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Elspeth Huyett — Completing the Circle

Elspeth Huyett

Episode 12

Because I was that little kid who was down there, going to Becky Quinn, ‘Can you sign this?’ And now I get to be that person for someone else. And I think that’s really cool.”

– Elspeth Huyett
Elite road and track racer 

On this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town, Joan and Andy sit down with Elspeth Huyett, a T-Town native, and discuss what it was like for her at different stages through her career here: participating in community programs, racing on the track, working, and coming back to coach the same programs she grew up in.

Elspeth Huyett

Be sure to check out our youth programs and BRL!

Squirts & Wee Wobbles and Pee Wee Pedalers: Beginners 5 and Older
Bicycle Racing League: New Riders Ages 9-16
Team T-Town: Ages 10-16

Find Elspeth on Instagram: @elspeth_huyett
Twitter: @elspeth_huyett
Facebook: @elspeth.huyett


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, along with my cohost athletic director, Andy Lakatosh.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. And we are joined today by my co-host, Andy Lakatosh, live from California, still. Bastard. Our special guest this week is Elspeth Huyett. We’re thrilled to have Elspeth join us here in studio. And it turns out that Elspeth is actually sitting at the desk that she interned at. She just told us this factoid. So I find this completely and utterly fascinating that it’s-

Elspeth Huyett:

Small world, right?

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a small world and-

Elspeth Huyett:

Little office.

Joan Hanscom:

… same crappy furniture. So Elspeth, welcome. We’re thrilled to have you here with us today. So as you might have gathered from that little sidebar, Elspeth is a T-Town native. She grew up coming to the track and has spent a fair chunk of her youth learning to race bikes here in our community programs. She’s accomplished elite level cyclist, both on the road and the track, and has an equally impressive professional resume, having worked for Bicycling Magazine, Brompton Cycles, and now is communications and brand specialists for Fuji Bikes. We’re fortunate enough to tap into her extensive knowledge here at T-Town, where she coaches now in the community programs for the Try the Track and BRL and some other programming. So with all that said, Elspeth, welcome to the pod. It’s great to have you. You are now wearing yet another hat at T-Town. You are now a T-Town podcast guest. So you were intern, employee, racer, coach, podcast.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, I think I’ve covered all the bases now. I’m really excited to do this, though. I think it’s a really fun thing to do in a time when we’re all so far apart and we haven’t seen each other. So yeah, I think this is really cool. It’s a great idea.

Joan Hanscom:

So, Andy, how’s it going out there in California this week?

Andy Lakatosh:

So far so good. We’re going to get to 80 degrees later this week. I’m sorry to rub that in. [crosstalk 00:02:19]. The highways are very empty anytime we have to go somewhere. So that’s quite non-LA, and just don’t try to go out and do anything in public because everything is closed. So as a cyclist who doesn’t really do much in public it’s yeah, no complaints.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s going to be 39 degrees on a high on Sunday here, just saying. Just saying. All right, well, now that we know what the weather’s like in sunny Southern California, let’s jump right in. And we sort of teased it up, because everything we talk about is pandemic related. Without being too backwards looking, you had big plans for your 2020 season and you had decided, if I’m not mistaken, to focus solely on the track in 2020 and target the national championships and you had some pretty big goals. So in a year where a lot of people’s big personal goals were deferred, tell us a little bit more about what you were planning, how they’ve changed, if they’ve changed as we head into 2021? And a little bit about how did you handle that in 2020?

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, totally. I had a pretty successful year in 2019. It was my first year working with my new coach Taylor Crane. I saw really big gains there. I got a bronze medal at nationals in the Madison. I wrapped up Rider of the Year here in fourth place and I was really excited because I could see that next level was just right there. And I really wanted to make that step. I worked really hard all winter with the idea of being really focused on nationals and also making a go for Rider of the Year, cutting down a lot of the other travel and things like that with a real focus of doing that. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I think it’s so amazing and I’ve raced here, well, other than this year, it’s been 16 years that I’ve been racing 2021 will be my 17th. And I just think it would be such a cool thing to get my name on that trophy.

