Meacham:

But you’ll take it regardless.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. You want those nice long soaking rains that really sink in, not just flood. But I think they’ll take both here at this point because the drought’s been so bad. One of the places that I rode yesterday, I rode up the coast and then up this road called Swantan road and that’s one of the spots where there’s a big, huge burns scar. You can see where it’s that close to town where people lost everything. You do have that appreciation for how close to disaster you can come in the drought. So yeah, we don’t complain about the rain here.

Chris Meacham:

No, I wouldn’t neither. I used to have the training camps out there. Their team was based out of San Francisco. Because I would go from North Carolina, the high mountain, snowy winter to there. That was just beautiful. So nice.

Joan Hanscom:

Santa Cruz is nice because I’m three blocks from the ocean as we speak right now. But when I rode today, I was riding up in the Redwoods. Up in the hills and doing some serious climbing. It’s nice that it’s so close. You’re just like, oh ocean. Yesterday I rode along the coast. Today I rode up in the hills and it was pretty great.

Chris Meacham:

That’s awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Bill complains about the training here.

Chris Meacham:

Good variation.

Joan Hanscom:

The invitation is always open. Come train.

Chris Meacham:

All right. Pack up my new gravel bike and head out there. That would be amazing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. There you go.

Chris Meacham:

Cross my fingers I get fired and then I’ll come out [inaudible 00:31:31]. It’ll be amazing.

Joan Hanscom:

That is very against your risk of [inaudible 00:31:40], Chris.

Chris Meacham:

You’re right. That’s true. It’s kind of hypocritical, but regardless.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny. You’re working with Bill. How long have you been working with Bill?

Chris Meacham:

I guess I can answer that a few different ways. I started racing with him on EC Devo, which is a local track kind of team. Not anymore, but maybe in ’16 I think. It was the end of ’15 and then ’16. Since then, we’ve been kind of racing together and he would be give me training tips and stuff. But when COVID started and I was working from home a bunch, I kind of found myself just kind of like not doing anything specific riding wise. I reached out to Bill, he gave me some structure and that’s when formally he started coaching me, started working together.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. It’s been fantastic ever since. Yeah. He’s very matter of fact.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That is the truth.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. He’s fantastic. Love him obviously. I ask him a question, he answers it like I should have known this. I’m like, “Yeah, you’re right, Bill. I should’ve known that.

Joan Hanscom:

He’s been my coach since 2010, 11. I’ve worked with him-

Chris Meacham:

So you like him today?

Joan Hanscom:

I think when he does work. He’s the master of the dry delivery.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Wish I like.

Joan Hanscom:

I do too. But sometimes it’s hilarious. It is. Sometimes you just feel like you’re like, oh duh. Yeah. I should have known that. I’ll ask him a question about something and he’ll be like, “Yeah, that’s because you were doing this.” I’m like, oh right. He does do the dumb slap after a while.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. If I would’ve asked him if it was a good or bad thing that it’s raining in California, he’d be like, “It’s a good thing, moving on.” I’d be like, “All right, sir.” Yeah. That’s my kind of humor, is the dry sarcasm. We work out well. He’s always excited to hear what my new goal is or new like, oh, I want to do this. Tell me how to do that kind of thing. So yeah. It’s cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, it’s good it’s a new challenge for him too. I think for him, it’s sorting out the puzzle too. Like, all right, well, how do I break this one down and get him where he needs to be to do it? I think.

Chris Meacham:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

Of course, Bill, you can’t get a better coach for somebody to do a distance event. Something long, like a gravel event since that’s his wheel house. Yeah. You’re in good hands.

Chris Meacham:

I’ll regularly do these rides. He doesn’t have a Strava and so no one really knows how much he rides. I think he does that on purpose, like it’s a secret thing. I’ll add it up in my head. He’s well, “I rode here and then I went back here and I did this group ride.” I’m thinking about it. I’m like, he did 140 miles today. That’s crazy. Just on a Saturday. He’s a monster.

Joan Hanscom:

He likes the distance. But it’s funny because we were talking the other day and I’m a volume person. Which is what I’ve struggled with since I got here. My volume is way down since I moved out here just because of structure of work and hours and not knowing the roads. Plus it’s like a lot of vertical here. You just can’t ride as long because you’re climbing forever. He’s like, “I rode 14 kilometers more than you this week.” That’s when I knew I doomed.

Joan Hanscom:

Because he might do this, smash out the 140 mile ride. But then he doesn’t ride the other day. He rides twice a week or something. I was like, oh shit. If Bill’s doing more kilometers a week than I am, I am hosed. I am [inaudible 00:35:38]. I was not excited when he gave me that little nugget. I was like, oh no, now you’ve got to increase my volume.

Chris Meacham:

Right. Yeah. I think he was the right person to talk to when I was like, okay, so I have these slightly ambitious goals and I also work. So get me there in like three or four days a week. He’s like, “Done. Got it. That’s easy.”

Joan Hanscom:

There you go.

Chris Meacham:

Cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Sweet. What else? You’re getting married in July.

Chris Meacham:

Yep. That’s going to be fun.

Joan Hanscom:

Is it local or are you doing somewhere else?

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, actually it’s on the Delaware. Do you remember the Bucks county classic road race?

Joan Hanscom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh yeah.

Chris Meacham:

It went down 32, that river road. There was a sprint point right in front of the hotel, right on the river. I’m getting married at that hotel. It’s called the Black Bass.

Joan Hanscom:

Sweet. Oh nice.

Chris Meacham:

Sort of bike race relevant or I like to think so.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. What else do you want us to know Chris? What else is going on? How’s Brian?

Chris Meacham:

Brian’s fantastic as always. I don’t know how he does everything. He works at a youth center right now. He always has worked at a youth center. Just with all the craziness going on right now, I think he’s going to pull the rest of his hair out. Just because every time I talk to him, he’s like, “I don’t know how I’m doing it.” I think he works like 70 hours this week. He’s another crazy person that works too much.

Joan Hanscom:

We at the T-Town love Brian. He’s such a believer in the track. He just believes and he does so much to try to send people to the track. He’s one of those guys in the community that you need like 10 million more of them because they’re just believers of supporting and getting people out to racing and enabling people to race. I think what Brian does is terrific. He’s all about enabling people to race, as far as I can tell. I think that’s pretty rad.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. When someone tells him that he can’t do something, he continues to try to do it until there’s a literal brick wall in front of them and he can’t try any harder. He is like, ‘Okay, it’s right. I can’t do it.”

Joan Hanscom:

What about Ge? Besides Ge ridings with now, because it’s winter, are you going to bring Ge on any of your adventures next year?

Chris Meacham:

I would like that. We were talking about this mountain bike race. It’s across some, I think like a Caribbean island or something. I’m blanking on. I don’t know. But he’s like, “In two years we need to do this mountain bike race. You need to have a partner and let’s do this together.” I’m like, “Ge, that sounds right up my alley. Such an adventure. Let’s do it.” That’s the most adventurous thing that Ge and I have planned.

Chris Meacham:

However, with Matt and Moose Packs, he’s always looking for a reason to get out. We were kind of planning a bike packing trip hopefully either north of me or south of him. He’s in Austin, I’m in Doylestown. We would try to go to Niagara falls-ish from here. I’m trying to talk him into going from Austin to Mexico. But he’s like, “We’re not riding our bikes to Mexico.” I mean it could be fun. It could be-

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going back to the first dated goal today, don’t die.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. That’s what everyone’s telling me. I’m like, “There’s nice parts of Mexico. What are you talking about?”

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, there are, beautiful. But there was a couple of cyclists, pro cyclists that had a very bad and scary time. That’s of course where what I’m referencing. But-

Chris Meacham:

Oh geez. That’s what I’m trying to get better at the social media thing and trying to become sort of a storyteller sort of, but in my own way. I’m trying to figure that out. I would try to do that on this bike packing-ish trip over a long distance with Matt. That would be, really, really looking forward to that. Just kind of no structure. Just going to have fun with friends. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to.

Joan Hanscom:

That sounds so fun. The notion of being able to just go explore by bike. I have a really good friend of mine did a trip. They started in Canada and then they went across, I think they finished in Montana. But it was this cool thing. They started in BC and then they went across the west. But up high, like along the Canadian border. It seemed like the coolest trip ever. They were fully self supported. They did it in a small group. But they had a lot of things strapped to their bikes.

Joan Hanscom:

Including things like cans of bear spray. While I may not want to do something like that, where there are things that could eat you, it sounded super fun. She said, the people they met along the way were just amazing. Everybody wanted to help them. Everybody was like, “Oh yeah, here let us get you some food or whatever.” They faced some real challenges. Things went sideways at certain points. I don’t remember if it was weather or mechanic issues or both.

Joan Hanscom:

But she said, people were just amazingly nice and supportive and helpful when they needed the help. It seemed like not only was it an adventure by bike where they saw some amazing stuff, but it almost like restored their faith in humanity. I was like, “Okay, that’s rad.” If you could face adversity and have your faith in humanity restored at the same time, that’s pretty cool. Yeah. You just have to see where you end up going.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. I think when regular people see someone, I feel like they see it as like a disadvantaged person when they see someone out on a bike and they want to help them. But when they see someone equally, it’s a normal thing, so they don’t want to help a regular person. But I follow this guy on Instagram, that’s walking around the world. He shares very similar experiences. Everyone wants to help him. Because they’re like, oh, this poor guy is walking around the world. He must be exhausted. I don’t know. That’s kind of cool. Makes me have faith in people.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s kind of cool that people… I think you’re right. I like that you use like normal people. Normal people don’t understand riding your bike for 1,000 miles. They are just like, they don’t ride their bike 10 miles. It’s sort of interesting to tap into what people’s perceptions of human capacity are. Which is funny. Starla Teddergreen who I mentioned earlier, she’s doing an interesting project that I won’t spill the beans on.

Joan Hanscom:

But it’s really about helping people find their edges and push their limits to. Having people sort of set audacious goals for themselves and then how do you find that limit? How do you push yourself? It’s really kind of cool what she’s doing. Stay tuned for her fun announcement. You should follow her on Instagram. Because she’s going to have some cool stuff coming up. It’s just about that same thing about how she’s using the bike to sort define what her limits are.

Joan Hanscom:

How far she can push her body. But she’s also doing it to help some other people do it. I think our limits are farther than we know. I think that’s what people who are doing things like giving the guy who’s walking around the earth food or helping him out. Because it’s so far outside of what average people think are our limits. That it’s like this automatic respect kicks in of wow. So much respect for doing something that I can’t even conceive of. Your big bike trip, it could be audacious. It could be pushing the limits. It’s kind of cool.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Also, if we inspire other people to go ride their bike. For example, you see like this crazy Tour de France stage when it’s like a sprint, like it’s crazy, everyone’s bumping shoulders. Regular cyclists are not going to have that type of experience ever. But if they see a video of some people, like guys just going out riding their bikes together, having fun, that’s a thing that’s very attainable and they could go out and do it right now. I think people relate and get a lot more excited about those types of movies and that type of content. I’d love to be part of that.

Joan Hanscom:

Where you could see yourself. To your point, I cannot see myself sprinting with Mark Cavendish on the [inaudible 00:44:16] but I can see myself doing some adventures by bike. Whether that be a gravel bike or just doing something on a mountain bike that I didn’t think I could do. I think there’s a lot of ways to again, push those limits of what you think is possible for you. I think what’s interesting is COVID is such an opportunity for that.

Joan Hanscom:

People do discover the joy of outside and hopefully when the weather gets nicer, you too, Chris will discover the joy of outside again. But I think now is the right time for people to be inspired by something like that. Because they’re outdoor curious or they’ve rediscovered going outside themselves. For people who hadn’t for so long and then in COVID they discovered hiking or they discovered riding their bikes again.

Joan Hanscom:

They’ve dug their bikes out of the basement that they hadn’t touched in years. They’re like, oh, okay, I’m doing this bike thing. Oh, well, this guy’s doing that. I can do that. I think people are looking for that now, whereas they may not have been previously. It’s kind of cool. So yeah. We’ll have to follow along with your biking adventures on your banging new URS.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. I would love to talk more about it. I think we could make some cool stuff. Or I could just go on really cool bike rides. We don’t even have to make anything. Either way, I’m stoked.

Joan Hanscom:

Either way it works. Either way you have it by bike.

Chris Meacham:

A benefit for me. So I’m happy.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Right on. Right on.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Well this has been thoroughly enjoyable catch up. It’s nice to talk to people in the off season when the, I don’t know. January is always when everything seems possible for the coming race season. You haven’t had a shitty race start yet. You haven’t had events get canceled yet. You haven’t crashed like everything. Everything in January is like blank slate. Everything is possible and wonderful and shiny. Usually there’s a new bike and new kit and you’re just like, yes, here I come.

Chris Meacham:

Nothing can go wrong.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. People have the optimism. They adversity stuff hasn’t kicked in yet. So you’re always feeling like the bright, shiny, new hope and potential of the new season. That’s a nice time to talk to folks and get caught up and hear what you want to do. Last year this time, we had Elspeth Huyett on and she was talking about how she wanted to win her national championships. Then lo and behold nine months later we had her back on the pod and she done the thing. That’s super cool.

Chris Meacham:

That’s awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

So hopefully you are our Elspeth this year. You’ve said, you have big goals for Leadville and hopefully that all comes to fruition and we talk to you next September. You tell us all about how great Leadville was.

Chris Meacham:

That would be awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Chris Meacham:

Hopefully I have more definitive goals by then.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I imagine they will emerge. They will evolve. But it’s been delightful to have you on and have a catch up and please tell Brian we say hello and he and the whole crew.

Chris Meacham:

Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate your time.

Joan Hanscom:

So for all the Talk of the T-Town listeners, keep your eyes out for Chris Meacham. He’s going to be doing the track thing, the gravel thing, the mountain bike thing. It’s going to be doing all the bike things. So yeah, come out to the track on a Friday night and cheer for Chris and then follow along on his blue dot when he’s racing in Leadville. We’ll cheer for you all season along, Chris. It’s been super good to catch up and I’m sure you and I will be talking more offline about BMC things as they emerge.

Chris Meacham:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. Right on.

Chris Meacham:

Awesome. Thanks.

Joan Hanscom:

So this has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest, Chris Meacham. If you like the pod, please give us a like, a share, click all the stars, the hearts, the likes. It helps us grow the podcast and helps more people find us. Please help us grow. Thanks Chris.

Chris Meacham:

Thanks. Bye.

Joan Hanscom:

Bye. I hope you don’t get the COVID. Don’t die.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah. Thank you. You too. Keep it healthy.

Joan Hanscom:

Bye.

Chris Meacham:

Bye. Bye.

Joan Hanscom:

Bye. Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website @thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

 

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Skyler Samuelson Espinoza: Go for the Goals

Skyler Samuelson Espinoza:

Episode 49

“I love setting big goals and I want to go after them really hard, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Being a Russian Literature major eventually led this week’s guest to track cycling. Curious how that journey began? Join Joan this week as she sits down with Skyler Samuelson Espinoza–they discuss how Skyler came to track cycling, her goals for the 2022 season, how being a coach impacts interactions with a coach, Skyler’s work with Strong Girls United, and much more.

Skyler Samuelson Espinoza:
Skyler Samuelson Espinoza

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

 

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things, track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And this week, I am delighted to have with me Skyler Samuelson Espinoza, who the last time I saw her was still just Skyler Espinoza. So, things have happened since we last saw Skyler, but Skyler is a very fascinating guest for us to have on the pod this week. So, a little background on our guest. She has an advanced degree in Russian studies, speaks some Russian if I’m not mistaken, is a graduate of Stanford University and also comes from a very varied athletic background where she rowed for Stanford in the Varsity Lightweight Eight. Is that correct? Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, you come from a background of rowing and you’ve become quite the proficient track cyclist, and you do all great things. So, previously Skyler was the assistant coach of the lightweight team at Stanford and now works for Strong Girls United Foundation, which we are going to dive into later in the podcast. So, I am very thrilled to welcome to the pod our very accomplished guest, Skyler Samuelson Espinoza. Welcome, Skyler.

Skyler Samuelson:

Thank you so much, Joan, for having me. I really appreciate it. I’m very excited. I’m a little nervous. This is my first time appearing on a podcast. So, I’m very honored and thank you for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

I think this is really fun because the number of guests I’ve had on the podcast who are like, “Oh, this is my first podcast,” I feel like a lot of people are learning how to pod with me and it’s pretty exciting. But we’re gentle. We don’t bite on the Talk of the T-Town pod so it’s a good place to learn. And plus, we have a very friendly audience. I think everybody, the track community is such a good community of supportive people. And so, everybody listening is just stoked to hear from their friends. And so, I think you have nothing to fear my friend.

Joan Hanscom:

I did just do a really fun one with Amara from the Jerry Baker Velodrome. And it was also her first podcast. At the end, she was like, “This was really fun and we should do it again.” And I was like, “Yeah, we totally should.” Same with Kim [Zoberson 00:02:49]. When we had Kim Zoberson, she was like, “It was fun. We should do it again.” So, I think once you get into it, it is a fun thing to do because it’s always good. You always learn new things about people you think you know, and I think that’s part of the fun of the podcast.

Joan Hanscom:

So, let’s start off with the last time I saw you in August, you were Skyler Espinoza and now you are Skyler Samuelson Espinoza. So, how is the wedding? Was it fun?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Yeah. So, I guess my wedding journey has been long and convoluted. So, my maiden name is actually Skyler Samuelson, but now I’m going by all of my married names. And the wedding was amazing and we were really lucky to be able to get it in. Nobody got COVID. And it was at a summer camp that I grew up going to in New Hampshire. So, it was beautiful.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, no way.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Yeah. It was awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I didn’t realize you did your wedding in New Hampshire. I grew up in New Hampshire.

Skyler Samuelson:

Oh no. Whereabouts?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I grew up in Manchester.

Skyler Samuelson:

Oh, yeah. I was [crosstalk 00:03:49].

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, fun. It’s beautiful on that side of the state. How fun? That makes it even more fun to hear about. Yeah. I haven’t been back in a while to New Hampshire and I miss it. It’s really pretty in a different rugged way.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Yeah. I grew up in Maine, so I feel like I can sense that from you, a kindred New England spirit.

Joan Hanscom:

There we go. See, in New England, there’s always find each other. And now we’re both California people which is also quite exciting I think. I’ve discovered that I should have moved here a long time ago I think. Why did I wait so long to move here? It’s great here. We’re not actually far apart, which is cool as well. So, you are right up the road. I’m in Santa Cruz and you are up the road in Palo Alto. And so, yeah, we’ll have to ride bikes at some point when the rain stops. Maybe the rain is going to stop.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, I agree. Yeah. The first time I came to California, I was like, “I don’t know why I didn’t move here sooner.” It’s crazy. It’s really nice.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Every day I go out and walk along Westcliff in my neighborhood and I think, Why did I wait so long to move here? I’ve been missing out. But anyway. So, your wedding was great and that’s cool. And now I know that you’re a fellow to Englander, which I like even better. And so, here we are, we are doing this right before New Year’s. And who would’ve thought when we first started doing the Talk of the T-Town podcast, it was in the very first parts of COVID and we thought, Well, we’re going to do this podcast to get the community together when we can’t be together and it’s going to be a thing.

Joan Hanscom:

And if I’m not mistaken, you are actually possibly Episode 52. We are well into COVID. We did not expect, I think, to still be doing it and still have this be a thing. And yet here we are going into a New Year still in the COVID times. And so, how is that impacting you, Skyler? How is that impacting your training? How is that impacting your planning for the 22 season? How is it still impacting us all?

Skyler Samuelson:

And it’s funny because I think COVID has come and arise at the same time that I’ve gotten into track cycling. I haven’t been riding for very long. I really only started racing in 2019, which there wasn’t really any racing that season. And I was so grateful to you and to T-Town. I came out actually in 2019 and raced a bunch of time trials that summer, which is all that anybody could do. And I actually got a lot of racing experience that summer. It wasn’t mass start racing. It didn’t look the same as a normal summer, but it was still really valuable for me to come out to the track and learn how to set up my bike and change my gears and all those things in a really welcoming quiet environment.

Skyler Samuelson:

There wasn’t a lot going on. And it was really special for me and really valuable that T-Town was still able to offer that racing. And then, it was like a gentle build to then I got to come out again for a couple of months in 2020, and I already knew my way around, knew where the bathrooms were and knew things when there was a lot more people and a lot more opportunities to race mass start stuff.

Skyler Samuelson:

But definitely COVID still has a lot of uncertainties in terms of planning and scheduling. But I feel really lucky that I’m not a swimmer or something. I’ve just been able to ride my bike throughout COVID as a way to stay mentally healthy. And I’ve been able to do a lot of my training uninterrupted, which has been really nice.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s funny. I stopped going to the gym with the whole COVID thing, and I just started going back to the gym and I was all excited. I was starting to lift heavy things that weren’t in my living room and now I feel like, Oh gosh, I don’t know. Maybe going to the gym right now is not the thing. So, it’s funny how there’s just those little things that impact your training. So, I think I’m back to my one sad kettlebell in my living room for a few weeks. And then, we’ll try going back into the gym again after this current wave of not so great passes or hopefully it passes.

Joan Hanscom:

But other than that, you’re right, being a cyclist is nice because generally speaking, the outdoors has been a safe space, so yeah. We’ve been able to keep pedaling, and that’s good for mind and body I think. So, tell us a little bit about your background. So, clearly you have a big brain, Russian studies, not a slacker major by any stretch of the imagination. Tell us about that. Tell us about why Russian studies.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. So, I went to college. I went to undergrad at Columbia University in New York. And I just stumbled into a Russian literature class. And I ended up being a Russian literature major basically because the woman who was running the class didn’t speak very good English. And so, I told her I was interested in the class and she thought I was interested in the major.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Skyler Samuelson:

Getting signed up for the major on accident, but as a college freshman, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I was like, “Well, I guess this is fine.” And I ended up with these four very old Russian women who took care of me during college and took me out for tea. And it was amazing. And I felt like home. And then, I got to explore lots of other things as well because the major wasn’t super extensive like pre-med or something like that. It allowed me to see a lot of parts of the city I wouldn’t have seen. I spent time in Brighton Beach, which is like a Russian-speaking neighborhood in the city. So, that was really fun in New York.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, in New York, I also walked on to the rowing team at Columbia because my Russian teacher was like, “You are very competitive in class. I think you need a different outlet.” So, that’s how I found the rowing team at Columbia. I just fell in love with rowing and really also fell in love with the community of women who support each other through sports, which is huge for me.

Skyler Samuelson:

And I graduated from college knowing that I wanted to either be an athlete or work in women’s sports in some capacity. So then, I decided to get my master’s degree at Stanford, mostly to row, but also to go to school some more.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Skyler Samuelson:

And so, that’s how I been started rowing at Stanford and then I eventually got that job, coaching at Stanford. And then, I also met my now husband there and he’s the one who introduced me to cycling. I forget what that question was.

Joan Hanscom:

No, you’re actually doing it. You’re right there because we’re on this path of tell us about Skyler. That’s super cool actually that it was one of your Russian teachers that got you into rowing.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, totally.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s pretty amazing. I went to Boston University where the rowing program is obviously a big deal for all schools in Boston. I think the rowing program is a big deal. And I remember as a freshman, somebody approached me because I’m tall. And I think when you’re a tall girl, they think you’re going to be a good person to have on the rowing team. And so, I remember talking to them and then they were like, “Yeah, we’re out on the river at 5:00 AM.” And I was like, “Bye-bye.”

Joan Hanscom:

That sounds really cold and I don’t like that. Now, I get up at 5:00 every day and I train and whatever, but 5:00 a.m. out on the Charles River was not something that I ever thought my body could handle. I was like, “No, no, that sounds way too cold for me.” But more power to you for doing it because I remember just being like, “No, no, no, no. Thanks for asking, but I’m not interested.”

Skyler Samuelson:

That’s what so great about rowing in California.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Right. You don’t get the freezing cold. Charles River is not quite thing although it’s been quite chilly here lately I will say. So, that’s cool. So then, you came to Stanford to go to school and work on your degree, but also row and you met your now husband introduced you to the bike. And so, I would assume he was not a track cyclist.

Skyler Samuelson:

Correct. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you got introduced to road cycling.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, he was an athlete at the time and now he just rides more bikes. But I had a back surgery at the end of my rowing career while at Stanford and then that I was hoping to pursue rowing at a higher level. And then, at the time, the back surgeon who was like, “You should probably take a couple of years off from rowing to let the injury and the surgery heal.” And so, I started riding bikes more during PT to recover from the injury. And I just fell in love with bikes.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, I was in this limbo period right after I graduated from Stanford. And I have family that works at Nike and they hook me up with a sports physiologist who works at Nike and maybe do all these sports theology tests. And I was like, “I’m interested in being an athlete. I’m not really picky about which sport, but what do you think I would be good at?”

Joan Hanscom:

Where’s my aptitude?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Where can I find a niche? And he recommended track cycling as I’m more of a sprint, fast-twitch muscle person. I’m a long person, but I still feel very new to cycling. I love track cycling. And I think I’m still, I’m open to more disciplines of cycling in the future, but I just fell in love with the speed of track cycling and the feel of it and the community. Something I love about the track is that you can do workouts on the track. I’ve done workouts with Mandy [Markel 00:14:14] and we’re on the track at the same time. And that’s something that you can’t get on the road as much because I get dragged by people.

Skyler Samuelson:

So, I love that people of all levels can be on the track at the same time and then you can learn from people and just gather in a way that you can’t in some other forms of cycling. So, I love that about track. Also, something coming from rowing that’s just blown me away about cycling in general is the strategy, right? There’s no strategy. You just go hard and then you go harder and then you go harder.

Skyler Samuelson:

So, yeah, exercising my brain has been really fun. I’m sure that you’ve seen I’m not the best technical writer yet. Because I think sometimes I just want to work really hard right from the start and pull everybody around. But learning when to go and the lulls of the racing has been so fun for me and been really great to exercise my brain some more.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s funny people don’t necessarily… broadly speaking about cycling, people don’t understand that it’s a thinking sport, right, because there are tactics and there are strategies. And one of our very, very early guests that we had when we first started doing the podcast actually said that that was one of the things that she really appreciated about when she started racing on the track was it improved her cycling more broadly because the track cycling happened so fast that she had to learn to develop those decision-making skills split second.

Joan Hanscom:

And that was such a key piece of development for her was track cycling as it did force that wicked fast, assess and react type of thing where you just had to hone that decision-making process into a flash. And I thought it was a really interesting observation that on the… she made it sound well on the road then everything happens slower. And you’re able to see things happening as they unfold. And she very much chalks that up to tracks labeling and how fast it all transpires. So, I have no doubt that a couple of more seasons under your belt, you’ll be laser quick too in your making.

Joan Hanscom:

But it was funny talking to [Elle Smith Hewitt 00:16:35] about her win at nationals this year and what her thought process was. And I was watching. I was up on top of the judges’ stand so I was watching the whole race unfold and I could see the whole thing unfolding and see what was happening as they went into turn three on the last lap.

Joan Hanscom:

And it was so interesting to hear what her thought process was going into turn three and versus what I was seeing on the track. And it was super cool to see it all, like what I was everything with my eyeballs was what actually happening in her head. And it was super cool. But to go through that thought process of what that last lap was like was pretty, it was pretty interesting.

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah, I think people just assume that on the track, it’s just like row and you smash it, go hard and turn left, and there’s more to it than that for sure, I mean, except maybe in the pursuit and then you just smash it hard and turn left. But that’s funny because that first season you were at T-Town, that’s essentially all you were doing.

Joan Hanscom:

I remember you were coming out and you’re doing the 4k pursuit. You were doing all the distance events. And I remember everybody going, “Who’s that? She’s fast.” But that because you weren’t an east coast cyclist person so we’re all like, “Who’s that person who’s going real fast in the pursuits?” So, that has to be a big engine translation from all the rowing years. So, it’s interesting. So, what else did the Nike sports performance person tell you?

Skyler Samuelson:

It was cycling or cross-country skiing were my two choices. And I did. I don’t know if you grew up cross-country skiing, but I definitely did. And I raced in middle school a little bit. But I guess the thing now is you have to move to Europe, which I think you do for cycling too to some capacity, but there’s not enough snow really here anymore.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Unless you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Right. I think that’s where all the good US people come from now is Minnesota. It’s funny. It’s funny that you say that because the middle school I went to, we had a big park across the street where they would take us outside for gym class at wintertime to make us cross-country ski in the big park. And I just remember thinking this is the most horrible, hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hated it. I now as a grown-up, I love it so much. I love cross-country skiing and I love how hard it is because it is really hard. And I love that about it.

Joan Hanscom:

But I remember in middle school, I thought it was like, “Oh God, I hate this so much.” It’s funny how as you develop as an athlete, that I hate it so much, this is hard becomes Oh, I love this, this is hard. So, yeah, that was the gym class I hated the most was when we had to go out and cross-country ski in the park across the street from school. I was like, “Oh God, this is hard.” Maybe it’s because I didn’t like being cold either. But yeah. So, that’s funny, the funny transition. So, you are working with Jennie Reed coaching. Is that still the case?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So, because it’s New Year’s and we’re all talking about what our plans are for 22, what are your plans for 22? What is it looking like for you as far as we can all prognosticate at these weird COVID times?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. So, Jennie and I have made… I’ve been working with Jennie since I started racing. Shout out to her. I love working with her. She has so much experience. And that was really important for me because as… and she was really great with me as a brand new writer. I was like, “I don’t even know what a chainring is. I don’t know anything.” And it was great for her. She was just so patient with me and has really taken me from ground zero to where I am now.

Skyler Samuelson:

And I guess our goals for 2022 are to really focus on the pursuit. I had such fundraising the mass start stuff and I still want to do that as well. But I do have national team aspirations and I’m hoping to get a really fast pursuit time this year. I’m going to be traveling to LA every month, still enjoying to get some more time on the two 50 and get a good benchmark there.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, of course nationals is my big focus also as well for 2022. This past year was my first nationals. And I think I loved it. It was also super overwhelming. I think I got pretty nervous around the nationals. So, I think I’m going to really looking forward to 2022 to have one under my belt and know what it feels like.

Joan Hanscom:

And back to T-Town. So, it’ll be a familiar place for you. So, that’s cool too. That was a bit of a surprise to all of us. When you USA Cycling called and said, “Hey, would you be interested in hosting again?” We said yes, of course. But yeah. So, back to a familiar place for you, which is hopefully good luck on the new track surface, which is hopefully going to be faster and smoother and hopefully doesn’t have that big whoopty turn and whoopty bump and turn three. And hopefully it makes for faster times for y’all, but yeah, that’s exciting. And that stuff going down LA and the national team aspirations.

Joan Hanscom:

Talk a little bit about that. Do you know what type of times you have to put up to be a national team eligible? Have those standards been published? Do you have a ballpark? Do you know what you’re looking at?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I’m hoping, like when we talk about Jennie, when we talk to Jennie about a benchmark is around the 3:40 time for that pursuit, which is pretty speedy and I’m right around a 3:54 right now. And so, that’s a pretty significant chunk for me. And I’m hoping that I still am seeing really big games from being pretty new in the sport. So, I think, obviously, I love setting big goals and I want to go after them really hard, but it’s going to take a lot of work. So, that’s the time standard that I’m hoping to hit. And then, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s cool. So, as you change your focus or refocus on the pursuit stuff because like we said, the first year you were at T-town, it was all we did was pursuits. So, you clearly put a lot of those miles in the legs. And as you defocus the mass start stuff, how does your training change? So, what are you doing now? Obviously, this is the time of year where we’re all putting in the “off-season work.” What’s that look for you now that you have a different set of goals for yourself?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, totally. I think my training this year has been different because also this is the first year in a while that I’m not working a full-time job. And I decided to leave Stanford this past year because I wanted… and I feel really lucky that now I have a partner, who has a full-time job now and I can have a part-time job and we can make it work. It was a lot of work, right? I was in the boathouse at 4:30 a.m. for the athletes to get there at 5:00 AM. And that full-time coaching of any sport is a huge undertaking. And not only time-wise, but emotionally.

Skyler Samuelson:

So, the transition from the full-time to more part-time work has been huge in terms of being able to allow me to just have more hours in the day. So, I’ve been able to put in a couple of really good, big endurance blocks this fall. And it’s been a lot of riding outside, a lot of just long hours aerobically on the bike.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, this winter, we’re going to start doing more intensity. It’ll be a lot of two to five-minute efforts on the trainer, just a lot of intensity on the trainer then on the track in LA every month probably for a week just trying to get that effort, that three to four-minute effort dialed.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I’m curious because you are a coach who’s being coached. And how does that? I’ve never been a coach. But I am a coached athlete essentially my whole life. How does being a coach impact how you interact with a coach?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think it was really healthy for me to be in a different sport from my athletes. I think that I wasn’t ever trying to be competitive with them or I wasn’t trying to… I think that it allowed my brain to separate the two when I was thinking about cycling versus rowing. But I think that it made me a more coachable athlete because I-

Joan Hanscom:

Interesting.

Skyler Samuelson:

The amount of times that I was just like… sometimes my athletes just wouldn’t understand a technical change I was asking them to make. And I was like, “Why are you not making it?” It seems so obvious to me as the coach. And then, to understand that, Okay, This change that Jennie is asking me to make or this thing that she’s asking me to do, it might be difficult for me, but I know how to communicate better to say like, Hey, I’m not understanding this because of this reason. Or I need you to explain it to me a different way or something like that.

Skyler Samuelson:

Versus just like this block that sometimes I would hit with athletes by saying, I need you to do this. And they’re doing something completely different. And it gets frustrating as a coach to say, You’re not doing this way that I want you to do, but maybe that’s because as a coach, I haven’t explained it well enough or there’s another, like something else that’s going on that I don’t know about as a coach.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s super interesting to me. That’s the coach within a coach or coach being coached. It has to be an interesting dynamic that would inform how you interact. It’s almost like a peer-to-peer thing, but still a coach-athlete thing. I don’t know. Maybe I’m overthinking that, but I think it’s got to be cool. It’s got to help inform everything, how you approach communication with your coach, which is so key.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. And I think that it also really informed how I communicated with my athletes and what I knew worked for me, and saying something as simple as, Hi, can I give you some feedback right now, which is something that Jennie says to me that I love because it just prepares you for the feedback or gives you the option to say yes or no. And everybody always says yes, but it just gives you that option to open the door for that feedback.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, also, things like I know when my athletes haven’t had a snack in a while, they might be grumpy or when you know they haven’t got a fall sleep because we’re on a travel day or reminding them to roll out in the airport or things like that. As an athlete and a current athlete, you’re more tuned into those things than I think some other coaches might be because they are away from athletics all the time.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. That distance as they step away from the experience themselves. Yeah. Interesting. So, you are not with Stanford anymore. You are now with Strong Girls United Foundation. You are doing mentoring. Is that the correct description of what you do with them?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Talk a little bit about this because I think it sounds pretty cool.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. So, I’ve been working or been associated with Strong Girls United for the last two years. I started volunteering with them while I was still at Stanford, looking for a different way to give back to the athletic community. And I started working as a mentor in their Female Athlete Mentorship or FAM Program. It’s a program that pairs a couple of elite but mostly collegiate female athletes, one on one with an elementary or middle school-age girl for the school year. And we do mental skills and mindfulness and a lot of physical activity and all virtual like over Zoom. But it just allows girls to meet an athlete.

Skyler Samuelson:

And a lot of times, we’re able to pair people up with the sport, so we have a lot of basketball mentors and soccer mentors, and they’re able to meet a young soccer player and inspire them in that way. And then, so this year I’m working with Strong Girls United to help run this program. So, I’m both working as a mentor in the program, but I’m also helping run the mentorship program. It’s funny. This year, one of my mentees is Cadence, Amara’s daughter.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh wow. That’s amazing.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. She’s so sweet. I love working with her.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s super cool. Well, I’m on the board of the Amy D. Foundation, which I don’t know if you know who Amy was, but she and I were friends and she died very tragically in a crash in Belgium. And the foundation is very much about empowering female cyclists to chase their dreams or big dreams via bicycle. And I almost wonder if there is an opportunity for us there that like offline, not part of the podcast, explore some opportunities between the organizations because the missions do seem to really be something that could be mutually supportive. So, it’s cool to hear you talk about it.

Joan Hanscom:

And then, I think about, Is this something Amy D. Foundation could be a part of or somehow be engaged in to help each other scale or something? But yeah, very, very cool, very cool program. And I think something that when you were way back in the first part of this conversation when you were saying I knew I wanted to be an athlete and that was part of how you were wired. The fact that you found a place where you’re able to share that now with the next generation of female athletes is pretty cool and, yeah.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I feel so lucky. It’s so perfect, the perfect setup for me right now that it’s virtual and remote. And I have really flexible hours in terms of helping run the program, and it’s helping me be able to pursue my dreams and live out my dreams, so it’s awesome. I feel really lucky and the org is doing really good things. So yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

As I was reading about it before we got on the call today, I was like, “Oh, this sounds super cool.” Because I’ve seen you on your Instagram stuff post about it, but hadn’t really had the opportunity or time to dig into it more. And as I did, I was like, “Oh, wait a second. This is actually super cool.” So, yeah, right on. Good for you. What else is going on? We’ve got nationals as a big goal. What else? What else is in the Skyler playbook for 22? Or are you totally just totally track-focused now? Has that taken up all of your bandwidth for Skyler time?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I think that I am really looking forward to taking advantage of this year in terms of that. One of my vision goals for this year was to find a setup that allowed me to train and race more full-time. And I was really lucky to be able to accomplish that goal. So, I am really excited to capitalize on the flexibility that I now have and that I am also being paid to have this flexible schedule is so amazing. And I’m so lucky that, if Jenny says like, “Hey, I’d love you to go to LA this weekend, I can say, Yes, I’m going to drive down there.

