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Mandy Marquardt: Olympic Dreams and Breaking Records

Talk of the T-Town Podcast Show Art

Episode 1

“In 2016, ’17, ’18 we started building toward getting more of that experience. I started learning a lot more about racing at the International level. It’s a lot of hard work and honestly a lot of patience…”

– Mandy Marquardt, Track Sprint Cyclist

This week on Talk of the T-Town we sit down with Mandy Marquardt and talk training through COVID, breaking the National Record in the Standing Kilo, Olympic Long Team selection while looking ahead toward Tokyo, what her team support means to her career and her thoughts on Crocs.

Links mentioned in this episode: 

Mandy Marquardt, Track Sprint Cyclist

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 co-host athletic director Andy Lakatosh.

Joan Hanscom:

Good morning. Welcome to The Talk of the T-Town podcast. Today’s guest is Mandy Marquardt and she’s joining us here in person in our offices. We’re joined by my co-host, Andy Lakatosh, who’s up early in Los Angeles to join us by phone. Mandy, thanks so much for joining us on what is a very, very dreary day here in Pennsylvania. To get us started, let’s start with some background on you. You’re not a T-Town native though we like to claim you as such. Tell us the roundabout way you got here.

Mandy Marquardt:

So I’m originally from Manheim, Germany and I move to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when I was about six. And when I was really young, I used to come up here and race with Mike Fraser and a couple athletes too that lived in Florida and eventually moved up here. And I didn’t want to stay in Florida, I wanted to go somewhere that I could race and living up here reminded me a lot of Germany in many ways. So there was a time though too when I moved back to Germany when I was 15, it was there when I was diagnosed with Type I diabetes and really wanted to get my life together and my diagnosis and everything so I decided that I wanted to come up to Pennsylvania to go to school and continue seeing where racing will take me.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, the area’s great for that. You have colleges close by and you have the track, you have beautiful road racing. So yeah, it makes sense. It’s a good destination and now we get to call you our own hometown hero. Speaking of being the hometown hero, congratulations on setting your new national record this summer in the kilo. It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. For our listeners, Mandy broke the standing kilo record but she did it outdoors on an incredibly windy day which it was really impressive to watch because we could see what the wind was doing to you and it was like, “Oh boy, I’m so glad I’m not her.” But it’s even more impressive because it came on the heels of this non season season and I think it’s a real testament to all the work you put in all summer long when it had to be hard to keep the motivation going when there was no racing. So tell us a little bit about that. How did you keep your motivation going all summer? And how did you just prepare to come out and smash the record?

Mandy Marquardt:

Definitely that day for sure it was so windy. And I just remember looking at my coach just waiting for a thumbs up if I did it or not because literally last lap I thought this is going to be so slow. But it was really awesome to be able to do that this year especially. I’ve just been putting a lot of training in. It’s really the first time in six years that I’ve been able to just stay put in one place and just train. I haven’t really gotten the ability to do that so I’ve just been training all summer really hard and really training through this … We’ve had a really big block of training. And yeah, I just really wanted to go and see what I could do that day. I wasn’t necessarily focused on that event specifically, I wasn’t training for that event but it’s just neat to see that all of my training just-

Joan Hanscom:

It come, right?

Mandy Marquardt:

It did.

Joan Hanscom:

For us watching, we had the live timing up so we were like, “Oh, she’s going to do it. She’s going to do it. She’s going to do it.” And then that last lap on the backside of the track, we could see your legs, just your pedal stroke changed and I was like, “Oh no.” But it was so cool to see you do it. It was really cool.

Mandy Marquardt:

Just trying to hold on to it. My teammates were hilarious too just leading up to it because they’re narrow bars and I’m doing it on drop bars. Also, my position’s pretty long so I didn’t want to change my entire position, get some narrow bars. I was like, “It’s only three laps, right?” Yeah, it was just really motivating to see them that day and my cycling coach, Andrew Harris. And yeah, it’s pretty cool to have us all being able to train together. It was just difficult in the beginning obviously. I was alone at training in my little gym at home, thankfully I had a squat rack that we’ve had for years and we never used until now really and it just all came together. And eventually things started to open up, we were able to train outdoors together, and just doing the best that we can just to stay motivated. It’s one of those things it’s just adapting.

Joan Hanscom:

I will say, so I follow you on Instagram. Everybody, you should follow Mandy on Instagram because it’s a pretty good feed. And I’ve seen you post pictures of your walk bike and your squat rack at home and I’m so jealous. I live in a tiny, little apartment and I’m watching you work out all summer and I’m like, “Oh, I want that set up.” So I have a little bit of envy of your home gym set up, I will admit.