Elspeth Huyett:

So yeah, I had really big goals to say the least, and I think all year I kind of moved ahead thinking that maybe there’ll be one race, maybe nationals will happen. And eventually, it just became apparent that that wasn’t happening and it was really disappointing. It was definitely a really hard thing to get through mentally to realize that you had invested all this time all winter and that it really wasn’t ever going to pan out to be something. So I worked with my coach to set up some alternate goals and try some new things, like we did a whole block of sprint training, which I’m not an endurance rider, but I’m also definitely not a sprinter. So that was a little bit of fun. We did a lot of motor pacing, like just things that could keep it interesting. And I ended up getting really into Strava over the summer. It was a good way to be competitive and to kind of keep that mindset open. So I am a little obsessed with Strava now to be fair.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, it’s funny because I follow you on Strava mostly because I have zero sense of direction and you always seem to do interesting rides. So I’m like, “Well, what did Elspeth do, I can maybe download her ride and find new roads to ride on.” And you are queen of the mountain all the time, like there are loads of QMS in your trophy chest now.

Elspeth Huyett:

I got 83 in 2020. I had a really heated battle with a couple other local women, which honestly was really fun, to be like, oh, she went out today and went faster. Now I need to go figure out how to make it work too. And it really honestly, probably is one of the only things that kept me riding all summer to be fair.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. Well, so now you spent all this time on the road. Are you going to come back to road racing or is it 2021 going to reset the track goals?

Elspeth Huyett:

I think 2021 is going to be really track focused still for me. I had fun on the road and I’ll always ride the road. I think it’s a huge part of training for track racing. And I’ll do some local road racing, but I’ve done speed week. I’ve done all those things. I don’t really feel like I need to go back there. And my racing age this year is going to be 30, which is kind of astounding to me still.

Joan Hanscom:

Careful there. Careful now.

Andy Lakatosh:

Take it easy. Take it easy.

Joan Hanscom:

Take it easy on the old lady over here.

Elspeth Huyett:

But I do see that in the next couple of years I might want to take a step away from being like an elite athlete and get to do some other things. So I really, I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business on the track. I think I have a lot of room to grow there. And so I’m going to continue to focus on that.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on.

Andy Lakatosh:

See, the thing that I love is like as a true T-Town [inaudible 00:06:59] or desire to get that Rider of the Year title, for me, it’s definitely 100% love my Junior Worlds Medal, my Pan-Am Games Medal, and then T-Town Rider of the Year as my all time favorite, greatest, greatest accomplishments in a Rider of the Year in T-Town. It is signifies a lot and a lot to me. So it’s cool to hear someone else in another local that’s all about it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I think it’s awesome. And I hope more ladies hear you say that that’s your goal and decide to come out and challenge you for it. Because we want that to be a real competition. And it’s exciting to hear that it’s lining up that yeah, it’s going to be a fight and I like it. I like it. I want it to be a fight, and that’s exciting development. So you mentioned it when you were talking, so I’ve spoken to, well, Andy and I both spoken to a lot of coaches in the course of doing these podcasts. One of the recurring themes that we keep hearing from people, particularly who are dealing with elite athletes, like for example, if Tokyo was your goal. Well, the goal has not changed. It’s the same. And it’s really just opportunity to go back and correct the things in training that you might have wished you’d done differently. Because you’ve been given almost a second shot at your preparation. And you mentioned how you switched things up with your coach a bit, tell us about how you two worked together to refocus for 2021.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, totally. So like I said, I work with Taylor Crane. She’s based out of Seattle, Washington, and she’s raced in T-Town before. One thing that I really like about Taylor is she recently stepped away from elite racing. So she kind of gets where I am as a mindset, where I’m like, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I have a couple of boxes I want to check off. Let’s be really focused about doing that. And she also is really understanding about, like I just went back to grad school and my job is really important to me and balancing all those things. So I think the key for this whole year was to keep things fun. So there was a workout we were doing and I was like, I hate this.

Elspeth Huyett:

I was like, I don’t want to go do this. I’m like, I’m already just trying to find things to hold onto during all of this. And so we phased away from that. And so for next year, we’re really looking at where are the marginal improvements I can make that I haven’t been doing before? So the gym isn’t like really an option at this point in Pennsylvania. I guess technically it’s open, but it’s not something I personally feel very comfortable with right now. So we can’t do that. So we found things to do at home to try to make up for that. And we’ve switched my training around. And I think the whole thing right now is just being ready to adapt when things change.

