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SEN Sports Scene: Jean & Amber

Episode 59

“That first moment of walking into the Track was immense for me; it was like a dream come true.”

Now that we’re back in full racing mode at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, we’re turning the reins for Talk of the T-Town over to our friends at Service Electric Network for the next few weeks. Dan Fremuth, host of the daily Sports Scene show welcomes visiting athletes into the Studio for candid chats about their careers, lives, and what brings them to the Concrete Crater in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. For more info about the show or the athletes, send a message to info@thevelodrome.com.

Sports Scene – Youtube


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

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SEN Sports Scene: Joe & Emma

Episode 58

“Just putting trust back in my body and learning how to do things again.”

Now that we’re back in full racing mode at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, we’re turning the reins for Talk of the T-Town over to our friends at Service Electric Network for the next few weeks. Dan Fremuth, host of the daily Sports Scene show welcomes visiting athletes into the Studio for candid chats about their careers, lives, and what brings them to the Concrete Crater in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. For more info about the show or the athletes, send a message to info@thevelodrome.com.

Sports Scene – Youtube


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

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Joanne Trimpi: Everything is Relative

Atrial Fibrillation in Athletes

Episode 57

“It took me a while to figure out what was going on with me.”

Do you have a WHOOP? This week’s guest was able to use the data from her WHOOP to discover a cardiac arrythmia, specifically paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (afib). Joan sits down with Joanne Trimpi, friend and master’s track athlete. Joan and Joanne talk about how Joanne got into track cycling, her stellar 2021 track season, and her journey and diagnosis. Please check out the link in the show notes for more information on paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (afib). If you have experienced something similar and would like to share your story or talk with Joanne, reach out to us at info@thevelodrome.com.

Atrial Fibrillation in Athletes


Atrial Fibrillation in Athletes
https://hughston.com/wellness/atrial-fibrillation-in-athletes/

Joanne on Instagram: @trimpijl


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 today by a person who is one of the people I miss the most about living in the Lehigh Valley. It is my very, very good friend, Joanne Trimpi. And as I was thinking about this podcast this week, I realized that there is not a more perfect, I don’t know, sample, example idea of the perfect T-Town athlete than Joanne Trimpi. Joanne has a background in Chemical Engineering, her MBA, and she’s a Major Accounts Manager for Air Products, which is of course, one of the longest standing supporters of the Velodrome. But Joanne is also, that makes Joanne a badass because Joanne became a chemical engineer when chemical engineers weren’t women. And so, I feel like Joanne is a trailblazer in a lot of ways.

Joan Hanscom:

Joanne came to track racing via our community programs and the corporate challenge, if I’m not mistaken and really decided that she liked track racing and so, started pursuing it. We’ll talk more about Joanne’s accomplishments on the track, but first, yeah, Joanne, welcome to the podcast. Like I said, you are our poster child for success story at T-Town, so we’re delighted to have you on the pod. Welcome.

Joanne Trimpi:

Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m very excited.

Joan Hanscom:

So, Joanne, yeah, I was excited to talk to you mostly because we’re friends and I haven’t talked to you in a while since I moved. And as I was thinking about this podcast, I really did realize, we have this goal of 50/50 participation at the track by 2025. We have really amazing community programs supported by Air Products, which is your employer. You came in through these programs. And so, the more I thought about it, the more I realized you were really the perfect guest for the podcast, even though it had nothing to do with why I originally wanted to have you on the pod, because we’ll get to that part of the story as well. But, yeah, you really truly are a shining example of what can happen at the programs, so, yeah, so I think that’s extra cool.

Joan Hanscom:

The real reason we originally started talking about this podcast though is that you had some heart issues that came on the tail of an absolutely incredible season at the track last summer. So, let’s get in the time machine and woo go back in time. During the 2020 season, we did a whole lot of time trial events and you were a regular. And you were starting to really make some leaps, I think, in the events we were offering, so start there. Take us to 2020 and what you were doing in 2020 at the track when we were really just doing Time Trial events and at your coaching program. And then we’re going to talk a little bit about how that evolved into the ’21 season. So yeah, start with 2020 and tell us about what you did in the COVID year to sort of up your game.

Joanne Trimpi:

Sure. So, up until 2020, I really hadn’t focused on Time Trials. I didn’t consider myself as very good at them, but I hadn’t done a whole lot of them other than maybe at Regionals. I think I did some of those when Nationals were in T-Town a few years prior to that. But I placed pretty low. It wasn’t really my focus, but the fact that we had Time Trials going on at our local T-Town, Velodrome gave me an opportunity to really start to focus on that. And that’s what 2020 was all about.

Joanne Trimpi:

And I thank you guys, tremendously for doing that because I then was able to start looking at my times, the splits that were recorded. I could look and see how was my start, how was my first lap, et cetera. And started to be able to analyze and get that feedback that I hadn’t really had before. And so, by being able to do those more and more, I started to see that I was improving. I started to see what gear changes meant. And then as we went into 2021, I have to say my 2K, I focused on the 500 and the 2K. And my 2K had been pretty good. I was able to get under three minutes, which I was very happy with.

Joanne Trimpi:

But in 2021, I started to improve on my 500 as well and then was able to really focus on the areas that I felt I needed some improvement on with my coach. And so that data, being an engineer, I’m very data driven. I have spreadsheets. I was able to start keeping track of those times and use that feedback along with my coach to really help me and set me up for 2021.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you work with Kim Geist, who obviously, in addition to being a regular consistent coach at T-Town, a pretty accomplished athlete herself. And she has, I think, a very analytical brain as well. So, did you guys literally sit down and go through your spreadsheet together and say, “Hey, these times are doing this. This is where I’m identifying potential. This is where I’m identifying areas for improvement. This is where I’m saying, maybe this. Maybe 200 is not the event for me.”

Joan Hanscom:

Did you go through it in that level of detail and start making targets for the ’21 season? Or were you just broadly analyzing your efforts and just identifying room for improvement? Because I’m teasing up what a stellar summer you actually had at the track in ’21.

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah, I didn’t really go in, I didn’t really sit down with her and go through my analysis of the data, but Kim would have regular track sessions, workouts for her athletes. And so, when we would be there, we’d talk about things. And as I got into 2021, I could see that, and what’s funny is, when I would do Women’s Wednesdays or when we would do some of the workouts, and we’d do standing starts, my comment to her, it was, “Oh, I need to do more of these.” And she’d just come back, “Yes, you do.” And so, Kim, she’s very direct. She doesn’t mince words. She says things very succinctly and she will tell you exactly what she thinks. And I value that as an athlete and that has been very helpful.

Joanne Trimpi:

And so, we came into 2021 and I could see that when I compared myself to other athletes, I could see that my standing start needed work, especially on the 500, because it’s maybe not as important in the 2K, but it’s definitely important in the shorter Time Trials. So, we started to in 2021, when my 500 started to look better, I realized that in order to continue to improve, I really need to work on my standing start. So, we started doing some separate sessions to improve on that. And so, there were a couple of us who were working on that and we got together and had Kim put on some sessions for us to work separately specifically on our standing starts.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. I just think that’s amazing that you were, yeah, you were taking these initiatives and really breaking down such a data-driven approach and to me that makes so much sense and I think it’s smart. And I think sometimes people think that is purely the realm of the elite. And for our listeners, Joanne is a Master’s athlete. Joanne is not aspiring to make the Olympic team in 2024, so I just, but I personally love that you take the same approach. That you approach it the same way, because it’s what you care about, it’s what your passion is. It’s where you’re diverting all of your non-professional energies. This is your hobby, your love, the thing you do. And so, I just appreciate that attention to detail and that commitment and the analytical mind is pretty cool.

Joan Hanscom:

So, over the summer in ’21, you raced really consistently at the track. You were racing some Tuesdays and the Saturdays, the Masters and Rookies, the Tuesday night racing and more. And I could definitely, I think, see every week that there was improvement being made. We could see that you were going pretty well and that consistency of racing surely was paying off in addition to the training. And then, we got to Masters Nationals and you cleaned up, which was super cool. Was it five medals, Joanne?

Joanne Trimpi:

It was four, four. My four individual events, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, four medals. And how many of those were gold?

Joanne Trimpi:

All of them.

Joan Hanscom:

All four?

Joanne Trimpi:

All four.

Joan Hanscom:

All four and I got to give them all to you, which was amazingly fun. It started to become ridiculous. I was like, “I get to give [crosstalk 00:11:00].” So, for all listeners, there’s a little bit of jockeying for who gets to give the medals out at National Championships. My colleague, Kelly Bertoni, always wanted to give the medals to the Edge athletes, obviously, because her husband runs the Edge Program. And then I was like, “I get to give Joanne her medal.”

Joanne Trimpi:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

So, there was always a little bit of jockeying for people when it came to the medal ceremony time for who got to give who the medals. And so, I was always like, “Joanne, I get to do.”

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah, that was the cherry on top of the cake.

Joan Hanscom:

That, for me, it was certainly fun. But the thing that stood out to, I think, Mora and I were both watching your pursuit, your individual pursuit, and we could see you were going fast. And I remember, Mora and I was standing there, trackside watching, we were cheering for you. We were really cheering for you. And Kim was just slightly further down the track, like by the bridge, like yelling times or watching times. And I’m looking at Kim, and our listeners can’t see my face, but I’m like, I was looking Kim going, “She’s going really fast.” And Kim was like, “I know.”

Joan Hanscom:

And we were so excited because we could see it. And obviously we had the time, too, because we have live timing. So, we knew you were on a good time and it was so fun to watch. You just smashed it. And so, and that’s a hard event. That’s a legit, hard, long effort. I mean, long for track, not long for, like that’s-

Joanne Trimpi:

Everything is relative.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, everything is relative. And so, tell us about the pursuit because I just remember Kim’s face. We were like, “Oh, my God. She’s smashing it.” So, yeah. Tell us about that effort.

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah. So, I knew, I was up against Paula Froke, who had been nipping at my heels, I think, all season. And she and I had been head to head in mass starts, just through all of 21 and she just is a powerhouse. So, I knew that I had basically, I had cleaned up also at Northeast Regionals, but I had gone against her for all four of the events there and it was not easy. And so, I was matched with Paula for the 2K. So I knew, I really had to bring my A game that day. And it was the first event. I was nervous as we all get out. And as I got into it and something that occurred to me had happened during Northeast Regionals that the first day, we had the mass starts and that was in August. We had the mass starts first and then we had the Time Trials on the second day.

Joanne Trimpi:

And there was something going on with me, with my body on at Northeast Regionals for that first day where all of the efforts, all of the work, all of the races, my body just hurt. I mean, I don’t know what was going on. It was just, the pain level that I had to deal with when I was doing the mass starts was unusual. Let’s put it that way. It got better for the next day. I felt a little better. And I don’t know if it was related to some of my heart issues that we’ll talk about later.

Joanne Trimpi:

But that was in my mind when I started on the 2K for Nationals and I started feeling like I’m not going fast enough and I’m feeling that level of higher level of pain because, maybe I’m re-experiencing what I had in at Northeast Regionals. So, I kept thinking, “I have to go faster. I have to go faster.” And thinking, “I’m not going fast enough.”

Joan Hanscom:

You went faster.

Joanne Trimpi:

I’m not going fast enough. So, it was basically an all-out every lap, as hard as I could. The pain threshold was pretty high. And I kept thinking, “Paula’s right behind me, Paula’s right behind me.” And when I got done, I had a new personal record. I had beaten my last record by four seconds, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but in a 2K that’s incredible. So, yes, I guess it goes to there’s the physical side, but there’s also the mental side that really can push you through some of these things and obviously, my adrenaline was going too, and that helps, but yeah, that was pretty awesome. That was, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start Nationals.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That was super fun to watch. I mean, again, I just remember Kim’s face. Her eyebrows were up to her hairline [crosstalk 00:16:29]. You just smashed it.

Joanne Trimpi:

And you don’t get that from Kim very often.

Joan Hanscom:

No. I think that’s why it stood out so much was because she was just like, “Dang.” And that was so cool. That was, I mean, because again, Mora and I could see it. We’re not your coach, we don’t know your times. We don’t know that level of your output. And then, but we could see it. We could tell you were going good. And then, obviously, like I said, we had live timing, so we knew where you were against the competition. We knew everything, we know all that stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

But to see Kim’s face, we knew that you’d done something special. So, that was super fun for us to watch because obviously we were cheering for you. We’re biased. We’re not supposed to be biased as promoters, but like I said we’re friends, so we knew. And it was super fun to watch.

Joan Hanscom:

You mentioned something in your description of that event, besides the fact that you were able to push through some pretty intense and obviously some nerves as well, which is, that’s when the nerves are the good motivation. The, “Oh, Paula is right behind me.” That’s an important thing as an athlete to be able to manage. But you mentioned your heart issues.

Joan Hanscom:

And again, for our listeners who don’t know you and I rode together a whole lot, we were frequently riding and training together on the road, which I also miss. So, come out to California and visit. We can do some road riding. We rode a lot on the road and we both wear a WHOOP, so I think we both analyzed that sort of fleet data, recovery data, and you were starting to notice things last year in your HRV.

Joan Hanscom:

We were talking about our HRV. My HRV is very low and your HRV was very high. And I was like, “Oh, what not fit.” And you had this incredibly high HIV number and, but you were noticing some strange things. And when we talked about this, we were out riding and chat about it. And like I said, like you said earlier, you’re very data driven. You would analyze your data and you were having some weird cardiac responses in your WHOOP data and that corresponded to some sensations after you would do certain types of rides, so tell us about that. Tell us about what you started to see, tell us about what you started to feel.

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah, so and actually, the first event started, I think, in September of 2019, actually, pre-COVID, just before COVID started. And then I think I had another episode, two in December. And then as time went on, I started to see them more frequently. And what would happen is, the WHOOP measures a number of different things. It measures your sleep.

Joanne Trimpi:

It also measures something called your HRV, which is your Heart Rate Variability and the theory behind that is the higher your heart rate variability, the more your body is prepared to take on a higher strain and do more work. And at every morning they give you a recovery number based on all of your data and it includes your HRV, your Heart Rate Variability. And normally, my HRV would be, maybe in the 40s, 40, 50, sometimes, maybe up to 80 at the most during that time. And what I started to see was they were a couple of instances where the HRV was at abnormal levels. It was be like 160, 170, and it would tell me that I had zero REM and zero deep sleep.

Joanne Trimpi:

These are the things that they measured. I had no disturbances during the night, which is very odd for me because I’m moving around. Normally, I have like 12 to 17 disturbances. I’m in that phase where I still get hot flashes and I still have to get up and go to the bathroom all the time. So, I get these very strange change readings. And at first, I just figured it was something. My WHOOP had been off or I was getting a weird reading.

Joanne Trimpi:

And then I started to experience some symptoms along with those episodes and they would start to occur more frequently and I would feel like had a little too much coffee to drink. I’d be a little on edge. My heart rate would be a little bit elevated, but my resting heart rate, but it would just feel weird. And so, I started talking to, well, first I reached out to the WHOOP folks. And the first thing they came back with was, “Oh, your data integrity is not good. You need to start wearing your…” They obviously assumed that I was having bad data. That it wasn’t for real.

Joanne Trimpi:

And so, they actually had me move my WHOOP strap from my wrist up to an arm band, further up on my arm to get better data integrity, which it did help from that stand. But I was still getting those readings. And so, I started talking to my primary care physician about that, who happened to be yours as well. Thank you for the referral. And Dr. Allison started to work with me on that and she didn’t know it was. She sent me to a cardiologist. We had an EKG, an echocardiogram, everything was fine.

Joanne Trimpi:

And of course, because my heart rate, wasn’t going when I would have these episodes, I didn’t have heart rates over 100 beats per minute. And that there wasn’t anything that set off the red flag for the cardiologist, so he was just like, “I don’t know.” And so, but they kept occurring and they started occurring more frequently as the season went on. And we went into 2021, and basically as we came into Regionals and the Nationals, I started having more and more of those more frequently. I was experiencing shortness of breath when they would occur.

Joanne Trimpi:

I had one time, you may recall, where we were doing a Saturday Masters and rookies and an event had started. I started to feel bad in the morning. And when I arrived, we did the first race. It was usually three in the series every Saturday. And I did the first race and I did not feel good. And so I said, “Okay, I’m done. I’m going to stop.” And I remember I came over to you guys and we sat and we chatted for the rest of the race and then I went home.

Joanne Trimpi:

But right before Nationals, that Sunday I had an event into Monday and so, I had another high HRV number on my WHOOP that Monday morning. So, I called my primary. Couldn’t get in that day. We got in the next day, because I wanted to make sure that going to nationals that I was going to be okay. Because by then I was having them every couple of weeks. I was experiencing more shortness of breath and a little bit of dizziness when I would stand up and she checked me out. And said, yeah, I’m good to go for Nationals, but she ordered a Holter monitor for me to get on and after Nationals and then we were going to try and see what this was.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, I waited until I had an event. We did a ride and I knew that sometimes if I did a longer ride, like a three-hour or so ride, that would sometimes trigger an event and it would usually start a couple of hours after I would do something like that or if I had to double race, that day, if we did double crits or something like that that could trigger it. And lo and behold, it was October. We did a ride. I did a ride and later that evening it started to come on. So, I called, got in and got the Holter monitor and that’s how we determined that I was having what they call paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (afib) or it’s periodic AFib.

Joanne Trimpi:

And after doing some research and that it’s really, they don’t know exactly why it had happens in athletes, but they think it’s related to the fact that endurance athletes like ourselves, who do high intensity, who do longer. When we work out on the bike, it’s at least an hour or longer and that changes the heart over time. And they determined this when they did the echocardiogram. I have what they call an athlete’s heart. It’s a condition. It’s actually a condition. And your left atrium gets enlarged as a result of all of the exercise that we do and the endurance work that we do.

Joanne Trimpi:

And what they believe is that it also stiffens that part of the heart, so you lose some flexibility there. And you also strengthen your parasympathetic side of your nervous system, the vagus nerve and that has to do with basically you’re resting activity and getting your heart to reduce its heart rate. It also has to do with digestion. But when that becomes too strong, sometimes all of that together can create a situation where your heart begins to go into AFib.

Joanne Trimpi:

And if you continue to let that happen and don’t do anything about it, your heart, that becomes more ingrained in your heart and can eventually become instead of periodic, it can become permanent. It can become continuous, I should say and then it’s much harder to treat. So, it doesn’t feel good when you’re going through it. The danger is blood clots and stroke and heart attacks when you’re in AFib. And the other thing I’ve discovered through research and talking to my doctor is that there’s, there’s sort of like a U shape as far as the risk factor.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, on one side, let’s say the person who doesn’t exercise, who’s sedentary, who’s overweight, whose lifestyle and health issues create a situation where it’s very common to have AFib and AFib is actually a very common occurrence in the population. And then you have those in the middle, at the bottom of the U curve, the risk curve who exercise moderately, who live healthy lifestyles, and they have the lowest risk of occurring having AFib.

Joanne Trimpi:

And then you have those of us who are on the endurance side, who do this kind of work and activity. And on that side of the equation, we have an increased probability of developing AFib. I think it’s like 2 to 10 times is what I’ve read in some of the reports. And so, but it’s from a different reason. They don’t know exactly why it happens in athletes, it’s just that they do attribute it to the fact that our hearts change and that it adapts and that adaption can lead to some of these issues.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is sort of terrifying to contemplate. We think by training, we’re doing good things for our body and we are. Let’s say broadly speaking, we are. By training and by staying fit, we are doing good things for our body. But it is interesting that this is a potential adaptation as well, where you’re almost overtraining your heart, right?

Joanne Trimpi:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s just like overtraining for any other muscle group. It is possible, I guess, to over train your heart. And what I thought was so interesting about you, Joanna, you may not know the answer to this, but I’ve known a fair number of male athletes for whom this has been an issue. Obviously, I’ve been in this sport a very long time. And so, you start to know more and more male athletes for whom this has become an issue or you have coaching friends, who have athletes going through it.

Joan Hanscom:

So, there’s own awareness that this exists, but I you’re the first female I know who’s had it. And I think, truly that shouldn’t actually be surprising because we’re the first, I think, real Title IX generation of athletes at our age that have really been in competitive sport now through the full life cycle of competitive sport. Before us, there wasn’t a real body of women athletes who are benefiting from Title IX, so there at mass of women participating in sport. And still the numbers in women’s track cycling are lower. Women’s cycling in general are racing, not riding. Bazillions of women, ride bikes, but in racing and training, the numbers of women are still smaller than men.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think as those numbers start to come up with the younger athletes, athletes Mora’s age, for example, I wonder if we’re not going to start seeing that, that equalization of athletes as they reach, our age where this is more commonly occurring in women than it is right now. But did you in your research have any sense of male versus female athletes this occurring or did that something that wasn’t even occurring to you? I just know it stood out to me because of the sheer number of male athletes I know experienced this.

Joanne Trimpi:

Right. Yeah, I did look, I did look for data as I’m data driven. I’m out, yeah, I was out looking and I still am out looking for some more data. But around women, the data, as usual is limited and the one study that I did find that mentioned women. Implied that the risk factor for women, endurance athletes was less, was lower. They didn’t see that in, as they saw in men. But when you looked, when you read through the report, in more detail, they did acknowledge that the women were not doing this. That they were studied, were not doing the same intensity of workouts that the men were, so they don’t have the data on women.

Joanne Trimpi:

And I think it’s probably because for two reasons. One is, medicine tends to focus on the bigger population, male population. White males and not on some of the rest of the population, but also I think you’re right. There’s just less women doing what we do. So, as I just going a little bit further and maybe, you were going to get to this. But in order to treat this, I decided there’s two options, well, there’s three options. One is you can not do anything, which isn’t going to lead to a good outcome. As I said, it can become continuous and then it becomes very much more difficult to treat.

Joanne Trimpi:

Then, there’s two other options. One is medication, drugs, to control the AFib and they call that a pill in the pocket where when you feel it coming on, you take a pill. And I think that’s one application. I don’t know if there’s others, but the medication can impact. It does have side effects. It can impact your performance and over time, it can stop working, so you have to switch it. So, the control isn’t, there’s some issues there. And I think there are some medications that are banned for athletes, so that could be an issue as well or the other option is to go for ablation surgery. And that’s what, I’d say, the majority of serious athletes tend to do because it’s more of a way of fixing the problem.

Joanne Trimpi:

It can take several surgeries to completely eliminate it, but I’ve had surgery at the end of January now for the ablation. And now, I’m going through the recovery, so I’m trying to find, now, I’m reaching out to athletes and trying to find athletes that I can talk to understand their recovery experience. Because I’m having some strange things that my doctor, my surgeon doesn’t quite understand. So, I actually, out there if anybody wants to reach out to me and share their experience, I would love to hear from them and understand what their recovery look like and what they experience with regard to their heartbeat and getting back to training.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So on that note, if you’re listening to this and you have been through the ablation surgery and experienced the same things that Joanne has experienced, we can get you in touch with Joanne. We won’t put her contact information in the show notes just because that’s probably not smart, but we can get you connected. And yeah, help Joanne out if you can, because again, particularly for women, there’s not a lot of data on this topic. And I almost wonder is the issues you’re seeing in recovery? Is it different for men and women how we recover from these surgeries? That is very often in the case.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, if you’re a male who’s experienced this, please reach out. We’ll get you in touch with, Joanne. Help her solve her mystery. But so Joanne, I think one of the things you told me, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that you can’t get your heart rate elevated now. You’re experiencing [crosstalk 00:36:34] your heart rate.

