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Jim Miller: Let’s Ride

Jim Miller

Episode 13

I think everybody’s ready to turn the corner and have some sort of finish line in sight and have some sort of goal in place again.”

– Jim Miller
Chief of Sports Performance, USA Cycling

On this week, Joan and Andy sit down with Jim Miller, Chief of Sports Performance at USA Cycling, and discuss a broad spectrum of things from Let’s Ride to the ODA, as well as national team selection and looking forward to Tokyo 2021.

Him Miller

Youth programs and more

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

Training Peaks

Let’s ride https://usacycling.org/article/usa-cycling-announces-new-programs-for-youth-and-collegiate-cycling

USA Cycling Olympic Development Academy

Jim Miller

Instagram: @usacycling @jimmillertime
Twitter: @usacycling @JimMiller_time


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 I’m joined today by my cohost Andy Lakatosh live from sunny Southern California. And we are pleased to welcome Chief of Sports Performance for USA Cycling, and a person I’m proud to consider a friend, Jim Miller.

Joan Hanscom:

Along Jim’s long list of notable accomplishments, Jim has coached athletes to five Olympic metals, six world championship, 10 world championship podiums, and more than 60 plus national champions. He was named United States Olympic Committee coach of the year in 2003 and 2004, and he’s been named to the US States Olympic Committee Order of Ecos in 2008, 2012, and 2016. He personally has coached Olympic medalists for four consecutive Olympic games, 2004-2016. None of which is too shabby.

Joan Hanscom:

So we are very honored to have Jim here with us bringing his expertise from a coaching perspective but also really to talk about USA Cycling and his role there.

Joan Hanscom:

As his role is Chief of Sports Performance, Jim works with other coaches, responsible for development of programs, athlete selection, and he’s tasked with bringing home the Olympic hardware and much more.

Joan Hanscom:

So Jim, welcome to the show.

Jim Miller:

Thanks for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

I just rattled off a lot of things about you. And before we dive into the meat of this conversation, let me set the table for you and our listeners. You left USA Cycling shortly after the Rio Games and went to Training Peaks for several years. You returned last March right before the world went crazy, and it goes without saying that COVID has presented a challenging year for USA Cycling. So tell us a little bit about what it was like for you returning to the role you’re in under circumstances that nobody could’ve imagined when you agreed to come back.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Coming back in COVID year was a massive would be an understatement. Your intro of me is always… It always makes me kind of smile and be like, “Is that real?” A couple of years ago I had to put together this accolades or whatever for a conference I presented at, and it was the first time I’d ever done it. When I wrote that out, I’m like, “This can’t be real. It seems like I’m making this up.” But it always makes me feel humble for what’s happened.

Joan Hanscom:

As long as it doesn’t make you feel old.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Yeah. I think as coaches sometimes, you just work with your head down so long and so hard that you really don’t look up and enjoy anything and recognize that you’ve accomplished it. You’re just focused on the next thing at hand. While you have athletes on the podium, you’re already moved on to the next event, the next year, the next set of goals, et cetera. So it’s always humbling to hear that read out loud.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fun to read it out loud on my side. It’s quite a list.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. So yeah. So coming back anyways, after Rio, to be honest, if I’m really honest about it, I was just tired and burnt out. The thing with the Olympic movement is every four years you’re back on this mega hot stage in order to prepare and be prepared for that next four year cycle. When everybody takes a break after their Olympic years or after their race seasons, as administration or coaches, you don’t get to. You’re like full of gas the day after World’s trying to prepare for the following year. If you ever get reprieved, you don’t leave this small break. Once the season’s going, everybody has fitness. Racing’s going well. Nobody’s sick. Nobody’s injured. You may find a few weeks that are down, but that’s about it.

Jim Miller:

I really found myself after Rio just really short on patience, really, really tired and burnt out and not wanting to do it. So I started looking around, took some time to find an opportunity that was interesting for me, which was Training Peaks. I can’t say enough about that company. It’s world class. They’re awesome to work for, awesome to work with. I happened to learn a ton. It was definitely challenging going from APP in one of the more experienced or knowledgeable guys in the room to being the least and being expected to lead. So I had to do a ton of homework before meetings, and consequently, you go back to learning, which is fun. I really enjoyed it.

Jim Miller:

Somewhere around January, February of 2020, I met with Rob DeMartini. He asked, basically just for a beer. He had a question he wanted to get to and ask, but we enjoyed a couple beers before he got there. He just asked if I would be interested in coming back, and up to that point, I’d really not given it any consideration, at least at USA Cycling. By that point I had assumed I would be back in high performance somewhere. Every World Tour team I visited at Training Peaks is a sponsor or national federal we partnered with. Everyone of them were like, “Are you part of the deal? Do you get to come? Can you work for us? What’s your role in this?” So I knew I was going to be back in it.

Jim Miller:

And ultimately I assumed after 2020 Tokyo that there were plenty of opportunity. With the Olympics, more people fail than succeed. And there’s always a turnover post-games that really would leave the world as your oyster to choose from. But I really hadn’t considered USA Cycling. I didn’t think that was on the table anymore. I had my run. I’d been there. I think I accomplished a lot, did a lot of good things. I just assumed I’d be somewhere else. But we start this conversation with Rob, and it ended up lasting about six weeks. I finally was like, “Okay. Yup. I’ll do it.”

Jim Miller:

This was probably February 28th or something. A lesson I learned from going to Training Peaks was take time between jobs, and when I left USA Cycling, I left on a Tuesday, and Wednesday morning I was working in Boulder at Training Peaks. And then I realized why people take a month off between jobs is just to recover and rest. So I’m negotiating with Rob at the [inaudible 00:07:04] with an April 1 start date. I think on March 7th, he called and asked if I would be interested in starting earlier, and I really wasn’t because I wanted to ride my bike the entire month and just enjoy it. I said, “Yeah. I guess. What are you thinking?” This was a Friday, and he’s like, “Tomorrow.”

Joan Hanscom:

Oh god.

Jim Miller:

I’m like, “Not what I was hoping to do.” He’s like, “We have the reviews meeting.” And I’m like, “On a Saturday, that’s not good.” He’s like, “We need you to be part of it.” So I’m like, “Yup. Okay. I’ll join it.” I got on the call and literally got off the call probably four, five, six hours later. It was a long, long call. Then I walked down stairs, and my wife was like, “What was that about?” I’m like, “I think we’re pushing the nuclear button.” I was like, “This whole year is going to blow up.” It was probably two or three days after that that most of the racing started to be canceled. We started pushing things off into May and June. We started furloughing staff. It was really like a nasty, nasty time to come back, and had I known that, had I had that foresight, which I didn’t, I don’t think anybody did in January, February what was coming. I certainly [crosstalk 00:08:34].