Elspeth Huyett:

So what if the gyms do open and things get better, we’ll change things up and get in there. And for me, like I said, I’ve been doing this for a long time and I am definitely struggling with motivation, especially in Pennsylvania when things get cold. To go out and do two four hour rides back to back isn’t something I really have the desire to do at this point in my career. So we’re really focused on getting the quality out of everything that I’m doing and making the most of the time that I have to be on the bike.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I mean, I think that’s been so key, right? Is that if something is not bringing you joy and a pretty joyless year, you got to let it go.

Elspeth Huyett:

Exactly. And like the thing too is it’s such a long haul, who knows when we race again, who knows what this really looks like? And I would rather maybe come out of this not on my A game, but still motivated to get better versus being super mentally burned out when the time comes to actually race again.

Joan Hanscom:

Don’t you wonder sometimes, there are people who are racing a lot on Swift and other platforms and I’m like, “How y’all going to come out in June and not be completely cracked.” I don’t know. I think it’s great, I’m not knocking virtual racing at all. And I think it gets people pretty fit. But if you’re doing that, like don’t stop for over a year, at some point you’re going to be really fast for 35 minutes. And I suspect like you could crack pretty hard.

Elspeth Huyett:

Totally. And the thing with Swift racing too is like, it’s really, really hard. I’ve tried it.

Joan Hanscom:

Really hard.

Elspeth Huyett:

I don’t think I have the body type for it. I don’t have great power numbers. I’m not super skinny. So Swift and me are like still trying to figure it out. But it’s so hard and it’s so mentally draining. If that works for some people, that’s great. But we tried that early in the pandemic for me to get on Swift, and I was like, no. I’m old school. I’m like, just give me my workouts. I’ll just do the power and get off. I don’t need to watch it happen.

Andy Lakatosh:

So it’s so funny on that because I actually rode with the Williams brothers, Justin and Corey, NCJ since we’ve been out here. Corey made the E World Championship team for USA cycling. And I was like, “Justin, you ride in Swift a lot and stuff. Was it anything that you were interested in?” He just goes, similar [inaudible 00:12:21] like, “Man, Swift is everything that I am not good at.” He’s like, “It is straight power. There’s no tactics, there’s no psyching people out. There’s no wheel sucking. There’s no playing, like I’m more tired.” He’s like, “I am tired just hanging on the [inaudible 00:12:36].”

Joan Hanscom:

It’s hard.

Andy Lakatosh:

It was really funny. And then you got Corey, that’s just like, “Man, I’ll sit at 400 Watts all day. I don’t care. Let’s go.” It was just so interesting, two guys that can both win very similar level races and stuff, but just when you break it down to Swift, very different abilities with particular space, but that’s why we race and there’s different events and different disciplines and stuff. It’s just funny you said that. I [inaudible 00:13:06] Justin going, “Man, not for me.”

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. Well, I feel like that’s something that I’ve experienced a lot with racing though, too, is like, if you put all my power numbers on paper next to the girls I race with, I’m 100% sure they are not up to par, but I feel like I’m really good. And I think a lot of that’s like growing up in T-Town and racing at this level for so long is I’m really good at tactics, I can read a race. I know where to be and when to go. And I think using the power that I have smartly is a really big, a big thing for me. And it doesn’t translate very well to Swift to be fair.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, we had a training camp for a team I used to raise for when I was in Chicago and we were out in Encinitas for a week. And our coach was like, “If FTP was all that mattered in bike racing, you’d just show up, hand over your power test and they’d write you a check.” And he said, “That’s not bike racing.” You got to have the stuff between the years too. So it’s not all FTP, it’s some of it, but not all of it. But yeah, that was huge. That was the first thing he told us at camp. It’s not all about FTP. If it was, you just, here’s my power test results. Can I have my second place check?

Elspeth Huyett:

Very true.

Joan Hanscom:

It is interesting to me and you just said it about how growing up here at T-Town has probably giving you some exposure and experience that you are able to apply in your racing. And so many of our other guests and like Andy, in fact, your hometown athlete, your hometown talent and you started in the air products programs and you kind of grew up with them just like Kim Geist, right? You’ve done the whole life cycle. You started in the kids’ programs. You’re racing now at the elite level, you’re coaching these same programs. As we talked about, you’re sitting at your intern desk, how’s that lifecycle for you? How do you experience that as a T-Town sort of lifer. You’ve worn all the hats down.