Mandy Marquardt:

Hey, I think it’s any set up works and I think if you’re motivated and making it happen and committed to something if it’s just to feel good or set a goal or accomplish something, I think any set up works.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, right on.

Mandy Marquardt:

Then you can get outside and ride.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I’ve been able to do that, thank goodness. But I can’t do squats in my house like you can. So speaking of major accomplishments, you have been named to the Olympic long team and that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. In Rio, you had also made the long team if I’m not mistaken and we didn’t get to send women sprinters if I understand this all correctly. What does this selection mean to you? And now to have it twice and to get another shot at it, and I think you’re looking ahead to Paris in 2024 possibly as well. So what does this team selection mean to you?

Mandy Marquardt:

So going back, I graduated from Penn State Lehigh Valley in 2014 and that’s when I really decided I really wanted to focus on my cycling career. I actually just started sprinting in 2013, I was doing endurance for so long and I was like, “Okay, let’s try this. Let’s see how it goes.” It was really difficult for the first few years because I was like, “This is so new to me.” And really my first international race, other than T-Town was a World Cup. It was very humbling and I was like, “Okay, this is where I need to go is racing with Anna Meares and seeing her next to me in a pit.” I was like, “This is so cool but I want to be right there with you.” So it’s been an uphill just climb and we were named to the long team but we didn’t qualify as a nation, it’s a two-year long process.

Mandy Marquardt:

So in 2015, 2016, we were racing, we did some World Cups. In 2015, I don’t think we did but in 2016, ’17, ’18 we just started building and getting more of that experience in. I just started learning a lot more about racing at that international level and what it takes and just definitely a lot of hard work and honestly just patience. And it wasn’t until the last couple of years that my career really started excelling just continuing to put all the pieces together. It’s not an easy journey for sure but it can be lonely and just getting to see the world and getting to do what I love has been awesome and all of my races. UCI races here are so important, it gives us that international experience, it gives us those points so we have to individually qualify for World Cups.

Mandy Marquardt:

But then we go to nationals to qualify for Pan Ams and then at World Cups we are always making sure with the nation ranking and that we’re right where we’re supposed to be. My points go towards an Olympic ranking, so does Maddie’s points. It’s accumulative team effort really even though we’re competing individually. And it’s definitely been a journey. And I would say last year was one of my best years just consistently here getting some podiums at the UCI events here in T-Town and then going to nationals and just building it. And then Pan Ams too, that was a great experience in Bolivia. It’s just been a building. And then World Cups and definitely it was the closest I’ve been to a podium was fourth. It was a very stacked World Cup. It’s definitely given me that experience that it’s all coming together even though being so close to a podium spot and not getting it, it’s just an opportunity to say the work that I’ve put in is there I just need to have some more patience.

Mandy Marquardt:

I’ve definitely failed a lot more than I’ve succeeded but it’s made those days really great.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that is key to longevity in our sport. Definitely, well for anybody, you lose a lot more bike races than you win and it’s that ability to get kicked in the teeth and get up and do it again that helps us keep persevering. I think there’s a great saying about hockey goalies as soon as they let a goal in, they have to forget that it ever happened and focus again on the future. And you’ve said that world championships last year didn’t go quite to how you planned it. What is your process for just letting that goal in the net and moving forward? How do you handle that? Do you work with sports psychologists? Do you have a process that says I give myself 24 hours to throw a pity party and then I move on or are you snappy? Are you like okay, done, move on?

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah. So going back to the world championships, and really if I look back at it, it was a long season. It started, what in June?

Joan Hanscom:

It was insane here.

Mandy Marquardt:

It was.

Joan Hanscom:

There was a lot of racing.

Mandy Marquardt:

It’s a lot of traveling too, just a lot of planning and foresight. And you just got to stay healthy too on top of that. So yeah, if I look at June to November, my season was great. And then December, I was in L.A. just training consistently and everything. And then I just started noticing I was just tired from traveling. I was having a hard time managing a little bit my blood sugars, I did get a little bit sick in January. It’s just one of those things I’m just trying to come out of that and stay positive knowing that I’ve had a consistent season and I’m just going to continue to do my best. And so looking at Worlds, I was going into very hopeful but I knew that maybe this is where I’m supposed to be at my top form but I had a long season. I had points to catch up. It was one of those where I had to really decide am I going to consistently grab those points or just focus on one race?