Skyler Samuelson:

And if opportunity comes up to race whether that’s in Seattle or Canada or something like that, I can say, Yes, I’m going to be there. And I think that while I am going to focus on the pursuit this year, I still would love to do mass start racing and then hopefully race some more. I’m probably going to race some early-season crits in California.

Skyler Samuelson:

So, I think just, I’m really looking forward to being able to take advantage of being a little bit more flexible and just learning more and taking in a lot more experiences and, yeah, making myself a better racer and a better writer.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you said your vision board, that was a… So, when I’ve done that in the past, which I am not doing in 2022. I’m going to be delightfully vision-free. I’ve done that in conjunction with working with a sports psychologist. Is that something you do with your coach or is that something you do with a sports psychologist?

Skyler Samuelson:

My vision goals are something I’ve come up with my coach, but I’m also working with a sports psychologist now, which I’ve had ongoing issues with my back after my back surgery. I’ve also had some nerve damage issues. I had a concussion in 2019. So, I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries and a lot of chronic pain management. So, that was one of the reasons I started working with a sports psychologist was to keep managing my relationship to pain in my body

Skyler Samuelson:

But also I do think that with national team aspirations, hopefully with being able to race internationally at some point, I am putting a lot of pressure on myself. So, it’s been really great to be able to talk to sports psychologists too about how to manage cycling life balance and to keep a healthy relationship to the process. I was like, “Go for those big goals.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I found that it was an incredibly useful thing to do. Like yourself, I started working with a sports psychologist after a big crash in 2015 where I had a very bad concussion, a really bad shoulder injury, very bad collar bone break. It was outside. It was not inside my body. It was outside my body. But the concussion part was really the part that I tried to force myself back into riding and racing far too quickly after my shoulder healed and did some real damage to myself from rewiring my brain for anxiety because I pushed through a concussion that I shouldn’t have pushed through.

Joan Hanscom:

And it took many years with a sport psychologist to unwire that anxiety piece of the puzzle that was a result of that crash. And over time, I found that it shifted from working on anxiety with her to doing all those things like how you manage the stress, how you manage balance, how you keep perspective, how things don’t become outsized problems in your head. But also just really how to create the goals and how to strive for them in a healthy way. So, I’m very pro-sports psychology.

Joan Hanscom:

I think it’s such an important piece of the puzzle, especially as a person like myself, who’s had issues with eating disorders too just making sure that you stay really focused on what your goals are, but in a healthy way is I think so key. But when you said that, I was like, “Oh, there’s got to be a sports psychology in there somewhere.” And I think that’s one of those topics that it’s important for people to talk about and certainly with people who are going to be competing at your level.

Joan Hanscom:

The pressure is enormous and I’m just middle-aged lady racer. And the pressures that I put on myself were enormous. So, the pressures at that elite level are very, very high. And I think it’s so important for people not to fear the sports psychology that it’s actually such a good and empowering thing, and it can really clarify those goals. So, that’s cool. Yeah. But it’s funny. They’re just left out of me. When you said it, I’m like, “Oh, wait a minute.”

Skyler Samuelson:

Well, thank you for sharing that with me. I appreciate that. And I’m sorry that you had to go through that. Concussions are literally the worst.

Joan Hanscom:

I’ve had seven, and every time you get one, they get a little worse. So, yeah. But I think, again, it’s something that’s so important for us to talk about openly. Be careful when you get a concussion because it can be way more than just a headache and the ramifications can last a long time if you don’t address them right up front like I didn’t. And I remember I was in the hospital for four days after the crash and they kept asking me if I wanted pain for my shoulder and for the collarbone.

Joan Hanscom:

And I just kept telling them I just had a headache and I didn’t need narcotics but was I suffering with a headache and they never made a recommendation for a neurologist. They never made a recommendation to seek follow-up treatment for the head injury, but then they were pushing those opioids. And I was just like, “I don’t need them. The pain in my shoulder is fine. I just, my head is…. And I was really mad at the medical community for not saying, Hey, you should probably see a specialist for this concussion that you had because it is bad.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, one of the things we do with the kids in the team T-Town program is we got them all baseline tested and we made sure we connected them with LVHN’s concussion center. And it’s one of those things where having been through it, you know it can do a number on you.

Joan Hanscom:

So, again, one of those things that I think is really important to just have open conversations about. There’s no stigma about it and there’s no pressure to return before you should return things. And as you as a coach, I’m sure you dealt with that with your athletes trying to come back too soon, too fast, and never works that well.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I was so lucky to have Jennie as well in that time that she checked on me every day for two months.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s amazing.

Skyler Samuelson:

It was amazing. She went into also mama bear mode to me, but also to have someone on your team who’s been through something like you’ve been through who knows how serious it can be. It was a huge benefit of being able to work with her and to be able to have that experience when I don’t have to go through that experience myself.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Best not to have to learn it firsthand if you can avoid it. Yeah. That’s super cool. So, are you planning to be back at T-Town for the UCI stuff?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yes. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. So, a little-

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I’m hoping to… Yeah, go ahead.

Joan Hanscom:

A T-Town UCI appetizer for your national championships is the way to go. It’ll be funny though because I don’t think Al Smith is going to be racing. She said she’s hanging up the wheels. And so, you’ll be down one buddy, one race buddy.

Skyler Samuelson:

I know. I know. It makes me very sad. She and I have become close friends, and it was really fun to be able to race with her. And I feel really lucky that I got to in her last official season. I’m sure that she’ll be back to dip her toes a little bit.

Joan Hanscom:

I hope so. I hope so.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I’m sure that she will. So, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And she was a Jennie Reed athlete too, right, in the same coaching group?

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. So, she was coached by [Taylor Crane 00:40:37] who is Jennie’s assistant or co-coach, but yeah, that also made it easy for us. We did some workouts together last summer because Jennie and Taylor would talk, and that was really fun.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s super cool. I was very impressed with that whole sense of community building that Jennie builds with her athletes that you guys are very connected. And I think that that probably translates now into how you’re going to work with your role with the Strong Girls, that creating support, not controversy or conflict, where it’s… I say this as a person who’s older than you. So, we weren’t really taught how to compete. Boys just know how to leave it on the field. You play hard on the field and then you walk off the field and you don’t carry that with you.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think that at my age and I’m speaking specifically for my generation, which is really the first title IX. We’re the first ones that benefited from title IX. We did not learn that. Right? And so, competition could be a little bit it weird. And now I think athletes of your generation are learning to do that thing where, yes, you play very hard and you compete very hard on the field of play. But then, when you walk off the field of play, there’s mutual respect and there’s friendship and it’s supportive off the field of play as opposed to.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’m speaking in broad generality. But I think that that’s important evolution of women’s sport is that lifting each other up instead of just strictly viewing each other as competition is a really important evolution. So, it’s cool, again, organizations like you’re with fostering that and, yeah, that’s super cool. But I always admired that about what I would hear about Jennie’s coaching group was that there was definitely that sense of community of it was a team, which is cool.

Skyler Samuelson:

It is cool. And I think it’s something that I’ve missed a little bit in cycling from rowing that having that built-in team. So, that’s why it was really fun to get to know, not only Al Smith but also Kim Zoberson and Jess Strong and have this little group of women who were so generous in giving me tips and teaching me things. And then, also competing really hard.

Skyler Samuelson:

It’s funny you were talking about Al Smith’s win in the national championship. And I was behind in the back and almost like was forgetting to sprint because I saw her winning. And I was so excited for her. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, it’s happening?”

Joan Hanscom:

She’s doing it yet.

Skyler Samuelson:

And I was like, “Oh, I’m still in the race and have to remember to keep pedaling.” But yeah, I think that that’s something that I hope that I always value and I’m sure that I will, but something I just love, the community that sport can bring and I hope to continue to be both a humble competitor and someone who continues to lift women up around me. Because I think to a certain extent, that’s still in the community is that there’s not enough room for all of us or there’s only space for one woman or is that only funding for this stuff that gets in the way.

Skyler Samuelson:

And I think that I heard this great Abby Wambach quote, which is like, If there’s not room at the table, just build your own table. And I love all the women I’ve met, including you through sport. And I love what sport can do in terms of lifting women up, so hope to keep doing that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And it’s for life too, right? I’m still so close friends with my teammates that I’ve raced with over the years. Those friendships go back to my very first year of racing bikes way back now. So, it was like going back to T-Town and reconnecting with Cheryl Osborne, who is the person who taught me how to race bikes. It’s one of those things where that teammate bond or that connection. I feel like everywhere I’ve lived, and I’ve lived in a lot of places, everywhere I’ve lived, it’s been, you’ve made these teammate friends through sport that really endure and that’s pretty cool.

Joan Hanscom:

The first team I raced for way back when I was just messaging with her on Facebook, and she’s like, “When this COVID stuff is over, we have to plan a visit. And I was literally, like she’s…. I’ve lived all over since we raced together and she’s lived in London. She’s in Texas now and yet still we have this bond that was created through racing bikes together.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think that’s just amazing. It just does last forever. It bonds you together in a way that I don’t think a lot of other things do because you’re in the trenches together. And when you do scary things together, you have an appreciation, you have triumph together and tears, right? And it just bonds you. So, it’s super cool. Yeah.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. I want to plug while we’re talking about community that for the last two years at T-Town, I have stayed with the [Verma 00:45:54] family and they have become like my family. We exchanged Christmas cards this year and [Devick 00:46:01] just got into Dartmouth. They texted me about it and it was so great to hear. I think, obviously, you know this, but having that, being able to live with them for the summer makes a huge difference in terms of the cost and being able to come out and race. So, shout out to the T-Town community and them especially for what they’re able to do in terms of supporting rider and also just loves them because they’re like my home away from home.

Skyler Samuelson:

I think that’s been honestly the hardest part for me about bike racing so far is I didn’t know how much travel there was going to be and being away from home, being away from my husband and my space has been really difficult, but being with them has been such a joy and I feel so lucky that they took me in.

Joan Hanscom:

They are lovely humans, all of them, which is a nice thing to be able to say is there are some really great people in that community. And, yeah, I think you landed with some of the really good ones, that’s for sure. But there are lots of people in that community that become family with the racers and that’s cool. And I’m hopeful that, fingers crossed, that 22, we start to see things like more international riders coming back because all those international riders have forged those relationships too.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, I think that’s what’s made T-Town amazing over the years is that these families take in riders year after year and they forge a bond and it is like for a lot of athletes coming to the home or second home because of that really lovely community piece. And that’s cool about Devick. So, super cool. Always knew he was a smart kid. So, that’s very cool. Congratulations, Devick. If you’re listening, study hard. Yeah. That’s super cool. Is he going to go pre-med like his family?

Skyler Samuelson:

I was joking. I texted him that, I was like, “Oh, The next Doctor Verma.” Who knows?

Joan Hanscom:

Who knows? He’s got good role models if that’s what he chooses to do. So, what else is exciting? What are you going to do for New Year’s Eve, Skyler?

Skyler Samuelson:

You can check out my baking Instagram. I’m like an amateur baker. I love baking and I love that it’s my hobby that’s truly a hobby. Sometimes bike racing feels like not a hobby anymore. So, I love baking. And so, I’m going to make this fancy pavlova, which is basically like a meringue with great fruit curd in it and some fancy cream. And we’re going to have a little dinner at our friend’s house. So, nothing too crazy. But I have an FTP test on Saturday morning.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you’re not going to eat a lot of your pavlova.

Skyler Samuelson:

I’m going to crazy and get drunk and stay up until the night.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that sounds wise. Wait, FTP will be a little low. Sidebar, you should check out more of Ethel’s baking. So, more normally sits in on the pods as well. But since we’re on west coast time and she’s on east coast time and technically she’s on vacation this week, I did not recruit Mora in for the pod this week. However, she is quite the accomplished baker. So, when you’re back in T-Town, you’ll have to compare notes with her because Mora more can whip up a confection herself. So, shout out to Mara.

Joan Hanscom:

When she’s going through the transcript of this podcast, she’ll know that I’ve given her the shoutouts for all of delicious confectionery as well. So, you’ll have to compare notes when you’re back. She’ll be thrilled to talk baking with someone. But that sounds like a lovely, quiet, calm, sane New Year’s Eve.

Joan Hanscom:

I will do the same. I will probably be asleep by 9:00 because I’m not going to be crazy. I’m going to go out myself tomorrow for my New Year’s Eve. Good times. Because, boy, do I know how to have a good time is two and a half hours of tempo. And then, after that, yeah, I’ll probably be done for the day. That’s it. Two and half hours of tempo and then I’ll be ready for sleep by 9:00. And meet the New Year same as the old years. That’s my motto for 22. Meet the New Year same as the old year.

Joan Hanscom:

But, Skyler, it’s been a delight. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our listeners things for the show notes, things where they can either follow along like your Instagram handle or information about the Strong Girls United Foundation? Tell our listeners where they should find out more about the cool stuff you’re doing.

Skyler Samuelson:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. This has been really fun as advertised. It was very fun and not scary.

Joan Hanscom:

I promise.

Skyler Samuelson:

You can find me on Instagram @skyler.espinozaa with two As. If you want to follow my baking Instagram, it’s @stickofbuttah, B-U-T-T-A-H. Yes. And then, @stronggirlsunited, all one word, is also linked in my bio. So, you can check us out there. And if you’re a female athlete especially in college or fresh out from college and you want to serve as a mentor for us next year, that’d be a great way to get back and get involved.

Skyler Samuelson:

And then, anything else? I don’t think so. I’ll also plug for try the track. It’s very fun. Everyone should try it and you will love it. Guaranteed. Getting more people riding bikes is always super fun and it makes more fun for everybody the more people we have racing.

Joan Hanscom:

And 50 and 50, there you go, 50%, 50% female participation. All right. So, you’re going to have to send tomorrow for the show notes the recipe for your confection for New Year’s Eve, your pavlova. And so, we will include your recipe, Skyler’s recipe with a link to your baking page. So, your best post photos of what your confection looks like. And we will put the recipe for it in the show notes. So, you are now on the hook. You have homework, Skyler. So, our listeners will know what you’re talking about here.

Joan Hanscom:

And with that, I will let you go and wish you a very happy and successful New Year. And I’m sure we will cross paths. And I hope to do some bike riding with you this year because now we live, what, 45 minutes apart. So, let’s ride bikes.

Skyler Samuelson:

I would love that.

Joan Hanscom:

And Happy New Year.

Skyler Samuelson:

Happy New Year. Thank you so much, Joan.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with our guest Skyler Samuelson Espinoza. If you like us, please give us the thumbs up, the hearts, the stars, wherever you consume your podcast of choice. It helps us grow the audience and keep the podcast going. Thanks so much for listening. Happy New Year.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

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Bree Nidds: Answering the Tourism Call

Bree Nidds - Discover Lehigh Valley

Episode 48

“It’s just super cool to see the hard work that you all put into really, you’re the boots on the ground hosting that event it’s directly reflected in an economic impact on Lehigh Valley.”

Curious how events like national championships happen? That’s one of the many topics covered in this week’s pod with Joan and guest Bree Nidds of Discover Lehigh Valley. Joan and Bree highlight the importance of a good relationship between a venue/sport and the local tourism board and sports commission, the challenges of tourism in a pandemic, and how you can bring events you are passionate about to the area.

Bree Nidds - Discover Lehigh Valley
Bree Nidds – Discover Lehigh Valley

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things, track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom. Welcome to this week’s talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Joined by my co-host Maura Buettel. And today we have a very fun guest a person who I’ve enjoyed working with tremendously. We have Bree Nidds joining us from Discover Lehigh Valley. And you may ask why do we have somebody from Discover Lehigh Valley on a track podcast? And that’s because Discover Lehigh Valley and Bree are an incredibly important partner in what we do. And so we wanted to take you inside how things work with your local CVB sports commission, tourism board and hopefully it’s some interesting insights. So Bree, welcome to the podcast.

Bree Nidds:

Well, thanks Joan. I’m glad you introduced me as a fun guest because I feel like you all are fun hosts, so I’m happy to be here.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, we certainly try to be fun hosts, but sometimes we go on a weird tangent, but hopefully not today. So Bree, as we said, in the introduction, you are the vice president of sales for Discover Lehigh Valley, which is a very big title for a person so young as yourself, for our listeners, Bree was named 20 in the 20s by the Professional Convention Management Association in October of 2020, which is an impressive recognition. So Bree, you are a mover and shaker in the tourism space, which is pretty cool for your career trajectory.

Bree Nidds:

You’ve done your research Joan. I like it.

Joan Hanscom:

Always.

Bree Nidds:

Okay.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, but I just think it’s cool. And I think that we have a tendency here on the pod to try to elevate our female guests and highlight women who are doing cool things, whether it be in coaching or racing or in your case tourism. So yeah, we want to-

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, if I’m not mistaken a couple years ago, I think maybe back in 2019, you and I were recognized by sports events magazine for maybe it was women to watch or people to watch in the sports events industry. And I thought it was really cool that we were both kind of side by side and the same destination you being the venue and me being on the destination side of things. And so, yeah, accolade it’s all around, but I can kind of give an overview of what I do at Discover Lehigh Valley. If you’d like to hear that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Bree Nidds:

Okay, cool.

Joan Hanscom:

I would love, and I’d love our guests to understand it. And so for everybody listening before Bree gets started, this is a little bit of inside baseball, but it really provides the context or understanding for how the events that you like to race come about to happening, things like national championships, how they come about. And that’s why this is important for you all to understand, because then you can support organizations like this, where you’re from and, or work with them where your venues are located. So Bree take it away. What do you do?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, sure. So I oversee our general strategy for booking meetings, conferences, new festivals, sporting events and the capacity that. We work in together is mostly on the sporting events side of things. I also oversee the certified tourism ambassador program that Discover Lehigh Valley started in partnership with our community college hospitality program a year ago. So that kind of falls under our umbrella, but really what I like to do and what Discover Lehigh Valley is out to do is to enhance strengthen Lehigh Valley’s economy through visitors. So in my specific role, I do all of that, but we focus on groups. So think 10 or more people that would come into Lehigh Valley, that’s kind of what I’m charged with and we’ve worked together in a few different capacities, you with Discover Lehigh Valley, but most recognizable are some of these championship events that we’ve hosted here recently.

Bree Nidds:

And a lot of that was of course made possible by you and the venue, but I think our synergy together that we were able to showcase that the Lehigh Valley is truly a destination that welcome cyclists, especially in the niche that is track cycling. So when I was actually doing our year in review of just 2021, I’m like, “Man, we had a big year of cycling” and a lot of that was events that through USA cycling the elite, what did we host? Junior, elite-

Joan Hanscom:

Junior are masters.

Bree Nidds:

All the things.

Maura Buettel:

All the things.

Bree Nidds:

So, and then that is reflective of when we look at our kind of some measures of success that we have at Discover Lehigh Valley occupancy, how many people are coming in and staying in our hotel rooms, what are they paying each night, how many stay in, and so when I kind of crossed reference the events that took place in July, we hosted NAS as well as September. There’s a direct correlation to what our bump in occupancy looked like. And it’s just super cool to see the hard work that you all put into really, you’re the boots on the ground hosting that event it’s directly reflected in an economic impact on Lehigh Valley. So yeah, that’s in a nutshell.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think that that’s so important for the cycling community to understand, that these events are made possible through these types of partnerships. I mean, obviously you supported our bids for the national championships which is how those things work, right? We have to have a… The way the bidding process works is that we have to have the local organizing committee, which is typically the sports commission, the CVB, the tourism board, that’s typically who does these bids and we did them in partnership. But for folks who understand, like there are no national championships happening pretty much anywhere without a partner like Discover Lehigh Valley. And it’s really a key… It helps with funding, but it also helps just with our ability to earn the bid and part of what these bid packages include. And I think there’s a lot of mystery around this, in the cycling community, and you hear it all the time “Oh, why are they going back to winter park for mountain bike nationals?”

Joan Hanscom:

Well, really how this whole thing works to demystify for our listeners is that the governing body puts out a bid document. And then typically it’s organizations like yours, that whether it be at a convention or via online sees these bids, collects these bids and say, “Which ones of these is correct for our destination.” Then the organization like yours, like Discover Lehigh Valley contacts a venue like ours and says, “Hey, should we bid on this event?” And then we do this in partnership. And then ideally, if your bid is strong enough, you are awarded the event. But I think people just think that the national governing body just selects a place. “Oh, we’re just going to go there again.”

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s not really how it works. It really works with the importance of having this organization like Discover Lehigh Valley, wanting to host and wanting to have that event come to their community. And it comes with things like, “Hey, we have to have X amount of hotel rooms available. We have to have X amount of support.” And unless communities come forward with that kind of support, the federations, don’t bring the event to that region. So I really want people to understand that because it’s a process and it’s a process that sometimes the Federation gets bashed about like, “Well, they’re going back to Albuquerque” or something and really if nobody else wanted to host the event, then yeah, they’re going back to Albuquerque because that’s where the tourism board decided they wanted to actually welcome the event.

Joan Hanscom:

And in my experience of event, production events only work if you have a strong partnership with your local community. And I think that’s when events really gain traction, when they have longevity, when the sport gains traction, and one of the coolest things I think about you and Discover Lehigh Valley, and your boss, Alex as well, is that you all really do value cycling events. Not just the track cycling, but you really expressed interest and willingness to work with the cycling community more broadly. So next year we’re working with the Hincapie Gran Fondo bringing that event to the track. You are really a pivotal partner in the new Eastern Crit. So you all get the value of cycling and for the people of us who are in the little niche sport, we appreciate that you value our sport.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And just going back a little Joan, like the destination has to want to host that event. And I think that’s why even USA cycling, they want to see that the destination puts a high emphasis on the cycling community, in their destination. And that’s something that I feel proud of that the Lehigh Valley does. And I want to perpetuate that message forward to not only USA cycling, but like you were talking about this new event, the Gran Fondo Hincapie. When that came across my opportunity desk, if you will, I first said, “Let me talk to our cycling community and see if this is the right fit for our destination.” All I needed was your endorsement to say, “Yes, let’s go after this. Let’s do it.” And then we partnership again, did it again, and submitted a proposal for that.

Bree Nidds:

And it’s all worked out but I think just the piece I also want folks to understand is while I love booking events and seeing new visitors, cyclists come into the destination, it’s more so about how do I say this, showcasing the destination sometimes for the first time to people and hoping that they come back, do they come back for maybe it’s the same event next year, or maybe it’s another event that’s outside, it’s in a completely different discipline or it’s for a festival or they’re they want to comment explore some of the colleges and universities that are here. So 2020 was a really interesting pivotal year for us. And we just had new research that we came across and invested in just to know what our destination is like.

Bree Nidds:

And majority of the people that come to the Lehigh Valley, they are repeat visitors. I think it’s somewhere close to 80% of the people that come to the Lehigh Valley have been here before. So events are a great way for us to introduce new people to Lehigh Valley. So a lot of what we do together at the velodrome is I like to welcome new people here so that they hopefully will come back.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. And I think that the that events are such an amazing way to do that. And whether you are doing marketing your destination or whether you’re marketing a thing, right? You’re marketing a product that bringing people together is sort of a magical thing. And yeah, I think it’s so powerful. And I do think we’ve already started to hear from folks who are going to be new visitors to the Lehigh Valley next summer for the Fondo we’ve heard from people who are going to be coming from Texas, coming from Louisiana more. And I went down and did the Hincapie event in South Carolina. We couldn’t believe the number of Hincapie participants who were already completely stoked to come to the Lehigh Valley for a new event.

Bree Nidds:

I checked the registration number, so they got close to 600 people registered and we’re over six months out.

Joan Hanscom:

[crosstalk 00:12:36] months away. Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

So it’s super cool. And I love that we have the runway to promote, then not only the event, and what’s going to take place there at the velodrome in all of our surrounding beautiful roads. But what other things people can engage in while they’re here, extent their stay and really make it a destination event.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I’m really hopeful that folks are going to come and they’re going to ride, and they’re going to see just how tremendous the roads are around the velodrome, and just want to come back and do more bike tourism in in our region. And hopefully that means they’ll come to the track and do some spectating at the velodrome, and they’ll go out and have some good dinners at some of the Lehigh Valley, good restaurants, maybe go to a winery or a brewery and just really get the full flavor of the place. But yeah, I think it’s an incredibly powerful partnership for cycling to partner with your tourism board, because there’s better way to really see a region than by bike, in my opinion. So I think to have a partnership that really showcases the beauty of the region, which is usually what you see by bike, because nobody really is like, “Hey, let’s go for an ugly bike ride.”

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. Right.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s such a perfect way to showcase your areas by a bike and particularly blessed with beautiful roads.

Bree Nidds:

Oh definitely. And I was actually driving out and was passing the Rodale Institute not too long ago. And I know you’ve done a lot of work with them and with us, and we’re trying to really synergize the whole farm cycling destination aspect, just highlighting that. It’s such a unique thing that we have here. So again, with those folks coming in on for the Fondo, I hope they can then experience some of that. But two folds our mission, I mentioned it before is strengthen Lehigh Valley’s economy. The other piece is we want to enhance regional pride and having the venue like yours, having your enthusiasm and passion of your entire team, the events and then what you do in programming throughout the summer it gets our locals, our residents, more excited about what the Lehigh Valley has to offer and the best referral for a visitor or new visitor coming in is when someone who lives here loves what we have to offer.

Bree Nidds:

So I think it’s just another thing that we can be proud of that we have here, that we have some of these marque events here that then just helps us perpetuate our message of, “Hey, Lehigh Valley. It’s a great place to live, but come and visit us. It’s a great place to come and visit too.” So I just love that and the work that we’ve done together on all fronts.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And from the events perspective, from our side, we at the Box Office every week we would talk to the people as they come into the Box Office. And typically it’s a very conversational thing at our Box Office, right? It’s not like going to a Philadelphia flyers game where you’re just like a number punched through the window. It’s pretty conversational at our ticket window. And when new people come a window, our ticket booth people pretty much know it and, or they have questions because it’s their first time. And that always seems to come up. And we started collecting numbers every week. And we’d ask the new people where, how did you find out about us? And it was always through Discover Lehigh Valley, which I think is also important for the cycling community to understand one of the things cycling struggles with is talking outside their own ecosystem, right?

Joan Hanscom:

We consistently talk to the base, right? We always talk to the people who are already the converted. And we always wonder, how do we bring new eyeballs to our sport? How do we bring new walls to our venue, our event? And we saw measurably, demonstrable, actual, real numbers saying that we brought new people to the venue every Friday because of our partnership with you guys. And that’s powerful because that’s hard to do these days, right? Cycling is pretty siloed, like I said, it’s hard to talk outside the ecosystem, but if we can find a way to punch through that, to your point it really helps the sport grow or stay relevant.

Joan Hanscom:

So it incredibly valuable partnership with you all and from both sides, right? I think that’s the key and I just want to keep encouraging folks who are working in this space outside of the Lehigh Valley to find their Bree, right? Find their person in their community that can help them. And you guys, I mean, you work with the cycle cross events, like you guys don’t just work with us, you work with promoters across the State.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And it’s generally every disciplinary, I think about mountain biking, cycle across and cycle across the crit and track. It’s like, goodness, we’ve got, and now we’re doing this Fondo it’s like, we’ve got nearly every discipline. So it’s not-

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fun.

Bree Nidds:

… it’s fun that it’s not just one thing that we can really say cycling and then it’s it kind of it’s everything. And then just our amazing trail systems that we have with the DNL trail. It helps bring folks who are more of those recreational cyclists kind of into the fold, what you do with your programming to welcome folks who maybe don’t ride bikes on the regular, you have ways to get them introduced to the sport. So there’s all types of little feeder programs that really fit us nicely into this cycling destination category.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. So that’s all the shop talk, right? We’ve jumped right into the deep end of the shop talk, but I want to take a step back and talk a little bit more about Bree because you were in Roanoke before you were here and you were in a similar role, not the same role, but similar.

Bree Nidds:

Sort of.

Joan Hanscom:

And you were you focused on cycling there as well.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, you would think that I, myself am a cyclist for, with all the passions that I have in cycling and my previous destinations, but I’m very amateur when it comes to cycling. But yes, I worked at Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge which was based out of Roanoke, Virginia. We represented five jurisdictions so much like the Lehigh Valley. We were a regional destination with that being said during my time there, as a destination were able to get the IMBA silver ride center designation that’s through the International Mountain Bicycling Association. So we really staked our claim that we are a mountain biking destination on the East Coast. And we really wanted to bring all of, all of again like new visitors, new eyes new people to come and experience the destination. And we worked closely with economic development there to host cycle cross events, a pretty marque cycle event there called, go cross.

Bree Nidds:

So it, yes, cycling has been kind of a focus of mine because I’ve seen how it not only impacts on the tourism front, but when you look at the entire destination as a whole it just amplifies the quality of life that exists in any given area. So focus on that there, and then prior to my time at Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, there I focused just on sports. So as the director of sports development there, I was in wiling to North Carolina beach destination. So you won’t get too many mountain bike trails there it’s a little flatter, but yeah, so there, I also focus on sports and dabbled in a few other tourism related things

Joan Hanscom:

Speaking of beach destinations, this was a fun fact when I was, you know you always do your research on people before they come on your podcast, even though you and I know each other, you always want to, you want to dig a little bit and what I didn’t realize Bree was that you went to college in Hawaii. And-

Bree Nidds:

I did.

Joan Hanscom:

… you were on the sailing team.

Bree Nidds:

Yes, to those.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s cool [crosstalk 00:21:12]. That’s so cool. Tell us about that.

Bree Nidds:

You know, Joan, I think that’s where, whether I knew it or not, that’s where my career in tourism started going to college in Hawaii. That State is a tourism destination. It’s almost like the epitome of tourism for our country.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

And so as I went to school there and moved back to North Carolina where I’m originally from, it just became a part of my narrative. And so then when I randomly applied for a tourism job, it just fit so nicely in that people are like, “Oh, well you lived in a tourism destination and you…” Yeah. So it was really cool in that aspect. And I loved that I was able to kind of piece that into my personal narrative, but yeah, that was such, such a great experience and yeah, great time there.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, you got a little sparkle in your eye, just talking about it.

Bree Nidds:

Oh, yeah, we’re sitting in the middle of winter and so. I’m like, yeah, I love that tropical climate.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Hawaii was pretty great. Did you still do you still sail?

Bree Nidds:

I had boat in Virginia down in Roanoke. I sailboat definitely a fixer upper. So that was a fun, I say fun loosely, that was a fun project to have. I don’t sail as often as I would like. Now I am very, yeah, just the power of wind energy is an incredible thing. So if sailing taught me anything, it’s that man, the wind can do some crazy things that can get you from point A to point B maybe with a few tax and jobs along the way, but you’ll eventually get there. But no, I haven’t done a whole lot of sailing here in the Lehigh Valley. I’ve just focused, it’s like my life I live in compartments. Sailing was a compartment of my life. It doesn’t mean I can’t revisit it.

Bree Nidds:

But now I’m more into running. I got into golf recently and so I’m sure I’ll be into those things for a couple of years and then I’ll move on and do something else and be focused personally on some other things. But yeah, collegiate sailing was definitely a great lead in to what I do on the regular now with sports, tourism and events, because I was a traveling athlete. So you got to experience a lot of different destinations and places which was awesome. It’s super cool. We were hopping on planes to go and sail and California and Texas and Florida and Annapolis. And so I was able to then understand firsthand when we’re welcoming in college teams for a variety of tournaments or events, like I know what they’re experiencing, when they go and what’s important to them. And a lot of it was where the nearest restaurants are to eat, every team must be fed. So it’s just understanding that. So again, when I talk about my personal narrative that fit into tourism really nicely just because I’m able to put myself in these traveling athletes, in their shoes.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, every traveling athlete wants to know where the food is. First and foremost, where’s the snacks, where do I go for food?

Maura Buettel:

Where’s the nearest Wegmans that I can go to.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. So funny. So we’re going into year three of our pandemic which is so crazy to say. And tourism obviously was a chat during, or the ongoing is an ongoing challenge during COVID. And you guys had to get pretty creative on some stuff. And certainly economically it hurt everywhere, not just Lehigh Valley from a tourism perspective. Talk a little bit about out what you did during that time, because I think you started going to virtual trade shows, you started doing a whole bunch of stuff. And how did Discover Lehigh Valley sort of pivot through that time? I mean, not like, oh, staff reduction or whatever, but more like, how did you change your approach to managing time for the pandemic and where do you see that going right now? Because you and I are talking about events for next summer, different events not just the Hincapie event, but we’re looking at some other options as well which shall remain in the box until they have information. But how did you guys pivot? How did you guys respond?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And just talking about the virtual thing for a second, that’s actually how we met the event organizers with Hincapie Gran Fondo is through a virtual event trade show that was powered through our relationship with the what we call, PA sports, which is our statewide sports tourism entity. So through them and our association and membership with them, we were able to get in front of these Hincapie folks, and that all came to fruition virtually, which was super cool. And that happened during the pandemic, which I thought was a nice refresher, goodness that gave me some optimism for the future for us. But certainly the Lehigh Valley, we did have some new research conducted for the year of 2020. And while you think like, 2020 is kind of a strange year to have research be done.

Bree Nidds:

It was pretty eye opening and really reaffirmed what we were doing at Discover Lehigh Valley and what our inklings were. And so it’s been known in the Lehigh Valley that people come in to visit with their friends and family. That’s always the top of the list of why people come to the Lehigh Valley. Second on that list back in 2018 was for special events. People came in either for an event at the velodrome or for music Fest or a litany of other things. Bacon Fest sounded Easton that in 2020, our research showed that, yes, people were still coming in to visit friends and family. But second to that now was outdoors. People were coming in to experience the outdoors. So Discover Lehigh Valley made not so much a pivot, but definitely brought to the higher surface that, “Hey, we have a lot of outdoor assets.”

Bree Nidds:

We have a lot of things that people can come into the Lehigh Valley and do safely. So we need to really double down on promotion of those things. So we really got into promoting all of our trail systems, our outdoors, our covered bridge, guided tours, the velodrome, anything outdoors that people could experience. And I definitely see that continuing as we move forward, I think outdoors is going to be, outdoor assets and things to do while also still having amenities in a destination is going to set places apart. There was this, definitely this sprawl early on in the pandemic where you had city folks, they kind of wanted to get out and got out in the sticks. So places maybe that didn’t have all of the amenities that city offers or Lehigh Valley, Allentown’s the third largest city in Pennsylvania.

Bree Nidds:

A lot of people don’t know that. So we actually have quite a few amenities that people can enjoy. And so I think the trend is going to move more. So now that things are opened back up, these city folks are not going to want to go as far out into the sticks as they did. They want to find a happy medium for visiting, for recreating. I mean, we’ve seen a lot of people move here. So I think the trend is going to be a destination like ours. That’s set up with a great balance of outdoors. We have events coming back now, plus we have amenities. It’s going to set us up for longevity of welcoming visitors, retaining visitors. So that’s kind of my prediction will continue to double down on those promotions of all of those assets and see what happens, I guess, is the main thing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, we’re on that, see what happens. I think point in this journey that we’re on, but I do think you’re right. I think that people have rediscovered the value of the outdoor space and the value of fresh air. And it’s interesting because I recall being at meetings at Discover Lehigh Valley in 2019, where it was like, “Oh we don’t have a convention center. Is that a problem?” And now I think the last thing people want is to be in a big convention center with a gazillion people. And really it is the outdoor opportunities that are attractive to people right now. And whether that be the IronPigs for outdoor baseball or us at the velodrome, I do think that that mental shift has really taken hold and you see it in the bike industry, you still can’t buy a bike.

Joan Hanscom:

Now, a lot of that is supply chain driven, right? A lot of that is issues where the supply chain is so messed up that that bikes are hard to come by, but the fact that bikes are hard to come by, is a testament to the fact that for years bike shops had a backlog of inventory, they had bikes sitting in the stores that they couldn’t move and bike shops sold everything. And bike industry hadn’t been in a position to have to restock their stores from ceiling to floor in a long time and they found themselves in that position. And I think that just, and it was the same in all the outdoor industries. You couldn’t buy a paddle board, you couldn’t buy a tent, any of the outdoor toys that we all like to play with. You couldn’t get your hands on because everybody discovered doing outdoor stuff.