Elspeth Huyett:

It’s really, really cool. And it’s something that I always really wanted. I didn’t go away to college. I went to Kutztown, and I continued to be involved at the track. I think this is such a special and a unique place that I’ve been to other tracks in the country and they just don’t have the same community. I think T-Town is really such a special place. And I feel so lucky that I found it and that I was able to grow up here and really see it from all different aspects. But I do also think that, me being everything from a racer to a coach, to someone working in the office, I also think I have a really unique perspective of how the track works and what the community is like.

Elspeth Huyett:

And the track’s been through a lot of changes in the past couple of years and it really helped me see, you can either be part of the solution or you can be part of the problem. And I very actively chose to be part of the solution. I think like you’re seeing, I think the track now seems like such a more positive place than it has in the past. I don’t think it’s ever going to be exactly the same thing it was when I started in the early 2000s. That was a really amazing and big time here, but I think it can evolve into something that is equally amazing and important. So yeah, I love it here. I tell people all the time, it’s my favorite place in the world. I always feel really lucky that I’ve been able to experience in so many different ways.

Joan Hanscom:

And how do you like the coaching? Is it weird to be coaching programs that you were in?

Elspeth Huyett:

It is very weird. It makes me feel really old sometimes. Because it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was racing juniors and things like that. But I really love BRL. It’s my favorite. I get way over competitive to be fair. My team does win a lot.

Joan Hanscom:

Not that she’s talking to smack fellow BRL coaches.

Elspeth Huyett:

No. It’s just someone has to win. But yeah, I love that and Try the Track is really cool. It’s something that I was here when we first started that program. Andy and I, I think were some of the first coaches for that and it’s evolved a lot.

Andy Lakatosh:

I still have a picture of us coaching over those early really classes together. I always love Try the Track because it’s so like, we get so into the elite end of it and then you work with a lot of other elite athletes. I mean, even air product stuff from BRL, it’s so far beyond just that basic first laps on the track. And there’s something about Try the Track when people like see the track and they’re terrified of it. And we don’t even have that steep of a track, and then you get them around a couple laps on it and they get to go faster. The first time they come off the embankment down the track it’s speed.

Andy Lakatosh:

And just seeing that and remembering that pure exhilaration and joy that people have, like riding the track. I always thought that was one of the coolest things about Try the Track. And it was also a great way to get into coaching and kind of get back to those basic fundamental things and seeing people enjoying it. Honestly, that’s a huge part of the reason that I like coaching so much, period. It’s just sharing that experience and joy and stuff. That’s why I like it so much, but yeah, Try the Track, the memory is there.

Elspeth Huyett:

My favorite thing about Try the Track too, is when you finish and there’s all these people who come up at the end and they’re like, “How do I start doing this? What do I need? What day do I need to come to race? How do I get a license?” And I’m like, “Oh, we got you in.” That’s great. And the same for BRL and air products. And I think for kids, it’s a lot harder to figure out, like there’s soccer and there’s baseball and there’s all these other things and cycling can feel a little daunting. I’m really happy when a parent comes to me and they’re like, okay, my kid wants to ride bikes. They want to continue doing this. Where do I go from here?

Elspeth Huyett:

And I think that’s one of the benefits of being a lifelong T-Town native, is I can give you all your options. And like help you through that process. I really like seeing kids graduate from the community programs, into racing on their own, because I think that’s really what we need to see T-Town continue to grow. I think if you look at who is still racing now from when I started, it’s like pretty much me and Colleen. And then there’s like a huge gap where the programs just weren’t as effective. And now you’re starting to see kids stick around longer, like Sophie. I think we’re going to start having people stay and be committed to racing and that will help grow our fields in the future.

Joan Hanscom:

And I guess this is a really great time to tell you that we’re making some changes to Try the Track this year.

Elspeth Huyett:

Cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no, it’s great because we’re going to, after like a Try the Track part two-

Elspeth Huyett:

Oh, perfect.

Joan Hanscom:

… for just that person who’s like, “Oh my God, this was awesome. What do I do next?” We’re going to say, “Go to Try the Track two, before you try to race.”

