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Nima Hadian: You Have Good Taste.

Shangy's - Weihenstephaner German Beer

Episode 31

“We chose beers that we anticipated a hot summer and we wanted the Miller Lite drinker to be happy. And also the hop head and the sour guy and the seltzer person and everybody’s covered. So there’s something for everyone.”

Curious about the beer selection here at T-Town? Join us this week as Joan sits down with Nima Hadian, owner and president of Shangy’s Beer Authority. They discuss how our beer selection was curated, supporting local breweries, and why you should come out and taste the beers.

Shangy's - Weihenstephaner German Beer
Shangy’s and the Weihenstephaner German Beer Garden

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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.

                                    Welcome to the Talk Of The T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom Executive Director here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. And this week, we are going off cycling talk and on to beer talk with our sponsor from Shangy’s: The Beer Authority, Nima Hadian, who is here to talk about our amazing beer selection, how he picked the beers, why we pick the beers and why you should come out here and taste all the beers. So Nima, welcome to the pod. We’re excited. I am a huge fan of the tasty beers and so our partnership is a delight for me. And yeah, tell us a little bit about yourself, about Shangy’s and why you’re here.

Nima Hadian:                Thanks, Joan. We’re excited to be here. We’re excited to have our beers here. Shangy’s is a family-owned and operated beer store in the Lehigh Valley. We’re also a beer wholesaler. We’re just super excited to be the beer purveyor for the velodrome. And we’re super excited to have a venue in the Lehigh Valley that’s strictly focused on craft and imported beers. Not your regular Bud, Coors and Miller kind of venue. Rather serving some of the best beers in the world. So for us, it’s really exciting to put cycling and craft beer together and offer Lehigh Valley residents some of the best beers out there.

Joan Hanscom:              I have to say. So even before we started working together here, I was a huge Shangy’s fan and I’m going to say something that’s inappropriate because we don’t sell them here. But I lived in Chicago for a long time and I lived in Kentucky for a long time. And my absolute favorite beer on earth is from Three Floyds Brewing, which is gumball head and or zombie dust.

Nima Hadian:                You have good taste.

Joan Hanscom:              And one day last summer, when we were in the middle of all the COVID thing, I went paddle boarding by myself on an insanely hot day. And I just wanted a cold beer when I was done. And I go rocket into Shangy’s. I saw the gumball head in your store. And I was like, “This is the place for me,” because I found the gumball head. And then I saw zombie dust and I was like, “Which do I get?”

Nima Hadian:                Three Floyds is one of the best breweries in the US. It’s actually rated top-10 best breweries in the world. Gumball head is a tremendous summer beer and Alpha King is one of the first pale ales in America. You have very good taste.

                                    But in terms of selection here, what I like about it is you’ve covered your bases and you’ve got a lot of styles covered. So most consumers are going to be very happy that we go anywhere from double IPAs, triple IPAs to white beers, German hefeweizens’, lagers, seltzers. So really, there’s enough here to keep everybody that’s a beer fanatic extremely happy.

Joan Hanscom:              Well, you’re joining us right after our first Friday night. And we had the [inaudible] beer garden open for the first time in a long time. The deck sold out, so the beer garden was completely sold out. And the feedback on the selection of beers … because we sell beer in cans up on the deck. And the feedback on the selection after the first Friday night was bonkers. People loved what you put together for us. So I want to give Nima full credit here.

                                    He said, “Yeah, we’re going to sponsor the venue. We’re going to become a partner in your beer selections.” And man, you knocked it out of the park when you made your assortment for us. And we sort of sat back and said, “Yes, you tell us what’s good and we’ll take your advice.” And man, was the feedback positive after the first night of people seeing your new menus.

Nima Hadian:                No, it’s great. And you guys have given us the opportunity to put together the [inaudible], which is the first [inaudible] in Pennsylvania. The brewery, which is the oldest brewery in the world, it dates back to the year 1040. And it’s actually owned by the German government. And it’s a historic site. It’s also the leading brewing school in the world. So some of the top brewers in the US all went to school there. It’s a very highly-accredited brewery and they’re excited to be partners with you guys at the velodrome. And they’re also very interested in cycling and honored to have their [inaudible], which is a German wheat beer with yeast, which is extremely refreshing on a hot day. And their lager, which is their [inaudible], which is the oldest-reciped lager in the world, which dates back to 1040, available here in [inaudible]. And the [inaudible], I believe in cans and undraft.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah, I had the [inaudible]. And oh, it was yummy.

Nima Hadian:                It’s not only yummy. One of the things that the Germans don’t like to talk about is [inaudible] actually have less calories. And they don’t want people to know that because they think that’s bad. But for us, we think it’s great.

Joan Hanscom:              I wish I knew that. I would have felt less guilty about drinking the second one.

Nima Hadian:                Generally, about 115 to 120 calories compared to a hazy IPA, which is 300 calories. And that’s for a 16-ounce glass. So they’re not only great, they’re kind of good for you and there’s live yeast in it and it’s always alive and it’s cloudy and it kind of has a banana clove [crosstalk].

Joan Hanscom:              Oh, it’s so good.

Nima Hadian:                It’s very refreshing. So I think in the beer garden, it’s really cool. It looks like a little piece of Germany. And on the other menu, we try to focus on getting some local beers in here, but also making sure that our bases were covered to keep everybody happy. So the sections in beer we have offered at the velodrome are local beers, just general craft USA beers from around the United States, imported cans, which are the weihenstephaner beers, seltzers and ciders.

                                    The seltzer that we have is interesting. It’s called Two Robbers. They’re a local Pennsylvania company. The first Pennsylvania craft seltzer company. Their product is made in Philadelphia. It’s owned by two young individuals that graduated from Wharton School of Business at Penn University and put together this amazing seltzer company. We’re on track to sell almost a hundred thousand cases of-

Joan Hanscom:              Holy smokes.

Nima Hadian:                And they make six different flavors. We have here the most popular, which is the orange mango Seltzer. It’s available in a 19.2 ounce aluminum bottle. So it’s a can, but it’s a bottle. It keeps it extra cold. Very smooth and delicious. The cider that we have here is Doc’s hard cider. It’s a true cidery. Everything is real. It’s brewed in Hudson valley. Rated as one of the top five best cideries in the U.S. They own their own orchard. They pick their own apples. They press their own juice.

Joan Hanscom:              Oh, that’s cool.

Nima Hadian:                I believe they were featured on something with Martha Stewart.

Joan Hanscom:              Oh, right on.

Nima Hadian:                That really quality, no preservatives, no adjuncts cider.

Joan Hanscom:              Nice.

Nima Hadian:                It’s delicious.

Joan Hanscom:              That’ll have to be on my list for this week.

Nima Hadian:                No. Definitely. It’s very good. And then on top of that, you’ve got four awesome draft beers. Bell’s Two Hearted IPA, which is, was I think four years in a row now, has been rated the best beer in America. Weihenstaphaner hefeweizen which is what we talked about. It’s the oldest brewery in the world. The hefeweizen is a German wheat beer. The Einstok Icelandic White. This is our best-selling white ale. It’s from Iceland. It’s the difference between a White ale and a hefeweizen is. It’s a Belgian interpretation of a wheat beer.

                                    So the wheatness of it is a little bit different. It’s not so much banana clove. It’s more orange peel and coriander, and it’s a bit thinner in texture. So it’s more [inaudible] you can drink more than you would other beers but really tasty. And again, this is a beer you don’t find in any other venue. It’s truly craft. And lastly on tap, we have funk citrus, which is the most popular local IPA. It’s brewed in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, where our store is by Funk Brewing company. Funk has always done extremely well here at the velodrome. And we’re happy to have it on tap here.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. I think what’s really nice about our selection that we have with you guys is that… And Nima, you’ll find this out this summer, it’s hot here at the track and it’s really nice to sit out on a hot summer night and just enjoy a cold beverage that’s refreshing. And man, the menu you’ve selected for us is that. It’s like, it’s not stouts. It’s all beer that you want to drink on a hot summer day after a bike ride yourself. Right? So if you go for a ride, you come back and you want to have a cold refreshing beer. You come to our beer garden and you have an assortment of things that hit the spot. We know we have a couple of rides coming up this summer that aren’t related to the track and velodrome, but they’re rides for folks on either gravel bikes or on road bikes, but they’re starting and finishing here at the track.

                                    And the goal of that specifically is they’re going to finish their ride here so they can go up on the beer garden and have some cold refreshing beers. And they’re so stoked about what we have on offer here for them, because it is that assortment that’s like, we did the thing. And now we’re going to sit back in the shade of the tent. We’re going to put our feet up. We’re going to watch a little bit of bike racing and we’re going to have a great refreshing adult beverage to cap off the day. And I liked that we went with something really refreshing and all good for the hot summer days that we’ve got coming ahead.

Nima Hadian:                No. I appreciate it. It was fun picking the beers after visiting the venue and learning more about it. It’s amazing to me that this place isn’t three times as busy. It’s busy already, but I’m sure as more and more people come here, whether you’re a cycling fan or not. I think when you come and look at the menu and sit in the beer garden and have all these great beers and such a beautiful venue and things to look at and things to learn, I think you guys are going to get busier and busier here. The selection of the beer, it was, we chose beers that we anticipated a hot summer and we wanted the Miller Lite drinker to be happy. And also the hop head and the sour guy and the seltzer person and everybody’s covered. So there’s something for everyone. And that was important to us to do. We think there’s so much opportunity here to expose people to great food, which what you’re doing with the sticky pig paired with these beers and just to watch the venues and see what’s going on. I’m sure this is going to continue growing.

Joan Hanscom:              I’m curious to see. So for our listeners, we are open more than just Friday nights. Right? Friday nights, the big show, it’s the pro racing. Pro-Am racing. It’s the big show. But we are also open on Tuesday nights when we have amateur racing. The beer stand is always open. The sticky pig is serving on Tuesdays. We have the beer stand open on Saturdays. Although I think the slushies did really well on Saturdays. And so did, what is it, those things called that I don’t like because they have tomato juice in it? Bloody Mary’s. Yeah. The bloody Mary’s do well on Saturdays. But the moral of the story is we have the handlebars open multiple days a week, and it’s about to be open on Thursdays too, once we have racing across the street. I’m going to be super curious to see what nights attract, what type of beer drinker. You want to see on a Tuesday who’s drinking what versus on a Friday who’s drinking what. And I’m super curious to see how that goes. I like, I’m a nerd. So I like to see those kinds of things.

Nima Hadian:                No. It’s great info. It’s great to learn. And I think you have something for everyone.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah.

Nima Hadian:                So I do think you’re going to see different things spike on different nights because it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking at home. You’ve got it covered here. Especially with the slushies. And something else with the slushies that you guys are getting into. There’s a Pennsylvania company that makes craft slushies. And the name of that company is Get Slushed and they actually use real fruit. It’s Pennsylvania made. And they have six or seven different flavors. The slushies, their hearts slushies are alcoholic. This company slushies are the best that I’ve ever had. Honestly, it doesn’t taste like there’s any alcohol in them. I think they’re dangerous. They’re eight and a half percent alcohol and just, they don’t have that burn, that alcohol burn. They’re super smooth. I think you guys pick the blue raspberry and another flavor and you’re rotating in and out of flavors, but they’re definitely a huge hit so far. And I think at this venue they’re going to continue being a hit. They sell out fast, and then you have to re-slush the machine.

Joan Hanscom:              Right.

Nima Hadian:                But I think that’s going to do extremely well for you.

Joan Hanscom:              We have the Elite, Junior, and Para National championships coming here in the month of July, which is always hot toasty. And we’ll have, we’ll be open every, we’ll have ticketed racing every day that week in the evenings. And I’m certain the slushies, for the friends and families who are coming to watch athletes racing national championships I’m sure that in the heat of July those slushies are going to be selling out like crazy. Because they are perfect for the hot night in the stands. Yeah. So I think that’s going to be a big seller and something that we’re looking forward to. I just think people are going to have fun here. We are trying to sell fun here. And I think we talked about it before and not a knock on baseball, but this is a bit more of an action packed night. And I think for what we offer here, the greatest assortment plus the sticky pig, I think people are just going to start to feel like this is-

Nima Hadian:                Yeah, you could have a food and beer pairing while you’re watching a really cool venue. And you’re not stuck in a little seat. You can walk around and move around. And it’s hard to be… If you’re a little too hot, you can move. You can move around. You can go drink great beer.

Joan Hanscom:              And just be social. And you’re up close to the action. You’re not sitting many hundreds of feet away from the racing action. You can feel the breeze on your face when they go by and it’s very loud and colorful. And I think it just makes for a super fun experience here. But I also know, and I want to give you full credit for this. You’re thinking like a true partner for this organization. Right? You’re not just a sponsor that puts up signage and that’s that. And I think for people who follow sports and follow events, it’s important to understand that sponsorship is what keeps us going. Right? It’s what keeps events happening for you. But we’re sponsorship is really magical is when it’s a partnership. And I love that our partnership was Shangy’s, you’re bringing ideas to us. And you have ideas for, which we’re not going to spill to everybody right now because we got to keep something to tell you later. But you’re bringing us ideas about ways to bring this venue to life.

                                    And so I just want our listeners to understand what a valuable partnership that makes this. Right? It’s much more than just, we’re going to a warehouse and picking up beer. We’re collaborating and we’re trying to make something here that’s a true partnership but also that is a thing for the Lehigh valley. I think that’s really exciting to hear that we have a partner that wants to help make the track a destination and sees the vision for what this place can be and where it could go. And so that’s really exciting to me. So I’d love to talk to, to hear you talk a little bit about that. Because I’m drinking your Kool-Aid Nima and I think we’re on the same brainwave. But yeah, talk a little bit about that.

Nima Hadian:                I was so excited when I first came here that I literally got in the car with our team and went, we have to do it. I just really, I liked the passion of everyone who works here because I think you’re all doing it for the right reason. And honestly, I just think the venue is so interesting and outside the box and it works perfectly for what are and what we do. We represent family owned breweries from around the world. Not bud Kors, Miller, large ginormous enterprises, they’re mom and pop breweries. Whether they’re local or they’re from Iceland or they’re from Belgium, or they’re from Germany, they’re not big money box entities. And just seeing how there’s just so much potential for growth and knowledge and getting the word out to consumers around Eastern Pennsylvania. That we’re lucky enough to have a venue like this for cycling right in our backyard.

                                    And you’re offering all these other things like fantastic beer and fantastic food and a great setting. It’s exactly what we want to be a part of. And I’m, I think we’re so fortunate that we’re able to be able to have a venue, take on these brands. Rather than look for the large check from the large breweries, which is the same beers that you see every venue that you go to. So really, the mom and pop breweries that you’re allowing this venue to be in this venue. You’re really helping a lot of small businesses. And my excitement is I think beer and biking go together. And I think we want to be a long-term partner and educate the Lehigh valley on what a gem the velodrome really is and making it a bigger and bigger thing every year.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. And I think there’s ways for us to continue this partnership and make things more fun, even outside the traditional track season. And I think you and I share this vision of making this a driver for the cycling community year round, and then ideally beyond the cycling community. Right? Let’s be relevant to the entirety of the Lehigh valley and let’s tie it into this bigger vision for bringing people from all over to the Lehigh valley. We should get the Germans to come here and spend time with us.

Nima Hadian:                I think they will. I think there’s a lot, honestly, there is. I didn’t want to give away too much, but there’s a lot of breweries that have a lot of interests and doing a lot of different things here. Like I said, a lot of craft breweries, whether they’re made in the U.S. or anywhere in the world, they don’t get these opportunities often because these kinds of venues are completely dominated by large beer. Large beer can cut the big check. And that’s why when you go to these baseball, and football, and hockey and you look at, we wonder why they all have the same beer, it’s because they can afford to pay, to write a cheque to do that.

Joan Hanscom:              Right.

Nima Hadian:                Little breweries can’t afford that. So again, this is outside the box and you’re giving your consumer so many choices they’re not used to. And you’re giving good food, which again, there’s not a lot of venues with good food. I love being a part of it. Our partners, which are the breweries around the world that we’ve been in contact with, all of them are so positive about it and want to learn more about it and want to learn more about being able to be a partner as well and touching the consumer one way or another. So it is really exciting. And I think the company’s Shangy’s and the Velodrome and everything you’re doing here are the, we’re talking about the same customer.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. 100%. I agree with that.

Nima Hadian:                So we’ve got a ton of ideas I’m trying to catch up and learn as much as I can, so we can be a good partner and continue to be a good partner. But I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeves that I think we can do some really fun things.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. I think that to me has been one of those things that’s always been nice about working in cycling, is that because we are a niche because we are a small sport in the U.S. it’s creativity. Right? And it’s the opportunity to play and do things differently than you would if you were the NFL. Granted the NFL, I wouldn’t mind their revenue. Not going to lie. But it is one of the things that makes our sport fun. Right? That you have creativity. That you can do things that are off the beaten path.

Nima Hadian:                You have a Weihenstephaner beer garden. Who says that?

Joan Hanscom:              Right. I know. Right. You’re not going to get that at Gillette stadium. Right? So that’s really fun. That makes my job interesting. It makes me coming to work more fun. But it allows us to do good stuff. And I love what you were saying about the seltzer you picked is local. And the cider is from the Hudson valley and it’s handmade essentially.

Nima Hadian:                We wanted the best representation of every style, but yet make it not offensive to anyone.

Joan Hanscom:              Right.

Nima Hadian:                Again, whether you drink crazy hoppy beers or light beers, or you hate beer and you want a slushie, or you want to cider, or you want a seltzer, you’re covered. And again, I love that about here, that somebody can be happy. A lot of venues, people complain about two things, price. I got a $12 beer and it was a light beer that was not so great.

Joan Hanscom:              Right.

Nima Hadian:                Here you’re giving everyone really, the best of class, at a really affordable venue price.

Joan Hanscom:              Right.

Nima Hadian:                And you can’t beat that. So it’s a lot of fun. We’re going to see if we can change up the draft beers. Maybe bring in some new stuff all the time. And just constantly try to grow on learning more about, who’s coming here, what’s working, what’s not working? Let’s fix it and keep making it better.

Joan Hanscom:              Well, and I like the idea too, of just giving people like, hey, maybe you’ve never tried this one before. So let’s, it’s almost like have the experimental tap. Right? Where you’re like, okay, yes, we’ve got the three ones that we know everybody loves. But this fourth one, maybe when you come on a Friday night there’s something different to try that. And if you are into that, right? If you part of what you enjoy in life is trying new stuff. How cool is that? You can do that here. I mean, it’s super easy in the cans. Right? Like the cans are easy and we can do that. But I love this idea of, you can come here and know it’s going to be reliably good. And there’s going to be something for you. But also that there may be like, I wonder what they’ve got this week.

Nima Hadian:                You know it’s worth it. And some of the things that I’m thinking about down the road is getting some of the suppliers to come here and meet people. Talking to people about their beers. Maybe it’s a sampling as they walk in. Maybe it’s a giveaway night. Maybe it’s… I can tell you one thing that we’re going to start on our own social media for Shangy’s is to do ticket giveaways. To do other kinds of giveaways, to bring more people here. Because we believe if somebody comes to the Velodrome they’re going to come again. So I think we just set just like you got me. I think you can get the consumer. They just need to walk in the door.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. 100%.

Nima Hadian:                And I think you’re well on your way. You had a record first week and I’m sure it’s going to keep going, because this is such a neat venue.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. I’m excited. I’m excited to see what we do next. And I can’t thank you enough for just having some vision. Because it’s, for us, like when you’re a little niche sport, people don’t always see it. Right? People are just like… I’ve worked in cycling for a long time and I’ve talked to those big beer brands that you’ve referenced. And all they want to know is how many kegs you are going to move and they don’t see the opportunity to get creative with it. Whereas what I love about what we’re doing together is, I think you understand inherently that cyclists don’t want to drink Michelob Light or no, it’s not Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra. And I can’t tell you the number of times in my professional career where people are like, oh, you must want MC ultra because you’re cyclist.

                                    I’m like, that is the last beer that the cyclists want. A, cyclists aren’t afraid of carbs. So a low carb beer option is typically not what we’re going for. But cycling has such a rich history in Belgium and in Germany and in the European nations, that those European beer brands are such a nice fit for our sport. And I love that you didn’t push Mic Ultra down my throat when we met, because I will tell you honestly, that’s the first time. It’s great that you get who our consumer is and you have an appreciation for it. And I think that, that goes a long way towards making a great partnership.

Nima Hadian:                Were thankful to be allowed to do this. Like I said, little small local beer companies generally, don’t get on venues like this. It says a lot about the venue that you’re willing to give locally owned and small family breweries, the opportunity to be highlighted at a venue like this. So for all parties involved, for the consumer, it’s fantastic. It’s an experience. You get great food, you get great beer and a great setting. And for these breweries, just getting the opportunity to be in front of all of you is an opportunity they don’t get a lot of. So it’s fun. We want to be, continue to be great partners and help educate consumers and get more and more people here.

Joan Hanscom:              Yeah. Right on. Well, I’m going to say thank you for coming on the pod Nima. And I’m also going to tell all of our listeners that the Weihenstephaner hefewizen is the way to go. If you haven’t had it yet, it is yummy delicious. So with that, this has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast, very special episode focused on our delicious beer list. We hope you tune in again next week when we will return to the topic of cycling. But this one was a good one because we really want you to come out and see what we’re talking about and experience a great night out at the track. Signing off, for the Talk of the T-Town pod. Thanks for listening.

                                    It’s 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, the velodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe. So you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

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Bob Freed and Dave Pryor: The Last Waltz

Episode 30

“It’s not just get out on your bike and ride. It’s come together as a group.”

Do know someone who’s been affected by cancer? Join Joan this week as she sits down with Bob Freed and Dave Pryor (race director and long time committee member, respectively) as they discuss the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer (PPRAC). Get the history behind how it all started in 1983, the organizations that the proceeds go to, and the plan for the ‘last waltz’ ride in Lewisburg next summer.

Bob Freed and Dave Prior - Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer
Bob Freed and Dave Pryor – Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer

Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer Website: PPRACRide.org

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your Host and Executive Director, Joan Hanscom. Along with my co-host, Athletic Director, Andy Lakatosh.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town podcast. I am your host, Joan Hanscom, the Executive Director here at the track, and today, we are going into the community a little bit more. We’re not talking about track cycling. We are talking about other really cool things that are going to be happening here at Valley Preferred. I’m excited to have our guests with us today, Robert Freed, who is the Race Director for the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer, and Dave Prior, who, oh boy, who does a lot of things. He has this day job and then, he has his side gig, as we hashtag side gig, who does things like Monkey Knife Fight and PA Unpaved, so we wanted to talk to these guys and hear what they’re up to and let everybody know what they’re going to be doing here at the track this summer. Yeah, and how you, our listeners, can get involved.

Joan Hanscom:

With that, let’s start with you Robert Freed, Race Director. You’ve been doing this ride since 1983. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how this thing got started because, by the way, when I didn’t live here, I knew about this ride. I had heard about it. I heard new people… people I know from the industry were doing this ride, and I was always curious about it, but now I know the person behind it, which is cool. Tell us about it. Tell us about its genesis, tell us about you and why you do this big thing every year.

Bob Freed:

Okay. Well, I’m going to start back in 1981. I had a cousin who is a good friend of mine who had fought cancer for much of his life. At the age of 17, he thought he had it conquered. He had developed into a high school runner, and one of his goals was to run a marathon. In the fall of 1981, he and I ran Marine Corp Marathon together. Shortly after that point, his cancer symptoms came back, and he was diagnosed that he was no longer free of cancer. It only took a few months for it to ravage his body and he died in early 1982.

Bob Freed:

I was a young man at that time, and it really hit me. I wanted to do something, so the idea of riding around the perimeter of Pennsylvania to raise money to fight cancer popped into my brain. The event took place or got its origin… I went to my pastor at the time and approached him with the idea and he said he had done some previous cancer fundraisers and he said, “Yeah, I’m onboard with it.” We threw together this thousand-mile ride that roughly followed the perimeter of Pennsylvania. That took place in 1983.

Joan Hanscom:

The rest, they say, is history.

Bob Freed:

That was the origin.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, the origin story. That first year, you raised an insanely large amount of money for, A, that time of… like, back then, for a bike racing or a bike riding event, and tell us a little bit about where the funds go because I think what you do for a non-profit ride is very unique. Not all non-profits do what you do. Explain a little bit to folks where the money goes and how you disburse the funds.

Bob Freed:

Okay. Well, we’re a very grass roots organization. Our committee is basically people who have ridden, have been on this ride for years. The average length of time that our committee has been involved with this ride is 22 years.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Bob Freed:

We have a very dedicated committee and all volunteer. The idea was that we’re going to raise this money, we’re going to keep it grassroots, we’re going to keep our expenses at a minimum. When the ride originated, like I said, my pastor friend got involved, he organized churches around the state that would house us and feed us. That was how we started out. The first ride we had just over 20 riders, and very little support. Before the time of cell phone, no GPS, it was at times a little bit of a shit show just trying to find out where we were going, get addresses. Some of the cue sheets we had were handwritten by me. I had no experience in this, but we made it, we made it back to Allentown in our first year.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s amazing, we forget that now. Right? We’re super spoiled. We have Strava files, we have Map My Ride, Ride with GPS, we have all the technology. We forget that remember like cue sheets. I remember the first, like the first big, organized fun ride thing that I did, I had the cue sheet. There was an art to folding it. You had to have binder clips attached to the cables on your bike that held it in place. Then, you’d flip it over to figure out the next turn and heaven help you if the road wasn’t actually like… there wasn’t a sign on the road where the turn was supposed to be. It used to be really hard.

Bob Freed:

Right

Joan Hanscom:

I forgot about cue sheets until you just said that. Yeah, we used to have… there was a real art to how you folded the paper, and you just have to flip it over, but yeah, that’s crazy because now we just are so spoiled. Like, hey, send me the link to your Garmin file.

Bob Freed:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Dave, if everybody… average life a committee member is 22 years, how long have you been involved and tell us a little bit about how you got on the team?

Dave Prior:

I’m a youngster on this. I’ve been only involved 18 years.

Joan Hanscom:

Slacker.

Dave Prior:

This will be my… I know… this will be my 10th ride coming up. I started 2000… numbers and math are hard, so 2003. It was the Oswego ride. Selene and I, Selene Yeager, who more of you know her than me, we’re married, and we like doing big rides like this. Same thing like you, Joan, we he had heard about it for years. Pat Corpora was a rider. He was president of the book division at Rodale, at the time we both worked at Rodale. He would take his out for his training rides and say, “I’m doing this six-day ride from this and that to raise money. Let’s go out and ride some hills together because it’s always a really hilly ride.” He would tear our legs off of us just… he’s a machine.

Dave Prior:

We got the seed in our head, like, “Oh, wow. Maybe we could do this someday.” That’s [inaudible 00:07:42] big and adventurous and hard and kind of the things we do. We fell into it as a thing we do in our bike rides more so than our fighting cancer advocacy life. We weren’t there yet. We weren’t hit as much by cancer then, but the one hook to us was, at that point, by the time we got involved, Pastor Paul, Bob’s pastor, had moved up to Palmerton and was working at a Holy Trinity Church up there. That’s where the ride then finished every time. That happens to be Selene’s hometown, we had just had our daughter, she was one years old. It’s like, “Well, this is a way we could go back and do a vacation together. Let’s ride every day for our first vacation after having a newborn,” because we can leave our daughter at her parents for the week, and we’ll be back in town right where she is. How perfect is this?

Dave Prior:

It worked out and it was wonderful and amazing, and sitting on Selene’s wheel, granted, I try and do that now still, but on that last day it was that like baby draw like tractor beam trying to see her baby again was what pulled us all the way back. That was amazing. We got to Palmerton and the ride changed our lives. We’ll get into more of the emotional thing, but it is… when you say grassroots and it’s a really tight group sleeping on church and gym floors every night and you really get to know each other, good, bad, and the ugly, but it’s almost all good. It’s all really good people doing amazing cause who have been really touched by this.

Dave Prior:

At that point in our lives, early 30s, [inaudible 00:09:18] shape of our lives. We could do this all day. We could ride this. There was a lot of people on this ride we saw on the start and like, “There’s no way they’re going to finish day one. How is this going to be possible? This is hard. Don’t they know this is hard? They’re in trouble”, but they did it. They rode every day, and it was exhausting and brutal and they were empty at the end of it. They refueled at night on the church dinner, and then they got up the next day and did it again. Then, at some point then during the week, they’d tell us why they were going through all this because this ride is so much easier than the cancer that their spouse or parent or family member or [inaudible 00:09:51] friend was dealing with. They were just motivated to do something and raise this money and just fight back in some way. Then, we were hooked. Now, this is the only event that we just do every time that [inaudible 00:10:02].