Jim Miller:

My first day, I had furloughed, laid off or severed contracts with almost 40 people. I went from seven in the morning to probably eight at night just straight through. That’s easily the worst day of work I’ve ever had.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. Yeah, I will say I felt really fortunate here that we did not have to face that, and that we were able to stay intact. I cannot imagine. That was the thing that hung over my head from the day… We had a meeting with our healthcare sponsor on February 2nd, and we sort of talked about this thing that was coming. And as soon as I had that conversation with the folks at the health network, I was like, “Oh god, I have to keep everyone employed.” That stress stayed with me throughout the summer. It was just like it’s horrible. So I can’t imagine what it was like to actually have to tell people, “Sorry, we can’t keep you.” Yeah, horrible.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, because of COVID. [crosstalk 00:09:40].

Jim Miller:

… hired myself, right? They were from my previous tenure. They worked for me, in some cases, 10 plus years. It was terrible.

Andy Lakatosh:

I mean, imagine we’ve all had bad first days at different jobs and stuff, but that really might take the cake. I mean, Jim has a reputation of being a bit of a hard ass. Welcome back to your @USACycling email address, it’s going to be new. We’re going to do this different and better. And oh, by the way, you’re all out of here.

Joan Hanscom:

I just can’t imagine.

Andy Lakatosh:

You set yourself up for one hell of a year.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. You say that, I really was like the two years away, I had become a softer, kinder Jim. I’m like I like the softer, kinder Jim. It’s better.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, yeah. COVID taught us a whole lot of lessons, right?

Jim Miller:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

I think you and I have actually talked about it a little bit before that in a lot of ways it presented opportunities though. It presented with your athletes, it presented opportunities to go back and revisit things that you would’ve done differently in their training, and I know for us here, it presented us with the opportunity to look at how we were running programs and how we were running day-to-day operations, what can we learn from this time that we’re doing things differently. It’s a time to break the, “Well, we’re doing it this way because it’s how we’ve always done it,” and it was really an opportunity to break that mold and think differently and maybe implement change that would’ve otherwise been really hard to make.

Joan Hanscom:

A stupid example of that for us was getting everybody to use online registration. That had never been done here. It was just walk up to the window, pay your cash, do your race. This was a driver for us. It changed our business model, but what it enabled us to do was then really learn who our customer was because we have registration data. We have demographic data. We have more information. So out of something bad came something good, and that’s just a tiny little example. But in reality, knowing who our customer is is huge.

Joan Hanscom:

So we found opportunity, and I think what we’ve talked about previously is that you found opportunity too. So tell us a little bit about that, what you saw, what you had the opportunity to sit back and actually look at.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. I think you hit it on the head anyways. The silver lining for me, and I think it’s the same silver lining for you is this opportunity to think about your business, scrape it, start with a fresh white board, clean slate, really examine how you would do it differently if you had the opportunity. And not having the day-to-day activities or the day-to-day chores, the day-to-day tasks that we all have with our jobs that we resume over time. You had time to think. So it wasn’t like, “Okay. We’re going to change one thing. What’s it going to be? It’s going to be this. How do we do that?” Boom, boom, boom, and we’re done and we’re moving on. This was like deep thinking and challenging ideas and talking with a lot of people about it or about those ideas. Trying to eliminate your own confirmation biases.

Jim Miller:

Initially it was a little bit slow getting there. I had some things really early on that I knew right away I wanted to change. We tackled athlete selection almost straight away. I put Jeff Pierce in charge of that. But put a lot of things on his plate with that to investigate, explore, think about, and really lessons learned from a previous tenure and the ability to not be responsible for it and be able to think about it and pile it up. I made that process better. So that was great. Right away we tackled that.

Jim Miller:

But then over the course of the summer, we really started thinking about our athletic programs. For better or for worse, probably depends who you ask, almost every program we have at USA Cycling I probably had my fingerprint on it or the owner of it. So when you do that, when you have those pathways or you design those plans, it’s really hard to blow up your plans because then in some cases they worked quite well. But this was just the opportunity to say, “Look. Okay, if we could do this differently, what would that look like and how would we do it?”

Joan Hanscom:

So you announced a couple of new initiatives. I think that came out of that thinking. Initiatives that fall under your department. There’s Let’s Ride, the ODA Program, and then national teams stuff. From a public perception, Let’s Ride and ODA really fall at far ends of the rider spectrum. One is like, “Hey, here’s how you put a helmet on,” and ODA is pretty sophisticated level of racing or far along the development pathway. In your own words, tell us a little bit about the why and what of both of the programs, maybe starting with Let’s Ride because it’s starting at the beginner’s side.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. So Let’s Ride. My wife is a schoolteacher, and her school for 10 plus years did bike rodeos that culminated with Ride to School or Bike to School Day at the end of the week. Every single year she would ask me, do we have a bike rodeo curriculum or something they could borrow or use? Every single year I would say no. It’s not in my lane. It’s not my problem. I’ll ask somebody, but I know the answer. Really I just wanted to get out of the conversation. The great thing about stepping away from USA Cycling is it gives you an opportunity… For me it took a little bit. I had to take a break. I had to emotionally detach from it. But once you do, you get really crystal clear perspective on things.

Jim Miller:

Let’s Ride and Bike Rodeos were one of the things that were just like crystal clear to me. I was like, you know what, the answer that’s not in my lane or it’s not responsibility is just super weak. What I should’ve done is taken a month or two months, outlined it, scoped it out, got it up and running, and then handed it off to somebody. Then we could give it to anybody and everybody, and it would run and be something that probably be a overly positive at the grassroots level. I’m thinking elementary school level. In some cases, maybe going middle school. But it wasn’t a heavy lift to do. I just hadn’t done it because I was so overwhelmed in my day-to-day work, and my bandwidth was just shot.

Jim Miller:

Once I cleared that hurdle, it was like this is something we have to do. If we don’t have the curriculum in-house, we got to create it, and we got to be able to deliver it. So that’s where we started. We got a grant from Mount Ride. We got a matching grand from the foundation. So we started off with a little it of budget that we could play with anyways. There’s a lot of really good organizations out there already doing things like this, which we want to be complimentary to, not competitive with. We don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, go on anybody’s market that they’re already doing a good job at. This is strictly just an outreach effort. And we want to give it away for free. So it’s like we created this, we developed it. We’ve got the camp in a box if you will, and we want to give it to everybody, anybody. If you want it, you can run it.

Jim Miller:

I think we have a few competitive advantages or inherent advantages just being a federation for this. Be able to scale it. We have 1200 licensed coaches. We have an unlimited number of events really that you can host these at. We have clubs. We just have a lot of vehicles and avenues that these can be rolled out at and rolled out through.