Elspeth Huyett:

That’s awesome. Because it really is like a big drop off to be like, okay, you did your first couple of laps and maybe we did a race. And now you need to go show up at a race by yourself and figure out how it all works. That’s like a pretty big step. So it’s nice to have a little intermediate bump there.

Joan Hanscom:

A little bridge. Yeah. I’m the least elite cyclist in the room. So this is where I say like that’s the step that I would have needed to get me over the hurdle. I would have wanted somebody to say, “Well, before you go do the race thing, do this one more thing and we’ll get you that step closer to being race ready.” So we’re going to implement that this year.

Elspeth Huyett:

That’s awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m pretty excited about it. So we’ll be talking to you about that more.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. And I mean beyond that, a lot of the other stuff that we’ve, because of course, it’s very easy to see what we’re doing as a track during the summer when we’re racing three days a week and you have all these programs going on and stuff, but Joan and I have spent a lot of time in the fall. And so far this winter putting our heads around, like what you just said, it’s great when you have a very vast T-Town native who can kind of guide you and give that advice of these are the next logical steps and don’t go out and buy a $6,000 track bike. You can pick one up at Belfast for this much in a couple of weeks time. We’ve put a lot of effort into filling in some of those gaps beyond just the Try the Track thing.

Andy Lakatosh:

Because you’re right. We do capture a lot of people here. You’ll look at the fields at nationals, track nationals in any category, and there’s a large percentage of them are T-Town people. But we just look at it and challenge ourselves in a way to, how can we do better? How can we capture even more people? How can we fill in, make those steps even smaller? And that’s really what we spend a lot of time this winter doing. I get up early and work on that kind of stuff every single day. And just try to piece those things together and make it more seamless for everyone. So I’m excited for as normal as possible, 2021 and beyond.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. And what I was going to add too is, it’s not just getting those people on the track and then turning them into racers. It’s like, those are the people who can come and be fans. And I know that’s something that we’ve struggled with. And I think once you’re on the track and you do it, it’s so much cooler to come watch versus never having done it. So yeah. So just even getting people out here to try it themselves and then, hopefully, they come back and watch it on a Friday and bring their friends and their family and make it part of their summer routine to come out on Friday nights.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, totally. I mean, I think you have such a deeper appreciation for it when you’ve done it and then yeah, you can sit there in the stands and really appreciate, “Oh God, they’re going really fast.” You don’t appreciate it so much when you haven’t done it. So I think that’s a really great and fair point. And we have high hopes for this year because so many people in COVID went out and bought bicycles, that this is really, we’ve said it over and over again, this is a year of really great opportunity that can we get more kids in peewees? Can we get more kids in squirts? Because they’ve bought bikes over the pandemic and can we get them into the pipeline? Can we get more women into women’s Wednesdays?

Joan Hanscom:

Because there are a whole host of new people who have bikes and who might just want to learn how to ride them safely. But it’s really like, this year could be the start of like a whole Renaissance of new folks coming in. If we do it right. If we communicate it right. If we have all the right coaches in place, it could be such a great opportunity to put new eyeballs on the track. So I’m pretty upbeat and hopeful about it. Right Andy? I’m upbeat, hopeful?

Andy Lakatosh:

You sound so exhilarated about it. I just want to see Joan on a track bike, right? That’s what you have to do, is you can’t run the track and not participate in it.

Joan Hanscom:

Dude, I’m telling you that our record is going to be mine.

Elspeth Huyett:

Nice. Go for it.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m telling you. Well, nobody’s done one here yet and for the old lady age group, so-

Elspeth Huyett:

Someone has to start.

Joan Hanscom:

… I’ll be first. I’m going to just [inaudible 00:24:14] going to do his high wheel bike hour record. And I’m going to do the old lady hour record.

Elspeth Huyett:

Sounds like a plan. Go for it.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. I’m all about it.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was another fun thing that came out of the COVID year too, was the age group best performance stuff. And just coming up with some of those more creative ways. And I look forward to blending those things into our already, because we don’t have a busy enough June, July, and August, but finding a way to keep those things a part of it. Because we definitely saw a lot more community engagement and that was really, we only saw community engagement, which was awesome to see the numbers that we still turned out.