Joanne Trimpi:

Right. So, the doctor says that it takes about three months for the heart to heal after the surgery, so I’m still in that three-month period. I’m getting towards the end of that, but it does, because it’s dealing with parasympathetic side. And that’s what they’re impacting when they do the ablation, your resting heart rate goes up and that was expected. So, my resting heart rate is about 10 or so beats per minute. Higher than it was before and I’ve been told by my doctor that that’s going to be permanent and that was expected.

Joanne Trimpi:

But on the high end when I do my workouts, I’m seeing heartbeats 15 to 20 beats lower than I would normally see for different kinds of efforts. And my max, I haven’t been able to get any closer than 20 beats lower than my max heart rate was before the surgery. So, I don’t know if that’s, because I’m still in the healing phase or if we did do some, a little bit of damage to what they call the sympathetic side, which is the fight or flight side of your nervous system, so that’s your higher end.

Joanne Trimpi:

But my doctor described to me is that those nerves are more on the outside of the heart. And so he said if we did do any impact to that, he expects that in theory, that could come back and if we did damage some of that nerve network, that it would grow back, so we’ll see. And I have found one posting, out on internet from 2009 of somebody, a male, long-distance runner, who was six weeks after his ablation surgery, who was seeing the same thing. So, but I’ve talked to or communicated with somebody locally here who had the surgery back in end of 2016, who did not see this.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, I think it’s every body is different, everybody recovers differently. And so, I think there will be some differences, but I’m interested in understanding what other people’s experiences have been. And along with that, I wound up being referred to somebody else, locally who had some heart issues, not the same as mine, but also was related to the athletic activity. And he had the same issue that Dr. Neil had.

Joanne Trimpi:

You had Dr. Neil on a while ago and he had the ARVC, which, which deals with the right ventricle. And that is, so after talking to him, I went out and looked on that. And that also is caused by the extreme athlete activities that we do. So, I think that the message is that, as athletes, we need to pay attention to that. I certainly, it took me a while to figure out what was going on with, with me. Athletes present, our symptoms present different from the regular population, so you need to not give up when you’re starting to feel things that don’t feel right and find a doctor.

Joanne Trimpi:

Don’t take your own advocacy and find a doctor who will work with you and figure out what’s going on, I think, is the message there. That, we certainly, do these activities because we feel good. We feel strong and we enjoy the competition, but you have to also understand that you’re doing things to your body that are changing things. And when things don’t feel good, you need to check that out.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I do think it’s super interesting that there was a corollary, you were able to identify this issue in your data well before you started experiencing like a really regular cadence of the episodes, I think that’s fascinating. And I think our ability now in this day and age to detect stuff, maybe before it becomes too episodic or becomes too acute in our data is fascinating. That’s probably a whole, we should probably have the WHOOP guys on talk about that because I think it’s absolutely fascinating that you’re able to see these trend lines developing in your data or abnormalities in your data.

Joan Hanscom:

And I know at one point you did show your doctors, like, “Look, I can show you in my data that there’s a thing happening here. I don’t know what the thing is, but there’s a thing happening here.” I think that’s super fascinating, but not that we’re doing advertisement for WHOOP, but I do think it’s super interesting. And there’s a whole lot of devices that track HRV now. But I do think it’s super interesting that is something that may make an argument for data monitoring. Even if you’re not an elite athlete, there’s certainly a reason for data monitoring that we may benefit from.

Joan Hanscom:

But going back to you and where you are right now, so you can’t get your heart rate, like let’s just make up a number. Let’s say your previous max heart is 170. I don’t know what it was, but 170 seems like a nice number to play with. And now, you’re really capped at 150 and that’s sort of your body’s cap. Your body is saying, I don’t want to go above 150. Is that doing a hard effort? And so, do you feel or is it that your heart rate just won’t go higher or is it having an impact on your ability to make the hard efforts?

Joan Hanscom:

Because you can make a hard effort and just maybe your heart doesn’t respond at the same way that you’re used to it responding or is it actually having a repressive impact on your ability to go hard? I find it interesting particularly on the track realm, because so many of the efforts that are done on the track are short. That there isn’t even, at least in my experience, we’re doing short hard efforts, there isn’t even a time for your heart rate to respond. The efforts are like there’s a lag in your heart rate response to a hard effort.

Joan Hanscom:

So, how is that impacting your training right now? How is it impacting your efforts? Are you even allowed to train in this three-month window postoperative that you’re able to do? So, how’s that difference in heart rate impacting your day-to-day? How is it impacting your bike time right now? Does it just make you feel like you can’t go hard? Tell us more about that or is it just a numbers thing?

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah. So, for the average person, after you have the ablation surgery, they tell you not to take it easy for a week after the surgery. And as an engineer, I could take us down a whole another avenue of the Medicine and how they do that, I mean, the medical profession. And how they do this surgery without big incisions. And I don’t know what the right word is, if it’s arthroscopically or whatever, but it’s just, it’s really cool. So, the impact on your body and your recovery is from the outside is pretty easy. Obviously, it’s inside and it’s inside your heart where they do the ablation.

Joanne Trimpi:

Basically, they’re killing off parts of your heart and these nerve endings that are causing the ablation and they’re around four main veins that come into your heart is where they focus the ablation and they do it around it. They basically are killing that and creating scar tissue, so that those nerves are not able to then cause the ablation. And then, they also try to stimulate the heart to go into AFib while you’re in the surgery, so that they can see if there’s any other areas that they need to treat.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, when you come out of it, this was a new experience for me. I’d never been in the hospital. I’d never had surgery all my life. I’m 60 years old. And so, I feel very lucky that’s been the case. But so this was a whole new experience, but it really, it was as far as a surgery, it was a lot easier than I thought, let’s put it that way. So, you come out. Yeah, you feel a bit beat up, but after a week, they let you start to go back to normal activities.

Joanne Trimpi:

For me, because, my normal activity is different from other folks, and I talked to my doctor about that, he wanted me to, he said, “You can start doing some workouts that second week, but you need to lower the intensity.” So, I worked with Kim on that and she set my schedule for that second week. And then after that, I could go back to my normal activities. But the doctor did say that I was going to feel beat up and I might not feel up to doing the same level that I was doing before, as I get back into things and it didn’t.

Joanne Trimpi:

When I was doing the sort of the threshold or tempo level efforts, I felt fine. I actually felt pretty good. And it wasn’t until we started doing some of the anaerobic threshold level activities and intervals that I started to feel initially, it would take me a little bit longer to warm up. And it was more around my breathing. If I did an effort, I would feel short of breath early on until my body warmed up. And then when I would do the anaerobic threshold efforts, I could do them for a short period of time, so my power was there, but the endurance wasn’t there.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, it was like my aerobic side of the equation just is feeling a bit compromised on the high end. And one of the other athlete that I spoke to locally who had the ablation surgery indicated that he also experienced that the high end was a bit compromised when he started coming back. And actually, the scary part was it’s been five years, I think for him and he says, now, he’s only finally starting to feel like he’s firing on all cylinders, so it’s taken him a lot longer. Then I hope it’s going to take me to come, to get that back. So, that’s the other reason I think, like I said, everybody is different. And I’m I’m interested in hearing more data and more feedback from others who have done this and what their experience was.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Yeah. Like you said, very individualized response, recovery time. Everybody is different, but I’m sure there would be an emerging pattern of postoperative feedback where you could get a general sense of a range, at least. “Oh, I was right back to normal. Oh, [inaudible 00:49:26]. It took me a bit.” But you’re back to training at least somewhat. You’re back training. Hopeful that as time passes, things will continue to improve. You certainly look the picture of health here on our Zoom call today.

Joan Hanscom:

If other people are experiencing similar sensations, what is your best advice to them? is it collect data, then go to the medical professional? Is it go right away? What, “Hey, I’ve been experiencing this. I know that athletes can be prone to this.” When I was going through my completely different issue, medical issue. I was going through the iliac artery issues that I was having until I found a real specialist in the area of iliac artery endofibrosis for athletes, because every cardiac surgeon or a vascular surgeon has done iliac artery work on people.

Joan Hanscom:

Like you said, the first part of the U curve, the unhealthy population, they all do that surgery. They never diagnose it in athletes because there’s such a, like they look at the CAT scan of your vascular system and they say, “You’ve got the cardiovascular system of a 15-year-old.” You’re like, “Yeah, but I’m having these issues.” And I wonder if it’s not the same with this AFib stuff where the bulk of the cardiac people probably don’t see the athletic population.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I wonder if there’s things that you would advise people if they’re referred to cardiac doctor to bring to their attention, to flag up as research just says, “Hey, look, this is a thing in athletes.” Because I think, again, a lot of the medical professional is, they’re not used to seeing athletes. And so, the tendency is to say, “You’re a perfectly healthy person. You don’t have this.” What would you tell folks who think they’re experiencing something similar or just so that they have this planted in seeds of their mind somewhere if it develops further down the line.

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah. I guess, one of the things when I was trying to figure out what was going on with me, after I spoke to the cardiologist, the first person that I saw, and he said, “Well, are you experiencing resting heart rates above 100?” And I’m like, “No.” So, the things that they look for in the average person are not necessarily applicable to the athletes. And even though he was supposed to be somebody who worked with athletes, he wasn’t, he wasn’t. I don’t think it was the same level of athletes that as some of the things that we do.

Joanne Trimpi:

So, I started to think, well, maybe it was because of, maybe it was related to the fact that I was well into menopause and maybe there were some issues there. So, I started looking down that avenue. But I think, as time went on, I started to realize that, I was having additional symptoms and I continued to talk to my primary care physician. I think, having a good primary care physician, who is willing to work with you and continue to, when you’re not getting a diagnosis, that is telling you what this is, that you can work with. You need somebody that you can work with to help you figure out what’s going on with you.

Joanne Trimpi:

And the thing that, I was telling, talking to other people about this, but I didn’t for some reason, I didn’t run across anybody who had had the periodic AFib. And I didn’t really, maybe if I had had explored that more, maybe I would’ve come to this realization sooner. And I was surprised after I figured out what it and we were talking that you had heard from, I think from your coach, that that he had a lot. He had a bunch of athletes that had gone through this. And so, but I’m not sure if I had known that would I put two and two together, if that’s what was happening to me, I don’t know.

Joanne Trimpi:

But I think the best thing, the best advice is really listen to your body. When people tell you that, when doctors tell you that it’s nothing to worry about, but you’re not feeling good when it’s start happening, you know that it’s not good. You need to listen to your body and you need to keep exploring and trying to figure out what it is. Because we already, as athletes, we’re not the average American, we’re not the average person going into the doctor and you need to be an advocate for yourself and continue to look for answers.

Joan Hanscom:

I think you nailed something right there, too. It’s like I think we do know our bodies, right? We know what it feels like. I think it, because we use them so much. We use the bodies. We inhabit so much that I think we also know when we’re off and that’s a strong message to pay attention to in yourself. I knew something was incredibly wrong with my legs. You knew you were having episodes.

Joan Hanscom:

People may say, but you present as a perfectly healthy person, but we know because we know what it feels like when things are working properly. We need to listen to that instinct. We need to pay attention to that messaging that we’re getting. That feedback that we’re getting. Because I think we are very in tune with our bodies as athletes. And that’s a message we should not try to tune out then, like actually, listen to the feedback that our bodies are giving us.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re really good at ignoring messages from our bodies. That enables us to do we do. Like you said about your pursuit. You were able to push past this feeling of, be feeling terrible because that’s what we do as athletes and there’s a time when you need to push past feeling terrible because it’s race day. And you’re doing, an effort that is unpleasant in your race. But then there’s a time that we really do need to listen to that feedback that we’re getting from our bodies.

Joan Hanscom:

And then like you just said advocate when we know we’re off, we need to keep fighting that fight to get the best treatment that we can and not just be poo-poo into saying, “No, yeah, you’re fine.” Not fine. You were clearly not fine. I was clearly not fine. And now, we’re both in a better place, hopefully.

Joanne Trimpi:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I don’t want to keep you all Saturday, but because I could keep you forever because we’re friends. So, you’re going to be back on track this summer or is it still a TBD? One thing you said that did leap out at me was the doctor telling you to take it easy at first. I love that because that was the feedback I was given, too. “Oh, you have to wait six weeks to get back on the bike,” in my personal case. “And then when you come back, you have to take it easy.” I’m like, “Define, take it easy.” That’s a very loose parameter for, take it easy for one is not another.

Joan Hanscom:

So, are you past the take it easy. And are you going to be able to start racing and jumping in with the Women’s Wednesdays or is that, are you going to play that how you’re feeling and how you’re responding? Where are you right now in your 2022 season? And is it sort of like a “let’s wait and see another month and see how the recovery goes” or are you planning on jumping into Women’s Wednesdays and Saturdays and going from there?

Joanne Trimpi:

Yeah, so, yeah, so as you know, Masters Nationals was announced a couple of weeks ago and is going to be in Indianapolis in the middle of June. And that was a little bit of a shock to me because I wanted definitely more time to recover before I had to think about Masters Nationals. So, I had to do some soul searching on that and what I decided with, and had communicated with Kim is that I’m going to leave that option open. I’m going to see, we’re going to train as if I’m doing, going to do Nationals and then I’ll see as I get closer where I am on my recovery and how I’m feeling. And certainly, if I’m not feeling well and I’m not enjoying things on when I’m doing the high efforts, then I may not participate.

Joanne Trimpi:

But even without that, I’m still training at my regular level. I’ve asked Kim to take the anaerobic thresholds out of my program for a little bit, because they’re just not fun mentally or physically right now for me. But I’m going to start going back to racing as the races start this coming month or this month, I guess, we’re in April now. And the Thursday night training crits are going to be starting next week, so I’m going to start doing those. I’m going to see where I am. That’s going to be a test for me to see. And I’ll be gauging that as we get into race season. But mentally, I’m prepared for the fact that I may not be where I was, would have expected to be at this time last year with racing this time of year and I may have to deal with that.

Joanne Trimpi:

But the best way to see where I am is really to get out there and to do it and that’s what I love. I love the community. I love the competition. As Kim stated in her acceptance speech at the Velodrome, “You lose more than you win.” And I find that every time I lose, I learn something. And I still enjoy the competition. That’s what this is all about. That’s what the fun is all about and being out there with people. At some point, I may have to be on the sideline, but for now, I want to participate.

Joan Hanscom:

Not yet.

Joanne Trimpi:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

Not yet. Cool. Well, Joanne, thank you for coming on the podcast. I think it’s a really interesting topic. It’s one that, as we have more athletes in the Master’s population, it’s one really worth paying attention to. And I’m sure somebody listening to this podcast will benefit from your sharing of your experience. And just one more time for our listeners, if you have been through this yourself and you’re willing to chat with Joanne about your experience, so that she can start plotting out more data points on her charts, please, please get in touch with us at the podcast and we will connect you with Joanne, so that you can share your experience, so that other athletes might potentially benefit from you all’s experience as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Joanne, thank you so much for giving of your Saturday to be with us on the pod. And of course, I can’t wait for you to come visit and ride bikes and-

Joanne Trimpi:

Me, either. I see your pictures on Instagram and that, the sunrise and the sunset. I so want to be there.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. There’s one ride I do here, I’m not going to lie. The descent is like got Joanne Trimpi written all over it. So for our listeners, I love going uphill and I really hate going downhill. Joanne goes downhill like a bowling ball. She’s a tiny little human who goes downhill so fast and there’s a descent here that every time I go down it, I’m just like, “I think Joanne would get down this descent 10 minutes faster than me.” It’s a long descent. It’s a 40-minute descent. I’m like…

Joanne Trimpi:

Ooh.

Joan Hanscom:

… “Yeah, I’m doing it in 40 minutes. Joanne would do it like 30 or 25.” Because it’s perfect pavement. It’s long, it’s winding and I always think, “This is a Joanne descent.” So, you’ll have to come out and I’ll take you on the ride because yeah.

Joanne Trimpi:

That’s sick.

Joan Hanscom:

Literally, every time I do that descent, I think, “Oh God, Joanne would go down this is so much faster than me.” So, we’ll get you out here.

Joanne Trimpi:

What’s great about us riding together is we always challenge each other. So, I’m always chasing you on the upside and you’re always chasing me on the downside. So, we’re very well-matched that way.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. So, you have to come out and I’ll take you on that ride and we’ll have some fun because I miss my riding buddy. But for now, we’ll say this has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our fantastic guest, Joanne Trimpi.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you for listening. And if you could please leave us the positive reviews, the likes, the shares, all the things that help us grow the podcast and enable us to keep bringing it to you, our listeners. Thanks so much for tuning in. 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.

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Brian Abers: Eat More Eggs

Brian Abers Coaching

Episode 56

“These conversations I’m having are not… They’re not about me at this point. They’re about, “Hey, you might want to think about this because I didn’t, and this is where I’m sitting at this point.”

Is taking supplements a part of your daily routine? If you’re an athlete, are you aware if the supplements you take are NSF certified? On this week’s Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits down with Brian Abers, coach and master’s track athlete. They dive deep into Brian’s experience with testing positive for Ibutamoren after a win at Master’s Track Nationals this past fall. Joan and Brian talk about the process with USADA, the risks of supplementing and how to avoid those risks, NSF certifications, and much more. Be sure to check out the links in the show notes for more information about USADA and NSF certified supplements.

Brian Abers Coaching
Brian Abers Coaching

USADA Website:
https://www.usada.org/choose-usada
NSF International Certified Products
https://www.nsfsport.com/certified-products/

Brian Abers Coaching
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/brihop_one/
https://www.instagram.com/brihopcoaching/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Brihop-Coaching-200425743308686/
Website:
http://brihopcoaching.com


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 Brian Abers of Brihop Coaching and many other coaching things. His career accolades are long. And we are delighted to have Brian on the show with us today to talk perhaps not strictly about coaching and racing track bikes, but as I’m sure most of our listeners have seen in the news or recently on social media channels, Brian has a story to tell us today, that’s an important one for athletes to hear, about supplement use and positive drug tests in sport.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m delighted that Brian was willing to come on and talk to us about this. It can be a touchy subject for folks. I know it’s not the first time it’s happened in our community. So we thought it would be great to get Brian on and have him talk to us about what happened and how you can avoid the same fate, which I think is important for folks to understand. So, Brian, that was a long, rambling introduction. I said I’ve had six shots of espresso, and I wasn’t joking. Welcome to the podcast.

Brain Abers:

Thank you for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

So Brian, you’re joining us from Colorado Springs. You look like you’re in a room full of stuff behind you, bike-racing things perhaps.

Brain Abers:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

Tell us about where you’re joining us from.

Brain Abers:

Well, I’m joining you from my apartment in Colorado Springs. So if it looks crowded back there, it’s simply because it’s a small apartment, so everything is just kind of stuffed in. But yeah, there’s a bike back there somewhere. There’s a couple more over around, so you just kind of cram them in where you can get them in.

Joan Hanscom:

I feel that. If you could see not the white wall behind me, you would see much the same in my apartment. So Brian, tell us… Let’s not beat around the bush. Tell us what happened in the last six months of your life, because I know it’s been challenging for you.

Brain Abers:

It’s been a bit of an adventure, one that I would prefer to avoid in the future. But in September, I was racing at T-Town for Masters Nats. I got called in for drug testing. Didn’t think anything about it. I think I waved at the two guys going through the office when I was going in and chatted with a couple people that were already there. It was kind of a routine thing. I’ve probably been tested a dozen times over the last eight racing years maybe, something like that. Did the test. About two or three weeks later, I guess, I get a call from USADA, and it came up on my phone as USADA. And I, as stupid me, didn’t think twice about it. Answered the phone. I was like, “Hey, how’s it going? What can I do for you?” And they informed me that I’d tested positive for a substance called ibutamoren in my system.

Brain Abers:

What had happened was that they detected 0.011 micrograms of the substance in my urine. And that comes out to what? 11 trillionths of a gram, so a very tiny amount. And we started the process of, okay, how do I deal with this? And quite frankly, I thought I was fairly sharp with the whole USADA thing and realized that I had absolutely no idea what I needed to do. Called the USOPC Ombuds, asked their advice. They recommended getting an attorney. Hired an attorney and started that process.

Brain Abers:

The attorney recommended that I take all the supplements I had in my cabinet and send them all down, and I’m thinking, “Okay, well, yeah, I don’t know what the odds of this are. It’s pretty much the same supplements I’ve been taking for decades at this point.” And sent them in. He sent them into a lab to be tested, where they found this substance in the glutamine I was taking. At that point, they sent the glutamine, presumably just the glutamine, to USADA. They tested it, confirmed that there was contamination in the glutamine, and we started the process of… Well, my lawyer started the process of discussing with USADA what the next steps were. Subsequently, USADA offered me a one-year suspension retroactive from the date of notification, which would be August, or I’m sorry, October 6th of this year.

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s take a pause there for folks because certainly everybody I know that does sports at a high level does some sort of supplementation in some way, shape, or form. I mean, I went digging through my countertops today to find, and I’m holding up for everybody, my bottle of complete amino acids. And I guess this is where we sort of stop and say, how do we make sure this doesn’t happen to other people? Because USADA themselves, in your statement when they announced you’re positive, but broadly speaking, always say, “If athletes choose to take the risk of using supplements, it’s on them to make sure that they’re not contaminated,” which is almost an impossible task.

Joan Hanscom:

I’ve worked with a nutritionist for a long time, and when he started prescribing all the supplements that I take, and certainly there was a lot of supplements recommended for women my age who, as we age, you start to not do things like have lean tissue anymore or lean muscle mass. So things like amino acids are important. So how do we make sure that we’re taking something that isn’t going to get us in trouble if we compete? I looked at the notes from my nutritionist, and I saw in the notes from my nutritionist that he was really adamant that I only take supplements that were either informed by Sport Certified or, as USADA says, NSF certified.

Joan Hanscom:

I guess at this point, were you looking out for that as well, or is this just a product you had trusted? Tell us a little bit about that. And then let’s dig into what these certifications mean a little bit for folks. But yeah, I guess that’s the next question. Were the products you were taking either NSF or informed by Sports Certified? Do you not know? Was that something that you weren’t looking out for? Yeah, I guess that’s the next round of questions.

Brain Abers:

That scenario is interesting because I typically got all of my supplements at a major health store retailer, right? So I have records of all the purchases I’ve ever made, which, conveniently enough, was something that I needed to dig into during this process.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Brain Abers:

But it turns out-

Joan Hanscom:

Actually.