Mandy Marquardt:

And even though it’s … You got to sometimes pick and choose and it’s hard and you could say, “Okay. If I did better at Worlds, I could’ve earned another sprint spot.” It’s one of those things. But you look at another race like Pan Ams, if results would’ve been better, could’ve happened there. So I just think looking at just the process is there. And I do work with a sports psychologist and looking at all aspects of it just emotionally how I’m reacting too. Yeah, before, years ago I used to beat myself up over it but now I’ve learned it’s just part of a process looking ahead and how I can just continue to improve and not beat myself up over it because I know I’ve just done my best every day I did show up at training and at racing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, right on. I think that’s important for us all to understand. You do just have to trust the process, one step forward, one step back, you just keep moving. Speaking of keeping moving, Andy is out in L.A. right now with his athletes training and we mentioned that it’s really dreary weather here in Pennsylvania and it’s starting to get cold. What are you going to do? Are you going to follow Andy’s path and go somewhere warm and sunny or are you going to stick around here and go back into your bedroom with your squat rack?

Mandy Marquardt:

First, I’ll ask, Andy, how’s L.A.? I’m sure it’s beautiful.

Andy Lakatosh:

80 degrees, sunny, and hot as can be every single day so I’ve got no complaints whatsoever. It feels like I have been transplanted back to August except a lot more people and not as much green open spaces. You win some, you lose some.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah. You’re probably like, “Why did I move here?” But no, it’s cool that you’re able to have that ability to go over there and visit. But that’s same thing, I have somebody that I stay with out there. I actually shipped out my old car a couple years ago. So in this sport, you do have to make a lot of sacrifices. I don’t know yet, I’m just enjoying the weather that I still have here and I know that I have a squat rack and a walkway so make the best out of it but hopefully I can get over to L.A. when the Velodrome opens and we’ll see.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Well, we’re going to take a quick break here for our sponsors and we’ll be right back.

Joan Hanscom:

(music)

Andy Lakatosh:

The Talk of the T-Town podcast is brought to you through the generous support of B Braun Medical Inc, a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management. B Braun develops, manufactures, and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They’re also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live. We here at the Velodrome have a special affinity for B Braun because not only are they innovators in the medical field but they like to race bikes. Every season you can catch the B Braun team competing in our corporate challenge and man does their team bring out the stoke. In 2019, they packed the stand with employees cheering for their team and we can’t wait to see them out on bikes again soon.

Andy Lakatosh:

(music)

Joan Hanscom:

All right. We are back. And one of the things we really want to talk to Mandy about here is women’s participation in our sport. Traditionally, cycling has been a pretty male-dominated sport. I think the recent numbers from USA Cycling look like 88% male, 12% female. Obviously, you’re bucking that trend. And here at the track, we have Women’s Wednesdays, we have some incredible women coaching in our programs like Kim Geist, Kim Zubris, Elizabeth Hewett. And we’ve seen our participation go to about 70/30 which is super against trend which I’m very, very proud of and I think Andy has actually been a real driver in that as well. Andy, you’ve really driven a lot of the equity. And when some of the male athletes got uppity with Andy, Andy was like, “No, no, we’re doing this. It’s the right thing.”

Joan Hanscom:

We have a lot of junior women racing in the programs. Some of them race for Andy’s athletes, a lot race with Edge. So we see a lot of female participation and young juniors coming along. You’re a role model for what could happen, where they could go with this sport. What’s your advice to these girls as they get deeper into it?

Mandy Marquardt:

First, I want to say congratulations to you guys really for making that happen. Even this year too for Women’s Wednesdays and really seeing that’s what the Velodrome and the community needed. So thank you. I did participate too in a Women’s Wednesday a couple times and seeing the passion that both Kims have and Elizabeth and everybody in the community, it’s pretty awesome to see all the young girls and you see Kim riding with some of the younger athletes now and that they look up to her. And it’s really neat to be able to say, “Okay. I’m a role model,” but really I feel like I’m inspired by them too, to see them so ambitious coming to training. I remember when I was young, there were days I was on the Velodrome on my own in Florida, I didn’t have that sense of community, I didn’t have that ability to ride with more women. I was really always riding with men, older men, and it’s really cool to see them have people to look up to and have a program and have a facility that’s really there for them.

Mandy Marquardt:

And for me to be able to race at this level to show them there is that opportunity, that pathway that drives me and that makes me really happy. And just showing them that I’m doing what I love is important. I always say go to school, get your education, and cycling and everything else will follow.