Andy Lakatosh:

But getting community engagement to me is more than just showing up and pinning on a number. It’s also doing stuff like the coaching, volunteering, helping at Velo Fest. And I always liked coaching, especially peewees and that kind of stuff. Because not only are you helping to put fans in stands, but you’re putting fans that are coming out to watch coach Elspeth, coach Andy, Coach Missy. And that’s the coolest thing. Is when you hear your name going around the track from people just yelling at you like that to hell with the crowd size, you got one person that are cheering just for you that sticks out. I mean, 3000 spectators in the stands is not a bad thing, but you know.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. There’s something that’s really adorable about when the kids come down after racing and they’re like, “Can you sign my program? And it was so cool when you,” and that just makes you, for me, it just makes me feel really good because I feel like I’m completing the circle. Because I was that little kid who was down there, going to Becky Quinn, “Can you sign this?” And now I get to be that person for someone else. And I think that’s really cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And then behind you, it’s going to be like the [inaudible 00:25:58] sisters.

Elspeth Huyett:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

It is super cool that there’s a sort of a life lifecycle here where you see that happening. Yeah, super cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

So that was the next thing I was going to say is like, just wait Elspeth, soon you’ll have somebody that you coach when they were really, really little, not only like an adult, but they are coaching the classes that you now coach them in. And you’re like, “Oh, man”

Elspeth Huyett:

I’ve already had that happen to be fair. And I was like, “Oh gosh, wow, this is really coming full circle now, isn’t it? But it’s great. I think that’s what’s so special about here, is you can do that. I know that even when I am not racing at an elite level, that I still have a home here, whether that’s coaching or there’s so many great group rides around here. I know that I have like a second life as a T-Town person too.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, totally. Speaking of second lives, I’m going to keep this moving right along. And you’ve had a super interesting career in the bike industry for one so young, if I can say that as the old lady in the room, Bicycling Magazine, Brompton, and now Fuji. And Fuji is interesting because they were down and out for a bit. And now you’re there. Tell us about how that is. How’s it going at Fuji? I mean, it’s a great brand. I used to race on Fuji. They sponsored my Cyclo-cross years for a long time. They’d been a sponsor here at the track in the past. And it’s nice to see them coming back. So tell us a little bit about that.

Elspeth Huyett:

Totally. Well, I just want to touch on the bicycling part of it for a second. I always thought it was really funny. So when I first started racing Bob Bice coached me and he also had coached the corporate challenge, and he would tell me, “You have to come help out. You’re going to meet your future boss here. This is how you’re going to get your first job.” And I was like 15. And I was like, “I don’t even care, come on.” But what ended up happening is I ran into Bill Strickland at the training cred. And he was like, “D you have a job yet?” When I was about to graduate college. And I was like, “Nope, I don’t.” And he gave me some freelance stuff and I did that. And then I ended up getting a job at Bicycling, which really has opened the doors for me to have a career in the cycling industry.

Elspeth Huyett:

And I tell a lot of junior athletes this is like, you don’t need to go to a cycling college, you don’t need to be a pro athlete. There’s all these other ways where you can continue to be involved in the sport. And I think that’s really, I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of is that I don’t win all the time. I think I’ve won like one Friday night race, but I have taken my interest in cycling and turned it into a career that I really enjoy. And I’m really excited about. So I think that’s really important and I wanted to share that.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, it’s super cool. I have always found in my whole life that the bike is how I got everything too. So friends and careers and lived in interesting places and had crazy interesting experiences. It’s all been sort of by way of bike racing. And so it’s cool that you’re sort of on that path too, because it can take you great places not to make a bad bicycling analogy.

Elspeth Huyett:

No, it’s so true though. I’ve gotten to do so many really cool things, like I’ve gone to Flanders and I’ve ridden and team cars at pro races. And I was the Brompton World Champion, which was hilarious. I’ve gone and do all these things that are just really unique. And I said, I’m not winning world championships, but I’m still having these like really unique experiences that come out of my childhood in cycling and my continued interest in it. And I think that that’s a huge thing, I think. But as far as Fuji, yeah, so they went through, so I technically work at BikeCo. So it’s the U.S. distributor of Fuji. So I also work on Breezer and Tuesday and Kestrel. But Fuji is like the main brand that I work on.