Bree Nidds:

They did. And even, I don’t want to berate you with statistics, but I’ve some fun ones that we have is that so many of the people that came in to experience if they brought their bike or just came to experience our trails or whatnot, that we saw a 20% increase just from our own State in Pennsylvania. And just going back who enhancing regional pride people realize they don’t need to travel. They don’t need to hop on a plane per se, to go and experience a destination or a great experience. So they kind of became tourists in their own backyard, which is cool. And hopefully then dovetails into folks coming back and taking pride and all of that stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So I think for folks listening, who aren’t from the Lehigh Valley, but who are involved in our sport, what would your advice be if you’re an event director, or if you are a person who loves bike racing, you live somewhere else, what would your advice be to start a partnership with your local sports commission or your local tourism organization such is yours. I mean, I’ve done this for a long time, right? I’ve had really great partnerships with the folks at, the Louisville sports commission, I’ve worked really closely with the Philadelphia folks when I worked for that race, we worked with- Like you said, at the very top of this, so the destination has to want you, as a person in a different destination, how would you recommend they start approaching a partnership with their local organization?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. If you are a passionate community member, if you run the chapter of your local Mount biking club, if you are like the Joan of your community and you run a venue, I would say, and this is how I view any visitor to the destination too. You have to see it and experience it to understand it and get it. I, myself come from a background of sporting events, so I just know the type of energy, excitement, and impact that they have on any given place. But my advice would be, if you are trying to tap into your CVB or destination management organization, simply invite a representative out to an event or out to one of your chapter meetings or out to the venue to see it, to experience it, treat them like they’re the visitor and that you want to show off what type of event… It’s not everyone comes from a background of sporting events.

Bree Nidds:

Some destinations are smaller, whether they don’t even have a sports wing, they don’t even have a salesperson-

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Bree Nidds:

… or department like mine, so then find a person who you can then bring out and show them and walk them through. And then hopefully that will open their eyes a little bit more to what can exist, then you can start ideating together and then hopefully go in on like what we’ve done Joan, go in together to bid on opportunities. So even for the Lehigh Valley, if we can get people here on site visits, if we can get event organizers here, I mean, we keep referencing Hincapie but we got those folks here. They hopped on their bikes and rode around on our roads. And they said, these are like Belgian style roads.

Joan Hanscom:

Awesome.

Bree Nidds:

Now they can’t do that virtually. They can’t do that on Zoom. They had to be here to experience it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

So I would say treat anyone you’re trying to influence to be on board to host an event or whatever treat them like, a client and show them the value. Do you agree? Does that kind of-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, a 100% and I think that’s how we’ve always done it. When we brought it to bring the cycle cross world championships to Louisville, Kentucky the first thing we did well, we didn’t initially to target Louisville. We said, what’s the right size market in the US to host a big cycling event because you have to sort of match your event to your destination, right? So we knew cycling, you don’t want to go into like the top five medium markets, right? Because if you go into New York city, your A, going to pay a billion dollars and B, you’re just going to be like a little tiny, like whisper in the back, right? You want to go into a market where you’re actually going to be the news, you’re going to be the focus, you’re going to be meaningful to that community.

Joan Hanscom:

So we said, all right, where is there a great cycle cost community? Okay. Ohio Valley, Louisville in particular has a great burgeoning, like blossoming cycle cross community. Let’s talk to their sports commission. And let’s see if this could work and it’s funny, like I had previously met the Louisville sports folks at one of the conventions that you were talking about. And we had been talking to them about a road event. So I had a contact at the sports commission in Louisville from talking to them about something else. And I was like, all right, I know these guys because of this road event, we tried to sell them on, let’s talk to them about cycle cross. They were like, “Yes, let’s tap this thing.” And then it became a four year partnership, really that it’s actually longer than four years.

Joan Hanscom:

It started in 2007 and culminated an event in 2013, but it was a partnership that we actively cultivated together and we traveled the world with those guys. We went over to Belgium with them. We showed them what the world championships was all about. We showed them what it could be and it was a true partnership. And so for folks who want to do a big event in their community, a bike event, whether it be a velodrome event, if you have a velodrome, or if it’s a road event, cross event, gravel event, I think that your point is absolutely correct. You have to cultivate that relationship and show them. You have to sort of smell them mud, as they say, you got to show the color and the pageantry and the excitement of the event. And there’s no better way to do that than in partnership.

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah, I agree. It’s super important to have, just to establish a relationship based on like, “Oh, this is a right fit for us and we believe” right, that whole like, “We believe that we can do this here” is super important.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think we certainly believed in all the national championships events we did last year, we knew that that was something that we could deliver on for you guys, really bringing people in. The Hincapie thing is a bit more fun in that it’s like new.

Bree Nidds:

Sort of.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think it’s going to be amazing. And we’re hoping to have Rich Hincapie come on the pod and talk about it too. We keep teasing this now on the podcast, because we’re so excited about it.

Bree Nidds:

Oh yeah. Good.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s [crosstalk 00:39:12] we’re going to get to have an event that finishes on velodrome with arguably the top American classics rider of all time, who always wanted to win a race that finished on of velodrome. How fun is that? So we’re pretty excited about that, but it wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, that was one of the, like if I could think of a pandemic win. And like that was one. That we really went after and I’m excited for June definitely. It’s again, next year’s going to be another busy year of cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

I thought you were going to see like we, Samoura, you rode the one with me down in South Carolina.

Bree Nidds:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

And we had so many conversations about because that one’s like, you climb a couple of big, long climbs and it’s nice right there. I mean, what the climbing is like there Bree, but so we were talking to folks about what the terrain is like here. And I don’t know. I had a fair number of people who are like, “Oh, it’s going to be flat. It’s not mountainous.” I’m like-

Bree Nidds:

No, no.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. Good luck to you because while it doesn’t have long sustained climbs, the climbs that we have on this ride, I think are going to surprise people and I think they’re going to… It’s like you said, they like, “Oh, these are like Belgium roads.” And I think people are going to find that there’s some very Belgium climbs on this course, which is really exciting to showcase. So I don’t know, as a bike nerd, like I love the type of riding that happens in the Lehigh Valley. That’s really short, steep, mean, punchy things and I think people are going to be so excited about that event.

Bree Nidds:

Definitely, yeah. And maybe we’re not doing it just system when we say Lehigh Valley, because people think valley, oh, it’s flat and whatnot, but yeah. It’s cool. They just, I saw on their website, they had the kids out for it and the kids look super cool. So yeah, I’m excited as, yeah, definitely an understatement. That’ll be a great event.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m excited to see with what they do with the hospital around it too, because that’s such a huge component of that event. And so yeah, can’t wait to see, I can’t see what the final product looks like with them. It’s going to be really good. So we’ve talked about the Hincapie Fondo a whole lot and we’re coming up on the end of our time together, but Bree, before I let you go, I have one last question for you. And it’s because during COVID again, we’ll go back to that because I guess we’re still during COVID. But you became a virtual bartender. You made drinks online. So as we head into the holiday party season, I’m going to ask you one more wacky question. What’s your favorite drink to make and yeah. Your your favorite holiday cocktail from Bree the bartender.

Bree Nidds:

Wow. Bree the bartender. Yeah, I like it. Is it five o’clock yet? No, I’m just kidding.

Joan Hanscom:

Closer for you than for me.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, I sometimes Joan, I think I missed my calling and I love mixing up a cocktail. It’s just fun. You can get creative with it, but I actually had friends giving a couple weeks ago and I made a specialty cocktail for friends giving. So this is their endorsement, not mine, that this is a really good cocktail. It’s actually called the Christmas city cocktail. The recipe itself comes from a gentleman who used to work at Emeril’s Chop House here in the Lehigh Valley. And it is composed of, I think it’s a bear of a drink just because you have to make a simple syrup and it tastes like Christmas in a comp a cup because of this simple syrup you make.

Bree Nidds:

And that’s the labor intensive part, cinnamon, cloves, allspice star andies, little bit of nutmeg rosemary and cranberry simple syrup. You cook all of that together. So that ha has to happen a day or two before your party. And then so that involves, then you add that with whiskey, grand marnier, some rosemary for a garnish little nutmeg on top, pour it over ice, and I tell you what that is my drink of choice for the holiday season.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. I think you’re going to have to send more of the recipe so we can put it in the show notes and we put it in as the Christmas cocktail in the show notes. Very timely. And yeah, so for our listeners who are looking for little holiday cheer, we’ll have Brees’ Christmas cocktail recipe for you and PS for the pro tip, you can buy a pre-made simple syrup and then you can do the cooking with the spices, probably a little easier is my-

Bree Nidds:

My simple syrup made maybe like three gallons of simple syrup.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Bree Nidds:

So I actually gave, which was fun because then I gave it away as a parting gift [crosstalk 00:44:19] for guests as a little and jars, and they could take home some simple syrup. So that’s also an idea.

Joan Hanscom:

That is tremendous, because yeah, people will love it, they can go home and have more of your delicious cocktail.

Bree Nidds:

Indeed.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, that’s a very appropriate way to end the pod with some holiday cheer for everybody. So yeah, we’ve given you homework Bree, now you have to share your recipe.

Bree Nidds:

Will do.

Joan Hanscom:

And thank you so much for coming on the pod. I know again for our listeners, this is not the typical track talk. But I think it’s really important for folks in the cycling space to understand how to make cycling events happen, where they live and how to make them really work well. And maybe even to answer the mysterious question of how national championships end up where they end up, which maybe we did our friends at USA cycling a favor by explaining to folks how the process works so they can dodge some of the anger that they face occasionally. Thank you again and happy holidays Bree. If we don’t connect before I hope you have a great holiday season and yeah.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. Happy, happy holidays guys. And thanks for the time today. Hopefully we debunked a few myths maybe, and hopefully folks learned a little something about where we’re coming from in the world of destination management and cycling. So looking forward to another year of great cycling events.

Joan Hanscom:

And looking forward bringing more folks to the Lehigh Valley. So this is been a talk of the T-Town podcast with our guests, Bree Nidds, look in the show notes for her recipe. And thank you as always for listening, leave us the thumbs up, the stars, the hearts, the likes, help us grow our pod listenership. And we wish you all a happy holiday season as well. Thank you for listening. This has been the talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscomb. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe. So you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

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Amara Edwards: Looking Ahead to ’22 at Jerry Baker

Amara Edwards - Program Director, Jerry Baker Velodrome

Episode 47

“I think that’s important to realize that every track is its own little community.”

Ever been to the Jerry Baker Velodrome out in the Pacific North West? This week’s guest gives the inside scoop about what goes on there and how it compares to T-Town. Joan sits down with Amara Edwards, the program director of Jerry Baker Velodrome, and talk how they handled racing during COVID, how she came to be program director, and what it takes to put on racing.

Amara Edwards - Program Director, Jerry Baker Velodrome
Amara Edwards – Program Director, Jerry Baker Velodrome

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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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And I am joined this week by Amara Edwards, the program director from The Jerry Baker Velodrome in the Pacific Northwest. Amara, welcome to the pod.

Amara Edwards:

Hi, thank you, Joan. This is exciting, I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m glad to be here.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I’m excited to talk to you. I am ignorant somewhat of how Jerry Baker works versus how T-Town works. So for our listeners who maybe haven’t been to your track, tell us about your job there, your role there, and then tell us a little bit about what goes on at Jerry Baker Velodrome.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. So I guess we’ll start with the track first. The Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome, formally known as The Mary Moore Velodrome is 400 meters, so it’s a big track but it does have some decent banking. We have a 23 to 25 degrees banking. So there’s at least… Yeah, you can turn into it, which is awesome but it’s our gentle giant, we like to call it. But we do host a lot of racing. I think we probably… our head to head with T-Town on actually who hosts the most racing per summer, which is… We always like to say we host the most, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but we host three times a week. We have racing’s on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights, we have racing every week and then additional-

Joan Hanscom:

We have Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, so…

Amara Edwards:

Well you’re pretty close then. And then we have some Saturday special events once a month. But so we have a lot of racing, which is something that we are very excited about and we have great fields and it’s a really awesome community out here. And we’re located in Redmond, Washington, which is… people say Seattle, it’s not really Seattle. It’s on the other side of Lake Washington, but it is an awesome community, the whole Washington area. And we… Yeah, our racing scene is great and we continue to grow there. Our big event, which I think most people know as far as our grand pre, which typically happens the third or fourth weekend in July, and we generally host a $10,000 cash first. And we’ve gotten Olympians, people from all over South Africa, Australia, bunch of big names that come out and make that a big show, obviously the last few years has been a little funky, but we try to make that a really big event and we’re hoping that is returning this summer.

Joan Hanscom:

And I know we try to avoid conflicts with that so that our participants can be your participants and vice versa. And I think it’s super cool that you all do that and have that big glamorous showcase night. And I know that there are folks from our Velodrome that consider that their favorite race of the year. So, because I’ve heard all about it because people really, really enjoy that night, so it’s super cool. And fingers crossed that we all get to have a much more normal season in 22. It’s so weird, I don’t know about you but… because the seasons have been so weird. I’m like, “Is it 22? Is it 23? Is it 21?”

Amara Edwards:

I don’t know either.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s really a challenge. And then the shift of the calendar is so weird. So, I don’t even know what season we’re talking about anymore.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Like I said, hopefully we are back to normal. We are actually… and I’m getting drilled here. We were actually had a fairly normal season last year, besides our larger events. We just couldn’t host because travel was frowned upon. But we actually hosted all of our nights granted, think that we’re in Washington and in a park. We had a very strictly follow up all the COVID protocols, but it was like, “Okay, masks on, mask off, mask on.” You know what I mean? It was like, “Okay, do not race when your mask is on. Okay, you’re racing, you can take it on.” And there would be little pods. We got very creative, but we were actually ran our racing program. We were very proud of that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. We were lucky too, in that we were able to run pretty much the normal season plus a gazillion national championships, too many national championships. But we did start the season having to race in masks unless we were doing time trials. So I think the entire month of June, if… The way the state regulation was written was if you were fully vaccinated, you were allowed to race without a mask. And if you had not been fully vaccinated, you had to race in a mask.

Joan Hanscom:

So June was really interesting for us in that, not only was it like, “Stay in your bubble, in the infield,” but it was… people actually having to race with masks on, it was a challenging June, but then July, they opened it all up and we were able to race without the masks on, which was really nice because masks… Well, I am very pro mask. I also appreciate I got racing with one in July, in the concrete crater would’ve been quite unpleasant-

Amara Edwards:

It’s difficult.

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah. So hopefully we have a better 22 but who knows right now, things are getting weird again. So…

Amara Edwards:

Yes they are.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So let’s not talk about those unpleasant things, let’s talk about you. How did you come to be the program director at The Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome?

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. So I guess we were talking about this a little before, but I can give you my background, I know you don’t know me very well, kind of go to about how I became the program director. Many people might not know me or they know of me, but not really. So I started racing when I was 11 and I started racing on the track, which is actually odd because the track was an hour away from my house. So my parents would drive me and my brother and my sister, we would… the three of us would go down multiple times a week and we would train and race and do all the things, but I started when I was 11. So I’ve been involved in track cycling. I figure how old I am, this will be like 23 years. [crosstalk 00:06:36]

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. And it’s actually funny. My first nationals when I was racing at shows was at T-Town. So I have a very good connection with T-Town. I’ve been there quite a bit as a racer, coach, all sorts of stuff. But as I went through my junior career, I got to race at all different tracks, which was awesome. I went to college and I started my own team when I raced collegiate nationals a couple times and I graduated. I have a major in physical education and minor in coaching and biology. And I actually taught for five years as a PE teacher and health teacher. And actually oddly enough, the first year I taught was also the first year I was the program director.

Amara Edwards:

So I actually juggled working at the track full time and being a school teacher, which was very fun and a unique opportunity. But yeah, so I got involved. When I graduated in college, I started being the youth director at the Velodrome, and after doing that for our summer two, I think I saw like, okay, how things are working. And then the program draw opened up and I went, “Sure, let’s try it.” It’s very vague listing as any director job at a track is, it’s you never really know what you have to do and a lot of it’s just extra and random and you just do it all basically.

Joan Hanscom:

I would be one of the people that do actually know, but yes.

Amara Edwards:

Yes. But so-

Joan Hanscom:

But I think… People have no idea. I think people think we live in a little box at the track and we pop out on race day and races happen, and then you pop back into your little cubby hole underneath the track surface and that’s that.

Amara Edwards:

That’s what you do.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Magic, there it is.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Magic. But yeah. So no, I think I got to see what it was like, and then I got to do that. And I think this is going to be my ninth year, eighth or ninth year as the program director. And that job has evolved as I… When I had my first child almost five years ago, I stopped teaching. So I was full-time mom and full-time at the track. And as I stopped teaching, I managed to take on more responsibilities at the track just to fulfill my time with things. And then at that point I also started our junior team, The Jerry Baker Juniors, which this year is supposed to have over 40 kids, I’ve added more things onto my plate-

Joan Hanscom:

But that’s-

Amara Edwards:

But yeah, so doing all of that and I think my second year as a program director, we had masters nationals at our track, which was crazy to have the hosted our track, it was awesome. But yeah, so it was through all those things. It’s just grown and evolved and I’m happy where it is, and I’m happy with the junior team growing, that’s the future.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. So that’s… Very passionate about that as a former junior athlete and just having that direction and that program for kids to see and I think it’s really awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, certainly had a huge presence at junior nationals this past summer, it was great to see. And you had complete with cheering sections and everybody was very color coded and very boisterous and I thought it was awesome. It was… You definitely knew where the Jerry Baker section and the stands were that week of racing, which was super good. 40 kids is awesome. It’s a lot. So do you do the racing programming too, or just the youth programming?

Amara Edwards:

Everything. So yeah, the program director is truly the everything. I help classes, I do… We have an auction every year, but all the racing programs and then the youth team director is a separate job as well. But yeah, so we… I end up doing a lot of it, which is-

Joan Hanscom:

Doing all the things.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it, that’s what comes down to, and-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That is, I think the real truth that I wish everybody understood about people who work in bike racing, because I think so often… Zach may know, was just on the last pod. He terrific and I have so much respect for him, but we joke that his whole stick is, “I’m here to ruin bike racing and make people cry,” because he’s the [inaudible 00:10:49] of that. Because in reality, he couldn’t be further from that. But I do think sometimes people just think that officials or race directors or executive directors or program directors, we’re out to kill all the fun and we’re really not. We do the job, we do it because we love the thing and yeah. And we’re not actually in our jobs to ruin your fun. We are not actually trying to destroy bike racing. But yeah, so that was a funny little sidebar, but yeah, it’s always a labor of love, right? We do it because we believe and we do it because we think it’s the right thing to do and we may-

Amara Edwards:

Yeah, for sure. Especially if… I have a 14 month old now as well. So this whole last year, I’m finally getting consistent sleep. You sleeping through the night [crosstalk 00:11:45] amazing, it’s 14. Yeah. Anyway, so people would always be weirded out. At 2:00 or 3:00 AM when I get a message I respond back to them because I’m like, “I’m up.” I can respond. People were just like, “Wait, why did you respond?” I was like, “It’s just what I did.” I had four to six hours of uncontinuous sleep for the last year and we make it work.

Joan Hanscom:

Amazing. Amazing. So what… Tell me a little bit about what your goal goals are for the track. What’s your plan? What’s your goal? Where are you guys pointing your track? Tracks in an interesting position, right? In the US we’re in a position where traditional racing is I think struggling somewhat, we are… as track, as a discipline, we are pretty tied to our Federation, which is also struggling certainly in the COVID times. And some tracks are closing, they’ve gotten dilapidated enclosed, or… so there aren’t very many tracks in the US. So, first of all, tell us what you want to do with your track, where you’re taking it, what’s your vision for the next five years, and then how are you guys facing the challenges that we’re all facing right now?

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Our vision, obviously we want to keep track racing going, thriving. But the biggest thing for our track in the next couple year vision is we want to grow our women’s numbers. And I think that’s… I know something T-Town is really focused on, but even just looking at our numbers and our field sizes, it’s something that we are really committed to on our board this year, we got up to 10 volunteer members on our board up from seven and four of them are women, three of them are racers as well. But yeah, just trying to get that brainstorming and that drive, and that passion and that fun and figuring out how to get more women to the track and what it is that’s keeping them from that, but to get our fields up. And I think we already have momentum, we’re doing women’s only classes, we’re trying to create some different things this year, but yeah. Figuring out what needs to happen for those women’s numbers in particular. And then just overall numbers like how to get more people to the track.

Amara Edwards:

We always joke around that we’re the best kept secret in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s not a great thing, right? Racers are like… The road racers and cross racers, they’ll be like, “Wait, do you have a track?” And we’re like, “Yes, there’s a track here.” One of what? 24 in the United States now, where’s the track? And it’s thriving, right? In terms of other racing that’s dying or just numbers are going down, our road racing is really struggling out here, especially with COVID as of late. But even before that we had crits just dropping off left and right.

Amara Edwards:

So the fact that we have three nights of racing and we have fields for everyone like, why aren’t you racing track? And we’re trying to really figure that out, especially with the people that are racers of another discipline and then continuing our outreach to other people, right? Like, “Oh, you like bikes, or you saw the track driving by and you want to check it out, yeah, come ride a track bike and see what that’s all about.” So just continue our outreach and increase our numbers, I think is our number one thing. And then another side thing that we’ve been really focusing on the last few years is our livestream. So getting our outreach up through our livestream and this last year we had like four or five different cameras and we’re trying to work on creating a professional product that we can put out and say like, “This is track racing.” Having cameras on, GoPros on, on bikes and switching to those and doing some really, really cool stuff to be like, “This is bike racing.”

Amara Edwards:

Where we seen the UCI Nations Cup or whatever, just is happening… finishing up today, I don’t know what time it is.

Joan Hanscom:

Just champions league.

Amara Edwards:

There you go. Champions league, they’ve done an amazing job with their social media and coverage and everything like that. So we’re striving to that because that format works and that’s like our normal… for us our Friday night racing, that’s what we-

Joan Hanscom:

Isn’t that funny that they’ve… Same thing, I think they’ve finally figured out to make expectator friendly racing, right? Which is what we’ve been… The both of us, right? Our tracks is what we’ve been doing all along because you have Friday night people in the stands, and that means you can’t run a hundred and something plus lap race, because it’s not super interesting for the fans. You got to have fast events, which is what they seem to have figured out with this champions league and… Good on them for trying to modernize it a little bit, make it fan friendly.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. But yeah, like I said, what we’ve been doing for a long time and yeah, getting our spectators in, our beer garden, food tracks, making it that fun environment that people can come out to and spend a Friday night. Having our Kitty Kelo, where they come do a lap around the track, right? Trying to create that fun environment where people want to go and watch racing and just have an evening basically.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s… We share that goal of, put the fans in the stands on Friday night. We have a great, great, great beer sponsor. Great, great food in the concessions but still it’s a tough sell I think these days, no matter how great the beer is and how affordable it is and what a nice affordable ticket it is, we’re competing with a lot of stuff. We’re competing with baseball. We’re competing with all the big… the ball spores. We’re competing with TV, we’re competing with iPhones, we’re competing with a lot of stuff. And I think it’s just the pie hasn’t necessarily gotten any bigger, we’re just slicing it up into more pieces now. So-

Amara Edwards:

I think that’s one of the reasons we want a full livestream, right? Because we only have… Some people aren’t going to drive out to the track especially between Seattle and Redmond roads, 20 miles or whatever, but that 20 miles takes you an hour and a half. So it’s like one of those… We’re outreaching our local community to watch racing and then also just being able to share that to family and friends that can be like, “Cool, we can watch from afar,” basically.

Joan Hanscom:

I know that that’s something we’re also very much cognizant of at T-Town and trying to figure out ways to do the same, because I do think… We have a local TV broadcast, which is terrific with service electrics, so they’re out there filming every Friday and they rerun the racing on the local cable network on Saturdays. But if you live outside of their broadcast area, you can’t see it. So we are again with that like, how do we live stream it? How do we get it to the folks in Australia and New Zealand? How do we get eyeballs on the track from really track loving nations who send athletes to race at T-Town in the summer and plus there’s folks around the country who like track.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Lexus has done a great job at their promotion and their product. I’m always very impressed with their live streaming.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. Absolutely. So it’s something I think that we got to get sorted out and I think you’re right, just giving more people access to it so that they can see it. And hopefully you get to… You get a little bump from the champions league and more people saw it and thought, “Oh my gosh, there’s one of those right in my backyard, I can go watch this stuff live.” Which is so cool. Yeah. So when does your season start?

Amara Edwards:

We start racing in May and we go until early September. So we truly are… We can get out to the track around April, in the winter months, our… The sun doesn’t get high enough to dry out corners one and two, so it’s like, “Cool, it’s dry but it’s not very slippery.” So starting in April is when we can get out there and actually start riding.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Same with T-Town. Although that’s a bit of a TVD this year, because we’re doing the track resurfacing project. So we’ll see if it’s on time, that’s our mother nature dependent. Last year we had one snowstorm, we were dumped close to 30 inches of snow on the Lehigh Valley. And that snow does not… Much like your track doesn’t dry and turns one and two. Snow does not melt on the track. So, that tracking project for us is very mother nature dependent. So we hope that she’s kind to the Lehigh Valley this year.

Amara Edwards:

No, I think you guys had more rainouts than we did last year, which was weird.

Joan Hanscom:

So weird. In my first season at T-Town, we didn’t have a single rainout. We had one night where we had tornado warnings and we had to pull folks out of the bleachers, but then literally the rest of the summer we did not have a single rain out. Similarly, my second season at T-Town, no rainouts. I was like, “Let the drought begin,” right? May came to a conclusion and I was like, “Please let us have drought for June, July, and August.” And in fact we did and it was terrific, not that I’m pro drought but it was great. It always rained on Thursdays. It was ential downpours on Thursdays. And then this past year, man, we just got nailed over and over and over again, it was like, “Oh, you’re paying for the last two years of goodness.” Yeah. So, I do think we were rainier than Seattle last year. So it was bizarre. It was so many rainouts, but hopefully things balance a little bit, or at least it goes back to raining out Thursdays.

Amara Edwards:

We prefer rainouts to smoke out snow, our August [crosstalk 00:21:24] our smoke season and it’s rough. It’s… Yeah. It sucks to cancel when it’s sunny. But yeah, when it’s smokey and you have air quality issues, it’s just like, oh, it’s tough. You know?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It was crazy. And I don’t know if you even… You were there obviously, because you were there for nationals.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah, the last day.

Joan Hanscom:

You were having smoke issue was in T-Town.

Amara Edwards:

Maybe it’s on fires, wasn’t it?

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fires. I was like, “Oh my gosh, the smoke followed you all.”

Amara Edwards:

Oh yeah. I think it was Spokane. But yeah, everyone was like, “Why is it so hazy?” I’m like, “Oh, this is fires from our state guys.”

Joan Hanscom:

This is not good. [inaudible 00:22:04] that with you. But the sunsets were beautiful. Sunrises were tremendous. Air quality, not so much, but… Yeah. That’s amazing, right? You have to worry about that. I do remember the first time I went to Bend Oregon was for masters road. And I remember being on the plane flying into Bend and you could see smell the fires. You could smell the smoke on the plane. And I didn’t realize there were fires. And so I’m on the plane and I’m like, “What’s that? Is the plane on fire?” And they’re like, “No, it’s wildfires.” And I was like, “Oh crap, that’s crazy,” that you could smell it in the plane. So yeah, I don’t… That’s not nice, but I guess now that season has gotten longer for all of it, which is just crazy. So what else have you got going on at the track? So you’ve got the same agenda as T-Town, which is great. So we should definitely try to help each other out as much as we can. What else is on the old agenda out there?

Amara Edwards:

So, we’ll do our auction in April. We’re trying to bike swap this year, which is something you guys do, it’s something new that we’re going to track. Yeah. So try something a little track specific. We have a generic one that’s always in our area, which is everyone, they’re to track bike swap. We’ll start with our auction. We’ll start classes in April. I think we’re going to try a little something different with maybe road team or team classes to try to target that community a little bit more. And then yeah, start racing our preseason in May, just because May out here is so hit or miss with weather, are we going to get dumped on or do we have sun? So May we call preseason and we’ll start our regular season racing at the end of May, maybe a kickoff event.

Amara Edwards:

And then yeah, we just truck through our racing like I said, we’re going to have a few or more special events. We did a car and all style race last year with multiple [inaudible 00:24:07] It was very unique and very fun with Madisons and other categories. And then I think tentatively, we’re going to try to do it like a Junior’s weekend and I’m still working on the detail, but thinking of July 1st ish and try to invite all the juniors out and be like, if you can get here, we’re going to have clinics racing and just all sorts of fun-

Joan Hanscom:

Well, that sounds awesome.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. And I’ll send details. I’m trying to reach out to the junior teams right now. But I remember when I was a junior going to Houston every spring break, and we would actually… a few days and had clinics and racing and we had juniors from the Wales come in.

Amara Edwards:

But yeah, it was like a summer spring break party, no parents, it’s crazy. We’re all in a hotel and yeah, we went and raced multiple days at Houston. And I remember that so fondly being like, “This was the best,” right? You get to see all your nationals friends at another time in the year. So really trying to recreate that and figure out what that’s going to look like. But yeah, our GP right now is tentatively scheduled for July 22nd and 23rd, people want to mark that on a calendar. I believe that misses your UCI racing, I think is how we figure that out. Yep. We’re trying to make it work, and then hopefully nationals I heard was tentatively beginning of August, at least what their bid sheet said. So hopefully we’ll figure out those dates soon.

Joan Hanscom:

That would be amazing if that was the calendar, right? If we could do that whole, like T-Towns got some C2s running into the C1s because the rule changes, are all wacky and then you go to Europe vet, then you go to nationals and then you have a pretty robust track season.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Yeah. Pop back and forth or go down to LA wherever it may be. But yeah, I think it’d be awesome if people can do some traveling, make those awesome races happen and it would be great. And then our August we’ll have our regional championships, which I think are going to be August 27th that weekend. And so we call them regionals because we invite Oregon, Vancouver, Victoria, Idaho, and they all come down or come over, embrace and so we have a big regional championships that are pretty much the national schedule, but we hand out medals and jerseys and things like that. But yeah, so we try to get a international scene, which is… I think really fun to get those couple checks too.

Joan Hanscom:

And hopefully it’s a little easier this year than last year with the [crosstalk 00:26:25] so happy that the Canadian athletes were able to come down to T-Town and race for all of our UCI stuff. But man, it was not easy.

Amara Edwards:

Not easy at all. I know the border just opened up in this last month and people were like, “Yay. Yes. So awesome.” And figuring out what that… They have to do COVID tests and yeah, there’s a lot that goes into it, but yeah, it sounds like… Hopefully things open up a little bit more.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I watch the news too much, I think, right? The whole On the Ground thing and I’m like, “Oh please don’t let it set us back.” Let it not be more dangerous than the past so we can keep plugging along where we are, happy to put all the precautions in place, put all the precautions in place, but please don’t let us like shut everything down again.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah, yeah. No. And then I mentioned Oregon, so Open Rose closed during COVID actually. And so that’s been a huge armor for that community. So we’ve been really trying to open up and be like… Obviously it’s three, four hour drive for them, but just being able to come up and still have a community and a home that they can race in. And I think we had a few juniors, probably like three or four juniors and then probably five or six adults that came up and race throughout the summer, but it was so nice to see them. But especially with track closing and COVID and it just totally took the wind out of their sail. And I feel for them so much, so I hope to see them, especially for our larger events this year, but yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s such a drag for that track to close and I know they fought so hard to keep it. So super, super dragged that that’s closed. And… But it’s… Because Oregon got such a good bike racing community too. So, that’s a real drag and it’s a challenge though, right? You know how? There’s more… I think land is valuable, right? That’s the thing it’s like at some point the land is more valuable than the track can sustain in some cases. So it’s hard.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. And every track I feel like is so unique from where it is, right? We’re in a county park. Some people are in state parks, in cities. Some people are on by cities. Some of it it’s private, every track is just so unique and because of that our insurances and our planning and our structure, everything, I feel like there’s no one track or two tracks that are similar enough to be like, “Oh, here you go. Here’s what we do,” right? It’s just so unique, which I think is makes is good and bad, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Yeah. No, it’s definitely it. I don’t know about you. Do you get calls every week, “I want to put up a Velodrome,” do you get those calls?

Amara Edwards:

We have a few people that say like, “Oh, I want to put up a Velodrome.” Like sweet, how many millions of dollars do you have?

Joan Hanscom:

That’s the funny thing, right? I get these calls all the time, “Hey, yeah. We want to build a Velodrome.” And I’m like, “Cool, what’s your budget?” And they’re like… I’m like, “Do you have 160 million?” And they’re like… And then that’s the end of that call and then… Or I’ll get calls from people who say, “Yeah, we have the funding to build a Velodrome. How do you keep yours running?” Do you have more than the budget to build the track? “No.” Well, that’s going to be a problem. I think people just don’t know, it’s such a struggle to have the funding, to keep it running.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. And I think that’s another thing where it’s unique. I know there’s some tracks depending where they’re located, get a lot of city or county funding, right? But it’s… I think our track in particular, we do our own fundraising. We have auctions, we get sponsors as donations. We’re a non-profit right. So a lot of people can write all of those things off. But we are doing a full budget recap right now and my mind is blowing up, but yeah. Looking at like, “Okay, if we do this and we have to do this,” you know what I mean? We’re literally crunching numbers right now just trying to figure out like, okay, if we lower our memberships, you know what I mean? Can we keep our racing the same cost? And we want to make sure that people can race and they’re not-

Joan Hanscom:

You want to keep it accessible, right?

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. I’m trying to do that.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re want to keep it accessible.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. Accessible. And I look, last time I raised a road race at crit, I was like, “I’ve just spent $50 for a 40 minute crit.” And my mind blew up a little bit and just prices aren’t just all over the place, but it is what it is. Bike racing costs money and I don’t think people are realizing that. Our Friday night, you have… how many officials? Four or five officials, you have tees, announcers, you know what I mean? The whole event [crosstalk 00:31:05] stand, prize money, right? You’re looking at a $1,500 to put on a race night and you’re like, “Oh cool. Well, how many racers did we have?” And, oh that didn’t quite add up. And so then it’s like, yeah, spectators are beer and crunching all those numbers. I don’t think people realize… it’s in the background, what it takes to put on a race night. I don’t… People just don’t realize that.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny that you say that. When I was doing the master’s cycle cross world championships, a master’s racer who I will not name, lit us up on Facebook because the entry fee was $75 to raise the world championships. And he just came at us super hard. And I was like, “Look, I’m not going to fight this battle with you on social media, but I would like to take the opportunity to run you through the budget.” And I was like, so-

Amara Edwards:

Being transparent with people like that, it’s like [crosstalk 00:32:11]

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s start with the UCI fees. And he was like, “What?” And I was like, “Right, there’s a fee to call this thing the world championship that gets paid to the UCI, let’s start there. And then let’s go through the rest of it.” And when I went through it, I literally walked him through the budget line, by line. And at the end, I was like, “So I hope you can see that we’re not… And you get to race twice for that $75 by the way. You get to race the qualifying heat and then the actual race. So I hope by the end of this conversation, you can see that I am not lining my pockets with your hard earned cash.”

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. We’re actually losing money is what we do.

Joan Hanscom:

We are subsidizing your hobby right now. So I hope you’ll contemplate changing your position on this event. And he was like, “Yeah, right. I had no idea.” He’s like, “Well, you need more sponsorship money.” And I was like… And I said to him, I was like, “And you tell me what company wants to write a big fat check for masters racing that isn’t on TV, that doesn’t have a large spectator base. Tell me again why a sponsor would want to sponsor this event.” And he’s like… it’s hard. People don’t know it costs a lot of money to put on bike racing.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. We did a UCI race one year because we… it was when the… whatever, the USA Cup, you had to be UCIs for whatever we’re going-

Joan Hanscom:

Do it one year.

Amara Edwards:

And so, yeah, it was… We had to bring all… We did the full application. We did all the extra officials and we were just like, “Oh my gosh, this is…” Ended up being so expensive and it was awesome. It was such an amazing experience for the racers and the fans. We ended up having a ton of rain. It was horrible but the whole event, it was so cool to see all those different people and all those different nationalities. And I had… Who was it? A couple Mexican athletes, South African athlete staying at my house, because that’s how it works. As a program director you just [crosstalk 00:34:20] people are staying at your house, but it was just absolutely awesome.

Amara Edwards:

It was a cool experience. But you look at the actual budget and you’re like, “That didn’t go so well.” But it’s what you do and you figure out what you can do. It’s something that we as a board are trying to be more transparent and be like, yeah, this is our budget. We propose it every year, but some people just don’t look or just choose not to realize like, why does it cost 25 or $30 to race a night? And they either accept it or they don’t. But yeah, sometimes you just have to deal with it.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. So you paid $25 for your entry fee, take 5,75 off the top for your USA cycling per rider surcharge, then slide our… whatever fraction of per person for your permit. Then take the six officials, divide that out, then take your time and company and divide that out. And oh wait a second, we’re already in the red. It’s like this was electric bill on, because I can do that. And then there’s announcements. Yeah, it’s like, okay. Seriously that… You just… I’m not complaining about the Federation, they provide us with insurance that does its job, but insurance isn’t free.