Joan Hanscom:

I think for women that is definitely an easier pathway almost to have the option to go all the way through school and still have the career. I think just based on how women mature in the sport, it’s important advice, I think particularly speaking as a person who’s worked in bike racing for 20 years. It’s definitely good to have some fallback positions.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah. Males and females they also grow at a different rate from skills to cognitive abilities, just everything. So seeing Andrew Harris, my coach, and his program Edge Cycling, him seeing him work with the athletes, male, female, just seeing him develop the youth athletes and just seeing all the programs that the Velodrome does have and all the teams and coaches around the area, just seeing that and there’s opportunities. And even though, okay when on race day we all race against each other but really to see all of that happening together is pretty awesome for this sport. I think it’s healthy and exciting to see and hopefully more women definitely do get involved. And seeing that 70% male to 30% female, I just think that’s definitely going to be changing over the years.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. We certainly hope so. And I think Andy … Andy out there in L.A., how are your athletes doing this week, Andy? Are they enjoying the pro show that they’re experiencing out there?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. One of the things that’s nice about L.A. is that you really can just keep on training like everything’s normal. And out here we’re just operating in, because everything’s so restricted and closed down right now, we’re operating in a pretty tight little bubble just going through a routine and stuff. So it’s really nice that we’re able to stay on it. Obviously, it’ll be a lot nicer when the track opens up and we have that ability to be on there. But it’s just that consistency that really pays off in keeping everything on track and not really missing a beat. There’s so many other interruptions in a normal year, in a non COVID year, and being able to smooth out as many of those bumps along the road is really beneficial and that’s the biggest reason to be out here. There’s no rain so that makes a big difference for us. The girls are just absolutely eating it up. I’m not minding it myself at all for training which is really nice and hopefully the track opens up again soon and things will really feel “normal.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, right on.

Mandy Marquardt:

Do they have a set date yet when they’ll open?

Andy Lakatosh:

No. I was speaking with Travis a little bit and they’re tiered system out here, the next tier for the county to go to is red, and the insider word is that they’re hoping to be able to open in the way that we did in T-Town when it shifts to the next phase with restrictions and limited occupancy and stuff like that. But everything out here if you follow the news closely like I have it changes daily if not hourly with what’s allowed, what’s not allowed, sliding forward, sliding backwards. So in a year of just craziness you just roll with the punches. And what’s our favorite term? This is the year of the pivot, Joan, you keep adapting and changing and that even goes into what we’re planning for next year in T-Town already. Everything’s got a big asterisk of COVID pending and then in each scenario, I’ve got probably three or four backup plans if X, Y, or Z gets shut down. That’s just the same way that we’re approaching it with myself and all of our athletes is you just have to be ready to adapt and keep moving no matter what.

Andy Lakatosh:

So yeah, no firm dates yet but I do know that the sun will always be shining out here and warm weather will be here so it’s pretty much whenever we can.

Mandy Marquardt:

Thanks. Thanks for telling us.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, yeah right, Andy. Rub it in.

Mandy Marquardt:

No. That’s awesome. Well enjoy that time there and definitely Christmas is around the corner so this is the area for Christmas and holidays.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, there you go. We live in Christmas town.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. Decorating a palm tree is … I enjoy it. But it’s definitely a hard-

Mandy Marquardt:

Definitely, I know growing up in Florida.

Andy Lakatosh:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so funny. I don’t want to think that far ahead yet. I still want it to be summer. I’m in denial. I don’t want to think about Christmas just yet. So yeah, let’s move off the topic of beautiful weather because it’s making me sad. Moving on to one thing that I really wanted to touch base with you on and I think it goes back to how you are an example for the younger generation of cyclists coming along. You represent your sponsors incredibly well and I think there was a time when all you had to do was win by graces and it was enough. And now we have social media with influencer culture, with whatever you want to call it and really limited mainstream media coverage of our sport because, let’s be honest, we are the nichiest of the niche sports. It’s important for athletes regardless of what level you’re racing at to represent their sponsors well, to have a brand, and to work both sides.

Joan Hanscom:

You have to be good at the sport, you have to do the work on the sport but then there’s this obligation and this need to really represent your sponsors well and I think you do it incredibly well. It’s very organic, it’s very true to your sponsor’s message but it also feels very true to the Mandy brand. And so talk to us about that. How do you work that into what is it a really rigorous training schedule life because you’re not just a track racer, you’re a person, you have a home life but you really do do a great job with your brand. So talk to us about the Mandy brand and how you approach all of that.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah. Thank you. I really appreciate that. So I race for Team Novo Nordisk. It’s the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team. So we’re all racing with Type I and inspiring, educating, empowering everyone affected by diabetes. And I’ve been part of this team for 10 years. And it was definitely really difficult to talk about my diagnosis in the beginning because I was so embarrassed about it just because I didn’t want anybody to see me in public taking insulin or knowing that I was diabetic because I felt like I’d be treated differently.