Jim Miller:

When you’re looking at a volunteer workforce like this, there has to be something in it for them. So with coaches, the way I looked at it was like, look, over two years, you have to earn 40 CE credits. When you pay for those and you go out and chase those, it’s probably going to cost you in the neighborhood of $500. That’s a real bottom line for a coach. I want to say, “Look, post Let’s Ride in your community, activate it in your community. We’re going to give you the toolbox to talk to your school district, to talk to your YMCA, your church, anywhere and everywhere that we can host these. We’re going to give you all the tools to go out and recruit it, make it happen, and we’re going to give you 20 CUs every time you do it. So look, commit three to four hours of your time on Saturday, do it twice, and you have all your CUs. If you’re not into the professional development, learning, going out and chasing CUs, this is not someway to do it.”

Jim Miller:

For clubs, we’ve considered, and I think we’re moving and leaning heavily towards this, waiving club fees if you hosted a Let’s Ride Camp. For events, I think this is a great way to attract a new user, a new customer. You get parents who are always looking for something to do on a Saturday with their kids. Why not do a Let’s Ride Camp and a bike race, and you get to see what a bike race is. Maybe that attracts a rider down the road. For me, I got into cycling because of the Casper Classic, if anybody remembers that. I lived in Casper, if you can imagine that. But I saw that race every single year, and after three years of that, I’m like, “I could do this.” That’s how I got into cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

I was going to say I think doing it at a race is particularly brilliant. We’ve had conversations here about doing this in partnership with the parks department because the parks department is realizing, “Oh hey, we have a whole bunch of kids that are on bikes now because of COVID, and we want to provide curriculum for them to do it safely.” So we’ve had these discussion about, “Well, hey, let’s do this Let’s Ride thing. It’s not as much of a commitment as our Pee Wee Peddlers, which is a multi-week program, and it’s not the same as Squirts.” But it could be the, “Hey, do this first, then do Pee Wee’s, then do Squirts.” But there’s a need for it. But if you do it at a bike race, which I think is what our youth programming works, they see the next thing. “Oh. Well, this is fun, and I’m riding through these cones. And I’m having a good time. Slaloming around. Look what those grownups are doing. That looks fun.”

Joan Hanscom:

I think there’s a real value in that, and I think if you race crits in the Midwest, which I did for many years, and every crit has a kid’s race. And the kids come out in droves. Their parents are part of it. They run behind them, and it’s adorable. Sometimes they crash, and sometimes they’re wearing wacky helmets. But kids get to see bike racing, and I think that’s a thing that’s been missing in just marketing the sport. So I think if you can get promoters onboard with doing this, it’s brilliant. That’s how you get eyeballs on our weird sport.

Jim Miller:

That’s what I think. If you think of something like a national championships that’s coming to a town, I think any parent could think like this. But I think of it like this at the moment. You could do these Let’s Ride Camps in PE classes throughout the week at a school, which then introduces them to the things we’re trying to accomplish with Let’s Ride. You can encourage them to go watch the bike racing on the weekend, but through a pump track at an event that’s the second step to a Let’s Ride. And kids get to come down, ride a pump track, and I’m thinking those little, little, little pump tracks that are horrible and you can assemble them quickly. That’s super fun. They get to see bike racing.

Jim Miller:

So I honestly think there’s like an unlimited use case for it, and as long as we can provide it for free, then that’s what we want to do. That’s how we want to roll it out.

Joan Hanscom:

So you had some pretty ambitious numbers attached to this program. How’s that going? What’s the plan to roll it out?

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s hard in a year of COVID when we’re not sure when we can actually start to do this stuff.

Jim Miller:

That’s it. We have five pilot programs that are going to happen in February, COVID permitting. If not, we’ll just keep pushing them until we can. We’re looking at, the goal set for us was 20,000. If I’m perfectly honest, I’m more nervous about 20,000 Let’s Riders than I am the Summer Olympic [crosstalk 00:23:07].

Joan Hanscom:

I don’t blame you. That’s a big number.

Jim Miller:

It’s a big number, but sometimes you have to put a big number out there. That challenges people to just continue to hustle and chase it. If you put out something more attainable, then maybe they get it by August and back off. And this is one of those things that initially to get that flywheel spinning, you’re going to really just have to push and push and push.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh. We’ll do our best to get you a few of those numbers here, Jim. We’ll throw in with you to try to get some towards that big count.

Jim Miller:

Yes. We’ll count them.

Joan Hanscom:

So then we jump to the far end of the spectrum, and we go to the ODA. The ODA, as it was rolled out, received a bit of a mixed response. I think there was a ton of folks that I was on calls with, junior parents, junior athletes who were really excited about the opportunity it presented. And from what I hear, anyway, there were certainly no lack of interest or applications for the program. But on the other hand, I think the price tag brought a lot of not entirely unfair criticism towards the sport, and it was really that feedback was really focused on how such a steep price tag could be making our sport more exclusionary than inclusionary. I don’t think I’m saying anything you’ve not heard or already addressed, but maybe because we get a chance to talk about it a little bit longer form here, talk about that negative feedback and what you’d like folks to know that maybe got missed in the initial launch or in the initial communication that you think is important.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. I think it’s fair, to be honest with you. Honestly, I think it’s more of a misunderstanding that is reality, and I’m sure people will also be like, “Okay. Explain that.” But I think the truth is we launched it. We had five weeks with almost no criticism, and then Fred Dreier wrote his story. And the story focused on the headline of the cost. I think Fred’s story is rather… It was unfair. He spent less than three minutes talking to me about it. He told me he had listened to a podcast. If that is the case, then he would’ve known that the ODA is not the national team. He would know the national team is the national team. He would know that there were scholarships. We have set money aside for scholarships. He would’ve understood the structure to it. He didn’t.

Jim Miller:

When I hung up with him, he’d asked me probably two questions. He got a quote, was ready to go and provide a story. He provided a story he wanted to tell, which is for him is good. People click through his website, clicks equal advertising sales for him. So that’s what he did. That’s his story. For me, it didn’t tell the story, and our failure or my failure was not telling the story first and telling how it fit into a pathway and why I think it’s good.

Jim Miller:

So yeah, that was bad on me. So the criticism was fair. Now we just have to work hard to tell the story we want to tell and what it’s all about. So that’s all I know about the criticism. Nobody enjoys criticism. We’re all human at the end of the day. It’s not fun. It doesn’t feel good.

Joan Hanscom:

No. We deal with our fair share here too. I think just for those who did not read Fred’s piece, I think a lot of the negative feedback focused on it being more of a pay-to-play program, and that was your ticket to the Olympics. And I think that’s a very easy way to interpret it. It’s just like a surface reading, headline reading, tweet reading. When I looked more into the depth of the program and sat through a bunch of the calls with folks, the junior calls where this was discussed, to me I read the program description and I thought, “Well, this is really finishing school for bike racers,” which is how I’ve referred to other projects I’ve been involved with that way.