Brain Abers:

Yeah. Yeah. I got really lucky with that as well. But it turns out that I actually purchased this product in the T-Town area while I was there during the summer in July. And I’m not sure what happened. It was a product I had used before. This particular product was not NSF certified. And the product I was generally using was a bigger container, and I think that was… And it was NSF certified. And I think that was probably why I was using it, because it was a bigger container and it was NSF certified and it kept me from going to the health food store every 30 days to get another container.

Brain Abers:

So this one was a smaller container. And I’m totally speculating at this point, but one of two scenarios happened at that point. I was out of the supplement, was replacing the supplement. And I either didn’t have the supplement that was the NSF-certified supplement available at the store, or I decided, because this was a small container and I was traveling, that that might be the better way to go. I’d used the product before. I’m reasonably sure I’ve been tested on the product before and really gave it not a lot of thought.

Brain Abers:

The problem… And to go back to your original question, the short answer is you can’t ensure that any product is safe. Even if it’s NSF certified, they’re not required to test every single batch. And one of the things, one of the many things I learned through this process is the mixing process of that, of let’s say creatine… Creatine’s kind of the one I go to because one of the things in my research, I can only find two places in China that actually produce creatine. And my understanding is that it all comes over to the States or over to Europe in these big bags of pure creatine monohydrate, right? The companies that make the supplements purchase the creatine from one of these two labs. And that’s not… That’s my research, and that’s all I’ve been able to find. But to the best of my knowledge, that’s how it works with creatine.

Brain Abers:

They take the creatine… Obviously, the NSF-certified companies test this stuff, but anything they put into it, any fillers, volumizers, whatever, gets mixed into a giant bin. And it’s very easy for chunks of this powder in this powder form to end up in certain places in the bin, but not thoroughly mixed. So even if you… And this is why… This is again speculating, but I’m assuming this is why USADA is very big on preferring you not to supplement at all because you’re always running this risk. Even if you test that, if you test the section that doesn’t have the contamination in it, you don’t necessarily pick up the contamination in what I’m assuming is a pretty massive silo of creatine.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Right. Yeah. No, it makes sense, and you can see where it would be incredibly easy for this to happen. And I think you’re right. This is why there’s always risk associated with this stuff. And I guess every time I take my little amino acid capsules, I’m taking that same risk. I think we all do it, right? So let’s go back to the USADA process then. Once they’ve tested and found, yes, there was cross-contamination and they worked with you on this reduced sanctioning, how did that work? Were they cooperative? What was the general process like dealing with USADA for folks to understand?

Brain Abers:

Dealing with USADA was fine. I have zero issues with USADA. I’m pretty grateful that… I was looking at a four-year sanction. Getting it reduced to one year by being able to at least show intent was a huge relief for me. USADA was very professional, very easy to work with really. But I think you have to remember that USADA is, for lack of a less harsh way to put it, USADA is not… is going to presume you guilty rather than innocent because that’s their job, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Brain Abers:

Their whole entire process is to stop doping in sport. So if it’s in your system, they’re going to catch it. I mean, if they can find 11 trillionths of a gram in a milliliter of liquid, then they’re pretty good at being able to spot this stuff. At that point, they seem very willing to work with you and allow you the opportunity to defend your actions. But at the end of the day, their job is to stop doping in sport, not necessarily make sure that Brian Abers gets a reduced sentence or anything along those lines.

Brain Abers:

So if you keep that in mind, it’s not a terrible process. It’s not a pleasant process. I mean, it’s the equivalent of the cop pulling in behind you while you’re driving down the freeway and then wondering if your taillight’s out or if you… You automatically lift your foot off the gas, everything, right? So there’s that part of it. But the process is pretty much up to you and, in my case, my attorneys to figure out how this happened and try to attempt to show that there wasn’t intent to do this intentionally.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. So obviously, a one-year sanction has very real-life ramifications for you, serious real-life ramifications for you other than losing results, which I’m sure feels awful as well, and not being able to compete. But you’re also a pretty high-level coach in the sport. How has this impacted your professional side of life? How is this impacting you in the day-to-day of running your coaching business and working with your athletes? And what is the real-world… The real world, because racing for us at masters age is… I don’t want to say pretend or fun stuff. But how does this impact your day job?

Brain Abers:

Well, it’s had a pretty significant effect with it. I had several riders that were riding with the national team, USOPC, Para, all of the above, and I’ve had to at least temporarily give those riders up. This is what I do for a living, so the income from that went away. I’m not able to do any coaching at any of the races anymore.

Brain Abers:

The upside of that is I’m actually bringing my daughter in as a coach now. She’s a rower for University of Oregon, and I approached her with the idea because I needed a coach to do these things at this point. So it’s been challenging, but obviously trying to make my way through this. And I’ve got another six months of covering coaches’ costs and trying to abide by all of the rules of my sanction. So it’s been challenging. It’s been super frustrating. I’m not thrilled with the idea of going to T-Town for Nats and sitting in the stands and watching the athletes in my coaching program be coached by somebody else and watching them race and having to just basically sit in the stands and twiddle my thumbs and hope everything goes well. So yeah, that’s the part that’s been hard for me.

Brain Abers:

I race my bicycle at this point because I like racing my bicycle. The guys I race with at Nationals and Masters Worlds are why I race my bicycle. And really, I probably race maybe three or four times a year at this point, and everything else is… And I do it because it’s convenient because I happen to be there. Typically, my race days happen to be a pretty light day for everybody else because the coaching takes priority. So that’s not terrible. It’s not great. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not doing cartwheels in the background here because I can’t race my bicycle. But the coaching side is very much a concern for me.

Joan Hanscom:

So what’s good to hear is that athletes have… You still have athletes that you’re coaching. Even if you can’t be trackside with them, you’re still working with athletes in some capacity. That sounds correct?

Brain Abers:

They’re certainly in the program, and yeah, I’ve got several coaches at this point that are part of my program that are taking over day-to-day stuff, that I’m trying… I’m basically a business owner with a handful of coaches at this point, so…

Joan Hanscom:

Right. So you’re allocating that.

Brain Abers:

Which gets really challenging because they like to get paid too, so…

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, sure. So six months from now, your coaching license will be restored. You’ll be able to be back on the trackside with your athletes. This experience… And I’m making an assumption here that could be wrong. But the athletes you coach with, I’m sure at some point you were making recommendations for supplements or trying to help your athletes make decisions about how to supplement. How has this experience changed how you’re going to approach that with your athletes, or has it not? Is it just this is a risk we take, or has this changed your approach that you’re going to take with your athletes when you get back to it?

Brain Abers:

Well, certainly, it’s always been a concern having that conversation with my athletes simply because USADA makes it very clear that you’re responsible for what you put into your system. So in my case, I tested positive. That’s completely on me because it was my responsibility to make sure that I didn’t test positive. I always kind of hedge that conversation with you can’t… You’re not going to be able to guarantee, excuse me, absolute guarantee your ability to test clean by taking any supplements at all. The only way you can really guarantee that is to raise your own food, drop an artesian well, and basically live a monk-like existence in the woods somewhere to be able to guarantee that you’re absolutely, absolutely clean.

Brain Abers:

You can mitigate some of the risk with supplementation, and it gets to be a pain in the butt. It is a challenge to do this right because you have to jump through several hoops to be able to supplement and be able to be reasonably confident that you’re going to test clean when you get tested. First of all, is you always have to get an NSF-certified product. And what I would recommend very highly, if you’re planning to supplement, is go on your product, your NSF product’s website, get the batch number that they tested, because they don’t… They’re not required to test every single batch, but they do post the batches that they have tested as part of their NSF certification. Get that batch. Find that batch number. Go to your local health food store, find that batch number, purchase that batch number. Use that because it’s at least been tested, and hopefully, whatever’s in your canister was part of that test substance and not some contamination that got missed at the top of a barrel.

Brain Abers:

But I would recommend taking those little, itty-bitty Ziploc bags that you put vegetables in or whatever, little tiny ones. Take a scoop of everything you purchase. Put it into the bag, label the bag, label the batch number, label the date, label where you got it, take a Sharpie and cover all of that. Throw it into your cupboard. And then what I would recommend as well is, as you’re approaching an event that there’s a possibility that you can get tested for, I would go through that entire same process, but instead of the little baggies full, I would purchase two of the same batch of everything you’re taking. So you have a sealed container sitting in a corner, simply because if you get tested and it shows a positive result, you can very easily go, “This is my sealed container of the same thing. Test that.” And hopefully, that contamination is in that container as well. And USADA is very willing to work with something like that, from everything I’ve dealt with with them. So if I had been able to find a sealed container of the same batch number, there is a very good likelihood that I would’ve had a further reduction in my suspension.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow! That is an intense amount of work to go through for supplementing. Moving forward-

Brain Abers:

Yeah. But I can tell you this, it’s way better than sitting around and watching all your friends and compatriots go race their bicycles while you don’t, so…

Joan Hanscom:

For sure. Do you think… And again, I guess this is a very subjective question. Knowing that, knowing the risk now, having faced the consequences of this whole situation, knowing what it would take to keep supplementing with even less risk, I guess, or the most protection you could possibly have, is this something that you’ll continue to do, but taking these additional steps of plastic baggies in your cupboard and extra sealed containers of the same batches of product? Is this something that you’ll continue to do yourself as an athlete now? I think I wouldn’t. I think I’d be like, “Screw the amino acids. I think I’ll just… I’ll eat more eggs or something.” Is sort of, I think, where I might end up falling out on that side of things, just understanding the level of commitment you have to make to mitigate the risk as best you can. Where are you going to fall out on that, or haven’t you decided yet?

Brain Abers:

Well, I think I’m with you on that. When I got notified of testing, it was like, “Okay, well, we’re done with all this stuff.” I guess there’s still some stuff in the cabinet, but it just sits in the cabinet and takes up space at this point. I think the answer for me is I’m still in the process of doing a bunch of research. And really, I took creatine, beta alanine, glutamine, and protein basically, so like a whey protein. And yeah, I think I’m with you. I’ll eat more eggs. I’ll go and buy some steaks and figure out basically… and try to do this the way that… Because all of those things, aside from the beta alanine, I suppose, but you can get through diet. It’s just a matter of I’m kind of lazy. I don’t like really cooking. I don’t like planning meals. I don’t like… That’s the weak spot in my… Nutrition is the weak spot in my training program because I just… I prefer the convenience. Well, I’m kind of lazy when it comes to cooking. I’d just as soon not have to do it.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I’m with you. I’m with you.

Brain Abers:

But yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I have a pro tip. I’m not paid by Bob’s Red Mill, but if you do want to supplement with whey protein, Bob’s Red Mill whey protein is made in a factory that does things like quinoa and oats. So you can do Bob’s Red Mill protein at lower risk, I think, than say from a big supplement company. Just a pro tip, and it’s cheaper, and it has no extra shit in it. So from a protein perspective, it has no added sugars or flavors or extra crap. You can just get pure whey protein from Bob’s Red Mill, and they have it as a food supplement for baking purposes. So yeah, there’s my pro tip for you. If you want your whey protein, Bob’s Red Mill is the way to go.

Brain Abers:

There you go. Yeah, it’s significantly less likely to-

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s cheaper.

Brain Abers:

Yeah. It’s significantly less likely to be contaminated as well, I would assume.

Joan Hanscom:

Exactly. Yep, exactly. So highly recommend the Bob’s Red Mill. So Brian, what’s next? What is next for the next six months for you while you plow through the rest of your suspension?

Brain Abers:

Well, I just keep trying to hold things together, kind of hunker down. I’m going to continue… I’ve spent, what, 37 years as a bicycle racer, 38 years as a bicycle racer. I’m not quite sure how to stop doing that at this point. So I’m in the gym. I’m on the bike. I’m basically going through my normal routine with, I’ve got to say, a little bit more hunger than I’ve had in recent years in terms of the athlete side of who I am. So kind of looking forward to getting back to racing. It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you had until it’s gone kind of thing.

Brain Abers:

I didn’t give a lot of thought to racing. On race day, I trained. I like to race my bicycle. I like to win. I try to do the things to make that happen. But at the end of the day, it was a couple of races a year. It was Nationals. It was Worlds for me, getting to race Coe, getting to race Diefenbach, getting to race all these guys that I very much enjoyed racing and I’ve been racing with against for decades at this point. That’s the fun part of racing for me. But coming back, I’m actually looking forward to getting in and racing and having a good season next year.

Joan Hanscom:

Speaking of getting back in racing, and this may be a slightly uncomfortable question, so I apologize in advance if it is, what’s the reaction been from your peers to this news and this development? I mean, obviously, you’re incredibly well liked and well respected in the sport. How have your friends and competitors responded to this news? And has everybody been understanding? Because you were able to do the thing that so many people who test positive can’t do, which is prove that there was cross-contamination. What’s the reaction amongst your peer group been?

Brain Abers:

Well, the reaction from my peer group has been overwhelmingly positive, which when USADA made the announcement, I’d had… I basically had prepared my response to the USADA announcement waiting for the USADA announcement to come. And quite frankly, I’ve read some of the comments from people that have… directed towards people that have tested positive. And in all fairness, those thoughts have crossed my mind on a couple of occasions, reading USADA reports as well. But the response from my peers, the people I race with, the people in the cycling community, have been very positive, at least on my social media. Cycle News was… Yeah, it was less positive on Cycle News, but that’s okay as well, right? People are certainly entitled to their opinion and how they want to think about these things.

Brain Abers:

At this point, these conversations I’m having are not… They’re not about me at this point. They’re about, “Hey, you might want to think about this because I didn’t, and this is where I’m sitting at this point.” So that’s kind of the objective for me, is to make sure that people start understanding the stuff that I didn’t know I didn’t know and moving on from there. But yeah, for all intents and purposes, the support from the cycling community that I’m a part of has been very supportive.

Joan Hanscom:

And what about the athletes that you work with? Have they all said, “Ooh, this gives me pause now about what I’m doing for supplements”? Have you had any of those conversations with your athletes who have said, “How do I…” Have they reached out and said, “Yikes, Coach, I don’t want this to happen to me”? Have you had those conversations with folks, or is this process now just beginning?

Brain Abers:

Well, the process is just beginning, as a general rule. I went against legal advice early on in the process and let my riders know that this is the situation I was dealing with, because it didn’t seem fair not to, right? I wanted it to be fully transparent, and I still want it to be fully transparent to everybody. But my riders, that was something they needed to know because, obviously, things are going to be a little bit different for the next six months as we proceed. So I want to make sure that… The important part for me is that it’s as smooth a transition for the next six months as it can be for all of them.

Brain Abers:

But yes, we’ve had several conversations about that. I’ve had several conversations from people I don’t even know that have approached me about that. And I’m happy to give out what advice I have, based on my experience with it. But at the end of the day, you have to do the research. You have to do your due diligence, because at the end of the day, it’s all on you anyway, right? I mean, they can’t go, “Well, Brian said this was perfectly fine,” and USADA is going to go, “Oh, well, if Brian said it was perfectly fine, it’s cool.” That’s not going to happen.

Brain Abers:

So I’ve not discussed specific substances, with that as one of the reasons behind that. It’s like I don’t want to give you a direction or suggest a direction for you, have you go that direction, and end up being out of the frying pan into the fire. If you’re going to supplement at all, you’ve got to do it the way we talked about because that’s your best bet against preventing a situation like this. And the less of those steps that you take, the less research you do, the less focus you put into it, the more likely you are to end up in a situation like mine.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Yeah. I think it is something that… You made the point earlier, you’re sort of lazy about cooking, or this is the easier way to go. And it’s something that’s very real and that people need to at least have on their radar as something that could happen to them. And you think glucosamine or, like you said, beta-alanine. I take it every day. And certainly, I think that the chances of me being tested are slim to none because I’m not very fast.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think about that sort of thing. Like, oh, what if you are tested? This could have just… I work in the industry, obviously, and it would have an incredibly negative effect on my career. And it’s like this could be the cautionary tale that… Like I said, I’ll eat more eggs just because I don’t think I personally have the bandwidth to do all the steps that you mapped out. It’s a very different thing when you’re an athlete aspiring to go to Paris or to LA in 2028, right? It’s a different animal for me versus those athletes, but it’s certainly something worth balancing and thinking about.

Joan Hanscom:

So yeah, I think it’s incredibly generous of you to come out and sort of talk about this openly and frankly and just candidly, because it’s a process I think so many people think of as scary and intimidating and also sort of secretive. So I applaud you a ton for coming out and talking about what could be uncomfortable for some. And I’m sure, like you said when we were teeing up the conversation before we started, it’s certainly been an uncomfortable past six months for you. So I think you deserve a load of credit for being willing to be so candid about this with the hopes that maybe this doesn’t happen to somebody else. Yeah. Is there anything else you’d like our listeners to know? And we are going to see you at T-Town up in the stands? Is that the truth?

Brain Abers:

Yeah, I’ll be up in the stands. I’ll be up in the stands and hanging out in the stands and observing my daughter’s coaching debut, so…

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing actually.

Brain Abers:

Yeah, no, I mean, this is one of the really cool positives that has come out of this, and hopefully… This has not been a fun process, but I think it’s an important one. And if people can think about this in a different way… Because I didn’t, right? I mean, I thought I’d been to the USADA seminars. I’d been… It’s like, okay, I got this, right? And you go into it and you just get a little bit lackadaisical with the whole process. It’s like I’ve been tested seven times with this supplement. I don’t need to worry about this supplement anymore. And it’s like, yeah, you do.

Brain Abers:

And that’s the thing I want to drive home to everybody, is if you’re going to supplement, the only way you can make it kind of, sort of safe is to take those steps that I rattled off. And it’s a pain, right? It’s not something that’s fun, and everybody knows that. I mean, we take these supplements because they’re a benefit to training and racing. That’s why we take them in the first place. But the risk versus reward is something that you have to take a really close look at. And like we talked about earlier, yeah, I think I’m going to learn to cook a little bit better and figure out and basically just take the time and the discipline to go, “Okay, this is the new approach to this, and this is how I’m going to do it.”

Joan Hanscom:

Right, right. Yeah, I know. I think I’m with you on that. And just for our listeners’ sake here, we will provide links in the show notes to USADA’s website referencing supplements. And we’ll also link to the NSF-certified pages for folks who are curious to learn more about batch numbers and what products are and are not NSF certified, so that you are making informed choices with what you put in your body as well.

Joan Hanscom:

And I suggest if you are going to supplement, listen to all the steps that Brian outlined for us earlier in the podcast, so that you understand that your plastic-baggie budget is going to have to go up perhaps. And clear out some space in your cabinet for those samples to be stashed aside because I think this is the world we live in, right? So yeah, if you’re going to take the risks, take the steps so that you learn from Brian’s misfortune here. And otherwise, I highly recommend learning to cook.

Joan Hanscom:

Brian, it’s been great to have you on, and I appreciate, again, your willingness to be so frank and talk to folks and help folks learn from your experience. We wish you all the best, and we’re looking forward to seeing you back out on the track when the time comes. I’m certain you will continue to thrive as an athlete, and we’ll cheer for your daughter coaching, and yeah, it can’t come soon enough. So thank you again for joining us on the Talk of the T-Town podcast. It’s been great to have you on.

Brain Abers:

Well, thank you for having me. And yeah, hopefully, the next time, should there be a next time, is certainly with better circumstances. But I look forward to seeing you guys again, and looking forward to watching the racing at T-Town.

Joan Hanscom:

Super. This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest, Brian Abers. If you enjoyed the show, please give us stars, thumbs up, likes, hearts, whatever it is that your podcast provider allows you to rate us with, so that we can keep the pod going and find more listeners. Thanks again. Talk of the T-Town podcast signing out.

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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Pete Taylor: Star Tracking

Pete Taylor - Star Track Cycling

Episode 55

“Some of it’s fabulous, some of it’s not but it’s what we do and I wouldn’t change it for the world at this point”

Fancy this guest’s accent? We do too. We are delighted to have this week’s guest, Pete Taylor of Star Track, return to the pod. Joan and Pete discuss parity in programming, Star Track’s UCI team, summer racing plans, as well as a good old fashioned catch up between friends.

Pete Taylor - Star Track Cycling
Pete Taylor – Star Track Cycling

Website: http://www.startrackcycling.org

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/startracknyc


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 yet another return guest to catch us up on what he and his program has been up to since we last spoke. Our guest today is the always delightful, one of my favorite human beings, Pete Taylor from star Track. Pete, welcome back to the podcast. It is always delightful to chat with you.

Pete Taylor:

Well, thank you. I’m glad this is audio because I’m blushing. Thank you very much, it’s very nice to be back here, nice to see you and Moira again and thanks for having me on.

Joan Hanscom:

We like to have return guests on when something special is accomplished. So we’ve done it with a few past guests, El Smith after she reached her goal of winning her national championship, Kim Geist as she launched the Kim Geist Academy. And you Pete because you are coming up on some pretty impressive milestones this year with star Track, so let’s start there. For those who don’t know, Star Track is a New York city-based cycling program with, oh, I don’t know, a million kids that participate in it. But Star Track is coming up on its 20th year anniversary, which in and of itself has to be some sort of cycling industry record, teams just do not have this type of longevity. So 20 year anniversary, you had 39 kids participate in the national championships last year. This year you’ve set the audacious goal of getting 50 kids to nationals, so let’s start there. How many kids total are in the program? Because it isn’t really a billion.

Pete Taylor:

Doesn’t that sound scary.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a big percentage!

Pete Taylor:

I’m scared already. Yeah, in 2021 I think our numbers were around about 160 riders and that spans into the elites as well. So probably the after-school program was around about 150, 148 riders I believe and we are on Monday to Thursday and Saturday mornings. And so it is probably worthwhile letting everybody know what we actually do. We’re a three phase program, whereas we have an afterschool program so just getting kids on track bikes at the Casino velodrome there in sunny Queens, we have a junior race team and we also have an elite race team. So in theory they all lead onto each other and it becomes a developmental pathway. And yeah, we had 39 riders at nationals, we had a lot of girls, which was something that we’ve been really trying to focus on and this year, maybe 50 and a lot more girls again. And the girls are nicer than the boys aren’t they, that’s [inaudible 00:03:45].

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I’m biased! But that speaks to that inclusiveness and Star Track’s focus on diversity of participation and your longstanding commitment to bringing diverse participants into your program. Do you want to talk about that? Because I think you were focusing on it a lot earlier than some.

Pete Taylor:

I think you said it better than I can. It’s been our core mission for almost two decades now. It’s great to see everybody else getting on board with all of this and turning an eye to diversity and inclusion, for us it’s just been what we’ve always done. We’ve gotten kids from every background you can imagine and trying to introduce them to cycling and to track cycling and it’s been a hell of a ride, it’s been fabulous. And as you say next year he is our 20th anniversary, for us we love the diversity of what we have.

Pete Taylor:

The women’s thing has always been very important for us to get as many girls as we can and we were trying to get 50/50 parity between girls and boys, which we managed to do just before COVID. We just hit the 50/50 and then COVID came along and everything stuttered and I’d imagine we are probably around about 40% girls now, 38%. Yeah. We haven’t run the numbers completely, but that’s going to be our focus again for next year is just to bring more females into the sport. Just more kids from every background you can imagine and we are the melting pot and our pits at nationals reflects that. It’s quite funny, really. We’re every size and shape and color in the world for us.