Elspeth Huyett:

And yeah, they went through a couple of changes in the past few years and it was really cool to come in. I started last February and really just get their social media and their website and get all of that stuff back up and running. Fuji, not to be obsessed with this full circle thing, but it was another full circle thing for me because I did start here on a Fuji bike from the bar and Karen Bliss had worked at Fuji for a really long time. And she’s someone who I’ve always looked up to from a career point of view and as a bike racer. So to be able to come into the brand and start working there is really cool.

Elspeth Huyett:

We’ve really benefited from the bike boom, just like most brands have. So it’s been a really crazy year. We’re not having a problem selling bikes, which makes marketing them very interesting. So I’m really interested to see what the next couple of years look like with all of the confusion and upset around the pandemic. Supply is going to be different. The way we need to communicate. Like do we go to trade shows? Do those happen anymore? Just what does the landscape even look like is a big question, but I think it’s a really exciting time to be involved.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I mean, there’s so many, it just got so many questions, everything is changing now. And how do we adapt? What did we do during COVID that we carry over? What do we revert back to in the old way? I personally hope there’s never another Interbike, but that will make me very unpopular in the industry, but man, did I dislike going to Las Vegas.

Elspeth Huyett:

It was an experience to be sure.

Joan Hanscom:

It was yeah, it was such a hard week. So I personally am not missing the trade show component of it, but yeah. How do we do this moving forward and is it regional? Is it cab to shows? Is it all virtual? Is it brand only? Certainly there’s a million different ways people attacked it during the pandemic. So it’ll be interesting to see what prevails in the end.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah. And I think it will also really change the way that athletes are sponsored by brands. That’s a conversation we’ve been having is the calendar is up in the air. So even if you train really hard and you plan on going in all these races and winning them, are those races going to happen? Are you going to have those opportunities? So I think when I’m looking at ambassadors and athletes now, I’m looking for people who create really powerful content, who have a great story, who have more than just like race results behind them. Because who knows what racing looks like? No one can tell you for sure. So having something to fall back on, like a really dynamic, like Instagram presence or video skills or anything like that, it’s like a huge plus right now for an athlete.

Joan Hanscom:

That had already started before COVID.

Elspeth Huyett:

Totally.

Joan Hanscom:

I mean, let’s be honest, like race results were not enough anymore. You could just rely on, well, I’ll get sponsored if I win a ton of races because if a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s there, does it make a noise? Well, bike racing is the nichiest of the niche. And so to have that kind of impact, you could win a lot of bike races and absolutely nobody would know. And so for brands, that online presence becomes more and more important. And then when you don’t even have races to win, what do you do? And it’s been really interesting to watch people pivot, going back to the Swift thing. I mean, I think in many, many ways we’ve saved a lot of careers this year. It gave people opportunity to elevate their brand when everybody was trapped in their houses. And so how do athletes respond is really going to be interesting and what do brands expect.

Elspeth Huyett:

Yeah, 100%.

Joan Hanscom:

So yeah, that’s cool. So any exciting bikes coming out that we should be looking for?

Elspeth Huyett:

Nothing that I can talk about right now. But I would keep your eyes peeled and give Fuji a follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Joan Hanscom:

Well-played.

Elspeth Huyett:

Thank you. But yeah, I think it’s going to be really interesting. Like you mentioned, with the kids buying bikes and the bike boom, like what do those people do with their bikes post pandemic? Do they keep riding them? Do they sell them, do they start racing? I think we’re really in for like something that could be really, really cool if we can keep those people on their bikes and keep them in their garages at least.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. We need to all as a whole in the sport, really be focused on that. As there are kids, there are grownups who took bikes out of the basement that hadn’t been ridden in 20 years and put them back on the road. How do we keep them in, now that somewhere in the far looming horizon there is the return to normalcy, maybe? But how do we keep them engaged in our sport and how do we make the roads more friendly for bikes, and how do we make kids feel good riding their bikes to school like we used to do when we were kids and how do we get events to happen for people to see what bike racing even is? It’s all kind of crazy time right now, but there’s endless opportunity.