Joan Hanscom:

We did the Tour of the Red River Gorge Stage Race in Kentucky, which was a Junior UCI Stage Race, and I really felt like that was finishing school for bike racers. It taught them how to ride in a caravan. It taught them a whole lot of things about developing as a bike racer for that 17, 18 year old age group. The kids that won that year, the year that we ran that stage race, it was Nathan Brown, Lawson Craddock. They were all the Hot Tubes super team that year. And it really did look like finishing school for bike racers, and every single kid on that Hot Tubes team went on to have just an incredible career.

Joan Hanscom:

Finishing school for bike racers is important. I think we have finishing school for bike racers here in T-Town. It’s that summer of riding UCI for the first time against other Olympic medalists, against world champions. You learn a lot. So when I looked at the program, to me there was a fair component of that. But I’d love to hear your spin on it, your take on it, and give you the opportunity to talk about what was missed in that first messaging.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. So it’s really the structure or the hierarchy of the pathways. And you can either talk about it from the bottom up, top down, but if I go top down, and I’m thinking of like a pyramid sort of structure. The tip top for us are the Olympics. Below that are the World Championships. So those are teams, Olympic teams, World Championship teams. Below that would probably be professional world tour teams, Pro Con and L teams. Below that is the national team. For me, national team is our nation’s cup, their world cups, their super crosses, their piss events for BMX freestyle issue. World cups and cycle cross. At any level, so 17, 18 nations cup on the road. That’s a national team activity. U23 nation cup on the road, that’s a national team activity. Track world cups, those are national team activities.

Andy Lakatosh:

So Jim, just a quick point to make for everyone listening is that the national team in terms of how you’re referencing it is like the athletes that are currently at the event, which is different from the named national team that’s published on the website. I think not everyone understands that differential if we’re going to reference it like that.

Jim Miller:

Yup. Slightly different. So we’re going to have to add some criteria for a 17, 18 year old national team member. Right now it’s primarily elite. Some places U23. But because we’re going to consider nations cups at the 17, 18 levels as national team activity, then we do have to create some criteria there. In the event of say road where you may have a couple of cup races prior to the world championship or Tour L’avenir or things like that, then those are also part of the national team activity. So it’s not limited to world cups and nations cups, but it’s limited to a pretty high international level.

Jim Miller:

Below that then I would say you have these elite junior U23 teams, your Hot Tubes, your Luxes, Able, Lowes, Actions, Bear Devo on mountain bikes. You probably start going through each discipline and picking out some of these super teams, and they really feed national teams. That’s what they’re doing. A national team is pulling from those teams up, and they’re pulling from the world tour, pro continental level down. This is probably road centric, but that’s where national team populates its riders from.

Jim Miller:

Below those super teams, then is the ODA. Let’s say one of these super elite teams is going to have a roster of some riders or a rider. They’re making a decision between eighth and ninth rider. At the time they make that decision, those two riders are probably identical. They’re probably the same characteristic, the same level of development. Your ability to separate the difference between them is going to be really hard. The one kid that gets selected is going to get access to good coaching, good race directors, good races, good race schedules, good training camps, good peer environment, probably good equipment, probably good mentorship. The one that didn’t get selected doesn’t, and where does he go? What does he get? Or she. How do they stay on par with their peer that at one time they were almost equal to, but 365 days later, this person’s had all this access to these experiences and opportunities and the other didn’t. And they’re different bike racers. They’re going to be different bike racers.

Jim Miller:

So the ODA is just saying, “Look, if you’re one of the guys who are lucky enough to get selected in these teams, you move from a regional level. You’re competing in a national level, and you’re ready to take that next step because you want to get into these teams. This is your opportunity. This is your access to this.” I think we have an advantage at USA Cycling that we have this infrastructure. We have coaches. We have vehicles. We have lodging. We can get race schedules. We have really good coaches that can provide training. So we can provide this, and we can lean on our own infrastructure, leverage ourselves and give that person that didn’t get that team slot an opportunity. And through that, we can keep a lot more people, a lot more athletes on the level, and progressing forward.

Jim Miller:

Now the challenge is, that doesn’t come without a cost. Anybody that’s on a team knows that teams are very expensive. That’s why there’s not an unlimited number of teams in America.

Joan Hanscom:

Amen to that. Yeah, bike racing is not a cheap sport to produce. It’s not a cheap sport to participate in. Right.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. And there’s no way around it. You can’t VIP your way through it. You can’t get around the cost of it.

Jim Miller:

I have a fundamental belief in development that if you take an athlete and you give them a block of racing, some one month of racing, that’s an experience that they’ll probably take something from it. But they won’t significantly grow from it. Athletes grow when you get them consistent exposure to high level competition and consistent. I mean, consistent, consistent, consistent, consistent, consistent, which causes the adaptations. Once they start to adapt, then you can take in the next level. You do that again. They can adapt again. That’s the progression upwards.

Jim Miller:

So what I challenge each of my discipline directors to was look, let’s create a calendar, training camps, races, everything that would make… If an athlete went through this program from January to December, would develop that athlete, and if they did that for two or three years, they would continue to develop and develop and develop. So let’s start with building a program we think is right, and then we’ll build a budget to it and see what it costs.

Jim Miller:

I think something that’s really important to remember here too is we’re not talking about one discipline. We’re talking about five disciplines. Within these five disciplines, you have different age levels, 17, 18 youth, 23 elite, both genders. So you can be talking about six teams in each discipline. So now we’re potentially talking about 30 teams. So how do you consistently provide this across the board for all five teams for all five disciplines? And that is really the challenge that the USA Cycling is like how do you provide something for everybody? And financially, we can’t do that. We just can’t. I don’t know how to say it any louder than we can’t do this without everybody. We are asking for help. We’re saying, “Look, we can’t do it. If you leave it up to us, we can’t afford to do it.”

Jim Miller:

So we built the budgets and said, “Okay. This is what it is.” If a junior road 17, 18 team, we could also say because you’re T-Town and track oriented, we could say a ODA track team with cams, with races, with the opportunity to train with their peers from January to December is $200,000. And somebody could say, “Oh, holy crap. No way. That’s over the top.” But look, you have every night somebody’s in a hotel, minimum $125. To feed them, probably $30, if you can buy groceries and do it that way. If not, you’re looking at $50. So literally a team of 10, let’s say three staff, seven riders. One week of the training center for us is almost $2000 a week. That’s the cost. That’s the raw cost. If we go somewhere else, we go to Detroit, we go to T-Town, we go to Rock Hill, and we’re at hotels, those costs go up because now we have extra costs. So the cost they accumulate really, really fast.

Jim Miller:

So we come up with a cost. We break it up, and anybody that travels with me… I’ll say this, anybody that’s been in a national team or been in a program, and you’ve been in one of my teams, you know we don’t stay high on the hotel. We’re a three-star maybe. I’m super frugal. I’m super fiscally responsible. I’m good budgeting. So these aren’t extreme budgets like best case we’re staying at nice hotels. This is like look, we’re here to do work. We’re going to train hard. We’re going to work hard. We’re going to race hard. You’re not going to send a postcard or something to your parents or your family showing them the luxurious pool that’s outside. That’s just not how it is.