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that is something that you can’t underestimate the power of. People, sometimes in the light of something like cancer or another horrible disease, you feel powerless. You are at the mercy of medical science, you are at the mercy of what somebody’s body is doing at the cellular level, but if you can go out and do something that you feel is moving the ball forward in some way, shape or form, it’s incredibly powerfully motivating. For me, I’ve had that same feeling about doing the MS ride. My mother had MS, so when I would go out and ride, there was this special extra motivation for me because I was like, “There’s nothing I can do for my mother, but I can pedal for this cause and hope that we help somebody else.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s a powerful motivator and you start to see what the impacts on real lives that that has. Racing is cool, let’s not kid ourselves. Bike racing is cool, it’s fun, but it’s sort of… it’s driven through achieving something. Right? Whether the process or going faster, and something like this for something bigger than your self-achievement. It’s for something bigger and I think that’s what drives an event that started in 1983 to still be going on now in 2021.

Dave Prior:

Right. It’s raised over two million dollars to fight cancer.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is an incredible number, especially given the number of people that do the ride every year. You’ve kept it small. This is not something like going way back to the Ride for the Roses that Lance Armstrong used to do where there was like a gazillion people that came out and did the ride to raise money. This is a small group. This is a small… you deliberately keep it to a small number of riders. I mean, not small. It’s not five, but it’s a small group of riders, so the fact that you’re raising so much money is really quite incredible, I think. That speaks to your dedication. Where did you get your riders is the question? How do you get to the group that you have roll out on the road every year?

Bob Freed:

Well, I’ll address that a little bit. Back when we started, it was actually difficult to get riders. The first few rides we had to advertise, we were in Bicycling, we were in bike shops all around, and gradually, as kind of word of mouth, a lot of local people got involved with the event.

Bob Freed:

Just let me go back and go back to the original ride, which was a thousand miles, two weeks. That was going to be the end of it for me. It was just planned as a one-year ride. That’s all that I had in mind. During the planning phases, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away the day we returned on the first ride. We decided, hey, we better keep this going, and that’s how it evolved. We decided let’s go 500 miles rather than a thousand. That would be an easier way to recruit riders, I think. It’s hard for anyone to take two weeks off consecutively in their life.

Bob Freed:

We went to a 500-mile ride, and we also went to a point-to-point ride. We started locations outside of Lehigh Valley. Any place 500 miles north, south, east or west basically we started, Ottawa, Montreal, West Virginia, Ohio, all over the place, Vermont, so this grassroots thing it became very personal to a lot of people. As word of mouth and people became involved, it became very easy to fill our spots. One of the things that we wanted to do was to keep this an intimate experience where we all got to know each other throughout the week. Every night we have a meal provided for us and following the meal, we have a program where riders talk about their experiences with cancer. It really drew our group together and when people join our group, it takes them a couple days to figure out that this is something special that is going on within this community. Now we fill up very easily.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes, I can imagine. I can imagine. Like I said, I mean, I had heard about it when I was living very far away from Pennsylvania, so it is definitely something that folks recognize. One of the beneficiaries of your ride is Dreams Come True. Can you talk to us about that, what they do?

Bob Freed:

Go ahead, Dave.

Dave Prior:

They are a local organization, also very, very grassroots. A couple of them running the show. It’s one of those places where they help terminally ill children fulfill a dream. It’s go to Hawaii, it’s go to Disney, go to a sport event and meet a third baseman of the Phillies that’s their hero, a variety of things like that. Children who are in it in very difficult, hard ways need something, a bright star to look forward to, and this is the group that pulls that together. We help raise money for them to help make those dream possible. 15% of all the money we raise goes to that organization, and Bob, how much does that tend to add up to? A lot.

Bob Freed:

I was just trying to run some of those numbers through my head. I think it’s over $400,000 that we’ve donated to Dream Come True.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is astonishing. Then, the bulk, the 85% of that fundraising goes to American Cancer Society, so I think that we’re trying to hammer home here is that a hundred percent of the monies raised goes to the cancer charities of your choice, which was where I was going way back when we first started talking about it. There’s been so much controversy about some of these fundraising rides where like suddenly a lot of this money is routed to administrative expense or it’s routed to overhead, and I think that this is… it’s incredible testament to the work you guys do, the work that the committee does to pull this off, and like you said, sleeping on church floors.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m an even director and I have been for 20 years, so I have a full appreciation of what it takes to organize something like that, but I think a lot of people don’t know what goes into route design, what goes into finding places to sleep, finding people to feed you, so that meals are taken care of, like you said. Then, I think that that’s something that I love to peel the curtain back on that and let people appreciate what goes into this. I mean, you both do a big, heavy lift on this thing. Talk a little bit about what that is. Talk about what… yes, you’re not using paper maps anymore. You’re probably using some more sophisticated equipment to make your route.

Dave Prior:

We still give out cue sheets. We still do the cue sheets.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. For all you listeners who want to throwback to binder clips on your… people don’t even have cables on the front of their bike anymore.

Bob Freed:

Wow. Weird. I don’t know how they do it.

Joan Hanscom:

Where do you clip it now? Handlebar bag with the thing? Yeah. Talk about the work that goes into this and I think this is interesting to know because your ride is not annual, it’s biannual, and I believe that the biannual thing is because it is so hard to organize something like this. Talk about the work that goes into making this thing.

Bob Freed:

Well, if we go back to the beginning again. We decided after the initial ride to do it again, and we thought, “Man, this was really hard putting this together.” I had never been on an organized event before. I’d never run an organized event before, but I learned quickly that recruiting committee members and dividing up responsibilities is how this thing would be done. Every other year, to help out the people who planned, so they wouldn’t get burnt out, plus we had a child every other year for the first couple years, so that helped balance it out a little bit, but what has developed is a committee where people just dive in, everyone has their kind of niche in the planning.

Bob Freed:

Dave, I’m just going to say, Dave does a lot of committee work. He has hands in a bunch of things with it, but for instance, Dave would do mapping. We have another committee who would work on the lodging in city A, another person who would work on food in city B, another person who would work on the social media side of it. As it’s evolved, I’ve just more or less have become an overseer, I think, and the committee is really who gets the work done.

Joan Hanscom:

I think you mentioned an interesting thing that folks should appreciate, too. You know what makes things… when you’re an event organizer and you run your event in the same place every year, it gets real easy. Right? You have the same existing relationship with the sports marketing group, you have the same relationship with the hotels, the tourism board, whatever, you have a relationship established in the place because you go there every year. You guys don’t do that. You make it extra hard on yourself because you do a different route every year, which means every year you’re seeing new roads, doing something new and cool, so it’s interesting because you’re doing a different route, but it’s also a much bigger lift because you’ve got to find new supporters along each route, which has got to make life a little bit harder.

Joan Hanscom:

Dave, you’re always exploring new roads then. Tell us about that. Tell us why that decision to go somewhere new every year and help people understand what goes into that every year.

Bob Freed:

I’ll start, Dave, then you can finish. One of the ideas for starting at a different place every year was we wanted to keep riders returning. It’s kind of like this family, and we didn’t want to ride from Vermont to the Lehigh Valley every year for five consecutive years. We just thought we would lose those riders, so we decided a different point of start every other year and new scenery every other year. That was a way of enticing riders to come back again. Dave, why don’t you tell them a little bit about how you find [crosstalk 00:21:42]

Dave Prior:

Usually, we have a wrap up after a ride in September, talk about how it went, things we would alter and change, things we might help with all of it, but then really start thinking about, all right, where next. Where should we start? Often, the people who have been there 20 or more years will say, “You know, we haven’t been to this part of Vermont in forever. We haven’t started in the south in a long time, in West Virginia or things like that,” but we kind of have the radius of where we could start a ride from.

Dave Prior:

In previous ones, we would try and get in as many states as possible because we thought that would help tell the story to when we’re doing fundraising because every rider has to raise thousands of dollars by themselves and tell the story about [inaudible 00:22:25] ride they’re going to do and why people should support them. We found over the years that really the story is we’re doing something remarkable to fight cancer and there’s enough people now who are in the fight to go, “I will support this.” You could start in Allentown and do a six-day ride and come back to Allentown and I think we’d get the same amount of donations and financial support we need to go from here to here to here, but it does kind of help with that. It helps recruit riders that say, “Wow, I’m riding from Maine down to Pennsylvania.” It’s looking at those sort of things.

Dave Prior:

Then, the hardest part is finding places that we could stay every night. Finding a place that has a large enough school with a gym floor where we can set up all of our air mattresses or a church that would have that sort of space, that would have showers. They could also have… usually, we kind of draw from churches, social organizations like VFWs and Lions Clubs for meals, and some sort of place that has… a high school and a middle school, so they would have enough space. Usually, those schools have enough gym space and adults sized showers. We have… I think we stayed in an elementary school once and [inaudible 00:23:31] showers.

Joan Hanscom:

The toilets are like four inches off the floor.

Dave Prior:

The toilets are [crosstalk 00:23:34] yeah. Beggars can’t be choosers, but-

Joan Hanscom:

Quads get a good workout.

Dave Prior:

… [crosstalk 00:23:40] shower. Those schools don’t have showers, so we didn’t have a shower there. Then, getting super creative, like, but there’s a YMCA a half mile down there, so we can walk down there and get to use their showers. It’s that sort of scrambling. There’s a group of six that do the housing lodging committee and then, while they’re doing that, then there’s also trying to find meals along the way that we can get at. That’s the hard part.

Dave Prior:

Finding roads in between, I [crosstalk 00:24:06] it, is not easy, but it’s a lot easier than finding the actual places who will put a group of 85 to a hundred people up for free or minimal cost, so that we can keep that hundred percent fundraising level.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that-

Dave Prior:

That’s the hard work.

Joan Hanscom:

… that actually goes to where we are right now, right, and what the challenges the ride is facing in the COVID times when you couldn’t put 80 people in a gym to rest for the night because we couldn’t be indoors. Talk a little bit about how COVID impacted the event and what the impacts of that are.

Bob Freed:

Well, as we work through this whole process, and we had originally planned our next ride for 2021, we were just kind of on the edge of our seats as to whether we could have this in July of 2021. In January, when things were still closed up, vaccines weren’t accessible yet, we made the decision to push off our 2021 ride to 2022, so that… looking back at it now, maybe we could have done it this summer, but I feel very relieved that by 2022, everything is… not everything, but it’s going to be much more normalized.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Bob Freed:

Our ride, it’s so social. It’s not just get out on your bike and ride. It’s come together as a group. Go out after you get riding and we can sit and have a beer in a local tavern, meet together at night and share. I didn’t feel that this year we would be able to do that, so we just pushed it off.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, there’s a financial impact, too, though. Right? Finding people to… Everybody’s been impacted by this, so I’m sure the non-profits that have supported you along the route, or types of non-profits that have supported you along the route, they’re supporting other things right now because people were hurt by this. Getting folks to pony up food for 80 people had to be challenging. Right? It’s an allocation of resources question, I’m sure. Like, it can’t be easy when people are supporting folks who maybe have lost their jobs or local restaurants who’ve closed or… I think there’s probably a balance to sometimes would probably be psyched to have 80 folks roll in because there’s going to be a positive effect of a economic impact for the community, but others are going to be like, “We’re not resourced to put you up right now,” I’m sure.

Dave Prior:

It was already being challenging before COVID. We had already been looking at ways we were going to alter and change things up because it was getting really, really hard to find that throughout the state. Trying to keep on quiet, safe roads means you’re going through quiet, safe towns. We’re not riding into Buffalo, New York. We’re trying to avoid a city like Buffalo. We don’t want to ride in and out of there, so trying to find towns on the outskirts and they’re having hard times, too. I mean, it’s… without delving into politics, it’s been-

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Dave Prior:

Obviously, if you watch anything, it’s rough out there for a lot of towns, so it’s been hard the last say three or four rides to really pull all that together. Sometimes, it’s like that week of we’ve actually found a meal.

Joan Hanscom:

Right, right.

Bob Freed:

It’s been, the last 20 years, it’s become progressively more difficult, and the people who are responsible for finding that lodging and food, especially the food I think, it’s become very, very difficult. We’re in our planning and we have town A is good, now we’re looking for a hundred miles away, 90 miles away for town B. They strike out at every place in town B, so now we’re looking at another town that’s a hundred, 90 miles away for day two, and it kind of burned out the committee a little bit.

Joan Hanscom:

I think the good takeaway is you found a way to pivot. Right? You’ve got a creative solution. Right? You’ve got something going for this summer as a precursor to… well, let’s break the news. Next year is the last one we think. Is the plan for the final hurrah for next year? But you’ve got stuff planned for this summer to kick off that and it’s got a… I think you’ve found a creative solution, so talk about this summer. Talk about what you’re doing. Let’s not be a downer and talk about how hard it is. Let’s talk about the cool stuff you’ve got coming.

Bob Freed:

All right. Well, let me give you a little backstory on the direction we’re going now. Last ride… well, I’m getting a little older and this is pretty time consuming in my life. My wife has been support from the first ride to the last ride. It’s getting more challenging for her, and I was kind of having some just thoughts about where are we going to go with this. Last ride, 2019, pretty much everyone on the committee came to me privately and said, “You know, Bob, I think this is the last ride for me.” At the end of that ride I’m thinking, “I guess this was it.” This was the grand hurrah, but we didn’t even really have a grand finale.

Bob Freed:

Dave and I brainstormed a little bit and we said, “Well, let’s see if I can get this committee back because I am not going to recruit 10 brand-new committee members and put them into place and try to do this ride as it was. Let’s do something for our last hurrah.” We decided to make it hopefully a little bit of a reunion ride where we can get a lot of past riders, maybe some people who are not into cycling quite as much anymore, but we decided to pick one location, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and do three days of riding with multiple routes every day for multiple ability riders.

Bob Freed:

In the past, this ride was city A to city B, and it’s 90 miles and it’s 8,000 feet of climbing. Some days are really a bitch, and that kind of kept some people from joining us, some of the past riders who are getting older and maybe not putting as many miles in. I got one comment last ride that said, “Please, can we do less miles and have more smiles?” That became our mantra for 2021. I am stepping down, our committee is stepping down, but it’s not necessarily the last perimeter ride. We’re handing it over to the American Cancer Society. We’re not sure which direction they’re going to go with it. Are they going to go back to a six day, 500-mile ride? Are they going to do… Like you said, finding new venues every year, maybe they’ll go to a ride across the state where you hit state colleges and you do that same ride every year, so you sort of have everything in place year to year, or maybe they’ll do it as a three day event as we’re going to do 2022.

Bob Freed:

Dave, do you want to talk about our kickoff ride that we are getting geared up for?

Dave Prior:

We realized that we were already missing each other through all this. We talk about how things happen in the pandemic. We were fortunate not to be planning a ride last year or this year really once we decided it wasn’t going to work, so we haven’t really had that kind of hardship, but we were really missing each other. We did miss sleeping on gym floors with each other and those connections at night and even the sound of someone deflating their air mattress at 4:30 in the morning because they need two hours to get ready for the ride apparently. I still don’t understand that, but I miss it now.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s hilarious. Less sleep is better.

Dave Prior:

Right, right. Sure. I love you. You know who you are, and I do love you. We decided that… and also when we had Monkey Knife Fight in the spring, we were able to put that event on for 300 people and a lot of the people who volunteer for that are perimeter riders and perimeter community members. It was our chance to finally see each other again and how great it was to be either riding or helping out people or just being involved with something. It’s like, everyone came back [inaudible 00:33:06] thank you for doing that [inaudible 00:33:07] through that, thank you for inviting me to help out, I had such a great day, it was so great to be back involved.

Dave Prior:

We had already been thinking about getting together this July for when we would have ridden, the start of the ride, just to do something, and then was like, “Well, let’s do something, something. Let’s build off of this momentum. Let’s be excited.” Momentum is moving forward by then, that was early April. You could already see momentum was going forward with vaccinations and with what’s capable to do outside still, what’s capable to do in settings that aren’t indoors. We can pull all this together and we have a great venue we can pull this together at, which is the velodrome with the food and the beverages and places to gather, the patio, parking, which is always hard for events. We can invite all of us back together and go for a ride.

Dave Prior:

We know all of these amazing routes that go out of Trexlertown and come back. With that kind of setup, we could then also invite all of our friends who’ve always said, “I’ve always wanted to do a perimeter ride, but I could never pull it off or I’m not sure. Maybe next time.” Let’s invite them out for a ride and let’s get them to see what this is a little bit like, talk to them about it during the day, gather around with some food and beer afterwards, and talk them into coming out in 2022 for something that is more doable for everyone and it’s not six days across the state or six days… I think one day [inaudible 00:34:28] six days, 600 miles and thousands and thousands [inaudible 00:34:32] of climbing. It won’t be quite like that, so I think we will be able to get more people to come out together and have a day back together again. We are moving in that direction. The state is opening up limitations at the end of this month, so by July 31st barring… things happen. We know how to change on the turn of a dime if we need to.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Dave Prior:

We’ve gotten very good at that, so let’s see if we can stay good at moving forward now.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think we just opened for business here this week. Actually, we had our first Tuesday night race-

Dave Prior:

Wow. Hey.

Joan Hanscom:

… this week and we had our first Saturday race last Saturday. What you were talking about is so real. There is just an appetite to be out seeing people and doing things safely. I think we are getting to the point where we are doing things safely, but we’ve never seen a turnout like we had on Tuesday night in years. People were out, they were buying food, they were having drinks, they were sitting… we had people lined around the rail. It was fantastic. There was such a good vibe on Tuesday night here and I think that’s what you’re touching on. You’re touching on this like, we need community.

Dave Prior:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ve all been sort of in our weird, lonely little bubbles for a year, and man, there is an appetite to get out and just be with our people. I think you’re getting the band back together and that’s amazing. You’re inviting more people into the band.

Dave Prior:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

I think, Dave, you and I have had so many conversations about this now. We are at this incredible moment I think, it’s just this incredible period of opportunity where we can open the community up. We can invite people in, and we can use the thing we all love to grow our community. We all love bikes, so let’s use this thing to grow our community to do good things. You guys are doing good things. You’re doing really great work and we here at the track, are so excited to be part of it. Right? We’re excited to invite people who may never have seen velodrome racing but have done your ride every year or every other year, to come here and see what we do and be part of our community, and we get to join yours. What an incredible inflection point we’re at. Right? We are at a point where we can… because there’s so much excitement for getting community back together, because there’s so much excitement about being outdoors together, we’re at this great, incredibly powerful moment if we capitalize on it.

Joan Hanscom:

I know I’m really excited to have you guys come because we can be… it’s like the first day of kindergarten when you make new friends. That’s how I look at this. I’m like, we’re the first day of kindergarten. We’re going to make new friends. This is cool. I’m not going to be nervous like… I tell this story all the time. I was the most high-strung kindergartner ever. My mother was a grammar school teacher, and my brother was much older. He would come home and have homework, so my mother, to keep me entertained, would give me homework. Therefore, by the first… the night before kindergarten, I was a nervous wreck because I was worried about being able to count to a hundred forwards and backwards and say my ABCs front and back.

Dave Prior:

Wow. Still can’t do that.

Joan Hanscom:

My mother’s like… yeah, no. I can’t do it now either. My mother was like, “You’re an idiot.” She’s like, “The other kids are going to be eating glue. You shouldn’t worry about counting to a hundred.” There is that sort of anxiety, but there was also this thrill of, oh, I’m going to meet other people and it’s going to be so exciting.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that that’s where we are right now with bikes. There’s so many people with bikes and it’s like the first day of kindergarten.

Dave Prior:

That’s true.

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s meet them all and let’s do all the cool things together. That’s such a moment, so we’re excited you’re coming.

Dave Prior:

We’re excited that you’re having us.

Bob Freed:

Yeah. I go back to the very opening of the velodrome and racing there a little tiny bit, but also attending Friday night races. The velodrome has always been a hub of community of cyclists and runners in the valley. You’d go there on a Friday night, and you always run into people who you haven’t seen for a little while, a year, a month, but people who you see out on the road, people who you race against, people who are just bicycle enthusiasts, and the velodrome has always been that hub in that community. That’s one of the reasons why we are so happy to start our July 31st event at the velodrome and partner with you and help bring in some people who will be at the velodrome in the future, I’m sure.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Tell folks what you’re going to be doing. You’re going to be setting up in the plaza though before that, before the 31st, so that people can learn about how to participate and what they can do. Talk a little bit about that. What’s the plan? We don’t need the exact specifics, but you’re going to come out, you’re going to share some information with folks on Friday, so if people are listening, the moral of the story is, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, “Well, this sounds like a cool thing to get involved with.”

Joan Hanscom:

You’re going to be out or people from your committees are going to be out on a Friday night and you’re going to promote participation. They can meet you, they can talk to you, they can find out how to get involved, and then, on the 31st, you’re going to do a ride here, which is cool because that’s a weekend we have UCI racing, so you all are going to go out and ride bikes while we, Maura and I, are going to be working hard on producing track racing. When you finish, you’re going to come back and you’re going to have some great food from the Sticky Pig, you’re going to get some beers from the Shangy’s Craft Beer Handle Bar Café, which is awesome because, by the way, we’ve got a great assortment of beers. Putting in the plug right now for the bar.

Dave Prior:

Can’t wait.

Joan Hanscom:

You’re going to hang out and watch bike racing. Right? Who doesn’t want to do that? Listeners, who doesn’t want to do that? Who doesn’t want to ride bikes and then, watch bikes and eat great food and have some beer?

Dave Prior:

Hang out with good people.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Hang out with good people.

Dave Prior:

What a perfect day. What a perfect day. We’re going to set up… we haven’t figure out, again, not finalizing plans, but having some Friday nights beforehand, having space there just to chat with people, though I know in just walking around with a Perimeter Ride shirt on, we’re going to meet other former PPRAC riders and people who, “Oh, yeah, this might be the year I do it now.” It’s going to be great to be able to just be at the track and talking to people, just walking around in turns and doing that. A little bit first there, but also, occasional nights we’ll do stuff there.

Dave Prior:

We do have the website set up on PPRACRide.org, that’s P-P-R-A-C Ride dot org, and there’s a button for register for the kickoff and that has information on how to get to the kickoff ride is what we’re calling this. We’ll be there and it’s going to be $30. We’re just covering some minor expenses to be out on course and that will get you a [inaudible 00:41:44]-

Joan Hanscom:

Woo hoo.

Dave Prior:

… an aid station, and insurance, that’s for us.

Joan Hanscom:

Always good.

Dave Prior:

[crosstalk 00:41:52]

Bob Freed:

If you want to register for the 2022 Perimeter Ride, we’ll waive the fee for the July 31st ride.

Dave Prior:

Yes, [crosstalk 00:42:02].

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, there’s the hook right there.

Dave Prior:

Commit to the big one. Those three day [crosstalk 00:42:07] and then we’ll come back and, yeah, like you said, the Sticky Pig will be open, the Shangy’s Beer thing will be open, so riders can buy some food and buy a beer. Then, we’ll come out to the patio and we’ll talk about the day, we’ll talk about next year, we’ll talk about anything in between.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Dave Prior:

We’re just looking forward [inaudible 00:42:23] together again.

Joan Hanscom:

Then, let’s jump ahead to 2022 and just you’ve sort of teased it a little bit. It’s going to be based out of Lewisburg. Right?

Dave Prior:

Right.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is where Dave, you do a lot of rad things, and which I’m really looking forward to. Then-

Dave Prior:

Right. You’re signed up for our big event this year.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m so excited. It’s so exciting to be signed up for things and then they’re going to happen. Right? This is amazing. Yes, for our listeners, I’m signed up for Unpaved. All of my teammates are doing it with me, and we have not been able to do big events together, so we’re all super excited to come out for Unpaved. You’re doing the last ride or the last-

Dave Prior:

Right. The last waltz.

Bob Freed:

The last waltz.

Joan Hanscom:

The last waltz in Lewisburg. When? How? What do people need to know? They can go to the website, but give them the 20-

Dave Prior:

The website will be there, so just a quick backstory on that. As we were deciding what to do for our last hurrah, last waltz, and where to base it out of, clearly, I’ve got great relationships with the great people in the Susquehanna River Valley and tourism. That’s the first place I went once restrictions lifted last summer was up to that region. Joan, you and I have talked about what a great area this is to ride bikes in. That is also in a absolute beautiful great place to ride bikes in, so we just wanted some place a little… we thought about having it here, but we ride here a lot. Let’s do something different. Let’s have a weekend out there together and the town is opening their arms for us, so we’ll be staying at Bucknell University dorms if you choose to, or you can choose to stay in a hotel. There’s a lot of great hotels up around there.

Dave Prior:

We won’t have gym floors and air mattresses, so that one has been ruled out, unless you want to book your own church floor. Feel free. We’re not getting involved in that again this time. You can choose your own lodging, but it will be based all out of there and we’ll have a ride on… we’ll get together on Thursday night for our first rider meeting, and then we’ll have a ride on Friday. Should be all road and probably in the 80-ish mile with options lower than that. We’re still working on the routes for that, but I think 80 is kind of our long spot, long-distance rides for this. Then, on Saturday, same thing, but in a different area. Say this time we’ll go head to the west instead of the east, and also do an 80-ish mile road ride. We’ll also look to doing a gravel ride on that Saturday that could be an option for riders. I happen to know some great gravel roads in that area that we use for Unpaved at Susquehanna River Valley, so we might treat some riders to check that out if they’re so inclined.

Dave Prior:

Then, have a party Saturday night and it will be a party. We have a venue for that at Bucknell and we’ll have bands, and we’ll have food and drink, and we’ll have a lot of getting back together. Maybe we’ll play The Last Waltz songs or something. We’re still trying to get Robbie Robertson to come out for it. Then, Sunday, we’ll do a shorter ride, maybe to the north that time and maybe in the 60 mile-ish range and just hug each other at the end of it and see what we do after that.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s rad.

Dave Prior:

Did I cover everything, Bob?

Bob Freed:

That sounds pretty much what we’re doing, Dave.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s rad.

Dave Prior:

It’s in mid-July next year, 2022, July 14th to the 17th.

Bob Freed:

14th through the 17th. Yep.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Dave Prior:

I’m looking for [inaudible 00:46:02]… we will have a one-day ride option as well, so a rider can just do the Saturday ride if they’re so inclined. Registration is $375 for the three day ride and that will get you the ride and the cue sheets and also, the devices, how to get [inaudible 00:46:19] the GPS. We’ll do that, too.

Joan Hanscom:

The concession to the modern era.

Dave Prior:

Yeah. An aid station, and then you can also choose how you want to do food and lodging in Lewisburg. It can be a food plan they can buy into. You can, again, do dorms if you want to buy into that or you can stay at whatever beautiful hotel if you’d rather do that. Those are options. Then, riders have to raise $1500, a minimum of $1500 to participate, so if you sign up, you’ve got a year from now to raise at least $1500. Most of our riders raise more than that and that’s always a challenge. We’ll have incentives for that. The more you raise, the more likely be to win great prizes from Giant Bikes and other great sponsors that we have. [crosstalk 00:47:06]

Bob Freed:

I [crosstalk 00:47:06] give a shout out to Giant Bikes. Last year we developed a relationship with them, and they’ve come across with lots of items to raffle away and we gave away one Giant, a very nice Giant bike last year. We kind of figured out a raffle system for our highest fundraisers and one person was drawn and received a nice Giant bike.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. See, you do good things, and you get good things.

Dave Prior:

Just to finish that up, the one day ride is to be a hundred dollars-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, okay.

Dave Prior:

… no matter what distance you choose. If you choose just to ride Saturday… but you also still have to raise money. That’s part of the PPRAC mindset, it’s part of who we are. Then, you have to raise at least $500 to participate.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Right on. I know speaking for the Velodrome, we are very excited to play our little part in all of this. We’re excited to see you and all of your riders here at the track and I want to thank you for giving us some of your time to talk about it. We are striving so hard to become a true cycling center here for all disciplines, and that includes rides like this one. We are very, very grateful to have you give us of your time today, but also, that you’re going to come here and do some cool stuff with us over the summer. Thank you very much both for joining us this morning and, yeah, this has been the Talk of the T-Town, and you all should go and sign up for this very, very cool event because it’s a good cause, it’s done right, and it’s done by super good people. Thanks so much for listening.

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.

 

Posted on

Selene Yeager: You Can Do Rad Sh*t

Selene Yeager - Author and Athlete

Episode 29

“I try to live my life by doing things that make me feel inspired. If something sparks my imagination, then I’m like, I should pursue that. Right?

Is there something in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to do? According to Selene, you regret the things that you don’t do, not the things you’ve done most of the time. Join Joan this week as she sits down with Selene Yeager– fit chick, friend, and fellow podcaster. They talk doing rad things, how Selene got into bike racing, how diets affect men and women differently, how she got her podcast started, and a plethora of other topics!

Selene Yeager – Author and Athlete

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


Selene Yeager

Instagram: @fitchick3 @feistymenopause

Facebook: @FitChickSeleneYeager @feistymenopause

Twitter: @Fitchick3

Websites: seleneyeager.com

Live Feisty Podcast Episode with Dr Stacey Sims https://livefeisty.com/hit-play-not-pause-a-feisty-menopause-podcast-breaking-down-the-science-with-dr-stacy-sims-episode-1/

Transcript

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 your executive director, Joan Hanscom, along with my co-host, athletic director Andy Lakatosh.