Mandy Marquardt:

And so being a part of that team and them giving me that hope and the opportunity to race and travel and just teach me how to race and live with Type I diabetes and be proud of that, it’s definitely something that I’ve grown into. And also going to school for business management and marketing, I love networking. It is my degree too so I love the social media side to it. And I keep it professional because it is my contract to represent my team and my sponsors because also personally knowing that I’m not only representing myself but I’m representing my team, my country, the Velodrome here. There’s so many things that are tied into, it’s just not me and my brand but also just who, I’ll say, represent. And I think that’s important to remember is that with social media you have to find that balance, find something that you’re passionate about.

Mandy Marquardt:

And that’s for me is I do enjoy the brands that I work with and that I represent. And in ways for me, it doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy it. I like that social media marketing aspect side of it, it’s fun. I like building those relationships. I recently partnered here with St. Luke’s and also Factory which and their brand partners, it’s just a fun relationship. And being on the board at Penn State Lehigh Valley, the alumni board of directors, it’s fun to stay involved in the community and sometimes just have something else going on other than cycling.

Mandy Marquardt:

But I do train a lot but I see the social media side as just something that I enjoy doing too. And it also helps really honestly pay the bills and also gives the sport some visibility. I see it this way too if a brand that I’m partnering with doesn’t really have a lot of visibility in track cycling, that’s an opportunity for me not to just make it about me but to give them the opportunity to learn more about the sport and what it’s all about. And I think that side of it is really important because in knowing too, it’s not just been about me but also creating that opportunity too for young girls and people living with diabetes. I get a lot of really positive messages that people are just like, “Keep going. You’re inspiring.” And that to me it just makes my day, it’s not to lift me up or lift an ego, nothing like that. It’s more of just this is what I’m passionate about and I’m so happy to be reaching people.

Mandy Marquardt:

And recently I’ve just launched my website and a logo that really connects all that, that entire message that I’m sharing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that’s what resonates about what you do is it always feels very authentic. It never feels forced, it never feels like here’s the checkbox of my obligatory one post a week on this brand. It feels very organic and I think that’s the pathway for success for athletes in our sport, more broadly speaking, that authenticity has to come through and you do it really well. And I wonder how much … You said you really enjoy your relationships with who you work with. How selective are you about that? How much does that actually matter to you that you gel with your sponsors and that it is a collaboration more than just a transaction?

Mandy Marquardt:

It is a great question. I do get approached by sponsors and sometimes I’ve actually also just started working with an agent just to help leverage some of that just because it is a lot of work too. He helps to make sure if this is worth for me, if this aligns. But recently, I’ve … It’s going to be an announcement Monday but I’ve been posting about Mammoth Creameries. It’s a keto friendly ice cream. It was actually funded by a Type I and that’s really cool to me. I think that’s awesome. He has a big family, he has Type I diabetes, and that’s a way for us to connect. And I think if you have Type I diabetes or diabetes, you can still have ice cream and you can still have that balance in your life. And it’s just one of those things that aligned and connected and is an opportunity for me to share his story and his brand and for him to share my journey and my sport.

Mandy Marquardt:

So yeah, just think looking for ways that you connect with people. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You can’t force that. And just be super clear and transparent, this is what I’m able to do. And I think that’s just clear transparency communication and knowing that it’s just not a give relationship, it’s a give and take and that’s a really important element to it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I agree and I think that’s how we approach sponsorship here as well that I don’t ever want people to just give me money for a sign because that doesn’t live and breathe. To me, when sponsorship works it’s not a sponsorship, it’s a partnership. And it’s a living thing that has longevity because you view it as a partnership and not a transaction. But I do think you do it incredibly well and I think you set a really good example for other athletes like, “Hey, check out what Mandy’s doing,” because it is so authentic.

Mandy Marquardt:

[inaudible 00:31:03] Courtney also does a really good job as a non-biker.

Joan Hanscom:

She’s terrific. She did, and I don’t know if you followed along, but she did Self-Care Sundays during the real shutdown part and-

Mandy Marquardt:

Oh, I didn’t see that. She’s awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

I was there doing … She did the glute workout with Katie Hall and I was in my living room doing it like, “Oh, I want to learn this.” I’m such a nerd.