Jim Miller:

So we built this, and we basically said, “Look, if we average this cost out, it roughly comes to $10,000 a head.” For me, I always weigh that against my own… Me, as a parent, I have kids that went through club sports. I have a daughter that’s graduated college now but a son who’s in college. I paid for their club sports. I know what club sports cost. I know what travel teams cost. I know what other sports out there are doing. I think of it for myself, from a… What’s my own threshold what I can afford, what I can do? And honestly, it’s about $5000. That seems palatable. It’s still going the stretch me. Still going to stretch my family. I think it’s going to stretch a lot of families. I don’t think I’m unique.

Jim Miller:

So rather than just reducing it to $5000, stripping away all the events and saying, “Okay. Now you get a couple amps and you get a couple races,” that’s not development. We decided that we would share the real cost. That’s the true cost of what we’re looking at, and then work on putting together a scholarship fund. Something we started with immediately in June, July as we talked to sponsors or potential sponsors or partners was anybody, whether they were in events, whether they were athletics, national team, Olympic team, was if you want to be a partner, then you have to contribute to the Academy Athletic Scholarship Fund. That’s just the entry price of the discussion. And almost every single case, nobody has a problem with providing a scholarship for an athlete to pursue this academy direction.

Jim Miller:

With our own budgets, we’ve tried to pull back as… I mean, we’ve had to pull back anyways, but we really budgeted tight. We made some tough decisions so that we could try to save some money so we had additional money we could contribute to this and get athletes the scholarships they need. The foundation has already been starting to work on potential foundation donors as athlete scholarships. So it’s one thing to give to the foundation as just a general gift and we can spend it anywhere we want. Some people are into that, a lot of people aren’t. But if you say, “Hey, if you contribute whatever amount of money you feel like you want to contribute,” and you know it’s going direct to the athletes scholarships, that feels a lot better. We’re working hard to create these scholarships and create opportunities so that it is more reasonable and it is more inclusive.

Jim Miller:

But I think the really big piece that comes to this, I think everybody sees the dollar number, and they’re like, “Well, these guys potentially could be making a ton of money if you think about 80 athletes on the team.” Now you’re like, “Oh, these guys are making almost 100…” What would that be? $800,000. That seems like it’s crazy, but it all goes back into cost. It’s going all to operations. If there is revenue at the end of the year that’s positive, we’ve already agreed that goes back into two things. One, it goes back into athlete scholarships the following year. Or two, it goes into infrastructure, staffing that might be required to run those programs. So nothing else. It’s not a revenue stream for Ucyc. It’s not going into corporate. It’s not going into national teams. It’s not going anywhere. It’s staying exactly where it was. And we’ll provide benefit for the following year.

Jim Miller:

I knew when we started this that it’s different. It’s changed. It’s something complete off the radar of what we’ve been doing. Anytime you create change or you try to have change, everybody dislikes it initially. And that’s what you get. That’s just how it is. It’s human nature. But once you get past that dislike of change, then you look at it and you see how it operates, and then you see how you can use it for yourself. I think that maybe year one’s going to be a little bit rough. I would say it’s already been rough. But year two and three as this starts to roll and we start to really refine how this works, I think it has huge potential. It is scalable. It is manageable. It has the capacity to be consistent. It doesn’t require funding. It doesn’t require sponsors. It doesn’t require a rich guy funding a team that is interested in it for initially and then two or three years later is not interested in it and it goes away. So it’s a good consistent opportunity to have a really high level development opportunity for the athlete that might not have got into those elite junior U23 teams.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I think that’s a really… And I know Andy’s got some questions to jump in with too. But I think that’s a really incredibly important point to make is that for athletes at that level, there are more athletes at that… Potentially. Let’s not lose sight of the word potentially. There are more athletes potentially at that level than there are spots available on teams for the very reason you laid out. Teams are incredibly expensive. They’re sponsor dependent. They’re economy dependent. They are race availability dependent. It is a shame and it’s always been a shame that potential athletes wash out because they didn’t get one of those very few existing team spots.

Joan Hanscom:

So what it sounds like to me is that this is just another way for you to continue in the development path if you missed out on potentially getting one of those spots. To your point, Rider A and Rider B are incredibly close, but there’s only one spot. Somebody misses out. And potentially this is another pathway to develop their potential as an athlete because they didn’t get that.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s an incredibly important point to hit with all of this because again, I come from a ballet background. And ballet companies are not much different from cycling teams. You can go to an audition of 65 people, and they’re picking one person. It doesn’t mean that you weren’t right there. It means that there’s just one spot for 65 people. Where do you go? At some point, you can either keep funding your ballet classes and going to summer intensives that your parents are willing to pay for, or you can stop. So I relate it to my own background of, yeah, there aren’t that many spots. Sounds like this is a program design to keep more spots, to keep more kids in the program, and hope that their development comes along and that they prove themselves on the level. And then more opportunities open is what I’m hearing you say.

Joan Hanscom:

So I think that’s a…

Jim Miller:

I think an interesting thing with particularly junior development is these big super teams, junior teams, they’re always going to recruit the kid that’s the most developed, the biggest kid. He’s winning the races. He’s winning the races because he’s more developed. But what about the young kid that is underdeveloped that may have a massive motor under there that nobody’s seen because he’s still 85 pounds? He doesn’t get into those teams, or she doesn’t get into those teams. Do they just wash out of the sport because it wasn’t going to be until they were 22 or 23 that they showed anything.

Jim Miller:

At least as a vehicle, it can be a vehicle of opportunity. I understand the cost to it, and that can be an inhibitor. But we are trying to overcome that. I think in all fairness, people have to be fair with us also in saying, “Look, give them a chance to raise money.” I’m good at raising money. I’ve raised money for 25 years. I’ve done this for 25 years. I’m good at hunting money. I’m good at raising money. But it never happens over night. It takes times. You have to cultivate. You have to chase it. You have to sell it, but you can raise money. And I can raise money. I know I can raise money.

Jim Miller:

So give us a chance, and we’ll populate that scholarship fund. And the financial piece of it won’t be the hurdle.

Joan Hanscom:

Andy, you had a question. Jump on in here.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, a couple of questions. If we step back and look at all the programs before… I have a couple questions specifically about track. If we’re thinking about all the programs, I think it’s interesting. I’m happy that you explained the financial side of it of like this is not a revenue generating thing. If it does, it’s going to turn into being pushed back into the programs. But if we’re looking across all the disciplines and stuff, and you’ve gotten a bunch of applications at this point. Probably some promising stuff, and you’re starting to at least think about how much of it is going to have to be subsidized out of the total expense on the year. Do you have a ball park? Because I think this is important for people to understand what their shots are of actually getting assistance. Because I know for a lot of people the $20,000 a year is just like absolutely not… There’s no way, and then I think it immediately goes to my chance of getting any assistance is very low. So I think on the 30,000 foot view, what percentage of the total budget on the year do you anticipate being revenue in from individuals and do you actually expect coming out of the fund and USA Cycling’s pocket essentially?