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m the executive director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and I am joined tonight by a very rad friend of mine, Selene Yeager, who is I guess known for being the fit chick from bicycling magazine, but more recently, and I think much more interestingly known for her Hit Play Not Pause podcast, which is incredibly rad. And she’s also a completely badass mountain biker, gravel racer, person of inspiration. And so I’ve been wanting to have her on the pod for quite some time, and I’m thrilled that she is joining us here tonight.

I’m stoked to be here. I hope I live up to all that.

It’s like the podcaster talking to the podcaster.

I know, it’s really funny. I’ll try not to reverse roles-

It’s very-

… as one does.

No, I think that’s going to be funny. I was talking to another friend of mine who’s trying to resuscitate his podcast, and he’s like, “Will you be on my podcast if I’m on your podcast?” And I’m like, “Sure, or we could just jointly use this one podcast,” and he was like, “Yeah.”

The podcast wealth is real.

Yeah. So you’re the first, but you’re probably not going to be the last, where we cross pod. Is that-

That’s good. No, that’s a good thing.

It’s going to be a new thing, cross-podding. But so Selene, I wanted you to be on the pod… We were talking about this before we started to record. Because we are here at the track trying to inspire more women to do rad things, and here at the track that may take the form of racing on the track. But I think it’s more just that vibe of you can do stuff that you might not have done before. And you’re doing that, right from your podcast, on down through your whole career. So tell our listeners who are track people perhaps who don’t know about you, when did you start racing bikes?

When did I start racing bikes? I started racing bikes… I think the first bike race I signed up for was in 1996, right after I got to Rhode L. And people were like, “Oh, you should race,” because I had been doing the lunch ride at that time, and I honestly didn’t know people raced bikes. That’s how naïve I was about all that. I was like, “I’m not a bike racer.” Like, “You should try it,” and I was like, “Okay,” and I won it, and it went from there. But yeah, it was 1990.

So without dating, right, without putting a specific… you claim that you are a late bloomer to bike racing.

Yes.

So how old roughly were you when you started racing bicycles?

Oh that’s hard. That would require me to whip out my phone and do the math on that, because I can’t do that. Well let me think. I started at Rhode L when I was… I was probably like 27ish. I want to say 27ish.

So not a super late bloomer.

Not super late to that kind of like, oh, I’m going to line up and do a 5K level bike race, right? But when I officially went pro I was 40.

Now see that is very interesting.

Yeah.

You did it with another very rad woman, Rebecca Rush, right? Like both of you racing at that age.

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Like-

She came from the adventure racing background and well, always told this story how much she hated racing bikes, because in adventure racing, the bike’s just a burden. You have to carry it. It’s terrible. I don’t know if anyone’s washed them. They never actually ride them very much. They’re just awful. Then-

Crossing like rope ladders and all sorts of horrible things, yeah.

Right, right, just carrying this-

Big heavy bike.

Yes, this albatross. But no, she started racing professionally because adventure racing kind of went south and she didn’t know what else to do. And she just picked up the bike and did… she had good endurance, so she did some endurance events and kind of taught herself how to mountain bike. And yeah, she was 38 when she started that.

How old were you guys when you did… you did the Cape Epic together, correct?

I did the Cape Epic with my teammate at the time, Sheryl Sorenson, and that was 2011. So I would’ve been 41.

  1. Which-

Yeah, or 42. Math is hard.

I wonder how many other 41-year-old women have done the Cape Epic.

I never even thought about it.

Like I did-

Rebecca and I were like… I don’t know. We did Israel in-

That’s the one I was thinking of.

… 2015. We were in our mid-40s when we did Brazil.

Right. Which-

Yeah, and won, and came in 2nd overall, and she just had a terrible day with food poisoning and Israel, it sort of set us back, but yeah.

But the moral of the story is that 40-year-old women can do rad shit is the moral-

100%.

Where I was going with all of that is that that’s amazing, right, because like I watch Red Bull TV over the weekend because the Nove Mesto was on and of course that’s super fun to watch. And you see 22-year-olds and you see… it’s inspiring to see the new generation of young racers coming up.

For sure.

But it’s also cool to think about-

But women, especially in the endurance space… I mean, you might not see as many Red Bull women starting at 40. That’s not likely. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn to downhill. I have a friend, she started mountain biking at 63.

Which is so cool.

I met her, and she got… she did it all right. She got lessons, she got coaches. She went the whole thing. She’s still taking clinics with Sue Hayward, who is a very rad professional down-hiller from back in the day. And she’s learning to huck. I mean, she’s going down stuff that would be terrifying to 90% of women.

Yeah, and I think that’s amazing.

And I she’s probably 70 now. 69, yeah.

And that’s how I want to be. I want to be 80 years old and still doing cool shit on bikes, is… Like I don’t want to-

Yeah, it’s funny. That’s what got me inspired, is when I moved to this area, I did it for the job of Rhode L, right? And before that, I would not have considered myself… I played sports in high school, I played field hockey, but I also waitressed and smoked cigarettes. You know what I mean? I wasn’t like the most healthy person in college, and then I stopped smoking when I started riding a bike again because I was like, “These two things don’t go well together.” But triathlon was big at the time. That was the mid-’90s to the late ’90s, and I went to my first triathlon in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and I was sitting behind a woman who had 83 on her calf. And I was like, “Wow. Like you can do this until you’re 83?” Something clicked. I was like, yeah, this is… There was something in that that I wanted for myself. I hadn’t even put any other thought to it, but it registered.

Yeah, and I see… Where I used to live, I would see there was an old couple, and they had matching titanium bikes, and they always had like matching kit, and I thought, they’re doing it right. This is a thing that we can do and do at a high level, for a very long time. I think the other really cool thing is that it’s never too late to try a new version of the thing, right? Like-

Absolutely, and actually, that’s longevity in sport in my mind. It’s hard to keep doing the same thing, if for no other reason because you’ve done it and done it and done it, right? And I think it’s good sometimes to try the new thing because there’s nowhere to go but up from your starting point there. But I just interviewed Julie Young for my show, and she’s mid-50s, and she won her age group on Leadville in single speed.

Good lord.

In her early 50s. And it’s still [inaudible 00:08:24]. I mean, I could go on and on and on. Like women have a lot of longevity, especially in the endurance space. And they’re very good on bikes too. There’s a lot of lower body strength. So yeah, 100%. When I was racing any of those racers we never worried about 20-year-olds. Maybe late 30s they have more miles in their legs, they’re more of a threat. But you need that experience, you need that deep, deep base and that takes years.

Right, right. I love that, the deep base really… it’s a thing.

It’s a thing, it’s a thing.

It’s a thing, and you don’t, I think, necessarily appreciate that it’s a thing until you step away and come back and you realize it’s still there, and it’s a powerful thing. You’ve also written extensively.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

You have ROAR that you wrote, which I think for women has been-

With Dr Stacey Sims, yeah.

With Dr Stacey Sims, yes. But sort of pivotal for female athletes, understanding that we maybe need to eat a little different than the guys, and stuff that we’re doing-

Yeah. The intermittent fasting stuff is fascinating on that right now. I mean, we have the exact opposite physiological response to intermittent fasting than men do.

Which is so interesting because you hear so many people right now, like, “Oh, it’ll improve performance, it’ll improve recovery.”

Yeah, for men.

For men, right.

Those studies have all been done on men, and the research that is out there on women, the hormonal response is terrible. Like women with prediabetes actually become diabetic.

Wow.

It’s that bad, because of this hormone called kisspeptin that reacts very differently for survival reasons in women, and it is very disrupted by fasting.

So you have another version of ROAR coming out for shall we say ladies of a certain age, our age?

Menopausal transition, yeah. 40 and above. And it’s because we had one chapter in ROAR, and it’s not a bad chapter, but at the time, we will both be very transparent, neither of us were sort of deep into the transition ourself to fully appreciate just how broad the effects are of that hormonal fluctuation and decline. And I personally had no idea all the things that estrogen does. I didn’t know it was anabolic, I didn’t know any of that stuff. It was metabolism, and it merits its own book. It 100% merits its own book.

I’ve kind of led us down this path because here at the track, we are trying very hard to go into a more female friendly space and to encourage people to come out and try things. And we did a women’s weekend the first weekend of May here which was I think amazing, because we had women of literally all ages and all sizes, and it was amazing to see them come out and try the new thing. I think what we’re trying to do on the podcast today perhaps is for women who are curious about biking, curious about endurance sports, curious about the track, starting to provide resource for them to know that, A, you can come out and do this and we’ll teach you how to do it, but B, there are resources for you to know how to eat, how to fuel yourself, how to actually… if you want to jump into the thing, how to do it smart, like not intermittent fasting.

Right.

Have all these conversations and just start to connect women to resource for doing some rad shit, like I said at the beginning. I think that knowing that there’s a resource like your podcast for women who are our age, but everything you talk about on that podcast is relevant to 20-year-olds too, right? It’s relevant.

Yeah, yeah.

Maura here, who is sitting with us, our podcast producer, is in her early 20s, and understanding that women need to fuel differently, as I bring Maura into becoming a bike racer, because I’m going to harass her into racing bikes too… we all need to know this stuff, and also see examples of people who are doing it, who are accessible human beings, right?

Totally.

You don’t have to be super skinny, don’t be afraid of the Lycra, don’t have… and that’s so easy to say, right?

Yeah. I think that tide is turning. I genuinely think that tide is turning. I’ve given Crossfit a lot of props for that, because I think that they made it cool for women to take up some space, they made it sexy for women to take up some space and be strong, and I think that that has had a net positive effect, by and large. I think the culture… I look at my daughter who’s 19, and they have a very different relationship with that. They don’t have the same skinny, skinny, skinny is better, which is really refreshing to see. So that encourages me a lot. I do think, especially in cycling, like power is everything, and women can develop really powerful legs. If you look at women cyclists they are built differently than men cyclists are. They-

Yeah, for sure.

Yeah, they just are. That’s where the engine is and that’s where your power is. It’s interesting, we wrote ROAR for women. The mission of that book in my mind was not only just like women are not small men, meaning all of the studies at the time had been done on men and just translated to women, and that has failed women from heart disease. It still fails women in heart disease. It fails women in athletic spaces. And if you want to really go deep on that, I think it has limited what we can realize as our potential because nobody’s ever studied us, and we’re so different, right? So it’s very exciting now that that’s changing. I think you’re going to see records broken and paradigms shift.

Women are learning, oh, this is when I’m puffy… Because you know PMS exists, and you know that you feel puffier, and something’s happening. Your blood plasma is shifting. There are things going on that are making those changes, and they can certainly affect your performance. And the idea always with the show and with the books is to teach you how to work with your body instead of against it, to optimize your performance. And there are things you can do to mitigate some of those symptoms that would otherwise be problematic, like being sure to hyper hydrate before something, because your blood plasma’s low. I mean, sometimes it’s just simple things.

Yeah, and I think that, yeah, we don’t know that, right, but who hasn’t… Well back in the day, when it was still a thing for me, if you’re getting your period like the days before you might’ve felt like just absolutely awful. But then when it would happen, you’d be like, “Yes, I can scale a mountain today.” Like this surge of [crosstalk 00:15:02]-

Yeah, yeah. The day I had my first iron man, it was very exciting.

Great timing.

Yeah.

I always knew about my mother because she would clean the house like a-

That’s hilarious.

… maniac. She would get this surge of energy to clean.

That is so funny.

And we’d all be like, “Oh, okay.” We always knew.

Wow.

But now there’s science behind it, right? And for us as athletes, we need to learn how to harness the power of that science and just… It doesn’t matter if you’re Mandy Marquardt trying to go to the Olympics in Tokyo, or if you’re me racing in a local training crit, these are things we need to know, and this is what makes your experience-

Totally.

… trying the things out better.

Yeah, you want to have fun, and you want it to be a positive experience.

Yes.

Like at the end of the day, you’re going to put in the work and you want the reward. That’s what cycling is very much about. That’s why people like it. You put in the work and the work pays off. You get in what you put out. Like all that stuff. But I think what happens with the menopausal transition specifically is that equation all of a sudden gets messed up and people… it’s very disheartening. A lot of women are like, “I’ve put in the same work and now the output is different,” and they don’t know what to do.

Right.

And they start doing things that are counterproductive or even disruptive to them, eating less, pushing more, wholly intermittent fasting instead of just like, with understanding you can work with you physiology, and the whole show’s about that. I say it all the time. Like there’s two points in a woman’s lifetime where she drops out of sport most, and the first is puberty and the second is menopause, and there’s reasons for that. And at least in puberty, you have classes in school and you have whole afterschool specials, and people have told you what to expect. You’re not like Carrie standing in some Stephen King movie like dripping with pig’s blood because no one told you what to expect.

But it’s not much of an exaggeration to think that that’s what happens to women on the other end of the line. Like they don’t know to expect… Like some women get like oral migraines for the first time and they get like vertigo and the list is like 36 symptoms long.

Yeah, which is insane.

And all of you’ve ever heard about is some hot flashes or something. It’s ridiculous.

Right. I had a doctor when I was in my 30s, this was the only advice she gave me about menopause. She’s like, “Go into menopause at the weight you want to come out of menopause, because…” That was it, that was all she told me. And I was-

There’s so much wrong with that advice, I don’t even know where to start.

I was like, “Okay, well how do I know what weight I want to go into it at?”

Oh my god.

And they don’t tell you how to do that. They just say make sure you do it. I guess when it started for me, like the perimenopause stuff… I gained weight like…

Yeah, like overnight, yeah.

And having been an eating disordered ballerina my whole life, like what was my go-to thing? Well, if you eat watermelon for all your meals, you’ll lose weight, right? So okay, I’ll just default back to my very disordered eating habits of eating just watermelon and it didn’t work.

No.

And I remember talking to Christian Cime about like I don’t understand why are all the tricks… because they’re tricks, right?

Oh yeah, 100%.

Like by the time you get to this age, and with a history of eating like I had, you have tricks. You have a go-to bag of tricks, and they never fail you. You want to lose 10 pounds? The watermelon, that’s it, it’s magic. And it wasn’t working and I was like, “Christian, what do I do?” Because I was training for a race that I really wanted to do well in, and she’s like, “I think you need to talk to this person I work with, sports nutritionist, and we need to get a handle on your whole eating disorder thing. But we also need to get a handle on your… you’re just not fueling yourself properly.” And I remember he said, “What do you eat?” I was like, “Well I have watermelon for breakfast and then I have a salad with a piece of salmon for lunch and then I have watermelon for dinner.”

Oh my god.

And he was like-

He’s like, “Where do we being?”

He was like, “Well okay, what do you eat the next day?” I was like, “Well I have watermelon for breakfast and I have salad with salmon for lunch and watermelon for dinner.” And he’s like, “Every day?” And I was like, “Every day.” And he’s like, “That’s not going to work.” And he really was like, “You are not eating close to enough protein.”

Not even close.

Not even close. And I started eating protein and literally within three weeks, my body composition changed, because I was doing something so bad, right, it was-

And that’s worse when you get to like 40-plus and the-

Yes.

… menopausal transition, because protein synthesis is more challenging without those hormones. And if you don’t really pump it up, it’s a losing proposition really.

But if I hadn’t talked to him I would never have known that, because I’ve been essentially a vegetarian, pescatarian my whole life. I never ate meat, and he was like, “Yeah, how do you feel about chicken?” And I was like, “Do I have to?” He was like, “You know of do.” But my doctors didn’t tell me this. My doctors didn’t know. You just don’t know. And here he was, he was like telling me how to fuel for athletic performance, because he knew I really cared about this race, and the only thing that was going to get me, that I cared about more than my weird eating disorder, was performing well on this race. And that was the thing that helped me override the impulses in my head to not eat, was like al right, well he promised me it would improve my performance, so I’ll do it.

But what a difference the protein made, and I think that nobody knows this is if you’re female, right? You just go, “Oh, I’m going to go on the watermelon diet and it’ll work,” and it doesn’t.

No, it doesn’t. And it can be-

It’s terrible for performance.

It’s terrible for performance, and it can just cause you to hang onto weight, if not gain weight. It’s really not good for you at all. It’s very counterproductive.

Yeah. But I needed somebody to absolutely spell that out to me, and I think for women who care about performing well… and again, cat four, cat five, [crosstalk 00:21:07]-

It doesn’t matter what you are. It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter what you are. That piece is super important to know. But I also think that it’s important to know that you don’t have to be a super skinny bice racer.

You don’t.

We have to come out of this-

You don’t no matter what. Power is important. One of the things that has always helped me is looking back… I came in third overall and won my age group in the Mount Washington hill climb.

Good lord.

I was-

I didn’t know that about you.

Yeah, no, and I-

That’s insane.

I was, I don’t know, 138. Definitely 10 pounds heavier than some of my lighter weights, and I was much faster and won that. Power is everything.

That’s a mean race.

Yeah, and I did it on my 5339. Like I took my road bike. I had no idea what I was doing.

That’s a mean, mean race. I grew up in New Hampshire, so that would be the-

I was out of gears from me to you. I was like it’s going to be a long day up this mountain.

Oh man, yeah, that’s a mean race, and-

It’s beautiful though. Have you done it?

No. Are you kidding? I grew up like with people who had stickers on their car that said, “This car climbed Mount Washington.” There’s no reason to do that on a bicycle because it’s scary driving up it.

They don’t let you go down it.

No, yeah, no.

You wouldn’t make it.

But that’s super cool. I didn’t know you’d done the hill climb. That’s funny. Yeah, I think that that’s all part of what we’re trying to create here, is culture. I think you’re a shining example of that, not just from the bike racing perspective but because you jump into things, and I think we’re trying to create an environment for people to jump into things here. I want to talk to you about the starting of your podcast. You’ve had this great career riding with bicycling, you had a great career writing books, great career, late bloomer, racing bikes professionally. And we were paddling along on our standup paddling boards one day last summer, and you were like, “Hey, what do you think about this idea?”

That’s so funny.

“Do you think there’s an audience for it?” And I’m curious about how you tell our listeners how you got there. Like how this came to you, how you thought you could turn it into a thing, because it’s the same instinct. You know what I’m getting at? It’s an instinct to follow an inspiration.

Oh 100%, and I try to live my life by doing things that make me feel inspired. If something sparks my imagination, then I’m like, I should pursue that. Right? If you get a little buzz of like, hmm, that sounds exciting, I think that you should follow that, always. Yeah, no, I have been, as we talked about before, talking with Dr Stacy Sims on the followup of ROAR, the book that still does not have a title. We’re working on it even though it’s going to be out in months. But we’ve been working on that, and the company who she hires to do her courses on all of her stuff is called Live Feisty. And they contacted me knowing that I work with her, saying, “Hey, would you be willing to do a little webinar kind of thing with us?” They wanted to start talking to women in the menopausal space, because they weren’t really addressing them either, and they saw that there was a big deficit there.

I had been thinking an awful lot of it since going through it myself and being so blindsided by it, and being like, “Why does nobody know about this?” And looking around and seeing that there were a lot of women who had disappeared that used to be on start lines and be… And I said, “You guys should have a podcast,” and they said, “Do you want to do it?” And I just said yes. So that’s just how it got started, and I’m like, “Oh boy, now I’m going to do a podcast.”

I feel like you’re surfing the wave in front of them.

Oh my god, I didn’t know how big that wave was. I honestly had no idea.

But if you think about, and I think about this a lot because I love surfing… you see people fighting to get the wave before to-

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know exactly what you mean.

… get the ride. And I feel like you got the wave. So now you start to see the New York Times is doing stories about it.

Crazy.

The Washington Post is doing stories about it. But I feel like you were surfing the wave first. Like you grabbed it first, and that’s so cool. And all these people are paddling behind you, like, “All right, we’re going to…” And that’s so cool.

No, it’s wild. It’s wild. I mean, I knew I was plugging into something big. I just knew that in my heart, just because there are so many of us out there. There’s so many women of the title nine quote, unquote generation, right, who are just living differently, and who have gotten into sports, and so many women in endurance sports and all over the place who are going to be blindsided by this thing that nobody is talking about. When I went through it, I’m like, no one’s talking, and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone. I hated saying the word menopause because it meant like old and washed up and not attractive, or I don’t know, like all these things, and it was really a crisis in many ways.

And I was just like, I have to get over myself, and I have this platform… I’ve been a writer and researcher and this space for 23 years. I have all these women, athletic and doctors and physiologists and everything to call on. It would be criminal for me not to pick up the microphone and just start saying the word.

Yeah. You know what’s funny? We’re very close in age, you and I. Maybe a year apart difference.

I’m 52.

Yeah, and I just turned 53, so we’re just a year apart. Do you remember that show The Golden Girls?

I can’t even believe that that woman was 52, right?

Right? Like I look at-

I can’t remember her name, but I remember it.

like B Arthur and… it was like B Arthur, yeah.

Yeah, they were all a little older, but the youngest one in there was like 52.

Yeah. They were The Golden Girls, and I’m like looking over… For our listeners, I’m looking across the studio here at Selene, and she’s got a very rad Canyon bikes hat on. She does not look like B Arthur. There’s no moo-moo to be found. The Golden Girls was not that long ago.

I know, it was ’85, I looked it up.

And we are not The Golden Girls.

It’s unbelievable, it’s unbelievable. It really is unbelievable. I don’t know if you saw… I feel kind of bad. I called them in. I don’t know if you saw… Asker Jeukendrup, I can never pronounce his name correctly, but he’s this big name in sports science, right, and I love him, I love his work, I love what he does. But a couple of weeks ago he did something about how just like we were talking about, women, masters, athletes, need more protein. It was really good, really good information. But dear lord, the infographic he used was like a blue-haired woman with a shopping cart-

Oh no.

… kind of thing. And like [crosstalk 00:28:04]-

Like a granny?

Very much like granny. And I couldn’t help myself.

Do I look like a granny? No.

I was just like, “Asker, I love you, but those images…” And he’s like, “Oh, we just thought lighthearted,” and I’m like when you live with that in your life and you’ve been diminished, none of these women think that’s lighthearted. It’s so hard to get past that. And he got it, but I just was glad I had that conversation. I didn’t be like, “Oh, it’s wrong.” I just came to him and brought him into the conversation that I’m trying to have. And I think that’s important as we go forward and what you’re talking about, because I think that when women… especially when they hit 50, there’s a weird invisibility thing that happens with a lot of women.

Well yeah, and like invisibility in terms of your own self… not awareness, but self-confidence. So-

It’s a weird, weird thing.

It’s a weird space, but you also said just a few seconds there were women disappearing from the start line. And I hate that. And I think you had my friend, Sheryl Osborne, on your podcast, which I love, because I love Sheryl. And I love what she does. But she’s a lifer, right?

And she said the same thing. She’s like, “Where are you? Where are the people that have started with me?”

Right. She taught me how to race bikes in 2000. We go that far back. My first season racing was in 2001, because I did a clinic with Artemis in 2000.

Yeah, and that’s right when she started, just about Artemis, was about 2000.

And I look around, and right, where are the women that we started with back in 2000? There aren’t very many of us. But I loved what Sheryl said, which was just like calling on women… maybe you don’t want to race anymore but you can still be part-

The other women need you.

The other women need you. I think that’s another thing why we have Sheryl on the board here, why we have Michelle Lee on the board here. We’re trying to say hey to other women. And why I have you on the pod. I just think women need to hear it, particularly as we get older, but when you’re Maura’s age, right… when you’re Maura’s age, you still need to be invited in, because it is intimidating and-

Well especially like… I mean, it can be the track especially, I think can be… You look at the people and they look like Tron, and especially if it’s a bunch of dudes, because there’s a lot of posturing and then swinging going on-

Oh yes.

… and it can be like… you can feel like you don’t belong in a hurry on the track.

Well, and there’s visors and-

Yeah, no, that’s what I mean, it’s a very-

It’s very-

… Robocop kind of feel to it.

Yes.

So I think that having a friendlier face and voice and everything to be like, “Hey, this is actually a fun thing that you can try,” is important.

It’s fun, and there are ways for you to succeed at it, even if succeeding isn’t winning national titles. It could be.

Succeeding is just learning how to ride the thing. I mean, it’s exciting just being on a track bike and riding the oval. Like that’s exciting in of itself, I think that’s a success.

Absolutely. And it’s also… there was a woman I was talking to from Women’s Weekend who, she had said, “Oh I lost every race I started,” and I was like, “You beat 99% of the other people who didn’t show up.” And we always lose races. I’ve lost more races-

Everyone loses races.

Everyone loses races. It’s not about winning, unless you really want to go to Paris or LA.

But even those people, they lose more than they win.

And they lose. Yeah.

Every bike racer loses more than they win.

Absolutely. And I think that that’s part of the intimidation factor, but I think if people start to know-

If you line up thinking about it as that kind of a strict competition of win or lose, right?

Yes.

But I think then you have to understand that it’s not that. It’s interesting in cycling, and I think about that a lot. And I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s because it’s always been more of an elite activity that’s not been as much of a citizen thing. But like nobody lines up for a marathon thinking, “I’ve got to win this thing.” You know what I mean? Or people are going to think I lost if I came in 175th. Nobody does, nobody cares.

Right. Which is sort of why the gravel thing is lovely, right?

Yes.

You know, like-

Because people don’t go into those thinking I’m going to win this thing. That’s not why they’re there.

Right. The year did Dirty Kanza, I was so happy. I was just like, “I finished, I didn’t crash. I had a lovely beer at the end.” It was-

Totally, that’s why you’re there.

That’s why you’re there. You’re not there to break legs and crush souls. Well maybe somebody is, but I wasn’t.

Yeah, like 3% of the whole field.

Right. But I think that there’s a vibe that we’re trying to like just do the thing. Do the rad thing. Make your podcast. Buy the paddleboard. Try racing bikes. So Selene, if you were to talk to women who maybe haven’t tried bike racing, what would you tell them?

What would I tell them?

Yeah, what’s your advice, as a reasonably late bloomer, as we’ll like to go back to? How would you go about getting more women into the sport?

Yeah see, I mean I would… well I mean and I have talked about your Women’s Wednesday. I mean, I think finding something like that is a great way to get into it, because you go there, it knocks down barrier number one, which is I don’t belong, right? Like you go there, and you see like oh, everybody does look like me. They-

Right. They’re not superhuman.

You’re going to see people that look just like you, and you’re going to realize that they’re not super humans, they’re normal human beings that are just trying this cool thing. And I think that that is a huge barrier, and once you do that, the rest of them fall more easily.

So if you decide you like the thing, and this is fun and I want to pursue it, what would your advice be to women who want to progress at the thing? Whether it’s track racing, gravel racing, road racing, mountain biking. To you, what are the things as an athlete that matter to get right, nutrition, weightlifting-

Yeah, I would say some structure, right? I mean, I think going from no structure to any structure, all of a sudden you have a giant bump because any structure is better than just sort of flying by the seat of your pants without any knowledge. I mean, whenever I’ve seen people make that first bump it’s always… they start following a plan, even if they don’t have a coach right away, because you can go into training peaks, you can go into any of these platforms… my god, there’s so many of them now, and get a basic plan that will just give you some structure to your week. It will make sure that you have rests and some high intensity and some stuff. If you can get a coach, a coach is an amazing thing to have, because it’s a human being that-

Are you still working with your coach?

I work with coaches all the time. I work with different coaches because I like to see how other coaches work, and I respond well to changes in coaching. So I’ll work with somebody for a while and then I’ll switch it up and see, because it’s a professional and personal exercise for me. But I think it’s super invaluable. I never self-coach because I would second-guess myself six ways til Sunday.

Oh I could do it… yeah.

And it’s not fun. Like I want to open a plan and see what someone has for me, I don’t want to be like that’s a chore. I’m not coming up with my own plan. I have no desire to do that. But I think that piece is super important because the rest of it kind of falls around that. Like once you are committing yourself to a structure or to a process, then you are going to respect your recovery because you’re in this process and you’re respecting that, and you are going to maybe drink less on a weeknight, all the things that just are the long tail of that lead edge of I’m following this road, this process.

Yeah, that’s funny. Like going back to, oh, all right, I’ll eat the damn chicken breast, because-

Right, right, you did that because you [crosstalk 00:36:09]-

… because I bought into the process, and I wanted the other thing. It’s amazing the power of that. When you buy into a process and you’re like, okay, I’ll do-

Well the process works most of the time. I’m not saying it’s infallible, you know what I mean? If the process isn’t working for you, maybe you need another process, and that’s finding the right coach and finding the right plan, but definitely.

I don’t know. When you did your first mountain bike race, let’s talk about… because I think people… like, what do you expect? What are you feelings? I know what I did. My first day, I was terrified.

I felt like vomiting every race I’ve ever done. If I was going to race again this weekend, I would feel like vomiting the morning of. Those nerves never went away.

Right. And I think this is a thing we need to get people to know, right? Like expect that, expect that there are race day nerves. Expect that-

Right, harness the butterflies.

Yeah.

I always just call it the potential energy, and the more potential energy I had, the more miserable I was. But honestly often the more miserable I was, the more ready I was to go. I mean, but you care, you’re going to get wrapped up in it, and then you just find ways. Like I just found a system to deal with it. I had a race morning preparation that would be like, okay, out of the head, start putting your race bag together, just like the stuff. Lube your chain, pump your tires, time for your warm-up. Just do your things.