Amara Edwards:

No. Yeah. It’s not. It’s one of those things that people… Yeah. People just don’t realize what goes into that entry fee. And even like I said, I do that… a cross race or a road race when I go like, “Oh, that was expensive.” But then it’s like, “Okay, it’s fine.” You know what I mean? I just have to… I hate spending money. I’m one of those people that… I’d rather not pay someone I’m going to do it myself. So I’m going to… But yeah. It’s just like, yeah, you got to remember it. Yeah. There’s a lot of people that takes to put this on and it’s worthwhile. Support your local community and I’m part of the road racing association, even though I will not race my road bike this year but you got to do it to support everybody.

Joan Hanscom:

Gosh, I hope I race my road bike this year. I really hope so. That’s so funny. So that’s interesting that you touched on that and I don’t want to go too farfield from the track, but I asked you in the pre-show if… because I had always thought you were a member of the WSBA board with my good friend, Gina, but you are not, but you work very collaboratively with your local association.

Amara Edwards:

Yes. Yeah. And WSBA, Washington State Bicycle Association, they put on their calendar all of the different events, you’re sanctioned or not. So road mountain gravel, everything gets on their overarching calendar and they do a lot to promote and they help… I know with the road, they have all the signage and things like that and they help work things. But yeah. So it’s awesome that we have a local association that really collaboratively does that. I know a lot of other states are not in the same boat, so yeah. We love our association. Yeah. We have multiple meetings with them every year to be like, “Hey, how are things going? Here’s how we are doing.” And they actually help us a lot with trying to get those road riders to the track, so they’ve given us subsidies of being like, “We’ll pay half of their classmates.”

Amara Edwards:

And so they just have to submit whatever and yeah, all of a sudden instead of it being $40 to take our inter class it’s 20, where they’ve done… I know this last year with trying to get racing back into it, they’ve done two for one rotary entries and they did some of that with track, but they’re really actively to promote facing for everyone in all disciplines, which we really appreciate and appreciate that their financial help as well, just giving us the access to it. All right, let’s… We really want to target cycle across single speeders. There’s like 150 of them on any given weekend. It’s like, “Why are they not on the track?” Clearly, both getting years, but you know what I mean?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Yeah. And they’re complimentary seasons.

Amara Edwards:

Yeah, exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

You don’t have to get up and cross race to do your track racing.

Amara Edwards:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no. When I was at USA cycling, the WSBA I thought was just one of the bright shining local associations that a lot of organizations could learn from in terms of how active they are and how they really do try to provide that return to their members for participating, right? It’s like as a WSBA member you pay $25 or something. And I think that they’re one of those local associations that you actually get the bang for your buck. When you give them your $25, you’re buying more than your little cloth number for the season. You’re actually buying an organization that does support groups like yours and does support promoters on the road and supports promoters of all the types of racing. So I’m just happy to give a good shout out to the WSBA because of the great work. And I always tried to suck them into the discussions with the other local associations when I was at USAC, because I do think they are a model for how the grassroots can support the grassroots. It’s really important, I think.

Joan Hanscom:

So what is your perspective, Amara? And I know we’re starting to run up against time now. What is your perspective on the state right now? Without getting controversial and super negative on the state of the sport, more broadly speaking, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Amara Edwards:

The state of the sport, that’s hard. Is-

Joan Hanscom:

Where do you see trends? Where… so we’re in different markets, right? We’re East Coast market, you’re Pacific Northwest. What’s the state of the sport? How are you seeing people participating in our sport right now?

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. I think… like we mentioned, the UCI cup is clearly going in the right direction, and I think we need to model that. But yeah, for us, especially with COVID, everyone went virtual, right? And so we have [inaudible 00:40:09] they’re awesome virtual series and they did all that and they got all the people involved that way, but it’s how to access those people and figure out track is an awesome alternative. For me, it’s always… especially now with kids, it’s like, “Okay, I don’t have time to go outside and there’s cars and bikes.” And, yeah, I was pregnant with my first kid, I got hit by a bike. And you’re just like, “This is not what I can be doing right now.” Right. And so for me it’s like I’m really not riding outside anymore.

Amara Edwards:

And so having… but knowing that the track is safer than road racing, people for some reason that’s really hard for them to wrap their head around. They’re like, “Oh my God, there’s no brakes.” I’m like, “Exactly. No brakes makes it safer.” No one can slam on their brakes in front of you. And then, especially with track, being… Where tracks are so far and few between, right? We have so much control over safety, right? If someone is unsafe, we can see it. We’re on a road race. You have no idea, right? Who is unsafe and you can’t be like, “Hey, this is what you need to work on.” So I think… I stated this part, I’m getting back to that. I think for us, at least for me personally, is that focusing on the juniors and focusing the next generation that’s going to come up and be that… the next group of people that’s going to continue the sport.

Amara Edwards:

But yeah, it’s hard with USA cycling, I don’t know what the ODP, ODA, it’s ODA now. What that whole program is doing with track, I don’t know what they’ve produced or I don’t know if anything happened this last year, but obviously we have some amazing athletes, right? At the elite level that we need to support. Gavin just won something and Kendall’s doing awesome and Maddie, all these athletes are doing great things, but it’s how do we get athletes to that? That it’s not just like, “Oh, this person’s amazing. Let’s feature them.” And look at all these amazing things that we did, but really it’s-

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s copy them. Yeah. Let’s-

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. We need that grassroots and how to make that connection, and I think that’s hard. I think USA cycling is trying, right? They’re doing their Let’s Ride camps, which is awesome, really focusing on the beginning, beginning. But it’s how to make that connection and doing those talent camps. I remember going to talent camps at the Olympic training center as a 14 year old being like, “Oh my gosh, this is so cool,” right? But getting those opportunities and figuring out what that looks like to kids from going to their local track to nationals, but then there needs to be something else, right? And I don’t know any answers to that.

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s Ride is for little kids who are just learning to ride bikes and there is no stepping stone from that to, how do you translate them into racing? How do you introduce them to racing? But I think you’re onto something with that. Okay, for the specific world of the track you do have, I think an enormous opportunity for a lot of the reasons you said, right? It’s safer. Parents can sit, stand.

Amara Edwards:

They can see their kid. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

They can see their kid, they can watch their kid. So in a lot of ways there’s that… just like baseball, right? The parents can sit on the other side of the fence and watch the kid play baseball. They’re not putting them out on the road with cars and watching them right away. They are saying, “Okay, I’m still going to sit here and watch.” So there’s a safety component for the kids. And I think that that’s right, because I think by the time you get to be an adult athlete, the way people are consuming the sport of cycling now feels very different to me than it is when I started racing 20 years ago. When I… And I was having this conversation with somebody yesterday, actually my first season of racing, I think we started racing in mid-February and raced until the end of August.

Joan Hanscom:

And we would’ve kept racing except that there were no more races. So we raced every weekend. We did crit Saturday and Sunday every weekend from February through August, it was an insane volume of just every week we raced crit Saturday, Sunday. People don’t do that anymore. Well, either are crit every Saturday and Sunday now. So there is not that plethora of racing opportunity, but people want to do different things, right. They want to do the gravel one week. They want to go on their mountain bike. They want to dabble in road racing. They want to go do a Fondo. They want to cross participate, which I think is great, right?

Joan Hanscom:

It’s like do all the things but it does, I think have an impact then on that consistency of participation that I think we’re all struggling with. And so, I think if you can get the juniors into a program, even in the junior programs, if they don’t turn out to be the next Gavin or the next Ashton or the next Kendall or the next Megan Jastrab, if you get kids into track programs, you’re going to give them that solid, solid foundation.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s such a great… Solid skills. Solid foundation is athletes. Solid foundation is people who know how to ride a bike safely, and hopefully they turn into people like you and me who then do it their whole life, if you bring them in as a junior and whether or not that’s participating in track, or if they discover that the track is a gateway to road, or if they discover that they want to do track and gravel like Ashton, by focusing on the juniors, we’re at least giving the sport a fighting chance to keep going, right? To create that next generation of lifelong athletes that we need to keep the sport going, but…

Amara Edwards:

Yeah. I agree there. And it’s so funny so many people… The juniors get started and they end up getting… the parents end up trying it, we do like a parent try the track class to be like, “Your kids do this sport. You should figure out what it is to you.” It’s just funny how sometimes it goes along where you create a super volunteer that person’s out there hoping every single time and just tracks, most tracks are run by volunteers and it’s so important to have that base. And I think that’s important to realize that every track is its own little community and that… Yeah, you got… The more people you bring into it, the bigger community and pool that you can draw on for racers, spectators volunteers. I think that’s important.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s so funny you say that, we had… For our women’s Wednesday programming, we’ve had a bunch of moms whose kids race either just in the junior ranks or kids whose kids are racing at a very high level, who have been now through the women’s Wednesdays program, because same thing they wanted to understand and what their kids doing and have an appreciation for what their kids doing out there on the bike.

Joan Hanscom:

So that is a funny thing. It made me so excited though. I’m like, “Yeah, mom’s getting out there doing the thing.” It was pretty cool to see. So yeah. However we get them on bikes is how we get them on bikes. And it is such an opportunity too right now and nobody can buy bikes because there’s no supply chain is just a big old disaster. Most tracks have a pretty solid loaner bike bar and full of bikes. So you don’t even need to buy a bike to do the track programming, right? This is our plea. If you’re listening and you can’t buy a bike, go to your local Velodrome because more likely than not, they have bikes for, you can take their programs on, so…

Amara Edwards:

Yeah, so true. Like I said, truly all through the fives of the fours, you can use our rental bikes, and something unique to our tractor is that we gear strip the fours in the fives. So our rental bikes are set up exactly the same, so it’s not a disadvantage. And it’s nice to be like, “Cool, here’s a rental bike.” You’re not going to be off the back. It’s not a tanker steel. They’re specialized. Youngsters they’re good bikes, and so we make sure that we keep those tuned up and ready to go for everybody.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s funny. Weird how we can find our selling points now. Hey look, we have a selling point it’s that we actually have bikes. Nobody else does, so come to the track where the bikes are abundant. That’s so funny. That’s so funny. Well, it has been delightful speaking with you, Amara. It’s pleasure to speak to another woman in this sport as well. There aren’t that many of us, although our numbers are growing, so it’s really, really good and fun to talk to you about that. And I’m looking forward to seeing you at the events this summer. I know… I’m sure our paths will cross at some point during racing season and yeah.

Amara Edwards:

Excited for this summer. And I guess my little sendoff is that you’ve never been to our track, come out to our track. Come experience it. It is… Every track is so unique, but truly I think we make it fun in a party or home of the [Maror crawl 00:49:04]. We are… Our track is a blast. And so if you want to get out here, just reach out to me or go to the website, but come out and experience it because we have lots of racing and it’s a ton of fun.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And for our listeners, we will put information in the show notes so you all will know how to find information about the Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome and their programming and how to reach Amara with questions. But we will include all of that information for you our listeners, so that if you are in the Pacific Northwest and you want to do the thing with Amara and her very rad crew of folks and I promise they are a very friendly boisterous group of folks as we saw, like I said earlier at T-Town for our nationals, it was a great energy coming from your crew. So if you want to be part of that great energy check them out, look them up, go racetrack, go try it out, do a try the track with them or with us at T-Town and yeah, more people on track. Amara, thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure. And we’re doing this on a Saturday and you gave up your Saturday, so… And you’re a mom. So, that says something, that says you do the [crosstalk 00:50:16].

Amara Edwards:

If they didn’t add up the baby screams, you can hear her voice over.

Joan Hanscom:

We will. We’re leaving the baby screams in, it shows your commitment. Well, thank you so much.

Amara Edwards:

This was a blast. I’m happy to do it and spread the word about track racing.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Well, you have a great rest of your weekend. I appreciate your time. This has been The Talk of the T-Town Podcast with me your host, Joan Hanscomb and with our guest, Amara Edwards. Give us the thumbs up, the hearts, the likes, the stars. It helps us keep the lights on for the podcast and we appreciate our listeners. Thank you so much.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been The Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscomb. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

 

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Zach Maino: Down the UCI Rabbit Hole

Zach Maino - UCI Track Commissaire

Episode 46

“For the love of the sport, honestly is why I do it. It’s a way to stay involved and contribute to the sport.”

If you found yourself in T-Town this summer for Nationals or UCI racing, chances are you ran into this week’s guest: Zach Maino. Zach is a UCI Track Commissaire, an avid cyclist, and he works in clinical research management. Joan and Zach dive deep into the UCI rule rabbit hole, as there are some new changes occurring.

Zach Maino - UCI Track Commissaire
Zach Maino – UCI Track Commissaire

UCI Website – How to become an official

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zachmaino/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zack.maino

Email: trackcommzach@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom, flying solo this week without Maura Beuttel. We are recording live on the West Coast. So it is just our guest and me today. And I am absolutely delighted to bring this next guest to us. His name is Zach Maino. If you were at T-Town over the summer for our UCI events or national championships, you most likely ran into Zach. And we are thrilled to have him on the podcast today to talk about some UCI stuff, because there are changes that are coming my friends, and we want to make sure everybody’s prepared for it. So Zach, welcome to the podcast. Delighted, delighted to have you with us.

Zach Maino:

Thank you very much, Joan. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’ve actually started listening to the podcast a little bit recently, and I’m going to have to go back through the catalog and listen to all the other interviews. There’s some fantastic interviews that have been on here. But I’d also say, welcome to the West Coast.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow! Thank you. It’s delightful to be here. Do not currently miss the 33 degrees in snow that was happening in the Lehigh Valley yesterday. So, yes.

Zach Maino:

I don’t imagine you would.

Joan Hanscom:

It is nice to be here. So Zach, before we jump into all of the UCI rule changes, I’d love to take this opportunity to let our listeners know a little bit more about you. I mean, they surely saw a lot of you at the track over the summer. We started off at the top of this session by saying you are UCI international commissar, but in real life, because you don’t just do commissar things, you yourself are an avid cyclist and you are in clinical research management. So you have a day job in addition to this officiating thing that takes you all over the world. Tell us a little bit about that, Zach? What does clinical research management mean?

Zach Maino:

Yeah. If you were at T-Town, you definitely saw me. I was out there for every single race this year, every single UCI race. I just spent a whole like, I think four or five weeks out in Pennsylvania, which was fun because you and I got to go ride bikes together a few times, which was nice. I am an avid cyclist and ride out here in, I live in Seattle, Washington, and I ride out here fairly regularly. I just, actually, did start a new job. So I’m going to start commuting to and from work on my bike, which would just be nice. The irony of my real life job is that I actually got my master’s in epidemiology in the middle of a pandemic. So that’s-

Joan Hanscom:

Timely.

Zach Maino:

That one was fun. Yeah. I graduated in May 2020. So the last couple of months of school where everything just shut down, that one was interesting. But I no longer had to explain what my degree was in, because it’s become a very common word.

Joan Hanscom:

Because we’re all amateur epidemiology now as well.

Zach Maino:

I may have made the joke that I was annoyed that I spent all the time and money on a degree that everybody got on Facebook last year.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. We all got our Google degrees. We’re all Dr. Google now.

Zach Maino:

For the past year, I’ve actually been working for Seattle Children’s Research Institute here in Seattle. And I was working on managing clinical trials for leukemia and lymphoma for very, very young patients. Though I was happy with that position, I was afforded an opportunity that’s much more in line with my professional goals. And now I work for a young biotech startup here that’s trying to look at gut microbiome and all the bacteria and viruses in all the different entities in your gut, in your stomach, and trying to associate those with chronic diseases or cancers, and see if we can develop earlier ways to detect these conditions and earlier ways to treat them, and different ways to treat them.

Zach Maino:

I’ve been there about three weeks, so I’m still just going through HR and all of that, but it’s very promising. And the best part of it is that it affords me the ability to work remotely and travel. So I’ll still be able to go to all of my bike races.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s very cool. I got to say like the whole gut mic microbiome thing is absolutely fascinating. While you were a T-Town, actually, you may have noticed I was wearing a continuous glucose monitor on my arm. That was all part of a gut microbiome test that I was going through just to look at it from a performance and health management perspective. So I did the two weeks with the glucose monitoring. I ate all sorts of weird like test foods. They had these, I’ll say it, really gross muffins, but they’re-

Zach Maino:

I remember the muffin conversation now. I remember you talking about that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. Because they wanted everybody who goes through the testing to have the control meal, and then do the regular diet stuff. And it was actually super interesting to get the report back on my own gut microbiome and discover what foods I needed and how I could make my gut respond better to the meals I was eating. It was fascinating.

Zach Maino:

The gut microbiome, the science is in its infancy. If you take two different tests and send them to two different groups, you’re going to get two different responses right now, because everything’s still being developed and curtailed as we gain more and more information. And honestly, until relatively recently, we didn’t even have the computing power for the billions of data points that are required for AI to really help us dig into this whole thing.

Zach Maino:

When people come to me and I see all these articles about like, “Oh, is the science sound?” I was like, “No, the science is barely found. Ask again in a year, ask again in five years, it’ll be remarkable what we discover and what we are able to put together.” And I’m excited to play a very small part of it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s super cool. Well, good for you for landing somewhere. I mean, you were doing good work before, obviously, because who’s going to say kids cancer’s not a worthy thing to focus on, because it’s most certainly is, but to be pioneering-

Zach Maino:

I was happy there, but I did have to negotiate with them, for me to go spend a month in T-Town and work remotely. I didn’t see the career path that I wanted there, but I gave them, I think six or seven weeks heads up before I left. So I was able to wrap everything up and do a good handoff and leave their research still pushing along headstrong without my departure hindering it at all. And so I wish them all the best of luck.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And now you’re getting to focus on something incredibly cutting edge, which is super cool. Yeah, that’s awesome news. In your spare time then, when you’re not researching or part of the research projects that look at the gut microbiome, you are a UCI commissar. You are an international level official, which sounds very, very formal. For those who are listening, it’s a very formal title, UCI commissar. I am told that you are, did you say 26 years younger than the other next most UCI commissar person?

Zach Maino:

Yeah. And I’ll dig into all this in a minute, but for track racing specifically, there are currently only six international commissars for track racing in the United States. Hopefully seven soon. I think we have one more coming along here. And between me and the next youngest international commissar for track racing, there is a 26 year gap. So I am surprisingly young for my level.

Joan Hanscom:

And of bit of a unicorn.

Zach Maino:

Sure.

Joan Hanscom:

I mean, you’re rare. Yeah. So what does it involve, Zach? First of all, why? Because you’re still young bike rider guy yourself, so why?

Zach Maino:

So, why? I got into officiating the same reason all of us do, to destroy the sport of bike racing.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, good. I thought I was the only one.

Zach Maino:

No. This has been a couple year long running joke that has gone around to the international community. And it’s like, why do we do what we do? To destroy the sport of bike racing and to make people cry. We all know that’s not true. For the love of the sport, honestly is why I do it. It’s a way to stay involved and contribute to the sport. I am an avid cyclist, but I also used to race. I never raced track, but I did start racing when I was, I think 17, in Michigan. And I was actually coming up at the same time as Larry Warbasse in Michigan, who is a world tour pro. So him and I actually were living in the same area at the same time. We were category three riders together. We were category two riders together. And then he got really good, and I didn’t.

Zach Maino:

I always said the day that ride my bike becomes a chore, I was done with it. So anyway, I do know Larry. And the other person I know fairly well is Alexey Vermeulen who also raced at the world tour level for a little while. Most of our listeners would probably know him through the mountain bike gravel community. I remember I was one of his early coaches back when he was like 10 or 11 years old, coming up through the ranks in Michigan. It was cool to see where those guys are now. And so I started racing back then, and I actually got to participate in the national development camp for USA cycling. I was selected as an alternate for the, well, we say Tour of l’Abitibi. I know that’s not how it’s supposed to be pronounced. I know if Andrew’s listening, he’s cringing at the moment.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I was going to say, Andrew is cursing you from the great white north.

Zach Maino:

I had a little success early on, and I raced as a cat two for a long time. Started my own team and ran that for a couple of years in Michigan. And actually because of cycling, I got my degree in exercise physiology, and worked with Dr. Steven McGregor, who a lot of the coaches listening will probably know that name. He’s done a lot of work with cycling, a lot of work with Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen.

Zach Maino:

And then after I graduated, I was working in Aspen as a cycling coach, Aspen, Colorado. So I was living in training altitude. I was in great shape. It was wonderful. And I moved to Seattle, kind of haphazardly, at the bequest of my brothers. I got out here and started working as an EMT, which I had been doing in Michigan for about a year at that point. And I started working 12 hour night shifts, and lost all of my training time.

Joan Hanscom:

CTL tanked.

Zach Maino:

I had to make a living, had to survive. Was no longer living off of the student loans and I couldn’t train. I tried a few races, but my fitness quickly diminished and I wanted to stay involved in the sport. There was an intro officials class offered literally down the street from my house, and I took that, and that set the course of the last eight years for me.

Joan Hanscom:

I think it’s interesting. I think I’ve been guilty of this as a bike racer myself, where you look at the people in the blue shirts and the khaki pants, and you think that they are just there to ruin all your fun and spoil your day at the bike race. I think it’s important to recognize that y’all, not everybody, but a lot of y’all raced bikes too. You do know the sport from both sides. And so you do have the appreciation for the rider’s perspective, the team perspective, the athlete perspective, and that’s important, because I don’t think you always get credit for that.

Zach Maino:

I agree. I mean, it does seem to be a little rare that that riders that raced at a higher level jump over to officiating, but it does happen. And those are the type of people that, they just so intuitively understand the sport and understand rider behavior that it sets us up for success. We’re able to talk with riders because we’ve been there, we get it. We know what’s going through your head.

Zach Maino:

But a lot of people, and I’m going to use this as a plug because we always need more officials, a lot of people also came to my side of the sport because one of their family members, their husband, wife, son, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, best friend, someone close to them was racing, and they happened to be at races and found out they could make a little bit of money hanging out at bike races, and that’s how they got involved.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I got dragged to enough bike races where I decided I wanted to do something while I was there is not an unheard of phenomenon at all. You started with the class down the street from your house and you learn to officiate, and that would’ve been a USA cycling level officiating role.

Zach Maino:

Yes. Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

So folks understand there are USA cycling officials that would work your local bike race. And then there are international officials that literally go all over the globe to work at bike races and make the most elite level of the sport happen in a lot of ways. So talk about that journey.

Zach Maino:

Yes, that is true. One of the other famous quotes that goes around is without officials, you’re just playing. And so if you have a bunch of people on bikes or a bunch of people kicking a ball around without officials, it’s not a real organized sport. That’s our purpose as officials is to be out there and make sure that rules are adhered too, so that the sport is safe. And that it’s fair, so that the results matter. Like you were saying, there are different levels. I will say that at all levels, I actually am a USA cycling official. USA cycling issue is my license, all the way to the top, including my international license.

Zach Maino:

But if you, Joan, tomorrow you wanted to start officiating and you picked up your official license, I don’t know if we still have the online class, but I believe we’re trying to get one posted. If you picked up your license, you would be a level C official. You would be able to work across any discipline that you would like. And you would know the very, very, very basics about each of the disciplines and how to score, how to judge a finish, and the very basics of the sport.

Zach Maino:

And you’d likely work just local races. As you gain experience and advanced, you move up to a level B official. At level B, you’ll start kind of specializing. You can do level B on track or level B on road. And road and cyclo-cross track, they move up together up until the international level. So if you’re an A on road, you’re an A in cyclo-cross. As you gain more experience you move up to go B and then A. With that experience, with that licensure level, as a B, you would get to work a little more regional, maybe get a chance at a national race. As an A you’re able to work national races. Maybe even some of the big ones like Utah or California, unfortunately that’s gone.

Joan Hanscom:

Back when they existed. Yeah.

Zach Maino:

Back when they existed. At that level, you’d work likely as an assistant judge where you’re out there for crucial role, but you’re not going to have any significant decision making capacity. Once you go above A is where the UCI levels come in. The next level is Elite National Commissar and then International Commissar. And both of those level, both of those classes are taught by the UCI. Elite National is typically taught within a region.

Zach Maino:

So the last one we had for track racing was, I think three or four years ago. And we partnered with Canada to see if anyone from Canada or Mexico or in the Americas wanted to come to that class, because it might be offered here in the United States, but it’s taught by the UCI. It’s a UCI designation. They dictate whether you’re at that level or not. The international class is you have to go to Switzerland. You have to go to UCI headquarters in Aigle to take that class. There’s a whole bunch of eligibility rules that go along with it that I’m not going to dig into here. But you need to have put a quite a bit of time and effort behind you to even be selected for that class.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Again, I think it’s easy for us as bike racers to look and just be like, guy in blue shirt. It’s not just as simple as CBA. There’s work that goes into it. There’s experience. There is, at some levels, testing, to show your knowledge and your qualification and your thought processes and how you would address the situation. So it’s not like you just like win a bike race and move up a category.

Zach Maino:

Correct. Yeah. I think over the six years leading up to between me picking up my officiating license and sitting in the international class, I think I averaged 70 to 80 days a year at bike races. Some of that on my own dime. Some of those I was sent to work. Some of those I paid my own travel and housing just to go get the experience. And that’s another aspect of it. If I wasn’t able to get the experience in my area, I sought it out. I went and found it. Found mentors, reviewed race footage, always asking questions. Yeah.

Zach Maino:

It’s more than just showing up to each of the races. There’s a considerable component of wanting to develop and wanting the best for the sport and making sure you’re wanting to do the right thing for all the coaches and riders and directors and for event managers and promoters, and you just want, like us, like everyone else, we just want the best for the sport. When you get to the Elite National and International level, a lot of us are dedicating a pretty significant chunk of our time to the sport.

Joan Hanscom:

I think what was so great about working with you this past summer, and this has always been the case, working with officials at high level race production is when it’s collaborative. Because the last thing I want as the customer, in a sense, I’m hiring you to come in and work at my event. And as a customer, I appreciate when it can be collaborative. When we can say, hey, look, here’s the goals of the event. Here’s what we’re hoping to achieve.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes, we have to work it within the parameters of the UCI rule book, because that’s why we’re doing the UCI level event, but please understand the broader context in which we operate. So that it’s a good, productive working environment for the official to come into, so that they feel like they’re contributing and collaborating. And that the event feels like their needs are being heard by the official.

Joan Hanscom:

And I felt like we certainly had that with you over the summer in T-Town, where you understood the context in which we were operating our season. You were very collaborative. You provided great feedback. Welcomed feedback. So it wasn’t just like you came in and said, do it this way. You came in and you had, I thought a great working relationship with Andrew. I think we did face some edge cases in certain areas that guys put a lot of good thought too, to make sure that everything we were doing fell with than the parameters of the UCI rule book.

Joan Hanscom:

And that as a race director is what you want from a UCI official. You want that collaborative partnership where we say, look, we value all of that race experience that you have and your knowledge of the rules. And you in turn say, I value your experience as a race promoter. And I understand that your event doesn’t exist in this like pristine UCI bubble. It exists in the context of your business. So let’s find the best way to make this all operate as it should. And I thought you were really outstanding at that this summer. And it’s important. It’s important for the sport to survive that we take that approach.

Zach Maino:

Man, it really is. I mean, our sport is suffering as a whole, and track racing is just a footnote in that sport unfortunately, which is the reality. I know we all like to hope and wish that it was a much bigger aspect of cycling in general. It was a fun summer working hand in hand with you and Andrew. And yes, Andrew and I do get along really, really well. We’ve been friends for a couple of years actually, because he himself is an international commissar for track racing in Canada. Him and I actually took our track elite national commissar class together. And then we were in Switzerland and we took our international class together.

Zach Maino:

And actually like, I think two weeks ago, we were taking our road elite national commissar class together, which was offered virtually for the first time, which was fun because we were both up at like four o’clock in the morning because it was based in Switzerland. It was nice because he actually works as a race promoter in Canada. So he knows both sides of the sport from officiated and promoting.

Zach Maino:

I know the rule book as well as he does. It was really fun working just with both of you and working with him. And we’d come up with these edge cases that we were anticipating. Him and I would like, because we were staying together, out there in [Kise 00:25:13] town together, we’d like pull the rule book and like dig through it in the evenings just to be like, how would we interpret this?

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, you guys were nerding out on a lot of scenarios, let’s just say, which seem to be fun for you guys.

Zach Maino:

Every time there’s an update to the rule book, we probably sit on the phone together for two or three hours and hashing out like every little nuance and playing out every rule change to its extreme, which is very, very nerdy. I will admit that. That also makes us pretty well prepared for facing a lot of things at races and being able to make those knee jerk calls and reactions. That’s honestly the best call for the sporting aspect of the race.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, you actually just teed up quite nicely, the topic du jour, which is the looming rule changes for track racing in the coming season. I know that some are major, some are minor, and there aren’t that many of them, but as we talked about before we started the show, there is one that is of particular concern and potentially a particular opportunity for us. With that said, Zach, let’s talk about rule changes to the UCI rule book for the 2022 track season.

Zach Maino:

Let’s talk about rule changes. Do you know the reach of your podcast? Do you know like how many different countries, how many different people listen to it? I’m mostly curious how many people from Canada. I’m hoping a lot of our Canadian friends are listening right now.

Joan Hanscom:

So we do have high Canadian listenership. If I’m remembering off the top of my head, U.S. is obviously number one, Australia is number two, Canada’s number three.

Zach Maino:

That actually doesn’t surprise me.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Australia number two, Canada third, and then the UK is fourth, if I’m not mistaken. That’s guessing. New Zealand maybe in there somewhere as well, but yes, we do have a good solid Canadian listenership.

Zach Maino:

Okay. So I’m going to split into two parts. I’m actually going to jump back a little bit and start with, they’re not new rules for the upcoming season, but they were a few things that were implemented last year because they were actually rule changes that happened in October of 2019. But thanks to the pandemic, we didn’t race in 2020. And so there were a few things that changed that weren’t actually seen until we raced last year.

Zach Maino:

And it did create a little bit of friction on one of the first UCI nights out there in T-Town. Some of these are things that races should have been operating, but they change them in the rule book to make sure that they are truly operating in this manner. And some of these are things that actually T-Town already does, but I’m actually putting it out here to try and get it out to some of the other velodromes around.

Zach Maino:

And one of those is there’s only one bell. Every time there’s a sprint for the last lap, there’s just one bell, and it’s for the leaders. Just for those who are eligible, on the last lap, you do it for every rider. Nope. Whenever there’s a bell, it’s just one bell, and it’s only for the leaders. And so if you’re in the Peloton on the other side of the track, keep your ears open. The new fun one is the lap board is always correct.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, okay. Say that again for the people in the back because-

Zach Maino:

Let me go look at the exact wording of the rule, but the lab board is always correct. Even if it’s wrong, it’s correct. That’s one of those fun ones. I actually got into an argument over what the lab board said last year. And that was, again, some of those fun fringe cases. Oh, I have it right here. That’s the bell. Once the race has started, the remaining distance to be raced shall be indicated by the lap counter, even if the total distance raced is not the same as indicated in the regulations for the event. Means no matter what the regulations say, the lap counter is correct. So that’s a fun one.

Joan Hanscom:

But pay attention riders. Pay attention to those lap cards.

Zach Maino:

And then here’s the last one I’ll say on this end for old rules. This is one of the things that affected one of the sprints. I thank John Croom for coming and talking with me afterwards, and then going and disseminating that information to the riders. I did really appreciate that he did that. And that is if the leaders catch the field on a sprint lap, how is that scored? This is one of those things that does cause some confusion. The rule now for gaining and losing laps is that a rider shall be considered to have gained a lap when they’ve caught the back end of the largest group. We know that.

Zach Maino:

So this becomes important for the starter to point, because let’s take the situation, you have a solo rider and a field. That’s all you have on the track. If that solo rider crosses the line and gets the bell and then catches the field, the field is now sprinting for the finish or for the sprint. So if that happens when they catch the field going into one and two, it’s pretty obvious, and people seem to understand that. If they catch the field going into four, yeah, the field’s sprinting to the line.

Zach Maino:

And I think that’s the situation we had if I’m not mistaken. I think we had the leaders catch like going into three, so the field was sprinting to the line. And some people knew that and some thought they were going to go … Essentially they were coming into the bell, and got another sprint. But, nope, it is designated at the next time the leader crosses the line. Yeah. If you ever have questions on that one, feel free to ask any of the officials ahead of time, and we’ll try to clarify that. Those are old rules that were changed back in 2019 that we hadn’t seen until the start of last season. And I hope most people have an idea of how those work.

Zach Maino:

Jumping over to rules that just changed in October after the world championships that will be instituted this next year. Most of the rule changes were actually on the new definition of what a UCI track team is and all the administrative requirements and rules around that. They also added in the fun new champions league and all the rules and regulations that go along with those races. And that’s largely what’s changed. So I’m going to dig in on, here we go. Here’s the big one. How we classify class one and class two events. All of our T-Town races. The fun part is that now both UCI race, this wasn’t a problem for T-Town, but now to be considered a class one and class two event, they must hold events for both men and women.

Joan Hanscom:

Which we have always done.

Zach Maino:

Both elite men and elite women. The old rule was that it only had to be for elite men. So I’m happy to see a little bit of parity coming out of the UCI with that. They must have both elite men and both elite women. This didn’t change, we know about this, but we still need to meet the minimum rider and distance rider count and distance for each of the specific events. Let me see what else. For class one events, we used to have to have five nations participating. Now we only need four, however, here’s-

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s a big however.

Zach Maino:

Here’s the big, big, big however, for class one events, no nation can represent more than 50% of the Peloton. So think about that for a second.

Joan Hanscom:

We actually spoke with the UCI, USA Cycling facilitated a phone call for us with the UCI about this rule change, because it is deeply concerning to both our Canadian brethren and the U.S. I mean, think about if you’re racing in Ghent or if you’re racing in Berlin or any of the European tracks, having more than your field comprised of 50% of foreign riders is not a stretch. It’s easy for multiple nationalities to be represented in a European race because of the ease of access and travel. It is not easy for-

Zach Maino:

I believe this is one of those rules that’s written specifically for European countries.

Joan Hanscom:

That we will have to live with. Yes.

Zach Maino:

Yeah. It’s very difficult for both us and Canada. It’s also very difficult for, I assume it’d be very difficult for our Australian friends, for Japan. Are there any track races in China? I’m trying to think Hong Kong. Pretty isolated velodromes from other countries. I guess the hope is that this rule builds a little bit of partnership with neighboring countries, which is why I was asking if our Canadian friends are listening because this is the easiest way for us to get as many people on the track as we can. Yeah. What that rule means is for our class one UCI races at T-Town and here in the U.S. is that the United States can’t represent more than 50 per percent of the field. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes this year.

Joan Hanscom:

So if we say that T-Town’s track capacity is 36, we say. So 36 divided by two is 18, right?

Zach Maino:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joan Hanscom:

So think about that for our T-Town folks on a given Friday night if we are at capacity with 36 athletes in the field, only 18 of those riders can be from the U.S. Now, certainly in 2019, that was not a problem for us. We had 28 countries represented and over 200 athletes, but not every year is a 2019. If you don’t have 36 athletes in your field, if you haven’t reached max capacity, if you have 20 athletes racing in a field on a Friday night for UCI, only 10 can be from America to have-

Zach Maino:

It’s a scalable rule.

Joan Hanscom:

It is a scalable rule.

Zach Maino:

We look at the best case scenarios if we’re at the track maximum capacity. If we have a smaller, the normal field reach more than max capacity field, it diminishes the number of rider that, likely from the U.S. that would be able to ride. This will be interesting. There will be far more discussion about this and all the nuance of this rule. I’m assuming with me and Joan and whoever takes over for her position at T-Town and USA cycling, I have thoughts that I’m not going to go into here about how we’re going to be able to work with this.

Zach Maino:

But there is also another rule for class one events that will also matter is that in order to participate, a rider needs 10 UCI track points in order to register for an event. And that can be in any category, any race, any category, but they have to have 10 track UCI points.

Joan Hanscom:

So that our listeners are aware of how we at T-Town intended to address that, understanding that most of our riders, well, race locally, but I mean, most of the athletes at T-Town who are domestic, the only place they have the opportunity, if you’re a domestic U.S. rider, unless you want to travel to earn those UCI points is at T-Town. We’re the only ones doing international racing.

Joan Hanscom:

So we did put in, before the cat one events, we added category two races to the schedule in June to give folks the opportunity then to come out and race and hopefully earn those points that they need in order to be eligible to compete in the category one events if that is their intention to do, because we were game planning for that, saying, okay, well, you can earn those UCI points at the C2 races if you intend to race in the C1 races. Mark your calendars kids, if you want to race the C1s, you better be planning on either racing internationally and scoring some points, or coming to T-Town a little bit early in June to get the points that you’ll need to be eligible to compete.

Zach Maino:

Correct. Are the class one events occurring before or after national championships? Do we know yet?

Joan Hanscom:

We don’t know yet. I think they haven’t necessarily announced those national championship dates yet.

Zach Maino:

No idea either. Because natural championships would be, if those happen in LA or T-Town or wherever those might happen this year, that’s another way to get UCI points for the elites and the juniors.

Joan Hanscom:

The challenge we faced quite honestly, Zach, with those date selections was that the UCI used to require your inscriptions to be December. So we would have to get our inscriptions, our dates in to USA Cycling in November to be submitted to the UCI in December. They changed that rule. And now we’re required to have our dates into the UCI by May 1st, which we were planning a year and a half out then.