Jim Miller:

Yup. We’re going to do a couple things to answer that. I’m not confident what’s going to happen in Q1 with COVID. I’m just not.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Jim Miller:

You guys know me, I’m generally really optimistic and upbeat. I always see the bright side. I prefer sunny days to cloudy days. But I’m not optimistic on Q1. I’m actually relatively pessimistic. I don’t want to start a semester with COVID hanging over us and being like is it going to happen? Is it going to happen if I pay? What’s going to happen? Do I get my money back? What if we don’t raise, et cetera. So I think what I’m really leaning to is a single super semester. So let’s just let Q1 roll. If we use track as an example here, our [inaudible 00:49:31] in Colorado Springs in closed. LA’s closed. Everybody else is outside, and so until the weather improves, they’re closed. I’m confident saying with track, Q1’s not happening. So I’m leaning towards the super semester which would be like a March, April discipline dependent start going through the end of the year. So same price, same $10,000 price, but for all of that period of time.

Jim Miller:

My goal from the get-go was to fund 25% of this through scholarships. 25%. Did I say that? Which if you have $1 million program, you’re trying to fund $250,000 of it.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s a number to work off of. I think the message is if you’re interested and you don’t think you can come up with the $10,000, apply anyway is the message.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Interesting. Right now today, we have something like 453 applications.

Andy Lakatosh:

And out of that, what percentage would you say is track because that kind of goes into my next couple questions.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Actually, honestly, I was really optimistic about track because there was a fair amount. I couldn’t tell you the exact number. Because when I looked at it, I’m like, “Would this number at least allow us to run this program?” I’m at a position within the company that this worst case can be revenue neutral, meaning whatever I make I can spend, but I can’t take money and dump into it or lose money.

Jim Miller:

So I looked at it like could we run this program? We could. So that means we have at least 20 athletes in our spring endurance. For me, this program, at least with track is where I see it possibly being the most valuable. And you could probably say why, how’s that? On the national team side, there are no professional teams. There is no professional capstone there. There’s nowhere for somebody to go. So if an athlete is in a national team, that is the professional team. We own that. We have to pay for that. We have to fund that. It’s really hard to break into, and I had this all the time where an athlete would say, “Hey, how do I get in the national team?” And you’re like, “Well, there’s these standards.” They’re like, “Well, what do I do until I get there?” And literally I’m like, “Well, you have your village runs, you have your club teams. You can get to the races you can get to.” But never a great answer.

Jim Miller:

Now I do have a level, and I can say, “Look, here’s a level for you. Okay, I get it. It costs money. We’re going to try to help you, but there is an opportunity here for you. Now you’re going to get to these races. You’re going to get a training group. You’re going to… Let’s call it the next level training group.” So I don’t want to take anything away from anybody coaching at a village run because particularly your village run, you guys do a great job. You have great coaches. You have great programs. You have places to go to. But not every village run is that way. So this is a next level of okay, I’m a national level. I want to be international level. I need that next level group to train with.

Jim Miller:

Anytime we’re training with a national team, and this is really my takeaway from when I coached Team Pursuit in 2017. I did seven camps that year. Two weeks each for seven months in a row. Within those camps, I had always 24 athletes. So six teams of four teams. And that went from that elite team all the way down to a second junior team. We really liked the recovery effort between their trainings was the length of time it took to run through those six teams, and then we were back up and we’re back up and we’re back up.

Jim Miller:

But my takeaway from that is look, you could have an ODA team training alongside a national team every single time. The national team is always going to get the village runs for free. They’re always going to get access. They’re always going to get priority anywhere they go. If you tag this ODA team along with them, now they have access everywhere they go. Number one. Number two, they get to train alongside the best track riders we have in this country. They get to see them work. They get to see them train. They get to see their work ethic. They get to see their professionalism. But more importantly, they get to see the next step in their path. They get to see it. They get to feel it. They get to be a part of it.

Jim Miller:

You would be hard pressed to tell me or convince me that that’s not really a good thing for those athletes and that’s not highly valuable. I know those Team Pursuit guys I had loved that year, loved that experience. As we paired that Team Pursuit team down into those world cups that fall, that team went from doing camps to 24 to camps to 12 or less, eight in some cases. Every single one of those guys were begging to come back and be part of it and just let me be in the camp. Let me be in the camp. Let me be in the camp.

Jim Miller:

So for me, I think this can be massively beneficial for track racers.

Andy Lakatosh:

And I would agree. If you think about if you’re a young, aspiring woman team pursuer, getting to train with Chloe, Jen, and the girls, that’s huge. One of the things that I wanted to ask, kind of point out is on the track side of course, on the track sprint side, there’s no coach listed on the website for part of that. So when talking with athletes and looking at the race schedule because compared to say some of the junior nations cups type of races for on the road, all of the events we’re talking about, UCI class ones, class twos, this is all stuff that private coaches and athletes, they’re not protected or difficult to enter events, right? So some of the parents and stuff that I’ve talked with, they’re like, “Well, we can go to all these events. We have what we consider to be a really great coach, knowledgeable. And from a pure budget standpoint, we think we can maybe do it for less money than the $10,000 or $20,000 a year.”

Andy Lakatosh:

So maybe that’s not exactly what you’re talking about. Maybe you’re talking about not the high level programs and stuff like we do in T-Town. Maybe you’re talking more about the kid from Florida who wants to get up to the next level. But what’s the comparison or does not being a part… I guess in terms of track sprinters, is there a track sprint coach coming for that side of things, or is there value, or are they better off following a similar pathway, say on their own?

Jim Miller:

Yeah, good question, especially for spring track. I would say, look, if you’re in Andrew Harris’s program or they’re in your program, this actually might not be for them. You may have already covered that base for them. You can get them to races. You can coach them at races. You can probably do it cheaper than we can. At least for us, we have some inherent things that we have to do. If we take a parents kid to a foreign country race, we have to guarantee they’re safe. That means we can’t stay in home stays. We can’t sleep on coaches. We can’t put them in sketchy hotels. We can’t just get by. We have an obligation to take care of your child.

Jim Miller:

Our staff has to be safe sport vetted and mechanics, coaches, [inaudible 00:57:24]. We have protocols, policies around all those coaches, all those staff members, how to behave, what’s expected, what they can’t do, what they can do. With a level of confidence, you can say, “My kid is going to be safe in this program.” Physically, emotionally, et cetera. If you are from Florida, you don’t have a sprint coach. You don’t have access to these sprint coaches. You don’t have access to these events. Then this is a great program for you. This is a great opportunity for you.