Mandy Marquardt:

She’d do all these crazy stability exercises. It was pretty awesome to see and her being that engaging too. I think it’s also a great time in quarantine, it’s like, “Why not?”, share that story, share that side of it. And I think she did such a good job.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. She definitely was up front I think like you found about the struggles of keeping motivated and, “Oh crap, I was going to go to Tokyo. And how do I reset?” I loved her point about how the goal is the same, it’s just on a different day. And I thought that was really powerful. And she’s another one that does a really great job with who she is is very real.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah, hopefully you’ll get her on here.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’d be cool. I would be thrilled to have, Kate, if you’re listening please give us a call, we’d love to have you even though we’re talking track. Maybe we’ll get you to come race track, Andy will teach you. Speaking of that, you touched on it when we were talking about the branding. You said you’ve been on Team Novo Nordisk for almost 10 years and just this morning we saw that [inaudible 00:32:39], that women’s team is folding just this morning. And those poor riders mid-season are without a contract. To have a team relationship for 10 years, people would kill for that. Tell us a little bit about what that’s meant for your longevity in the sport. That’s an incredible run. How does that keep going?

Mandy Marquardt:

It’s definitely [inaudible 00:33:05] the sea of Team Novo Nordisk. He sees the vision, he’s passionate. He lives with Type I diabetes. He started the team maybe 12, 13 years ago out of a school and just a little investor and he just had this goal of wanting to create a team that is inspiring people and people were living with diabetes too. And so I think in 2013 or 2014, Novo Nordisk became the title sponsor and they’ve helped really share that message. We’re not here telling people to purchase this insulin or do this a certain way, we’re not doctors, we’re not educators, diabetes educators. We’re just athletes following our dream and sharing that story and hoping to inspire more people. And I’ve definitely seen that firsthand getting some opportunities to be in Rwanda and do some missionary work there with the team and just see the impact that the team has made and that’s what is driving the team I think for so long is that the results are building even for the men’s pro team.

Mandy Marquardt:

Each year, their biggest goal is to race in the Tour de France. They’re an incredible team but they have an awesome backing of team doctors because it does take a lot of data at this level too with diabetes and just power and recovery’s really hard for us actually so … There’s so many variables. So I think just having a great team of people and resources has really helped make this team what it is. It’s more of really like a family. And that’s why I feel so passionate about the team because it is a cycling team and pro cycling team but it’s also a business, it’s also a family. They just see a vision and I think having something that you’re passionate about and that you’re seeing it change people’s lives, that’s-

Joan Hanscom:

How do you balance that trade team relationship with your Team USA relationship? What’s the line there? How do you walk that line between being a national team athlete and a trade team athlete?

Mandy Marquardt:

That’s a really good question. A couple years ago, it was when I made the national team, I was racing you could say for the national team in 2014 because they were funding … USA cycling was helping me get to World Cups and giving me those opportunities. And then Team Novo Nordisk was helping me at UCI events, getting me to nationals. And so collectively, they both have helped me so much but I think that relationship is so important as far as just communication. When I go to races, it’s like, “Okay, I have to be in this kit and represent this,” and also give them that visibility too because my team has helped me get to the World Cup as well or get me to this big race. And so I think just having that closeness and that transparency with my team and … I don’t get to see the team that often because they have training camps and I can’t keep up with the pro men.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah, they do all these training camps in Majorca or somewhere in Europe. But I definitely I miss seeing them. But they’re really supportive. I remember at some of the World Cups they were watching the live stream and they sent me videos. It’s really cool to have their support even though I’m the only female on the team. I hope to inspire more younger girls … I know this young girl, McKenna McKey, I don’t know if you’ve met her or seen her but she’s incredible and hopefully she’ll be in my shoes too. She’s definitely in her own lane … She’s incredible. And so I know she’s going to be an awesome rider and awesome inspiration to so many people as she is already.

Joan Hanscom:

So Andy-

Andy Lakatosh:

Mandy, I have a question for you based on your pro road team affiliation status and going in line with the national team stuff, something that we regularly encounter on track especially on track sprint is the needs for equipment and stuff are so specific and you can a lot of times get tied to teams if you get on a big team with very strict sponsor and equipment supplier obligations. And I know in the past for myself, it’s sometimes been hard to navigate that and you don’t ever want to sacrifice potential performance gains through equipment and track sprint is such a niche part of it. And your track bike and equipment that you use on the track doesn’t necessarily match what Novo Nordisk uses on the road. And it’ll probably be great for some of our listeners and developing up and coming athletes. How do you handle and approach those conversations with a big major team to be like, “I love and appreciate what you guys are doing for me and the equipment that you provided, however, I need X, Y, and Z.”