Routines and rituals, right? That’s the-

Yeah, yeah. Get the monkey busy, so it’s not hopping around your brain.

Right, the monkey brain is a bad thing. No, I think that these are all the things that are barriers to entry, right? Like-

Totally. Because you think you are alone in that, and-

And you are not.

There are pro football players that vomit before every big game on Sunday, like it’s a thing.

I did my first crit since 2019… my first post-surgery crit too, right? So with legs that could potentially work. And then obviously 2020 I didn’t get to race and test that out, so I had a lot of mental baggage. And my coach and I had decided that I was going to go do this training crit. And I woke up that Sunday morning and I cried, and then I got in the shower-

Just want to hide under the bed, like, “Why, why, why-“

I got in the shower and I cried.

… why did I sign up for this?

Then I was literally texting him sobbing from the shower, like, “I don’t want to go, and I think it’s a bad idea…” That was the… I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t think I should do my first training crit with 60 dudes, and I don’t know if my legs are going to work. I had every single first time [crosstalk 00:38:49] meltdown, and I was like begging for the out. Like if I send enough panicked texts, I will be told I don’t have to go and do the thing, and I did not get that [crosstalk 00:39:01]. And I was not absolved from going to do the bike race, and then I went and it was fine.

It was fine. Once the gun goes off, it’s always fine.

It’s always fine, yeah.

Literally, even if you don’t do well, it’s still fine.

Right, exactly.

Once it goes off it’s just fine.

But yeah, I think that that is such a universal experience of-

It is, 100%.

… lining up for a bike race.

100%.

But yeah, it was funny. I did every trick in the book to get told I didn’t have to go to that bike race, and I was not told that.

Yeah, and then [crosstalk 00:39:32]-

And I was so glad I finished.

Well this is it, and you’ll be so glad that you overcame that, because the fun and the rewards and how you’ll feel after it 100% surpassed that, which is why people sign up immediately for the next thing.

Right, right. When you do your first-

Like you just forgot about that terrible feeling you just had, and then you get it again and you’re like, “Oh here I am again in this terrible feeling.”

Right.

I’ve just got to get through this terrible feeling and it’ll all be fine.

And it’ll be fun all over again, right. I think when we look at the barriers to entry, right… Maura’s nodding her head, she’s like, “Okay, you’re really selling it now, Joan. Can’t wait to have that horrible feeling.”

But she’s a swimmer. She’s got to know, having those nerves on deck are real.

Yeah. But for all of our listeners, right, if that’s what… just expect it.

Just expect it.

Just know that if you are going to come out and try your first track race, or even try your first Women’s Wednesday or [crosstalk 00:40:28]-

[crosstalk 00:40:28] nervous.

… it is part of playing the game and we all feel it, and it doesn’t matter… I mean if you’ve been racing since the ’90s or if you’re-

Doesn’t matter. It-

It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or if you’re 60. Everybody gets it. I think that that’s one of the things that, again, that we’re just trying to make the message for our women listeners who maybe have friends who are on the fence or who are on the fence themselves, or mothers of juniors who are curious about racing, and wanting to come out. They’ve done the Women’s Wednesdays program because they want to understand what their kids do when they race, but they haven’t taken the leap themselves. We just want to tell them there are ways to overcome the monkey brain, as you said.

Oh 100%.

And this doesn’t apply to cycling, right? This applies to all of us.

Everything. I mean everything.

Everything.

Job interviews. I mean, whatever it is. Whatever that care about that you’ve applied yourself for. I mean, nerves are to be expected.

Yeah.

But every time you overcome it, you get stronger in everything you do. I mean, that’s just true. You know what you’re going to be fine. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, and it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. And you’re going to get something out of it, like that’s… no matter what you do. If you apply that throughout your life, you’ll try more things. You’re not really going to fail. What does that even mean?

Right. And so you came in last in a bike race.

Who cares? You’re the only one that actually cares.

Right.

Everyone is so concerned… I tell my 19-year-old daughter that all the time, like you’re the only one thinking about this. You’re the only one who cares. Everyone’s very self-absorbed. They don’t care.

Right.

They don’t even know.

Right.

They know where they came in.

You know what else I think is really funny? I was listening to another podcast that I like quite a lot, and they had a sports psychologist on, and they were talking about the ability to screw something up. They used more colorful language. And then just laugh about it.

Right, this-

It is really important that you can just laugh about-

100%.

That makes the monkey brain quiet too. If you laugh at it, it’s way better, and you put it behind you and you move forward. But I think we all need to remember that this is not serious as a heart attack stuff. This is what we’re doing for fun and-

And your self-worth is not wrapped up in a result. Like all that. It’s just not.

Right. And it’s okay when you fall over to laugh, which Maura also knows. I took Maura out for her very first… brand new bike, which is beautiful by the way. Maura has this beautiful blue, blue bike, and I love it.

Yeah, it is beautiful.

And I was like, “Okay, so have you ever clipped in before?” And she was like-

I knew that was coming.

She’s like, “No,” and I was like, “Okay, well you’re going to fall over at some point today,” and sure enough-

In the parking lot.

Yeah.

It’s always in the parking lot. It’s always.

And we just know-

Or a stop sign.

Yeah, well I think that actually happened too. Or very close to it.

Almost.

Yeah. But these are the things, right, and if we can’t laugh at it because we know that it’s our universal experience, then you won’t have fun doing the thing. But just come out and-

Totally.

… try it. Yeah, so there’s our big long-winded pitch for all of you women to come out and try doing this cool, rad thing. What’s next for you, Selene?

Well this podcast is only seven months old, so I’m just really hoping to grow that. We’re having a summit, a menopause performance summit, in Boulder, Colorado in September.

Oh, I didn’t know that. How did I miss that?

Well because it was really isn’t formally announced yet.

Oh okay.

But we’re in the works of doing that. And I think there’s just so much potential, there’s so much potential, to do really rad things and to just… Like you said, I can feel the groundswell. I don’t even know. I’ve never been one to know what I was going to do in the next couple of years, because I would’ve never told you that I was going to be a bike racer. That wasn’t a plan. When I did iron man, I kept telling my coach, “I’m not an endurance athlete.” He’s like, “You kind of are. So get over that.”

That’s funny.

Yeah. Well I always thought of myself as a field hockey player and like a track racer. I used to run the 800. Like I’m a solid middle distance athlete. He’s like, “Not so much.”

No.

But yeah, had I not tried that, I would’ve never learned that about myself. I would’ve never learned that about myself. If you don’t try stuff like that, you will never learn-

What you can do.

What you can actually do. I have tried the track and that is not for me. I mean, I like it. It’s fun. Like I love to ride around the track, and I love to train on the track. It’s just I’m not tactical that way, so it doesn’t suit me. I’m more of an endurance person who like, if I slip my paddle, I still have a good eight hours. Like-

Yeah, no, I’m the same way.

Yeah, it’s supposed to like, every fraction of a second… if you get to an elite level, like fractions of a second.

I was laughing on… We had our first day of racing on Saturday and I was talking to a couple of the guys. They were getting ready to go up and do their race, and we were staging, and one guy said to the other guy, “How long has this race…” And he said something like, “Oh, 16 laps or something,” and they’re, “Oh, wow, it’s really long.” I was laughing, I was like, “Oh my god, I like four hour and longer type events.”

Yeah, I’m just kind of warmed up.

I was laughing, I was like, “And this is why I couldn’t race on the track, because like you I need the…”

[inaudible 00:46:12] spinning out there for a couple of hours, ready to go.

Yeah, exactly.

I would do that with cycler cross. I’d be like, “All right, who wants to be race?” Then it would be over. I mean, I did pretty well but it was different from-

Well horses for courses, right?

Yeah, totally.

Yeah. I’m definitely in that long camp as well. Make me do something for 200 meters, and I will be like, “Wait, what? I’m supposed to have started already. Like that’s not-“

It’s fun though. It’s fun.

It’s really good training.

Oh it’s amazing training.

And when I lived in Colorado, we would ride on the track in the wintertime because I had a bubble on it.

Oh cool. Yeah.

And it was way more fun than riding the trainer. Like way more fun than riding the trainer.

Light years better than riding the trainer, yeah.

So it was a super way to spend the winter training, was like riding on the track, because you bubble nice.

Totally.

You can’t do that here, but maybe some day.

Yeah, yeah.

Not a bubble. Listeners, I’m not putting a bubble on the track, but you know, who knows what other cool things we could cook up, but-

Cool.

But yeah, but what about for you for riding for this summer? Any goals for you? I know you’re doing a big ride this coming weekend.

Yeah, it’s a Sweet Water, Risky Rebellion Gravel in Prosperity, Pennsylvania.

Ah cool.

Yeah, it seems like a really cool format. They’ve got three distinct loops. Not like a loop race but like three different loops that you have to do in order to add up to 120 miles. But it’s cool because you’re coming back to the same spot, so if you need anything-

Seems like a pedal on the flat, like-

Yeah, yeah, yeah. If you need anything, you can get it. Yeah, I’ve been doing a bunch of gravel stuff in the state, which is just amazing. I don’t really have anything, outside of the state, or quote, unquote, race-wise until… Well Grit is coming up. So there’s Rothrock Grit which is a women’s focused gravel race in central PA, which is very cool. And that’s the first weekend in June, and then I’m going to do Big Sugar, which is in Arkansas, and the Spirit World in Patagonia, Arizona, in November.

Ooh, that sounds nice.

Yeah, the gravel thing is so cool because you can be a little more heads-up and see things. Like mountain bike racing was awesome, but you really have to be attentive to what’s right front of your wheels a bit.

Right.

And there’s sections in that in gravel, but you can really take in a place in such an amazing way, and it’s been just a really cool next chapter for me.

And we have Unpaved.

And we have Unpaved. I should have said Unpaved, what’s wrong with me?

We have Unpaved, and I’m excited to do Unpaved this year.

Yeah, and that is beautiful. My-

Beautiful time of year.

October’s always peak-ful, second weekend in October.

And I am super excited, and a bunch of my teammates are doing it with me, which is also very fun.

I’m very excited about that.

But I’m also really excited about your new format for Unpaved.

I love it. I love, love, love it. It’s taking off of the Grinduro kind of thing. I mean, we didn’t make it up. My husband puts it on… that’s why I’m saying we. But instead of doing a start-to-finish time, we’re doing timed segments that add up to about 40 or 50 miles of the race, of the 120 mile course. But the beautiful thing about that is, A, there’s a start window, so you can start whenever you want within that window, with whomever you want. And last year, the three women who were in contention for the win rode the whole thing together and just raced each other up the [crosstalk 00:49:41]-

Oh that’s rad.

And regrouped. It was amazing. And they stopped and had a picnic lunch at lunch.

Oh that’s super good.

But that’s what it allows to you is really enjoy the day. You are not racing through eight stations, which is really difficult for everybody. That’s difficult on the volunteers, it’s difficult on the people. In previous years, there were plenty of crashes at predictable places. Like a couple of hot turns. No matter how many signs you put up, people are going to overcook them. We gave that a bandaid, once we turned off the racing in those places, and just timed certain segments. It allows everyone just to really, really enjoy the day, and you still get the winners, the people who are concerned about times and podiums. You still have that. I love the format.

I’m super excited about it. The thing that… you’ve said it about me before, that I’m solar-powered. And I don’t like 6:00 AM cold starts.

Oh right, because then it’s usually a 7:00 AM start and it can be cold. But then it warms up quite nicely.

Yeah, so that to me is like the greatest development ever. One of those COVID innovations that is going to-

I love it. And it also helps because that race particularly starts on the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, and the Amish and Mennonite in the area use it to go to church and it’s on a Sunday, and you just don’t want to be… even though it’s neutral. Like a bunch of us hauling down that thing is just a little problematic. We’ve done it, it’s fine, but it’s way better to… because that is beautiful. So if you can just be spread out and just warming up on that nine mile stretch enjoying your morning, it’s a great way to start the event. And having that completely neutral, and god forbid, you always have to pee and there’s always a giant line, and it’s just… Like last year was no big deal. We still needed to start by like 8:30, and then somebody’s like, “Oh, wait a minute, I forgot my blah, blah…” You know what I mean?

Yeah.

Who cared? We started at 8:45 and it was all fine.

Yeah, no, I’m super excited about that. To me, that’s one of the innovations of the COVID times that I hope never changes. I think there’s been a bunch, like of things that have been positives that came out of-

Oh I would agree. It was a good-

… out of the weird year that wasn’t-

… way to learn things and try some different things. It was pretty cool.

Yeah. But that to me is very exciting, so I’m targeting that. We have the master’s national championships here at the track in September.

Oh that’s right, Cheryl was talking about that.

Yeah. So that’s September, and I think it ends September 19th, September 20th, and then the track is essentially going to close for resurfacing.

Oh wow.

So-

Oh wow.

… Unpaved for me is this like thing-

Oh that’s great.

… out in the future that I’m looking at. When the track has claimed down and it’s actually closed for resurfacing, there’s this beautiful thing lurking out in the future for me as a goal.

Oh that’s cool.

And you’re doing Vermont Overland.

Oh I forgot about that. I’m like, I’m missing one.

Yeah, Vermont Overland.

Yeah. That’s at the end of August.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to that one. That’s going to be a fun one.

Yeah, those are… they have so much great dirt, great-

And maybe some heavy topper and-

Oh yeah, and a tree house. They have a lot of good breweries up there.

Lot of good breweries and maple creamies, and all sorts of-

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of… As we’re talking, there’s so many women coming into gravel and I think that’s a lot of it. The woman I work with at Live Feisty, Katherine Taylor, started Women Gravel Cyclists, and she named it that… just a very generic name, so people could find it. Facebook group, she started it in March last year at the quarantine, and she’s up to like 6300 women already.

Wow.

In that private Facebook group, just coming in like, “Hey, I just started gravel, hey, I just started gravel, hey, I just started gravel,” and it’s very cool.

Yeah, it is very cool. It’s just I think… I love seeing more women coming into the sport, and I like seeing it’s not just young women.

Oh no, and these are by and large not young women.

Yeah, and I think that’s super cool. It’s interesting how it overlaps with your hit play not pause thing, right?

Yeah. When you turn 52 or 40… you get to a point where you’re like, you’ve done the same thing for so long, whether it be professionally, it’s easy to get in those ruts, and it’s exciting to start something different, to try something new at that point in your life.

Yeah. And I think too it’s hard to make friends when you’re a grownup.

Oh that’s a good point too.

I think-

And to find that community.

It is a way to find community that can be really challenging when you’re not with a bunch of college friends anymore. Like you-

And you start acting like college friends when you find these people because you go… all of a sudden, like we did this weekend, we went camping together, and planned a weekend around two rides that… And that’s the other beautiful thing of now there are all these routes that… you can find them and you put them on your device, so that’s not as intimidating either, right?

Right, right.

There’s a route. You know it’s established. Your device is going to show you the way, and you have a map if you need it, and you camp and you drink beer, and we rode to like… We found a bake sale and bought-

Oh nice.

… stuff at a bake sale midway through, and stopped for pizza. It’s a really fun way to be an adult.

Right, adult and have friends and have fun. Like play bikes, right?

Yeah, totally.

It’s playing bikes, and I think we all need a little bit more of playing bikes. I’m super excited because here in Lehigh Valley, there’s some momentum behind that, right? Like Discover Lehigh Valley is the tourism board here, and they have… part of their master plan is focused on bicycles and-

Good.

And they’re trying to make it IMBA recognized community, but mountain bike community. So there’s a lot of really positive energy around bikes happening here, here in Lehigh Valley, here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. And I think that one of my goals is to try to bring all these communities together, right? And be a sort of cycling aggregator, right? Because we could do all the things here-

Well, and we’re more powerful together. I mean, I loved the podcast you did with Jeff Cash for that reason. You know what I mean? There’s so much intersection of all of the things, the farming and the cycling and the healthy active living and all of that… it’s all here, and if we all join for the common good, like the potential’s amazing.

Yeah, I think that that was another beautiful thing that came out of COVID, right? All of a sudden, Jeff and I were talking this morning about it. Like there was a time early in COVID, right, where you couldn’t get your groceries delivered, and you couldn’t… The shelves were empty, and you could only buy one dozen eggs, and you couldn’t buy chicken, and you saw people rediscovering their local farms, and oh, well maybe I’ll go straight to the farm stand because they have food that they don’t have at the grocery store right now, our supply chain is a little bit messed up. And oh, maybe I’ll buy a bike because we’re allowed to recreate outside, and oh, I’ll buy a paddleboard because we’re allowed to recreate outside.

I think we’re in this beautiful moment of opportunity where yeah, there’s no getting around the fact that COVID was awful and people suffered and people died, and businesses closed and it was awful. I’m not trying to point-

Right, 100%.

… COVID as a lovely thing that happened. But there are things that we should take out of it that we should keep going.

Yeah, it would almost be criminal of us not to, honestly. Like to not pull the potential positive things out of this, of like-

Right. And I think bikes are a huge part of that.

I agree.

I think you can’t buy a bike. Last weekend I was in a trek store, and I was in [inaudible 00:57:47] because I was down in their shop as well. And in both stores people were walking in and saying, “Hey, I’d like to buy bikes,” and the answer is like-

It’s crazy.

… okay, well there’s a waiting list.

Yeah.

But it’s an opportunity right now for us to welcome people into our community, right? And I think that that’s the most important… yes, performance matters. High performance matters. High performance lifestyle matters. But it also matters that we grow the community, and it matters that we invite people in, and if you want to go down the high performance pathway, super, that’s… more power to you. And if you just want to have fun, that’s super, more power to you. Right? It’s like equal. But I think we’re at a pivotal time where we can invite people in.

Oh yeah, they’re there. Otherwise those bikes are going to go into garages.

Right, and we don’t want that to happen, right? This great bike boom, and all the inventory in the country is gone. Invite people in. Like how do we invite people in? And we do it through conversations like this one where you’re saying, “Hey, there are tools for you. If your body doesn’t feel like your body should, don’t let that stop you from trying the thing. Find the tools, find the diet, find the resources. Find the people.”

Oh 100%.

And don’t let it stop you. Instead, find a device, upload a file, go ride your bike in camp. Bring your protein.

Yeah, yeah. All those resources. Just even talking to… One of the early women I had on the podcast, I had on because I had heard about these women getting out of sport because they were getting incontinence, which is something that happens. So they’re wetting themselves, and they don’t want to run if they’re wetting themselves. That’s embarrassing. It’s horrible. But that is largely treatable, but if nobody talks about it, you don’t know that. And then all of a sudden… So I was like, no, no, no, we can’t have people… And then the same thing, I mean like women have vaginal pain if they’re on the saddle. But if they think it’s just them they’re going to be like, “Oh, that sport’s maybe not for me.” They don’t want to talk about maybe their clitoritis to the guy in the shop.”

Shocking.

So I mean-

Right. So talk to women and figure out which saddle works, right?

Right, exactly.

Right, I think that’s the whole thing is… That’s what your podcast has been so good about. And the one about fear.

Yeah, how about that?

I found that to be super interesting, and I know nothing about the science of it. But man, anecdotally, even just again thinking about my own mother and where her anxiety level went as a mother when she crossed that threshold, where my own anxiety went, and understanding that that fear reaction is something that actually is part of this whole-

It’s grounded, it’s hormonally grounded. That study was fascinating.

I mean, but fear plays a huge part in coming out on your bike.

For sure, for sure.

That is relevant. So everything on your podcast, I think as a… You might’ve been talking to climbers, or talking to nutritionists or doctors-

Yeah, they were climbers who were 2000 feet up in the air, but it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, it translates, right? So I think that just for women listening again it’s like, “Hey, look, there’s resource, and the things that you are potentially experiencing at this age, there’s tools for us. There’s ways. You’re-

Yeah, don’t let it define you as that, oh that’s not for me because I’m feeling this. That’s not for me because I’m X. I mean, it’s an opportunity to learn that there’s physiological and biological underpinnings to some of what you’re feeling, that can be mitigated and that you can work with. And it doesn’t have to be like oh, now is the time that I check out. [crosstalk 01:01:48]-

Right, disappear from the start line.

Right, right.

Yeah, that phrase has stuck with me now. There’s people disappearing from the start line. Yeah, we don’t want that.

No, we don’t want that.

We want people reappearing at the start line.

Because in many ways, I mean all the things that we say… there’s like this little negative undercurrent that I try to avoid. And that’s another thing that actually really bothered me when I started doing my own research, and A, I could not believe there was not another athletic menopause podcast in existence. There’s 850,000 podcasts in the world. I was stunned that there was not another one. But-

Now there is.

Is there? Good.

Yeah, one woman, because I know her. Her name is Lesley McShade and I know her from when she lived in Louisville.

Oh that’s great. Oh good, okay.

So yeah, so now there’s one more.

What is the-

I can’t remember the name.

Okay, I’ll have to look it up. Yeah, so more the merrier. There’s plenty to learn. But that surprised me that there was no other podcast in that space, but I have completely forgotten what we were talking about.

Well, I think we were talking about disappearing from the start line. What’s so interesting is you don’t see the master’s men disappear from the start line.

That is true.

The master’s men make up the bulk of bike racing population, right? Like if you look at USA Cycling membership, where their age group skews. If you look at who’s riding gravel, I remember looking at the demographic slides from-

It was like maybe 10% in the field that were women.

Yeah, but seeing what ages they were too. They were all 49 to 59.

Oh, I know what I was going to say now. Yeah.

So we don’t see our male counterparts disappearing from the start line, and I think that that’s important to recognize, that we can do it too.

Oh 100%, and what I was going to say is that… underline all this. There was so much negativity that I wanted to avoid. But also, there’s something that happens when you turn… for me it was definitely 50. I just got this other… stopped giving any care. Like no more Fs to give, about a lot of stuff. I dropped a lot of care about a lot of stuff that would’ve bothered me when I was 25 or 35 or even 45, and that is empowering. I mean, I think you can harness that, and just be like, “Now’s the time. If not now, when?”

Right, right.

I let go of a lot of that stuff, and there’s a lot of women I talk to that went through the same thing. They’re like, “I am 50, and let me tell you, I don’t care what you…” There’s a lot of people stepping into that in a way of power, and coming into their prime in many ways. So I think taking that mindset also and using it in your physical and athletic or recreationally athletic life is useful.

Yeah, for sure, for sure. Yeah. Was it you that posted or was it somebody else in the Feisty media universe that posted about how much had been spent on like-

That was today.

Yeah, on Viagra.

On erectile dysfunction. It was like-

It as fascinating.

… seven billion, in the course of, like not much time. And menopausal health was like one billion over the course of I don’t know how many years. It’s just like they don’t even… It’s so infuriating, and it’s going to change. But it’s funny to see, because we’re all in this ocean together, right? If you’re on the ocean, sometimes you don’t even see the water. And a lot of the people I’ve had on the show, like the cardiologist I had… I saw the light bulbs going on and off a lot, and she was like, “They don’t talk about menopause at all at the women’s cardiology conference.” Like it doesn’t even… All the stuff that she’s like, “Why aren’t people talking about menopause?” And they’re saying it. I had talked to the woman, Kristen Dieffenbach. Same thing. Just like sports psychology. Nobody talks about the effect of menopause.

Right, on sports performance.

It’s not even a thoughts.

Yeah.

Yeah, so there will be thoughts now.

For sure, for sure.

And that’s going to make it better for everybody.

And it will make it much better for the women coming behind us, right?

So much better, so much better.

That’s the interesting thing, is there’s a map to follow now. And the map will get clearer and-

Oh yeah, it’s only going to get better.

But yeah, I think that it was that erectile dysfunction post that made me think about that, about the master’s men and how they are vastly dominated the number of people that race bikes, broadly speaking, across all the disciplines. And we need the master’s women to come into the game.

Well I won’t even poke the bear and talk about men can get a TUE for testosterone, but women can’t. Like let’s light the place on fire.

Right, yeah. Right.

I had this whole conversation with a woman, it’s a podcast coming up I’m very excited about. But when I was younger I used to roll my eyes so hard in women’s studies classes when they used the patriarchy term, right? Like, oh, we’re all equal now, women work. And I was so dumb, because it is so entrenched in our medical system, in everything.

In our sporting system.

In everything.

Right, because that is infuriating, right? Like if you’re a male you can walk into a clinic in a strip mall and get your prescription for testosterone and-

That low T baby.

Well, in Colorado Springs there was a place called the Low T store. That was the legit name of the business, the Low T store.

Of course there is.

And it was next to a place where I got my hair done, so I always laughed. I’d pull in, I’d be like, “Oh look, I’m parked at the Low T store.” But yeah, honest to god, right there in the strip mall. Yeah, women who are undergoing all this hormonal stuff, we can’t get a TUE.

Ridiculous.

It’s astonishing to me. Well it’s a performance-enhancing drug. Well yeah, what do you think testosterone is for those guys? Like they are getting it for performance enhancement.

100%, it’s so ridiculous. And to not allow women to… because women can get menopausal hormone therapy, but to not allow them to get the other piece of that. Oh, we can get an estrogen patch, that’s okay. That’s just ridiculous.

Yeah.

It’s part of the whole equation.

Right.

They’re all the hormones and they work like a symphony.

Right, they kind of work together.

Right.

Yeah, I know. It’s really kind of crazy. But I will say, when I first moved to Colorado Springs, I was looking for a new doctor, and this is a funny thing that nothing has to do with what we were talking about but it was just funny. So she said, “Oh, well you’re of a certain age,” and I was like, “I am?” And she’s like, “Yeah, so you’re probably-“

What does that even mean?

Well yes, I was of the age where the change was happening. So she was like, “So I can give you testosterone.” She’s like, “It’s off-label use. But it’s just a little pallet, and insert it in your butt and just come back every six months and get a new pallet inserted.” I was like, “Well I can’t do that because I race bikes and that would be frowned upon.” I was like, “But just out of curiosity, what are the benefits, what are the side effects, what are the symptoms?” She was like, “Oh, well you’ll have higher muscle tone, you’ll have better energy. You’ll have better sex drive.” She was painting this like glowing picture of like how much life would be vastly improved if I had this-

On the other side of this door that you can’t walk through.

Right. And she’s like painting this great picture of how awesome it was, and I’m sitting there going, “Okay, so what’s the downside?” And the only thing she did was go like…

You might grow some-

You might grow a beard. But it was-

Waxing for that.

But it was so funny because she’s just like, “Yes, here’s the litany of things that will make as…” I think I was 48 at the time, maybe. And she’s like, “Here’s all the things that will make your life better if you can do this thing,” and I was like, “Oh I’d like to sleep…” I knew sleep was one of them too. And she’s like, “Yeah, you’d sleep better, and you’d have better energy, and more overall lean muscle mass,” and I was like, “These are all great things. I can’t have it.” Oh, that’s not fun. But you have to make the call. If you’re going to race bikes-

It’s-

… you can’t do it.

Yeah, that one really… that’s a…

Yeah. And it’s just not fair.

No, it’s patently unfair, and it’s definitely endocentric. It’s definitely a male-

Yeah, because I mean, I get it. Sure, if you’re a 30-year-old woman taking it for performance-enhancing reasons, okay-

Yeah, but it is part of a hormonal therapy situation for menopausal hormone therapy. It makes-

Yeah, and it-

[crosstalk 01:11:10] makes sense.

Well and I guess, then why is it-

Keep it within a certain range like everything else.

Right, keep it within a certain range, but then apples should be apples, right?

100%.

And then the men shouldn’t be allowed to have [crosstalk 01:11:21].

Oh 100%.

But that would never happen.

Yes, we know that.

So that would never happen. But yeah, I just remember her stroking her chin being like, “Well…” I was like, “So that’s the one downside.”

Like oh god.

Yeah, it was funny. She was very like painting this brilliant picture of, oh, you’d sleep and you’d be leaner and you’d like-

All this stuff.

I was like-

You’d be so powerful.

… oh, I could be happier. I was like, oh, that sounds nice. But no, I’ll have to pass.

Anyway… yeah.

It was just really funny how that all went down. But yeah, so that’s that. So the moral of the story, our big takeaway from this very wide ranging conversation, which I sort of love, because it went… I told you before we started recording I had a billion things I wanted to talk to you about and I was going to range far and wide and it wasn’t going to make sense. So I hope our listeners rode the train of thought. The takeaway of today is don’t be afraid to try new things.

100%.

Doesn’t matter if it’s track bikes, gravel bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, try new things. But try bikes, because we like bikes.

Yeah.

Come to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, because we’re trying to be nice and welcoming and inclusive and friendly.

It is very fun, even if you don’t want to race.

And it’s fun, even if you don’t want to race. We have great beer, so you can have that too. But look for the resources, and that is really-

Look for the resources.

… in all of this, I joke about trying the beer and doing the thing, but really the message I wanted to get across today for any of our women listeners or male listeners who then have females in their lives that they want to encourage, is there are resources for us, whether it be coaching or ROAR or ROAR 2, the unnamed ROAR 2, or Hit Play Not Pause, or Women on Gravel. Whatever the resource is, if you are interested in doing the thing, the message of today’s podcast with Selene is that you are empowered to do the thing.

Yeah, if you’re interested in doing it, you should do it.

You should do it.

Yeah, there’s a way.