Jim Miller:

You can go to those races by yourself. I mean, there’s always multiple pathways to where you want to get. I’m just presenting a pathway that you can follow if you choose to. But I wouldn’t disagree that it’s possible to do it cheaper. Just for us, we can’t do it cheaper.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, and I think in the track frame, again as a person who’s not quite as into the sprint track world as Andy, but I sort of make the parallel of okay, well yes, there are the big picture cyclings and the edge cycling programs for you. They maybe the equivalent of the Hot Tubes or the Lux or the 2024 team.

Jim Miller:

I think they are, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. So we’re talking about the athletes that don’t make it into a big picture program or an edge program or a 2020 program or 2024 program. It’s just the same thing as we talked about in the road context. It’s just on a track context. So right. The kid who got selected for Lux probably doesn’t need this program either. So it’s a parallel. That’s the way to position that.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. To that point, I think that’s the most important thing to make the point about the ODA is we’re not trying to compete with those programs. We’re not going to go out and recruit from your teams. We’re not going to try to recruit your riders so that we win races and we look successful. That’s not what we’re after. We’re after providing an opportunity to the kids that didn’t get into those teams.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s a really good way to frame it and look at it. And I think that leads to something we touched on earlier that the national teams and nations cups teams, the high performance track program, the teams that get selected to go to the Tour of L’avenir, that’s a different animal than what this ODA program is really designed to do. And I think it goes to one of my questions. There’s this spectrum of development. So we start with Let’s Ride, and we teach a kid to put his helmet on or her helmet on and ride without training wheels or ride safely. There’s a period of development, some, “Hey, I like bike racing.” Maybe in T-Town it’s the PRL. Maybe somewhere else it’s something else. And then you’re starting to get to that level where you’re looking at that elite junior team or you’re looking at the ODA, and then there’s a national team.

Joan Hanscom:

So really quickly because we don’t want to be beat it to death, when you start to look at the nation team selection, it’s a different animal than the ODA program attendees. Let’s just say that right up front. You are not getting selected for the national team if you get selected into an ODA program. How do you get selected into the national team, and we know it’s different for all the disciplines. But just really quickly, define the difference for our listeners so that they know.

Jim Miller:

So ODA, you can apply. It’s very participatory in nature. That’s the goal. The national team is merit-based. You have to earn your way in. You can’t buy your way in. It’s not for sale. You have to meet a set of criteria or some sort of culch bent that gets you into the national team. Most of the criteria for the national team are on the website. We’re working through that again. I think in my absence a little bit, they changed. They morphed. Each director was in charge of their own criteria. So the language got inconsistent. They didn’t maintain data sets for time standards. So we’re working through that. I think we’re getting really close to getting done with all of it, but that has been a massive project to bring that up to par, bring the standards consistently up across the board, and get that lead published and back up on the website.

Jim Miller:

So national team is merit-based. It’s through criteria. You’ve done something suggests you’re in the national team level.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Yeah. I think those are just the really important distinctions that everybody understand. I think you’ve explained it in a way that’s pretty clear and hopefully if folks have questions about it, we refer them to the Ucyc website, and we refer them potentially to you or your coaches. But I do think that does away with some of that notion of the pay-to-play misperception that people had. So thank you for clarifying that.

Jim Miller:

I will say one thing too. I think with the ODA, occasionally, not occasionally… I’ve heard quite a bit is this an and/or? Can you do the national team and if you don’t, can you do the ODA? And they’re not interrelated like that. If you say, Jim, you have to pay for everything. I just can’t do the ODA. So we just scrap it. We don’t do it. It’s that simple. We just do national team. So there’s not an and/or here. This is my primary purpose is 11 teams, world championship teams, national teams. Beyond that, now I’m trying to create opportunities and grow the depth, grow the opportunities that are available, and particular for people that might have missed on those opportunities or didn’t get a fair shake at it.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on.

Andy Lakatosh:

So Jim, with the national team and some of those standards and stuff you were talking about, the criteria to get in. Looking at it myself, the spring document especially is a little bit on the sloppy side. There’s some mislabeling of things, and then it’s confusing because there’s the what you should aim for time standards, but then there’s the what you need to ride to get a certain level of support time standards. I’m glad that you acknowledged that the time standards are a little bit off because I was looking at it like, “Wow.” What is currently published as the international elite won’t even qualify you at a world cup in the 200. “Thanks for showing up and running a 200. You can go home now.”

Andy Lakatosh:

So it gets confusing, and I know as an athlete, it could really feel like the standards are always changing and everything’s just always… That the target’s always moving. It can be a pretty complex process from the athlete’s perspective because there’s a lot of confusion out there, and the track world is so tiny that when bad information gets out, it gets circulated very quickly. What I mean is like you’ve got a national team that is published, which is separate from the national team for events. And then you’ve got USAC event selection procedure, which is separate but complimentary to the UCI’s Olympic qualification procedure. There’s multiple steps on the website, and even some really great coaches that I know, even some staff looked at say the 2020 Olympic qualification procedure and misunderstood how it was written.

Andy Lakatosh:

Some people can get it really wrong, bad advice can be abundant, and I know from years of working with you that what you’re looking for is actually very simple. We can split hairs over, “Oh, I was 1000th of a second off of the time standard. Can I go to a race and stuff?” But it gets pretty simple what you’re looking for and not everyone is prepared to say cold call Jim Miller and say, “Hey, talk to me about what you need to see from me and I’m going to go get to work.” So if you had an opportunity to address all of the early hotheaded 20 year old versions of me who is hell bent on going to the games and too intimidated to call you and have a mature conversation, I see this as an opportunity to say what makes you go, “OH yeah, there’s the right stuff. There’s the thing we’re investing in.”

Jim Miller:

Yeah. Well, I would say for sure that a 20 year old Andy Lakatosh wasn’t afraid to call anybody.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, but it didn’t go so well after I called.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. I think that’s a fair question. I’m happy to say that I did not write those 2020 criteria. I’m probably the largest critic to all the 2020 criteria. But I will say in their defense that the authors of those criteria… Writing criteria is extremely difficult. I think for my first tenure in USA Cycling 2002 to the end of 2017, I left in January of 2018, I think I had written over 1000 criteria documents. Other NGBs, even the athlete’s of Bozeman would call and ask for advice on riding criteria. So I had written a ton of criteria. And to think through all the nuances, to try to out think 3000 people on the other side, to try to put together a fair objective, set of criteria, and then try to have that criteria elicit the right athlete capable of competing and winning is extremely difficult. So I don’t mean to be critical in that they did a poor job. I understand the challenges they had.

Jim Miller:

I don’t think it’s great criteria. For me, when I started putting together time standards, it was actually really simple request. And it may have come from you. It may have come from Andrew. I don’t actually recall who’s the first one to ask me for it, but there were literally like, “Give us a time standard. Give us something to shoot for, and we’ll shoot for it. We’ll work towards it. If you don’t want to take us to world cups because you don’t think we’re capable, at least tell us what we need to do to be capable.” And I thought that was perfectly reasonable and fair to ask. So I set out to create a time standard data set, both endurance and sprint, both out student acclimated or adjusted, environmentally adjusted, and super comprehensive.