Joan Hanscom:

Hearing that, we obviously had set our 50/50 goal as well. Like you, I think COVID had an impact though. We didn’t go backwards, we just didn’t grow. But I think it’s so important, right? Diversity broadly speaking, not just the male/female participation, I think track is the most opportunity of any of the cycling disciplines in so many ways because programs like yours, programs like ours help lower the barriers to entry. Track bikes can be loners, they are simple machines to maintain, they are less expensive when you’re at least speaking about the introductory level. You don’t need two of them like you need for cyclo-cross at an elite level, right? There’s so many ways that track cycling has the upper hand in terms of fulfilling a diversity mission.

Joan Hanscom:

And not to mention location, right? I think velodromes on the east coast are just a melting pot by nature of where they’re located and I think that’s terrific. And it provides that opportunity and then certainly it’s cool when you see programs like yours, like you said, pulling kids from every walk of life and every community. And then you see what happens at T-Town during the UCI months when there’s people from every country represented and it shows what’s possible in the sport. So I do think track has such an opportunity there to lead the way.

Pete Taylor:

I think what’s been easy for us, and ironically I’m talking to the director of the velodrome, is that what has happened is that because we’ve needed to move forward in a developmental way, in a pathway, by having T-Town has been the best thing. Because we bring the kids off the street where we are, we start developing them and then the natural progression is then for the ones that want to do that, and it is completely voluntary, they can go racing. So we can race at Casino on a Wednesday night, things like that, but generally at Star Track kids are racing Star Track kids.

Pete Taylor:

So the ability to be able to just come two hours down the road to T-Town and to start racing kids from other parts of the country and from Pennsylvania, it’s been perfect because now we really have this pathway that moves from just, I call them the wobblers. We have the wobblers and then once the wobblers get on and they actually become a lot more confident and they find their feet and eventually they want to start racing, it’s like this avenue that’s open and they go onto, well if you want to do this you’ve got to go to T-Town next.

Pete Taylor:

And we tried to bring kids and one of the things that we did a few years ago is to get a mini bus and that has been instrumental in us getting kids to different places. For argument’s sake, we did our winter training camp this year in rock hill in February and we had over 20 kids, probably about 25 kids or something so crazy like that, which is the biggest turnout ever. And I think the majority of those kids did not go to nationals, so it’s a whole new world of kids that are going to race.

Pete Taylor:

And then we try to do that and try to lower the barriers, as you say, the barriers are everything. Because the barriers are so restrictive for kids to getting into any sport. We’re not soccer, we don’t just need a pair of boots, we need a lot more of other things. But if we can just work with our friends and our neighbors and we do a lot of donations and bicycles. People have given us fabulous pieces of equipment and as a 501(c)(3) we can give them obviously a tax deduction letter and we get equipment for the kids. And we try to lower those barriers on a weekly basis.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I think that’s so important with a sport like ours where, like you said, it isn’t just strapping on a set of sneakers and going out and running. It’s travel, it’s all of it, it’s kit, it’s bike, it’s shoes. It’s not just the bike, it’s the whole package of stuff and none of it’s cheap. Sports in general is not cheap, kids who play hockey face the same challenges. So it’s nice that both your program and the T-Town program have found ways to try to help bridge that gap of participation. It’s important.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah, there’s a lot of synergy between the two programs actually which has been really good.

Joan Hanscom:

So you teased up something though, Pete, there. You teased up that Star Track has really created a developmental pathway, which is something I’ll push on a little bit later because I think that’s been a question that has plagued our sport for decades in the US. But let’s gloss over that for the time being and jump to the UCI team. So you’ve taken a big step in the pathway and now you have a registered UCI program in addition to all the other stuff you’re doing, because you’re not busy enough! So who’s riding on your UCI program this year and how did they get there? How did you come to this position?

Pete Taylor:

A lot of stuff that happens is just that we get frustrated. Dave and I and Mike, we see a lot this, and Shelly of course, don’t forget Shelly. The thing with that is that I find that there’s very little places for more of the elite riders to ride and that necessitates really then going to Europe and to other countries to get the riding experience and the depth of competition that they can. Or the alternative is to wait until everybody descends on T-Town and you haven’t got the speed or the experience to be able to live with them and you can’t even qualify for Friday night. So we’ve got to find a different way to get people through into that next level, so the natural progression again was to create a UCI pro team, and you know what we went out and did it. And we would’ve loved to have been the only one this year, but John Croom went and pulled the rug out from underneath me and started his own team as well.

Pete Taylor:

So wish them all the best, because John’s a good guy and we love to see more people out there trying to bring US track cycling up to the next level. For us as well, we have people that are again coming through the program, how do we get them the rides that they’re going to need? And for the most part we’ve tried very hard just to go and do races here and there in Europe but we had to become more legitimate, even to the point that we want to get to World cups, Nations cups as they are now. So this year our UCI roster is Grant Koontz, the man with the mullet, got to love him, all business at the front all party at the back. Ryan Jastrab has now joined us and we’ve got some young man called Billy Taylor, young Anton Gibson who is a wonderful pursuiter. Joe Christiansen, Josh Hartman, Mia Deye.

Pete Taylor:

And that’s about it right now for the UCI roster. Obviously we have a lot deeper elite team, but they’re the ones that are actually going to try to make it to the bigger and better races. We’ve actually partnered that with Felt bicycles, which has been a very good thing. They’re quite excited about a new venture, as are we, and Hincapie sportswear. Rich Hincapie and his lovely wife Drew have decided they’re going to help us out very much, which is great. And on that note, the Hincapies have been probably our longest standing sponsor. George has always been supportive and Rich, they’ve been supporting the afterschool program for probably about 12 years at this point. Now they’re joining us on this bigger journey which is [crosstalk 00:15:33].

Joan Hanscom:

That’s very, very cool. And hopefully we’ll see y’all represented then at the Hincapie Fondo that’s going to be happening at the track in June, which should be…

Pete Taylor:

Yeah, that’s going to be pretty exciting. And I was talking to Rich and I know that initially the interest that’s actually there for the Fundo is massive, it’s probably as big as any Fundo I’ve ever done.

Joan Hanscom:

They have it dialed now, what they produce is really just so top notch in terms of the product that they produce. And I’ve rid the course, it is different than, for example, Greenville where Greenville’s pretty chill except for one or two big climbs. When we took Rich out on the course in Pennsylvania, of course, we don’t have those big climbs, it’s just punchy, right? Up, down, up, down, up, down and I think that’s challenging for folks who are used to riding a different way, right? If you’re used to long, sustained climbs than doing the… Sorry about the cat losing his mind. If you’re used to doing long, sustained climbs, those short, steep, punchy things, they’re challenging. So we had Rich moaning and groaning on some of those steep, short ones so it was kind of fun. But the course is terrific, it’s a mix of essentially gravel and paved and it’s got a real spring classic vibe to it which is super cool. So I think people are going to have a good time.

Pete Taylor:

That is cool. I think it’s going to be a real good thing for the area as well. They’re going to bring you a lot of interest in the area and then if we can keep that vibe and that excitement going through to UCI season and on that note, looking, because I pore over the UCI calendar now on a regular basis and I was speaking to Moira about it a few weeks ago. Yeah, there’s not a lot of UCI racing around the world at that same time so I think the glitterati of the world cycling is going to descend on T-Town this year and it’s going to be incredibly exciting.

Joan Hanscom:

The early signs indicate yes. I think that when we had the dates originally they hadn’t announced the timing of the Nations cups, the timing or locations of the Nations cups. But we did speak with the UCI when we put in our inscriptions for the dates and I said “Hey, look, we’re being forced to inscribe before you announce your Nations cup, so can we have some assurances that if we ended up with some really geographical challenges you’ll let us move the dates?” And it turned out that their Nations cup dates were incredibly convenient for the T-Town block, right? With Canada then into T-Town and then immediately following the next one, it couldn’t have worked out better I think. We did have to shift the dates a little bit, but I think what it’s really teeing itself up for is exactly what you said, a summer of, it just makes sense to come to T-Town. Because of where it lands on the calendar and because of the racing opportunities, so it’s pretty exciting.

Pete Taylor:

No, it’ll be great because you can stage in Pennsylvania, which is quite a cheap place to live, have all your ride and all your training, everything you might need and then be able to just go to each Nations cup. Yeah, it’s going to be pretty exciting and we’re obviously scared that we’re going to qualify, it’s going to be that tough.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s going to be interesting. I think too, we set all kinds of attendance in participation records in 2019, we broke the participation record for the World cup, I think it was ’96 or ’97 I can’t remember, but we broke that participation record. We had 28 countries, more than 204 athletes and I’d love to see us break that record again this year, that would be kind of nutty so we’ll see.

Pete Taylor:

I’ll put 10 bucks on the table that you’re going to break 300 athletes this year [crosstalk 00:19:58].

Joan Hanscom:

It would be super cool and the shortened quad helps that, right? Points matter. So it’s going to be interesting.

Joan Hanscom:

So now I’m going to go to the controversial part of the discussion, sorry Pete.

Pete Taylor:

[inaudible 00:20:15].

Joan Hanscom:

Oh! You mentioned that you felt like you had to go UCI to further the developmental pathway and to grow the sport and you mentioned that John Croom did the same thing with his UCI program and that it was good to see other people taking up that charge with growing the sport and the development of the elite side of the sport. And I wonder, without getting you in trouble, this is a conversation that’s come up a lot about our federation and how they develop athletes and what the pathways for development are. And I’m not trying to get you in trouble here, or myself to be honest, just to have a frank conversation about development. How do you see this all aligning with, I don’t even know what they call it now, the Olympic Development Academy, ODA right?

Pete Taylor:

Yeah, I don’t know.

Joan Hanscom:

How does your program work with USA cycling I guess is the question. Are we running on parallel tracks? Are we feeding their programs? What do you see as this [inaudible 00:21:26]?

Pete Taylor:

I think for us, it’s probably a little bit of everything. We can feed, we can run parallel. Right now for us, the ability for a rider to be able to ride a World cup has to be down to time standard and whether or not they’ve got the backing of the NGB. And at this point, or in recent years, USA cycling hasn’t had… I’m trying to find a way to put this delicately. No they haven’t had the backup and the support they’ve really needed, obviously it’s been very well documented that COVID absolutely kicked them fair and square in the teeth and they’ve been struggling to get out of that for quite a while now.

Pete Taylor:

That said, there seems to be a whole new push of funding and coaching going on right now with the elite side of the house and that’s very welcome. But historically we haven’t been able to get into that place where we can rely on the federation to help get the riders to the bigger and better races around the world because they cost a lot of money. So for us, if we can find that reason and that funding to get a rider to these bigger and better races, we’ll end up with a better rider and we’ll end up with a rider that’s got far more experience and far more talent and will be able to go on. So if you like, in some ways we’re going to bridge a gap and in other ways we are just going to say, look, you obviously cannot do this right now for one way or the other. If it’s funding, if it’s the fact that that athlete isn’t ready, then hopefully we can bridge that gap.

Pete Taylor:

And the riders we’ve got, they’re all very okay with that because they know that they’re going to go to a lot of these bigger races and get their teeth kicked in. It’s going to be a really difficult transition to get up to that next level and one of my buzzword or buzz phrases of the last 18 months has been manage expectations. So we try to manage those expectations in a way that, this is part of a journey. And at this point we haven’t got that developmental pathway at USA Cycling so we have to create it for ourselves and I’m one of the few out there, seemingly, I actually like USA cycling. I like what they do, I like the people that are behind it all and I think that they’ve had, historically, a very job. If we can help them out of this, maybe we can get there in a more streamlined and functional way.

Joan Hanscom:

I think you nailed something there in those comments. A lot of people I think don’t understand how the funding model works for USA cycling and they get quite upset that USA cycling doesn’t have endless buckets of money to spend on development. And I think you’re correct in that COVID hurt the organization a lot in terms of how their revenue streams work and rebounding from that is a challenge. I think having the Tokyo games get off schedule also hurt them a lot and when you don’t perform, I don’t want to say perform to expectations, but when you don’t fully have the games you were anticipating, having that impacts your funding again.

Joan Hanscom:

So it digs the hole a little deeper for them and I don’t think there’s any pointing there, I think it was an incredibly hard and challenging circumstance that they faced and then you find yourself really struggling to get out of that hole. And so I think it’s terrific that programs are stepping up to do exactly what you said, which is bridge the gap and yes, for our listeners you should have seen Pete’s face just now because my cat is doing insane things.

Pete Taylor:

Some black flash going from one side of the screen to the other. Yeah that is the thing and look, make no mistake about it, they underperformed at the games and that’s a given. Obviously the partly line would say no, we did just fine, but it wasn’t really what they wanted and now there’s going to be an incredible amount of pressure to find podium-capable athletes by the time the Los Angeles games come along. And that issue of almost trying to take big leaps to get to that level is going to be a very hard thing, whereas all the other countries have this thing where their developmental athletes trickle down, they percolate through from being youngsters to their elite program. If you look at GB for argument’s sake, when Jason Kenny retires it’s a bit of a blow, but it doesn’t really matter that much to us because from this quad there’s probably a dozen kids that are out there that can all break ten one on their day and then go on and on and on and on.

Pete Taylor:

So yeah, the depth they’ve got is so much better than ours and I think that’s the same for most of these countries, even the Australians and the Kiwis and everything else. For us, we’re caught in that no-win situation where we have to get the riders the experience of the bigger races, but they cannot get the bigger races because they haven’t made that national team level, they haven’t made that time standard. Or even the fact that the NGB hasn’t got the money to physically send them to races. If we can just keep going, for us this year is going to be our learning year. It’s going to be finding that happy medium so that next year will be the year where we will push quite hard for the bigger events. Right now we’re just going to find our own feet.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And then I suppose, like you said, it’s really not all eyes on 2024, it’s all eyes on 2028.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah. I think ’24 is almost getting to the point of being a distraction for this country.

Joan Hanscom:

I would agree with that. I think you’ve got to, in my opinion and you can tell me I’m wrong, I think one of the challenges we have with track in our country is that we don’t have a very broad applicant pool, right? There aren’t many tracks for one, but then two, we don’t have many kids going into cycling anymore the way say, in the 80s, there was a gazillion kids racing bikes. So you don’t have that depth of talent pool to pull from.

Joan Hanscom:

And then kids are finding other sports so it’s challenging to find… The reason why, in my opinion anyway, something like the NFL is, those are the 1% of the 1% best athletes in this country, right? Because they start in Pop Warner football and the cream just keeps on rising, right? They go through Pop Warner, they play junior high, they play high school, they play collegiate and then they’re all of a sudden playing the NFL. And by the time you get to that NFL level player, you’ve taken a huge broad swath of talent pool and you’ve just continued to squish it down.

Pete Taylor:

That’s why I always refer to as percolating, because it just drips through.

Joan Hanscom:

And they just have a volume that we don’t have, right? It’s sheer numbers. And I think the UK, because of how their Federation is set up and because of how it’s resourced and because of the size of the country and the number of velodromes, it’s a lot easier to get a broader pool of talent that you’re then percolating, right? That you’re whittling down.

Pete Taylor:

Exactly. For those that don’t know, Great Britain is probably about the size of New York state and I think, off the top of my head, there’s six indoor velodromes and five of those are probably a good enough standard to run any European, Commonwealth games, whatever. I think we could point to the Canadians as well. When they created Milton and that velodrome was created and built we went there, I know Andrew Harris had a few kids there, we went there for the first ever provincials. And I remember just for my son Billy being there, we podium at every event. Really did well, fantastic and it had just been built. And then a year later we went back and we couldn’t even get near the podium. The Canadian kids absolutely crushed us. In a year they were just so much better and they had this depth of rider field that we would be so envious of.

Pete Taylor:

And that whole mindset, and then this happens a lot in the UK as well, with the weather they go, “Okay, it’s May. Put your track bikes away, it’s road season.” So you go and ride road and you ride road, road, road, road until you get to October and they go, “Okay, put your bikes away it’s now track season.” And they just concentrate on track and it works so well. That model works so well for so many different countries and obviously we would be completely reliant on having a indoor velodrome to do that and as corny as it sounds, if you build it, they will come. You will get the rider base. Certainly for us, if we had a indoor velodrome in New York, even something small like the Detroit velodrome is something that would be so wonderful for us in terms of development of more athletes and we could run programs 12 months a year.

Pete Taylor:

Because right now we can’t open up Star Track until the second week in April. The racers work, we do a lot of indoor training and winter camps and things like that, but for the most part if we had that velodrome we would be so much further ahead of the game than we are now. And then the frustration comes that we’re going to do all of this and we’re going to work really, really hard and then we’re going to get to October, in our case November, and we’re going to go, “Shut it all down. We’ll see you again in April.”

Joan Hanscom:

That is a challenge with the continuity and I think it’s a challenge now too, I think, for the countries that you just cited that say summer comes, put your road bikes away when the track season has now shifted to be a summer season again.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah, well that’s changed a lot of things. From my personal point of view is that right now people have to see a perceived value. So if that value for these other countries is that you will become a better sprinter and your road game will be that much better, then that’s their value. But right now, for us to try to sell an indoor velodrome to somebody, it’s like trying to sell ice to Eskimos. There’s no value in it and someone has to be an enthusiast first before they’ll ever see the value.

Pete Taylor:

And the same for the athletes. We’ll have all these kids and I would imagine, I don’t know the numbers, but I’d imagine we’re probably over 1600 young people in New York that’s been through the Star Track program over the last 20 years. And out of that 1600 you could probably count the people that have carried on on two hands. The sad thing is that these kids say, “Well, we love doing the sport. We love riding, we love racing but why do I keep on going? Because there’s no value.” We can now push the college thing, that’s something and we’ve probably had half a dozen kids going to colleges now, but at the same time, if I play soccer, I’ll play lacrosse, I’ll play football. Whatever it is, then that’s going to be a much better pathway for me in my life, whether or not I make it to the next level of the sport. But that value of that sport is there and apparent for most of the other sports but certainly not for cycling, especially not for track cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. 100% agree. It is a challenging space in which we play. And yet, we persist.

Pete Taylor:

We still do it!

Pete Taylor:

It’s funny because no matter how many times we do it, I still sit there with you guys and cringe at the eliminations and wait for that crunchy noise. And some of it’s fabulous, some of it’s not but it’s what we do and I wouldn’t change it for the world at this point. As the last time I was on here, my previous life became apparent and I’ve had a lot of people that have asked me about that. They go, “I didn’t know you did that.” Well, that was a whole lifetime ago now but it’s such a different world that I’m in now and I really, really enjoy it.

Pete Taylor:

And I enjoy it and I really want to see these kids succeed and I think a lot of them are finding it easier to succeed now. If we’re all on the same page, you guys at VPCC, USA Cycling, all the people that use the velodrome. And that’s the nice thing, myself, Andrew Harris at Edge Cycling, we all get on very well and it’s great. And I think that there’s this unspoken idea that we’re all trying to do the same thing ultimately.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Exactly.

Pete Taylor:

There’s competition and we love the competition and we want to see the guys in blue do it, other people want to see the guys in red do it. And eventually, hopefully it all pans out for everybody.

Joan Hanscom:

So Pete, you just said, this is your life now and tell us what your next adventure is? You said you’re packing up the van tomorrow and tell what’s what’s up.

Pete Taylor:

If the van gets out of the shop in time, I’m off. So yeah, I’m sitting here in my office and I’ve got one of them great big wall calendars, the four foot by four foot things. And so I’m looking up at it now and as I said before, the Hincapies are wonderful supporters of what we do. Every year they have a spring series of crits, so we’re going to support them so I’m actually going to be going down to the Carolinas tomorrow and I’ll be away for over five weeks because we will be doing [crosstalk 00:38:39]

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah, we’re going to be doing all the races that they have plus we have our elite training camp in Rock Hill at the end of April. And then coming back, first week in May running into Bear mountain for the New York State road championships. So yeah, every weekend in my little dry race calendar has got a race of some description at this point, which is a wonderful thing. A year or two ago, nothing.

Joan Hanscom:

And then it all turns on to T-Town right after that.

Pete Taylor:

My yard stick all the time is Somerville, which I’m really pleased that Somerville’s back in the Memorial weekend.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Pete Taylor:

So we will do Somerville on Memorial day and pretty much I’ll move to Pennsylvania for the foreseeable future just to get all the training done and the racing done here.

Joan Hanscom:

At least you get to stay put though, right? You get all the UCI dates in T-Town and you go straight into nationals.

Pete Taylor:

Right. And that’s what I said, it’s a wonderful resource to. We can train here, we can race here and with a little blip of road nationals, but that’s not too bad, they’re in Virginia. And then all the UCI races are going to be massive and I’d love for people to come out and see it because we need a crowd. With a crowd, these guys perform even better and once we do that I think it’s going to be superb.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah. And then the track nationals and maybe we’ll get our mythical 50 kids at track nats. Then I’m probably going to go on vacation in August.

Joan Hanscom:

That sounds lovely.

Pete Taylor:

That’ll be the plan, anyway.

Joan Hanscom:

You’ll have earned it, Pete. You will have earned it if you get there.

Pete Taylor:

Yeah. And then we go through September and October, we’ll be at some European track races. So we’ll go over to Europe and I’ll practice my schoolboy French.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. Well, it sounds like a big 2022 is coming up for you and the Star Track team and we wish you the very, very best of success and continued success, let’s say. Always delightful to chat and catch up, Pete.

Pete Taylor:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Joan Hanscom:

We love talking with you and we love what you do and we’re happy to play a part in what you do.

Joan Hanscom:

So that’s all for this episode folks, it’s our request that if you like the pod please give us the stars, the checks, the likes, the hearts. Help us grow the podcast because we can’t keep doing this without listeners, much like Pete we are a 501(c)(3) that is dependent on donations and support. So the more people that listen, the more likely we are to attract attention to the program. So help help the program out, kids! Thanks for listening and have a lovely week. That’s all for the Talk of the T-Town podcast.

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

Dave Pryor: Hashtag Day Job, Hashtag Side Gig

Dave Pryor

Episode 54

“Anyone that’s heard this, you see me out on a bike, or a watering hole, stop by.”

Chances are you’ve seen this week’s guest snapping some photos around the track– join us this week as Joan talks This week’s guest may sound familiar to you, as he’s been on the podcast before! This week, Joan sits down with Dave Pryor, marketing and communications director of the Rodale Institute. Dave was last on the podcast to talk about PPRAC (Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer). Joan and Dave touch on a plethora of topics from organic farming to road riding to PPRAC, UnPAved, Monkey Knife Fight, and much more. Be sure to check out the show notes for links and more information!