Joan Hanscom:

We were planning dates for the 22 season before the 21 season even started. We were planning dates for the 22 season before the UCI announced their nation’s cup events. It’s conceivable that they’ll run a nation’s cup event, I don’t know, in Japan, the same day that we’ve inscribed for events in T-Town. And that would have a negative impact on our ability to attract riders.

Zach Maino:

Yes, it would.

Joan Hanscom:

These are discussions we’ve had with the UCI and said like, “Look, you haven’t published your schedule, but you’re asking us to pick dates. Can you assure us that if you plunk a nation’s cup down on top of RC1s, you’re going to let us move our dates without a penalty?” And they said we would be able to discuss it.

Joan Hanscom:

There was an enormous amount of complexity that went into the date selection for the 22 season that I don’t know that people are necessarily aware of, which is why I wanted to talk to you, so that people have this understanding of like, look, we had to put these C2s first so that people could get points. There’s a lot to those date selections. And it was a little bit of a stab in the dark because of the accelerated timeline for submitting inscriptions.

Zach Maino:

Yeah. With the pandemic and Olympic years, the international track schedule is all kind of up in the air at the moment.

Joan Hanscom:

It is a bit of a jumble.

Zach Maino:

Because typically as most of us know are the international track seasons, typically, like September to February, it’s usually through the winter. But when we have an Olympic year, we shift around those world cups or nation cup races to help make selections for the Olympics. There’s the big world’s competition, like world championships where they’re doing all the disciplines in one place, I think, in the near future, right? In the next couple of years.

Joan Hanscom:

Isn’t that ’23? I think that’s ’23, right? Glasgow?

Zach Maino:

I didn’t look ahead of time, but I … I know it’s coming up soon. So that’s going to wreak havoc on the calendar as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. Yep. I think it’s Glasgow ’23, if I’m not mistaken. But yeah, it is a whole big jumble right now, the track calendar. And so, yeah, it’s going to be interesting to see how it all pans out. I mean, on the other hand, they did something that they hadn’t done in the past, which was have a mandatory prize list for UCI races.

Zach Maino:

Yes, I saw that.

Joan Hanscom:

Which has not existed in the past. Obviously we paid out prize money at T-Town regardless, but, yeah, it was interesting to see that they’ve stepped into mandating a mandatory prize list for track as well now.

Zach Maino:

Yeah. That is my question. Again, rules I haven’t actually looked up is, is it equal between men and women? Because it should be.

Joan Hanscom:

I don’t even remember because at T-Town, we already pay equal for men and women. And so we would continue to do so. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember if they did mandate a prize equity. I think so, but I can’t say for certain, but regardless-

Zach Maino:

Well, I’ll go look it up and I’ll stay out of politics. Not my job. I’ll stick to the rules.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. But regardless at T-Town, we will have equity in price payout regardless of what they say.

Zach Maino:

So looping back to the rules for those listening. So what this means is for the class one, the higher class events worth four points. We will have to work with our fellow countries to work on making sure we don’t have more than 50% of the field. But if you need those 10 points to raise a class one, I believe you need to finish, I believe it’s 24th or better in any ranking that is being awarded to UCI points in one of the class two events. And then you will meet the minimum requirements to register for the class one events.

Zach Maino:

Let’s see here. Any other significant rules on those? We know minimum number of riders for sprint events, we need at least eight people for Keirin. We need 10 riders for bunch races, at least 15 riders. And for the Madison, at least 10 teams. And that’s for class one events, those numbers are slightly smaller for class two events, eight riders for the sprint, 10 riders for the Keirin, 12 riders for bunch races, and eight teams for the Madison. What I will say is that-

Joan Hanscom:

Which makes the Madison challenging.

Zach Maino:

Well, the Madison actually has an additional challenge in that if you have two riders from different countries racing together, they actually won’t count as one of the nations, because in team events, if a team is composed of riders from different countries, the nation of the majority of riders will prevail. So in like a team sprint or a team pursuit where you might have like two Americans and a Canadian, it would be an American team, or two Canadians and an American, it would be a Canadian team.

Zach Maino:

But in a Madison, we only have two teams or two riders. If the majority’s not possible, the nation of the participating riders will not count. And so if you have two riders from different countries on a Madison team, you don’t score points for … I don’t know how point scoring is going to work, but you will not be counted as a nation for the nation minimum. So that’s another fun one-

Joan Hanscom:

Which is a lot of not helpful. So we can’t make the composite of Barbados and Trinidad because that essentially negates both countries?

Zach Maino:

Correct. This will be based on the country code of your UCI license, whatever your UCI license says. It’s not where you live, it’s not where you’re born, it’s whatever the code is on that UCI license, whatever I’m looking at in data ride, that’s what I have to use to calculate these numbers when I’m dealing with results. But if you want to do time events, there’s no point minimum.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. There you go. The thing that I always say to athletes and have said since I was running road and cyclo-cross events, is it behooves you to know the rule book for the game you play. This year in particular, because it is actually a pretty significant change, even though there aren’t many changes, the change is a reasonably significant one. So please make sure you are familiar.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s why I thought it was so important to have you on the podcast, Zach, is that I do think that that need to have points before you’re eligible for C1 is really a big thing to be aware of. And I also think that that country count balance, 50% balance, is going to be a hard one to strike. And so I ask that people who are contemplating racing at T-Town think about, A, when you register, because it’s possible that we will, if we’re looking at a preregistration of 20 athletes only, we will have to be capping U.S. participation. These are the things. Be aware of how these rules impact-

Zach Maino:

I’m sure it’s going to be a very interesting year working with these new regulations and how that’s going to … I’m sure there’ll be a lot of cases and fringe cases popping up this year, that I have no idea how to address yet, but we’ll figure it out. And for those-

Joan Hanscom:

Also I want to say, if you’re listening from Australia, New Zealand, UK, Germany, the Netherlands, come race at T-Town so that we eliminate this country count problem. Come spend your summer in the beautiful Lehigh Valley, so that we don’t even have to worry about it. And if you want to race at T-Town, tell your friends to bring your foreign friends so that we don’t have to worry about country counts and everybody gets to race bikes. That’s my plea.

Zach Maino:

I agree. It’s one of the reasons I love cycling is being able to experience other cultures and seeing how … We all have a common love in how everyone can gather around that sport. It’s fantastic. Just very quick side note for anyone that’s interested and they’re super nerdy like me, if you’re curious about the classification regulations for class events, it’s on page 108, 108 of the current rule book for track racing.

Joan Hanscom:

We will link to that in the show notes. I’ll get Maura to link to that in the show notes, because I think that’s important. Yeah.

Zach Maino:

Yeah. And if you read to the rule book and you have any questions or curious, always feel free to reach out. I’m happy to chat with anyone about bike racing at any time for any amount of time. I do it way too much as is.

Joan Hanscom:

How should people reach you if they do have questions?

Zach Maino:

I do have an email specific for officiating that I’ll put in the show notes. I’m fine to send that one out. It’s a public one that I don’t care if you guys scare me with.

Joan Hanscom:

So y’all, if you have questions for Zach after you listen to this podcast and start to read through the rule book, we will put that email in the show notes, and you can reach out to Zach with your specific questions, and you will be in excellent hands getting those questions answered.

Zach Maino:

And if I can’t answer it, I will try to direct you to someone that can.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Well, Zach, this has been terrific. And I really appreciate you making the time after a busy work. Didn’t you get your booster today?

Zach Maino:

Starting to feel a little tired and have a little bit of a headache. That was a couple of hours ago.

Joan Hanscom:

So I appreciate you making the time to do that. With the booster today, the possibility of not feeling your best was reality. So we’re very appreciative of you taking the time to join us.

Zach Maino:

And I did it today because I was planning on spending Christmas in Europe. I was going to go to Copenhagen and in the Netherlands and catch up with some of my cycling friends that we were in like the international class together. But with everything going the way it’s going, I decided to cancel all of that this winter, this Christmas. And so I’m going to spend Christmas down in Las Vegas with my parents and my brothers.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, right on. It’s still good to be boosted.

Zach Maino:

I can take my bike and get out of the rain and go enjoy some sun.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes, enjoy some sun, enjoy the holiday, be safe. And thank you so much again for making time to chat with us today. It’s been terrific. And again, I encourage everybody listening to reach out to Zach with questions because he is a wealth of good knowledge for the sport we all love.

Joan Hanscom:

And with that, I will say this has been The Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest, Zach Maino. If you like the podcast, please give us stars, the thumbs up, the hearts, wherever you choose to consume your pod, so that we can continue to grow our listenership and continue to bring you the show week in and week out. Thanks for listening.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been The Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

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Rick Beuttel: Help Us Help You

Rick Beuttel - Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Velodrome Fund

Episode 45

“Well, how can you not love the place? I mean, you bring people out here and they want to come back .”

Chances are you’ve seen this week’s guest helping out at the track or sitting with friends on the deck in Turn 4. This week Joan sits down with Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Velodrome Fund and good friend Rick Beuttel. They discuss everything from why the track has a special place in Rick’s life, the relationship between the track and Air Products, and how to get more people to come out and enjoy track cycling.

Rick Beuttel - Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Velodrome Fund
Rick Beuttel – Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Velodrome Fund

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

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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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to this week’s Talk of the T-Town Podcast. This week our guest is a person I have wanted to have on the show for a very long time, but he has a crazy schedule. And so it was challenging to get dates, let’s put it that way. This is a man who spends a fair bit of his time on a plane, doing deals for one of our biggest supporters here at the track. This week’s guest is Rick Beuttel, chairman of the board for the Velodrome fund and our sponsor representative from Air Products. So Rick, welcome to the show.

Rick Beuttel:

Hey Joan, it’s great to be here. I’ve really enjoyed the podcast all along, and it’s wonderful to be part of one. So thank you for asking me.

Joan Hanscom:

So the reason we wanted to have you on the pod, besides the fact that you’re funny and God knows I love a funny guest, wanted to have you on the pod because you are one of the people behind the scenes who is just so clutch in getting shit done at the track. And I think that people who’ve been around for a while may know who you are, because you are of the track, but for the younger folks, people are probably like, “Who is this guy that’s always here helping out and we don’t know much about him?” And I think it’s important that people get to know you and get to know why on earth you give so much of your free time or your very, very, very limited free time to help out at the track. And I think when people love the place the way you do, we deserve to shine a light on that. So, that’s why we wanted to have you on.

Rick Beuttel:

Well, super. So, here we go. Let’s have some fun with it and let’s see where it goes.

Joan Hanscom:

So I’ve been in many, many sponsor meetings with you, Rick. We’ve pitched a bunch. And in almost every meeting we’ve done together where we’ve pitched a sponsorship or talked to the county representatives, it’s come up in conversation over and over again, that the reason you live in the Lehigh Valley is because of the Velodrome. And it was central to bringing you here to take your job at Air Products. So, why don’t you tell people about that? Tell us when you moved here, why you moved here, what your aspirations were, and how you ended up being chairman of our board.

Rick Beuttel:

Sure. So, there’s a lot to unpack there. I was born in South Jersey, born and raised in South Jersey, actually at the beach in Ocean City. Went to engineering school, graduated in 1990. So, forever ago. When I graduated, I had a bunch of job offers to pick from, but had been coming to this area quite a bit to ride crits and to come watch races at the track on Friday night. And I said, “Well, geez, all things being equal, it’s a couple hours away from where I grew up.” So it was far away, but not too far away. And the company, by the way, seemed really interesting, and hey, I’m still here 31 years later. And of course, the track was here. And it’s a mecca, it’s a hub, if you’ll forgive the pun, for cycling. And it’s been great to live here in this valley and have it be my home base for the last 30 years and be part of the track and give back.

Rick Beuttel:

So, fast forward through the first 25 years at Air Products, 28 years at Air Products. And as you mentioned, Air Products has been a foundational sponsor of the Velodrome for a long time and a ton of our terrific athletes and a ton of people, just regular people from the community, have been part of the Air Products community programming effort. And Air Products gets a board seat, so there was a gentleman who did it forever. That gentleman was about to retired. And Corning Painter, who was running our industrial gas business at the time, called me into his office and said, “Hey, we have this board seat. I know you know and love bike racing and are passionate about the sport. Would you be interested in taking it?” That was in 2017.

Joan Hanscom:

Silly man.

Rick Beuttel:

Silly man. So, I joined the board just as a regular board member at large, as it were. And then in 2018, one thing led to another and I was asked to project manage through some speed bumps that we were going through at the time. And then I think in late 2018 or 2019, I became board chair. So, as people say, and I like to say this, honestly, it really does feel good. I’m sort of at the part of my life now where you want to give back and you want to see something that is really as fabulous an institution as this place is continue to flourish and progress. And I think in the last couple of years, we’ve really done a fabulous job establishing great direction and forward momentum that we can all be proud of. So, happy to have been a part of that.

Joan Hanscom:

What I most appreciate about working with you, besides random bouts of laughter, right? Because it can be a stressful place. Let’s not lie, but event production is always stressful. Nonprofit management is always stressful. So it can be stressful, but I think working together, we always found a way to laugh. So I always appreciated that you brought a sense of humor to the job. But the other thing that I always appreciated was that on a Friday night, if you were here, if you were available, you were at the track. And that spoke to me of a person who didn’t just want a board seat to put on their LinkedIn, that you loved the place that you wanted to be here, that you wanted to see other people be part of the fabric of the community. And that spoke volumes to me that if I’m going to have to report to a board, I want to report to a board that’s engaged. And so I always appreciated every Friday night, knowing that you were there and bringing other people to the place. So, talk a little bit more about your love for the track, for the sport, for drinking beers in turn four.

Rick Beuttel:

Well, how can you not love the place? I mean, you bring people out here and they want to come back, whether it’s some of the terrific UCI racing that we had…certainly the amazing set of UCI racing that we had in 2019 and just the rush of being trackside and watching Eddie D. break a long-standing flying 500 record and going by 45 miles an hour delivering the mail, or a normal sort of routine Friday night. I mean, there’s lots to do in the Lehigh Valley. I moved here in 1990 when there was literally nothing to do on a Friday night in the Lehigh valley. So, the community’s changed. The product that we have though, I think remains as solid as it ever was. And I think of the challenges we have and we continue to face is how do we stay relevant?

Rick Beuttel:

How do we keep doing this? And how do we attract sort of a new group of fans? So I think something you said a moment ago was really incredibly powerful, is we all have a duty, all of us that love this place, whether it’s board members, whether it’s people that have just been hanging around for a long time, people that might ride the derby, people that might ride the crit, bring people here, get them out. They will come back. We have fabulous food. We have a tremendous beer sponsor. Oh my God, I can’t say enough about Shangy’s. And we did our best job possible to pull through as much product as they could over there in turn four this year. And we’re going to keep working on that, but it’s just-

Joan Hanscom:

I think you did a great job with that.

Rick Beuttel:

It’s a phenomenal place. It is an institution. And we did go through a little bit of a speed bump, like I mentioned a few years back. And we managed our way through that. We had some sleepless nights. We certainly spent some money that we weren’t planning on spending with our brethren of the legal persuasion, but that’s behind us. We’re looking forward, tremendously. Sorry to see you go. I’ve hired a lot of people over the years at Air Products. And I still tell people to this day, you’re one of the best people I’ve ever hired. And you leave a big hole in the organization and big shoes to fill.

Maura Beuttel:

I can second that, 100%.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I don’t think I leave a hole in the organization. I think I leave it in a great place for the next person to come and pick it up and go further, right? We don’t want to think about leaving a hole. We want to think about leaving it in a good place and ready for the next person to step in and take it further, which I certainly think will happen. But I think you touched on something that… I’m such a bike nerd. I’m such a nerd about bike racing, in general. You touched on something about the great Friday nights and the speed of Eddie Dawkins going around and setting records. And I think that that’s something that everybody who wants to see the track succeed needs to bring one friend, right? Bring one friend.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’ve told this story a million times to people, not on this podcast I don’t think, but my very first job was in road cycling for the biggest event in the country. It was the Philly race. It was the Wachovia Cycling Series at the time. Three races,; Philly, Trenton, and Lancaster. And it was the first big bike race that I was ever hired to work on. And I remember, to this day, that my job was to staff the announcers at that bike race. And so it was back in the day, right? So the technology wasn’t the same, there wasn’t Twitter. And we all flipped a paper, right? Every sponsor announcement was on an index card. Every rider bio was on an index card. And I was wearing these giant headphones, because I was connected to the TV people who were doing the live broadcast.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I would know what was happening out on the course, like, in Manayunk when the announcers in the parkway were trying to keep the crowd entertained. So I would be feeding the announcers information all day long, handing them their sponsor announcements, handing them their bio cards, telling them, “Oh my God. So and so just attacked up the hill in Manayunk.” But I’d never done a big professional bike race before that. And I remember at the start, Michael Aisner famously always played The Final Countdown at the start when everybody was getting ready. And the Philadelphia Police were famously good at the Flying V in front of the field, right? So, they had the Philly motocops all lined out in a wedge and you could hear all of the cars in the caravan like [inaudible 00:11:28]. And the motorcycles in the front, [inaudible 00:11:31]. And Aisner’s got The Final Countdown blasting.

Joan Hanscom:

And then the gun goes off and it was the sound of 200 people clipping into their cleats. Click, click, click, click, click, click, click. And then the whoosh of the bike racers when they went by the announcer stand, I had all of this paper everywhere and the lift of the airflow from the bike racers going by the stage, all of my papers lifted up and I could feel it on my face. And I could hear all the sound. And I could see all the color. And I was like, “Holy shit. I never want to do anything but this in my whole life,” right? “This is the place. I’ve found it. This is the thing I love. And it never going to be better than this.” And I tell that huge, long story to say that the track is not different than that, right? The track is the place where if you stand in turn one, turn two, turn three, turn four, if you are up in the bleachers, you are so close to the color and the speed and the sound… sometimes too close to the sound when there’s a crash, but you are very… it’s-

Rick Beuttel:

Or people giving sort of feedback to one another out on the track, maybe?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Also that. Well, redacted got relegated. Redacted got relegated.

Rick Beuttel:

Yes, she did.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. But it’s that tangible, visceral experience at the track that I wish everybody who loves the place would remember that makes it so special as a fan, and bring one friend. And that’s what you were so great at. You brought people to have that experiential visceral thing that happens to you when they go by at 45 miles an hour and you feel it, you hear it, the sound of the wheel on the concrete, the speed, the wind. It’s a very visceral experience. And if people came out and experienced that they’d come back every Friday.

Rick Beuttel:

No-

Joan Hanscom:

So if you’re listening, bring a friend, just-

Rick Beuttel:

No, and Friday nights, right, are the pinnacle. It’s the big show and it’s what everybody in the community thinks of when they think of T-Town and they think of the track and the Velodrome. We can’t have any of that though, right? And it all starts with community programs and it’s such as solid foundation. And we always, on the pod, and as I mentioned, people think of Friday nights, but community programs are equally important. And in fact, probably more important, because that gives us our base, working their way up the age groups for people to become our Friday night athletes.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, look how fun Tuesdays were this week, right? Tuesdays this year were a blast and Tuesdays had a lot of cat four racing, and some of the most exciting cat four racing, dare I say it, were the junior girls racing in the cat fours, because you had team to team rivalry, you had excited parents in the stands. It was just as enthusiastic, it was just as much passion on Tuesday night, as it was on Friday night. And it was a good show on Tuesdays, even if it wasn’t the big UCI show. And all of those people on Tuesdays are part of the community programs, whether they’re coaching in the community programs, whether they’re a product of the community programs. Everybody on that Tuesday night race, unless they were an out of town visitor, was more or less a product of one of those community programs, whether it was a Try the Track, or an Air Products youth program, a BRL, Women’s Wednesday, all of those Air Products programs are what feed Tuesday, they’re what feeds Saturday. There would feed our coaching staff. And our coaching staff is racing on Friday, too.

Joan Hanscom:

So yeah, it cannot be understated, the importance of having that life cycle, right? You come in through the programs, you go through the different racing programs. You come to Friday night, maybe you exit on Friday nights and you come back in a different way. I think, like, Bobby Lee right now, right?

Rick Beuttel:

Great example.

Joan Hanscom:

He’s graduated from racing on Friday nights, to the Olympics, to retirement, to serving on the board. And it is such a life cycle.

Rick Beuttel:

And you look at all the things Kim Geist is doing for us now, right? And all the magic she’s creating out there. Another great example.

Joan Hanscom:

Holy hell. Her hall of fame induction speech gave me chills

Rick Beuttel:

So well done. And just indicative of just the fine human being that she is and how lucky we are to have her here and still involved in what we’re doing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. She’s something. And that speech where she said that don’t give up you lose more races than you win, but keep going, it’s worth it. I mean, holy hell was that inspiring. I just… yeah, what a speech she gave at that hall of fame induction. I wish we had recorded it.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, no, we should have.

Joan Hanscom:

Because it was so good.

Rick Beuttel:

But even back to your point though, Tuesday nights were fun this year. And I came out on some Tuesday nights and there were more people in the stands watching on Tuesday nights this year than I remember in a very long time. Now, some of that might have been, we were all pent up all of last year and nobody could go out and nobody could go anywhere. And it was an opportunity to go out and watch some racing and have a few beers. And geez, there we go again with having a few beers, and have some good Sticky Pig food.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, and we had Sticky Pig was there weeks. And we had good food. We had good beer. We had fundraising, we had community, parents were stoked to be able to be back out, watching their kids race bikes. Yeah. Tuesdays were super fun. And then you threw in the mix of Andrew and Tom Manes on the microphone, And it just got to be a really special thing Tuesday night. I don’t know, Tuesdays were a little hidden gem this past summer, I thought.

Rick Beuttel:

The really were. And we need to find a way to keep that going and keep the fun of this place going. I mean, I think, yes, I like to laugh. I think laughter is the best medicine. Yeah. I’m not sure exactly who came him up with the idea, but the whole Mike Miller and camel hats and Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. I think Maura… it was actually Maura’s idea.

Joan Hanscom:

Maura’s like, “Hey, that’s me.”

Maura Beuttel:

Hey.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, “That would be me.”

Joan Hanscom:

Maura did the great artwork.

Maura Beuttel:

That was after some very long race days of just laughing in the office. “Oh hey, Mike, Mike, Mike.”

Rick Beuttel:

And then Doc Stansbury right there and then whipping his card down and getting on Amazon and we have camel hats.

Joan Hanscom:

That was amazing. I have never seen somebody pull a credit card out so fast in my entire life.

Maura Beuttel:

To buy the most-

Joan Hanscom:

“I’ll buy them.”

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, “I’m in.” And we’re all in. And I think he was there when-

Joan Hanscom:

That was amazing.

Rick Beuttel:

… when Mike came out of his anesthesia after his collarbone surgery, right? There’s Doc Stansbury posting with the camel hat on.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that was neat.

Rick Beuttel:

So we got to keep the place relevant, but we got to keep it fun too. I mean we’re not curing cancer here, right? We’re not trying to close a $2 billion project. It’s bike racing. We’re trying to do the best damn bike racing we can anywhere in the US. I think we give anybody a run for their money. But geez, let’s have some fun and have a good time too.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if it’s not fun, why do it? Is sort of the… And that’s sort of a theme we’ve had on all these last most recent podcasts, right? We had Clever talking about doing the thing you love. We had Lee Poby about finding joy. And I think that that’s so important for T-Town in particular to remember, is that it’s got to be fun. It can’t be serious as a heart attack all the time. And if it’s not fun, you’re not going to survive, right? The next generation isn’t going to come do it if it’s not fun. I think particularly, and this actually is a great transition to sort of some of the stuff I want to talk to you about, but the way people consume cycling now is very different. Rick, you and I are the same age. When we started racing crits, you did 28 weekends a row of crits, right? You started crits in February, you finished crits in September, and it was every weekend you did a crit and every weekend, maybe you did a crit on Saturday and a crit on Sunday.

Rick Beuttel:

By the way, I really miss that. And we can talk about that a little bit later, too. But one day I’ll get back to that life again.

Joan Hanscom:

But that life doesn’t exist anymore. There isn’t a crit every weekend to do. People are consuming bike racing very differently, right? They’re doing a crit one weekend, they’re doing a mountain bike the next race weekend-

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, and then gravel and yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Doing a gravel race the next. And so people consume bike racing very differently now. They’ve got five different bikes for five different types of events. And we have to think about how does the track stay relevant? Because the track requires a lot of very discipline specific training, it requires very discipline specific focus. But there are athletes out there who are doing a mixed bag of stuff. We’re talking to an athlete now here who wants to run a track and a gravel program. And there couldn’t be more opposite ends of the spectrum, right? 200 mile event, four minute event.

Rick Beuttel:

Seems to work for Ashton, though.

Joan Hanscom:

Hmm?

Rick Beuttel:

Seems to work for Ashton.

Joan Hanscom:

Seems to work for Ashton, but we have to appreciate that the folks that are coming to our venue, the next generation of athletes, that’s how they operate, right? So, how do you keep the track fun and relevant when people are consuming bike racing differently than they have in the past? And I think that that’s an interesting thing to push on a little bit. I know my philosophy always was, “Welcome all the bike community to the track. Host gravel events, host Grand Fondo.” Super excited about the Hincapie Grand Fondo coming to the track next year. “Host the Lehigh Wheelman rides, bring people of all cycling disciplines to the Velodrome, because without them, your niche is going to get it tinier.”

Rick Beuttel:

Well, even some of the things you did with the outreach to the crit riders across the street on the Thursday night and opening the handlebar up afterwards. I mean, for a long time, up until 2014, when my life changed, there was sort of a Thursday night crit group and very few of those people were here on a Friday night to watch track racing. And you know what? I’ll paint myself with the same brush. I wasn’t doing it either. And I think you’ve brought more of a sense of community there. I think Fondos, gravel, I think that’s something that, in the past, people wouldn’t have wanted to do that here. Now I know there was the Bicycling Fall Classic, phenomenal event, very well run. Hopefully we can kind of fill that void with the Hincapie Organization and do that every year going forward. That would be a phenomenal thing, not just for the track, but for cycling in the Valley and for the Valley in general.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think that that’s so important and that’s tangentially a different thing, we talked about with the Rodale people the area around the Velodrome is so special. It’s riding, but look, I’m in Santa Cruz, California right now and it’s beautiful here and the riding here-

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, don’t rub it in.

Joan Hanscom:

But still, it’s not roads like you have. And those roads are really special. And if you want to keep those very special roads and that very special access to feeling good and safe on the road, you have to keep these events coming. Because if you can show that there’s revenue attached to bicycles, if bicycle tourism can become an actual economic driver for the region, maybe you slow down some of the other stuff that’s happening, or maybe you get other organizations who are concerned about what’s happening on board with helping create a real cycling center so that it’s on front of mind that, “We maybe shouldn’t put another warehouse near the track, because there’s lots of bicycle traffic, and this is an economic driver for us.” Because I don’t think, sadly, places never do the right thing, just because it’s the right thing. They do the right thing because it actually has a benefit. And so I think we have to keep pushing that message that these events happening at the track are important. They’re important so that the Lehigh Valley can stake out a claim with partnership with Discovery Lehigh Valley that keep those roads nice for everyone, to keep the roads special.

Rick Beuttel:

And I think one thing that differentiates, and I’ll build on that a little bit, one thing that differentiates our roads and especially the area around the track from lots of other places I’ve lived and been and things like that, is the car community here is used to seeing cyclists on the road. Now, that’s not to say you don’t get the one jerk in a 100, or the 10 people out of 20 that actually aren’t looking through the windshield, they’re looking at their phone as they’re passing you, but people are used to seeing us, as opposed to lots of other places where maybe some of you who are listening live, where you feel like maybe you your life in your hands every time you go out because you don’t see any other cyclists while you’re out and we’re invisible to cars. So, I think there is a collective sense of safety that we all benefit from too, in keeping this place relevant. And as you said, a center of cycling and not just a velodrome for elite racers on Friday nights.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, and I think that that’s something important for our listeners to understand too, is that this is a board with a vision on how to keep the place relevant. And it is a board that wants to see the place succeed and continue to thrive in a way that… other velodromes are… velodromes have been closing left and right in the US for a while now. And there are a handful of really good ones, right? Jerry Baker’s great. I think the Velo Sports Center in LA, it’s obviously always going to be relevant because it’s our only indoor 250 and it’s important. But there have been a lot of velodromes that have gone out of business in the last few years and closed. And as the number of velodromes shrinks, I know there’s also a lot of interest in creating velodromes in other communities, because I would get a call a week about, “Hey, how do you keep your velodrome running all the time? What are you doing?” And so there’s interest in creating velodromes in communities, but also the reality is that they’re very expensive to keep open.

Rick Beuttel:

I mean, one thing that I was really just surprised at once you peel the onion back and not just get on the board, but become running the board, is you start to understand the economics of the place and what it takes to metaphorically keep the lights on and keep staff here and run the programs and run community programs. And this is a year where, if people are aware of this or they drive by, we’re resurfacing this year, right? And that’s a couple hundred thousand dollars out of our pocket. And what I would say is to maybe riff a little bit on a John F. Kennedy line, right? If you want to help, ask not what your velodrome can do for you, ask what you can do for your velodrome.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely.

Rick Beuttel:

And bring people out, as we’ve both been saying. But I challenge people on our board on this all the time. Everybody in this community, everybody that comes out here to the track knows somebody that runs a small business, might work for a company. Help us a little bit, make some introductions. You and I, I thought, were a tremendously powerful team in bringing some new sponsors in here and that helped pay for some things like, oh yes, this podcast equipment that we’re recording these things on right now. But we have some great ideas, some more programming we’d like to do, some more outreach we’d like to do. And we are a nonprofit organization and there is a limit to what you can spend given the top line that we bring in. So what I would say to the cycling community in the Valley and the challenge I would throw out to the cycling community in the Valley is we’re incredibly blessed to have this resource here.

Rick Beuttel:

You mentioned it, Joan, there’s a limited number of velodromes. A lot of them are closing. I think we have a solid foundation, but we can do more. And the reality of life is that things cost money. We’re going to do the resurfacing. We’ll be fit for purpose for the next 10, 12 years, hopefully. But if we can bring in some more sponsorship, we have some more people coming out on Friday nights, all that’s going to continue the momentum and continue the positive snowball. So, sort of help us help you, in terms of having more programming available, more racing, available, more preems available, et cetera, et cetera,

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Put your kids in the programs. If you’re a roadie or a mountain biker or a gravel racer, come do a Try the Track, just experience it, understand it, and then support it. Just come drink beer on Friday nights, right? We keep talking about that. The food is good. The vibe is good. Come out and support us by being present.

Rick Beuttel:

And we are so blessed to have some real longstanding sponsors. I mean, the relationship with Valley Preferred and Lehigh Valley Health Network, the relationship with Air Products. I mean, Air Products is reaching into their pocket above and beyond their annual give, to give us a grant to help defray a little bit of the cost with the resurfacing. That’s been tremendous. Many of our new sponsors, Doylestown Bike Work, Schearer’s Sales & Service. I mean, it’s been great having some new signs up on the bleachers. And that brings some new people into the fandom and into the stands, too.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And even the work we’ve done with Discover Lehigh Valley, right? Discover Lehigh Valley, I think, brought us so many new eyeballs this year. So yeah, going back to your challenge to the listeners of the podcast, how do you help us bring new eyeballs? Because the product is really good. The racing is great. The racing is fun. We just need more eyeballs on it. And that’s the problem we have to solve. And you have to solve it from all the angles. You have to solve it from the angle of more kids in the program. So they’re coming out to watch and be inspired by the faster people. It’s more people who race the crit on Thursday night who are just like, “I like to go fast on a bike.” All right. Well, come watch other people go fast on a bike. Come and appreciate going fast on a bike. All of it adds up. You like gravel racing? Cool. Come watch. Come watch somebody like an Ashton race a bike. And see if you see the translation between the gravel racing and the track. And God knows, I don’t know how he does it, but I-

Rick Beuttel:

And maybe you’ll get lucky and you’ll see Ashton. We were blessed to have Ashton here in ’18 and ’19. I think so. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So you never know, but I think that that’s the thing. Yeah, help us bring eyeballs to the track is the plea of this podcast.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, help us help you. We really do want to do more. And I was a part of this community for a long time, at a lower level. And I know that the view of the track and the management of the track and the board of the track has been a bit of a side wave and up and down over the years. Hopefully we’re on the top part of that side wave, and hopefully we can make that a plateau or just keep it going positive. But we are trying to do a lot of new things and we are trying to behave with integrity, behave ethically, and ensure this is a place where you can bring your family. You can put your kids in a program. You can put your 16 year old daughter in a program and not worry about something bad happening. We’re not going to tolerate that.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And I got to say, I do love… And I’ve used them as an example before, like the Holmes sisters, right? The Holmes sisters started in the programs. Now not only do they race, but they volunteer. They help on Friday nights. But they do all the cycling things, right? They’re racing cross now. They do the monkey knife fight ride, right? They’re engaged in the community. And I love that. I love that they’re a product of our program and that they’re growing with our programs. And we need more kids in the program like that, too. So, bring your kids.

Rick Beuttel:

And they and their contemporaries, right, they’re the next generation. That’s the future of our Friday night racing. And to your point, if they graduate from Friday night racing at 25 or 30, and they go on to have a successful professional career as a taxpayer and contributing adult, but can get back some, that’s fabulous. If they stay in bike racing as long as they can, that’s fabulous. Or if they just, “Okay, I get to college and I decide I’m going to take a different direction in their life,” but they’ve learned how to be a healthy human being, how to have good habits. And, you and I are terrific examples of you’re a bike rider for a while. Then you’re a bike rider forever.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Exactly. Cyclists for life. That’s the goal.

Rick Beuttel:

100%.

Joan Hanscom:

You don’t have to race on a Friday. You can just graduate from the programs and have a great foundation for riding bikes for the rest of your life, which is pretty enriching, I must say, as a person who’s done this for too long now.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. So there’s a guy I used to ride with a lot when we had lunch rides at Air Products. And one of his by phrases was always, “Hey, bikes are fun.” And bikes are fun. And we always would say this when we’d go rolling out from Air Products at lunch, back in the day. And you’d roll out Spring Creek and invariably you’d pass one or two runners running towards you on the wrong side road. And they’d always look just miserable. And we’re rolling along laughing, right before the hammer goes down. And it’s like, “Why would you ever want to do that? This is so much fun.” And you can do this forever. I mean, my dad is still riding. My dad’s still got his chain gang of five or six guys. And they go out and bash miles out all through the winter and they’re in the woods. And they go to Utah and they go to all sorts of places to just go ride and have fun. And I think that’s what makes it relevant for me is once you set the hook, you’re in this forever, you bought the franchise.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny because since I got here, I’ve been running.

Rick Beuttel:

I’m sorry.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, it’s time efficient, right? But, B, I have fragile femurs now. So I have to run. I have to do weightbearing exercise. Fragile femurs, [crosstalk 00:34:12].

Rick Beuttel:

I’m not touching that.

Joan Hanscom:

But as I run, every time I run, and Joan running is not a pretty thing, let’s just be very honest, it is not pretty… I know, I can feel my facial expression and I can tell that my facial expression is that squinched up in pain, not happy face that you see on every runner. And I know I shamble.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So I know I’ve got the runner shamble going, and I know I’ve got the grimace on. And I’m like, “Why? Why do people do this? “And I’m like, I’m doing it because I have fragile femurs and I need to do weight bearing exercise. But yeah, man. It is not the same. Apologies to all the runners who are listening right now, but it is not as much fun as bikes.

Rick Beuttel:

Well, so here’s a relevant crossover, is Maura, who I’m sitting here looking, right, grew up in swimming. And I was on the board of Emmaus Aquatic Club, EMAC, when she was going through the phase of that. And she put 8, 10 years, longer-

Maura Beuttel:

16.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, okay.

Maura Beuttel:

Who’s counting.

Rick Beuttel:

16 years into swimming. And so, now you’ve crossed over into bike riding, right?

Maura Beuttel:

I have.

Rick Beuttel:

And so tell us a little bit about that. Let me turn the tables on you.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah, so like my dad said, moved here for the track and that’s why I’m here. And for little me as a child, he’s like, “You’re going to go through all the programming at the Velodrome.” So I did and got to riding on the track in whatever, peewees or squirts, or whatever program I was in at the time, and was up in the top between turns one and two and kind of tumbled down the track. So, no track cycling for me anytime soon. We don’t like that. And then, in 2020 I started working at the track and Joan was like, “We’re going to get you on a bike.” And I got a bike in January and Joan took me out, showed me the ropes, along with my lovely father. And now I am a cyclist.

Rick Beuttel:

Once a cyclist, always a cyclist. But you see stuff.

Maura Beuttel:

I know.

Rick Beuttel:

And I know you’re not just looking at the line on the bottom of the pool, right?

Maura Beuttel:

It’s very nice to physically see a difference between point A and point B, and going out for rides with Joan and seeing the house of crap and all that.

Joan Hanscom:

And always going in the right direction.

Maura Beuttel:

Always, always going in the right direction.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. Don’t go in the wrong direction.

Maura Beuttel:

That way down the hill in the Bowers. We never go up that hill, ever.

Joan Hanscom:

Never. Always down that hill.

Maura Beuttel:

That’s the wrong way.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so funny. But look, I mean like, look what you did this year at the Fondo.