Joan Hanscom:

So yeah, I think it’s going to be a good time and we’re looking forward to seeing you out there racing this year. And we hope very much to have a normal season here at T-Town, at least a portion of it. We’re going to kick off our programs in April and then we figured out, I think a pretty safe way to run programs last year here. And we’ll run them that way in April and roll into some racing in May. What that racing looks like, we don’t know yet. It could be time trials again in May, but hopefully isn’t. Hopefully, we’ve seen basketball and football come back to play without masks on.

Joan Hanscom:

So hopefully, that means that the mask requirement might be relaxed for us next year. And we can do some master racing sooner rather than later. And then we’re really planning on Friday nights, starting in June.

Elspeth Huyett:

That’s awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

If vaccines are in arms and things are turning around and looking better, we’re working already closely with the County on what physical distancing requirements we have to observe, in terms of spectators in the stands, but we’re feeling pretty good. So you better be ready to race.

Elspeth Huyett:

That’s good. Gives me a little bit of motivation to get through these very, very cold bleak months ahead.

Joan Hanscom:

Any time you want to go out for that long four hour ride, you let me know.

Elspeth Huyett:

I will.

Joan Hanscom:

Andy, any more from you out there in a sunny SoCal?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. So what I’m wondering is, if I think back across all of my racing in T-Town, I definitely have some favorite on track memories. And I was wondering Elspeth, what is your favorite on-track memory, either like race performance, or maybe just a race that was just really memorable because of how hard it was or how it went down? And then my next question after that is favorite off-track T-Town memory, that’s still 100% T tone memory? And shareable.

Elspeth Huyett:

Good disclosure. Wow. I have a few that come to mind, when I was really young and Amir’s was here and I got to race with her, which was amazing. But I think my favorite T-Town race story personally, and this is like kind of a far out one. When we had junior nationals here in 2005 and it was my second year riding bikes and we signed up and I didn’t know anything about bike racing. My parents didn’t know anything. And I false started the 500 meter three times, which gets you disqualified. Which it’s really hard to do that, to be fair. I don’t even know how I did it. And then while I was walking my bike back down to the infield, I slipped and I fell and then I also crashed in the points race.

Elspeth Huyett:

And this was before people were very concerned about concussions. Someone picked me up and just put me back in, don’t remember any of it. And I still kept racing after that. So the fact that I’m here and I’m still talking about it, I think is insane, but yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

You must have really liked it.

Elspeth Huyett:

I guess I really liked it. And it’s just funny to think about all those moments. I knew nothing. I was so embarrassed, but I had fun and that’s the main reason we’re all still here. I think off-track, my favorite memory is coaching. I think I was coaching, I forgot what the team was called, but it was the first time I was a head coach for a BRL team and we won the season. And I was so stoked and I bring that intensity back every single time now.

Elspeth Huyett:

I was just talking to Riley, who was one of the coaches before, and I was like, we have very different vibes. I’m like, I’m here to win and I want the kids to have a good time. And you’re like, you just want to have a good time. And I’m like, yeah. But like my kids are, I’m always so proud of my team and all of the kids who come to race BRL. Seeing them grow up and everything is so cool. I would like to mention that the [inaudible 00:39:13] sisters did write a song that I’m included on, it’s on YouTube. If you guys want to look it up.

Joan Hanscom:

That was-

Elspeth Huyett:

It’s pretty adorable.

Joan Hanscom:

… pretty adorable and hilarious. Yeah, that was amazing.

Elspeth Huyett:

It made my year, it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. So we’ll have to find a link for everyone.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, absolutely. That’s going in the show notes, for sure going in the show notes. Cool. Well, anything else you want to tell us today, Elspeth? Or should we just leave it at that and say to all of our listeners, you better sign up for Try the Track with Elspeth this year and she will make you competitive, because clearly she’s the most competitive coach we have.

Elspeth Huyett:

It’s fair, but yeah. Yeah. I think that’s great. This was really cool. It’s great to see both of you guys after a year of not really seeing anyone. And it makes me like a little bit more stoked to go ride this weekend with the idea that we might be racing sometime kind of soon.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Right on. Well, thank you again. And yes, this has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with Andy Lakatosh, Elspeth Huyett, and me, Joan Hanscom. And we’re going to spare you the wacky questions this week. Thanks to everybody. If you like the show, if you like what you’re hearing, please give us a listen, share with your friends, post on the socials, and leave a positive review wherever you consume your pod.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, with host Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode, brought to you by B. Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.