There’s a way, and there are women who have started younger than you are and there are women who have started later than you, and it doesn’t matter. There are women who are going to be faster than you, and there are going to be women who are slower than you, and it doesn’t matter.

Doesn’t matter.

Doesn’t matter.

No.

Do the thing, and-

You always regret the things that you don’t do, not the things you’ve done most of the time.

Most of the time.

I qualified that. You always… most of the time.

Most of the time. But yeah, and I think that for our listeners, tell them where they can find you and find some of the great information that you’re putting out.

Yeah, I mean Hit Play Not Pause has a private… which just means we keep out trolls and spammers, but it’s a Facebook group that is also… I think we have 5000 women in there now, and it’s a great resource because people just can come in and ask questions, and it’s a very open space. I’ll look at it in 6:30 in the morning and I’m like, “Oh they’re talking about orgasm. Okay, that’s cool.” It’s a very open space. That’s probably the best resource, they’re podcast adjacent, and I exist on… Well I should say Feisty Menopause is another good place that has an Instagram and a Facebook itself, where you’ll find the trickle-down of any of the things that I do. Like I write a blog and a newsletter for them, and that information trickles into that. So feistymenopause.com is a great resource for a lot of information, and you can find me at FitChick3. [inaudible 01:14:58] FitChick for bicycling since 1999, on Instagram and Facebook as well.

Nice. Yeah, so I encourage you all to check out the great resources, even if menopause is not your current concern, because there’s just a lot of other great information for all women, and at some point, it will be for you.

And it will let you know, like there’s a lot of women who didn’t… they’re experiencing things like I didn’t know, like a lot of anxiety. I mean, that can be an early indicator. Poor sleep, anxiety. Like stuff that just kind of makes you feel like you’re losing your mind. Could be hormones. I mean, when you look at graphs at what the hormones start doing and it’s technically perimenopause… we just call it the menopause transition. It looks haywire. I mean, of course you’re feeling that way.

I mean, you watch the whole reproductive life and there’s this rhythm and it looks perfectly orchestrated, and then perimenopause comes and it looks like a spiral graph. Like somebody just threw something in there. And it does even out again at the other side of the tunnel. But I mean, if you’re starting to feel like… like we talk about the fear. Like wacky, sort of like I’m not quite myself, and I don’t know why. It could be hormones, it could just be the start of something. And knowledge is power.

And that starts for some people in their 30s, so-

For sure, late 30s, it can start early 40s. It can go for 10 years, it can last for five years. I mean, it’s the kind of thing… but if you know there’s actions you can take and resources for you, and there’s no negative to that. There’s no downside.

Right on. So check your resources, kids. That’s the moral of the story.

That is, certainly.

And do the things. All right, well this has been The Talk of the T-Town Podcast with our guest, Selene Yeager, and we were thrilled to talk all of those unusual topics for track racing but awesome, and I think really important stuff to talk about. So thank you for coming on the show this week, Selene.

Thank you for having me, it was a lot of fun.

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.

 

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Missy Erickson: Go With the Flow

Missy Erickson

Episode 28

“It’s being able to take your experience and give it to other athletes in a way that they understand because everybody learns differently.”

Did you know that how much dairy you consume can affect your bike fit? Tune in to this week’s Talk of the T-Town to hear Joan and Andy talk with Missy Erickson about the intricacies of bike fitting, how Missy found cycling, and how she approaches coaching her athletes.

Missy Erickson
Missy Erickson

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


Missy Erickson

Instagram: @missyerickson @erosportspa @bigpicturecycling

Facebook: @missyericksonofficial @EROSportsPA @BigPictureCycling

Websites: ero-sports.com/2020 bigpicturecycling.com

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.

Andy Lakatosh:

Welcome to the talk of the T-Town podcast, I’m Andy Lakatosh, athletic director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center here with my co-host Joan Hanscom. Today we have Missy Erickson, the 2016 Valley Preferred Cycling Center rider of the year, World Cup bronze medalist, six-time national champion, and 2016 Olympic Long Team member and might be 2024 if she makes a comeback, sitting here in the studio with us today. Welcome Missy, thanks for coming on, how are you?

Missy Erickson:

I’m good, thanks for having me.

Andy Lakatosh:

For everyone who’s not here, Missy just had her birthday on Sunday and we’re hoping for Spring weather but we just finished wrapping up coaching a very cold and blustery track session this morning straight into the studio to record the podcast. So, fresh off of doing plenty of work and jumping into a little bit of fun. For everyone who doesn’t know Missy and her background, Missy, could you tell us a little bit about how you found cycling, got into it, what you did beforehand, how you came to find velodrome riding.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. I grew up in Minnesota. I played all sorts of sports growing up. I started cross-country skiing when I was in middle school. Our cross-country ski coach at the time was a cyclist himself so he actually got me involved in cycling for off-season training. So cycling actually was my secondary sport just to get me off of skis all Summer. And then I transitioned into cycling as I become better and better at it. Eventually got offered a collegiate scholarship to Fort Lewis College, I was there for four years. I was only a road cyclist prior to go in and then Fort Lewis actually introduced me to track cycling. They just sent me an email and asked if I would be interested in doing it and my complete attitude about it was just, “Sure, why not.”

Missy Erickson:

And so I just started getting involved with collegiate cycling in that way, I learned how to raise mountain bikes, track bikes, cyclo-cross bikes. I even dabbled in BMX a little bit, I was really bad so that ended very quickly. But it was I think the first time on the velodrome, I remember, I think it was Paper Planes from M.I.A. was playing on the speakers and my friend Sarah and I were screaming at the top of our lungs at Colorado Springs trying to figure out what exactly we were doing. And I think it was the first weekend there I was approached by Mark Tyson actually, who became my first track specific coach in Colorado. And he asked me how high my high jump was, or how my vertical jump was, and I didn’t know who he was or what he was referring to and I had no idea so I just completely washed it off.

Missy Erickson:

But our track season really was only about three weekends, so I think I rode the track bike for five or six days, and then went to collegiate nationals and ended up medaling in a bunch of different events and just fell in love with it. Graduated college after four years…

Andy Lakatosh:

Hold on, before we go any further, that’s a lot of stuff to cover. So we went from cross-country, which of course makes sense in Minnesota because there’s so much snow.

Missy Erickson:

Right.

Andy Lakatosh:

When does snow start falling there usually?

Missy Erickson:

I mean, when I was a kid, we had feet of snow on the ground by Halloween. So, we didn’t have the typical Halloween costumes you see today. We had like, I stuffed an M&M costume full of newspaper and wore a snow suit under it to go trick-or-treating. So, we had snow early and we had snow late, there was always snow on my birthday, so right now we’d still have snow on the ground, so…

Andy Lakatosh:

And you’d still be skiing into May?

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, so that we would… Our high school season would start early, we’d run cross-country running, go into Nordic, and then we would cross-country ski all Winter long as long as we possibly could. State Championships was always probably in late February, and then we’d still have snow into the Spring.

Andy Lakatosh:

What was the highest level you made it to or biggest accomplishment you had in skiing?

Missy Erickson:

I raced a couple of Junior Olympic events but I think I made it to the state skiing three times.

Andy Lakatosh:

And so little known fact, you actually raced with and competed against Jessie Diggins?

Missy Erickson:

Yes.

Andy Lakatosh:

Who-

Joan Hanscom:

That’s crazy.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Missy Erickson:

Who was arguably better than anybody. I actually remember at state my first year, she was on the start list behind me because they went by slowest to fastest ranking order for points of the overall season and my coach said, “When Jesse comes by you,” Because it wasn’t a question of-

Andy Lakatosh:

If.

Missy Erickson:

… if she was, it was when she was. He said, “Stay with her as long as you possibly can.” And Jessie is years younger than me, actually. So she was, I think she won state as probably at eighth or ninth grader, she was really young her first year that she won. And when she came by me, it was on a hill, and I was bigger than I am now, and arguably, if there was power to weight in skiing, it would be quite low. And she flew, for each one of my steps she must have been taking two or three, she was so fast, it was unbelievable. So, the fact that she’s Olympic gold medalist does not surprise me.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, and that was a really big historic Olympic gold medal too because US doesn’t do well in cross-country skiing but we’ve never won in women’s, right?

Missy Erickson:

No, I think the other medal was a man. I’m not familiar with what he actually did but, it’s the first Olympic gold medal by any American female for sure. I mean, she went on to win the World Cup overall, this year she won the Tour de Ski, she’s just breaking so many barriers and she’s just an incredible human being. She’s just incredible and the US Ski Team has come so far in the past couple years and they’ve done so much to build the program and the mentality. So, if you haven’t read Jessie Diggins’ book you should. And they also wrote a book about making the team too and that’s just incredible, the mindset and how they shifted the culture within US skiing and made that team work. So, very good reads for anyone who’s trying to put a program together.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s super interesting. So, but Missy, you came from an endurance background then…

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. And I-

Joan Hanscom:

… and became a sprinter?

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, I mean, the shift for me to go towards sprint was actually just because I fell in love with the keirin. When I was in college, my roommate, his name’s Ian, he, actually, we finished collegiate nationals and we just got in the car as soon as we got back to Durango and we loaded up the car and we went to Elite Nationals because they were out in LA and I had never competed in an event outside of collegiate. And for anyone who has been to collegiate nationals, the atmosphere at collegiate nationals is quite different than Elite’s. Elite’s is a lot more serious, there’s a lot more people, and so we just loaded up the car and took off to LA and I think we slept on the floor of his dad’s apartment in Santa Monica and I remember I rode a 90-inch gear in the women’s keirin and my first year I ended up getting a bronze medal.

Andy Lakatosh:

We’re talking about 2008?

Missy Erickson:

This is probably 2008 or 2009, so years back, that’s when I fell in love with the keirin specifically. I was an endurance athlete, I had only done road cycling up to that point. At collegiate nationals I think I medaled in the points race and scratch race and some more of the endurance stuff, but I just loved the keirin. And so for me, I didn’t have anybody there telling me physiologically, you are an endurance athlete, you’re sprint athlete, I just went by my heart like I did at that point. Wasn’t being coached by anyone specifically, I didn’t have any goals, it was just I went with what I felt was right. But even after that, I continued to do everything. I raced all the road events for Fort Lewis, I did cyclo-cross, I tried mountain biking but that result was very similar to BMX. So everything I did was endurance up until the point that I graduated. And then when I graduated in 2012, I just packed up my car, I sold almost everything, if it didn’t fit in the car it didn’t come with, I moved to Los Angeles with 800 bucks in my pocket because that’s what I sold my mountain bike for.

Andy Lakatosh:

Which is a lot like track sprinters standards, right? You-

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, which I call rich.

Andy Lakatosh:

You were the richest out of all of us.

Missy Erickson:

I found a room in a house in Torrance, where there was already three people living in it, and I didn’t know who they were, and I just moved. I asked the lady, she agreed to waive my deposit for a month until I found a job, I paid her my first month’s rent, which as everyone knows in LA is not cheap. And I literally walked into the velodrome and went into Jamie Staff’s office because he was running the program at the time, and I just said, “Hi, I’m Missy and I want to train with you guys.” I had an aluminum Fuji bike with a bent rear triangle and really bad training wheels, which I still have.

Andy Lakatosh:

Much against my advice.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. And Jamie pretty much just said, “Okay, well, let’s see what you can do,” And I’m pretty sure my 200-meter that day was slower than 13 seconds, I had no idea what I was doing but he let me jump in the program. He didn’t write me a training plan, I just followed the other girls around, they were all incredibly welcoming. At that point it was like Taylor Crane and Kristen Walker and Dana Fais, all these incredible people that I had watched race Pan Am championships and Pan Am games and I knew I love California and I knew that’s where the indoor velodrome was going to be and that’s where I figured I had to be if I wanted to make it happen. And up until that point I didn’t actually know track cycling was in the Olympics, I just knew that I liked it and I wanted to try as much as I could to go as far as I wanted to.

Andy Lakatosh:

I see. So to me there’s almost a beauty in the fact that you didn’t grow up around track, you didn’t know the culture, you didn’t know the niche of it, you weren’t locked in, you just had a very open and “Hey, I’m going to do what’s fun,” basically instead of like, “Oh, I can’t race on this Saturday because that’s supposed to be my other training day,” You weren’t locked into I got to keep following this, you were like, “Oh, I’m just going to do whatever is fun and I get faster at doing,” So you just winged it because we definitely run into a lot of like, “Ah, I can’t go to California, I have to stay here and train with my coach and do this. I can’t mix it up,” Or just seeing all the roadblocks, it’s expensive, and it’s this, and it’s that and the other thing, and you definitely are always like, “Screw it.”

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, I mean-

Joan Hanscom:

Well…

Missy Erickson:

Go ahead.

Joan Hanscom:

What’s also important, though, is that you pick the thing that spoke to you. And I think, too often you see junior athletes being wedged into a path and they’re not picking, it’s being picked for them. And ultimately, I think that you ended up where you are today, coaching, bike fitting, still riding, because you picked the thing rather than having it thrust upon you. And I think that there’s a lesson in that for a lot of kids in the sport. There’s so many options available, if you love bikes and you love playing on bikes, play on bikes with the discipline that actually speaks to you don’t feel like you have to go down a certain pathway, pick the path that’s right for you. And I think that’s a really important thing for people to just take away from what you’re saying is that, there’s lots of ways to skin the proverbial cat, right? If you want to be pursuing this pathway, then pick the one that speaks to you the most not necessarily the one where people are trying to pigeonhole you or direct you.

Missy Erickson:

Right. I mean, there was even a point when I had an opportunity to be part of the women’s team pursuit program prior to Rio. I attended one of the camps, I did really well, and I had a sit down conversation with the coach, and they wanted me to be part of the program. And at that point, I was…

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, at that point the sprint program had been disban-

Missy Erickson:

Yeah and then-

Andy Lakatosh:

… Jamie had moved on to BMX.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, this is years down the road. Team pursuit always intrigued me as an endurance event and I enjoyed doing it. Even being offered an opportunity to train with the program at the Olympic Training Center, for me it was, I just loved to sprint so much and it wasn’t necessarily the sprints, it was just the keirin and I loved it, I loved every aspect of it and that was just the event that I wanted to do. And I knew if I were to switch, I won’t be able to do what I technically love to do, even though I loved riding and I love track and I love the team environment and everything, I went with what spoke to me across the whole board. When I wanted to race cyclo-cross, I raced cyclo-cross and when I didn’t, I didn’t and when I wanted to race road, I would race road.

Missy Erickson:

I’ve done to America’s Dairyland, I’ve done Superweek, I’ve done Nature Valley Grand Prix, I was part of the collegiate All Star Program. I’ve been there and done those things but it was always just the keirin and I loved it. And the fact that I was able to win a World Cup medal in that event, will always be one of my favorite memories. Everyone has their favorite thing that they got out of their career, but that will always be really important to me because I followed my heart and I did what I knew I could do and what I wanted to do, so…

Joan Hanscom:

So do you still love the keirin?

Missy Erickson:

I still love the keirin. Yeah, I mean, it’s a condensed short scotch race, I love all racing and I love scotch races, I love, like I said, team pursuit, I have a love-hate relationship with points races. The ones that I do do well and I like and the ones that I don’t I don’t. I don’t really like the Madison but that’s for other reasons. I just loved racing my bike and so I just continued on with it so, I think that’s important for anybody.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I agree. And I think Andy and I have talked about this on past pods to racers race, right?

Missy Erickson:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

I like road racing but there’s not a lot of it so I race GRITS and I race Gravel and stuff because I like racing.

Missy Erickson:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’m not terribly good at it but I still like it. And it’s good to… It’s one of those things you do the thing that makes you happy and racers race. And that’s a great mentality to embrace as well, again, for the juniors who are listening, try racing all the things, find your version of keirin, right? If you’re a junior athlete listening to this, race all the things, try them all because you like racing bike and find your version of the keirin and then chase that but if you want to chase cross, chase cross but race all the things and try.

Missy Erickson:

Right. When I went into college that’s just what I did, I was only a road athlete I’d never raced on the track path as a junior, I’d never touched a mountain bike, I didn’t touch a mountain bike until, I mean, I broke my arm on a mountain bike my freshman year of college, it was my second ride and I ended up in a five-foot trench with Ruthie Matthys as my instructor.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh man.

Missy Erickson:

So you do, you just go and you just try everything, don’t be afraid to say no. If you’re not good at something, just keep trying, do everything, you never know what is going to fall into your lap, so…

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s it. So, where were we in the Missy story? We were at the Long Team for 2016 then.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, well, I guess what I’m noticing is that, if you look at your resume, you got a lot of really amazing opportunities, right? The collegiate All Star stuff, all the cyclo-cross accomplishments, and I just see so much of that came out of your willingness to be like, “Yeah, sure I’ll give it a shot.” And I think that’s also what got you initially very, very far with Jamie and with USA cycling stuff was you’re just like, “Oh, this is what I got to do next. Cool, I’m going to do it right.” Like you were just on board for anything, I think that’s an important kind of thing. That type of mindset gets you really far because even if you look at Vicki Pendleton, Anna Meares, Chris Hoy, the best in the sport, I bet if you ask them at the end of their careers, did they have it all figured out? And it would probably be no. It would probably be, “No, I was still looking for ways to get more and just being open to opportunities and different viewpoints,” and stuff like that really makes a big difference. I think sometimes that gets lost.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s really important to just… My whole perspective was just do whatever you have to do within reason obviously. I did so much traveling back and forth as soon as I got to California, I was there for maybe nine months training. The program fell apart, Jamie left, riders were leaving, so I was again without a coach, didn’t really know what I was doing, and this is Fall of 2012. And so, there was no program with USA cycling. At that point we were getting ready for the Pan Am championships and that was my first national team trip actually. I kept training through that Winter and then made the Pan Am championships team for 2013 with Maddie Godby. I had known Maddie because she was a friend of mine from out in California and she was also coached by Mark Tyson and so we got back together and after the Pan Am championships that year, we set a new team sprint national record and Maddie broke almost every record you can imagine for sprint females at that trip and I moved back to Colorado Springs for that Summer.

Missy Erickson:

So when I moved back to Colorado, because opportunity presented itself, I trained out there all Summer, race, had my first full season, had the opportunity to race on Blaine in Minnesota which is now no longer in existence. And I didn’t know that existed when I was a junior actually, I’m from Minnesota and I didn’t even know we had a track there. And then after that Fall, I actually move back to California again. So, for me it was all just about going where I was happy and my happiness was very important because happy bike racers are fast bike racers and that’s something that still sticks with me. When you’re happy, when you’re calm, and when you’re relaxed you perform well.

Missy Erickson:

And so, that was something that was really important to me throughout my entire career. And the moment that I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t calm and I wasn’t relaxed, I knew something had to change, and so that’s how I ended up back and forth and back and forth and that’s ultimately what led me to stop racing bikes for a while as well. So, that’s all very important is just going with the flow. Anytime I saw something that I could improve upon or whether it was equipment or coaching or where I was or races that I need to go or people I need to surround myself with, training partners, coaches, et cetera, I made the change and that was always really important.

Joan Hanscom:

So, you said something interesting about happy bike racers and certainly that’s been a theme that we’ve had throughout the pod as well. We had Kristen Caiman talking about her business mantra which is happy racers go faster, we had happy Carly is a fast Carly. So, you’re a coach now yourself, how do you help your own athletes realize that happy racers go faster? What’s your philosophy on that now that you’re on the other side of the bike so to speak, how do you help your athletes get to that place as a coach? Because that’s an important thing, I think, it’s for everybody.

Missy Erickson:

When it comes to my athletes, I think all of them will agree that I take a very personable approach to all of them, and I care greatly for every single one of them. And so, it’s really important for me to know what triggers them, what makes them happy, what helps them relax, and every person is different. So, helping the athlete themselves identify what do they need to do to be happy themselves, is it having their favorite breakfast? Is it having conversations with certain people? Is it focusing on the time? Is it focusing on the result? Is it focusing on just simply being present? Every single person is different, but helping the athlete understand that statement is very true. If they are happy, if they are calm, if they are relaxed, they will have a good day regardless of the result.

Missy Erickson:

I can’t really give you a straight up answer about what I do because every single person is different. And it’s just understanding that for each individual and helping them understand that. When I see somebody all wound up, you can see the stress and stress is not conducive to happy bike racers. So, it’s just understanding that and helping them understand it and then figuring out what triggers are going to help them relax and what’s going to make them happy, essentially. So, I don’t know if that answered the question, but…

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I mean, I just think it’s an important coaching philosophy. I think that it’s more and more people have this awareness that matters.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. And I think that’s the important thing, is that understanding that it does matter, taking the stress off. If you’re traveling to an event and something goes wrong, you have a choice, you have a choice to get really upset about it, you have a choice to be really stressed about it or you can just go with the flow, and that was my whole philosophy. I spent an entire evening for hours walking around Mexico City with the US program trying to find the velodrome and I had two choices. It’s super stressed out about the fact that I’m walking on my legs for two hours the day prior to an event or like, “Oh, cool, we get to see Mexico City. This is kind of funny. We’re all just out here, nobody speaks Spanish, we don’t know where we’re going. Okay, whatever, it is what it is.”

Missy Erickson:

And I think it’s important for athletes to understand that they have that choice. You have a choice to get upset, you have a choice to respond the way that you’re responding and you can shift that mindset. So, you can either go with the flow, accept what’s happening and make the best out of it or everything can be negative, everything can be stressful, and then that’s going to weigh on you throughout your entire event.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s funny, there’s a public very World Tour stage example of that, right? Like in the Tour de Romandie, just a week ago or two weeks ago now, Geraint Thomas crashed on the penultimate stage 20 meters from the finish line. His hands were frozen, he slipped off the bars and he was in a position to win the overall and he was interviewed afterwards and he was like, “Oh, I felt a right walker,” But he made fun of himself and then he put a funny meme up of his glasses falling off his head and he made a joke about it. And then he went out the next day and just crushed the final days time trial. And he had previously done a podcast about this same topic about how you can either get completely flipped out and stressed out and he had his sports psychologist on talking about the ability to laugh stuff off, and how that ability to laugh off stuff when it’s appropriate, is really important. And I think it’s also something really to remember, if you have a bad result, you have to put… It’s like hockey goalies-

Missy Erickson:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

… We’ve talked about hockey goalies on the pod before too, you let a goal in and you have to forget that you let the goal in. You have to be able to laugh it off, you have to be able to put it behind you and not dwell and get caught up in dwelling. And I think that’s a real skill to cultivate, I wish I could cultivate it better, I worry about every single thing, and I don’t let things go. I’ve been standing with the test.

Missy Erickson:

I mean, Andy knows me well enough that he knows that I was not always like that. Every single day mattered, every little thing mattered, I was so superstitious in my career like my socks could not match, I had to eat brownies beforehand and God forbid, I didn’t. So, it comes with experience and I think that’s important for any coaches, not all good athletes make good coaches, and it’s being able to take your experience and give it to other athletes in a way that they understand because everybody learns differently.

Missy Erickson:

So, taking my experience in being able to digest that and give it to somebody else in a way that they understand and they can perceive it, is really important. So, every athlete responds to things differently and so it’s my job to understand that and give them the information in a way that they’re going to understand and they’re going to learn and they’re going to take what they need from it. So, it is a learning process. The whole thing is a learning process and I didn’t understand that until I was well into my career. So there’s always things that I wish I could have changed and I would have done differently but now I know better. So, hopefully I can pass that on to other people.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, with all say, having been privy to witnessing this whole process firsthand is, and I strongly encourage, and this is why I think it’s great that we have the programs that we have here at the track compared to other tracks, but I strongly encourage elite athletes to coach even if it’s not what you want to do as your long-term career path, right? Because there was a point where Missy started coaching some athletes and we discussed training plans and how to correct things and help people improve and she can be like, “Can you believe this one person is freaking out about this one thing and they won’t let it go. And now, every day they expect that they have to be better than they were the day before and if they’re not, it’s a failure.” And I was like, “Yeah. Yeah, I think I’ve encountered an athlete like that a time or two before.”

Andy Lakatosh:

But I even learned too as a coach to like things and then all of a sudden, you just don’t start to sweat the small stuff. I think we spend a lot of time as coaches Missy and I focusing on the process, control what you can control, focus on execution, right? And the only thing that you can really control when something bad happens is your reaction and that goes right back to what Missy said about laughing things off and not stressing about it. But a big part of it is definitely, if you do the work and you put in all the time, you take care of yourself and you recover, then on race day, you’re really focusing about, and this is a harder thing to get people to truly understand, but you’re focusing on executing and just doing what you’ve been programmed to do, you’re not focused on going fast, or beating someone, you’re just focused on executing all the skills and all the abilities that you already have. And then if the result is the best that it can be, and then we get beat, probably we were beaten by somebody better. If we make a mistake, if we don’t execute right, then that’s on us. But there’s nothing wrong with losing.

Joan Hanscom:

There’s real thing, though, into believing in the process that, right?

Andy Lakatosh:

Trusting in the process.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, to show up on race day and say, “I’m not going to worry about all the things that you just rattled off Andy, I’m just going to worry about executing.” That means that you have to have, for the months, years leading up to that day, believed in the process, bought into the process and have confidence that on the day executing is in your reach, right? I think that’s hard for a lot of athletes. I think that there’s anxiety about, “Am I prepared enough? Am I ready to execute on the day?” So how do you handle that? How do you get by it in the process because it’s a months and years long thing, it’s a relationship that goes on for many…

Missy Erickson:

Right. And I think in my own experience that’s I was all in or nothing. And that’s how I operated, it was 100% everything. So, if I had 100% belief that I was doing everything in my power, whether it was sleeping enough, eating the right things, obviously, rest and recovery, anything that I needed to do, I was always seeking out what I knew to be the best, whether it was programs, coaches, facilities, equipment, if someone told me something was better, I researched it and I got it and I made sure I had it. And that was just how I function. So, there was no limitation in my book. I…

Joan Hanscom:

That’s the high performance mindset, right?

Missy Erickson:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

… that [crosstalk 00:31:14] talking about.

Missy Erickson:

And because like then when I showed up to a World Cup, I said, “I have everything that I know. I do not have a doubt that I’ve done everything that I know possible to become a better athlete.” And of course, I left my first World Cup getting dropped off the back for kieran before the race even got started. So, I left that World Cup and said, “Okay. This is what I learned and this is what I need to adjust, because I need to get better.” So, being able to believe in what you’re doing was really big for me. I had to know that people believed in me, and I had to know that I believed in myself. So I surrounded myself with a team of people who I know did, because then I knew that I was in the best hands possible. And at one point if I did not believe so, I brought someone else on board and I made sure that I was always constantly improving because the only way we improve is through change. And so if I’m just doing the same thing over and over and over again and not seeing improvement, then I’m going to change something to make it happen. And obviously change is painful for a lot of people. But you have to do adapt.

Missy Erickson:

So, when someone walks up to an event, our job as coaches is to make sure that we have done everything in our power to make them the best possible athletes that they can. And their job as an athlete is to make sure that they have done everything on their end to make sure that they are the best athlete they can be. And if they do that, they can leave an event regardless of the result and know that they’ve done everything in their power and we can adjust accordingly afterwards. But the worst feeling is when you do as an athlete walk up to an event and say, “I could have done this, this and this and I didn’t and this is the result because of it.”

Andy Lakatosh:

There’s a big part of being able to take ownership over that too.

Missy Erickson:

Exactly.

Andy Lakatosh:

Not casting out blame and going, “Oh, the program wasn’t right.” Because no, you missed XYZ day, you stay up till one in the morning, you don’t eat the right foods, like taking ownership of that, right? That’s-

Joan Hanscom:

100%. 100%.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

And as a coach it’s not a fun conversation to have but I think that we work with a lot of athletes that are prepared to accept those things, right? The first thing you should always do, I think, is look introspective and go, “All right,” Like Missy’s saying, “Did I do everything? If I did everything and I still fell short, then what’s the area of opportunity?” And approaching it that way instead of going, “Something was wrong with you guys.”

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. And I think that’s a maturity thing to the same thing as, like I did that as an athlete. I can count on my hand a handful of times that I did not take ownership for my own mistakes or my own results accordingly. And now as I’m older, I can look back and I can see that. So as a coach I try to stay ahead of the ballgame, right? And you’d have those conversations with the athletes prior and you say, “Okay, this is where we can improve upon, are you willing to take that sort of commitment?” And some are and some aren’t. And the ones that aren’t, then accept that that is what they choose. And it works out for some and it doesn’t for others. So, as an athlete that was how I functioned. It was all or nothing, it was taking ownership and trying to be the best possible athlete that I knew how to be, whether that was eating the right foods, selling equipment, getting new stuff, it didn’t matter what it was, anything that I thought I needed to improve upon, I just did it.

Andy Lakatosh:

One thing I will say is that the OCD side of Missy, that everything has to be perfect and right on point, has come in incredibly useful for her when she’d… So coaching I kind of trust on her, right? I was like, “I need help. Can you help? Can you do this? Can you talk to that person?” And I think as elite athletes we regularly get approached as like, “Hey, would you be willing to coach me?” I know when you start coaching there’s so much fear around like, “I don’t feel I have it all figured out why are you going to give me money to tell you what to do because I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do every day.” But the OCD for Missy has definitely made her an incredible bike fitter, out of this world. Can you tell us a little bit about how you discovered that, how you became a bike fitter, and how it’s been going for you.