Jim Miller:

So initially we set the first time standards out. I think we had four or five people that went and met them right away. I recall it was this year was the first woman, Baranowski. Who were the guys? I think they did it at T-Town too, but it was like okay, we got Dave. Danny Robinson.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, and Danny Robinson and Dave Espinoza. Yeah.

Jim Miller:

Dave Espinoza. So it’s like okay, you met the time standard. I sent him out the time standard. We start doing rank. We start doing rank system. I think that was a really fair and reasonable way to go about it. For me, the time standards are merely byproduct of coming up to a level that’s capable of competing. That’s why I’m like we’ve had this conversation about thousandths of a second. It’s almost a non-conversation for me because it doesn’t make a difference. The goals with sprinting is qualifying in a world cup, getting into the sprint tournament, not just going riding the qualifier.

Andy Lakatosh:

And you have to get well into the sprint tournament if you want to see more than the first round now.

Jim Miller:

You do. You do. So that’s all those time standards really are is saying, “Look, with reasonable expectation, we think that you’ll get past the qualifier and get into sprint tournament.” And if that means you qualified last or second to last, third to last, well, probably when you first start doing that, that’s how it going to be. But that gets you there and gets you the experience, and we’ll work from there. That’s what we’re really after. There’s probably no reason to overthink it beyond that.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. I was thinking to myself though how when you have the right attitude and you’re willing to just knuckle down and do the work and stuff, I know from experience myself and with athletes that I’ve worked with that really speaks more than say riding just the fast time. Because we’ve seen it just in the last year, you can pop off the time standard, and you can do it on your home track or on home soil. And then you go to a world cup and you just get rocked. You just get shot out the back the first round, and you’re like, “Okay. I can win when I’m home, but everyone else takes it to the next level.” I think so much of what really separates the people that are ready and not ready are the ones that go, “Okay, that was good. But I know I need more.”

Andy Lakatosh:

Chloe’s a phenomenal athlete, but I know just from being around her and working with her, there’s no resting. It’s like, “Okay, that went great, but everyone else is still coming. So I’m just going to keep my foot on the gas.” In all my experience, I feel like that resonates more than, “Oh, hey, look. I rode your time standard. Let’s go do some stuff now.” I think that that was an important thing to kind of share with people that aren’t able to have the conversation with you to get to that point.

Jim Miller:

And that’s by hard assness. That’s where people think I’m a hard ass. At these levels, world cup levels, world championship levels, [inaudible 01:11:47] levels, it is about winning. It’s just what it is. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we compete. If you are at this ODA level, you’re the Let’s Ride level, you’re at a club level, my kids in high school sports, I wasn’t that guy. I’m not that guy. I understand the difference in participation and doing it with experience and learning lessons and life lessons versus that very upper level of we’re here to win. You have to be pushed. I have to be pushed, you have to be pushed. That’s what gets us to where we’re trying to go.

Joan Hanscom:

Speaking of where you’re trying to go. You’re trying to go to Tokyo. How’s everybody doing with the year of delay? How are you doing with the year of delay? How’s that all shaking out for everybody?

Jim Miller:

That was a super smooth transition.

Joan Hanscom:

You know it.

Jim Miller:

It’s good. I think 2020 was… It was amazingly difficult for athletes. I do coach riders still. It was amazing. It was difficult for every single person I coached, with the exception of maybe one or two that were just like, “Well, whatever. We’ll train.” But I think everybody struggled to some degree.

Jim Miller:

That said, I think everybody’s ready to turn the corner and have some sort of finish line in sight and have some sort of goal in place again. I think for athletes that’s the most difficult piece is when you get to this level, you’re so goal oriented and focused on the things you do that when those get taken away, you just sort of meander and get lost. So I think everybody’s happy to have this looming goal in the front window again and have something to chase.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, right on. I know we’re feeling that way here too. We’re feeling like we’re not going to the Olympics. I think that’s a universal human reaction right now. We all had a year that was horrible and weird. You have ambitions, and they get delayed. Not changed, but delayed. And we’re excited to get things rolling to and to turn on the stuff that we want to turn on. I think that’s a very humanizing thing to think about when you think about these athletes. They’re faster than you. They’re on a playing field that we’re not on, but man, it’s relatable.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re all in that boat, and I’m hopeful that they’re going to get to see that all come to fruition and that we are going to turn that corner, like you said. Going back to your statement about being the positive upbeat one, we share your pessimism about Q1, but I think we’re all very hopeful here that we are going to see that corner in May. And we’re going to turn it, and something good will happen in the summer. I hope that’s the case for all of your athletes too that we do turn that corner, and we are back, laser focused on the goal.

Jim Miller:

Yeah. If we talk about Tokyo a little bit, I mean, I think to be honest, I wasn’t disappointed with the extra year to prepare. I was basically going to come in and just run the turnkey team, whatever was handed to me, delivered. But this gave me time to get projects up and running and work through speed suits again. Hopefully put teams in better positions to compete and win. I think in particular, I’m a key pursuits type. Some of our key competitors had some significant loses, which help us. That didn’t hurt.

Jim Miller:

Chloe, of course, her crash is a big deal. But she’s making good progress. So we’re optimistic of where she’s at and what she’ll be able to do. I think with Tokyo in general, I think we’re still very high in what we can accomplish and what we think we can do and where we’re at at the moment.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. And we’re looking forward to seeing your 2024 athletes here at T-Town over the summer.

Jim Miller:

Yes, we’re coming.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re looking forward to that. We got to nail that down soon because we’re going to make sure they have good housing and all the things you talked about before. So we’ll have more to talk about on that front, but we’re excited to see the team here and make our announcements with our race schedule shortly. Yeah, maybe we’ll even have you back on the pod for some more after we’ve-

Jim Miller:

Yes, absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

… after we’ve turned the corner. And with that note, I think it’s been a very good conversation. I’m very appreciative of it. I’m looking forward to the part that we can play in being part of that devo pipeline, what we can offer here at T-Town for the athletes who want to go all the way to that level, who want to get a look for ’24, ’28. And even for just the Let’s Ride folks who want to learn how to ride a bike and be lifelong cyclists. We’re excited to be part of your pathway. So I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish together with this stuff long term.

Joan Hanscom:

So I thank you very much for giving us your time early in the morning before you’ve had your second and third coffees. Time for both West Coast boys to catch up with me. Start drinking.

Jim Miller:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

So thank you. This has been a good episode of the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. And we are thrilled that we had time with Jim Miller, and we hope that if you enjoy the show, you will subscribe and leave us a positive rating and enable us to keep growing the pod and having more great guests like Jim in the future.

Joan Hanscom:

So thanks everybody.

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.