Dave Pryor – Marketing and Communications Director – Rodale Institute

Websites:
https://pelotonmagazine.com/features/the-organic-mission/
RodaleInstitute.org
https://www.pprac.net/
https://theunpavedhub.com/event/monkey-knife-fight/
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/dqpryor/?hl=en
https://www.instagram.com/rodaleinstitute/?hl=en

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/dqpryor
https://twitter.com/RodaleInstitute
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/davepryor
https://www.facebook.com/rodaleinstitute


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 the fabulous Dave Pryor. Dave is the director of marketing and communications for the Rodale Institute, which we don’t say the, but I said it anyway. But you also-

Dave Pryor:

You can get away with that.

Joan Hanscom:

… you may also remember Dave is a previous podcast guest. We had him on last summer to talk about his gravel adventures, and most particularly about the Perimeter Ride Against Cancer. So, we’re going to talk about all the things. We’re going to talk about him in his capacity of his hashtag day job. We’re going to talk to him about his hashtag side gig. And if you are followers of Dave on social media, you’ll know that those are things. So, Dave, welcome back to the podcast. We are thrilled to have you.

Dave Pryor:

Thanks, Joan. So, good to see you and hear from you again. This is exciting. Very happy. So, thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, the last time we had a guest from Rodale Institute on the pod, it was your colleague, Jeff Tkach, whose podcast remains one of the top 10 most favorite podcasts. So, you have a high bar to step over.

Dave Pryor:

I have to try and beat that? All right. We’re competitive. I can play.

Joan Hanscom:

Jeff’s pod was pretty great.

Dave Pryor:

He’s pretty great on these things. Yeah, he’s pretty good.

Joan Hanscom:

He was awesome, and he was super energizing. For me, that podcast was absolutely inspirational, and it led to a really cool project that Jeff and I did last summer, which was a video project that was about the importance of maintaining the organic farming culture in the Lehigh Valley, and the importance of that to the cycling community, and why local cyclists should support local organic farms if we want to have nice roads to ride on around The Velodrome.

Joan Hanscom:

And that lovely little video snippet that our partners at Discover Lehigh Valley shopped around, led to an article that I saw today, breaking news, in Peloton Magazine. So, it was super exciting on this day that we’re talking, today, that that article just is now coming to life. So, talk to us about that, first and foremost, because I was really stoked to see you published.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, they came, Clive came out. It was in November. It was shortly after I had started at Rodale Institute. I started in September. And that was one of the first things is, all right, this video is coming out with Discover Lehigh Valley. It’s us, it’s bikes, it’s farms, it’s this. And it reminded me of, I helped start the Seed Farm Ride with Aaron Frederick back … This is probably a good 10, 15 years ago. I forget exactly when it started. And one of our premises was you’d see stickers on cars saying, “No farms, no food.” And then I also happened to have one that said, “No farms, no beer.” These things are real. We don’t have the farms. We don’t have the things. And then we made promos around it, “No farms, no farm roads.” Because there is such a gem that we have here, and we wanted to show that off.

Dave Pryor:

And the Seed Farm is another one of those great programs that’s helping preserve all these great farms, and thus all the great farm roads that we get to ride on. So, Peloton, the magazine, sent that out from the videos that came out, and promotions Discover Lehigh Valley did to get the word out, and a writer called up and said, “I’ve heard a lot about this. I did an article about Pittsburgh and said how great it was. And the Eastern side of Pennsylvania said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. This side is so much better than that side,'” because we’re competitive. I often say Pennsylvania is-

Joan Hanscom:

And also true.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. And also true. I often say Pennsylvania is the Belgium of America because we have all this great road riding. We have all these great breweries, and the two sides really don’t like each other. So, it makes sense. He came out-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that works.

Dave Pryor:

… and he had a great time. He rode with Jeff Tkach out on some of the great farm roads. He went to Fifth Street Cross one of the nights. So, he got to really experience the culture that we have here. And he also fell in love with Rodale Institute. I mean, it’s what’s been happening there for almost 75 years. The 75th anniversary will be coming up this year.

Dave Pryor:

It has changed agriculture. By changing it, it’s brought it back to what it was for centuries, and really struck home with it. It’s also interesting. I was just flying back up Arizona. So, he grabbed a copy of VeloNews and was all like, “Oh VeloNews is changing with Peloton. They’re merging,” that sort of thing. And the article’s in there as well. So, if you go to Barnes & Noble or wherever and pick up of VeloNews, that’s where the article about Rodale Institute is right now. So, we can get in your news stands today, which is pretty sweet.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, it’s so cool that we’re talking today, because I wondered when it was going to come out because we … Obviously we knew this story was being done. And I think it’s really cool that all of it really started from this amazing just chat with Jeff. And that inspired the video that inspired the art. So, it’s super cool that Jeff was the progenitor of some cool stuff. He has a way with that sort of thing-

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, he has a knack for things. Yeah. Chief Impact Officer is a good title for him. He has a way to do that. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It fits. So, tell us about your day job at Rodale, because obviously when we spoke to you last, you were not at Rodale, but you’re still doing the bike side gig, but tell us a little bit about Rodale, and what you’re doing there, and why we should care. Because I think there’s a lot of reasons why we should.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, I think it was probably … God, it might have been right around that time we were doing that podcast. So, I was going for a ride with Jeff, and we actually reconnected because of podcasts. I was on one for talking about UnPAved, putting it on during COVID times, The Athlinks Podcast. And I really liked the host, we hit off, I kept listening to his podcast. And like a month or so later Jeff Tkach was on, they had a relationship, and they talked about the importance of clean food and all of this same thing that goes on with athletes. And I was listening. I was like, “I forgot that Jeff’s back in the region doing this. I should connect with him again and just say hi.” So, we did. And we started going for bike rides regularly, and we were on one right around that time and just talking about work, what was happening.

Dave Pryor:

And he said, “Oh no, the director marketing just left. We got to figure out, I got to start hiring for that.” And he looked at me and he goes, “Would you be interested in that job?” And I looked at him and said, “I’m glad you asked because I was about to ask you if I could be interested in that job, if you’d have a friend working for you.” And it worked out. So, I started there in September, have a great team that had been doing amazing work for the last three years. There’s press and PR. there’s brand management, working with our ambassadors, with our influencers, the people who are really passionate about the organic movement, regenerative organics. Social media, amazing videographer, the events that happen on the farm in the Institute, which there’s so many.

Dave Pryor:

I had no idea until I started there. The in-person events, the webinars, the virtual events, the 19 weddings we host there a year. It’s really full, the visitor’s center is really flourishing with great merchandise, and we’re going to start selling produce there on Thursdays and Saturdays this year. So, it’s a lot-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s awesome.

Dave Pryor:

… happening, and it’s great. It’s the best place to get eggs and pork. I will tell you that right now, too. That’s been a great perk-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I believe it.

Dave Pryor:

… to have that store in my office.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Right. Your menu just got better at home?

Dave Pryor:

Menu is better, and better, and better. And then my job is really to highlight the great work that happens at Rodale Institute. We’re doing the research to see how organic and regenerative organic farming and agriculture is different from conventional. So, there’s acres that have been set aside for the past 40 years. And some of them grow things with pesticides and tilling, some go with the pesticides, no tilling, then next to it … With a buffer so there’s no cross pollination or contamination. Next to it is organic, either with manure compost or with non tilling, there’s a whole series of things. And so, for 40 years, and that report’s coming out shortly, what’s been going on in the soil. What’s been going on with the nutrients what’s been going on with water capacity. How well do these things grow? What’s the yield, all of that. And it’s amazing what’s coming out. A lot of times, conventional farmers don’t want to switch to organic because the yield, how much they can grow, is “not as good” in organic as it is with conventional, which can be true for sure.

Dave Pryor:

But we are finding and in times of floods and in times of drought, IE extreme weather, I’m not sure if anyone’s paid attention to your local daily weather forecast, but things have been pretty extreme-

Joan Hanscom:

That that might be happening.

Dave Pryor:

… it seems to be a thing. Organic does outproduce it because the soil holds everything better. So, if there is a drought, there is a flood it can actually continue to grow food better than one that’s been heavily pesticided, or been tilled up. And so, it doesn’t have the same nutrient … Not nutrients. It doesn’t have the same makeup. It doesn’t have the same biomes going on. It doesn’t have the same microbes, it doesn’t have all that stuff holding it together. Organic one does, so we can continue to grow food through what’s possibly climate change, possibly.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s fascinating.

Dave Pryor:

It’s actually working. We’re having the results coming out shortly that proves it, which is so exciting. And the group is growing, and growing, and growing. We’re hiring five to six people it seems like a month. Researchers and consultants that help farmers make the transition, because it’s a three year process from the last time they used a pesticide or used a GMO seed, it takes three years before it can be certified. So, how do they make that transition, continue to make a living? We have consultants that will do that to help them make that move and continue to have a business that’s actually become a better business as they become a certified organic farmer.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s amazing to me. And I think while our listeners may not be organic farmers, I think everybody that’s one of our listeners does have an interest in having access to nutrient dense food, to having healthy options for food, having food that’s available, to your earlier point about, “Hey, you need farms to have food.” And so, I think the work that Rodale’s doing, particularly for athletes who want to maintain that healthy lifestyle-

Dave Pryor:

Yes, exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

… and it’s incredibly-

Dave Pryor:

We want to have cleaner fuel.

Joan Hanscom:

… important work.

Dave Pryor:

We want to be able to burn this fuel efficiently, cleaner fuel lets you do that. It makes your body work better just as a whole, the biome works better, your gut works better. Everything works cleaner without chemicals and other things going on through there. So, there’s been studies that almost every consumer has bought something organic at least once in their life. Now, how do we make that more of a regular thing? So, we do that. It grows, and grows, and grows.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I have a question, and forgive me for not knowing this in advance, but say I’m a person that lives in Macungie, or lives in Colorado, or California, and I’m listening to this podcast. And I don’t have a farm. I don’t live on a farm. But I have a yard-

Dave Pryor:

I don’t either. I don’t have a garden, so I get it. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. But does Rodale offer resource, and education, and classes for people who do want to become a backyard gardener? So, for example, you want to learn how to do your tomato plants in the backyard without Roundup, which is a terribly obvious example to use. But as a resource, what does Rodale have available for normal non-farmer people?

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. We have a number of both virtual online classes that you can watch anytime. Or we also have a number of events happening at the Institute. So, there’s an organic gardening 101 happening this spring, where I believe it’s a $60 fee and you come in and we give you the 101 on how to have an organic garden in your backyard. There’s so many gardens that were being grown during the pandemic, because people hunkered down and stayed local, and said, “I can grow my own food if I can’t necessarily get everything I want, I can do it right here.” So, that movement has come back in a big way. There’s a lot of online classes too, but there’s also classes, we just launched one in the last few months, on how to be a better regenerative organic consumer. So, how to look for the things, why you should look for the things-

Joan Hanscom:

Wow, awesome.

Dave Pryor:

… that’s a free course online, that’s at RodaleInstitute.org. You can find that pretty, pretty easily. And that will give you a lot of the what to do, what to look for, and why it’s important to you. There’s a doctor who’s on it, Dr. [Stole 00:13:32] who used to be in this region at Coordinated Health. He’s now started the Plantician Project down in Tennessee. And he was one of my doctors at one point. And he has a lot of reasons-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s so great.

Dave Pryor:

… why we need to look at the fuel that we put in our body. Food is arguably the most important thing we can do for ourselves, and why it’s important.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think, and I don’t want to go down too dark of a rabbit hole on this front, but in the last, just couple of weeks, I mean, I’m not old, you’re not old, we’re still relatively young and healthy people. Our peer group-

Dave Pryor:

Spry.

Joan Hanscom:

… are still-

Dave Pryor:

Thank you. Spry.

Joan Hanscom:

… we still have a relatively young and spry peer group. Right?

Dave Pryor:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’ve heard in just the last couple of weeks about several people who are, I would say, in our peer group who have died of cancers that you would normally expect to see in somebody who is a lifelong smoker, or somebody who’s been exposed to asbestos forever. And I think we do need to have this awareness, even if you aren’t an athlete, of what are we actually putting in our bodies? And why are people who should be in a healthy age group, a young and otherwise healthy person, developing these just incredibly odd illnesses if it doesn’t have something to do with the environment and what we put in our bodies?

Dave Pryor:

We seem to think that we can … The earth is to be formed to our liking, and I’m having a hard time believing that because the earth does seem to change based on what it needs. Speaking of Roundup, and Monsanto, the company that develops that, has to continue to create new products and new things because the weeds change. They’re bringing all these things in to kill weeds, and the weeds adapt as fast as they can create new pesticides to kill those weeds. Why is that? Because nature’s going to find a way, and we … It’s going to be fine. I often say like Rodale Institute is not going to save the earth. We’re going to try and save mankind, but I’m pretty sure the earth is going to figure out how to continue spinning with or without us.

Dave Pryor:

So, we can do that to help protect us. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. I think that’s it exactly. It’s how do we live harmoniously with it. That’s the bigger …

Dave Pryor:

And we’re proving that we can’t. I mean, we are proving that if … We’ve really only been doing this high intensity agriculture with heavy pesticides, and separation of livestock in the grains and the produce, it’s really only been a thing for 50 to 100 years, but really intensely for the past 50 years. That’s a blip in the radar. It’s a drop in the bucket of humanity’s time on earth, let alone the earth as a whole. We can make changes. We can go back to a lot of these things. We can do things. There’s new research showing that if organic soil in Virginia, organic soil can … It breathes carbon. What do plants do? They bring carbon down from the atmosphere, they breathe, it. And then if there’s healthy soil for the carbon to go out from the roots to, all these organisms that use it, and eat it, and keep it there, and trap it there, sequester it there is the catchphrase, it doesn’t go back up into the atmosphere.

Dave Pryor:

There is a possible way we can bring global warming down with regenerative agriculture, because it’s such a big impact on global warming. Yes, everything else contributes to it. But doing those things, the plants can do this. The plants have been doing it for centuries. We just stop letting the plants and the soil do what it does. We can go back to that. We didn’t do that much damage, but we continue there’s only 60 years left of growable soil, and that’s going to be a problem.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Since I moved to California, I’ve had such an awakening, not on that front, but here, which is this completely off the topic of regenerative farming, but it is on the topic of nature doing its thing. Here, California’s in a drought. So, there’s water concerns are very real here, and what’s been so refreshing to me, living here, has been when the weather is crappy, when we have rain and it’s several days of rain, or deluge of rain, people are stoked for it.

Dave Pryor:

I’m sure. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think-

Dave Pryor:

It’s important.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And I think it’s interesting and energizing to live in a place where people have realized that. Instead, nobody complains about the rain here, which has been amazing-

Dave Pryor:

We shouldn’t complain about rain in California. It’s grows, I forget the number, but it’s staggering. It’s 60% to 80% of the food grown that everyone eats. From America-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, and it keeps your.

Dave Pryor:

… a lot of it’s still out of the country that we import, but the American grown food? We need California to have rain.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, it’s amazing here when the weather people give the weather report, they’re stoked when there’s rain in the forecast. And I just find that so refreshing to not have people bemoaning the terrible weather, instead people are like, “Yes, please. More.” And it’s been an interesting mind mindset to observe. And I think that’s because here we’re, in many ways, living at a little bit further forward on the climate-

Dave Pryor:

Yes. [crosstalk 00:18:54]

Joan Hanscom:

… impacts than-

Dave Pryor:

American epicenter seems to be happening there. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, it’s super interesting, but like you said, nature will find a way. And whether that way is burning it all to the ground, or …

Dave Pryor:

Or if we can go back to working with nature, and being more seasonal, and being mindful in those things, and we can go back, and we can be okay, and we can live in harmony. So, it’s definitely possible.

Joan Hanscom:

Super interesting.

Dave Pryor:

There are days I wake up and I’m like, “Wow, this news about what’s happening is terrible.” Certainly, but there is hope with everything that’s happening with agriculture, and the changes that people are seeing.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, and it’s got to be great-

Dave Pryor:

I was in a conference and it was filled-

Joan Hanscom:

… to work where you do-

Dave Pryor:

… with young farmers. Just young farmers who are so interested. And there’s this entire growth of young farmers coming that are going to do it this way.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I have a friend in New England who’s essentially doing it that way. It’s super cool to see what he’s doing, what he and his wife are doing with their farm, and yeah, it’s amazing. And yeah, where you’re working now being at Rodale, it has to actually give you hope instead of despair, and you can see a pathway forward, and you can see people embracing it. So, that’s super cool.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. There’s a farmer transitioning almost daily, and everyone makes a difference.

Joan Hanscom:

So, since this is a cycling podcast, kind of-

Dave Pryor:

Oh, right. We should go on a bike ride.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Well, yeah. We should do that, for sure. We’re going to, which is very exciting.

Dave Pryor:

I know.

Joan Hanscom:

So, I can’t wait. We’re deep in our plotting for Grinduro PA, which you are part of with the hashtag side gig. And I am involved with, with my hashtag day job, and I’m super excited. I think it’s going to be amazing. And it’s in a beautiful part of the state, and-

Dave Pryor:

It’s such a part. I’ve never been before until last year. And it’s so great.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, I’m going to get to come back and hang out with my PA friends, and ride bikes, and throw a little bit of a Swiss party-

Dave Pryor:

Sweet.

Joan Hanscom:

… and ride bikes with you, hopefully.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, like I said, I’m not running, running this event, so I believe I can go out and spend the day on the bike, and no one’s going to necessarily miss me. That’s going to be great.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I’m excited. I’m excited to come back and see folks, it’s going to be a good time. And hopefully-

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, the Worlds End State Park area-

Joan Hanscom:

… [crosstalk 00:21:18] will be there.

Dave Pryor:

… [inaudible 00:21:19] will be there.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, I think I can drag her to that. Yeah. We did Endless Mountains last year, and it was really, really cool. And so, when Grinduro was looking for a spot, we’re like, “This spot would work,” because that was the time of year they were looking, and making it a NICA fundraiser on top of it just made it so … I mean, there’s a lot going on in Pennsylvania in June, and especially that weekend in June, but this is going to be a hallmark event. So-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no, it’s super cool-

Dave Pryor:

… looking forward to it.

Joan Hanscom:

… and I love the tie in with it with the high school mountain bike programming. And I think that’s amazing. And I’m stoked [crosstalk 00:21:54]

Dave Pryor:

Bringing an international level event like The Velodrome does all the time. Now there’s an international Gravel event saying, “Pennsylvania.” Didn’t say Vermont, didn’t say West Virginia, as much as I love those states too, but like, “Oh, so Pennsylvania. Yeah. Look at this. This works.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s actually the perfect setting for their event too. It’s absolutely right for the vibe of that event. So, very excited to be involved with it. Very excited to come back and see you guys, hope everybody listening, who isn’t racing track that weekend decides to get their stoke on for some gravel-

Dave Pryor:

Same bike. I mean, I think the same bike would work for most of it.

Joan Hanscom:

Sure.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Sure.

Dave Pryor:

I mean, you have to turn right once in a while, but other than that, it’d be very similar.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. No. But I hope the folks that who are … Believe that’s UCI weekend at The Velodrome, so hopefully-

Dave Pryor:

Two international level events happening a couple hours apart in Pennsylvania.

Joan Hanscom:

Two international bicycle events happening in Pennsylvania, just hours apart, which is super rad for Pennsylvania-

Dave Pryor:

Are there other events? Yeah. There’s not other events. We only think about bike events.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no, we got the two cool ones going that weekend. We got-

Dave Pryor:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

… The Velodrome with UCI making a big international push back that weekend, because people are traveling a bit more-

Dave Pryor:

Eyes of the world on Pennsylvania, on the Commonwealth. I love it.

Joan Hanscom:

For a magical few weeks of bike events.

Dave Pryor:

Heck yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So, that should be rad. And then let’s circle back around to what we talked about on the podcast last time you were on, because we were talking about the last ronde you were on-

Dave Pryor:

The last track. Yeah. Last [crosstalk 00:23:34]

Joan Hanscom:

… the last of that was. Yeah. So, what’s up with PPRAC?

Dave Pryor:

So, PPRAC, which for those who don’t know, the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer, PPRAC, started in 1983 with Bob Freed, who was on the podcast with me, his dad and another family member were dying from cancer, and he was fed up and needed to do something about it. So, he was like, “I’m going to ride across the country and do it as a fundraiser.” And his pastor was like, “Everyone rides across the country. What else can you do? Let’s think about this.” And they thought, “Let’s do the perimeter of Pennsylvania. No one’s ever done that,” which was true. And I’m not sure anyone’s done it since. They did it over over two weeks, 1983, before cell phones, and mapping systems, and devices-

Joan Hanscom:

I was going to say, no GPS back then.

Dave Pryor:

… no ways to call the car and ask for help. No ways to book things ahead of time, no internet, and they made it. And they raised thousands of dollars. And unfortunately Bob’s dad died during the ride, but it was really meaningful, important thing. And they said, “We have to do this again.” He said, “But you don’t have to do that again. That was a bit much.” So, they transitioned it. They kept the event name, because they’d already set the business and that stuff, and made it a six day ride, point-to-point, from basically a five to 600 mile radius. We looked at from Ben Lehigh Valley and then moved to Palmerton where we could ride over six days. So, the ride had started in Portland, Maine before 9/11 had started, in Montreal. It started in West Virginia. The last one we did started in Pittsburgh, and we did a little bit of zigzagging since it was …

Dave Pryor:

Could be a 300 mile ride. Well, let’s just do some of the highlights in between. And that was fun. So, over the course of every other year, almost 40 years of doing this, and raised over two million dollars for the American Cancer Society.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Dave Pryor:

And also a lot of the money goes to the Dream Come True Foundation, which is one of the great local charities we have in the Lehigh valley that helps terminally ill children go on trips to Disney, and Hawaii, and those amazing things and really makes a difference in their lives. But we were the people who’ve been working on it for a while, and we were like, “We’re done, we’re done. We’re done.” We were like, “We’ve been doing this. Let’s have one last hurrah. How would we do this as a last hurrah?” And we realized, “Let’s do it completely different. We don’t need six days right across where everyone’s very tired of the end, and each day was a bit much. Let’s do it so we can really get to hangout and enjoy each other this last time together as a big group.”

Dave Pryor:

So, we decided to make it a one location. We picked Louisburg, Pennsylvania, because I know that area well from UnPAved, Susquehanna River Valley, I have a lot of connections there that we can make the housing and all that stuff work pretty well with Bucknell University. Plus the riding up there is fabulous. It’s-

Joan Hanscom:

Mint.

Dave Pryor:

… I often say what I … Yeah, it’s what the Lehigh Valley probably was before a lot of population growth. It’s very quiet roads. It’s rolling hills. There’s some big ones. There’s some larger mountains they have there than we have here. But we’re going to try and avoid those for the most part. I may add one or two because I’m on-routing and I like to spice things up. So, we’re going to do-

Joan Hanscom:

You?

Dave Pryor:

… three days-

Joan Hanscom:

Make it spicy?