Missy Erickson:

Well, my whole fitting process started back in 2012 when I moved out to LA. Jim Manton had his ERO studio inside the velodrome and-

Andy Lakatosh:

Which at that point was just a couple of metal barricades.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, it was. It was just a couple of metal barricades with his equipment sitting there and he was there a couple times. And when I made the Pan Am team for 2013, he walked up to me and I didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know who I was and he said, “Your position is absolutely terrible and I can’t believe you actually made the team so, can I fit you?” And I was just like, “Sure, why not,” Like another opportunity just there, so why would I say no to it. And then our relationship, Jim and mine, just grew from there, just became a process over the years of getting to know each other and him helping me with various positions whether it was for pursuit or mass start or sprint or…

Andy Lakatosh:

All the bike changes, all the handlebar changes…

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, anything I needed help with, he was there for me and he became a really great sponsor and supporter of mine. And that was just something that just appeared as history of me in the sport. And in 2015, Jim had been asking me throughout the whole the years if I would be interested, he really wanted a female fitter because he wanted a female perspective to come along so he could reach more female athletes because him as a man, he doesn’t know what it’s like to ride a bike as a woman, it’s very, very different, he’s the first person to admit that. So, he-

Joan Hanscom:

Which is great.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, which is great, I mean, Jim is one of the most-

Andy Lakatosh:

I was just going to say, give Jim’s resume so people actually understand who he is.

Missy Erickson:

I mean, Andy, you know Jim’s resume, he’s the man and that’s enough, that’s all you have to say. Like in the-

Andy Lakatosh:

But didn’t he fit X number of the top people that finished at Kona every year or something like that, like he’s the guy.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah. He does so many fits, he is arguably the number one fitter and ERO guru in the world at the moment in terms of cycling world. He’s huge in the triathlon world. He’s worked with the women’s team pursuit program, he’s helped develop products and bikes and equipment and anything and everything under the sun, he is your go-to person. So, I didn’t know any of this, I just thought he was some guy that did bike fit. He’d been asking me for years if I would come on board and do an apprenticeship under him and become part of ERO as I operate, if I can’t give something 100% of my time, I just don’t do it. And so, I was 100% in to try to make the Rio team. And so I told him, “Right now I just don’t have time, maybe in the future.”

Missy Erickson:

In 2015, I had a really bad accident on the track that took me out of the sport in a roundabout way but I didn’t ride a bike for a couple months. And so when that happened, he just looked at me and he said, “You’re not riding right now, so why don’t you come and just see if you like this.” And so, for a couple of months, I just started going into the studio every day whenever he was doing a fit and just listening to what he had to say and how he worked and know his process and methodology and what he did, and I came to really like it. It was, again, with my OCD, it was numbers, it’s so intricate, it’s listening to the athlete but also looking at the numbers and figuring out where an athlete is supposed to be positioned. It’s like a big puzzle you’re just trying to figure out, everyone’s different. And so-

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, there’s so many if then statements and stuff, I know that there’s other fit courses and stuff that you can do in a number of sessions or a long weekend or even a single session, or some people just go, “Oh, here’s an app on my iPad, here’s the angles of…”

Missy Erickson:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

And as long as you’re at that number, it’s good to go but it’s really so coaching, it’s so personalized, and this is what I came to realize because I was definitely one of those stubborn like, “This is my seat height, this my this,” I don’t change it ever, right? And then I met Jim and Missy and I was like, “All right, I know none of this so I’m going to stop talking about it.” I stopped advising people on fit but, I was amazed at how many… You had a couple month long there every day with him.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, I think in total I did seven to eight months before I did my first solo fit. And that was me just going in every day and just learning. And it took that long for him to be comfortable enough to say, “Okay, you can do this to my standard. I have a standard that I set and that I require and I think you’re ready to do it.” And so, I started fitting out of the ERO studio in Carson and at that point we had an actual studio, a little brick and mortar area, that we fit in out of the track. And so that just became my thing then, just like I went all in for cycling, like I went all in for the fit studio and when Rio wasn’t going to happen, we had the conversation of moving here to T-Town and Jim really wanted a studio on the east coast and so it just worked that Jim operates the West Coast side and I’m here on the East coast and we have our two locations, and it’s been really good. It’s one of those things where I don’t advertise and I don’t market other than what you see on Instagram, which is just my before and after pictures of people’s positions.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, it’s all just word of mouth.

Missy Erickson:

Because I believe that if I do a good enough job, and that if I deserve it that people will comment that it’s worth it. It’s one of those things where if people even they believe in the process, and they believe in what I’ve done or they’re set up in a good position and they perform well and they feel good and they love riding their bikes then that’s all that I care about.

Missy Erickson:

So, my fit process essentially is just every athlete that comes in is treated the same, I don’t care if you’re going to the Olympics or if you’re riding on the Derby, that’s as high of a level as you want to achieve, everyone should be comfortable on their bike, whether they’re in a road position, a mountain position, a TT position. Everyone comes in with their own objectives, I get people who are 10 years old, I get people who are 90 years old, everybody is treated exactly the same. Everyone gets the same level of service. Everyone gets the same attention to detail and my attention to detail, as we all know, having severe OCD is incredible. So I take the time that I need to and if we need more time we take more time and… I don’t know what else to say about it, it’s like geek out with it, it’s fun for me. I have people come to my home and get to meet my dogs and becomes a very personable experience for me. I care about every single person as a person not just as a fixture on a bike that comes to me and I set them up and send them home. I take to heart every single person that comes in and I want to make sure that they love cycling as much as I do.

Joan Hanscom:

And for those of you who are listening, who haven’t had a bike fit yet, who haven’t gone through a full-on professional bike fit, I have not worked with Missy, I had my most recent bike fitting done with Colby Pierce out in Colorado but it was a very similar thing. It was a six to seven hour process of getting that whole aspect of how you sit on the bike dialed in and I’m not an elite athlete but for me, just the way he changed the way the hoods were set up on the bike and the reach, I became a better descender, better person going through corners, it was such subtle manipulations. And so even if you are, like Missy saying, like a Derby rider or you want to go to a Gran Fondo or a Century, it can make such a massive difference. And if you’re going to invest money in a bike, invest money in a fit, because amplify your performance, but being just your pleasure on the bike it’s more fun when nothing hurts and when your weight is distributed correctly on the bike so that your cornering feels better, you feel more secure, it’s definitely something worth investing in if you have a bike that you really love and you want to ride it, I can’t speak highly enough.

Joan Hanscom:

What’s funny, talk about OCD and getting down into the details. When I worked with Colby, one of his questions that leapt out at me that was so stunning was how much dairy do you eat? Because apparently dairy is processed in your pancreas and your pancreas is on your right side and so it can lead to a left-right power distribution. Like how many hours a day do you spend in the car and how much dairy do you eat? And I asked him why that mattered for bike fit and he had such an interesting answer about where your pancreas is, that I thought, “Oh my god, that is the devil in the details,” Right? Because that is-

Missy Erickson:

There’s a lot of stuff like that that people don’t realize [crosstalk 00:45:45]. It’s like we’ll get someone up on a bike and I’ll ask them similar questions and they’re like, “Oh, what does that have to do with this?” Or “What are you seeing?” Or introducing some people to things that they just haven’t thought about like imbalances and realizing that like, “Oh, you actually have a leg length discrepancy,” or “Did you know you’re rotated or did you know that your saddles’ actually really crooked or that it’s bent?” Even little things like that people just don’t think about and there’s this whole stigma on social media about hang slamming your stem which drives me absolutely bonkers.

Missy Erickson:

The other thing too is that fit changes as we’re evolving especially in the track world, there’s so much that’s coming out now where you’re seeing positions change so much. And it’s really important that as fitters you stay up-to-date with that and you evolve with the change. And I think that’s something that alot of people don’t do, they’re so stuck on the numbers that they’ve been presented by software programs, that they don’t accept that there are changes and that there are adaptations that we need to take place and that we need to invest in. And I’ve seen that a lot with the track sprint world. Had the opportunity to work with Cycling Canada and a couple of US athletes and athletes from other countries as well, I learn through every single fit that I perform. You learn something about how somebody works as an athlete and how you can better them as an athlete and I put that inside every other fit that I do regardless if you’re going to the Olympics, like I said, or not, it’s every single person should be treated equal and I take my knowledge that I learn and give it to every single person as well. So, I don’t really know what else to say about it.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, I think-

Joan Hanscom:

It’s just really cool, right? I mean, again, for the non-elites, like for me, I had external iliac artery endofibrosis which came from probably two decades of riding with handlebars that were too low and created an extreme hip angle that then damaged my arteries. So now I ride with a stack of spacers because I don’t want to redamage my arteries but that’s part of a conversation you have with a fitter, right? Like if I didn’t adjust my fit because of my predisposition for this artery thing, then I would just damaged myself again and have more really spendy surgery whereas now I can optimize a fit that’s as good as it’s going to be for what condition I have to work around. So, that’s just so that my legs keep working. But that’s where this all matters for everybody. Again, I’m not going to Tokyo, I’m not going to Paris, but I still want to be able to ride my bike and still want to be able to do it safely, healthy, and so everybody.

Andy Lakatosh:

And as fast as possible.

Joan Hanscom:

Everybody has there issues.

Andy Lakatosh:

So, I guess what I’m saying that ties this whole thing together is the always being open to and willingness to grow and learn and adapt, right? When you were getting out of high school and college you went wherever you had to for your riding. As you transitioned into coachinG you’re always looking for new techniques, things that worked, didn’t work, how to help the next athlete, so we’re always learning and growing as coaching. And as a fitter, you just said the exact same thing, right? Like yes, you did seven, eight months of apprenticeship, you have how many years of fitting under your belt now, but it’s still like got-

Missy Erickson:

An evolving process.

Andy Lakatosh:

… got to keep evolving and you got to keep growing. One of the important things that I had learned is, even if you stay the same way and you do the same events in the same training as you get stronger and as you change how you ride in different phases, you still need to get refit, even if you haven’t changed the bike because you just might sit and produce power differently on the bike, you need to go back for follow ups. But what I wanted to ask just to wrap it up for fun, is what is the biggest Missy bike fitter peeve that you have to deal with clients that come in because I know I’m going to guess that it’s changing handlebars, seat position, pedals, wear the shoes and going… The fit doesn’t feel the same, the fits are wrong. Is that it or there’s something else that drives you more bonkers like not trusting bike size recommendations?

Missy Erickson:

All the above. I mean it. I think the biggest thing is that I don’t ever, I mean, I see people all the time where I’m like, “Oh, if only I could help you,” But I do not approach people and say, “Hey, let me fit you,” I do run a business but I don’t pressure anybody to do what I think they need to do. When someone comes to see me, they believe it’s because they need it and because I can help them. And that’s the only way, same philosophy of coaching. I don’t go out and tell people that, “Oh, let me coach you, I can make you so much better.” If someone wants to come see me, if they want to get fit by me, if they want to be coached by me, it’s because they believe that I can help them.

Missy Erickson:

And so, when someone comes to me for bike recommendations and they do a pre-fit, and I send them a list and their track bike size is four or five sizes bigger than what they’re used to riding. They’ve come to me and they believe in and what I do. And sometimes that doesn’t happen, sometimes I have people come in, I tell them, “Hey, you’ve been writing a 48 and you really need to be on a 59,” And it blows their mind because they’ve never heard that before. When they don’t take those recommendations that gets on my nerves a little bit because I put a lot of work into it. It’s not, like I said, I take a very personal approach to every single client that comes in into my shop, you can tell me somebody’s name that I fit and boom I remember exactly what their process was. I know how they work as an athlete, I remember what they look like, I remember what we did.

Andy Lakatosh:

OCD at its finest.

Missy Erickson:

Yes, yes. And that’s part of it. So, I take to heart the work that I do with my clients so, I mean, when someone comes in and get a fit and they go on a ride once and they say, “Oh, it felt weird I changed everything back,” That drives me a little bit nuts. The body takes time to adapt, and when you change your bike position, you change how your muscles work, so you need to give it time like everything else. You don’t do one training session all of a sudden become a world record 200 meter holder, it takes time. So, I invest time in people and they invest time and believing that what I do works, so…

Andy Lakatosh:

Needless to say, I touched nothing out of my bike after Missy does it or else I pay the price.

Missy Erickson:

No, you don’t.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, I think that about wraps it up for us, Joan, anything? Any final questions for Missy?

Joan Hanscom:

No, it was super good to have you on the pod, I loved hearing from other women who are trailblazing in our sport. I think we’ve had a bunch of really fascinating female guests on the pod and you are just the latest in a long list of female guests who are really blazing a trail particularly as an athlete but also in the bike fit realm in your coaching and I think that’s awesome and I appreciate you giving us your time to talk about it. And for everybody who is listening, just give a quick shout on how they can find you if they want to get a bike fit.

Missy Erickson:

Facebook and Instagram, it’s all I do, at ERO Sports PA. Website is ero-sports.com. You can find all of our info there whether you’re in California, whether you’re here on the east coast. Jim is still operating out in California too so, I’ll give him a little bit of shout out. And coaching with Big Picture Cycling, so you can find us at the track almost every day. Online, Facebook, Instagram, same type of thing with Big Picture Cycling and ERO sports.

Joan Hanscom:

Awesome. Thank you.

Missy Erickson:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. This has been the Talk of the T-Town podcast. We’re wrapping up our chat with Missy Erickson, signing off for me and my co worker, Andy Lakatosh, and we will catch you on the next episode.

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.

 

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Brian and Gui: A Family Show

Chris Meacham, Brian Boger, Guillaume Nelessen - Doylestown Bike Works

Episode 27

“To quote Joe Saling, ‘You can race your bike when you’re eight and when you’re 80, it’s the exact same thing either way.'”

What would you consider a fitting outfit to ride a Penny Farthing? (Gui sides with speedos and capes.) For this week’s installment of the Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits back down with Brian and Gui to catch up on the Penny Farthing project. They talk sourcing materials, riding a Penny Farthing into a CVS, and stocking bikes during COVID. Tune in for this wacky conversation and find out which surprise celebrity guest popped in!

Chris Meacham, Brian Boger, Guillaume Nelessen - Doylestown Bike Works
Chris Meacham, Guillaume Nelessen, Brian Boger – Doylestown Bike Works

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


Instagram: @guinelessen @nextlevelbrian @chrismeacham 

Twitter: @LostInStudio @_chrismeacham 

Facebook: Gui Nelessen Brian Boger

Bike Works website: https://www.bikeworks.shop

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:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, I’m Joan Hanscom, Executive Director, here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. I am without my usual sidekick, Andy Lakatosh, who has just finished a herculean effort of writing the schedule for the upcoming Elite, Junior, Para and Master’s National Championships, all of which are going to be hosted here at T-Town this summer. Send beer and snacks to the staff because we are going to be dead people on our feet.

Joan Hanscom:

We are joined today though by some of our favorite crew from sponsors and athletes. A return visit so to speak, a follow up visit with the Doylestown Bike Works crew, Brian Boger, Guillaume Nelessen and Chris Meacham joining us this time. Chris is new to the wacky podcast, but we’re just sitting here in the office on a Friday night and we thought it would be fun to catch up with the crew, see how things are progressing with the high wheel bike and all sorts of other wacky things that go on with Gui and crew.

Joan Hanscom:

So fellows, welcome to the show. Thanks for calling in on a Friday evening.

Chris Meacham:

Well hello. [crosstalk 00:01:37]

Joan Hanscom:

So, Gui just put the kids to bed, Brian and Chris are at the shop, which shop are you at? You now have two, the last time we talked you only had one.

Chris Meacham:

We’re here at the mothership in Doylestown.

Joan Hanscom:

The mothership in Doylestown. And we’re talking about the Doylestown Bike Works team stuff this time around, but first, let’s jump in where we last spoke. Give us an update on things like spokes Brian.

Guillaume Nelessen:

For a period of time we had gotten about half of what we needed spoke-wise so to get four of nine wheels built.

Brian Boger:

For Penny Farthings.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yes, for the Penny Farthing project which, if we do a quick recap, we’re making giant old bicycles from a really long time ago, somewhat modernized, somewhat not, to try and break the current hour record, which was set by… Brian?

Brian Boger:

Some fine fellow from Manchester, England last year, led by Neil Laughton.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So in lieu of that, we’re building a bunch of bikes to see if we can try and break that record. We came into a couple of snags, we’re short 500 or so spokes, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a lot.

Joan Hanscom:

Seems like a lot to me.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah, we’re short a few spokes. So we had to get them shipped from Norway-

Brian Boger:

Sweden.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Sweden, whatever, it’s all the same.

Brian Boger:

It’s not the same at all.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Fjords, no fjords-

Brian Boger:

[inaudible 00:03:13] really don’t like to be from Sweden and be one in Sweden, definitely would like to be from Norway.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So we all had a really hard time getting a hold of our supplier, he apparently lost the internet for about three months, from what we’re told.

Brian Boger:

My best understanding of it is, is that there’s one source for spokes, that are what, 616mm, 14 gauge, and it’s a guy named Per-Olof Kippel, who apparently, for six months a year, lives in a cabin above the Arctic Circle and doesn’t have the internet.

Joan Hanscom:

Well that’s kind of cool though, I mean-

Brian Boger:

Well no, it’s not because it’s not like a matter of calling Shimano and hearing some nonsense story about supply and demand and Covid and all those stuff. You literally have to catch, he goes by Po, you have to catch Po when he’s below the Arctic Circle and he has the internet and his website was… I didn’t know if he was alive. So we need 500 spokes so I reach out, I hear nothing. I reach out to anyone else I know that knows anything about Penny Farthings, are like, yeah we get them from Kippel too. I’m like how is this a thing? And then amazingly he came back on the grid at the nick of time and shipped us 500 600mm 14 gauge spokes.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah, we’d even talked to a guy named Russia, who makes his own using what looks like a handmade thing of pliers and a tack welder and like tacks, and hit on them and bends them in a pliers and those are his spokes. And I was like, well that’s an option if it comes down to it.

Joan Hanscom:

Seems safe.

Guillaume Nelessen:

We were really getting a little nervous.

Joan Hanscom:

Seems perfectly safe.

Brian Boger:

[crosstalk 00:04:49] We just got challenge what, a week ago, or two weeks ago and then you guys hit me with the whole rubber problem.

Joan Hanscom:

Explain the rubber problem.

Brian Boger:

So we’re $14000 deep into this project at this point and I feel like, okay I might… Thank God we have everything assembled that we would need for this and these guys are “like no, no we don’t have any rubber.” And I’m like “tell me about that” and we need to put tires on these things, that would be solid rubber tires, which would be period appropriate, they hadn’t invented the pneumatic wheel, the pneumatic tire yet. So what you basically had in the old days was garden hose companies, making rubber round and then you stretch it out around that rim with a wire and join it at the other end.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah and then you would take a plier and you weave it together, you spin it on this device that tightens it down and then you kind of cut the tire to where it meets itself and it just sits on the rim.

Brian Boger:

Right and I’m in like a get it mode, we’re in Newtown, I’m like dude, I don’t want to hear any… I want to get this done. Like what do we need to do? So we call a guy in what, California, who somehow is the only person in the world who somehow has access to this rubber, which makes no sense right. And we call the guy and we’re like “hey, we want to order what 3200” or I don’t… How much rubber did we order?

Guillaume Nelessen:

300 feet, 300 feet. And the crazy part is he won’t disclose what kind of rubber it is.

Joan Hanscom:

Of course not.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So like what are we looking at, what are we buying exactly? He’s like blah blah blah blah blah. I’m like, “well can you tell us more so maybe we can like, I don’t know, go research it and maybe source it somewhere else?” But no, apparently this guy-

Joan Hanscom:

This is how he corners the market.

Guillaume Nelessen:

This is the only place. This is the only place you can get plastic.

Brian Boger:

And now we’re scrambling through our pockets for a credit card and I’m like “hey man, like, how much does it cost me?” And he’s like “I have no idea, I have to go on my website and look.” Because no one has ever called and ordered this ever from him, right. He is literally sitting by his phone 24 hours a day, waiting for someone to make this order and then when it happens, he has no idea what it costs.

Guillaume Nelessen:

But hey, at least you had color options.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, are you going to get colored wheels?

Guillaume Nelessen:

We had black had red. I think we just opted for black.

Brian Boger:

So are we done, have we bought everything we need for this project? Are we done?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah I think for the most part everything’s been purchased.

Brian Boger:

For the most part, for the most part.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Obviously, like handlebar bells need to be purchased [crosstalk 00:07:12]

Chris Meacham:

What kind of seats are we going to use?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Your own. We can’t afford that shit.

Chris Meacham:

We need to be comfortable because I feel like I saw a YouTube video where they were very uncomfy on the seats.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I feel like you’re going to want the same thing that’s on your road bike, I mean you’re welcome to borrow anytime you want-

Chris Meacham:

I don’t want-

Guillaume Nelessen:

Just in case. I knew it would be handy, I didn’t think it would ever get useful.

Chris Meacham:

Not just yet.

Joan Hanscom:

So no, that video though that you’re talking about, was the guys in the UK and the poor guy, the first guy that went for it, he was practically in tears on the bike because yeah, that was a sad video.

Guillaume Nelessen:

GCN video, yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:48]

Chris Meacham:

They had very cool colors.

Guillaume Nelessen:

The plastic mesh thing right?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, yeah yeah. You want your old Selle SMP, I think, is the way to go.

Guillaume Nelessen:

That’s kind of what we’re thinking.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s what I would be thinking.

Brian Boger:

So then the other problem is, so you need pacers and we’ve asked Gui a number of times if he has a sort of an idea of who he might bring into his employ to help him in this effort so perhaps you’re ready to talk about that a little bit?

Joan Hanscom:

Why yes, okay so let’s stop right there though and recap for those who might have missed the last episode. So Gui’s going for the world record on the track on the high wheel bike and it’s not just a case of Gui going out there and smashing for the hour record, right? He’s got to have sidekicks, helpers, slash pacers. And this is where we pick up the story. So Gui needs three pacers in addition to himself to do the hour record the way it’s done officially. So where are we?

Guillaume Nelessen:

So we kind of… I kind of stalled because I didn’t want to really talk to anyone like, hey we’re doing this cool thing and then we get on the bikes and hey, all the bikes break.

Joan Hanscom:

Good plan.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So my thought was a little bit maybe conservative, maybe selfish, to say let’s build the bikes, let’s test the bikes, let’s make sure they actually ride straight et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So since we’re in the interest of get it done, kind of lean a little bit further forward with that, so I talked to Meacham actually yesterday about joining me and I think we’re going to probably… I have two other options. I want to talk to them before I out them. Luckily I still have the help of Bobby Lee and Bill Elliston, so they’re going to guide us through lap splits and power and all of that crap once we have the bikes.

Guillaume Nelessen:

But again, we need the bikes to figure all that stuff out, so there we’re still in the same spot. So at this point it’s me, Chris Meacham and there’re two other sods who next time we talk, will join us.

Joan Hanscom:

All right.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I think it’ll be three for the attempt.

Joan Hanscom:

To be determined. But Chris, all right, this is your first time on the pod, welcome. What do you think about this endeavor here?

Chris Meacham:

I’m pretty excited, I don’t really know what to expect. Like the going as hard as you can for an hour thing will be interesting, so I don’t know. I feel like once we do the early morning training sessions that Gui was getting me all scared for I’ll have a better understanding. Really just right now I’m thinking about how I have to sit for an hour and I don’t do that typically on a road bike because you’re always, you can stand up every five or 10 minutes, I’m just thinking about sitting. That’s all. That’s all my brain is wrapped around right now.

Guillaume Nelessen:

How many times have you ridden a Penny Farthing?

Chris Meacham:

I’ve ridden them in parking lots in my socks.

Brian Boger:

So if you stand at our front door and you look just across the street and downhill, there’s a CVS drugstore. And if you get on a Penny Farthing after a couple of beverages, if you do it correctly and you time it, you can go through the front doors of the CVS timed doors into the store and that’s a technical course and I’ve seen Chris do that so I feel strong about his abilities.

Chris Meacham:

So we’re all sitting around the cash register slash bar here and we’ve had a few beverages as Brian said and the Penny Farthing is sitting there and they’re all talking about how difficult it is to ride. And I was like, “I can ride that”. But I’m not going to ride it on my road shoes because they’re carbon soles, I would slip right off of the peg on the back of the pedals so I ended up doing it in my socks. And it was enjoyable.

Joan Hanscom:

Going into the CVS, how was that received?

Brian Boger:

The general manager from CVS did take an occasion the next day to come by and asked us not to that again, that did happen. He was laughing about it so I don’t feel like it was a big deal but-

Chris Meacham:

He’s a boring guy.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, yeah.

Chris Meacham:

He’s not cool.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Come on guys, can you please never do that again.

Joan Hanscom:

Never bring the Penny Farthing in the front door again.

Brian Boger:

Right, that did happen yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, ha! We should clearly work in Doylestown, it sounds like it’s more fun.

Brian Boger:

But Chris had ridden on a velodrome before.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, I’ve raced on the velodrome for a while so-

Joan Hanscom:

Did you race here in 19 or just prior to that?

Chris Meacham:

I don’t remember, I think-

Brian Boger:

Yeah you’ve raced in 19-

Guillaume Nelessen:

He’s had a couple of nights in 19.

Chris Meacham:

Yes and-

Brian Boger:

You did the Madison with Wes Kline.

Chris Meacham:

That I did the Madison with Wes Kline and I started racing on the track when I think I was nine in the Air Products program, I think we talked a little about this before and then it was really consistent every summer and then I just started road racing so I’d sprinkle in racing at the velodrome with that. Obviously it’s great training and it’s a good time so.

Joan Hanscom:

I know, and we’re going to have racing this summer so you’re going to come race this summer. [crosstalk 00:13:00]

Chris Meacham:

That is hopeful, I’m going to be there.

Brian Boger:

I bought this guy skinsuits and everything.

Chris Meacham:

I’m not going to wear a skinsuit though, I refuse.

Brian Boger:

I got him a skin… You have one in my car.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, that’s right.

Guillaume Nelessen:

It’s birthday suits only.

Joan Hanscom:

You got to wear the skinsuit for the hour record attempt.

Guillaume Nelessen:

You were wearing it earlier when we were-

Chris Meacham:

I mean, where I’m going to be is like perfectly upright, I don’t think the skinsuit is going to make a difference. It’s like you’re [crosstalk 00:13:25]

Guillaume Nelessen:

We’ll get you all worked up.

Chris Meacham:

Oh my gosh, didn’t they have the helmets on-

Brian Boger:

They had aero helmets!

Chris Meacham:

That was insane, that’s not going to make a difference.

Brian Boger:

It’s more than gains.

Guillaume Nelessen:

We’ve got to talk to our aerodynamic specialist about that.

Joan Hanscom:

I do question the wisdom of the bell however from an aerodynamics perspective Gui. Ding ding.

Guillaume Nelessen:

How can you have a Penny Farthing without a bell?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, but it’s not aero. What does that do to your drag?

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’m a seven foot high brick facing forward and upright.

Chris Meacham:

My point exactly, why do we have aero skinsuits?

Guillaume Nelessen:

We should actually all do it wearing little gold capes and Speedos, like what’s the difference?

Joan Hanscom:

Oh I would pay money for that.

Guillaume Nelessen:

He wasn’t complaining about the skinsuit when he was trying it on half an hour ago.

Chris Meacham:

I wasn’t… That was the bibs and the jersey.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Whatever.

Chris Meacham:

Which by the way, our bibs are finally long enough Gui. Sure you’re excited about-

Guillaume Nelessen:

You blushing right now or…

Chris Meacham:

I’m just excited that our bibs are long enough. They were like cheeky shorts.

Brian Boger:

Thank you to Pactimo for making the bib length up to Chris Meacham’s standards this year.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m just glad that boys talk about this too. You all sound like a bunch of [crosstalk 00:14:32]

Brian Boger:

These are kits that he gets for free. And it’s always like, “I don’t know, the cuffs’ a little longer than last year, I don’t know, is this flatlock stitch?” I’m like oh, would you ride your bike? Oh my God. [crosstalk 00:14:44]

Guillaume Nelessen:

I think the fact that you’re not checking out his short fit anymore and being like “there seems to be a little extra room in the crotch.”

Chris Meacham:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

Cue Gui [crosstalk 00:14:53] use the prop. All right. There you go, Gui’s prop. I’m glad we’re not a video pod. So the bikes are on their way to being built now?

Brian Boger:

Yeah, the only thing we have left to do is link together some wheels, which isn’t a big deal, it’s been going on for 150 years, I don’t know why it’s such… We’re going to get it done.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah we really need one day where three heads need to get into the shop and just… Because we have three different wheel sizes with two different hubs so unfortunately it’s not like we’re just cutting a thousand spokes to the same lengths so we do have… It’s just a little bit of legwork that needs to be done and a little bit of math.