Maura Beuttel:

I know.

Joan Hanscom:

You came out and you crushed it and it’s amazing.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah. Got to beat all the star track boys. Can’t have them beating me.

Rick Beuttel:

There you go. That’s personal.

Joan Hanscom:

Right? This little competition nugget in there.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, so you’ve got some competitive juices in you. That’s good.

Maura Beuttel:

Right. But I mean, hey, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my dad and if it wasn’t for Joan, I probably would not be on a bike right now.

Joan Hanscom:

See, so we’re selling the Kool-Aid well, still, Rick.

Rick Beuttel:

Exactly.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah.

Rick Beuttel:

No, it’s a lifetime thing. So, it’s really, really fabulous to see a third generation of Beuttels now doing this thing, which we love.

Maura Beuttel:

I know. He gets all teary-eyed. He’s all proud dad moment.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, and then you did your first crits this year. That was amazing.

Maura Beuttel:

I did. Yes, I did.

Rick Beuttel:

Yep. It didn’t kill you. It made you stronger.

Maura Beuttel:

It did not kill me.

Rick Beuttel:

Yep.

Joan Hanscom:

“How was it?” “I didn’t die.”

Maura Beuttel:

I didn’t die.

Joan Hanscom:

And next year you’ll be able to crit with Mia.

Maura Beuttel:

This is true. This is true. I saw she just got a new helmet after her crash out in Colorado.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep, got that. So.

Maura Beuttel:

So.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, so you’ll be able to crit with Mia next year. That’s good.

Maura Beuttel:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, see, we’re serving the Kool-Aid, Rick. I’m a big believer in serving-

Rick Beuttel:

No, and it’s important. This is such a special thing here and such a jewel really that we have, that I think a lot of people in the community just, it’s like anything else. It’s the curse of familiarity. You’re around it all the time. You see it every day. It becomes part of the fabric and you don’t appreciate how special it is. And I liken that to, so I mentioned I grew up at the Jersey Shore. And I literally grew up in Ocean City, right? It’s a barrier island and people would say, “Oh, that’s fabulous. You must go to the beach all the time.” And it’s like, “Why would I go to the beach?”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Yeah. No, I think that’s a very fair point. And I think that, yeah, well, I think there’s two things to extract from that. One, yeah, you do take it for granted. It’s always been there. You’ve always had the option, so you don’t go because you know, “Ah, it’s always going to be there. Eh, something better to do on a Friday night, because it’s always going to be there.” That’s something you can’t assume, right? You just can’t assume. And I think COVID taught us that. Bike racing faced some very real challenges in COVID. But I think the other thing that you said that I’ll challenge you on a little bit, that I think is interesting is that the Lehigh Valley has changed a lot since you first moved there. Like you said, when you first got there, there was not much else to do. And I think now, one of the challenges that the Velodrome faces, that there’s been this massive influx of new people into the valley and those people don’t know.

Rick Beuttel:

That’s really well said.

Joan Hanscom:

They don’t even know it’s there, let alone… They don’t know to say, “Oh yeah, that’s cool. I’m used to going every Friday, so I’m not going to go.” They don’t even know. And I think that that’s another real challenge that the place faces now, is this massive influx of people and how do you bring in new eyeballs, and how do you cross pollinate with the rest of the Valley?

Rick Beuttel:

So I think it’s a challenge, but like they say in corporate speak, right, it’s also an opportunity.

Joan Hanscom:

100%.

Rick Beuttel:

I think the equal challenge that’s actually maybe more of a real challenge that we face is there is just a lot more to do on a Friday night. We have baseball now. We have hockey now. And I know seasons don’t overlap. Everybody’s got 400 channels of television. Everybody’s got access to the whole world on their phone. And by the way, people are strung out and exhausted at the end of the week. At least I know I am.

Joan Hanscom:

Also that, yeah.

Rick Beuttel:

But also you come out, you take the edge off, have, wait, a couple of beers, and enjoy something fun. And maybe people come once or twice, we never see them again. But by and large, I’ve noticed when you get people here once or twice, it sets the hook, they want to come back. It’s fun. It’s speedy. It’s colorful. And it’s not mainstream, but it’s not mainstream in a good way.

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s also not expensive.

Rick Beuttel:

Oh yeah, well, there’s that. It’s a cheap date. It’s a great Friday night date activity.

Joan Hanscom:

Plus you get to sit outside in the sunshine most of the time in the hot weather. It’s nice.

Maura Beuttel:

You really can’t beat a sunset on a Friday night, cold beer in hand, watching some bike racing.

Joan Hanscom:

No, that’s the truth.

Rick Beuttel:

No, you really can’t. And you understand a little bit why this thing is so special in other parts of the world, right? You understand why Belgium gets thousands of people to come watch a Kermesse, and why six-day racing is so popular in the way it is.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, sidebar, sidebar.

Rick Beuttel:

Here we go. Okay. See, yeah, I see what you did there.

Joan Hanscom:

Did you see poor Cav crashed?

Rick Beuttel:

I did, yeah. I did. I also see his trade team boss is negotiating with him in the papers, as he does. I’m getting really frustrated this contract negotiation is taking so long.

Joan Hanscom:

As he does, yes. I just hope little Cav’s okay.

Rick Beuttel:

I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’m sure he’ll… but that’s another thing we share, is the love of all forms of the sport, right? Whether it’s cross pro road, the Tour, the Classics… and yeah, the classics are the best, but-

Joan Hanscom:

Classics are the best.

Rick Beuttel:

It’s just such a special thing. And you almost wish more people appreciated it.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny. I was just… I woke up this morning waxing nostalgic. I don’t know why. Well, a friend of mine passed away on last Saturday. And so, I was sort of thinking back, I think, through all of those things. His memorial service was yesterday. And during COVID, that first spring in COVID, there were no bike races, right? Everything was canceled. And there was this just amazing community that sort of sprung out of the woodwork on Twitter that on the day that said Classics race was supposed to happen, somebody, I don’t know who, there was a little team of people, decided, “We are going to watch the 1996 Flanders today. Here’s the link to the YouTube video. And everybody be on Twitter at 10:00 AM Eastern time. And we will synchronize and hit play at the same time. And we will watch ’96 Flanders in live time together. And we’ll do the Twitter thing.” We did the Twitter if it was live Flanders and it was this amazing… I don’t know, thing of community, right, that sprung up during COVID.

Joan Hanscom:

And I was thinking about it today in the context, I guess, with my friend who passed away. And I think that that’s one of the things that makes the track special, too, is that community. And I think it’s one of the… and in any sport that you play, whatever community you find yourself in, right, our tribe is the bike tribe, but it is special. It is this shared passion for the thing and the place. And that community is pretty powerful. And I think we lived that sense of community during that first summer of COVID. It’s weird now that there are many summers of COVID, right, multiple.

Rick Beuttel:

It’s sad. But it is weird. You’re right.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a weird thing, but that first summer of COVID, I think the best and most important thing we at year was having time trials, because we kept people connected to the place.

Rick Beuttel:

And it gave people something to focus on, because they didn’t have the, “Okay, there’s this crit I want to do. There’s this mountain bike race I want to do. There’s this whatever I want to do.” And it’s like, “Okay. Well, I can just sit and sharpen the blade and focus on the best ever 3k time trial time I’ll ever do on the track,” right? And we had some track records fall, and we had national records fall, which is pretty incredible, because I think people just looked at us as like, “Okay, here’s something I can do.” And we gave them an outlet.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And even the parents who couldn’t come inside, right? We kept the parents connected. The parents set up their little enclaves outside in the parking lot and they were able to connect. Yeah, they were wearing masks, but they were able to keep that community going. And I think that that was so important during COVID. And now it’s a question of, well, who knows. I mean, we may be going back into COVID again. It’s crazy. But it’s one of those things that, how do you keep that community thing, that connection that was so positive in 2020, how do you keep that going and how do you grow it and how do you multiply it? Because I think that’s the real thing is, you’re either going to go back into COVID and we’re going to be weird and wearing masks again and back in our bubbles, or we’re going to go back to something that’s normal life and you get blase about it again. And so I think one of the big questions we have to ask ourselves now is, “All right. We started to create this really positive sense of community. How do we grow it?”

Rick Beuttel:

Right. Right. How do we keep it snowballing in a good direction? Because I think we did. Well, we did. You did. You did it, you lead it. I mean, you led the organization in doing it. I mean, we had unbelievable lemons in 2020 and you made lemonade out of it. And I think the sense of community that came from that and just the sheer feedback and appreciation, I know you got a lot of it. I mean, you must have gotten a lot of it, because I got some of it. And normally I only hear problems. So, or let me rephrase that. Let me rephrase that, because that wasn’t fair. Normally, I only hear complaints. Complaints are different than problems. And we have a lot of one and not very many of the other, thankfully.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, yeah. No, me too, though. I think you always hear the negatives more than the positives, but there was a lot of positive feedback that came out of that.

Rick Beuttel:

And I mean, I hate to… I’ll pivot a little bit, but just going on the COVID riff, I mean, out the only good thing I could see coming out of COVID is that I didn’t have to get on God forsaken airplanes for 15 months and I could start riding my bike a little bit and I lost 15 pounds and I felt almost human for a little bit, until May of this year, when I started going to COVID Louisiana every week to get some ginormous project finished. But yeah, now that’s all done and maybe I get out once a week. And I’m not going to let the world take it from me though, right? I stopped pretty much completely in 2014. I’m going to at least do this once a week until I can do more.

Maura Beuttel:

You heard it here, folks.

Joan Hanscom:

Speaking of that, did you do that today?

Rick Beuttel:

I’m sorry?

Joan Hanscom:

Did you get out today?

Rick Beuttel:

I did get out today. So I got home from Calgary at 5:30 last night, which was dreadful. And we went to our friend Kate’s birthday party last night. So, happy day after birthday, Kate. And then we had a work meeting this morning from 9:00 until 12:30.

Joan Hanscom:

And then you went out on your bike.

Rick Beuttel:

And then I went out on my bike and it was good. I was out for maybe an hour and a half, and I came home and I watched the Eagles beat the Saints. So hopefully there’s some Eagles fans listening and not too many Saints fans listening.

Joan Hanscom:

I miss football. I can’t wait to have, I can’t wait to have internet at home again.

Rick Beuttel:

It’s coming. So when do you actually move into your, well, permanent temporary home out there, as opposed to your temporary home?

Joan Hanscom:

December 1st.

Rick Beuttel:

December. Oh, that’s coming.

Joan Hanscom:

So, soon. I’ll be able to catch the important time of football season.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s when it matters. So what are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going to ride my bike.

Rick Beuttel:

Brilliant.

Joan Hanscom:

I have a… It’s going to be cold, though, but we’re going to have another nice day.

Maura Beuttel:

Cold.

Joan Hanscom:

And then, yeah.

Rick Beuttel:

I’m sorry. I’m sorry if it’s going to be mid-high 50s. That’s terrible. Hold on. Could you pass me those tissues over there? I’m tearing up.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going to ride my bike. I have a 90 mile route planned.

Rick Beuttel:

Oh, that’s freaking awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, so.

Rick Beuttel:

That’s freaking awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s my plan.

Rick Beuttel:

Do you have some new people that at least you can go break bread at the end of the day? Come on. You got to give me something like that.

Joan Hanscom:

No, actually my goal is to ride my bike and then start unpacking all of my boxes in my new apartment.

Maura Beuttel:

So, it’ll be Joan and the Fin and not the creepy ghost from your house right now.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. No more ghosts. But yes, my goal is to start on boxing things on Black Friday. That’s my goal.

Rick Beuttel:

Okay.

Joan Hanscom:

So, big bike ride.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, I don’t know how much Black Friday there’s going to be this year with all this supply chain nonsense. I mean-

Joan Hanscom:

It was an interesting question, right?

Rick Beuttel:

I mean, Maura said she got her bike this year. I think she was lucky to get a bike this year.

Maura Beuttel:

I know. I mean, hey, we walked into Doylestown and they were like, “Yeah, we have one bike left in your size. And then we’re not getting anymore. Like ever.”

Rick Beuttel:

By the way, love those Doylestown guys. They are the best. They have the appropriate view of life and the balance of humor and seriousness and God gave them that. You don’t learn that. You were given it.

Joan Hanscom:

I can’t wait to see if Gee actually gets those bikes up and running so he can do his hour record attempt.

Maura Beuttel:

I sure as hell hope they do.

Rick Beuttel:

I hope so. I was thinking of throwing my hat in the ring, because I saw that there was a slowest hour record set on a track in Italy. I think it was earlier this week-

Joan Hanscom:

I saw that.

Rick Beuttel:

… and I think that’s something I could contend for.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. It’s got to be really hard.

Rick Beuttel:

It’s got to be really hard. Yeah. I mean, I could, back in the day I was pretty good at track standing. So there you go.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Like, how slow were they? Because I saw it then I did read the speed?

Rick Beuttel:

Like 918 meters, something like that.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. That’s got to be really hard.

Rick Beuttel:

So as a Porsche guy, right, if I’m going to break that I would go 911 meters.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. Yeah, I thought… I didn’t read the article, but I was like, just from the sounds of the headline, I was like, “Oh shit, that’s going to be real hard going that slow.”

Rick Beuttel:

But that’s it. You can’t take yourself too seriously, right? We can take the business really seriously. It doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves so goddamn seriously all the time.

Joan Hanscom:

So, what are y’all doing for Thanksgiving, since we’re talking about it?

Rick Beuttel:

Well, so let’s talk about it. So, there’ll be a bike ride. Assuming the weather isn’t precipitate-y.

Joan Hanscom:

Are you going to make Maura go out with you?

Rick Beuttel:

Yes, I will make her. I don’t think there’ll be that much making involved. And then actually, we go over to… Thanksgiving we go to friends’ houses, a friend’s house, actually. Kate and Joel, the Kate of she who just had the birthday. And by the way, Joel, shout out to him. He is a serious mountain bike rider and he did a great job and has done a great job bringing some of his mountain bike gang out to T-Town on Friday nights. And we see some of them coming back, because literally, as you said, they had no idea that it was here. They had no idea that this epicenter of cycling was literally five miles from where they lived.

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s fun.

Rick Beuttel:

Oh, and by the way it’s a hoot, right? And they said, “Wow, cheap, good beer. What’s not to like about that?”

Joan Hanscom:

Now I’m thirsty.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. Actually I am, too. I don’t know what we have in the fridge here, but I-

Joan Hanscom:

Nothing you want to touch, I’m sure.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. You’re probably right. You’re probably right.

Joan Hanscom:

I think it’s still Miller Lite from 2017.

Maura Beuttel:

I think so too.

Rick Beuttel:

Ew. Yeah. I wouldn’t clean the wheels of my car with that stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

No, it’s bad.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So, don’t do it. Don’t do it.

Rick Beuttel:

Don’t do it. No, I think I can wait until I get home. So yeah, that’ll be Thanksgiving and I’m hoping that I actually get a couple days off and don’t have to work. So, if any of my seniors at Air Products are listening to this, please, please, please.

Joan Hanscom:

Maura, what are you going to do for Thanksgiving?

Maura Beuttel:

I guess I’m going for a bike ride.

Rick Beuttel:

Touche.

Maura Beuttel:

The day before Thanksgiving I will make a beautiful apple pie and bring that to said Thanksgiving at Kate and Joel’s house. And we bring a very tasty, smoked Turkey with us, as well.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. Shout out for the smoked turkey by the way.

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Maura Beuttel:

So, yes. Bike ride-

Joan Hanscom:

Do you smoke it [inaudible 00:52:34]? Do it in the backyard, or?

Rick Beuttel:

No, I outsource that to experts, as one should do with things like that.

Joan Hanscom:

I didn’t know if you had one of those, you know, crazy backyard things tucked away somewhere.

Maura Beuttel:

Oh yeah, it’s like the at-home turkey fryer.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Rick Beuttel:

The problem with that is, as you know, time is a four letter word.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I also know that fire is a four letter word.

Maura Beuttel:

True.

Rick Beuttel:

Fire is a four letter word.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Which would be more my concern, but.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, 100%.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Cool. Well all righty, fellas, and I guess, Maura, I count you as a fella.

Maura Beuttel:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

This been delightful, because I wanted people to get to know you, Rick. And I wanted people to understand that there’s a lot of passion behind the board of directors and not an anonymous bunch of people. And so, next year, when you’re at the bike race on Friday night, make sure you say hi to Rick, because he is always there.

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah. Say hi nicely, I’ll buy you a beer. Bring a potential sponsor or bring a connection, even, that we can go talk to and pitch the place, or bring some friends and maybe I’ll buy them all beers. Seriously, I mean, everybody that comes out, you what a jewel and how fabulous this place is. And I think that, Joan, you said it pretty well. The board is a lot more engaged than it ever was in the past. And we just want to see this continue to go in a positive direction. So, for all those out there that are supporting and are making a difference and are really helping, really, really appreciate that. For all of you that would like to, really would appreciate that as well. So, and for those of you that don’t wish us well, well, you know what you can do.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Well, on that note-

Rick Beuttel:

Yeah, on that note. Let’s end on some spice.

Joan Hanscom:

On that happy note, we will say, this has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And this was my guest, Rick Beuttel, who is one of my favorite people, and Maura Beuttel as my sidekick in podcasting. And we hope you’ve enjoyed this show and give us a thumbs up, a like, a five stars, heart, whatever it is on your platform of choice, so that we can continue to grow this podcast. And thanks for listening.

Rick Beuttel:

Thanks, everyone.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Clever Martinez: Do What You Love

Clever Martinez

Episode 44

“I want to make what I love. I want to work in what I love. And what I love is just cycling.”

This week’s podcast guest has arguably the best hair T-Town has ever seen. Join Joan this week as she sits down with Clever Martinez to discuss his racing season for track and crit, his goats (yes, you read that right– goats!), Clever Athletes, and his new merchandise line.

Clever Martinez
Clever Martinez

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling, broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And I’m very happy to have with us this week a very talented and well, multi-talented bike racer, Clever Martinez. Welcome to the show. We’re thrilled you joined us. For our listeners, Clever, you are a road racer, a crit racer, a track racer, and a man of many talents. So welcome to the podcast. We’re thrilled to have you.

Clever Martinez:

Thank you. I’m really happy to be here and thank you for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

So, Clever, you are from Venezuela?

Clever Martinez:

Yes, that’s right.

Joan Hanscom:

When did you arrive in the US? What brought you here?

Clever Martinez:

So I came here last year. Well, first of all, I’m sorry my English is not perfect. I’m trying to learn. I’m still learning.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re doing great.

Clever Martinez:

I’ll try to do my best.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re doing great.

Clever Martinez:

So I came here last year to race this crit season, but because of pandemic and all that problem, we were not able to race any of it. So I got stuck here because all those airports shut down and nobody was able to leave or enter the country for months. And I just decided to stay here and try to give my best shot to this year. And here we are.

Joan Hanscom:

I’d say you had a pretty successful season. You raced here at the track in the UCI racing, where you were definitely a factor in the races here. But if my quick scan of road results tells me anything, you also did Tour of America’s Dairyland and Intelli Cup, which is my favorite week of racing in America. I lived in Chicago for many years and that was always my absolute favorite week of the year was Intelli Cup.

Joan Hanscom:

So you had some great results there. You raced in Florida. You’ve raced all over the east coast this year. So I think road results shows 44 different road events that you took part in. You had some great results. What’s your favorite? I’m putting you on the spot. What’s your favorite race? Right on the spot.

Clever Martinez:

That’s a hard one. But I think I really enjoyed so much to race in Wisconsin, Tour of America’s Dairyland. I think that’s what I enjoyed most because it was a great result for me and the guys and it was special, because that was the first time ever I raced a stage race here in US. And I think that one and I got to say Cry Baby Hill, Tulsa Tough, Oklahoma is so crazy. It’s just unbelievable. I love it.

Joan Hanscom:

So I’ve lived all over the place in the US. I’ve lived on the east coast. I’ve lived in Colorado. I’ve lived in Chicago. So I’ve lived everywhere but the far west coast, and crit racing in the Midwest, so whether it’s Wisconsin or Chicago or Oklahoma, crit racing in the Midwest is absolutely the best thing ever.

Joan Hanscom:

People, they have lawn parties, they set up in front of their house. They decorate, they do all the stuff and it’s so much fun. And as a bike racer, there’s nothing more energizing than having people the whole way around the course just losing their minds cheering.

Clever Martinez:

It’s a huge thing. I mean, it’s a community. They have these races for decades or years or whatever. And I think it’s part of their culture.

Joan Hanscom:

I like that Legion is putting an emphasis on making crit racing a thing again, because in America I think crit racing is our bread and butter. It’s what our athletes excel at. It’s what our communities allow us to have. We don’t have the opportunity to do big road races, like a Paris-Roubaix here. The US people aren’t so keen on shutting down the roads for big, long road races in that way. So we have crits and we do them really well. But when they’re done really well, they’re so fun.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think I saw you race, Maura and I both, Maura here on the pod, we were at the Eastern crit, which was super good to see here. Another new crit coming online, a Twilight crit, it was fun. Did you have fun at Eastern?

Clever Martinez:

Absolutely. That was a fast one. And I think that the course was perfect and people all around the course and that was special.

Joan Hanscom:

Pretty great for a first time event to have that success off the bat. But you were here racing on the track. So tell us about racing on the track, because this is after all a track podcast. So tell us how your track season went?

Clever Martinez:

To be honest, my first reason, I wanted to be here the most because of I wanted to race track, not because of crit. I’ve never raced crit in my life. This is my first season ever racing crit, but I’ve been racing my whole life track. So I stay here because of the T-Town track season. And because of T-Town season, UCI season is a month long and I got to do something before and after. I got to keep doing something and I did crits.

Clever Martinez:

But the main reason for me at least was to be able to stay here and race track because, you’re not asking me, but so many teams are reaching out and asking me for race. What’s my plan for next year, blah, blah, blah. When you come race with us and blah, blah. So every single time I told them, well, my main goal is to make it to Olympics Paris 2024 and whatever the schedule, the race schedule that you guys have, I don’t want to be 100% in it because I wanted to be able to race track.

Clever Martinez:

And the biggest one for me at least is here in T-Town because it’s close to home. It’s the closest one, close. I’m an hour away from the track and then after that an American championship, south American games and all that stuff that come after that. And that’s to be honest, my main goal for next year, track. And I did enjoy a lot. It’s just make me happy to race track here and to be able to share races and that could community in T-Town is just beautiful.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, we were definitely glad to have you here too. You brought a lot of really great energy to the track this summer, which we all appreciated because the staff, it was long hours with nationals championship on top of UCI. And so to have a happy smiling face who was happy to be racing on the track made for us to be feel good too.

Joan Hanscom:

But it’s exciting to hear that that’s your focus for 24. I think the track season for next schedule, our UCI dates were in before May 1st. So we have C2s and C1s because the rule changes for track next year by the UCI. So we’ve got more racing on schedule for next year. And we are very hopeful that with the COVID thing, more athletes who are normally here, because what we had here this summer was not a normal T-Town summer where we didn’t have Australia, we didn’t have New Zealand. We didn’t have any of the European folks here.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re hoping that next year we go back to something that looks more like a normal T-Town summer post-COVID. And the level of competition will be smoking hot. We still had great competition this summer. It just wasn’t as many athletes. So hopefully in 2022, God, I can’t even keep track of the years anymore. Hopefully 2022, we go back to looking a bit more like our normal UCI block, but we definitely want to have you here and be part of that.

Joan Hanscom:

So, for a person you said who’s never raced crits before you seem to take to them quite well.

Clever Martinez:

I think every time I lined up in a race, I will try to do my best, even if it’s not my special. I think crits went very well for me this year.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. I’d say so. You got a fast finish on you there, Clever. Clever can sprint as we saw a lot, which was great. You definitely raised the level of competition locally, for sure, which was fantastic. There was some good battles out there on the road this year.

Joan Hanscom:

But then, because you have a great Instagram feed, so we’ll put that in the show notes for people to check out your Instagram feed if they don’t follow you already. I reached out to you because I saw you made a post about you were going to pursue a project or projects that you had been thinking about for a while and you’re wearing a hat that says Clever on it. So we have, I think, a line of Clever merchandise and then a Clever coaching product. So tell us about your plans here, Clever, because it’s pretty interesting.

Clever Martinez:

So this is a project that I’ve been thinking about two, three years I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking. But it came down to the time that I was waiting to that moment to be perfect to get ready to have everything ready to offer. And I think that will be never it’s going to be perfect. Never ever you’re going to have something perfect to offer. So I took a step and I just show the logo and the idea, the global idea to the world and I was expecting feedback. I wasn’t expecting that huge feedback that I had. So many people reach out and told me, “Oh, you got my support and whatever you have in mind, just let me know, whatever.” And I think that’s what I needed.

Clever Martinez:

Okay, now I know people like the idea and that made me focus more in everything about it. So basically right now, it’s quite little merchandise offer for public, but I’m working right now in the design of a couple of collections that not just merchandise, caps or shirts or shorts or whatever, but in cycling apparel.

Clever Martinez:

And then after that, not just cycling apparel, but also all everything that any cyclists need. For example, if you think in bicycles, so what I want to do is okay, if I need a bicycle, okay, Clever has a bicycle. That website has bicycles to offer. If I need to fix my bicycle, Clever fix bicycles. So whatever I need, a helmet, a kit, even coaching. It’s like a hub.

Clever Martinez:

So I was thinking, so too much people work in those works that they hate. And I want to make what I love. I want to work in what I love. And what I love is just cycling. It’s not hard for me to be involved in cycling every day, all day long. And I think this is a step by step project, slowly but surely. And I think for next year, this is going to be something real for me and to help people.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re off to a great start because it’s really eye-catching. You know how you go through Instagram and you do this, you scroll real fast. And I was like, “Woo, go back.” It’s really eye-catching. So I think you’re onto something. And then I showed it to Maura and I think Maura agreed. We both were just like, “Oh, wait, that’s something.” It definitely had that stop your scroll, go back and look again factor, which doesn’t happen very often. You’re pretty much just scrolling. So I think you’re into something there, which is pretty exciting.

Joan Hanscom:

And I know I told Maura that I’ll be getting out my credit card and shopping to support because I thought it was pretty rad and it’s great. So, I will proudly fly the Clever flag on my head. It’s terrific. Talk about the coaching a little bit. Talk about the coaching plans.

Clever Martinez:

So back in Venezuela, when I was living in Venezuela, I used to be high school coach. So I worked in Venezuela eight years in high school being a coach, a cycling coach. So I was part of the development program, but at the same time I got my own business apart. And I used to coach people and I used to do all these, I don’t know how to say in English, but I used to coach and I’m trying to learn English because this another country and to coach someone, you need to at least be able to say what you need to say.

Clever Martinez:

But not just me and along my career, I had pretty good coaches that stick around, that today I keep talking with them and I keep asking for advice and I think I want to involve them and a couple of them speak, not just Spanish but English and Portuguese. And I think here in United States, that will be a good thing to do if I can catch some people to help. I don’t want to sell something just to make money.

Clever Martinez:

But if you follow the season and if you follow the results and if you see Clever at the top every race or doing something good, at least. So a lot of people started to wonder, dude, this guy is doing something good. He’s doing something different. And a lot of people reach out, “Hey, I want on the bikes, I want to blah, blah, blah.” So that’s why I think that’s a good idea. And not just me, like I told you, I don’t want to be the biggest coach in America, but I have a pretty good team to put the work and I think that will work properly.

Joan Hanscom:

I have to ask, do you coach your wife? Because your wife is, I love how she races. So I raced against her.

Clever Martinez:

Well, that’s a good question because she’s been asking me for coaching the whole season and to be honest, I didn’t. But I got to say she has been working out with me every single day since last year.

Joan Hanscom:

So we’re doomed is what you’re saying? The rest of us ladies, we’re doomed.

Clever Martinez:

So, the fact that she’s following me and try to do the same amount of work that I’m doing, of course in her level, in her power zones and that make her to do great this season. And this is her first time ever racing bikes. She never raced bikes before, until this season.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s depressing for me. Now I’m depressed.

Clever Martinez:

She’s already got three. And she needs eight points. I don’t know how that works. That point to upgrade.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s complicated.

Clever Martinez:

She needs eight points, eight more points to upgrade.

Joan Hanscom:

She’s fun to race against though, because she’s very aggressive. She doesn’t sit back and just have a tea party. She goes for it, which makes it more fun to race against.

Clever Martinez:

Yes, because she doesn’t have that skills to keep herself safe in the pack, close to each other and she needs to, or even go away. But she feels that pressure to be close to each other because she never raced before. And that’s scary for her, that huge packs. But she’s going to get used to.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. Well, she was really aggressive in the races I did with her, which was, like I said, it was really fun for the rest of us because sometimes it can be just a little bit of a tea party and she definitely doesn’t race that way. So if you’re rubbing off on her, that’s good. The Clever method. We’ll call it the Clever method, which is awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

See, this is material you can use, Clever. So going back, so your plan is to stay here next year and race a whole bunch on the track, to fill in with crits where you can. Did you end up signing with a team or are you going stay with a group you’re with now? Or what’s your plan?

Clever Martinez:

Yes. Like I told you, I’ve been talking with all those teams that have been reaching out. And I think, I can’t say who’s my team for next year yet. I think because I haven’t signed it yet. But I still have a couple of contracts on the table and I’m pretty much settled for next year. But I think I can’t say anything yet, because I haven’t signed. I don’t know how these work. This is my first time.

Joan Hanscom:

Best not to say anything until ink’s on paper, but we’ll have to stay tuned. We’ll follow along and wait for the big announcement to see where you land next year. But you’re going to come back to the track, which is good. Which is very good.

Maura Buettel:

We’re certainly happy to have you back.

Joan Hanscom:

And then you never know, maybe we’ll have you do some coaching here at the track. Who knows? See, there’s opportunity there, Clever. Very good, seem thinking. I like it.

Clever Martinez:

I’m taking notes.

Joan Hanscom:

So about the merchandise, which is very clever, not to make a bad pun. But is it available now? Can people go on your website and shop now?

Clever Martinez:

It is, absolutely. It is, so I think none of the athletes or at least cyclists have a ton of money to just go to and I don’t know, make a ton of merchandise and sitting on your house and then put it in the market. But my first step and I’m starting with this drop shipping business model. So everything that you see in the website, in the store, it’s available. So when you buy something, that order needs to be fulfilled and it takes a little longer than normal because every order is make it by the time you buy. So every piece of merchandise that is right now in the store needs to make, it needs to be printed, needs to be embroidered and it takes at least five days to make it and then ship it. But everything that you see in the store, cleverathletes.com, it’s available right now.

Joan Hanscom:

Now I like the logo. So did you design the logo or did somebody design it for you?

Clever Martinez:

No, I’m not an a designer. So I had an idea and I reached out to my friends in Venezuela that I know they’re pretty good at design and I told them, I want to do this and this is my idea, blah, blah, blah. And then they came out with this and I would just love it. Perfect.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s real good. So tell us your inspiration. Tell us what you were looking for when you did it, what you asked them for.

Clever Martinez:

So I told him I wanted to make a logo for a project that I had in mind and they asked me, “Okay, what do you want to do? What do you want to sell? What do you want to blah, blah.” And then I told them I want to make a apparel collection and then this and then that. I told them about the coaching stuff and all that. And so they asked me for how do you get there? And why are you there and what are your plans? What’s for next year? And what’s for the future?

Clever Martinez:

And after I told them how did I get here and blah, blah. And they came out with these Cometa. I don’t know how to say. You know this space stuff that comes close to the earth every-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, like a comet?

Clever Martinez:

Comet. Okay. Like the comet. So everyone who has friends that came here and try to do something, they’re doing this, but it’s slow, but you went there and you’re already doing this and you’re already doing that. And have a plan and that’s quick, that’s this guy came from nowhere and then it’s a light-

Joan Hanscom:

I love it.

Clever Martinez:

And I was like, yes, well if you say so. Yes, that’s how I came and I just love it.

Joan Hanscom:

I love that. I love understanding the inspiration behind it, because like I said before, it’s super eye-catching. And so to understand the thought process behind it is super cool.

Clever Martinez:

They gave me actually a book that has all this history that I just told you. And why is this? Why the color, why the perspective and all that stuff?

Joan Hanscom:

So all your brand guidelines. Nice. There’s clever brand standards. I like it. That’s awesome. That’s so great.

Joan Hanscom:

So what else do you want our listeners to know, Clever? What should our listener base know about you?

Clever Martinez:

Well, I want you guys to know that I’m really happy to be here. I’m really happy to share this conversation with you guys. I’m so grateful.

Joan Hanscom:

Clever, do you live on a farm?

Clever Martinez:

I live in a farm, yes.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing, because your Instagram feed, there’s you and goats or you and sheep.

Clever Martinez:

Yes, we got 12 sheep.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. I love it.

Clever Martinez:

Yesterday I was training far away from here and I saw a sign in another farm, baby goats for sale. And it was like, what? And I’ve been following this Instagram page that have all these baby goats stories and reels. And I just love them. And yes, that’s a job. That’s a thing. To have sheeps and goats and everything. Take care of them.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s awesome.

Clever Martinez:

Yes, it’s a pretty cool farm and it’s cool because I used to live. So when I first came here, I was living in Florida and then I came up New York and I was in Queens. That’s New York City. And I was living there seven, eight months. Well, no, about a year. I was in Queens about a year. And then I came here to New Jersey Warren Township and it’s just us.

Clever Martinez:

It’s just where I came from in Venezuela, I used to live, not in a farm, but in a farm town. And this is just where I came from. It’s, “Oh, I’m home. Now I’m home.” And I love it because you find traffic light every, I don’t know, 10 miles here.

Joan Hanscom:

I was going to say the riding is much better than in Queens.

Clever Martinez:

Yes. Absolutely. You can ride 50 miles without traffic lights. And in Queens, you’re going to stop every, I don’t know, two minutes because of the traffic light. And that’s just beautiful. I love it. I love to be able live here.

Joan Hanscom:

So have you seen there’s an Instagram feed for, do you know who Thibaut Pinot is? He’s a French world tour rider and his Instagram feed is Thibaut Pinot and his goats. So you’re not the only bike racer who likes goats. Thibaut Pinot has goats and you’ll have to follow along with his goatly adventures because he too is-

Clever Martinez:

I’m following.

Joan Hanscom:

So Clever’s got his sheep, Thibaut’s got his goats, but it’s awesome. I have to say, your Instagram feed is delightful because it is sheep running around and Farmer Clever.

Clever Martinez:

And we had a baby sheep. It’s called Cliff, little Cliff. He’s just crazy. And he just learned how to eat from the grass and the feed and he just can’t stop. And his belly is the double of him. He can’t stop. It’s crazy how-

Joan Hanscom:

Cliff’s going to need a diet. So back way back a million years ago, when I was in grammar school or middle school, my mother sent me to a class about weaving, textile class. And so we had to make yarn from we sheared the sheep ourselves in class. And then we took it and we spun the wool into, we dyed it with flowers and then we spun it into wool. And then we did weavings with it. It was really cool to go step by step from actual on the sheep to making a thing. But shearing a sheep is not easy. Do you have to do that or do you have somebody else do that? Shearing a sheep is hard. They’re wiggly little creatures.

Clever Martinez:

No, I don’t do that. No.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. It’s hard. Speaking as someone who’s done it, it’s not easy.

Clever Martinez:

I’ll try.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. Now the challenge has been issued, go out and try to shear your sheep. It is not easy. They are very wiggly little creatures. I’ve done it. And also it is smelly.

Clever Martinez:

Yes. Tell me about it. We clean that barn every week. Crazy.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so funny. Well, Clever, it’s been a delight to have you on the show. We’ll have you back next year when you’re here racing and we can get you on live and in person here when you’re at the track and do a live in person version of the pod.

Joan Hanscom:

But we wanted to share out with everybody that you’re doing cool things and you’re not just fun to watch race bikes, but you’re actually doing some great stuff. And we wish you all the best with the merchandise and with the coaching and with aggregating all the rest of it, because I think you’re onto something. And so thank you for coming on and spending this time with us. It was delightful to have you.

Clever Martinez:

No, please. It was my completely pleasure to be here and share with this conversation with you guys. I just so amazed. And by the way, this is my first time ever doing something like this.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, right on. Well, we are glad that we got to be your first podcast. We’re going to put all the links to your stuff in our show notes. And so we’ll get the word out about the very clever merchandise and we’ll drive some sales for you. Thank you again for being on.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest, Clever Martinez. Make sure you check out his Instagram feed and all the good stuff that we will have for you in our show notes. If you enjoyed the show, please give us a like or hearts or thumbs up or stars, wherever you consume your pod. Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Lee Povey: Finding Joy

Lee Povey Maximize Your Potential Coaching

Episode 43

“I’m like, there’s got to be more to life. What is that? And just found myself getting more drawn to coaching, working with other people, helping other people achieve what they wanted to do.”

A man with incredible taste in trainers, a stellar accent, and a passion for everything he does– what more could you want in a podcast guest? Join Joan this week as she sits down and chats with Lee Povey, CEO of Maximize Your Potential Coaching and co-founder and VP of Empower Marriage and Family Therapy, about his career pathway, how Lee came into cycling, and finding joy in life.