Dave Pryor:

Me? I may. It’s not going to be Monkey Knife Fight hard, but it’s going to be [crosstalk 00:27:04] I’ve been told not to make it like a Monkey Knife Fight hard, and I agree. I have to ride it too.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s best. Yes.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. Agree. So, yeah, we’re going to do it July. I forget the dates. It’s something like the 14th to the 16th, somewhere in that middle of July. That’s on P-P-A-R-C.net. You can find all the details. It’s a few hundred dollars to register. We also have a $2,000 fundraising minimum that’s always been a part of the perimeter ride is you have to raise money to fight cancer. That’s harder than doing the bike ride itself. So, everyone has to raise, I forget the numbers right now, but let’s just guess $2,000 or so. It might be a $1,500 to … But the great thing about this event and the organization is for the last … Since I’ve been a part of it. So, almost 20 years, 100% of that goes to the charities. We find places who will put us up for free, or next to nothing. We use some of the registration money, we get some sponsorship money to help cover some of the expenses so that every dollar a rider raises goes to the charity.

Dave Pryor:

You can feel great about the work you do to raise money for this event, because it’s going to these two amazing causes, and that’s unheard … I mean, I’ve done all sorts of charity rides. And then I look back later, I’m like, “Wow, 30% went to the charity. That’s terrible.”

Joan Hanscom:

100% is remarkable.

Dave Pryor:

And there’s great ones that have been going on for a long time. But 100% is unheard of. That’s-

Joan Hanscom:

Unheard of, yeah.

Dave Pryor:

… crazy high. And so, we’re really proud about that. And really, it’s a tremendous group of people. We have 75, I think so far, signed up. We’re trying to get to around 100 to 150 people total. There’s three days. There’s also one-day option if you can just come up Saturday. We’re going to have a good party on Saturday night because we also do that as a group really well. So, highly recommend people who like to go spend a good time with a bike, with good people for a good cause, to check out the Perimeter ride.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I’m actually surprised to hear there’s still spots available. So, anybody who’s listening who wants to do something amazing, this is your last chance, last [inaudible 00:29:09] by the way. We are-

Dave Pryor:

Last [inaudible 00:29:10]

Joan Hanscom:

… this is the last go round.

Dave Pryor:

We are going to [crosstalk 00:29:13] Cancer Society is going to take over and we’re going to talk to them about how they do things. We imagine it’s going to be radically different because the … Without the Freeds involved, it’s going to be riding different anyway. So, might as well make it a different event. So, we’ll see how it goes from there. But as far as this group, and the Freeds being involved, and they’re just … They are one of the best families in Lehigh Valley history. And that’s saying something, because there’s been so many. I work for the Rodale family. What a tremendous family, but how the Freeds have done so much for this community. So, it’s going to be great to send them off the right way.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, yeah. So, I encourage anybody who’s like me, who has heard of this event and has always been curious about it. This is the chance. This is the time, make your fundraising plan and sign up while you still can for those limited number of spots, and join in with the good crew of people, and celebrate what’s been achieved, which is pretty remarkable.

Dave Pryor:

Definitely.

Joan Hanscom:

And while we were bantering, you mentioned something else, which is a little bit closer to home for the Lehigh Valley. The Monkey Knife Fight?

Dave Pryor:

Monkey Knife Fight’s coming up.

Joan Hanscom:

Are you Monkey Knife Fighting?

Dave Pryor:

Yeah, the Monkey Knife Fight will happen. It’s on April 9th. We have a full-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, sweet.

Dave Pryor:

… 425 person field right now, going out for 70, 50 or 30 miles of beautiful road riding with some really, really dirty sharp bits thrown in.

Joan Hanscom:

With some really mean parts. Yes.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

I think I was-

Dave Pryor:

Like 30% grade on Goat Hill.

Joan Hanscom:

… I was riding with Celine … Yeah, I was riding with Celine, and she’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s … We don’t want to do that today.”

Dave Pryor:

We don’t do that.

Joan Hanscom:

I was like, “Nope.”

Dave Pryor:

There’s a great road ride around it. But then you take a look and go, “What’s Goat?” That’s mean. What’s Bull? That’s also mean.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And so, I assume Monkey Knife Fight is sold out?

Dave Pryor:

It did sell out. Yep. We’re excited about that. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s brilliant, because Monkey Knife Fight is also a fundraiser doing good work as well. So, that’s exciting. And where does the Monkey Knife Fight start this year?

Dave Pryor:

The Mays Community Park in two weeks. So, this will be our third year there? Third or fourth year there, other than the year … The COVID year. Yeah, it seems to be our forever home now. We bounced around annually, but now we’re done with that tradition. We like the Mays Community Park.

Joan Hanscom:

Sweet. Very good-

Dave Pryor:

The beer trucks will be … Or the beer will be back, food trucks will be there, it’ll be a typical event again, which we’re excited about.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Yeah. It’s nice to feel events starting to get a little bit of normalcy. I think the COVIDs are not over, but it does feel like we’re finding a way to do our best to live with it. And …

Dave Pryor:

And outdoor events seem to be a good way to live with things.

Joan Hanscom:

Exactly.

Dave Pryor:

So, I know there’s not been scientific research on COVID and outdoor events because anyone doing research on COVID has plenty to research besides what a bike ride that goes up dirty hills impact is, but of all the major events, big triathlons, and marathons that have happened, there’s not been giant outbreaks that have come from outdoor events. So, knock on wood that continues, and variants don’t start thinking about outdoor events. It’s a great way to have community again.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, exactly. I was at a race this past weekend, and it was just nice to be around people, and nice to … It was nice to go out and race bikes with folks, and chat, and it was great.

Dave Pryor:

And talk later, and commiserate, and say, “Which part did you hate? Which part was … Yeah, that felt good on that hill. What are you talking about?” Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

There was definitely a lot of, “What did I hate?” In that. Oh, but, but yeah, it’s really … It’s great. And at the track, I know we referenced it earlier, we’re so excited that the international athletes are making plans to come back-

Dave Pryor:

That’s so great. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

… after the last … Well, so last season we had a really small international representation. We had a strong Canadian representation, but then a lot of ones and twos because athletes from the European countries, athletes from Australia, athletes from New Zealand weren’t allowed to travel. And so, it was a very small version of what is normal T-Town summer. And so, I think along those same lines, it’s really nice to be getting emails from people from New Zealand, and people from Australia who are saying they’re stoked to come back to Pennsylvania, and be at T-Town again for the summer. So-

Dave Pryor:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

… that does feel nice. And to-

Dave Pryor:

Stoked to be-

Joan Hanscom:

… your point, I think, it’s been safe. We’ve been open. We stayed open through the thing, and managed it safely, and did it responsibly. And I think, like you said, it’s proven to be one of the safer ways of gathering. And so, let’s do it. Let’s gather on bikes.

Dave Pryor:

Exactly. Or up on turn three.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And gather on bikes, and shop at your farmer’s markets, get organic food and do all those great things. When Jeff and I spoke, the farmer market resurgent in COVID was amazing. If people wanted to-

Dave Pryor:

It’s real.

Joan Hanscom:

… to shop and get healthy food, but do it outside in a safer setting. So, it’s all these things are good.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. And making hyper local, people just became so refocused on what was close to them, because for a while it’s as far as we could go. So, we did pay more attention to what was happening, what parks we had around us, what markets were happening, what things … What shops we had that we could do that … Humans are pretty resilient. And that was one of the resilient things we did through all this was to get refocused on what’s closest to us.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think a lot of those things will, to some extent stay, which is great. Speaking of-

Dave Pryor:

If it worked for us, then we will keep with it. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Exactly. Speaking of COVID adaptations, let’s pivot to the next thing, because it’s super fun as well. Let’s talk about UnPAved.

Dave Pryor:

Right? Yeah-

Joan Hanscom:

Is UnPAved a thing this year?

Dave Pryor:

UnPAved is a thing this year. We were able to hold a seemingly safe, no one from the participants in 2020, because we held one in 2020 for 200 participants, no one came down with COVID, or at least that reported back to me. So, we consider that as success with all the steps we put in for that, which included start at your leisure, segment timing instead of mass start, and start finish timing, spreading out the aid station, things like that. And people had a really great time. So, we kept a lot of that stuff last year for the full 1,000 person field. And we said, “All right, you can still-

Joan Hanscom:

I loved it.

Dave Pryor:

… start … Right? Are you a morning person or are you a start a little later when it’s warmer in the day? Right?

Joan Hanscom:

I loved it. Plus, it took away the … I mean, you still got to be social and ride with people. But it took away the stress of being …. Well, and maybe not everybody finds it stressful. I find it stressful to ride with 1,000 people that I don’t know.

Dave Pryor:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

Just in terms of [crosstalk 00:36:30]

Dave Pryor:

Especially on a rail trail for nine miles, or an open road with intersections. You don’t know if someone’s going to blow through the stop sign or not, or you’re 20 back and you can’t see if there was a stop sign or not, so you’re just using [crosstalk 00:36:42]

Joan Hanscom:

Right. Right. So, I thought it was a delightful adaptation. I had a blast last year at UnPAved, and was super fun despite the just absolutely horrific weather.

Dave Pryor:

The weather I did … Could not control. I tried and I could not control the weather. That was our first rain year. But it did prove that it’s still rideable in the rain. I look at other Gravel events and if it rains that much, then it’s 10 miles of walking. So, we don’t have that on our Gravel roads, which is good. So, thanks for proving that, Joan.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it was terrific. I mean, maybe I just proved how good my BMC [inaudible 00:37:14] was that day.

Dave Pryor:

Damn. [crosstalk 00:37:16] Look at that. Easy sponsor drop. Wait, they’re not a sponsor. I can’t say that.

Joan Hanscom:

But I did, I had just an absolutely brilliant time that day. And I’ve decided that, henceforth, every rest stop should always have candy corn. That’s a polarizing topic.

Dave Pryor:

Candy corn, Pirogi’s, yeah. It is. But candy corn is good by me. I’m in.

Joan Hanscom:

I was very pro candy corn. That was my favorite rest stop of very rest stop I’ve ever been in my entire cycling lifetime, because I was like, “Candy corn? Can I have more?” And they’re like, “You’re the only one eating it. So, have all you want.” I was like, “Yes.”

Dave Pryor:

It’s October. There should be Halloween treats there. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, it was so great. Yeah. That ride was a blast.

Dave Pryor:

Great. Thanks.

Joan Hanscom:

So, glad to hear it coming back, and there’s so many good fun things you-

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. October 9th will be that one. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

You’ve got your-

Dave Pryor:

That’s a good.

Joan Hanscom:

… in all sorts of good stuff.

Dave Pryor:

There’s so much good stuff out there. I mean, it’s really-

Joan Hanscom:

To get your paws into?

Dave Pryor:

… I think it’s great. And I’m getting to ride my bike again too, which is nice.

Joan Hanscom:

Also, the upside of a great hashtag day job and hashtag side gig. That’s the [crosstalk 00:38:24]

Dave Pryor:

And that’s getting a start, like hashtag now just my hobby.

Joan Hanscom:

Funny. Anything else you’d like to tell the listeners of our podcast today, Dave?

Dave Pryor:

No. I hope to meet everyone out on a bike ride. Anyone that’s heard this, you see me out on a bike, or a watering hole, stop by. I love to talk about Perimeter Ride more, Monkey Knife Fight’s always a fun thing and hilarious. If anyone wants to come help volunteer, or cheer on people climbing up 30% grades on dirt roads, I know a course. You can come out, have a good time. Registration for UnPAved will open in the end of April. I’ve hired a new race director for it, Simone [Chiccone 00:39:03] who helped put on the first Rift Race in Iceland and such. So, Super Pro is coming out to help run UnPAved now.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s cool.

Dave Pryor:

So, look for more fun with that. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Maybe less stuff in your garage? Who knows?

Dave Pryor:

A lot less stuff in my garage. A lot less stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Dave Pryor:

We also got a storage unit in Mifflinburg, so yeah. It’s all going there now. [crosstalk 00:39:24]

Joan Hanscom:

Yay. And then hopefully we’ll see the folks, like last year I think we had the Rodale Institute was out with their farm stand for the closing night for the track. And so, hopefully we get to see Rodale Institute out at The Velodrome again this year. People enjoyed their night-

Dave Pryor:

Yeah. We’re going to figure out what those things are. I would love to do, because we’re also selling produce on Saturdays at Rodale Institute, find a way to do a farmer’s market to farmer’s market fondo thing. That’s one of my goals-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s cool.

Dave Pryor:

… for the summer is to make that route and say, “Here’s how you ride from The Velodrome one-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I love that idea.

Dave Pryor:

… to … Because yours is …

Joan Hanscom:

Saturday as well, yeah.

Dave Pryor:

What time on Saturdays?

Joan Hanscom:

9:00 to 1:00, I think. 9:00 to 1:00?

Dave Pryor:

9:00 to 1:00? And I think ours is open till 3:00. So, there’s got to be ways-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, there you go.

Dave Pryor:

… so people can shop at both and …

Joan Hanscom:

Get delicious pastries-

Dave Pryor:

Have a full day.

Joan Hanscom:

… at The Velodrome, and then ride to the Rodale Institute and get more deliciousness, and then-

Dave Pryor:

Fill a pack with frozen pork products, and maybe not ride back with eggs, but maybe. If you’re good, you can ride back with a dozen delicious eggs-

Joan Hanscom:

If you’re very talented, you can-

Dave Pryor:

There you go.

Joan Hanscom:

… do that. Or-

Dave Pryor:

All right. We’ll send Celine-

Joan Hanscom:

… pack carefully-

Dave Pryor:

… [inaudible 00:40:31] out on that. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. Right? Get him to design an egg carrier. Well Dave, it’s been delightful to catch up. I hope our listeners have enjoyed catching up with you, and hearing what’s happened since the last time you were on the pod. We will make sure that the show notes reflect links to Rodale, to Perimeter Ride, to Monkey Knife Fight. We’ll put the links all in the show notes for anybody-

Dave Pryor:

Drop a bunch of links. It’s going to be like NASCAR with a bunch of things on it.

Joan Hanscom:

I know it is. But we talked about a lot of really good and interesting things. So, hopefully people are curious and want to go check out things. I think particularly the Rodale Institute, just because I think it’s important, and we like the roads we ride on in the Lehigh Valley. So, save the roads-

Dave Pryor:

And if you’re still listening-

Joan Hanscom:

… save the farms.

Dave Pryor:

… save the farms, and share this with all your friends. I want to beat Jeff Tkach’s total.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, all right.

Dave Pryor:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

The gauntlet is thrown.

Dave Pryor:

I think we need to do some advertising boosting on this and stuff, so we can-

Joan Hanscom:

All right.

Dave Pryor:

Hashtag beat Tkach.

Joan Hanscom:

Hashtag really good numbers.

Dave Pryor:

I know. That’s good.

Joan Hanscom:

He had real good numbers, Dave. Not going to lie.

Dave Pryor:

I don’t know. I know. Pull some strings.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. We’ll see. Cool.

Dave Pryor:

Well, thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s been delightful. Thanks for joining us-

Dave Pryor:

You too.

Joan Hanscom:

… this has once again been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest Dave Pryor. Thanks for listening. And if you enjoyed what you heard, please give us a like, share, hearts, stars, thumbs up, all the good things to make sure that people can find the pod and we can continue to grow. 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.

Posted on

Trevor Raab: It Just Clicked

Trevor Raab - Photographer

Episode 53

“At the end of the day, we just want more people to ride bikes and be happy riding bikes”

Chances are you’ve seen this week’s guest snapping some photos around the track– join us this week as Joan talks with Trevor Raab, staff photographer for Bicycling Magazine and Runner’s World. Trevor and Joan talk how he got into cycling, finding photography and his experience shooting at the track, and his idea for a photography internship. Check out the show notes to get in contact with Trevor about getting his internship program off the ground!

Trevor Raab - Photographer
Trevor Raab – Photographer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/trevorraab/
Website: https://trevorraab.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trevor.raab
Email: raabtrevor@gmail.com


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. We are joined this week by someone who regular T-Town growers may have seen around the track, not racing, but actually taking some of the great images we are used to seeing that come out of our track and that you see on our social media feeds. Our guest today is Trevor Raab, and Trevor, welcome to the show.

Trevor Raab:

Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Joan Hanscom:

So before we really jump into things, you’re on the East coast, I’m on the West coast. It’s been cold and snowy. Have you been able to get out and ride?

Trevor Raab:

Not really too much. Every time it’s warm enough, I’ve been sneaking out on a mountain bike. Most of the other time is just being silly, doing too series of Zwift racing, but that’s been fun.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. Well, I’m glad you’re able to get out and enjoy when it is possible to get out and enjoy. I don’t miss that weather at all, although I should probably do some Zwift racing. I should probably do it, but I’m not. So Trevor, we wanted to have you on the podcast to A, let people get to know you and know what to do a little bit and also to talk about some very cool things that you’re cooking up for the upcoming season. So before we do that, a little bit of background on you. You started photography really when you were a college student, if I understand this correctly, tell us a little bit about your genesis as a photographer.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. It started out towards the middle of my high school time. When I was skateboarding a lot, I just started out trying to film skateboarding. And I think I had little patience for that. So I liked the results of photography better, and was always drawn to that, and then took some photo classes towards the end of high school. And I was like “Oh.” I was one of those people who had no clue what they were going to do out of high school. And then it clicked. So then I ended up going to school for photo in Rochester, New York at RIT. And that’s where everything started to feel right, and just went through that whole program and learned a lot about the technical side and the art side of photo. And that’s how I got to start. And then through that process, I always had an interest in bikes. So eventually it was able to form into a nice thing that works together.

Joan Hanscom:

[inaudible 00:03:00] That turned into a job.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So you grew up outside of Philly, is that correct, in the Philly area?

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. I grew up in the Lehigh Valley.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, okay.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. I grew up in Nazareth, which is not super far from the track. Although when I was a kid, I knew the track was there, but didn’t ever really go to the track. Should have gone to the track, but never did. So I grew up in the Lehigh Valley, just was always active and my dad was a mountain biker. So it was bikes were always around. It was something that just felt normal, but it wasn’t something that I dove head first into immediately. But eventually, I got there.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. And so now, if we had to say, “Pick your weapon of choice.” Which bike would you pick?

Trevor Raab:

It’s the hardest question.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Trevor Raab:

I think, pure fun, it’s the big travel Enduro bike. Just when you go riding you’re not thinking about anything but just going fast and seeing how much faster you can go without having to worry about fitness. But then there’s still something I like about warm summer days, and hopping on my road bike, and just going for, I don’t know, 7,800 miles and just suffering. There’s two sides to me there. I like both.

Joan Hanscom:

For sure. That’s funny. I was just having a conversation with somebody else about that. I’m the opposite, though. I don’t like going downhill fast. I don’t like when gravity makes me fast, but I really like when my legs make me go fast, I enjoy the discomfort of smashing it on the road bike, because I really, for some reason, enjoy that. And so it’s a weird way to enjoy speed, I guess, is like, “I don’t like it when I just- “

Trevor Raab:

I get that.

Joan Hanscom:

” … doing it.”

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. I like the self inflicted pain, going up a climb, and when you get in that rhythm and you really know that you’re pushing a good pace and you know it should be hurting really bad, but you’re just enjoying it so much. So it’s somehow working. Yeah. I like that part of the road bike, or any bike, really.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That’s funny, because that’s exactly how I came to that realization. It was just this past weekend as I was riding here, and it’s about an hour and a half climb. And I was just like, “Oh, this hurts, but it’s really good.” And then after the hour and a half climb, there’s a 40 minute descent. And I was like, “Oh, I don’t really enjoy this as much as the hour and a half climb.” So it’s funny how that all works in your head.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

But so you transition from skateboarding to bikes because bikes were always around. And I know, because I’ve been in races with you. You’re pretty handy as a bike racer. Tell us a little bit about bike racing and what you’re up to for the ’22 season, if anything.

Trevor Raab:

Well, ’22, I’m hoping is more of a real season for me because the last couple seasons didn’t work out so well. So my bike racing is dabbling in road racing, getting bummed that I can’t sprint, and looking for road races that there’s climbs, and then doing those. And that still doesn’t work so well, but mainly racing cyclocross, occasionally jumping in an endurance cross country race, sometimes actually racing Enduro mountain bikes. But this year I’d like to do a few road races, build some fitness, and go into cyclocross season, which is probably the season that I race the most and care about the most. So I’m hoping to go pretty good into cyclocross season, because last season I missed a lot of, because I broke my wrist racing a crit, which, classic. And then-

Joan Hanscom:

What-

Trevor Raab:

… that was-

Joan Hanscom:

Were you a victim of the Easton crit, too?

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. Me and Elliston broke our wrist together, the same crash.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh sweet.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go though.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah, there’s-

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a-

Trevor Raab:

There’s a video somewhere. My head’s almost on the ground and my feet are in the air. And my feet are hitting Elliston. And then he is falling next to me. So-

Joan Hanscom:

Sweet. That sounds-

Trevor Raab:

That’s how that happened, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. There you-

Trevor Raab:

He got up.

Joan Hanscom:

… go. Was it-

Trevor Raab:

He got up and finished the race and I was like, “No, I’m done.”

Joan Hanscom:

Whose intelligence does that speak to?

Trevor Raab:

I don’t know. We’ll-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, no. After it’s=

Trevor Raab:

… go with mine for this one.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I’m voting with you. After that race I was talking to him, I was like, “Hey, how’d it go? You looked like you ride pretty well.” And he was like, “Yeah, I rode pretty well except for the broken wrist.” And I was like, “Oh, damn. Yeah.” Getting back in, finishing on a broken bone seemed not well, but then I got super jealous of him because his doctors told him he had good bone density, and that he was healing well. And I’m well like, “Well, son of a bitch, how do you have good bone density after years doing nothing but bike racing?” Dude does not lift weight or do any other cross training and he has good bone density? That seems very unfair to me.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

“I think you suck.”

Trevor Raab:

He told me that, too. And he was like, “Oh yeah.” The timeline his doctor gave him was so much shorter than mine. And I was like, “Oh, come on. I want mine to be in … ” And I still had my cast on when I ran into him and he’s out of the cast, and he is like, “Oh yeah, it hurts a little bit, but I’m out riding.” And I was just starting to ride with the cast outside. And I was like, “Oh, okay.” I’m still here, but it’s off now and everything’s back to normal-ish.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. Let’s talk a little bit about your day job, what we’ll call your grown up job. You work from Bicycling magazine. What’s your actual title at bicycling? Is it just photographer, staff photographer, photo editor? What’s what’s your real title there?

Trevor Raab:

I think it’s just technically photographer. It might be written as staff photographer sometimes, but photographer or staff photographer. Yeah. And it’s working for bicycling, but we’re also part of a group. So do work for Runner’s World, Popular Mechanics, as well as a website called Best Products. But that’s not as much as the other ones. That’s why I think-

Joan Hanscom:

I think it’s been interesting, Bicycling has had a bit of a renaissance, I think. For a while they were the biggest bicycling magazine ever. And then they went through a period, I think, where they struggled a bit or not struggled. They certainly never lost their big circulation. And that’s unique to bicycling. this just incredibly powerful circulation that you have, and now your digital piece, but bicycling definitely had a period of time where I think it was not the cool kids’ publication.