Brian Boger:

Trigonometry [crosstalk 00:15:37]

Guillaume Nelessen:

The three heads need to just be in the same room for a day, just to knock this part out. After that the rest is literally just assembling the bike. So in theory, maybe within a couple of weeks we’ll actually have… Yeah, because the rubber will be here next week so, in a couple of weeks we [inaudible 00:15:51]

Brian Boger:

That’s going to be a great day when at our business, a shipment of 300 feet of solid round rubber shows up for Penny Farthings. That’s going to be an amazing business day.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Weirder things have shown up.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no doubt. So your rubber only comes from one guy in California, your spokes only-

Guillaume Nelessen:

That didn’t know the price of his own products.

Joan Hanscom:

And the spokes only come from a guy in Norway, yeah, this is… You all are going to the literal ends of the earth for this project. I like it. I like it. All right, so I have to ask you, side bar, because we talked about River Road the last time you were on the pod. So I’m out there last weekend and I’m doing my little intervals and there’s a dude in an orange thing. Have you seen this guy?

Brian Boger:

Oh yeah, he’s our customer in Newtown.

Guillaume Nelessen:

The little speed race bullet?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah!

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’ve seen him, I don’t know him, you guys know him.

Brian Boger:

We just fixed it in Newtown.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay I knew you’d know him. So I catch up to him on an uphill section and I’m thinking I’m going to pass him because I caught him from a long way out. That thing goes wicked fast downhill.

Brian Boger:

Yeah.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Wicked aero.

Joan Hanscom:

It doesn’t have a bell though Gui. [crosstalk 00:17:05]

Guillaume Nelessen:

Anything at all. Think about it.

Joan Hanscom:

Is it a bike, is he peddling in there? Does it have a motor? What is it?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Oh it’s like a glorified recumbent in a carbon fiber peanut shell.

Brian Boger:

I looked it up, it actually has a name and when I’m in State College which is my home away from home, there’s a guy who rides one to work everyday from a nearby Community State College, a Professor. It’s got a windshield and the whole bit. It’s pretty cool.

Joan Hanscom:

It looked like Easter candy, you know those candy coated eggs that are marshmallow eggs but they’re candy coated? Like shiny and hard and that’s what it looked like. He look like he was riding a big Easter egg up the-

Brian Boger:

Especially if you rode that on a velodrome you could do an hour record a lot easier than a Penny Farthing Gui.

Joan Hanscom:

Talk to the guy, next time he brings it into the shop.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I would bet that there’s probably a speed record ridden in one of those things.[crosstalk 00:17:59]

Brian Boger:

Yeah and he probably race it-

Guillaume Nelessen:

I bet the bike speed record is done on one of those.

Joan Hanscom:

He looked like he belonged at Bonneville, that’s for sure.

Chris Meacham:

I thought it was done on a volcano.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Like on a [crosstalk 00:18:10] salt flat or something.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, Bonneville, that’s it. He looks like he belonged out there, doing the land speed record. It’s crazy though but I knew you’d know him.

Brian Boger:

Yeah, it was exciting to see him come into the shop and I put it on the Facebook and everything.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh no way.

Brian Boger:

It was cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Well I passed him in real life. And it goes fast downhill.

Brian Boger:

You see all kinds of people. You saw Bill Solloway on his Penny Farthing, now you’ve seen this gentleman.

Guillaume Nelessen:

You’ve skaters on 29?

Joan Hanscom:

Weirdly enough, you know them all.

Brian Boger:

We don’t know the speed skaters.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’ve seen them a lot, they’ll do… I’ve seen as many as seven speed skaters, speed skating team pursuit style down 29, at 25 miles per hour.

Brian Boger:

Fruit looters.

Chris Meacham:

That’s a good point, are we going to be motor pacing on the Penny Farthings on 29?

Guillaume Nelessen:

Oh yes!

Chris Meacham:

I think that’s something that we need to do.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Dave has a box truck. We could totally do it behind the box truck.

Chris Meacham:

Just in case someone pulls out in front of him, we’ll have literally no idea. [crosstalk 00:19:08]

Guillaume Nelessen:

Put a matrass in the box truck, this way if you hit the back of it you’ll go into the box truck.

Chris Meacham:

Slamming in the box truck and then-

Guillaume Nelessen:

It’s perfect!

Chris Meacham:

Yeah.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Done.

Chris Meacham:

Wow. That was so easy to plan.

Joan Hanscom:

All right.

Chris Meacham:

It will be just like a cartoon.

Joan Hanscom:

Dear listeners, I recommend hanging out on Route 29 because that’s where you see all the crazy shit. All right, so we’re going to be motor pacing behind a box truck full of mattresses on Route 29 racing the guy in the orange hard shell Easter egg, it’s all good. Ride on.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Can I go for speed skaters then?

Brian Boger:

Oh and you have to believe who’s at the front door, hang on. How you doing? Come on in.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Maybe it’s Kippel.

Brian Boger:

We’re recording a podcast.

Justin Guarini:

Oh amazing!

Brian Boger:

Can you sing something for us real quick? Just a couple of bars.

Justin Guarini:

Oh yeah?

Brian Boger:

Yeah.

Justin Guarini:

A couple bars, bust out a couple bars. Hey! What’s up everybody?

Joan Hanscom:

Who’s this-

Brian Boger:

Do you know who that is?

Joan Hanscom:

No, who’s our guest?

Brian Boger:

This is Justin Guarini.

Justin Guarini:

Little hard to tell.

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome Justin.

Brian Boger:

You know him because the character on the commercial for-

Justin Guarini:

Lil’ Sweet.

Brian Boger:

Lil’ Sweet from Dr Pepper.

Justin Guarini:

American Idol?

Brian Boger:

Do you need anything from us?

Justin Guarini:

Yeah I do actually, I wanted to see if you could…

Guillaume Nelessen:

Apparently you need to hang out in Doylestown.

Joan Hanscom:

Apparently. It’s where it’s all happening. So Chris, are you confident in your ability to pace Gui to this hour record?

Chris Meacham:

I have no idea. That’s what I was… We were talking the other night and I mean I’ve been training on a regular bike and I’m confident in that. I think I just have to ride on the Penny Farthing, we’ll see. So yeah, I guess I’m confident.

Brian Boger:

So no pressure but the guy who paced Bill Rowe in 1893 was George Hendee who is the most famous cyclist of his day, and went on to found Indian Motorcycles. What have you done?

Chris Meacham:

I would like to find a motorcycle company. I think that would be really cool.

Brian Boger:

What kind of things have you accomplished in your time?

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, I got engaged. Graduated from college.

Brian Boger:

You didn’t found a motorcycle company?

Chris Meacham:

No I haven’t done that yet. So he did this things after that time?

Brian Boger:

Yeah after that.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah, so we’re good.

Joan Hanscom:

You have time.

Chris Meacham:

I’ll be retired from this whole event and then I’ll do something impressive enough for Brian I guess.

Joan Hanscom:

But see this is your first step building the foundation on your way to greatness.

Chris Meacham:

Other than bike racing I just have done normal things.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. So Gui, are you going to race other bikes this year?

Guillaume Nelessen:

That’s the hope. I think this year is kind of going to be for me the same that it is for I think for a lot of people that I talk to, just play it by ear, see how racing goes. I’m planning on racing and honestly I’m actually really not disappointed with the delayed start to racing, because I always race like crap in spring anyway. So yeah, I plan on racing. I hope. As long as there’s not some freakish turn of events that I’m really not hoping for but I’m vaccinated so, go from there.

Joan Hanscom:

We did a podcast with Bobby Lee last week, and Bobby Lee mentioned that you may be doing some Madison in September. Is this true?

Guillaume Nelessen:

If he said it then it’s probably true.

Joan Hanscom:

Ride on, there we go. We have confirmation. You and Bobby, doing the Madison.

Brian Boger:

I know you’re going to have to edit this part out, but that was kind of amazing… I’ve actually left the front door unlocked and a celebrity walked through the front door. That was really weird.

Joan Hanscom:

No I like it, we’re not editing it out. He sang, we’re keeping it.

Brian Boger:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

That was great.

Chris Meacham:

That was the first time I’ve met him person to person and I didn’t even say anything-

Brian Boger:

He was the number two guy in the first year of American Idol, to someone famous, I forget. But he’s our next door neighbor here at the shop.

Chris Meacham:

Justin Timberlake he lost, no I have no idea who he lost to.

Brian Boger:

Was like Pink or something.

Joan Hanscom:

You could have told me that and I would have believed it because I think I’m the only person in America who has not watched this show ever.

Brian Boger:

I think he lost to Carrie Underwood.

Chris Meacham:

He was good on American Idol, when American Idol was a thing. Like a really big thing that everyone watched, like when there are more voters in American Idol than voters in the Presidential election.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow. And I still have not ever seen American Idol, I’m embarrassed to admit. [crosstalk 00:23:36]

Brian Boger:

Now he’s Lil’ Sweet on this Dr Pepper [crosstalk 00:23:39]

Joan Hanscom:

All right, so we’re going to get the bikes built, Chris is going to be a pacer. Brian, you are going to sponsor some bike racing here at the velodrome this summer, because we are going to have bike racing, starting next Saturday by the way. So yeah, you are going to bring the crew out right, for the traditional Doylestown Bike Works sponsors the golden wheel race has a good night out here, brings your friends out. We excited for this? And you’ve got a whole bunch of athletes on your team that are racing at the track this year.

Brian Boger:

Yeah on a serious note, obviously it’s been a challenging year for everybody, for sure, and it’s been a challenging year I’m quite sure for all of you up in Lehigh High Valley at the Velodrome and for those of us working in retail. But, and talking with my partners here in the business, one of the things that we were really committed to was supporting things that are near and dear to our hearts with cycling. So we’re really excited to be back as sponsors of the velodrome in 2021 and to that end I feel like just as important of an obligation is to not just kind of show up with a cheque but show up with athletes on the track and you and I have spoken about it in the past but my goal is for one day for our little bike team to grow in the sense that we’re not just sort of importing racers from other teams but start to home grow some folks.

Brian Boger:

And I have a particular interest in home growing some women racers as well and I know that, that’s something that you all are committed to increasing in the track so those are the goals this year. Some of the women racing with us this year are people that are well known to you like Jessica Chong and Danielle Shumskas. But there’s another woman here in Bucks County who’s been racing collegially down in Virginia, named Bethany Matsick and she’s been racing down in South Carolina and she’s excited to come up and start racing at Valley Preferred Cycling Center as well so, really looking forward to increasing our representation on the track.

Joan Hanscom:

Now you see that we are of course with our 50-50 and 50 initiative super glad to hear any time a team wants to focus on growing the women side of the sport, it makes us even more keen to work together and partner of stuff because that matters. It matters because you want to have representation of the sport, grow the female part of the sport but it’s also a business thing right? If you have 50% of the buying power and you’re not bringing them to the table with your sport, it doesn’t make sense and I would imagine that it’s sort of the same for you in the bike industry right? You want… That’s a customer base you want to touch too.

Brian Boger:

I came from a different sport into cycling, I came from the niche sport of ultimate Frisbee, which is also a grassroots sport and during the time that I was involved in it, we really grew that sport into quite a colossal thing. And a huge part of that was growing the women side of that sport, which in the beginning it would seem just as daunting as what I’ve encountered in my brief life in cycling. But coming from that experience, I know how much it improved that sport as a whole, to have that whole community. That’s one of the strongest things that I’ve encountered in both cycling and in ultimate Frisbee is just the sense of community.

Brian Boger:

And something that I know how important it is, even as people age out of sports, I still feel just as connected to that community so that’s where your support comes from, it’s from those alumni and those people that maybe aren’t competing anymore but are still interested in the next generation and growing the activity so I’d like to see that same kind of success that we had in that replicated in cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, me too. Me too! So you guys have a bunch of people that are going to come out and race at the track this year, like we said, we’ve got the late breaking news of last week when we found out we were having Elite, Junior and Para Nationals here, in addition to Master’s Nationals. How does that impact the team? How does that impact what you all are doing?

Brian Boger:

Well I think especially this year where the schedule for road and crit cycling is so dynamic and so fluid right now, a lot of the folks on our team have indicated more of a commitment to track cycling than ever before because it’s something that we can at least predict is happening. And even for those athletes who maybe were focused more into road or crit, it gives then a venue to train and to compete and as Chris mentioned earlier, we know that, that’s where our bike racers are born, is on the track. So I think maybe in some way more participation in track cycling this year.

Joan Hanscom:

Let’s hope, let’s hope! Because you know-

Guillaume Nelessen:

It’s a bit of an interesting phenomenon that’s happened since Covid, because when I first came to Doylestown was the end of 19, right?

Brian Boger:

Yes sir.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So I literally, the day before the Doylestown crit, we had a team meeting with them as to what they wanted to grow their team into. And this was a team meeting not with Brian and the owners of the shop and me, but Brian, the entirety of the team and me. And they wanted to create a team that wasn’t anything that a team is thought of in a normal cyclist’s mind, like not a crit team, not a mountain bike team, not a track team, not a fondo team.

Guillaume Nelessen:

They wanted to create a schedule with a group of people that could do a little bit of everything. Imagine taking all of the jackasses that are willing to ride the track sometimes, ride in the woods sometimes, avoid cyclo-cross because it’s dumb, race a couple of crits, do a couple of fondos and put them on a team, be like okay here, we’re going to put a 40 race schedule, a 40 race season together and you have to do 25 of them. And then use things like local crits and local training races to teach guys how to race but then let them kind of disperse.

Chris Meacham:

I think we were kind wondering how to manage that.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Right.

Chris Meacham:

We were kind of inspired by the… I don’t know if anyone else watches the EF Pro Cycling videos on YouTube? Oh I love them, I all watch them on repeat when I’m on the trainer. And they’re just… When I’m riding the trainer. Why are you making a funny face? Oh okay. So they’re world tour pro cyclist that are like “hey I want to go you know race Leadville, I’m going to go race like Dirty Kanza.” And it’s entertaining because they’re all funny cool dudes and they go do these cool races so that was kind of where I was coming from with that and a lot of guys sort of agreed and that was their idea as well and that’s why this year I’m doing a couple of gravel races and doing Leadville along with a bunch of my teammates and then we’re also doing all the local crits.

Chris Meacham:

Not all. We’re doing a few of the local crits. As many as we can. As well as racing at the track and I might even be seeing you at a cyclo-cross race. So it’s like this alternative calendar that just keeps everyone stoked about bike racing, all types and forms and everything.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think that’s how people play bikes now right?

Chris Meacham:

You have to.

Joan Hanscom:

A thousand years ago when I first started racing, my first season of racing, I raced every weekend, twice, Saturday Sunday, every weekend from February until August when there were no more races to do. And it was just crits, every weekend you went and you raced a crit. From February to August. And now nobody does that. We play all the bikes, so you Chris, I’m looking at my first crits that might happen, but I’m already registered for a fondo, and two gravel races. Well the fondo because there are no other road races, road racing doesn’t seem to be a thing anymore, but yeah, you have to play all the bikes now.

Chris Meacham:

Well you’re a bike racer. People who just, oh I’m a crit racer, it’s like you can’t really get away with that anymore. You’ve got to be a bike racer.

Joan Hanscom:

Right, race all the bikes.

Chris Meacham:

Yeah.

Brian Boger:

I don’t want to forget to thank the people that are sponsoring our team, our title sponsor’s is Fred Beans which is the largest car dealership here in Doylestown and they’ve been incredibly supportive of this because they saw it… They like us live here in the neighborhood and have been watching the Bucks County Classic for years and were like, “hey why can’t we have local kids, why can’t we have local athletes that participate in this?” So hugely thankful to them for joining in this vision, and the guys will give me a hard time about it later, but I take a lot of pride in the fact that our kids look like a NASCAR team because a ton of our friends and neighbors and club riders here in Doylestown were like “hey I want to throw in some dollars too, I want to see a local team that supports local athletes and looks to bring in the next generation of bike racers” so they’re all listed on our website and I won’t stand here and list them all but incredibly thankful to our community for supporting us.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s rad and I think that’s… You made the point earlier that bike racing is a grassroots sport and for better or worse, that’s how we do it. And that’s what matters. It’s what matters here at the track too right? We have our big sponsors with Valley Preferred and we have Valley Health Network and for them we are incredibly grateful but we have a whole bunch of little people that make it… Little donors, little sponsors that make it all possible too and I think that, that’s a really important thing for people to recognize in our sport, is that we just have to have gratitude for everybody that enables us to play the game and who appreciates it but gets that it’s a grassroots thing. This isn’t sadly NASCAR for budget wise but it’s-

Brian Boger:

For all the horrible things that’ve happened in the last year, how cool is it that the reason why there’s no bikes for sale in this bike shop right now, is forgetting all the other things that are going on, is demand. It’s because when it all came down to it, people made a decision that they wanted to go outside and start participating in life and get off of their devices and stop [inaudible 00:34:23]. And bicycling as opposed to almost every other sport I participated in is something that every single person to some extent can participate in. And so that’s why there’s no bikes in the bike shop, because demand. Because people want to be out there.

Joan Hanscom:

Right and to that point, you said earlier when you age out of your sport. The nice thing about our sport is you don’t actually have to age out.

Guillaume Nelessen:

To quote Joe Saling, “you can race your bike when you’re eight and when you’re 80, it’s the exact same thing either way.”

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s true and it’s kind of awesome and that’s how I plan on getting my National Championship. I will win when I’m 80 because I will still be going and all the other old ladies will have given up. And I’ll finally get one. It’s war of attrition, there you go, you heard it here first folks. Well very cool, so Gui, when we were last talking about the whole hour record thing, not to go back to that but I’m going to because I love it. What’s the target date now? Target date?

Guillaume Nelessen:

None.

Brian Boger:

Stop it, stop it!

Joan Hanscom:

No you can’t do that.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Target date, it’s hard to say. I don’t want to say anything without having the bikes.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay I get you, I get you.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I want to make sure those bikes actually work. Because if they don’t all of this is for naught.

Brian Boger:

212 degrees I need you at. I’m getting 211 degrees right now. I don’t want this negative Nancy nonsense.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I would say the end of month of June, beginning of July, puts me in a pretty happy place if not, end of August, early September.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So I’d say around July fourth or around Labor Day.

Chris Meacham:

Sounds like a nice time.

Joan Hanscom:

Personally I’m going to push you to Labor Day. That would be my personal wish because we got a few things happening in July here.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Yeah but nothing at 5:30 in the morning when I want to actually do it.

Joan Hanscom:

Well that’s true but we want to have people come out and cheer for you and-

Chris Meacham:

Doing it at 5:30 in the morning? [inaudible 00:36:57] I was never told this.

Guillaume Nelessen:

There’s a lot of things I haven’t filled in Chris about.

Joan Hanscom:

Chris is learning right here, right now. What, 5:30?

Guillaume Nelessen:

I know your PRL coach, there’s a lot of things you weren’t told.

Chris Meacham:

But why am I learning these things right now?

Guillaume Nelessen:

It’s all okay, the sun heats the concrete and the air cools-

Chris Meacham:

I don’t want to know the physics of it, I just want to know time. I don’t care.

Brian Boger:

The other beautiful things about bike racers is that they’re not necessarily always the brightest and Chris we weren’t going to fill you in on anything if you didn’t absolutely need to know it and absolutely need to know it. Just ride your bike, ride your bike, you’re fine, you’re good.

Guillaume Nelessen:

You want to hear a good one? So we did find out just trying to do a little work, because when Brian’s like “hey we’re going to do another podcast.” And I was like “hey we have nothing to talk about.” Obviously not the case.

Joan Hanscom:

Obviously not.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Let me do a little bike research. So I start poking around and doing a little bike research and I was like, well let’s figure out what the gear actually is. So the gear on a 52 inch bike, considering it’s not like a bike, but the roll-out is 163 inches.

Joan Hanscom:

What the hell!

Guillaume Nelessen:

I was nuts!

Joan Hanscom:

I’ve never even ridden to like a 100-

Guillaume Nelessen:

Put a 163 inch gear on it, let’s do an hour record.

Joan Hanscom:

So like-

Brian Boger:

Yeah but it’s so laterally stiff that I don’t think it will overcome a lot of things right?

Chris Meacham:

I’m going to be doing like 40 rpm’s.

Guillaume Nelessen:

That’s the crazy part, a 163 inch gear, it’s like, I think you know what that is. [crosstalk 00:38:24] 62-12.

Chris Meacham:

That is absurd. These are the things that we need, that I need to know or-

Brian Boger:

No, why do you need to know it? How’s it going to change anything?

Chris Meacham:

Oh my God.

Brian Boger:

Ride your bike.

Chris Meacham:

It’s like me riding 53-11 at 10 miles an hour.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Up a hill. Except at 24 point something miles an hour, because that’s what we need to do.

Chris Meacham:

That is just bonkers. So you’re saying a 52 inch, you said that it was a 52 inch?

Guillaume Nelessen:

52 inch bike yeah, everyone I’m thinking is probably going to be on a 52.

Chris Meacham:

Okay.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Just based on their size.

Chris Meacham:

What size jeans do you wear?

Guillaume Nelessen:

What? What do you know about this? Where are you going with this?

Chris Meacham:

What is the length of your jeans?

Guillaume Nelessen:

32.

Chris Meacham:

All right so we’re close enough. I’ll just go off the beat because I don’t want to get anything more precise than that, because I know it’s going to be awesome.

Guillaume Nelessen:

So I feel like we’re all going to be on 52’s. So we’re all going to be… and I think the only thing that’s going to make a difference is going to be the crank length but we’ll see once we put power pedals on these things and go to the track and play.

Joan Hanscom:

All right.

Chris Meacham:

I’m excited.

Joan Hanscom:

Well we’re looking forward to that. And seeing the bikes built.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Next time, next time.

Joan Hanscom:

Next time, yeah well that’s it, we’ll check in again. You’ll send me a text when you have the bikes built and we’ll maybe do a video podcast that day and see if we can’t do something fun with video to support and yeah, okay no.

Guillaume Nelessen:

Talk to the people to see the asses.

Joan Hanscom:

This is a family show Gui!

Chris Meacham:

He found it on the side of the road.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I didn’t find it on the side of the road.

Joan Hanscom:

Who did find it on the side of the road?

Guillaume Nelessen:

David Wells.

Joan Hanscom:

That does not surprise me.

Chris Meacham:

I just picture him riding with it hanging out of his back pocket.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I have the picture if you want to see it.

Joan Hanscom:

Of course we do.

Guillaume Nelessen:

It looks like this.

Joan Hanscom:

I just hope you cleaned it. That’s all.

Guillaume Nelessen:

I’m sure it’s cleaned so many times. I have no worries that it’s not clean.

Chris Meacham:

I would be picking that thing up like looking like I’m at Chernobyl, in one of those nuclear disaster suits.

Guillaume Nelessen:

It was a winter ride so he had gloves on.

Joan Hanscom:

My God. All righty. So this has been our Friday night catch up with Gui and the Doylestown Bike Works crew and I’m really glad that we don’t have video of this podcast because it’s a family show and we look forward to seeing you out here on the high wheel bikes Gui. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like our show, please leave a positive review, where you consume your pods, Spotify, Apple iTunes, Stitcher, anywhere that you get pods, please leave a positive review, it helps us grow the show. Thank you so much and we’ll tune in next week.

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.

 

Posted on

Bobby Lea: From the Beginning

Bobby Lea

Episode 26

“Everything has these battles that you fight on a small scale that are just part of the adventure.”

Curious as to what three-time Olympian and six-time Madison Cup winner Bobby Lea has been up to? Check out this week’s episode where Joan and Andy catch up with Bobby and talk rediscovering love for cycling, what it was like representing the US in 3 Olympic games, serving as a member of the VPCC board, and favorite T-Town memories.

Bobby Lea – Three-Time Olympian

Bobby Lea

Instagram:
@blea505
Twitter: 
@B_Lea1

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom. Along with my cohost athletic director, Andy Lakatosh. Welcome to the Talk of the T-town podcast. I’m your host Joan Hanscom, executive director here at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. And I’m joined by my cohost Andy Lakatosh, athletic director. And this week we are chatting with VPCC T-town al three time Olympian.

Joan Hanscom:

How many time Madison Cup Champion, Bobby Lea, hometown talent. We are super excited to catch up with Bobby. Bobby’s on our board of directors. There’s probably not a guest on this pod who’s been more a part of the T-town fabric for a very long time than Bobby. So we are excited to have him on. And personally, I think it’s probably a little overdue. We’re late getting to you Bobby, but I’m thrilled you’re here, and can’t wait to hear what you’re up to. Welcome.

Bobby Lea:

Thank you. And thank you for having me. Fun fact about me and my participation at T-town, I think I probably peddled my first laps around the track sometime around 1988, 1989. With the exception of the 2017 season have towed the starting line in a bike race every single year since then.

Joan Hanscom:

And how many seasons has your mom raced at T-town?

Bobby Lea:

Every single one. So, [inaudible 00:01:48] that means we’re approaching 40. Well, we’re not too far away from the 50th, right?

Joan Hanscom:

This is our 46th season. So this will be-

Bobby Lea:

46. Yeah. This will be in a year number 46 that she’s raised a bike there.

Joan Hanscom:

I just think that’s so cool. It’s just so cool that we have somebody still racing here who has raised from the beginning. I’m sure there are others, but obviously your mom is notable. So that’s super rad, and we’ll have to get your numbers up there at some point. So, we are excited to have you and, and I don’t know where you want to jump in. You’ve done some interesting stuff since retiring from the track. You have delved into mountain bike racing. You were a test editor at Bicycling magazine. You are now on to new career paths. Where do you want to jump in? What’s on your mind, Bobby?

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. The life after racing is always an interesting thing. There’s your perception of what you’re going to do while you’re still racing and you’re looking at the end. Then the end actually comes and you’re dealing with trying to figure out where to go. You learn that your ideas of what you wanted to do don’t always work out. Sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult than you think it was. I remember a conversation with a friend of mine that I had about a year before I retired, and I kind of had it all figured out. He was about 10 years post retirement from his own athletic career, and he kind of laughed and he said, “Well, let me in on that secret because I’m still working on it.”

Bobby Lea:

And lo and behold, now I kind of understand where that sentiment comes from because I’m almost five years plus retirement, work in a few different jobs, and I definitely haven’t figured it out yet. But to start back at the beginning I, Jesus, what the hell did I do? I spent a long time trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and at the risk of becoming stagnant, I decided to just to make a move to do something, because I had to make some sort of progress. So I signed up for some real estate classes, and I got my real estate license. Then a few months after that, I got my license for property and casualty insurance. I was just trying to do things because I got tired of waiting for the perfect job to roll across the table. Because as it turns out, it’s hard to get a job when you’re in your early thirties, and you’ve got the work experience of a high school kid, but the salary requirements of an adult.

Bobby Lea:

Nevermind the fact that I went to school for business, but when I was in college, they only even barely had online classes. We actually did proper correspondence classes. So there was just such a gap between what was happening in the business world, and what I actually did in college. I was doing stuff to do stuff. Then a super opportunity came along with Bicycling magazine to join that crew as a test editor. That really kind of got me off to the races and into my first real post cycling career. That was wonderful.

Bobby Lea:

I was working with Bicycling magazine, then Popular Mechanics, and also Runner’s World, and getting a feel for the broader landscape of cycling not just as a sport, but as a lifestyle and as a pastime. That really opened my eyes to everything that bikes can do and everything that bikes can give. Because it’s easy when you’re caught up in the racing mindset to forget that likes to these awesome toys and their tools from mobility. They’re also tools of the trade when you’re racing, but there’s just so many different things you can do with bikes. So many different ways you can enjoy it.

Bobby Lea:

It helped me understand how the larger ecosystem of the bicycling world worked. But then part of learning about how that larger ecosystem worked, was learning that I kind of had this inkling to jump into the PR world. Because it felt like a more natural fit to what I’d been doing as an athlete. Where from the better part of 10 or 12 years, I was essentially part of the marketing and PR machine of all of my sponsors. So just recently, only about six weeks ago now I joined a firm based in, Colorado called Backbone Media. Now I’m often running into PR world.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is very cool by the way. There’s some very rad people that work at Backbone that I’m fortunate enough to have known from my past life in cycling as well. And so you’ve landed in a good spot. That’s a good crew.

Bobby Lea:

I’m pretty stinking excited for it along with keeping their hand in the cycling industry. They’ve got a massive footprint in the rest of the outdoor world. I’m really excited to expand my own horizons, and work in a field that accurately represents my greater lifestyle now, which isn’t just bikes.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. You don’t because I wasn’t a pro athlete. I’m just a weekend warrior person. I never sort of lost that appreciation for bikes as more than just a racing thing. I ride my bike and I still feel like I did when I was four years old when I got my first bike. I rolled around the block for hours by myself and I did circus trick standing on the top tube. That whole piece of what joy it can bring you just rolling around having fun. I don’t know. It doesn’t always have to be training. It can just sometimes just be like an escape mechanism. When you’re a little kid, right? That’s what it is. It’s freedom. It’s like, “Oh, I’m leaving mom and dad behind and I’m going on the road and it’s freedom. I get to do stuff. I feel lucky that I never lost that particular slice of what bikes are, but I can see when you’re a professional and it’s the tools of the trade. I can see where it would get you there pretty quick.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. I came dangerously close to losing that completely after the Beijing games. It took me about three or four months to remember that bikes are toys again. That definitely helped guide me through the rest of my career. But even so in the run up to Rio was just so stinking hard that even though I liked playing on bikes, there wasn’t time energy for it. So to be able to pull back, and use bikes in a way that’s 100% enjoyable, every single time I swing a leg over the top to now, it’s really refreshing.