Lee Povey Maximize Your Potential Coaching
Lee Povey – Maximize Your Potential Coaching / Empower Therapy and Coaching

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I am your host, Joan Hanscom, and this week, I am thrilled to be joined by a former USA Cycling colleague of mine, and somebody who has excellent taste in trainers, I will say. Excellent choice in footwear. Somebody who knows his way around the velodrome, and somebody who has made a very interesting career path change of recently. Welcome to the podcast, Lee Povey. Lee, you are the CEO of Maximize Your Potential Coaching, and you are co-founder and vice president of Empower Marriage and Family Therapy. But I know you from your time as the ODP track sprint coach.

Joan Hanscom:

So, welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m very excited to talk to you, because you bring a very high-performance mindset to everything you do, and high performance is very interesting to our listeners. And so, it is very exciting to have you here, to talk about what you’re doing, what you did do, and just stuff in general. Just a general catch up with somebody who is a well-respected member of our community. So, Lee, welcome to the pod.

Lee Povey:

Morning, Joan, or afternoon, as it is for you guys there. Lovely to be on the podcast with you. I’m looking forward to what you’re going to challenge me with, and the questions you’re going to ask me.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, the first question is, what color trainers are you wearing today?

Lee Povey:

Black.

Joan Hanscom:

Black? All right.

Lee Povey:

Just got back from the gym. I’ve gone all black, but I do have, as you know, a vast collection of colorful sneakers, and they’re not going anywhere.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, this summer when you were here for elite nationals, I pointed out you to Maura, who’s also here on the pod, and said that Lee has the best assortment of footwear in the sport of track cycling. So, I did point out your…

Lee Povey:

Should have sent you a picture. Me and Sara went to a wedding a couple of weekends ago, and I got to wear my gold sneakers.

Joan Hanscom:

Gold?

Lee Povey:

Because she was wearing a gold dress, so I wore gold sneakers to match my gold tie and my blue suit.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you’re going to have to send that photo in for the show notes.

Lee Povey:

Okay.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ll use that in the promotional photos, because yes, you have, of people I know, the best taste in footwear.

Lee Povey:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

So, we want to get that out of the way bright and early. Wanted to see what you were sporting on your feet today. I did a lot of research for this. We were colleagues at USA Cycling, but we didn’t really interact. You were not in the office, I was. So, I knew who you were, but I didn’t know a whole lot about you, and I’ve known you here at T-Town mostly as the person who brings a lot of very fast sprint athletes to the track. A lot of athletes who are very high performance-focused athletes. But I didn’t really know a whole lot about you and your background, and so I thought, let’s start there. You are not from here, as the accent gives away, so tell us about your pathway from the UK to America.

Lee Povey:

I really like messing with Americans when they say, “Where are you from?” And I say, “Long Beach,” and I just don’t say anything after that, and leave the pause as long as I can, and watch them kind of try to figure out what’s going on.

Lee Povey:

How did I get here? I was on the national team in the UK as a junior. This was before GB had all the funding and everything, at a point when we were probably the worst nation in the world. I already realized I wasn’t that gifted, so I wasn’t going to be an elite world champion. It wasn’t going to be a career for me, because I didn’t have that setup there, and I wasn’t good enough to make it, despite the setup that they had. So, I ended up going into real estate, worked for a corporate agency six years. Awesome training. Learned about leadership and the skills around that without even realizing I was learning it. Had my real estate business for five years.

Lee Povey:

In the meantime, British cycling has set up something called the Talent Team, which was a talent ID program, and they kept getting me in to do guest stuff for track sprinters, because there wasn’t a lot of track sprint coaching. So, in the southern region, I would go to schools and test kids, and do clinics and stuff like that around track sprinting. And I really enjoyed it, but it was a hobby, a fun thing to do kind of outside my business.

Lee Povey:

And then, I was working with an athlete, Pete Mitchell, who was at the Junior World… Junior European Championships, I think it was 2007. And I was sitting in the stand. He was working with the GB coaches in the middle, and I went with his dad to watch and support him. I’m sitting in the stands, and I thought, I don’t want to go back to my real estate business. And it was that real kind of light bulb moment of, oh, okay. I don’t want to do that anymore. I just don’t enjoy it.

Lee Povey:

So, within six months, I’d sold my business. Incredibly fortunate that that was agreed December 2007, and the property crash happened in the UK in January 2008. So, I was very fortunate. I then created my own cycling coaching business. I had a reputation for working with young athletes and getting them into the GB program. And then, I started working with masters athletes, because as we all know, that’s where the money is, so you want to pay your bills, you need masters athletes. And I enjoyed that. That was great.

Lee Povey:

I came and did, I was coaching a guy on the internet who lived in San Jose, and he invited me to come and do a clinic there, so I came with my coaching partner, David Le Grys. We did a clinic there, and I loved it. Set up the next year to come back and stay for a month. Came back, stayed for a month, thinking, could I live here? Obviously I could. Went back home to the UK. It rained for six weeks in a row, every single day, middle of June into August. I worked at the Olympics 2012. The day the Olympics finished, I found a lawyer, applied for my visa, and I’d moved to America by February the following year.

Joan Hanscom:

All right, so that answers the question. And it also, to me, reveals a bit about your personality, your character, what drives you, and I’d like to poke a little bit on that decision of sitting up in the stands and deciding you didn’t want to go back to real estate. I’m going to read between the lines and say that it was because you enjoyed coaching so much, that you enjoyed the sporting side of it so much, but probably that you were enjoying helping athletes, right? Is that interpreting you correctly, that something about what you were doing was rewarding, you were finding that you were good at it, and that’s when you decided, I want to do this, not go back to real estate? Is that fair?

Lee Povey:

Yeah, that’s a great observation, Joan. I think, as life’s gone on, I’ve tuned in more and more to what really motivates me, and what my purpose in life is. And I fell into real estate. Nobody really in the UK, it’s not as lucrative as it is here in the US. Nobody really sits there and goes, I want to be a real estate agent. It’s what you do if you didn’t go to university, and you’re quite switched off. And I kind of fell into it. I applied for 20 different jobs, and I got three offers from real estate agents. So I’m like, okay, the world is telling me something here.

Lee Povey:

Did it, was good at it, so I kept getting rewarded financially and getting promoted in the company that I was working in, or with my own business, rewarded financially, but there wasn’t the emotional reward that I was looking for. And I had a nice apartment on the seafront of Brighton. I had a nice, flash car, and I thought that was going to be enough, and it wasn’t. And I’m like, there’s got to be more to life. What is that? And just found myself getting more drawn to coaching, working with other people, helping other people achieve what they wanted to do.

Lee Povey:

And I’d also, and this is, we’re going to probably touch on this later, I’d also experienced really bad coaching. So, I wanted to be the answer to really bad coaching. At that time in GB, we were changing from the old school sprint coaching, with lots of volume and training, and lots of road riding, to this new model of concentrate on speed first, get really strong at the gym. So, I wanted to be part of that movement as well, of kind of changing the ethos of the sport. So, both of those things were motivating me to go in a different direction.

Joan Hanscom:

Now, I want to touch on something else, and I think it’s relevant to where we’ll go with this conversation when we talk about where you are today. Bad coaching. For you as a coach, but also as an athlete. What’s bad coaching?

Lee Povey:

Well, that’s a massive thing, and I think it depends, are you talking about [inaudible 00:09:12]? Are we talking about the emotional element, of not holding a space correctly for athletes to be the best version of themselves, empower them, let them grow? You know, that sideline bully that stands there and shouts at athletes, makes them feel smaller and stuff? Or are we just talking bad physiology, like bad technique coaching? And I’ve experienced both, and I wanted to change both.

Lee Povey:

To begin with, it was more the technical, tactical, physiology that I was really interested in, and then it completely switched, much more to the emotional side of it, which is how I’ve ended up doing what I’m doing now, is I learned that I had an ability to connect with people on that level really well. I’d gotten more and more interested in that, and I realized there was other people that were more gifted than me at physiology, and had I stated working at USA Cycling, working with USA Cycling, I would have wanted a physiologist to come in with me and support me on that side of it, and I’m much more interested in the technical, tactical and emotional components of it, so the brain part of it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I think it’s such an important thing in our sport. Broadly, not just track cycling. But understanding good coaching, from that emotional, mental component of it. A good coach can lift you up, can open up your potential, and bad coaching can be so destructive, and it can be so harmful. And I think that in our sport, that can take on, whether it’s abuse, or it’s just limiting you as an athlete, and not helping you find your full potential. I think it’s just an important thing for people to understand, that what the role of a coach is isn’t just training, right?

Joan Hanscom:

I think so many people get that wrong. I think I need to work with this coach because the training is good. Anybody… any monkey can train you, right? You can go on the Sufferfest, or you can go on Trainer Road, and you can get very fit, right? You can make yourself strong, you can make yourself fast with a canned program, but can you thrive as an athlete? And did think that that’s what you’re touching on, is this ability to work with athletes and help them thrive.

Joan Hanscom:

And to thrive is very different than getting really fit on Zwift, right? It’s a very different thing, and high performance athletes, like your athletes, and like your clientele, too, your client base, too, this is all high performance lifestyle. This is getting all aspects of it right, not just the workout, not just the time in the gym. It’s all aspects of life, and I think that that’s the great frontier for coaches, the good ones, anyway.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I think it’s interesting to talk to you about that and get your perspective on the state of the sport, the state of coaching, the state of good coaching versus bad coaching, and what your observations are.

Lee Povey:

I think there’s… It’s such a broad subject.

Joan Hanscom:

I know. Sorry.

Lee Povey:

Yeah, I’m like, where are we going to go first on that? I think of coaching in a few different ways. So, I think the term gets used too much. There’s people that are facilitators, people that are trainers, and there are people that are coaches. A facilitator is somebody who’s holding space for you to come and do a training session. A trainer is somebody that’s writing what you’re doing in that training session. A coach is somebody who is seeing you as a whole human being, looking at the training you’re doing in the session, giving you feedback on the training you’re doing in the session, and then kind of holding a whole plan for how you as a human being can best perform. And that can sometimes be telling you to go home, because you’re not ready to train today, either emotionally or physically.

Lee Povey:

When we started the ODP program, I was keen to get Ben Sharp in, because I believed, from what I’d seen… I’d only seen a little bit of him, but I pushed for him to come in and do the endurance side with me, because I believe he had the same ethos as me about athletes. And my ethos is, anybody that works with me leaves working with me a better human being, especially when we’re talking about high performance. Because you can have 30, 50 athletes come through a program like that, and if we got two or three that went on to Olympic level and achieved success, that’s a pretty good result.

Lee Povey:

So, if our only marker for success is the results of the athletes, we’re going to end up with a lot of disappointment for us as coaches, and we’re going to be pushing people to achieve our own personal goals. Like, my success is, I’ve got an Olympic gold medalist. Rather than, I view it, my success is, that human being’s come from our program, walked through our program, and comes out of it a more rounded human being with more skills in life as a byproduct of what they’ve done in that training program. And hopefully, a much better athlete, as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Lee Povey:

So, that’s kind of how I see my role as a coach, is to help people be the best human beings they can, and also help them be the best at the sport they’ve chosen to be. I’ve had conversations with athletes that resulted in them choosing to do a different sport, because this sport is not a good sport for them, for example. And they can be really challenging and difficult conversations to have. We have a guardianship as a coach, of the welfare of the people that we’re dealing with, and for me, it’s really important that you put your own ego to one side, and it’s taken me a long time to learn that. I was very driven, myself. I’m like, my guys are going to win everything! And I realized that’s not my place at all. My place is to empower them to be the best versions of themselves. If the result of that is them winning bike races, so be it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that that’s so important, and I think you’ve nailed it, the difference. People have asked me about coaching before, not me to coach them, but just my philosophy on coaching, and I think that, like I said before, anybody can write you a program and make you fast. It’s the other piece of that puzzle that’s so important, and I think that trust and honesty are so important, which is what you’ve touched on. Look, hey, you’re not, this sport is not the thing for you. This pathway, you are more suited for this pathway than this pathway. That type of brutal honesty and assessment is so key and important in a coaching-athlete relationship.

Lee Povey:

Well, I just want to be careful there, Joan, that it’s not led by me in that instance. That’s led by the athlete, and it’s usually them being very unhappy. The sport tends to bring in people that have a lot of natural grit. So, what they keep doing is bumping up against this thing, because that’s what they’ve been told what they should do, like hard work, great work ethic, it’s the person who works the hardest. And they’re bumping up against these things that actually aren’t bringing them joy. And what is life about if we’re not having joy? Like, why are we doing this?

Lee Povey:

And it could be it’s emotionally not good for them. It could be physically it’s not good for them. Their body type doesn’t fit what they’re doing. I’ve encouraged people to go from endurance to sprint, or sprint to endurance, because their body type isn’t for what they’re trying to do. Or it’s just not the right sporting environment for them that they’re in. They might want to go and consider something else.

Lee Povey:

And that’s led by them getting to this point where they’re bumping up against this thing, and they’re not finding joy. It’s not about, for me, not so much about the physicality, because if you’re doing this, and you’re not going to be a world champion, but you love it, you should keep doing this. But if you’re doing this, and you’re not enjoying it, and you think you’re doing it because you’ve been told by parents you’ve got it, or there’s this belief that you can’t fail, that doing something different is failure, that’s where I think that the edge of it is, and it should always be led by the athlete.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I agree with that. You used a word I like: grit. You’ve used that in conversations with me before. Define grit.

Lee Povey:

I’m trying to think of the woman who wrote the book on it. I think her name’s Angela Duckworth. It’s the ability to persevere in difficult times. I’ll give you an example of grit. I have a young athlete, and I’m only coaching two athletes now until the national team program is set up for them to leap into, so I’ve kind of really moved out of this, but there’s two I’m just looking after to help. One of these athletes trains somewhere where it’s constantly over 100 degrees, often training by themselves, had an an issue with, before we sorted it out, with throwing up after almost every effort. Never complained. Went an trained. Threw up five times in 100 and something-plus degrees, with a bit smile on her face.

Lee Povey:

I don’t know how she did it. I would not have been able to do that. Just that amount of perseverance to overcome the obstacles in the way is what sets, for me, really high performance people apart. And you can learn that, and there’s also an intrinsic element that you’re born with. And that’s why not everybody can be a super high performer, which is fine, because not everybody needs to be.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. It’s so interesting. So, you tease that up. You are now coaching just two athletes, and you are now moving into what I guess you could describe as a human behavior and performance coach. You are working with normal people, and helping normal people find joy. Tell us about that. Tell us about that transition, because I think it’s interesting, because again, it just makes me think of you sitting in the stands, figuring out what makes me happy, what I want to go back to, and honing in on what your skill set is, and where you thrive. So, tell us about your transition away from being the ODA… ODP, sorry, ODP track sprint coach, and the CEO of your company, and your vice president of your company, and how that transition worked, and what drove that change.

Lee Povey:

Yeah. Love that question. Thank you, Joan. I was already beginning… Well, let’s not begin. I was already really unhappy in the role. I was in Milton, in Canada, a race that we took a bunch of the ODP athletes to. I think we won every sprint event at the competition. Actually, we didn’t win the kilo. That’s the only one we didn’t win. We won every sprint event but the kilo at the competition.

Lee Povey:

And I was there, and I’m looking at the setup that the Canadians had. They had two full-time sprint coaches, two full-time gym coaches, physios, a team of coaches looking for talent. I was doing that entire role by myself for USA Cycling on the sprint side, and it was part-time. They wouldn’t pay me enough for it to be a full-time role, so I still had my private master cycling coaching business. I was working seven days a week. This is not sustainable.

Lee Povey:

I was in negotiation with them to move into a full-time position as the sprint coach, and the negotiations were not going well. And then COVID hit, and everything got blown up. And I’m sitting there thinking, what do I want to do? Do I want to go back to being a masters coach? Well, I’ve done that for the last 12-13 years, and fulfilling that it was, it didn’t feel like enough of an active service, but as I was moving more into this, I want to help people be better versions of themselves emotionally, or enable them to be better versions of themselves emotionally, what does that look like?

Lee Povey:

I’m looking at the politics, and the division in the politics, and I’m thinking, there’s so much anger in this world, how do I be part of the cure? I don’t want to be a politician. That’s definitely not my skillset. So, I kind of think, I want to be better at creating community and affecting more people. And with sports coaching, the national team, or the ODP team, I was working with 12 athletes. So, I’m thinking, how can I, what can I do that’s going to work with more people, and the people I work with, how are they going to affect more people around them?

Lee Povey:

So, I started a men’s group for myself and some friends, right at the beginning of the pandemic, because people were kind of struggling, we were all stuck at home. Everyone’s freaking out, what’s going on, what’s this going to look like? And it went really well. And I’d been in men’s groups back in the UK for quite a long time. I kind of knew the power of them, and what it’s like for men to sit down and actually understand emotions and talk to each other.

Lee Povey:

And I realized I have a gift for teaching emotional intelligence, especially to men. Because I’m a normal guy. I’m not a hippie with long hair, who’s like, yeah, flower power, man. That’s just not my way. So, I can connect with average men, normal men, better than those kind of guys. And the people doing that kind of men’s coaching, the people going to them are quite emotionally astute anyway, and I was looking for the guys that are a bit like me when I was younger. I got some success, and I’m not happy, and I don’t understand why I’m not happy. And that was what I looking for.

Lee Povey:

So, I started the men’s groups. They went really well, like took off really quickly. And then I started doing one-to-one coaching, both for men and women, and now it seems to be, I’ve kind of fallen into a more high performance role, where I work with startup companies, and I will work with the leaders of startup companies and the executive teams of startup companies, and help them transition from that startup stage into a bigger company, where they’re managing lots of people. And I’ve discovered I really like working on leadership. That’s the bit that particularly excites me, is how we are as leaders. And again, that fits into my purpose of you work with a leader, they infect their entire company. Then we’re able to help hundreds of people, instead of one person.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. It’s fascinating. You used the phrase emotional intelligence. Push on that a little bit.

Lee Povey:

What’s that? What’s that stuff?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, what is it? And how do you know when you have it?

Lee Povey:

I don’t know if you ever know that. What I do with the men’s group is, because this is probably the easiest way to explain it, the first week is why are you here? Because people come with all these things that are like, I’ve got this going on with my life, or I don’t understand this, or I’m just unhappy, and we get their story. And the first part of that is a group of men sitting down together in a container where we create safety, so we say, everything shared here is personal to here. We don’t share it with anybody else. There’s no judgment or shame here. Like any of that, I would immediately moderate. If there’s any aggression or anger towards each other, I would moderate that, and if it got bad, you’d get banned from the group.

Lee Povey:

So, we create somewhere where people can communicate and be heard, and lots of people have never been truly heard, where a group of people are sitting there and listening to them, instead of listening to respond to them. So, that’s a new concept for a little people, like get a space where people are just listening to be curious. So, that’s the first part of emotional intelligence, is starting to listen to be curious, rather than listening to have your response, to have your like, I’ve got the answer for you, or let me show you how smart I am, or let me share my experience too. It’s just listening to be curious.

Lee Povey:

Then, the next thing we do is, we work with emotions. So, I work with four emotions: anger, fear, status and joy. And these are the physical responses that we feel that give us information about the world and the experience we’re having. And men and women get a different experience when they’re growing up. Women are encouraged to express those emotions a bit more than men are. I wouldn’t say as much as they should, but certainly more than men. And even with women, there’s some connotations about what they can. Like, they shouldn’t express anger, but they can express sadness and fear.

Lee Povey:

Men are told they definitely can’t express fear and sadness. Don’t be a pussy. Don’t be a wimp. Chin up. All that kind of stuff. Anger is appropriate, but only at certain times, not when it should be healthily expressed. And when you watch young children, they have these big emotional responses, and they’re fast. They cry, and then they stop crying. They laugh, they stop laughing. And they’re processing the world through this emotional experience, and we train ourselves out of it as adults. Yet, that’s what we’re designed to do, to have an emotional response, and then to have a cognitive response to our emotional response.

Lee Povey:

So, the emotion is data, so fear could be telling me there’s something I’m about to do that could be difficult, or that could be challenging, or that I’m unsure of, so I feel fear. Great. I check in with that, it gets me ready to take on that challenge. If I ignore that, it can be crippling, and get to the point I don’t take on any challenges, because the fear is now so crippling, I don’t want to take challenges, but I don’t know why, because I’m not living in the emotion in the moment.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s so interesting. So, full disclosure to our listeners, you and I had a conversation, a session, which I thought was incredibly insightful, and I’m a big believer in all of this type of thing, which is why I work with sports psychologists, which is why I have a coach, which is why I was very interested to talk to you, because I think that even as a female, I have been… especially as a female of a certain age, right? Where we’re the cusp of the first generation of women who are doing things like sports. Like, we’re the Title IX generation, so we’re on that leading edge of women in the workforce, all of these things.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, I’ve always been sort of, again, told to process things, you’re not allowed to do this, you’re not allowed to do that, you’re not allowed to do this, and does it impact your decision-making process? Does it impact how you go to work every day? How does it impact how I manage Maura, who works on my team? And so, I found the conversation that we had to be incredibly insightful for me. I thought it was incredibly helpful for me in the decision-making process.

Joan Hanscom:

And so it’s partially why I wanted to have you on the pod, because I think of our listeners, a handful are high performance athletes, because there are only a handful of high performance athletes. But more broadly speaking, I think what you’re talking about for our listeners… I’m not a high performance athlete. I think I’m a high performance lifestyle person, in terms of work and how I approach work, so I put myself in that high performance bucket, right? I do all the things, check all the boxes to eat right, sleep right, recover, read, stay up on all the management things.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I consider myself a high performance individual, even though I’m not a high performance athlete, and I think we probably have a fair number of listeners who would fall into that category themselves. Yes, they may be a masters athlete or a junior athlete, but in the rest of their lives, they may be high performance people, and I think what you’re saying is fascinating, because when you’re a high performance person, you need to understand the full context of your universe, right? Your why, your mission statement, your is this bringing me joy, or am I just throttling forward because I have to?

Joan Hanscom:

And I think what you’re saying, we’re in a period of time here, because of the pandemic, because of sort of institutional change that happened because of the pandemic, we’re in an interesting point for people to have this moment of introspection, and think about, yes, I’m a high performance person, but am I doing what brings me joy, and is this the opportunity to-

Lee Povey:

Let me stop you there, Joy, because… Joy. Joan. Joy is a really interesting concept in itself. We see joy as being the destination, like I want to be happy. How often do you hear people say, I want to be happy? Happy is not a destination. It’s a state of being in the moment. So, joy is about being really present in the moment. So emotions, they’re not just this thing we feel. They tend to have time scales. Sadness is usually around loss or something in the past. Anger and joy are in the moment, usually, and fear is in the future.

Lee Povey:

And it’s about being present, and it’s very hard for us to be present right now, with there’s the fear, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, of what’s going to happen next? I’m sitting there going, what do I do? I’ve just lost two-thirds of my income. I’ve just negotiated a role that I thought was going to go on until 2028, and now there’s a new high performance director. Everything’s changing. They’ve canceled all the programs. Huge fear in that moment about what was going to come next. So, how do I stay in the moment, to be able to make these thoughtful decisions about what’s going to happen, and find some joy in the midst of the uncertainty?

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely.

Lee Povey:

How do I keep bringing myself back to the moment and the joy? And it’s the same as we do in coaching athletes. You get back into the process. Somebody comes to you and they say to you, all right, I want to win a gold medal. Great. What are you going to do today that’s going to enable you to win a gold in 10 years time? Because the concept of a gold medal at the Olympics, it’s just a concept. It’s not something tangible that you can… Like, how do I get the gold medal? So, you work on the process, which is what can I do today? And the happiest, for want of a better term, people I see are those that spend a lot of time in the process and enjoying their process, and the outcome is the byproduct of a happy process, not the thing that they get their joy from.

Lee Povey:

I was just listening to a podcast this morning by a guy called Andrew Huberman. He’s a neuroscientist at Stanford University. He has a great podcast, if anybody’s interested. And he was talking about dopamine, and how dopamine is the motivator for us, and if our dopamine levels are really low, we don’t feel very motivated. So, if we’re chasing a lot of shiny objects, out dopamine level gets depleted, and then we don’t have the energy to go and do things. And it’s how we stay in the moment, going back to your grit. Stay in the moment, find some perseverance, but enjoy the perseverance, instead of use the perseverance to beat ourselves up, or instead of using the perseverance as justification to do things that we don’t enjoy anymore.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely.

Lee Povey:

Does that make sense?

Joan Hanscom:

It is 100%, makes sense. And yeah, it’s, I think in a lot of ways, personally it’s what drives me, right? If I love what I’m doing, even if it’s mundane, the process of going to work every day can be mundane, but if I enjoy it, if I enjoy the people I’m with, if I enjoy the mission that I am trying to achieve, it makes every day great. And it can still be every day.

Lee Povey:

And it’s a choice around that.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Lee Povey:

You know, you have to choose to do that. So, one of the biggest things that has come out from the study and the work I’m doing, and I’m on lots of coaching courses myself to be a better coach. In this role that I’m taking on, I’m doing a ton of stuff about leadership. It’s about enjoying the process and leaning into the process, and finding those moments for joy. And that takes an effort. It’s a choice.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely.

Lee Povey:

So, we get our emotional response, and then lots of people just respond from a reactive place. There’s a concept that I really like called above and below the line. Below the line is your emotive, reactive state to some kind of stimulus, be that anger, be that fear, and then the story that we create around that anger or fear. And then, do I react from that place, and get spiteful, and point back at you, or do I take a breath and go, what is this telling me? What’s the choice I have about how I want to react? And giving yourself a little bit of space and going, I get to choose. As an adult human being, I get to choose the right path and reaction.

Lee Povey:

And it makes a huge difference into the way that we communicate with each other, the way that you show up in the world, the way that I’m communicating with the people I work with, as opposed to having this emotional reaction and then just going, what! And throwing it out. Or storytelling. So, we make up a story about what’s going on for the other person that may or may not be true. We don’t check it, and then we react from the place of the story that we’ve made up. And this person has no idea about the story we’ve made up, and it may or may not be true, but we’re reacting from something we’ve invented in our head, and then making a decision based on that, and that’s where people can, what we would call miscommunication.

Lee Povey:

People aren’t communicating, because they’re not checking in. They’re just writing a script in their head, oh, this person doesn’t like me. They haven’t called me back because they don’t like me. It might just be they’re busy, or they forgot, and it’s nothing to do with you. But you write the script, oh, they’re not calling me back because they don’t like me, and then you send them a crappy message because you think they don’t like you.

Joan Hanscom:

Fascinating. Okay, so… No, no, it’s so fascinating, and you and I go down these rabbit holes, and I love it. So, let’s take a step back though, because I think our conversation sort of started with the premise that I already know what you’re doing, and so for our listeners, we may have gone a little bit fast forward past that, because it’s a super good, I knew it would be, and I’m excited that we’re having it.

Joan Hanscom:

So, let’s take a step back, and just talk nuts and bolts. Pandemic started. You started with this men’s group. You’ve turned this into now a thriving thing. You’re working with startups in particular. What… I just want to, this is the crass commercial part, portion of the podcast. If people want to find out more about you, tell us how they find out more about you right now. And we’ll put this in the show notes, as well.

Lee Povey:

Yeah, so… Thank you. MaximizeYourPotentialCoaching.com is the website. My wife, we didn’t mention her, but she’s a psychotherapist, so advice was her business, and kind of help her with that business, and that’s awesome. She’s like killing it. She saved me. I was like, uh oh, I’ve got no income, and she’s just gone crazy. The pandemic has helped in that, so we’ve been lucky that we’re in a field that the pandemic has actually been really good for. So we got incredibly lucky.

Lee Povey:

I’m on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, Maximize Your Potential Coaching. Really, the best way is just to reach out to me and have a conversation with me. I’m open to having a conversation with anybody about it. I’m not particularly big on social media, because it doesn’t really… it’s not what I do, and it’s not really what my business is about. My business is about people connecting with people, seeing where they’re at, seeing where they want to get to.

Lee Povey:

So, what I do, the easiest way to describe it is, see where you’re at as a human being, so here’s the challenges I’m being presented with as a human being. Here’s my stuff that’s getting in the way. Where do I want to get to? And then I help you cross that bridge to where you want to get to, whatever that is.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. I like it. And you can see where your history in working with athletes would translate incredibly well to working with CEOs, or with businesspeople, or with leaders in the business community, because it’s the same thing, right?

Lee Povey:

They’re the same people. They are unbelievably motivated. You know, I had a conversation with a leader last week, and he’s talking about how he motivates his team. And he’s talking to me, and he’s going, I don’t get it, Lee. They don’t want to work 20 hours a day, and I don’t know how to motivate these people, and we’ve got these bonuses that I think are really generous, and they don’t want to do the same thing I do, and I want to do a five-minute mile.

Lee Povey:

And I’m like, they’re not motivated the same way that you are. You’re an exceptional high achiever who is completely driven, and now your company’s expanded, you’re going to get people that don’t want to lead, they want to be led. They want clear boundaries. They want clear definitions of what you expect for them. And he thinks everybody’s just going to come to work and be this amazing self-starter, and just guess what he wants them to do, and I’m like, no. They need structure and they need boundaries. Because he thinks that’s not what he wants, he sees the world like that.

Lee Povey:

So, that’s the big part of leadership, is how do you step to where somebody else is, and see the world from their point of view, so empathy, match them to a point you can encourage them and support them and motivate them, or help them be motivated. I don’t really believe you can motivate others, but you can support them in their own motivation. Without projecting what makes you want to do things on them. And that’s the key to it.

Lee Povey:

If we lead everybody like we want to be led, you’re going to end up with a lot of unhappy people, and the higher performer you are, the more kind of single focused you are, the harder it is for you to see that, and the harder it is for you to connect with these people and create this kind of harmonious group of people who are working in the same direction.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. No, I like it. I mean, again, I lead a small organization here, and I sit back and I think about that. I think about that when I lead my team, and I think about that when I communicate with my team, and I think that that’s incredibly important. Selfishly, I also wish you would do that same thing for coaches in our sport, because I think that that’s a skillset…

Lee Povey:

I mean, funny you should mention that, Joan. Since we’ve last spoken, a friend of mine, a woman called Miriam, runs a company called Athletes Soul, and the purpose of this company… It’s a nonprofit. The purpose of the company is to help athletes transition from sports to the outside world, whatever that may be. Started working with high performers. She’s an excellent [inaudible 00:40:31] herself, ex national team coach, and she was seeing these Olympians that had no idea what to do next, and that became our groove. My life was about this four-year cycle. What comes next? Saw them, saw people struggling, created this company. It’s kind of now moved to any athlete that’s looking to transition on to what’s next.

Lee Povey:

We’ve become friends. We’re developing a company at the moment that’s going to be for sports coaches, and the point of it is going to be to help and support sports coaches emotionally themselves. I know that there was times in my role I didn’t know who to turn to. I didn’t know who to get advice from. I didn’t now who to vent with. It was hard to get that kind of support, and the higher up the coaching tree you go, the harder it is to find it. And also, I didn’t have the skillset I needed. Looking back now, what I’ve learned in the last two years, that would have really helped me as a sports coach.

Lee Povey:

So, we want to provide training and help for sports coaches on their emotional intelligence, seeing where athletes are coming from, and helping them be better coaches. Coaches as in the word coaching, rather than here, here’s your physiology textbook, and this is the muscle types.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. No, I think that there’s a huge gap there in cycling, yes, but probably broadly across all the sports. I mean, if you look at any of the sports that youth play, that adults play, and anyway, it should be play for us, right? Grownups, it’s play. I play bikes. But I think that’s a huge gap. I mean, in my 20 years of racing bikes, I’ve had good coaching and bad coaching, and it’s something where, as a person who wants to see our sport develop, grow, thrive, I think it’s one of those cornerstones of what will help the sport in this country grow, expand, thrive, and so I’m thrilled to hear that that’s something that you’re going to apply this skillset to, because it’s so important.

Joan Hanscom:

There are so many bad coaches. And there’s so many good ones, too. I’m not bashing coaches. But I personally have seen bad coaching. I’ve seen what it can do, so I’m personally thrilled that there is this professional development available, because like you said, everybody can teach you about the latest, we’ll get your athlete on a Whoop, or here’s the latest in strength training, here’s the latest gizmo. But what they’re not really doing is developing the part of the coach that then develops the mind of the athlete. And so, I think that that’s-

Lee Povey:

And we don’t… I say we, so USA Cycling, we don’t attend to that, when we look at the training they offer to coaches. If you’re a track sprint coach, there’s none. If you’re an endurance coach, there’s some. But that emotional component is either very small or nonexistent in it. And actually, that probably has the biggest impact on your ability. So, if we look in the professional work, study after study shows that soft skills are the biggest determinator into how far you’re going to go in your corporate career, and it’s the same for sports coaches. We pick sports coaches very poorly, I think, because often we look at how good they were at the sport.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes!

Lee Povey:

And that seems to be relevant for how they’re going to be as a coach. Completely different skillsets. They bear no resemblance. Even knowing how to do something well doesn’t mean you can communicate it to someone else, and being incredibly determined and single-minded yourself doesn’t mean you’ll be able to be there for somebody else and put them beyond your own ego. So, there’s a completely different skillset from being a great athlete to being a great coach. Some people make it. A lot don’t.

Lee Povey:

You look at most of the world’s leading coaches, and a variety of sports, they either didn’t do the sport, or they were fairly average at it, and had to outthink their rivals and understand the sport better to get to where they got to. I think that was for me. I wasn’t as gifted as my masters racing competitors, so I had to think, how can I get more from me? Which helped me be more analytical about the sport itself, and a student of the sport, which helped me coach.

Lee Povey:

So, I look at it as it’s just another skillset. It’s another leadership and communication skillset that we don’t teach sports coaches. We just assume they know it.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Lee Povey:

Yet, we teach leaders in the corporate world all the time. Like, all they’re talking about is leadership training.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Lee Povey:

So, I know when I haven’t had that experience, I want to bring that stuff back into sports coaching, because if you look at the effect on human beings, you’ve got your parents, you’ve got your school teachers, and you’ve got sports coaches. And as adults working with children and young people, we have the biggest effect. I can vehemently remember good sports coaches at school, and bad ones, and the effect they had on me and how they made me feel. So, that’s another part of it where we can help these coaches be that other part of creating a better society, because they have so much effect on the people that they work with. You’re such an important role model.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. I think there’s so many examples of where when it’s bad, it’s destructive, and when it’s good, it does, it seeds the whole community with goodness, right? It seeds a whole community with healthy things, as opposed to destructive. And I think it’s amazing that that’s a direction that you’re also looking, because I think it’s so important, particularly now, where coaches who are working with athletes who are just like us, just like the grownups in the pandemic, who are like, well, we’re uncertain, and it’s fear, and it’s still two years later, and we still don’t know. Well, think about somebody like Maura sitting here, who just graduated from college. She spent her last year of college remote, didn’t necessarily get to have the senior year swim stuff… She’s a swimming athlete. She didn’t necessarily get to have the finish to her athletic career that she wanted.

Maura Beuttel:

No, we did.

Joan Hanscom:

But you just… Well, just using you as an example.

Maura Beuttel:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

But kids today are just as uncertain as the grownups are, but they have coaches now that could help them manage this, just like you’re helping people manage the weirdness with your men’s group, and developing this emotional intelligence. This is a great, scary time for kids who are in school programs and whatever, so if we have better coaches, we’re just better equipping everybody to deal with this. And I think it’s really important, and it’s, again, something that… I’ve been thinking about this podcast with you since we spoke last, which I’ve just been turning it over in my head, like this is a person who has a lot to offer on an important front, particularly where we are right now. So, yeah, I think it’s amazing that that’s a direction you’re going, because I didn’t know you were going in that direction when I brought it up.

Lee Povey:

No, no, it’s really new. And thanks, Joan, I really appreciate that. I’m lucky that I’ve made so many mistakes, because the mistakes I’ve made have led me to here with all of the opportunities I’ve had to do things wrong. I had a really bad habit of going up to people and saying, hey, here’s what you’re doing wrong. It came from a place of like, I want to help you. So, it came from a place of love and a place of heart, where I’m like, hey, I can see you’re doing this thing, and you want to be better, and I want to help you. But my skillset was terrible, so my advice wasn’t received. In fact, it was seen as being belittling, and it was seen as being rude, because I’m coming up and telling you you can’t do something properly.

Lee Povey:

So, it made me have to go and up my skillset, like how do you give feedback to people? There is a skill to giving feedback in such a way that people can receive it, and the very first part of that is, you have to ask if you can give feedback. I’d missed that, all the time, just going and offering my feedback willy nilly, and people are like, who is this dude, telling me that I can’t do it properly? And I’m thinking I’m being helpful, and I’m not, because my clumsy attempt at helping them actually made them feel worse. I wasn’t taking responsibility for the impact that I was having in the way I was delivering the feedback.