Trevor Raab:

Oh yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And I don’t-

Trevor Raab:

We’re not.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think it feels like, anyway, that there’s been a strong pivot on content at Bicycling and just a different type of relevance. And I wonder what thinking is on that. And I also, my observation and you can tell me your opinion, that the pivot in the positioning of Bicycling or the pivot in Bicycling’s relevance is really [inaudible 00:10:31] up incredibly well with how people consume [inaudible 00:10:36] now or how people play bikes now. I think, broadly speaking, back in the day, people were either a rodeo or a mountain biker and you were racing 28 weekends, a row of crits, or you were a mountain biker and never the two should meet.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And I feel now like people are less about identifying as one or the other, and more identifying as cyclists, and they want to do all the things. And I think in that space is where Bicycling really shines. That’s at least my observation, but then you’re pulling in a whole lot of social content as well, that I think is different for Bicycling. And it’s been really interesting to see. So I’m curious to hear, how much you have your hand on that and much you see that alignment happening, and directionally, what you feel like is going on in your professional life.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. Definitely, it’s an ongoing … The whole like content, how to navigate this new digital age of cycling media has been really a challenge for everyone. Not necessarily a bad challenge, but it’s something that the team works on all the time and I’ll inject my opinions every now and then on what I think is happening because I always say, “We’re all working for this brand because we love the thing that we’re covering, whether it’s Runner’s World or Bicycling, we’re all the people who would be looking at these sites if we weren’t working there.”

Trevor Raab:

So when I feel like I see something that if I was the consumer seeing it, I would change it or want it different. So I’ll say stuff about that and the photo side, we’re just trying to like make the best visuals possible to help tell a story. Or we have more in depth photo essays where we hire other photographers that are out wherever in Colorado, shooting stories. But at the end of the day, our is to produce images that are either going to do a service or just add to the stories.

Trevor Raab:

And back to what you were saying about the content shifting, and I do agree, it’s less about your a racer or you’re a mountain biker, you’re a bike packer. It seems like now as a whole, people are dabbling in everything, like you said. So we definitely see that. And I think the test team and most of the people who ride are all okay with stepping into different aspects of cycling that may not be their number one source of cycling, that elitist, like, “I’m a crit racer, I’m a roadie, and that’s all I’m going to do. And what you’re doing is wrong.” Kind of attitude that a lot of cycling media may have had in the past has fizzled out at Bicycling, which I think is good.

Trevor Raab:

And we’re trying to find ways. At the end of the day, we just want more people to ride bikes and be happy riding bikes. And that goes for this, that idea of riding all the bikes and also just showing anyone who may pick up a magazine that they’re welcome in the cycling community. And I think that’s a big push for us, is we want it to feel like a space that like any person or anyone that sees a bike and thinks it might be for them, we want them to be like, “Yeah, it is. It’s something that you can do, and you can love, too, like everyone else who’s reading this magazine.” I guess, is where I’m getting at that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think that’s an interesting segue to one of the things that I really wanted to talk to you about today, is that you have a very cool idea, a concept that you’re currently fleshing out a little bit for an internship this summer. And really, I wanted to have you on the podcast to talk about it. A, because I think it’s very cool, but B, maybe somebody listening to this podcast is going to be able to step in, and help you out, and help you achieve this thing. So teasing it up like that, tell our listeners a little bit about what you’ve conceived of for an internship this summer.

Trevor Raab:

All right. Yeah. The whole idea I had, I was talking to a photographer that I know. He’s out in California, Michael Cedeno. And I believe I said his last name right. But we were talking just about the photo industry and the state of things. And I think I’ll do a little preface first. The idea would be to be able to get together some kind of kit. And I know one of the biggest struggles for a starting photographer is having the proper gear to do the job. It’s similar to the world of bikes. There is a bar for entry and it’s not always an easy hurdle. So the idea would be, be able to put together a little kit, it’s a bag and camera lens or two, whatever, something that could be used by an intern.

Trevor Raab:

And the idea would be to give it to an intern from an underserved community, because I guess the idea came about thinking about the bike world, the bike world’s bar for entry, and then thinking about through working in photography in the bike world. And when I look at who’s shooting photography in the bike world, it’s a lot of people like me, White dudes from wherever. And I know there’s talent out there, and you see it. And there’s a lot of people who, it’s just I know there’s a lot of people working through Community Bikes, seeing Community Bikes around Allentown.

Trevor Raab:

And there’s a bunch of kids with passion for bikes, but then you don’t want something like money and not being able to afford a bike or not being able to afford a camera to be the reason that they never follow that path. So the idea would be to have this kit set up to be used by someone from an underserved community, to be able to do the internship. And it wouldn’t be just like, “Here’s gear good luck.” I’d want to help mentor them, and work with them, and help them grow into the world of cycling photography. I think it could be a really fun little journey and just get some new-

Joan Hanscom:

Well-

Trevor Raab:

… people in.

Joan Hanscom:

I think it’s interesting because it solves not just one but two issues. So if we’re trying to make cycling more inclusive, I think people need to see themselves in the sport. And if the only images they see are images taken by, no offense, White guys. What do White guys tend to shoot? White guys tend to shoot other White guys.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And so if you bring a different perspective, everybody tends to shoot where they are, right? Whether that’s-

Trevor Raab:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joan Hanscom:

… mentally, emotionally, or actually physically, I think you just bring a new set of eyes onto the sport and a new perspective onto the sport. So not only are you helping somebody develop skills, who may have a barrier to entry on the equipment costs, but you’re also essentially, then, by the content they produce helping reduce barriers to entry for people who see the images, with the assumption that people are shooting where they are. So if you’re not a wealthy, White dude shooting and you’re shooting in your own community, you may be opening the opportunity for people to see themselves in the sport, too, which is super cool.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. And I think when Bicycling was trying to hatch plans and focus on making sure that we do make the world of bicycling a more inclusive place, thinking about all that, I don’t know if it sounds good or bad to say this, but I felt lucky, having the velodrome, especially those summers that we have people from around the world coming in. You go into the infield at the velodrome, and it’s just like you have people from every corner of the world, all the way on the other side in Australia, and you have the Trinidad and Tobago crew, and everyone’s there. And it’s not like you’re hearing different languages throughout the infield. And it’s not just the same bike racer copied and past a bunch of times in the infield. It’s people that look every way. You have like the tall, skinny guy, and short, stocky guy.

Trevor Raab:

I think, in bike racing, the velodrome shows that anybody, any body, could be on a bike and racing, because especially track racing, there’s an event for you. No matter what you are, physiology, anything, you can find an event that you can thrive in at the track. And I think that’s one of the cool things at track racing is you can sit there and watch a 90 lap endurance race with a bunch of guys that can do six watts a kilo off a climb. And then you can watch a sprint that lasts 15 seconds and you’re equally interested in these two events. And they’re so, so different. And then the people who are involved in the events are also all over the map.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Trevor Raab:

And it’s just, I don’t know. I felt lucky that I had a place to watch and be part of bike racing that was much more diverse than a lot of other. You show up to a road race in the middle of where, and it’s just like the same guy copied, the same women copied and pasted. And I mean it doesn’t feel bad to be there, but you’re like, “It’d be nice to have a variety of people showing up to all of these events.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that you’re right. And I think it was my first season at the track, I remember, and this is funny and this is no slight to Eddie, but I remember looking at Eddie Dawkins and thinking, “I didn’t know bike racers could look like that. Because he is a mountain of a human being.” Right?

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

He is gigantic. And I’m coming from a road background, used to some very wispy fellas. And then there was Eddie Dawkins, and I was just like, “Wow, I didn’t know bike racer could look like that. He is mountain of a human.” That’s just one example, but you’re right. Just the incredible diversity of nations that comes and races is really impressive. And I think we’ll see a bunch of that coming back this summer, which is super cool. But then I think the other really nice thing about track racing and I’ve said it a billion times on the pod is that for kids who want to do it, the bar of entry of access to a bicycle is actually not there either. Right?

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s one of those things where we have the bike, so you don’t have to buy a bike to see if you like it. And so I think that lowers a bar to entry as well. And certainly we’ve seen that in our community programs, not just for the kids’ programming, but for the adult programming, too, certainly with all the women’s stuff, as we’ve tried to bring women into the sport, well, you don’t want to go out and buy a multi thousand dollar a bike unless you know you’re actually going to like it and have fun.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And so the track is unique in that way, too. You can’t rock up to a crit and just grab a bike from a bike barn. You know?

Trevor Raab:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

So I think track has so much potential in that regard, and certainly everything that Star Track does would be a testament to that as well, that, by having access to these bikes, you really do open up the potential for participation for a lot more people across the spectrum. So I agree with you, it’s super cool to track. And certainly your photography at the track has been really terrific and you’ve-

Trevor Raab:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

… captured a lot of that. So I know you’ve had a really, I don’t know, a good eye for capturing that flavor at the track, which I’ve appreciated.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. Thank you. I think the track is one of those places. The track is a really, really amazing place to photograph, but it’s also an extremely challenging place, because at the end of the day, the thing that gets me excited about shooting at the track, the racing’s exciting, but it’s figuring out ways to show that and show what’s happening without it being the same thing over and over again, because it’s, obviously, going to take those pictures of whoever’s winning the race, coming around, turn two. But you can get stuck in that rut pretty easy of just like, “There’s the bike race, there’s the bike race, there’s the bike race. And then it’s over.”

Trevor Raab:

But finding the little things that are happening around the track, especially when you have a good crowd come out and you have a good showing in the infield, and you have people warming up listening to different music. You have friends who’ve been there all day in the hot sun, just going delirious in the infield. You have all of that. And then you have the people coming. And you can see there’s kids that have never seen a bike go so fast. And they’re just mesmerized by it, watching over the boards. And then there’s the regulars that are always there. And it’s just there’s a lot happening in a small space. And I’ve always found that’s a really good challenge photographically.

Trevor Raab:

When I was in college and I did a silly little project where I was feeling like I was uninspired of anything. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, photo project-wise. So I had this favorite Chinese restaurant called Ming’s Noodle. I hope they’re still in business. But they had really, really good food. But it was a little hole in the wall, in the sense that it was a tiny, tiny little takeout place with three tables. And I was like, “Okay, I’m going to take a little camera.” I talked to them first and was like, “This is what I want to do.” And I wanted to sit just in there. I would buy lunch or dinner, whatever I was doing. And I would just sit in that restaurant and photograph this tiny, tiny little space. And the idea that, because I was there so much and saw everything, it would force me to see it in a new way.

Trevor Raab:

So then, the track is a similar sense. The first day at the track, you’re just overwhelmed with things. There’s things flying around, there’s people everywhere. And then you finish that part of it. And then it becomes this fun challenge of, “How can I keep showing this place in a unique way?” And you do figure out where the good light is at what time, and what spots work for portraits, what spots are really good. But then like you find another spot that you haven’t shot in, in weeks. You’re like, “Oh, I haven’t been up to the top shooting back down into the track in a while.” And it’s a fun challenge just to figure out what you can do next.

Trevor Raab:

And I think when we had Matt Jones there, too. Matt hustled so much and it was just fun. Because then with him being the intern, it was me and Dan photographing with Matt. And you all can feed off of each other, and you get to the end of the day, and you see what everyone else photographed. And I like that part, too, the sharing. Like, “Oh, this is what I’m excited about.” And then what Matt was excited about or Dan was excited about is like, “This is what I got.” And it’s all so drastically different. And you’re like, “We’re at this little oval in the middle of Pennsylvania, and we all end up getting these like really cool, different shots.” And I think just ends up being a pretty rewarding experience photographing there. And you get to meet a lot of cool people. There’s always characters. So it’s highly enjoyable.

Joan Hanscom:

So if you’re successful in getting this internship program off the ground, are you going to take them out to the track to shoot?

Trevor Raab:

Am I going to take them there?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah. The plan would be, I don’t know how often it would be, if I’d be there all the time, but I would definitely want to be there at least sometimes to work with them, but then also let them do their own thing, and check in, and see, just be there to answer questions, whether it’s technical or anything else. I don’t know. I think that would be ideal, but I wouldn’t want to just let them off on their own and without me.

Joan Hanscom:

So to get into the nuts and bolts of this a little bit. So you said you’re looking to essentially put together a basic photography kit for this intern. If people want to support you in that, how can they reach you, Trevor? How can they reach out to you? So if you own a camera store, and you like what Dan is saying, and you’re listening to us, how do you reach out to Trevor and help support this endeavor? Or if you have old camera equipment lying around your house and you don’t use it, because you thought you were going to become a photographer in COVID and it didn’t work out, how do we help Trevor get his kit together?

Trevor Raab:

Oh yeah. I’d say you could either, if you are on Instagram, you could just message me on there. Just TrevorRaab, one word, or you can email me. It’s RaabTrevor@gmail.com. Those are probably the best two ways to get ahold of me. Instagram would probably be the most direct line of communication, but email’s a little bit more formal and I can have a better record of it, then. I don’t know. But whatever works. If you see me walking down the street, you can stop me.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool.

Trevor Raab:

You don’t know what I look like.

Joan Hanscom:

Maura will include that in the show notes so that if people miss that, or if you’re driving and listening to the pod, feel free. You’ll be able to find those things in the show notes if you could not remember, so you can help out Trevor. And Trevor, anything else you want our listeners to know this year or that you’re looking forward to, that you think that you think we need to know? Or are we have we reached the end-

Trevor Raab:

Let me think.

Joan Hanscom:

… of our discussion?

Trevor Raab:

I don’t know. I think just mainly just come back, come out to the track, and see what we do. And if like you’re someone who’s just interested in photography, and you’re at the track, and you see one of us walking around with cameras, if you want to say hi and talk to us, we’re always … I’ve gotten stuck in a few different, good conversations throughout the years there, and don’t be afraid to talk to us. And if anyone’s listening to this who’s been thinking about coming to track, I definitely say you should. And if you do, then we’ll take nice pictures of you, if you want to race there. Or if your family’s in the stands, eating fries or whatever. We’ll take pictures of that, too.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. Well, Trevor, thanks for joining us today. I hope it helps. I hope we helped spread the word about your cool project.

Trevor Raab:

Yeah, thanks for-

Joan Hanscom:

And if you’re listening to this check out Trevor’s work on both his Instagram feed and of course for Bicycling magazine, because he takes the nice snaps. And you can occasionally see his work on our Valley Preferred Cycling Center feeds as well. So check out Trevor’s work. It’s worth the time. And again, thanks for joining us. And I hope you get to do all the bike racing, and no broken bones, and have a good 2022 season. And if you ever need a warm place to come ride, you’re welcome to come out to California. We’ve got lots of those hills here to suffer up. So consider yourself invited out to do some California riding if you need a break.

Trevor Raab:

Thanks. Thank you so much. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool.

Trevor Raab:

And good luck on your 2022.

Joan Hanscom:

Thanks. This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast with our guest, Trevor Raab. Check out his cool stuff. And if you like the pod, and you like what you hear, give us a like, or a thumbs up, or a heart, or a star on wherever you choose to consume your podcasts. Thanks again 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. (silence).

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Catching Up with Dale Hughes

Episode 52

“I’m the only person in the whole world that’s ever had a velodrome stolen”

Have you ever heard of a velodrome being stolen? Well, it happened to this week’s guest! Joan is joined by track designer Dale Hughes this week. Joan and Dale talk how he got into track design, the status of the Lexus Velodrome in Detroit, returning to racing, Madisons, and much more! If you’d like to donate, head on over to the links in our show notes!

Dales Hughes – Lexus Velodrome Detroit


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 delighted to have with me this week on the pod legendary track designer, Dale Hughes, Detroit native Dale Hughes, and just general hero of the sport of track cycling. Dale, welcome to the podcast.

Dale Hughes:

Thank you very much. Very generous introduction there.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, we are thrilled to have you. And I’m going to jump right in with asking you to tell our listeners a little bit about your history designing tracks, because there aren’t very many people who can say they are track designers. So, jump in there.

Dale Hughes:

Well, how did I get started? I sort got to go back to where and how I got started in the sport of cycling. I got a college degree from a local university here, Oakland University, had a degree in business administration. After college, wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I wasn’t really a cyclist. I rode my bike a bit when I was a young teenager. But I think I was like most people when they got 16, they got the keys to their car. And that was the last I got on a bike.

Dale Hughes:

My sister was going after school. My sister was going to school in Germany to learn the German language. And that’s where I saw my first real bike race. It was Paris–Nice. And I was just blown away by it. So I came home and asked my dad that I knew he had about $9,000 saved. And I said, I got the neighbor kid next to me who didn’t go to college and wasn’t sure what he was going to do. I say “Get your dad to give you $9,000 and we’ll open up a bike shop.”

Dale Hughes:

So we opened up a bike shop and we had it for not quite two years. And in that time, I met a gentleman named Mike Walden. And Mike Walden was coaching three world champions at a time and had a host of other Olympians that were under his tutelage. We held, I think, in 19… Forgot when it was. Well, anyways, we held the national championships, road championships in Detroit. And he asked me if I had a van that I could sag wagon.

Dale Hughes:

So I did. And that’s where I got to know him. After about two years of the bike shop business, I stopped by him and said, “Hey, I’m not sure I want to stay in retail. What can I do?” He said, “Well, I’ll make you a bike rider.” And I said, “Well, I got little ticker issues. So tell me something else.” And he says, “Well, build a velodrome.” So we closed down our shop, sold our inventory and myself and two other young guys that I knew.

Dale Hughes:

One of them had a bike shop. And we started just building a bike track. We really didn’t know too much about it. But we figured we’d build a portable velodrome that could really be truly portable and would fit inside a hockey arena because we figured those were the sizes that we could fit. So we built a portable 125 meter, 20 degrees in the straightaways, 50 degrees in the turns.

Dale Hughes:

And we traveled around the country in it. It was portable. We could put it up in 24 hours. We could take it down in nine and a half hours. We had three trailers that we had our own tractor, and we drove around and put on races on it. We had quite a few races. We held the first US Madison National Championships in 1976, 1977, and 1978. Then, we got a call from Universal Studios that they were doing a remake of a Shirley Temple movie called Little Miss Marker. And it had a great cast, Matt, Bob Newhart, Julie Andrews, Tony Curtis. Young people wouldn’t know those people. But, my age, I’m not sure yours those were all famous stars.

Dale Hughes:

So we took the track out to California. Santa Rosa was the shooting site of the movie. And we shot a movie out there. We were about maybe a one-minute scene for all that work. But it was a fun thing. Then, on the way back, we held a race at the Denver Coliseum with Mike Aisner who had put on the Coors Classic for quite a few years. He had a big race there.

Dale Hughes:

Then, we brought it back to Detroit and had a race in the Cleveland Arena. And then, we put it away for storage and trucked fees broke into the trailer and tractor, hot wired the tractor and drove off with our three trailers. And I’m the only person in the whole world that’s ever had a velodrome stolen.

Dale Hughes:

We had no insurance. So, we lost everything. So the four partners, myself and three other guys, that pretty much ended our partnership. It’s easy to end a partnership when you have no assets. So then, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. And I worked with Mike Walden and we put on the Walden School of Cycling for about 22 years down in Florida during February and March. I put on a race series called the Tour Michigan for 11 years. And then, in 1995, I got a call from the Olympic committee and said, “We’d like to have a US builder. Are you interested?”

Dale Hughes:

And so, I designed and built the velodrome for the ’96 Olympic Games. It set all new Olympic records and broke a world run record, which was unusual because that was at sea level. So that sort of gave me my international credentials. And from there, I’ve built or designed probably 20 to 25 velodromes around the world.

Dale Hughes:

I partnered with a German company, gentleman named Walter von Luetcken who’s a tremendous carpenter. And together, we built tracks around the world. But I built them for the Asian games in Korea, Asian games in Qatar, Commonwealth games in India, PanAm games in Toronto, PanAm games in Peru. Right now, finishing up on in Edmonton, Canada.

Dale Hughes:

So then, in 19… What was it, 2017, I got a call from a gentleman who said, “I want to do something for the kids in Detroit. I’d like to build a velodrome.” And he said, “I maybe build an Olympic style one.” And I say, “Well, that’s going to cost you about 30 to $40 million to build an indoor velodrome like that.” And he says, “Well, I can’t really handle that.” And I say, “Well, to tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s too many places in United States that can really a 250 indoor velodrome financially feasible. Not only just from the building of it, but actually even from the operating of it.”

Dale Hughes:

So, my love has always been the Madison. I truly think the Madison is the pinnacle of the kind of track racing that could become a real pro-lead kind of a thing. So the Madison tracks are generally speaking 166s or 200s generally speaking. In the old days, they were a 10th of a mile, which is about a 166.

Dale Hughes:

So I designed a building. I told them what my budget was going to be. At the time, I told them, “I thought I could everything together for about $3 million.” It turned out to be closer to five million. But that’s why we have an air structure and not a steel frame building or a brick building because the cost then would be more than double that.

Dale Hughes:

So we built a 166 with a running track that’s surrounding the velodrome that we use for running, for skating, for fitness classes. Well, actually, we’ve got a little area for fitness classes called Detroit Fit. I’m sort of running on fumes here. But-

Joan Hanscom:

Well, you’ve had a lot going on.

Dale Hughes:

[crosstalk 00:08:15] Our goal is really-

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going to jump in right there though and say, “Dale, you’ve already made this probably the most interesting podcast we’ve had to date just in virtue of the history of what you’ve done up till now.” So we’re going to give you credit for the most interesting first five minutes of the podcast out of the box.

Dale Hughes:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, you win on the only person to have a velodrome stolen from that. That sealed it. You were the winner for the most interesting podcast alive on that [crosstalk 00:08:44].

Dale Hughes:

Now, I’m the only person that’s ever had a velodrome collapsed [inaudible 00:08:48]. I think Burnaby said Burnaby has had theirs collapse on them a couple times, they said.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I know Colorado Springs didn’t have it collapsed. But they came real close.

Dale Hughes:

It come close.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So hopefully, that’s not a repeat for you. I think your project there is tremendous. And I just want to acknowledge right now, thanks to your donor, who was visionary enough to want to do that. I have long held that track cycling has the potential to be the most accessible form of cycling that we can do largely because you can get started with bikes that are not ridiculous. Certainly, you can reach ridiculous heights if you pursue the sport to its fullest broadest extent.

Joan Hanscom:

But it is a sport that can welcome just about anybody in, in a very accessible way. And I think that that’s amazing. And certainly, what you’ve done in Detroit is testament to that. You’ve brought bike racing into the people, and that’s amazing. And I think you deserve a whole load of credit for that and certainly the person whose idea was who conceived of building a velodrome in Detroit should also receive many kudos for that.

Joan Hanscom:

I think our sports struggles with how to bring people in and by bringing it to them, I think when you bring the sports to the people, it’s a lot easier than try to bring the people to the sport, I think. So I think it’s amazing.

Dale Hughes:

But we need more velodromes. That’s for sure. We need more velodromes. Here’s something that I think that is a misconception by most people. Most people think that a 250 track that’s banked… Most 250s are banked between 40 and 42 degrees. And most 166s are 50 degrees or so. And most people think that it’s harder for that young eight-year old or 10-year old to write a 166 that’s 50 degrees that a 250 that’s 40, 42 degrees.