Andy Lakatosh:

What was your process for navigating that to preserve the relationship but also still get the things that you need and have the freedom you need to be at that highest level?

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah. That’s a good question. I’d say the CEO of my team, Phil Southerland, he knew and understood track racing a little bit just because of the track in Atlanta and knew my goals. So because he knew the background in that and my goals already, he said we’re comfortable and he had to check with Novo Nordisk but if we’re comfortable with you having your own sponsors on the Team Novo Nordisk kit and that’s what really opened the door. That’s one of those opportunities so pretty much I’m representing a team and still able to have my own sponsors and that to me, I was just like, “Wow. That’s really cool. All right.” And then just communicating with them my contract just so they know, there’s visibility in my contract with them and they discussed that with the title sponsor.

Mandy Marquardt:

I just think it’s more of just letting everybody know who, what, where, when and obviously the priority is Novo Nordisk and I wouldn’t go start doing more events and traveling if I’m not even able to do that for Novo Nordisk. So I just think keeping that in perspective, they’re my biggest sponsor and I’m really happy to represent them but knowing that I’m able to have all these other little sponsors here to help me, I wouldn’t say they’re little, but it’s along with me and along the journey.

Mandy Marquardt:

And as far as equipment, definitely pretty grateful to get a Colnago. It’s pretty sweet. First time having Di2, definitely was just like, “I’m getting a bike. That’s so sweet. That’s awesome.” I was just so grateful and thankful. And then as far as my track equipment stuff, I do have bicycle technologies that I partnered with and they’re out of Australia. The CEO’s awesome, Steven, and he’s just been really supportive too. I just think, like I said, creating those relationships, having clear transparency, and not always just taking … I had another Colnago for 10 years that I now use that I travel with normally but it’s not just trying to accumulate all this stuff, it’s more of just appreciating it and knowing that these relationships are built on just communication, transparency, and that I’m able to move forward and hopefully that they also see the investment on the side of my racing and my goals and that we’re all aligned and going in the same direction together.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think Andy’s point is really excellent though and it goes back to what we were talking about earlier which is that authenticity of the relationships. And when you have a real true partnership versus transaction, it’s a lot easier to have that give and take in a relationship when they understand that the value is going both ways and people tend to be more open to things like you having your own sponsors when there is value in the relationship and that value you’ve created and you’ve reinforce. I keep going back to that because I think that’s such a important component of our sport broadly speaking surviving and thriving-

Mandy Marquardt:

It’s true.

Joan Hanscom:

… is that we can’t just say, “Oh, slap your logo on a jersey,” and expect that to be a valuable relationship. It’s really so much more. Yeah, I think, Andy, you raised a really great and important point for us all to understand if we want to keep the sport chugging along. We can’t do it on our own. We can’t just do it by being bike racers. We have to forge value with the broader community and I think that that’s the theme of everything we’re trying to do and obviously you’re doing it. And it keeps you in the game and hopefully we find a way to do it for us and keep ourselves in the game as well. But it’s a really important point and, Andy, thanks for bringing that one up.

Mandy Marquardt:

Yeah, thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

And now the serious business talk is over. We are nerds. We’re doing what every podcast on earth seems to do which is, at the end, throw in the lightening round wacky questions. I just was on a podcast with Discover Lehigh Valley and they did this to me and I was like, “Oh no. I hate these questions,” because I never answer them the way they want me to. But we’re going to make you do it now too. So ready-

Mandy Marquardt:

I’m ready.

Joan Hanscom:

… for your lightening round weird questions. Number one, your first celebrity crush.

Mandy Marquardt:

I think it was Leonardo DiCaprio.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. Nice one. Good. Okay. Leonardo DiCaprio, are you listening? Mandy’s a fan. Number two, thoughts on Crocs, the ugly, colorful footwear.

Mandy Marquardt:

They just sound weird. They just feel like they sound weird and squishy and they’ve been adding this fluff and glitter and stuff to them. I don’t know if it’s helping or making it worse.

Joan Hanscom:

I like it. That’s an interesting take on Crocs. And because it’s the season, what was your favorite childhood Halloween costume?

Mandy Marquardt:

My mom would always stress me out so I’d probably ask her what’s her favorite. But she dressed me up, I think, as a cat before just all these random fun costumes just because when I used to swim for the swim team down there they’d have little awards and stuff and she’d go all out for sure. She’d do my makeup so I think the cat one’s cool.