Lee Povey:

So then, I had to go and learn how to do it, and this is what led me down this rabbit hole of the corporate world and leadership, and now I want to bring that back. I want to bring that back into sports coaching. I did some clinics earlier in the year on how to give feedback, and the coaches that I presented it to loved it. Presented it to a national team organization. I worked with a coach whose team was at the Olympics, and just hearing them talk about how it changed the way they coach was really exciting for me. Because it just allows you to… As a coach, your knowledge hasn’t changed. You’re telling somebody the same knowledge, but you get much more buy in as to how they receive it. So, there’s this greater harmony between you and the person that you’re working with.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that’s incredibly important, particularly as an athlete who’s begged for feedback from coaching in the past, where you want it, and if the coach doesn’t know how to deliver it in a constructive way, then it’s pointless and it doesn’t help either of you. It makes the coach uncomfortable because they’re doing something that they don’t feel comfortable doing, and then it’s delivered to you in a way that either doesn’t help you because you can’t process it, or it’s delivered in a way that is harmful, or it’s delivered in a way that’s just irrelevant, right? Where it doesn’t penetrate, so it doesn’t succeed.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, I think that that ability to give feedback is so important, and can be so powerful, but can often be so destructive, and can really do damage. I mean, I my first, and I consider it a coaching relationship, but it wasn’t. I mean, it was a teacher-student… I was in ballet for a very long time, and ballet has a very fucked up feedback loop, let’s be honest, where the feedback is…

Lee Povey:

For sure.

Joan Hanscom:

The feedback is, you’re not thin enough, I can’t set a teacup in your clavicle.

Lee Povey:

Wow.

Joan Hanscom:

That is not helpful coaching feedback, right?

Lee Povey:

Yeah. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

But it’s what my frame of reference for coaching was, because that’s what I, the world that I grew up in. Oh, who has the most bones in their sternum? As the leader of this organization, we’re going to count everybody’s bones in their sternum and see who wins today.

Lee Povey:

How to mess up young people.

Joan Hanscom:

How to mess up young people.

Lee Povey:

Can put a little bit of teaching here, quickly?

Joan Hanscom:

Sure.

Lee Povey:

Around language, because I find language fascinating. So, a big mistake I see when communicating with people is telling them what we don’t want them to do, rather than what we do want them to do. So, you talk about the effectiveness of communicating stuff and giving your feedback as a coach. So many times I’d hear people say, I don’t want you to do this. You can’t not do something. We have to do something. So, it’s much more effective to talk about what you want people to do.

Lee Povey:

And the example from cycling that always comes to mind is, everybody shouting from the sidelines, don’t be at the back, Johnny. Where do you want me to be, then? So instead, you’re talking to your athlete about making sure that after they’ve done, they’ve changed the tracking to the top third of the race, and how to do that. So, you go high, so you can see the whole field, you look for the gap, and you come in with some aggression so that you can get the gap.

Lee Povey:

Don’t be at the back isn’t something I can do. I can’t do that. So, that’s not helping me, because it’s not telling me what I need to do. So, just understanding that, and think about what you want people to do, rather than what you don’t want them to do, is the really effective way of getting people to change their behavior.

Lee Povey:

And then, there’s the other part of the, appreciate the stuff that they’re doing well. Big failing for me as a coach is being so focused on what people need to change, you miss reinforcing what they’re doing well. So then, they hear just a lot of critical feedback, like hey, you need to do this different. Hey, you need to do that different. Instead of, you’re doing this really well, let’s reward you for that, or let’s emphasize what you’re doing really well.

Lee Povey:

And that could be anything. That could be attitude you bring to a training session. That could be being able to hold a really good arm position while you’re doing a hard sprint effort. It can be, hey, I noticed that you’re always the first person here and set up first. Anything can be reinforced, and that also then helps people be able to perform at a higher level.

Joan Hanscom:

So, that’s an excellent, excellent point, I think, for us to almost wrap up on, because you’ve been on, this has been an hour. We’ve already been talking for an hour, which is unbelievable. I feel like we’ve been talking for five minutes, and I could keep going forever and ever. But it’s been an hour, and you have a real job to attend to. Let’s focus in for our listeners. When you are selecting a coach, when you are establishing a coaching relationship, in your mind, Lee Povey, what should somebody be looking for up front when they’re saying, I need a new coach? How do you put them truth this litmus test of, is this a person… From your perspective, anyway. Is this a person that will address my mental, emotional wellbeing as much as the training plan, right? What would your five points of assessment be for a parent looking for a coach, or a master looking for a coach?

Lee Povey:

Okay, so point one, are they curious about me as a human being? On the first of all, are they telling me everything that they’re going to do for me, or are they asking about me? Are they asking about my history? Are they asking about what works for me, what doesn’t work for me? And just curious, rather than trying to tell me. Are they trying to understand me?

Lee Povey:

Are they honest? Are they honest? Are they telling me the feedback that I need to hear, or do they just tell me things to make me feel good about myself? Because there’s a sales element to coaching, unfortunately, where people… We had a coach in the UK that would always give people faster times than they’ve done, and then these athletes have come to a clinic me and my friend Dave run, and we never lied about time. We’d give them their time, and they’re like, well, with this other guy, I was a second faster. And we’re like, no, he’s just lying to you about the time. So, honesty is really important. You can’t improve if they’re not honest. It’s hard for you to.

Lee Povey:

How do their other athletes view them? I would speak to the other athletes, like what’s their relationship like? Is there a good boundary between friendly and professional? Like, is this person able to hold good boundaries, or are they over-friendly? Are they inserting themselves into your life? Especially for female athletes and younger athletes, are they inserting themselves into your life so much that those boundaries are being crossed, or are they good at knowing the difference between we have an interpersonal relationship, and then here’s where that stops?

Lee Povey:

Because a coaching relationship can be really close. I’ve had athletes tell me some really deep things about themselves. Yet, I still maintain the boundary of I am your coach. I’m not your friend. And if we develop a friendship that’s outside of the coaching relationship, these things are different, and how will you hold the boundary about it?

Lee Povey:

Do they know their sport? Like, do they understand their sport? Do they understand the technical element of their sport? I’d ask them to give me some feedback on something. I’d send them a video of me racing and say, can you give me feedback on that? And see how they approach giving you the feedback. Are they able to give feedback? Because if you’re just starting out, if you have somebody that writes a basic training program for you, and who’s a cheerleader, and just, yeah, you’re doing really great, that’s going to get you a very short way. Then you’re going to need somebody that can provide you with actual technical feedback.

Lee Povey:

And then, I would be like, how do I feel about this person? Does this person make me feel good in their company, or does this person make me feel crappy in their company, like I’m not good enough, like I don’t belong? And are they good at separating their own need for me to do well because it looks good from them, from my need for me to do well? That’s one of the things, one little tidbit about coaching, and this is more track-specific: I don’t like seeing coaches giving the rider lots of information just before they’re about to race. You see it on the start line, and they’re like right in their rider’s face, and they’re trying to hype him up, or they’re giving him a load of information. At that point, it’s too late for the rider to absorb what’s going on.

Lee Povey:

The most I would do is, I’d roll the rider up to the line, pat them on the back, and say, go smash this. Or, remember you’re faster. Or one coaching element at most like, be prepared for them, to go from the gut. One thing. If somebody’s giving a lot of technical information, for me, they don’t understand how somebody learns. You do that in the pits when we’re all calm. You get them prepared, you watch the videos, whatever you need to do. Rolling up to the line, the athlete needs to get into their correct state to be able to perform. Just let them do it.

Lee Povey:

And sometimes there’s a performative element, where you see coaches, and it’s almost like they’re showing off for people in the stands. And it’s like, no, my job is to step back. The athlete is the person who’s here to go and show you what they’re capable of. My job is just to hold a space for them to do that, and that is it, whatever they need. And if the athlete particularly wants you to hype them up, then sure, if they’re requesting that. But again, it’s knowing the difference between is it my ego I’m fulfilling at the moment, or am I looking after the best needs of this person that I’m working with?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. All right. So, for our listeners, I think you are not going to get better advice on selecting a coach than that, and I also think that that is a lens in which all of us who are in coaching relationships should evaluate that relationship, because it is a relationship, and it should be evaluated on an ongoing basis. Is this working? Are we meeting these measures? Are we following this sort of great roadmap that you just laid out? Because if you’re not, there are questions to be asked, I think.

Joan Hanscom:

And so I think, yes, thank you for stating that so clearly, and I think it’s absolutely important for people to listen to when they think about their coaching relationships, like all of it. The boundaries. The is it my ego, is it you? All of it is so incredibly important when you’re evaluating your coaching relationship or selecting a new one. So, thank you for that.

Lee Povey:

I got all of those things wrong at some point or other, I’m sure. So, it’s not like there’s some perfect way of doing this.

Joan Hanscom:

No, but it’s good to have those things.

Lee Povey:

But if the coach is striving to do that… Now, if the coach is in that great mindset of striving to always make sure they’re addressing those areas, and they’re getting better at them, that’s somebody I would work with. And there’s coaches I’ve come across I think are just awesome, and I’m like, I’d really like to work with them, either as a colleague or as an athlete. And then there’s others that just make me feel icky, or make me feel small around them, like it’s all about them, and I would not want to work with them.

Lee Povey:

And did think it’s important to people to realize, you can change coaches. I don’t think you need to change coaches every five minutes. If you’re not getting what you emotionally want from that relationship, don’t think you have to stay in it. You get to change coaches.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Fascinating. Thank you, Lee. It’s been terrific.

Lee Povey:

Thank you, Joan.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re going to put all of this good stuff in our show notes, and I just have one more thing that came up in our research, and then I’m going to let you go.

Lee Povey:

Oh, dear.

Joan Hanscom:

So, according to one website, Cycling Shorts, you enjoy trashy American TV shows, such as Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother. Is this true?

Lee Povey:

Absolutely, 100%. My favorite one at the moment is You on Netflix. I binged the hell out of that this weekend.

Joan Hanscom:

All right.

Lee Povey:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. See, for our listeners…

Lee Povey:

And even worse, I’m just going to out myself now, even worse, I really like singing talent shows.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, no.

Lee Povey:

I hate the drama that goes with it. I have to fast forward the story. I don’t care where they come from. I don’t care what’s happened to their parents. I don’t care about any of that. I just like the bit where they sing and they’re really good. I can’t watch the audition shows. I can’t watch the ones that are rubbish and delusional. Like, it angers me. I just want to listen to people that are really good at singing. Like, I really, really like really good singers.

Joan Hanscom:

All right, see? I’m glad I brought this up. So, this is where we’re going to end. Fan of Gossip Girl, fan of How I Met Your Mother, and fan of singing shows. Lee Povey, you have been amazing. Thank you so much for coming on the pod. I hope our listeners take the time to really listen to this one, because there was a lot of good that was discussed in here, a lot of deep thoughts, I think. Yes, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a real joy and an honor to have you on, and yeah, look him up, folks.

Lee Povey:

Thank you, Joan. And yeah, I mean just, if anybody wants to talk about these concepts further, if there’s any coaches out there that want to talk to me about this kind of stuff, message me. I offer a free consultation to anybody that wants to talk about this kind of stuff. So, yeah, reach out to me.

Joan Hanscom:

Fantastic. Thanks, Lee.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at TheVelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elspeth Huyett: Pinch Me

Elspeth Huyett

Episode 42

“Once I won national, she’s [my coach] like, “You’re not retiring, are you?” And I was like, “No, not yet.

You may recall this week’s guest from a pod way earlier in the year discussing her goals for the summer 21 season at T-Town– Elspeth Huyett is back on the pod this week with Joan to discuss her fantastic season, her job at BikeCo, and moving out to the State College area.

Elspeth Huyette – National Scratch Race Champion

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kimgeistcoaching/

Website: http://www.kimgeistcoaching.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimGeistCoaching


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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things, track cycling. Broadcasting from the valley preferred cycling center. I’m your host and executive director. Joan Hanscomb.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And I am joined this week by our very first repeat returning guest Elspeth Huyett. Those of you who’ve been listening to the pod for a while, may recall. We had Elspeth on early days in the pod, and we thought this was going to be an excellent opportunity to revisit all the stuff that she talked about. The first time she was on the pod. Now that the season has concluded, Elspeth is the brand and content specialist for BikeCo LLC, which means she does a lot of really cool things, promoting a lot of really great bike brands. And she is a lifelong T-Town participant, bike racer extraordinaire, and we are thrilled to welcome you back to the podcast Elspeth.

Elspeth Huyett:

Aw, thanks so much for having me back. I’m super excited and honored to be back on and talk about the past year.

Joan Hanscom:

So when we had you on the last time to refresh listeners’ memories, we talked about how you’ve done all the jobs here at the track, which was fun, starting with intern and you were in the community programs. And then we also talked about how 2021 was potentially going to be your last really dedicated season racing bikes here. And you had set some big audacious goals for yourself, goals from 2020 that had been postponed due to COVID and rolled forward into 2021. And we thought it would be super cool to circle back around with you. And hear what happened, everybody drum roll, please. What happened with Elspeth season after she said out loud, her big goals for the year, let’s talk about how it went. How was your season? What happened? Tell us in your own words, Elspeth.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, I don’t even know where to start really. It was almost my perfect season. It was very close to being my perfect season, but winning nationals at T-Town in the scratch race was pretty much like the highlight of my life to be fair. It’s something that I’ve always wanted and, I knew it was possible, but at the same time, it always didn’t really seem that way. I was like, so and so was so good and I’m not good at this. And I think I finally put all the pieces together for the scratch race and it was amazing to win at home. My parents were there, my mom started crying and like almost fell off the bleachers.

Joan Hanscom:

Were crying. We were all crying. We were all so happy for you.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, it was so great. And when I was waiting to get my Jersey and, after the medals, seeing all these people who have played such a big part in my career, from Jim Alvord, who was the PeeWee Pedallers coach when I started, then Bob Vice and all these kids that I coached who got to see it, it was really so special. I still think about it a lot and I can’t believe it happened and I need to like pinch myself sometimes. It was the perfect moment for me.

Joan Hanscom:

So first let me say again, congratulations, because in sports, it is not always the case that you say out loud, this is my big audacious goal and you get to achieve it, especially, you don’t get to necessarily achieve it the way you did. So congratulations again. I mean that’s a triumph, right? And I have so much respect for people who say out loud, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m shooting for. And then go out and do it. I mean, that’s just massive, but also I was obviously there because you know, working, and I’ve told this to you before, but it’s just fun from my perspective, I could see you on it in turn three. Because I was sitting up high and the judges stand and I saw you moving. And I remember looking at Bill Elston going, “Holy shit, she’s going to do it, she’s got it.”

Joan Hanscom:

And it was just this amazing thing where we could see what was happening or your momentum, or you could see you making the move and we could just see she’s going to do it. And it was so cool to see it. Having had that conversation with you earlier in the year where you were again saying loud, your big audacious goal. And then to see it actually coming true was sort of magic for all of us too. That’s why we were all balling too. And Bill of course he’s known you forever and just everybody was so excited for you. So talk us through that race. Talk us through how you won the bike race that you said you were going to win.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. It was interesting because I had written the elimination earlier that day, so there’s a standalone elimination race and it hadn’t gone poorly, but it hadn’t been great. And you know, what’s funny is Tammy Corley had posted something about her 500 the day before, how it wasn’t bad, but she qualified for the final and she knew she could do better. And she came back and she really put all of her energy into having the best ride that she could. And I was like, I need to take this mindset and bring it into the scratch race. I’ve always been a really good [inaudible 00:05:37] racer. And I knew that I had a good shot at the scratch race to win, but like I said before, it seemed possible. And what my coach said, she’s like, “You’re definitely going to be on the podium”, but she’s like, “To win it just needs to all come together, I’m not going to tell you, you’re going to win.”

Elspeth Huyett:

And so I knew that I had potential and the scratch race, it can go a bunch of different ways. And the women’s race that year there were a couple people who tried to go. I was just sitting at the back, the week before I had won my first Friday night race, the five mile final. And I had been really patient in that too. I might have been being too patient though at nationals because my coach was like, “You need to move, what are you doing?” I was like, “Oh, okay.” So I moved up to the front and I was like, “Well I’ll just stay here.” And then the field all dropped down with four to go. And I was on the second wheel and I kept waiting for the rider in of me to swing up.

Elspeth Huyett:

But they decided to keep pulling through and I was like, “Well this is great, I’m getting motor paste.” And I was like, “If I just stay here, I know I can get a medal.” And so with one to go, Kaia Schmid, who ended up winning a junior world championship later, which was awesome and flying over the top and the rider in front of me accelerated and I was like, “Okay, cool, I think I can get third.” And then we’re coming down the [inaudible 00:07:04], and I was like, “I think I can pass her.”

Elspeth Huyett:

And I passed her and I was gaining on Kaia and I was like, “Oh my gosh, am I going to pass Kaia too? Am I going to win.” And when we came around, turn four, I knew I had executed it perfectly. I was still afraid someone was going to come like flying over the top with me and crush my moment. But no one did and yeah, and I won and there was this video after I won where I came by and all my friends were in turn three and I gave them all high fives and it’s just literally the coolest thing.

Joan Hanscom:

It was amazing. That was such a good, fun and race to watch. And like I said, I could see that you had it in turn three. Like I knew I could just see it. So it was super cool to just watch it all unfold. And it was such a great hometown moment too. And we had a lot of great hometown moments, but I think everybody probably, I don’t know, celebrated yours the most, which just again, because you’ve done all the things here, but you mentioned something that I also wanted to touch on was you got your first Friday night win right before. And that had to give you confidence going into nationals. You just had to know you’re on a run of really good form, that you were in a good place, that everything was starting to fire just the way you wanted right in time. So what did that Friday night win mean to you?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. So I’ve always wanted to win a Friday night. I can’t believe I made it to this point without winning one. And I’ve been close a bunch of times. Right. I’m always right in there. So that night of the five mile final that I won, I knew it was a good night for me. There was a motor pace scratch race that I had won on the Tuesday night. So I knew how to do the race. And then there was the five mile scratch and the motor pace scratch didn’t really play out the way I wanted it to. So I was like, I need to make this happen. This is my second win. I want to win a race before nationals.

Elspeth Huyett:

And Rider of the Year was really starting to heat up between Kim and I, so it was important for me to get those 10 points with the win. And again, I tried to be really patient and not get antsy, be conservative with my energy. Once again, I left it very, very late with one ago I was like five back. My parents were like, “Oh, she can’t do it.” And then, Honestly I was motivated to do it. And I think that’s the one thing I’ve had in my favor this season, is I’m not super used to winning. So every win means a lot to me and I’m extra motivated to make it happen. So I had to do some threading the needle to get to the front on that last lap of the five mile final, but then I made it happen. And then once knew I could win a sprint like that, going into nationals I felt much more confident. And then that confidence from the scratch race carried through the rest of nationals as well. So, that was great.

Joan Hanscom:

And it also had to carry through into the rest of the season because you and Kim Zubris were just knocking each other down to get those points for Rider of the Year. I mean, all of a sudden you were like, “Hey, I’m a Keirin rider now.” So, Rider of the Year was a super interesting competition this year. It was right down to the last night. Talk about Rider of the Year and how that all went down for you, because that was a competition worth following all summer.

Elspeth Huyett:

Well thank you. Well, I’m glad I made it interesting. It was something that I really wanted this year. It was a great opportunity since we were going to be at home all year with limited traveling opportunities and the season started and I remember the first Rider of the Year race on opening night, I didn’t do that great. And I was kind of like, “Well, maybe it won’t happen, maybe it will.” And, and my coach Taylor was like, “It’s a really long season. Like you need to be patient it’s. This is about consistency. Not that you’re going to win everything.” And with that in mind, like I started moving forwards in that competition. And after internationals, it was weird because I did have a lot of confidence, but that also manifested itself in a lot of pressure that I put on myself.

Elspeth Huyett:

I don’t think anyone expected me to walk out of nationals and then win a UCI Omnium. But for some reason, I thought I could do that. And I thought that’s what people expected of me. Honestly, the UCI block of racing we have right after nationals was actually probably one of my least favorite times racing. I put so much pressure on myself and after accomplishing this big life goal, there’s this high and then I wasn’t really ready for the other side of it. It was really hard, I just thought all these people who wanted all these things of me, and no one wanted that. The UCI block of racinG wasn’t my best block. There were some highlights like, making the Keirin final and things like that.

Elspeth Huyett:

But for me, it was really hard to get through that block. And I was glad to see it end, but I’ve said this before on social media, but the women that I think we had at the track this year is the best group of women I’ve ever raced with. I felt like we all really motivated each other, especially Kim, when I won my first Friday night, Kim was the first person to come say, congratulations. She came up and hugged me after nationals when we had our first grass race on a Friday. And I got to where my Jersey, she came up and said how excited she was for me. And that positivity, this competition literally came down to the last race on the last night. I lost by one point, which I’m not going to lie, it hurt really bad, but I was really happy for Kim and I am really happy for Kim. She works really hard and the rest of the women’s field was so supportive and positive that made losing not as bad because I’m equally happy for everyone around me.

Joan Hanscom:

So obviously that’s delightful for me to hear because of our 50:50 initiative and trying so hard to make women’s racing great here at T-Town and really with such an emphasis that we’ve put on it with Kim Geist and with Kim Zubris and The Women Wednesdays Program, it matters to me to hear that, that’s what you’re actually feeling there in the infield, that there was just this really high quality women’s experience racing. I mean, from a racing perspective, a level of competition, but then also just from the sense of community, I mean, that makes me feel like my season was a success, which is great. Or our organizational experience was a success. It’s really important that we keep that momentum moving forward, I think for the sport. So, that’s terrific. You worked your ass off all summer though. Tell us a little bit about your training, tell us how you approached it. Because when we last spoke, we were talking about training in COVID and you were out chasing QOMS and that was your motivation to get through 2020. How did that change as you went into 2021?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, totally. For me, a lot of, even early 2021 was about balance. I went to my coach in January and I was like, “I don’t want to do long rides both days on the weekend. It’s not fun for me right now. I don’t want to do it.” I was dating my boyfriend long distance at the time. So I only got to see him every other weekend. I didn’t want to spend both days freezing on the bike and I’m in grad school too. I was like, “I don’t want to do that.” So we changed my training schedule. I was putting quality over quantity. So making sure that when I was on the bike, those efforts really counted and spreading them out in a way that kind of kept me mentally fresh.

Elspeth Huyett:

But when the weather did start to break, I started getting back out on the road. I missed those things like the training crit that we’ve had in the past and even just crit racing in general, wasn’t really present. But I was really lucky to have my boyfriend to train with. And once the Carlos Espinoza came in from California, we trained together pretty much every track workout I had. I was with Skylar, which was great. We were really able to push ourselves and I had the opportunity to do a lot of motor pacing and Tuesday night racing. I think the one thing that I did that was my favorite thing is, I [inaudible 00:15:50] on Saturdays in the 35 plus category, this year my race age age was 30 so I can raise five years up. So I was able to jump in with them and it was so fun.

Elspeth Huyett:

It was hard, but it was like a really great change of pace, race with a new field. They were all really supportive and it was just nice. It reminded when I was a junior and those people were guiding me through the beginning of my cycling career. Being able to reconnect with them at Saturday racing was great. And it also really prepped me for nationals where you have hard days back to back. We don’t get that very often, so racing Friday night and then getting up really early and coming back to Saturday racing, I think was really good for me.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. You were not the only one who did that. Christine D’Ercole also did a fair number of Fridays into Saturdays and you’re on the same team somewhat. So, was that a team decision or was that just you both decided that this was a good thing to do?

Elspeth Huyett:

It wasn’t really a team decision, but it was great to have her there and there’s a couple other, I am, I can, and I will, I do master’s racers that I got to race with and connect through racing on Saturdays that I wouldn’t have otherwise. So it ended up being like a good team thing as well.

Joan Hanscom:

It was really nice to see all the women out on Saturdays. I thought that Saturdays had a nice vibe this summer too. Well actually, Tuesdays were my favorite this year. I don’t know, once we got Tom Mains on the microphone and Andrew got here pedoski, I just thought Tuesdays had such a good vibe. It was like fun, but chill, but good racing. I thought Tuesdays were super fun, but yeah, this season felt really nice after the weirdness of just TT’s in 2020 and people came out and raced and it was pretty great to see. And then obviously we could see who did the work in the off season, people such as yourself, who took that time to really dig in deep, but now you are not living in the Lehigh Valley. You have moved, how’s life in your new location.

Elspeth Huyett:

I moved literally the weekend of Keirin Cup. So racing ended and I was out of the Lehigh valley for the first time ever. So I moved up to State College, my boyfriend [Wyat 00:18:09]. So I’ve been here for a couple months now and it’s great. I definitely miss like the group rides and some of the stuff at home, but there’s a whole new area to explore up here with lots of hills. So that will be interesting to see how that factors into my training. I’m not really much of a hill climber if you can imagine, but yeah, it’s been good. It was a hard decision to decide to leave the Lehigh Valley. And I think when summer rolls around, it will feel like a little sad, but I think I’ve talked about this before too, is its important to me to be a well rounded person, as well as an athlete. So pursuing this relationship that makes me really happy is just as important as pursuing my racing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah absolutely. But you did talk about training and diversifying your training because now you’re living in State College. Does that mean you’re going to keep racing bikes or are you done?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, I’m not done. My coach, even from the get go was kind of like, “You’re not going to do this” and then once I won national, she’s like, “You’re not retiring, are you?” And I was like, “No, not yet.” Yeah, I’m not done. I don’t think I’ll be in T-Town like every Friday. So I’ve said I’m not going to try ride or the year again, but once again, that’s probably one of those things I’m going to say now and you talk to me in July and it’ll be totally different, but I want to pick a couple big Friday nights and really focus on adding a couple more wins to my account that I finally opened and doing some of those travel races. I’ve been off the calendar for the past year or two. So getting out to Marymoor and Seattle and racing, going to Indiana, Atlanta kind of see a couple different things.

Elspeth Huyett:

I do think that there’s only a couple years left where I think I really want to do it at this level. So I want to make the most of time where I’m still committed to it and I’m carrying the fitness over.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s awesome to hear. I’m glad you’re not hanging the wheels up just yet. You had too much of a good season last year.

Elspeth Huyett:

I have to wear the Jersey.

Joan Hanscom:

Exactly. Like you can’t win the Jersey and then just peace out. So this makes me happy that all the fans in T-Town will get to see you racing in your Jersey again, that’s good news for us. So we touched briefly on your job because you don’t just play bikes on the weekends. You actually work in the industry as well. How is that going for you now, that you’re in State College and the offices in Philly? Are you traveling? Are you all remote? What are you doing?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, it’s great. So I was pretty remote already because the office was in Philly. I was in the office once or twice a week pre-COVID. COVID we were remote full time. And I’m really lucky that my supervisor at BikeCo, really encourages me to follow my passions and to live like a well rounded life. So essentially the plan right now is, I come into the office once or twice a month, which is great, cause I can come home and I stay with my parents and I get sunrise in the Lehigh Valley. So I’m back in the Lehigh Valley once or twice a month. And it’s not a terrible drive from State College to be fair. It’s only like two and a half, three hours. So it’s a drive, but is very doable.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. And you were just out at the Sea Otter Classic, the fall version of the Sea Otter Classic. How was that? Give us the state of the industry from your perspective based on Sea Otter.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, so we were really unsure what it was going to look like. It was my first Sea Otter with I was representing Fuji and Breezer while we were out there and all in all, I think it was a little smaller than it’s been in years past, but I don’t think that took away from the impact of it. We were able to connect with press and customers a lot more easily than in the past because there weren’t as many other brands there for people to visit and there weren’t as many consumers coming in everyday so I feel like that made it a little bit easier to have some of those catch up conversations that we needed to have after a two year hiatus from seeing the industry/.

Elspeth Huyett:

With that being said, I heard that the race numbers for Sea Otter were really good and Saturday, which is generally the most busy day at the show was very busy. I saw a lot of people walking around, so I think, I think we’re going to be good. I’m looking forward to doing Sea Otter in April where the weather is maybe a little more seasonal. There were a couple very cold days. I’m not really used to double puffy jackets at Sea Otter. So just, just a

Joan Hanscom:

Just a single puffy, at Sea Otter in April, just a single.

Elspeth Huyett:

Exactly. At least that I know. Cause we were like, what is going to happen every day, but it was really great to like reconnect through the industry, cause it really felt like it had been a long time.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I’m sure. And I think I’m going to ask the controversial question now you may not know you may not have insights into it, but Sea Otter was purchased by lifetime, which meant for the first time, in a very long time, it was not USA cycling sanctioned racing. And that of course is an interesting topic all in its own. What were your impressions of that? Did it change things? Did people even know? Did they realize that it wasn’t a USA cycling event? What was your take on all of that?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, I would say it doesn’t seem like it made a huge impact at this point. I think people are really hungry for racing in any way, shape or form they can get it. And Sea Otter is also really mountain bike heavy, which tends to often operate outside of the USA cycling umbrella. So I feel for those groups of people, it’s not as big of a deal, the Pro Women’s Field was a little small, but that’s pretty common for Sea Otter` to be fair.

Joan Hanscom:

Particularly this part of the year, right? Like road season strong.

Elspeth Huyett:

Time doesn’t help. time of year in the location, it’s not really close to a bunch of other stuff. And then I didn’t even realize it wasn’t USA cycling sanctioned until we went and watched Edwin Bull, is one of our product managers. And he raced the circuit race and we all went to cheer them on. And I was like, “Oh, I’m like there are officials here.” And then I put it all together. So I don’t think it really impacts the people who attend Sea Otter, I do think there’s like a lot of Fondo riders and Gravel Fondo riders there. And for them it doesn’t affect them at all. But I think April will be a more telling scenario for that.

Joan Hanscom:

So from walking around at Sea Otter for our listeners, I talked to folks that were at Eurobike and we know what everything was at Euroibike, was e-bikes and gravel bikes and cargo bikes were the things from Eurobike. What were the things at Sea Otter that the bike trends that we should be paying attention to?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, I would definitely say gravel. Gravel is huge and being away from things for so long, I don’t think I realized exactly how much it has taken over. You saw very few road bikes, which, like I said, Seattle’s mountain bike focused, but still used to see more road bikes. I feel like it was pretty much elusively gravel, canyon, not canyon, specialized chose that moment to launch their new Crux. Gravel was really the big key event there. But I saw a lot of long travel mountain bikes, things like that. I do think in general, the world is moving more towards gravel and mountain, which I think is great. I did see one track bike, [inaudible 00:25:49] had their track bike out. So [inaudible 00:25:51] at Sea Otter, definitely way more gravel and stuff like that. We even brought our electric gravel bike out for the first time in the US. And people seemed really interested in that, which is really a collision of two really popular trends right now. So, that’s exciting and yeah, I think I might need to get a gravel bike. It seems like.

Joan Hanscom:

I just did on pave last weekend and it was in horrific weather, right. It was terrible, but it was so fun, and I am not one that typically has as fun when it’s wet and muddy because I don’t like being cold and wet, but it wasn’t cold enough for it to be complete misery, though I did spend a bit of time at rest stop number one, shivering next to the fire, but it was just so fun and the stoke was so high and it was really fun to see so many people having fun on bikes, which I think if there’s one really great thing is that people are racing aside, right? The sanctioned racing aside, whatever people are having fun on bikes.

Joan Hanscom:

And to me, that’s really what matters, and the people who want to race will find it as long as they’re having fun. And then the people who don’t want to race will still be having fun on bikes. And I do think that, that was something that came across like really clearly at unpaid, that people were just stoked. And it was a great day, despite everybody being coated in a really fine layer of mud and dust.

Elspeth Huyett:

I worked on paved in 2019, doing social media and stuff for them. And I said to Dave Pryor who organized it, I was like, “These people are having so much fun.” I was like, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had. Everyone here is stoked. Everyone wants to be here. It’s a really great vibe. And it’s something that I think, cycling really needs is that laid back fun race, if you want to don’t if you don’t and just enjoy the day.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And that came through loud and clear. And so hopefully that’s all part of this big gravel trend, right. Is that it’s just not dead serious bike racing all the time. It’s just doing what we did when we were kids, which was, have fun on our bikes. And the more people have fun on our bikes. I think the more you have things like bike infrastructure and all that good stuff that comes along with it, if more people just have fun. So yeah. Right on, well, thanks for your perspective on the Sea Otter. It’s weird because I’ve gone to Sea Otter for so many bazillions of years and it’s always in April, invariably it was always on my birthday. So I’ve spent many a birthday at Sea Otter with my bike friends, and I felt weird not being there. I was like, “Oh, Sea Otter’s happening and I’m not there, and it feels really weird”, but it’s not my birthday. So I guess I can’t complain.

Elspeth Huyett:

It was my birthday this year for it.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so funny. Yeah. That’s hilarious. Yeah. It’s fun to have your birthday at Sea Otter. I always found it to be like a really fun thing because I’d see like all my friends from all the various different places I’ve lived and then got to have a party with all of them. So, I’ll have to go back. Is there anything else within this update for our listeners that you want to share forward?

Elspeth Huyett:

I did kind of want to talk about the 24 hour record attempt if you don’t mind.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. And that was on my list and I spaced. But yes. Tell everybody what we did here, because it was cool.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. So my day job at BikeCo, I work with Fuji and we have an ambassador, Joe Lawhorn, who’s a professional alter endurance athlete. So, he does all kinds of crazy, riding across Indiana, riding across America, he rides across everything essentially. And he had done a 24 hour record attempt at the Cleveland Velodrome in 2020 and he wanted to do other tracks. And I was like, “Oh, I have just the place.” So I was lucky enough to work with Joe, to make that happen at our track. So Joe came up at the end of August or the beginning of September and book on the 24 hour record attempt. And he raised money for the community programs at the track and also the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition Youth Programs, which are like in the backyard of BikeCo, so those are really important to us at work. And the air products programs are very important to me. So he suffered so much, the last hour was so painful for him. I can’t imagine when he was done, we had to put him on like the little rollie cart.

Joan Hanscom:

Unbelievable. Yeah, that was unreal to watch him being pushed. For our listeners, it’s like one of those orange carts that you get at Home Depot, you know? So to move lumber, we threw blankets on it and he got rolled along, because he couldn’t even walk when he got off his bike.

Elspeth Huyett:

Oh yeah. He was just completely cracked. So he did break the record with maybe like 40 minutes to go or something. And he was like, “I don’t know if I can keep going”, because everything else after that is just bonus. But yeah, he kept pushing through until the very end and we ended up raising enough money to donate about $2,000 to the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition. And then BikeCo was gracious enough to match that as Fuji and, and donate another $2,000 to the [inaudible 00:31:16] community programs. [crosstalk 00:31:18].

Joan Hanscom:

Very, very appreciative of that.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. It felt really awesome to be able to combine work and also my passion together to be able to do that at the track. And what’s super crazy though, is Joe just went and did another 24 hour record attempt and he rode 400 miles on his track bike on the road in California and he won the World Championships. But yeah, I don’t think you’re going to see any 24 hour record attempts out of me anytime soon. A couple people were confused and thought I was doing the record and not doing the record. We will never do it.

Joan Hanscom:

Honest to God, I was thinking about it, because you all kicked off Friday morning, and then at like 2:00 AM in the morning he was riding the Velodrome. And at some point I think I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water or something. And I was like, “There is a dude on the track right now.” And I was like, “That’s just madness,” but what an accomplishment and he didn’t just break the record, he smashed it. He smashed it a lot. It was super impressive what he did and just so quietly, right? Like there wasn’t like, there was a big crowd of people there and it wasn’t like when Bradley Wiggins set the hour record to a packed London Velodrome, it was just him there with his support crew and you guys, and it had to be some dark hours in the middle of the night. Like, “Why am I doing this?”

Elspeth Huyett:

I can’t imagine. And you know, Tom Mays did the timing for it. And he was there the entire time, full 24 hours, and typical Tom Mays, Ash, and he came from one event did that, went to another event right away afterwards. But yeah, he stayed there all day and without him and like the timing that he did was so cool. Because like Joe Lawhorn, who was doing the attempt could see where he was, see his lab times, so much information was provided for him. And yeah, Tom did an awesome job, wouldn’t be able to do it without him.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Tom’s awesome. I don’t know how he functions without sleep. But apparently he is superhuman and does not require the same amount of sleep that you and I do, but yeah, Tom is awesome. And I was glad we were given him blankets and pillows. We’re like, “Tom, you might need this in the middle of the night.” So we were fishing out blankets and pillows for him, but happily you had nice weather for that, it was a super cool thing. Yeah. I would never do that either. Maura you going to do the 24 hour record attempt?

Maura Beuttel:

No.

Joan Hanscom:

No, just quietly. No.

Maura Beuttel:

It’s a no for me.

Joan Hanscom:

Definitely not. Well Elspeth, thank you for this. It’s a brief catch up, but I really did want to circle back around with you because in a our conversation we kicked off with, you had set some big goals and I think it’s super cool that you met them and we were able to be part of it. And so congratulations again and thank you again for joining us and we’re going to have to wait and see what you do next year. I am guessing it’s going to be ride of the year, but what do I know?

Elspeth Huyett:

We’ll see.

Joan Hanscom:

Some more wins, but again, thank you. And for everybody listening, this has been the Talk of T-Town Podcast. And if you like, what you hear, please give us the five stars or the thumbs up or the hearts wherever you choose to consume your pods. Thanks so much.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom, thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.