Dale Hughes:

And I’m here to say that that’s really not a true statement. It’s actually easier for an eight or 10-year-old to write a 50-degree 166, that it is a 42-degree 250. And the reason is it’s not that you’re trying to get that kid to write a whole lap. Your first concern is, can you get that kid through that very first turn, turn ones and two? And the length of time that the kid has to put his full power into the pedals is much shorter on a 166 than a 250, how the length of that whole turn is.

Dale Hughes:

So it’s actually easier for a kid to ride a 50-degree 166 track than it is a 42-degree 250, because the max power time that they have to put out for the 166 is half the time that they have to do, because the turn is roughly about half the distance. So I’d like to get the word out to everybody who thinks, “Oh, the 166 is not good for teaching eight year olds, 10 year olds how to ride a track. It can be done.

Dale Hughes:

Now, I agree on what a 333 or even bigger track, well, then, you don’t really have to worry about slipping in the turns very hardly at all. So you could almost come to a full stop in the turns. So I agree a 333 is easier for a young kid to learn on except it’s boring because it takes so long for that kid to get all the way around whereas the 166, they’re around pretty quickly. So their achievement level is much higher. So that’s my statement about people who think that a speed track is not a good track.

Joan Hanscom:

As a grownup, because I lived in Chicago when the South Chicago Track was up. As a grownup, it looks real scary though. I will say the banking is the [crosstalk 00:12:46].

Dale Hughes:

It looks real scary for a little eight year old too. It looks scary for everybody who walks into our building.

Joan Hanscom:

It is definitely an intense-looking degree of steepness, we’ll say. But thank you for sharing that, because I think the point really is true that we need to get kids on bikes. And we need to get kids on bikes on tracks. It’s safe. It teaches great skills. It teaches really great bike handling. And at T-Town with our programming for the kids we really hope to engender just a lifelong love of cycling, whether it be track cycling, cycle cross, mountain biking. I mean, ideally, it’s track cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

But we really want to make lifelong cyclists out of the kids that come through our programs, be it the Squirts or the Pee Wees or the BRL kids. And I think that the track is such a great way to cultivate the skills and the handling ability and just the suppleness that you need to enjoy bikes for your whole life. And if you can convert them as little kids, it’s great.

Dale Hughes:

Well, your programming at T-Town has been a gold standard for 30 years. There’s no doubt that you’ve done better in producing riders, even recreational riders and obviously elite riders than any other track. So kudos to Rodale from starting it and for all the people that have kept it going for these many, many years.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. Bob Rodale was a visionary, for sure. And we are enormously thankful to the partners we have who have enabled those programs to keep going without the contributions of companies like Air Products. Those youth programs would certainly not be thriving the way they do. And so, we are incredibly fortunate as well [inaudible 00:14:35] to have had the benefit of really great partnership support in the Lehigh Valley.

Joan Hanscom:

Dale, one of the things we wanted to talk to you about thought is [crosstalk 00:14:44] Mother Nature was not kind to you and the Lexus Velodrome this past winter. And I know people are keen to get back to racing in Detroit. And they are keen to get updates on the status. Tell us what happened. We alluded to it earlier in the pod, you had some big wind issues. So tell our listeners what happened with that and where you stand right now.

Dale Hughes:

Well, we had wind issues. But the wind issues really weren’t the situation that directly affected us. What affected us is our utility DTE cutoff power or lost power. We lost power to them. And our backup generator failed. It’s a big monster generator. But it had a little plastic gear, the ignition that, for some reason, failed. And that’s obviously then we didn’t have a backup system to the utility. And that caused the dome to then lose air and slowly collapse onto the track.

Dale Hughes:

Our biggest issue with that is that we had built light poles in the track to show to better illuminate the riders. And those are what punctured the dome itself. So those are what punctured through. And we had the dome manufacturers, Farley, the Farley Group, tremendous organization and great manufacturers of these domes. I think really the Lexus standard of dome is the Farley group.

Dale Hughes:

And they sent their guys out here and patched it up. And obviously, I’m in it right now. So we are all up and running and everything looks pretty good. We’re taking this opportunity to repaint our track because we had a lot of wear on it. And we were losing a little bit of grip in turn two. So we took this time to repaint it, give it some more new grip and make it look sharp again. Really didn’t sustain any damage at all. Couple little scrapes here and there. But really, we’re really fortunate. Most of our stuff inside, it was like having a big canvas over everything. Even though it was deflated, it was protecting us from things.

Dale Hughes:

Our challenge is that we had water and snow and obviously the tracks banged on the side. So the material went over our track and then down into the infield. And so, that collected water. Probably a week and a half, almost two weeks of having four pumps pumping water out, we probably pumped out several hundred thousand gallons of water. But we couldn’t get all the water out. There was always a couple inches left.

Dale Hughes:

And so, when they were ready to re-inflate the dome, we had to get rid of that ice that was still in there. So we literally had to break it up into ice cubes, big ice cubes this big. And I know some people have seen pictures. We’ve actually had to cut the dome because you couldn’t take the ice over the track because it was too far, too high. So we had to cut the dome and bring the ice infield of our track.

Dale Hughes:

And then, we pushed it all down into our stairs, which is the entrance to the track. We have a sump pump there. And then, we had to melt it with torches and did some heavy shoveling to take it all out. But all our ice and everything is gone now.

Dale Hughes:

So now, we’re just in a matter of getting our bathrooms up and running, getting all our offices back up, getting all our furniture. Very little was really damaged as far as on the infield. So we had all our furniture and everything because if people have go to our site lexusvelodrome.com, you can see our infields.

Dale Hughes:

We have these suites, and we have tables of chairs. We have a faux bar on the infield, cult spoke easy lounge. All that was really very minimally damaged. So we’re really lucky. We probably lost some TVs. Every suite had of TV. And we had four big TVs in the center. I think we lost maybe four out of… I think we’ve got about 35 TVs in the infield and around our track. So very little damage.

Dale Hughes:

But the cost probably is in the $20,000 range as far as… But things that we lost inside the dome, we still don’t have a bill for what the dome repair was going to be. But I think our total loss is probably going to be somewhere in the 60 to $80,000 range, which is not-

Joan Hanscom:

Not an insignificant amount of money.

Dale Hughes:

[crosstalk 00:19:39] number. But we put a word out for donors for a thousand dollars. We’ll put your name up on the [inaudible 00:19:47] on the top of the guardrail. And we raised $36,000 right from that from 36 different people. And then, we also had a whole bunch of small donors. I think our total donations that we raised in about 10 days was, I think right now, we’re at $46,505.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. So, our listeners, Dale, who want to contribute, and I’m certain there are people who are listening to the podcast right now who would like to make a donation, we’ll include links in the show notes. So if you’re listening and you miss this, reflect back on the show notes. And we’ll have the information there. But tell people where they can make a donation if they want to give to help support getting the track back up and running.

Dale Hughes:

Well, we have two websites. One is called lexusvelodrome.com. And that’s where you can see all the racing action and what we’re doing in the building. We’re actually a nonprofit. We are the Detroit Fitness Foundation. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. And we own and operate the velodrome, and we operate it as a nonprofit. So there’s no profit-oriented issue any monies that have come in or goes towards operations and in programming For any donations, they just need to go to detroitfitness.org. And there’s a button right there to donate. You can donate $5 to $105,000, if you’d like.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Well, I’m certain, you’ll see some donations pour in from our listeners after they get the chance to listen to this podcast. And I know you’re also posting regular updates on Facebook. So into the USA Track Cycling Facebook group, so people can follow along with updates. And I also know you’ve been doing a bit of message control where you have posted consistently. If you don’t read it here, don’t believe it.

Joan Hanscom:

So we’re glad to go right to the source, to get the proper updates, to know what’s going on. And we at T-Town are undergoing a major resurfacing project ourselves this year. So, we’ve scraped the surface off the track. We’ve repaired some cracks that had developed in turn two. And a lovely whoopty section of turn three are all getting corrected and fixed over the winter.

Joan Hanscom:

And so, when we reopened, we’ll have a new surface on. But I know that repainting lines is no joke. There’s quite a serious process that goes to repainting [crosstalk 00:22:20].

Dale Hughes:

I don’t know if you [crosstalk 00:22:20] back there, I don’t know if they’re painting right now. I think they’re taking a break. No, there’s some painting back there.

Joan Hanscom:

So, for our listeners, we [crosstalk 00:22:29].

Dale Hughes:

[crosstalk 00:22:29] back there, you might be able to see some painters.

Joan Hanscom:

We can see. Yeah. And so for everybody listening to the pod, Dale is in the infield at the velodrome. And it is a hive of activity behind him. And it’s good to see it bustling. So it looks like you’re on track to get reopened, which is terrific. But yeah, we understand that that’s a lot of work. The repainting process is not a joke. And it’s certainly with certifications and all of that, there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not just painting lines.

Joan Hanscom:

So I think that’s part of the education process to folks like, “Hey, look, it sounds easy. We’re just painting lines.” But it’s not the case. There’s a lot in the, more to it. Obviously, track cycling is a very precise discipline. And so, the lines also need to be very precise. So, we are in full sympathy of that effort.

Dale Hughes:

And with your 333 track, you got a long line to go around.

Joan Hanscom:

This is the truth. Yes. Happily, we have the guiding knowledge of Andy Taus who was part of the project. The last time, the resurfacing took place and is, I would say, a professional level archiver of detail about the velodrome. So we are very indebted to Mr. Taus for his assistance on the project, because without Andy’s deep wealth of knowledge, we would probably be struggling a bit. But thanks to Mr. Taus. We are in good hands, I think. But yes, you can’t have the wobbly line, that’s for sure.

Dale Hughes:

Yeah. Well, we’re opening. We expect to have writers on the track next Tuesday, is our first unofficial workout. And we expect to be fully open programming wise by February 1st. In fact, we’re scheduling our first reinflation race for a two-day race, February 18th and 19th. So we’ll go back to-

Joan Hanscom:

It is fantastic.

Dale Hughes:

… doing our big races, try to bring some rider in from out of town and have some good Madison racing.

Joan Hanscom:

That is fantastic to hear. And I haven’t seen, so forgive me if I’ve missed it. Are there going to be Madison Nationals back at your track next year or is it too soon to say?

Dale Hughes:

Oh no, we have masters nationals. It’s November 10th through the 13th.

Joan Hanscom:

Fantastic.

Dale Hughes:

And it’s going to be for juniors. And we’re going to have 13, 14-year old Madison nationals. And we’re going to have 15 through 18 Madison nationals. We’re going to have obviously elite women, elite men. And I understand now we’re also going to have the masters. So if you’re in the Madison racing, get yourself ready at your local track and get some practices in.

Dale Hughes:

I’m actually trying to put together a program where I’d like to see every velodrome. And I know T-Tow does a fair amount of Madison racings. But a lot of other tracks don’t do very much at all in Madison racing. So I’m actually trying to work with our sponsor and develop a plan where we would have a Madison clinic and a Madison race at every track that would be not so much a qualifier to race, but a qualifier to win some money that they had some travel money to come to Detroit in November. We had a fantastic Madison nationals.

Dale Hughes:

We had three days of racing with junior men and women, elite men and women. And then, we did the mixed co-ed Madison. And that was extremely fun. We had elites with juniors. And then, we had men and women partnered together. And actually, I think coed Madison is the most likely track race to be really picked up by major TV because I think the dynamics of mixing men and women in an actual Madison together creates some dynamics that are unlike anywhere and unlike anywhere else in a sport.

Dale Hughes:

So imagine a top male rider getting thrown in for his effort, but he’s at the tail end of his effort. And all of a sudden, elite woman gets thrown in. And she’s at the beginning of her effort and it comes to the sprint, and they got one lap to go. Who’s going to win that race? That elite man that’s been at the end of his run or the elite woman who’s at the beginning of his run? And I think it could be some fantastic finishes.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, yeah, definitely sounds like an exciting format. And it also sounds like an interesting way to just bring more interest to track cycling, in general. I think I personally am a big fan of male and female athletes competing together. We see it in things like gravel racing. Certainly, the men and women, they start together. They race together, the marathons. Yes. They usually break out into groups of gender-based groups. But the running races all start together. And I’m a big fan of creating that type of equity. So yeah, I think that’s an exciting format. And we will tune in.

Dale Hughes:

We have to get more women racing the track.

Joan Hanscom:

10%.

Dale Hughes:

We do not have enough women racing the track. And we’ve got to figure out a way how to incentivize them to want to do it. And I know track racing, especially the steeper tracks, are scary. Like you said, when you first see it, you go, “Oh, my god. Can you really ride that?” That affects both men and women. But somehow, we’ve got to get more women involved in track racing.

Joan Hanscom:

At T-Town, we are 100% committed to that effort. We launched our 50/50 in 50 Initiative where we are really making a strong push to reach 50/50 male, female participation by our 50th anniversary, which is coming up in 2025. And I think we’ve made strong headway towards that goal. But we have a ways to go. But we are blessed with Kim Geist at the helm of that effort for us.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think there’s probably not a better person suited to getting more women racing track than Kim Geist, because she is just a stellar coach. And she’s assembled a stellar crew of other female coaches around her. And I applaud every other track and encourage every other track in the country to also get on board with a 50/50 effort because I think again, going way back to the beginning, I think track cycling has an opportunity to be inclusive in ways that a lot of the other cycling disciplines don’t. And that is inclusive of everything, gender and race and everything.

Joan Hanscom:

I think it can be just a very democratic form of cycling if we do it right and if we welcome everybody in. And I know if we want the discipline to survive, we have to welcome more players to the table. So I’m a big believer in that.

Dale Hughes:

Well, we really had to work hard to find enough women to have even three teams for the elite women’s Madison. So right now, we’re not looking at 50/50. I’m looking at, can I even get 20%?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. The Madison faces some challenges in that women’s at the international level have not really been competing in the Madison for long. I think that’s a trickle down thing. Now that it’s an option for the women in the Olympics, I think you’ll start to see more women participating in the Madison.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think just because it wasn’t a discipline in the past for women to participate in it, it probably inhibited that participation level a bit. But now, there’s a reason to do it. And there’s a reason to learn it. And I know in 2019, when we had a really big block of international racing at T-Town, and we had Madison on the schedule, knowing that Tokyo was around the corner, there was some scary Madison happening.

Joan Hanscom:

There was a lot of scary Madison happening. And it was notably better when we had Madison racing in, what year was it, 2021. I can’t even keep track of time anymore. It’s all become a blur. But the skill level had notably gone up by 2021 from ’19. So I hope we start to see more women participating in the Madison as well.

Dale Hughes:

I think the Madison, I think part of the challenge for us who put on Madison races is that there’s not too many tracks that really run Madison training sessions. And even at nationals, the traditional normal nationals when they have the Madison was always the last event on the schedule. And there might be one or two teams that really were focusing in on it. But the rest of the guys and women would all of a sudden sort of throw themselves, “Okay. Yeah. I’ll do the Madison. No, no. I’m tired. I don’t want to do it.”

Dale Hughes:

I mean, I know three years ago at the elites, there was only five teams in the men’s. And really, there was one really competitive team. And then, there was two others that were sort of competitive. And the other three were not even in the ball game. So I think a lot of people are afraid of the Madison because they get thrown into a Madison without enough practice, or they see a race that the writers don’t have enough training at it, and it’s scary.

Dale Hughes:

Somebody goes under an exchange, and it causes all kinds of grief. We run Madison practices two to three times a week. Madison’s practices are part of it because I feel like if you learn how to ride a Madison really effectively and efficiently, then, you can ride any kind of event that you want because you’re not stuck on a pursuit position. A lot of pursuiters are tremendous athletes and tremendous pursuiters. But they tend to be very fixed on their bike.

Dale Hughes:

And in a Madison, you’ve got to be able to move around. You’ve got to be able to float. You’ve got to be able to go elbow to elbow with somebody. And I think it really truly makes you into a better bike rider. So I really would encourage all tracks to run more Madison practices before they run a Madison.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. And I will say a well-raced Madison is just thrilling to watch. It is must-see TV, right? When it’s really good, it’s really good. And it’s so exciting to watch and you can see the order coming out of the chaos in some ways. It looks on the surface just absolutely chaotic. But then you start to see the rhythm of it. And you start to be able to follow it. It is for the viewer, the watcher of the racing, I think one of the most exciting disciplines on the track to watch, because it is so dynamic and has a little bit of everything in it to your point.

Dale Hughes:

It does. [crosstalk 00:33:56] I actually think the points race is actually a sketchier than a Madison if you have all Madison writers that know how to ride a Madison, because in a points race, people can, all of a sudden, almost stop pedaling because they don’t want to make an effort. And everybody’s all over.

Dale Hughes:

There’s no rhyme or reason for where position is. It’s like you can go anywhere whereas in Madison, there is an order. And you need to know that order. It’s not a points race where you just pull up in lollygag and wait for everybody to go under. You have to pull through. But anyways, I’ll hung up on it. There’s no doubt about it.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, that’s good. There’s no doubt that it’s your passion, Dale, which I personally appreciate. I love talking with people on the pod that love what they do and believe in what they do or are inspired to get done every day. So no. I love it. I think you’ve got a passion for it. You’re true to your passion. And that’s an amazing thing. We need more people like that in this sport.

Dale Hughes:

I’d like to build five more of these around the country. That’s my goal. They don’t need to be 166s. They could be 200s. I think in the East Coast, you could sustain a 250 indoor. But I don’t think there’s too many other places that could sustain a 250 indoor from an operational point of view. The building is just so big.

Joan Hanscom:

If you invest in it.

Dale Hughes:

My utility bill is over $15,000 a month. So if you double the size of the building, you’re going to more than double the size of your cost because the building even has to be higher. So you’re talking about 30 to $40,000 utility bill. That’s a heavy load.

Joan Hanscom:

I used to get calls every week from folks asking me saying, “Hey, I want to build an indoor 250. How do you guys stay in business? How do you guys run your programming?” And I was like, “You better start with a whole boat load of money,” because the cost of running even an outdoor velodrome is pretty astonishing.

Joan Hanscom:

But to do what you said, the power bills, the heating bills, the electricity, all of it. When you have an indoor facility is amplified and magnified. And it is an enormous financial undertaking to run a facility like that. And that’s-

Dale Hughes:

US is at a deficit because our government is not involved in our sport whereas when I build these tracks around the world, almost always, they’re built by either a city or the government itself for it’s either built for some sort of games or it’s built for their Olympic campus. I built one in Tel Aviv. And they have swimming. They have other sports at their campus. And they wanted to have a velodrome. So they built an indoor one, so a 250. It’s covered. It’s got open sides because they don’t need it to be totally indoors.

Dale Hughes:

But my point being that they get funding from the government to operate those velodromes. So it’s not on the private sector to try to make it work because a government can run deficits. The private size can’t run deficits for long before they’re gone bankrupt. Governments generally don’t go bankrupt.

Dale Hughes:

So most of the 250s that are built around the world are built for either gains or for their Olympic campus. And 250 indoor now, it’s pretty hard to build one for less than $40 million. And many of them are in a hundred to 150 million. The one in Hong Kong is 150 million. The one in Kazakhstan that I built is over $150 million. Well, only a government could prop those up from a overhead point of view.

Dale Hughes:

Think about the interest rate alone on $150-million loan. It’s way too big for the sport to able to accomplish. And the US we don’t have any. I wish years ago, the Congress had instituted the lottery, the Olympic a lottery, because we would be all better off. But each of the states didn’t want to give up their money from their local lotteries to go to the Olympic lottery. So it never passed. That was a shame.

Joan Hanscom:

I know. And when you compare the GB budget for cycling versus the USA cycling budget, and you understand that GBs, I think, what is it, 12 and a half million pounds, which is 24 million roughly compared to what our elite athletics budget is. It’s just mind blowing.

Dale Hughes:

Yeah. There’s no comparison.

Joan Hanscom:

And so how do we compete as a nation? We do pretty well actually competing as a nation, given just the disparate funding. But your point is absolutely well taken that a lot of these heavy hitting nations for cycling are funded in [inaudible 00:39:16] that we are not. And that is a [crosstalk 00:39:19].

Dale Hughes:

We have a hard time funding. We have a hard time funding, even our Olympic athletes. I mean they don’t get much help. They don’t get much help.

Joan Hanscom:

No. And I say that not as a knock on USA cycling. I mean their budget restrictions are real. Again, when you’re funding it raised essentially on donations through foundations and sponsorship versus federal funding, it’s a tough nut to crack. So I have much sympathy on the funding front for USA cycling as they don’t have the same income streams as the other countries do.

Dale Hughes:

Well, up until our deflation, we were paying all our own bills. We were making it work. I think in the two and a half years, we’ve been open four years. But almost a whole year of it was lost to COVID. So in under three years, we’ve given away over… Well, it’s probably over $160,000 in rider support in prizes or support one way or the other.

Dale Hughes:

So our goal is to try to really make it so that a bike rider can make a living racing over the winter time. So I’m really trying to create a series of events. And I’d like to create a super team of track riders that would be able to race here and race around the world during the wintertime. But then be able to race for the road team during the summertime. So that’s my next challenge because we don’t have enough track riders. So, we don’t have enough elite track writers, men and women. So we need to do something to help them choose track cycling as opposed to just choosing the [inaudible 00:41:16] or cycle cross some of the others that they can race at because there’s more venues and more races.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. Absolutely. Well, I think it’s an admirable goal, Dale. And I’m thrilled we got a chance to talk to you about it today. I’m thrilled that we got to have you on. And again, for our listeners, follow along with what they’re doing at the Lexus Velodrome. Please, donate to help them with their reopening, their reflation, reinflation, reflation. And even though the bubble back up, give them some help, if you can, because it’s a very worthy endeavor. And we will follow along, Dale.

Joan Hanscom:

And I wish you the best of luck with your season kicking off. And I hope the events are awesome. And I hope that the COVIDs don’t interfere with your schedule. And I hope everything kicks off really well with your reinflation event. And we will see you, no doubt, out at the races one of the days very soon. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s been terrific. And we will get this thought out as soon as we can.

Dale Hughes:

I really appreciate it. I thank you for the opportunity. I will say that February 18th and 19th, if you want to go to Flow Sports or to Facebook Lexus Velodromes, you could watch our races. But I would say people that want to donate money, we’d love to have it. But if T-Town is doing a fundraiser themselves, donate to your local track because every local track needs some funding. We’ve got a great community here that’s been really supportive. But we will take your money. But we’d also ask you to flip your own track because they all need it. Thank you very much, folks.

Joan Hanscom:

Thanks Dale. Thanks for joining us.

Dale Hughes:

Bye-bye.

Joan Hanscom:

So, this has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with our guest, Dale Hughes. Follow along on the show notes so that you can find links to everything we talked about here today. And if you enjoyed the pod, please give us the thumbs up, the stars, the likes, the hearts, and help us grow our podcast. 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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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


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


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.