Joan Hanscom:

My most embarrassing Halloween costume, not that you asked but I’m going to ask you next, Andy. In kindergarten, we had to do the Halloween parade through grammar school and our neighbors had just come back from the islands and they had gotten me a coconut bra, I’m five, so they brought me back a coconut bra and a grass skirt. I grew up in New Hampshire so it’s not warm in New Hampshire at Halloween and so my mother was like, “Oh, you look so cute.” So I had to parade through the school in October wearing a coconut bra and a grass skirt and I wanted to die.

Mandy Marquardt:

You were like, “I wish I were in paradise.”

Joan Hanscom:

I was like, “This is not really great because it’s pretty cold.” So Andy, what was your favorite childhood costume?

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m sorry. I can barely hear you guys.

Joan Hanscom:

What was your favorite Halloween costume growing up, Andy?

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, so I’m not a big fan of Halloween but I will say when I was some point in elementary school, I was over the top for Ghostbusters in the worst possible way. And I remember my dad got me a little mechanic’s jumpsuit and I had all the toys and everything and we would even go one step further. So he would take one of the … We would enter Halloween parades locally and what my dad would do is he would dress up in a big white clean room suit, like the big white Tyvek suits. He’d paint his face white to look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and then he’d pull one of our little red wagons that we put this cutout on the side that looked like the car from Ghostbusters and then I would walk behind with my little proton pack and my glasses-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh my God, that’s amazing.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. I was cute at one point. I don’t know what happened but it was an absolute riot. I’d say that’s probably my most memorable Halloween costume. The only other thing is I have a big gorilla suit and when we lived out here in California I’d sit in a rocking chair outside the front door with a bowl of candy on my lap just pretending like I was stuffed and then when kids would come into grab from the bowl I’d just roar and move and they’d all go running down the street. So I’d say those are probably my two most memorable … Halloween’s dead this year though but next year maybe.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. The final question.

Mandy Marquardt:

Oh man, there’s another one?

Joan Hanscom:

One more. Candy corn, yes or no? Mandy, you go first.

Mandy Marquardt:

Nah, I didn’t grow up with it in Germany. I’m all about real candy, Kinder and Haribo.

Joan Hanscom:

Andy, candy corn yes or no?

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m not a big sweets guy specifically with candy corn. I had a bad experience one time where I just ate way too much as a kid so now I can’t even touch the stuff.

Mandy Marquardt:

Wow. What about you?

Joan Hanscom:

I love it. But I have to eat it upside down. I have to eat it in reverse, I have to eat it in three parts.

Mandy Marquardt:

Okay. Honey Stinger or candy corn?

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, Honey Stinger because it’s healthier but candy corn once a year has to happen.

Mandy Marquardt:

Once a year, thankfully.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes, once a year it has to happen. I have two rules. Candy corn must happen once a year and Rita’s Water Ice has to happen once a year.

Mandy Marquardt:

Oh, that happens more than once a year for me.

Joan Hanscom:

For me, it’s a once a year thing. If I don’t have it, it’s not a summer. And I like the lemon. What flavor for you?

Mandy Marquardt:

Mango.

Joan Hanscom:

Andy? Rita’s Water Ice flavor?

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s a good question. I haven’t had it in forever.

Mandy Marquardt:

What?

Joan Hanscom:

Andy, you’re letting me down.

Andy Lakatosh:

I know.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re all healthy eating now.

Andy Lakatosh:

I know. I really don’t get out much. I eat my grilled chicken and broccoli every day for lunch and I’m bored out of my mind. But the scale is positive every morning.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, yeah, rub it in.

Mandy Marquardt:

Balance.

Joan Hanscom:

Got to have some fun, Andy, there. Lighten up buddy.

Andy Lakatosh:

I had a little bit too much fun food wise for a decade or so so I got some making up to do.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. Well, on that note, I’m going to go buy some candy corn. I’m going to let Mandy go and go back to training and doing the things she does. And Andy, I know you’ve got a day with nutritionists and in the gym and doing all sorts of fun things where it’s sunny. So thank you everybody for joining us this morning on The Talk of the T-Town. And hopefully we have Mandy back again to talk about more in depth on team selection and all sorts of good stuff as that evolves. So thanks very much, Mandy, for joining us this morning here in dreary T-Town.

Mandy Marquardt:

Thank you for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

Thanks. Bye, Andy.

Mandy Marquardt:

Bye.

Andy Lakatosh:

See you guys.

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.