Andy Lakatosh:

[inaudible 00:08:59] flip the complete other side of the coin on that one. I never saw bikes as an escape, ever. For me, the moment I started riding a bike and started riding a bike here was about competition that turned into training. Number of people have been like, “Oh, it was like freedom.” By civil is never freedom for me. It was always a type of a job, or it wasn’t even really… it was pure sport. It wasn’t recreation. So part of the reason that I’ve always wanted to step away from the sport as many times as I have is feeling true burnout from that. And then there’s always something that drags me back.

Andy Lakatosh:

It wasn’t until I retired after 2014, and didn’t ride for a number of years until I finally learned how to ride, just to ride. Now I see it as recreation, but it still does not feel like freedom to me. It’s very interesting for you to say that’s always been at the core, because for me that was something I had to completely discover later on. I never understood that at all.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. For me, it was like, “Oh, look, there’s goats on the side of the road. I’m going to stop and take pictures.”

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, we could never stop it. I was like, “You need to get the training done.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Well, I have those rides too. There’s definitely times and place for that, but man, it’s fun to ride your bike and get ice cream, or it’s fun to ride your bike, and stop for pictures with the goats, or the alpacas or whatever cute animal you see at the farm. That’s the fun stuff now.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. That’s the interesting thing, and also the… it’s the beauty and also the trap of being a competitive cyclist. Because you can go down that rabbit hole where you’re so stinking focused on executing perfectly on that training plan that even minor diversions that you can leave yourself no time for.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Highly recommend you guys take the ice cream rise.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. So my big thing was always exploring, finding new roads and taking the pressure off just a little bit. But for most of the year, the training was so sneaky and regimented that there wasn’t the flexibility to find new roads, and essentially to like define bad roads. Because if you find roads that don’t work, it balls up your training program just as badly. I always had to take about a month to six weeks at the end of the year, and just ride with no structure, with no time goals. Just go out, do what felt right. Often ended up being crazy amounts of volume just because I was having so much fun, not knowing exactly what I was going to do, where the day was going to take me.

Joan Hanscom:

Now you’re doing that with the baby buggy.

Bobby Lea:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

Which for those who have not seen Bobby social or his Strava feed, Bobby does a lot of miles while towing a continuously growing small person in the back. It’s got to be getting harder. He’s getting bigger.

Bobby Lea:

He is. My son is up to about 25 pounds now and the trailer weighs about 35. So we’ve got a fair bit of weight back there, but discovering last spring, that side can sit in the trailer for five or six hours at a shot. It’s just happy as a clam, was probably the greatest thing for my family. Now, it was a thing we started during the pandemic. There was no racing to do, there’s nowhere to go. So we would just load up on weekends and go for long bike rides. And being able to go out all day for the three of us were just amazing. Now he’s bigger. He’s walking, he’s running, he’s working on riding his own bike, but he still loves these long days in the trailer. So the rides I’ve been doing over the last year, and now some of the best endurance training I’ve done since I was a full-timer.

Joan Hanscom:

[inaudible 00:13:00] Yeah. I was going to say everybody on the Thursday night crit, when it comes back, you better watch out because Bobby’s not going to have 55 pounds in toe, he’s going to crush. He’s going to break hearts and crush souls with the light bike.

Andy Lakatosh:

Now Bob is just finally starting to understand what I felt like every time I rode when I was really overweight, I was like yeah, except whereas your load gets heavier, mine gets lighter the more I ride.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. We’ve been walking a lot of miles. Kind of in that like, 13 to 15 mile an hour range because I tell you what, there’s a tipping point where the drag just becomes insane.

Joan Hanscom:

And you’re doing this all on your mountain bike, right?

Bobby Lea:

On the mountain bike, yeah. It started last year because I realized that I was actually really inefficient at riding the mountain bike. I’d spent so much time riding a bike on trails, and riding on the trails. It’s really dynamic. You’re in the saddle, you’re out of the saddle. You never really sitting planted that much at one time. And then all of a sudden, one day I realized that I couldn’t peddle hard in the saddle consistently very well at all. So I thought, Well, geez, and I’m racing a lot of mountain bikes I’d better figure out how to do this.” And so I thought, we’ll just start riding it more on the road, and then we just started doing the trailer rides and between the trailer and the mountain bike, it kind of helped balance out the speed difference between Shelby and I. So, bam, there we go. And now outside of bike testing for Bicycling last year, virtually all of my rides had been on the flat bar.

Joan Hanscom:

So, this means, again, Bobby’s toe and 55 pounds behind him. You should go do some mountain bike racing at altitude because it’ll translate, right?

Bobby Lea:

I think so.

Joan Hanscom:

It’ll still make you nice and light. You can go do Breck Epic or one of those Leadville type races again. And it’ll just be like, “This is easy now, right?”

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. So yeah, Leadville kind of comes back up into the conversation because it’s not too terribly far away from Carbondale. Where the backbone offices are. So maybe there’ll be a good excuse to do an office visit and a race at the same time.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think it’s for work.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah, exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s for work, that’s so cool. I am excited because you’re also on our board of directors, which I think it’s great we’ve got some new voices at the table on our board of directors. You, Michelle Lee, and Cheryl Osborne who were on the previous podcast. I think you’ve been bringing a lot of energy to the board. And so just really quick for our listeners, what do you hope to achieve by being a member of our board of directors? Why did you allow us to coerce you to join the board?

Bobby Lea:

I’d say the first thing was probably a feeling of duty and responsibility. I’ve loved the track for decades and it’s given me so much. So the chance to actively engage and hopefully help in some way, shape or form. I couldn’t pass down, but-

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s the primary same reason I’m sitting here too. Is I felt an obligation to be involved in giving back and continuing legacy of it, you know?

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. And it was always something I wanted. Well not specifically being on the board, but giving back in some way is something I’d always wanted to do and felt strongly about, but it’s hard to find the right way, and sometimes just kind of sitting back and letting that way develop organically is the best way. In this case, this opportunity is perfect for me. One of the things I really didn’t like about the board in the past, especially when I was racing, it was this kind of enigmatic body that existed somewhere off in the distance, and they made these decisions. No one knew who they were and that’s just how it was. And so for me, joining the board felt like a chance to try and help change that, and let the board be more public, more integrated into the community and break down that perception that the board wasn’t part of the community.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that that has been an incredibly valuable contribution. I know I have appreciated your input, and your feedback and your advice, and your voice. And now we’re going to tie it all around. Bobby last week offered to do something crazy on our behalf, because we are in the middle of a fundraising campaign to try to expand what we do here at the track to become a true cycling center. We’re doing a grant fundraising thing through outride and the classy platform to try to raise some money to put in some mountain biking infrastructure here as well. So last week Bobby offered to say, “Well, if you need me to do something crazy to prompt like a matching giving thing, I’m willing to do it.” So you just did this for high school mountain bike racing. Talk a little bit about that crazy effort. Then we’ll talk about what kind of crazy effort I can get you to do for us.

Bobby Lea:

Excellent. Yeah So just about a month ago, back in the end of March, I rode a little over a hundred miles of the most mind-numbingly boring, single track South Jersey has to offer. For the sake of raising money for pickle, which is Pennsylvania NICA affiliate league for interscholastic cycling. It benefits the middle school and high school age athletes around the state. That was specifically to raise money for their local dirt initiative, which aims to bring smaller, more sustainable races closer to more riders. Because of course our state’s very big, travel was prohibited. So this initiative aims to bring more races closer, and Pickle was able to put these races on for $500.

Bobby Lea:

So once we realized the races were that cheap, it seemed like a no brainer to do a great fundraiser, and see if we couldn’t fund two whole seasons of races. So that 103 miles of single track netted just over $12,000. So from that event alone, we’re going to fund 25 individual races for Pennsylvania’s middle, and high school aged athletes. I’ve been thinking about a way to translate that success into something for the Velodrome, and then all of a sudden this grant popped up to build the pump track. I thought, “Yes, that’s it. That’s something really tangible that we can do.” So, we got to figure something out now.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Let’s figure something out. We’ll put you on your bike. You’ll get to do something insane again. But [crosstalk 00:19:56]-

Andy Lakatosh:

It was my idea.

Bobby Lea:

My first idea was to throw [Enos 00:20:00] under the bus because whether it’s high wheel, our record attempt.

Joan Hanscom:

I like where you’re going with that because of course, Gee is one of my favorite humans, because talk about a person who has the joy of bikes, right? I rode with Gee one day and we’re going down this descent. The next thing I know he’s sitting on his top to go inside saddle, and then he switched to sit on the top two on the other side, go inside saddle, not peddling. Doing circus trick like I did when I was a kid. I thought to myself like, “Here’s a guy who’s probably one of the more talented people I know on bikes.” Really Gee is talented, right? But he just has so much stoke for riding bike, and just having fun. And as a person who I’m an introvert and I’m sort of serious most of the time, to see somebody like Gee on bikes just sort of gives me joy. I’m in favor of you looping Gee into this because Gee brings joy.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah, I agree. We’ve been playing bikes together for the better part of 20 years now. We rode the Junior Worlds here, when they were in T-town way back in 2001.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing.

Bobby Lea:

So we’ve got a long history of pedaling bikes together.

Andy Lakatosh:

So my idea is we had the 24 hour record here on the track that was set by Chris Paradise years ago. That gave me the idea of like, well, one we’re going to make parody. So now we have all the same records for women that we have for men, but a couple of them sit undone at all. One of them is I added in an hour record for men and women. So, I think you should do an hour record on the track and people can pledge for every kilometer that you ride to match.

Bobby Lea:

That’s perfect. That’s what Gee is trying to do on the highway, right?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Exactly.

Bobby Lea:

Excellent, so I’m off the hook.

Joan Hanscom:

No, you’ve got to do it too.

Andy Lakatosh:

You are going to do it on a regular bike. You have to do it on a regular. We’re not making a high wheel hour record. We’re not going to get that specific. I already looked at how many records we had on the track and I’m like, “Why do we have a flying kilo? This is completely irrelevant.” But it’s there, so now it’s there for everybody. [crosstalk 00:22:17].

Joan Hanscom:

Well, Gee, If he does it though we’re going to put it on the books, because nobody will ever touch it. So if he makes the world record on the high wheel bike, it’s definitely going on the T-town records too.

Bobby Lea:

There’s actually no current hour record on T-Town ?

Andy Lakatosh:

No I never did it, but I added it in and it just says, “To be set in there.” Basically, I was waiting for one or two things. Either a taker, or I was going to personally pick a random when I was really out of shape. I was like, “I’ll just do it. It might only be like 20k, but to hell with it.”

Joan Hanscom:

I said the same thing. I said I wanted to do the old lady hour record on the track because there’s nobody to beat. So I can do the master’s lady hour record on the track, and I can do like nothing, and still get the record.

Bobby Lea:

If nobody takes an official crack at it before Gee’s highway attempt, he will have the only recorded time.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes, that’s correct. But he’s got to break the world record.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Did you watch, by any chance, the GCN documentary about the guys who did it? It’s really [crosstalk 00:23:22]-

Bobby Lea:

No, but actually about 15 years ago I was on a random training ride down in Tasmania, and stumbled across the high wheel world championships.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s funny.

Bobby Lea:

It was a criteria.

Joan Hanscom:

He wanted to host it across the street in the fitness park or at least the national championships. Like he definitely has thought about bringing the high wheel bike criteria and championships here to the fitness park. You imagine that downhill on high wheel bikes?

Bobby Lea:

Oh, yeah. Well this was about 2020 bikes careening around a downtown criterium course that was tight enough to make me think twice about it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, he’s insane, but I’m in favor of it. I’m in favor of his insanity. The best thing I’ve ever seen I think on the track here was when they had the three up sprint in their race in 2019. And their heads were like bobbling back and forth because they were going so fast, but there’s nowhere to put that energy. So their heads were like little bobblehead dolls, and it was coming out of turn four. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen because they were three across the track. I was like, “Oh my God, somebody is going to just totally eat it.” Coming out of turn four, it was so-

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s a long way down from the top of a high wheel too.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it was terrifying. I was like, “Oh my god, the person who’s top.” Like up at the far end of the track, I was like, “Oh my god, this is so scary.” But they did it.

Bobby Lea:

And it worked.

Joan Hanscom:

It worked, and it was like the best thing I’ve ever seen. So you can do your hour record attempt at a real bike while Gee does his record attempt on the high wheel bike, and then Andy will do-

Andy Lakatosh:

None of the above.

Joan Hanscom:

None of the above, and I’ll do the old lady record attempt.

Bobby Lea:

Surely, there’s someone around here who’s far more relevant. Not a borderline washed up dinosaur who can do an hour record attempt for the guys.

Andy Lakatosh:

Now see that’s what makes it more fun. That’s why I’m still racing. How many of the leads can I beat, or that can’t beat me, right? You guys need to up your game. I just did a John Croom’s podcast, and we were talking about that. We were talking about why American sprinting isn’t to the next level. It’s like there’s just so much work. Like, you got to just do the work, right? You got to go outside your comfort zone, you got to push yourself and not make excuses. Not look at USA cycling. You need to do X, Y, and Z for me, when truly third world countries can get into the top 12 in sprint qualifying and stuff, and we’re not qualifying for world cups.

Andy Lakatosh:

I don’t think there’s some support issue there. I think there’s a more cultural. Let’s get to work. If we can change gears a little bit, a lot of what you did within your personal career, you did primarily from here. And you really had to do a lot of it completely on your own, right? Because especially when you were fully flying, the only person that was saying enough to actually go out and ride with you was Jack Symes on the motor. There was no one else locally that was like, “Okay, here’s a really great training partner that can keep up with Bobby, or the volume.” What was some of that like, because I know personally when I think about my best years, or accomplishments it’s not the individual racing.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s always what went into it. I definitely know you had a lot of time to go into it to really make the memories. So I’m wondering if there’s a particular year, workouts or something like that, that really stand out to you when you think back to it?

Bobby Lea:

Oh man.

Andy Lakatosh:

Or what made the biggest difference, right? So I used to stand on the backstretch with Brian Avers and Andy Sparks and these guys. We’d watch you toy, literally toy with the field at a league nationals. Just go off the front, string the entire field out, swing up, go on board, go all the way to the back of the field, see an attack, go away, let them get a half lap up, and then go, “Yeah, okay, I’ll go shut that down now and take off.” I used to be like this is when I was fully retired. I’d stand back there I’d be like, if I could die and come back as anything, I’m like, “I want to come back as Bobby Lea for one day and go race a Friday night.” And just see what that’s like.

Andy Lakatosh:

To be able to look at someone a half lap up and go, “Yeah I’m going to get there, go pass them, taking the lap. Maybe we’ll take another lap. Then I’ll swing off, or let someone else have this sprint. I don’t really need this one.” Like that was always the aspiration. So anyway, yeah.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. Nationals especially always presented really unique challenges, because the hardest bike races to win are the ones where everyone’s expecting you to win. And when everyone’s looking to beat you specifically. It took a long time to figure it out. I got beaten in a lot of bike races along the way trying to learn it. But that racing style that you’re describing, watching from nationals, it may have looked haphazard and like I was clocking around a lot. But it was really deliberate to try and deflect attention away from myself. It was always a really risky business because the problem with being such a marked rider is that everyone is looking at you. If you’re riding in position to engage in the race, as a rider of that kind of profile, everyone looks at you.

Bobby Lea:

So then every single attack, you’ve got to follow. And so the risks I always had to play with those races is just sitting way in the back, completely out of the race until the very last moment. When I thought I could probably engage without just taking everyone with me. And usually that meant letting people do a lot of bike racing, so that if you get tired enough, that they weren’t going to chase right away. Because I always needed just that little bit of hesitation, or one or two guys to say, “Oh, shit I’m a little bit tired, someone else chase.” Because otherwise, if I attacked, it was 23 guys queuing up, then [crosstalk 00:29:53] chase me down.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, right. Right on you, immediately. It was like a swarm of birds when you see them all turn and move at once. It was like Bobby went, and it was like poof, there goes the whole field right away.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. So then like specifically letting groups get dangerously far away was a very specific tactic, because usually there is a lot of racing that would go on to the point where a move would be halfway up the track, the break would be a little bit tired. They were done with their initial surge. So their pace is slowing down, making them easier to catch. But then also all of the people that have been frantically trying to get across that gap, their initial burns were gone. That would be my one window of opportunity, and kind of the secret into snapping across what would seem like a really big gap really quickly.

Andy Lakatosh:

No.

Joan Hanscom:

So clearly this is a tactic that worked, because Bobby represented the US at three Olympic games.

Bobby Lea:

It doesn’t work at the big show.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, no, but it was a tactic that worked to get you there. So talk about that, talk about what it meant for you to represent the country three times at the games, and what that experience was like, because most of us will never know.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. Each experience was very unique. Beijing was realizing the dream, and it was such a monumental effort just to get there because it seemed like this massive mountain to climb, and sifting through all these different qualification procedures. Frankly just wasn’t really quite good enough to be there. So I just got there by the skin of my teeth, but holy shit I made it. Sometimes that’s all that counts.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, but that was back when they had that fun. I say that with a lot of sarcasm. Stupid mass start time trial tests. You had to do a flying 500 under such and such a speed and then what was it?

Bobby Lea:

It was a flying three K and standard bars, but you’re opening 500 had to be stupid fast that would just defy all logic of pacing.

Andy Lakatosh:

And this was how we selected teams.

Joan Hanscom:

Interesting.

Bobby Lea:

Yes. But that was an interesting one because we raced all winter through the qualification procedure, and there was a few benchmarks that you could hit to punch your ticket directly to the games through the actual bike racing.

Andy Lakatosh:

Which is always like world’s podium or like winning a world cup. Those types of really big things.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah, and Colby Pearce was definitely the better bike racer at that time, but he never quite hit that target. So we got to the equalizer then if no one hit the automatic qualification is they were going to bring us all out to LA about two months before the games, and make us do this time trial and it was going to be winner goes. Training for a three kilometer time trial two months before you have to do a 40 three k Madison doesn’t really sound logic, but that’s a different conversation. That’s what it was. I decided to go all in on that three K tests, I said “Fuck off, give them the Madison.” You can’t race a Madison if you don’t get there to race it. So I went for that, went all in on that three K. Then I won the three K, I won the trials. Then had to figure out how to reboot and get ready for Beijing.

Bobby Lea:

But as I looked at it back then, my goal is to make the Olympic team. I made it and I couldn’t allow myself to think about performance until I’d actually made the team. So, Beijing came and went, amazing experience, learned a lot, and before I’d even touched down back in, Newark was already a game planning for London. London was cool in that I was good enough to actually race my bike there. Qualifying for London was still amazingly difficult. You had to battle with patellar tendinitis a few times. I remember the last world cup before the London, before the final world cup of that season, 10 days before I couldn’t even ride my bike. If I didn’t get on the bike there and even just make it to the starting line, there was no chance of participation.

Bobby Lea:

So, everything has these battles that you fight on a small scale that are just part of the adventure. But then I had in my mind going into London that if I could nail a top 10, that would sufficiently answer my question, or the question that I’d been trying to answer for myself. Which was on my day, can I race with the best in the world? I figured a top 10 of the games would do it. So I think I ended up 12 or 13, but the problem was, well not the problem. Yeah, the problem was in my last event of scratch race, all of a sudden I got this idea that I could do more than just be there, and be in the mix. Whereas Rio, hadn’t been part of my conversation, or my planning pre-London, all of a sudden came home from London thinking, “All right, well, now we got to see about getting a medal in Rio because I think that can happen.”

Bobby Lea:

Four more years keep on cruising. It didn’t happen in Rio. I ended up getting food poisoning the night before racing started. So never even really got a chance to try to see. But in the process of getting there, I actually answered that question that I thought my top 10 back in London could answer for me. That actually even takes another step back to Andy. What you had mentioned earlier in the podcast, which was learning how to love the process, and all those little steps along the way. Because the results are so fleeting and the disappointment and devastation from not having the performance that I wanted in Rio was really hard to swallow. But I had to lean very hard on the satisfaction the fact that there wasn’t the hardware to prove it externally, I still knew for myself that on my day I could race with the best

Joan Hanscom:

Well, and you had had some really good results going into Rio, right? You had to have had that affirmation going into it. You did some really great racing at the world cup level. So you had to be feeling that anyway, or at least I would hope you felt some of that going in-

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. It was getting there, but it’s one or two results along the way doesn’t sufficiently check that box, because a world cup medal here. Yes, they’re hard to come by, but there’s always people that were in attendance, so there’s always qualifiers. But when the metal start to pile up, throw in a world’s medal, throw in some six-day racing through another performances along the way that maybe don’t have the result to speak of, but you’re there, you’re a part of it. It’s an overall feeling that you get kind of in the aggregate of several years of racing. So yeah, I feel good about knowing that I at least recognize my potential, even if the results weren’t there.

Joan Hanscom:

Which is very cool thing to say. When you look back, when you have the moment to sit back and reflect and say, “Yeah, I optimized myself as best as I could. I lived up to my potential.” That’s a cool thing to say about a chapter of your career. It’s one that you kind of hope you can say about the next chapters too. Yes, am I optimizing this chapter even if it’s not on the bike? You still you still want to optimize your chapter. You want to make sure that what you do is up to that standard as well.

Bobby Lea:

That’s an interesting question itself, because then you have to, first, you have to determine what is optimizing mean. Optimizing from a sport performance standpoint meant everything was going 100% in one direction. There was no room for anything else in my life. Post-cycling, it’s been just the opposite. There’s all these things that I’ve been wanting to do, and now I have time to do. So, no one particular thing gets optimized in the way that cycling used to get optimized.

Joan Hanscom:

Except maybe your life.

Bobby Lea:

Right. That’s where you try and create that balance. And it was something I struggled with as I was transitioning into a non cycling career I had in my mind. I think there was stereotypes that exist out in the world that athletes, when they move on from their sport automatically take that same drive and passion right into anything else that they’re doing. I wasn’t finding that at all. At first I was thinking, I thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t pull that same passion and drive in. It was a bad feeling for a while, because you get so used to being… I’m not going to say being your best because you’re not your best every single day. But doing the best you can every single day, while you’re training.

Bobby Lea:

That it felt really weird not having the drive to do that, but then understanding that there’s all these other things you can do in your life that sometimes a base hit is actually just okay. That keeps things moving. There were a lot of things that I can do that don’t require 100% commitment, which leaves emotional and physical energy open for other things in my life. So, it took a while to accept, and feel comfortable with, I won’t call it coasting, but for lack of a better term, it wasn’t going a hundred percent every single day.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that’s sort of optimizing balance though. So instead of optimizing performance, you’re optimizing sort of balance in your life. It’s not a high-performance mindset. It’s different, but it’s a balanced mindset. And a high-performance mindset is rarely a balanced mindset, I would say.

Bobby Lea:

No, correct. Very, very imbalanced.

Joan Hanscom:

What optimization means is different now. Which is cool. It’s just a different chapter in, and what optimization looks like when you’re a dad and a husband and a coworker and a guy who has stoked for bikes. You’re optimizing differently, but not less.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. Optimizing differently, and the weird thing, or the harder thing to wrap my brain around in this new life is that balance is always shifting. It was easy when you could optimize towards one single race, because you knew. But the priorities shift all the time, and that took a long time to get comfortable with

Andy Lakatosh:

I’d say for me, it wasn’t until 2020 thankfully. For me, COVID was a good in a lot of ways, but being able to reshift priorities, and put myself a little bit more first. Then what I came to realize was, “Hey, if I take care of my balance.” And for me the balance provides happiness. And not just letting myself say yes to everything, and yes, I’ll do this, and yes, I’ll do that. And sure I’ll take on that extra project that I really shouldn’t have decided to take on. And just how healthy you feel when you have that balance. So coming out of COVID, that’s been my biggest takeaway is like, “Hey, protect that balance.” Whatever it is. A lot of times it is like, right now, shit needs to get done at the track. And that is where the priorities is.

Joan Hanscom:

And I’ve told Andy no balance. For four months, there is no balance. You get balanced the other nine months of the year.

Andy Lakatosh:

But it’s like there’s a tipping point with that too, right? There’s a point where you have to go, “Okay, that email can wait until tomorrow. We have the things that need to get done today.” That’s different, because that high-performance mindset is like, “No, it’s all got to get in today. It’s all got to get done tomorrow.” It’s healthy when you’re able to find because man, working with elite athletes, we’re a neurotic bunch, man. Holy-

Bobby Lea:

We’re terrible.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s a special case. That’s for sure. I did have a question though, right? Because I was thinking about this the other day. In 08, you, Sarah Hammer, I think Jenny Reed were part of the what then was infamous mass debacle. How dare you wear a mask off of a plane to walk out in Beijing worried about their quality? Imagine now, and so not just for sake of the games, but also for sake of like how the games would have gone different, and then maybe you would’ve had a different experience coming away from it, and how your life might’ve been different after that. Imagine if that was now, because you could walk off. In fact, if you don’t walk off the plane wearing a mask, you’re probably going to catch more shit than if you do.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, actually you’ll be escorted off the plane.

Andy Lakatosh:

But like, man, this would be a completely different world now if that had to go back and repeat, wouldn’t it?

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. I look back on that, and kind of chuckle. Actually last spring, I very smugly dug back into a storage container. I have all of my Beijing memorabilia tucked away. I pulled out my mask and I cracked open a fresh carbon filter. Stuck that baby in there, and in that mask. Yeah. Thank the USOC for spending all those years and millions of dollars developing those masks that we got crushed for in the moment, but-

Andy Lakatosh:

Now, it’s standard operating procedure, right?

Bobby Lea:

12 years later, it’s been amazing.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, yeah, you were just fashion forward.

Andy Lakatosh:

I got a question that I like to ask people who have raced here a lot, and especially you being a legacy person. If you’ve been racing here since Pelling lapse here, since 88, then you’re coming up on like 33 years of riding here at the track. What stands out as the most memorable, or biggest accomplishment here in T-town? From me, hands down the rider of the year. Rider of the year in 2012, that still sits at the top of my resume for me. But I was wondering for you, who’s literally won everything except maybe curing cup, still hold a track record or two, what stands out to you if you think back?

Bobby Lea:

It’s nondescript, but the level of crowds that we used to see when I first moved up to Friday Nights from a junior was just amazing. I’d never performed in front of so many people in my life, and that kind of energy definitely sticks with me. Performance side, Rider of the Year is very cool. I grew up walking through the Plaza and seeing the signboard that I think hasn’t been there in quite some years, with a list of all the names that have won Rider of the Year. And it was all the best writers in the history of the track were there. The year that I finally won my own, I thought it was really cool to be able to add my name to that list. The same with Madison cup. That was a huge one to win the first time. But then actually one of the really special ones was winning it to, I guess, 2019 with Shane.

Andy Lakatosh:

“Last year” as we call it is 2020 didn’t really exist, right?

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. So actually winning number six with Shane the last time it happened was also really special because that tied the record. I think Sean Wallace is the only other person with with six Madison Cups. I’m a real nerd for history and legacy with events and places like that. It a lot to stand alongside some of the best that have braced here before me.

Joan Hanscom:

So for our listeners, we let Bobby take the Madison Cup after the race was over. Stanley cup style where the hockey players who win the Stanley Cup, get to take it on their yachts and they take it to pool parties and they take it all over the place and it is celebrated. What did you do with the Madison Cup when you had it other than take pictures with the baby?

Andy Lakatosh:

Drink out of it. I can answer that one for you.

Bobby Lea:

Actually, no. That was exactly it. That Madison cup win was three weeks before my son was born. First thing I did as soon as Shelby would let me plop him down on the crib and put the trophy right next to him to take a picture.

Joan Hanscom:

That was a good picture, by the way.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. Back in the early days when I won my first one with Jackie Simes taking the cup home was standard practice, and then we drank a lot of beer out of it. But that’s not not the program anymore-

Joan Hanscom:

It was a good picture.

Bobby Lea:

… but if I can, yeah. The one other performance thing that I really love from T-town though, is the 10 mile record.

Andy Lakatosh:

You guys were on at that night.

Bobby Lea:

That was another one that I grew up knowing about for ages, because it was set in 1998. There was the story. It was probably had taken on a life of its own about what a crazy race it was and how fast the time was. And no one ever came close to it. And then we got this perfect night and I think we knocked something like 40 seconds off of it. So I’m pretty stoked about that one, but now the gears that these kids are riding these days, it’s not going to last nearly as long as the last one did, because they’re going steady and fast. But I’m pretty stoked to at least have be holding onto that one for a short period of time.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well the tactical seasoned plan that I make, everything has a reason and purpose as you know with everything that I do. Coincidentally the five and 10 mile fall right before our UCI racing. So anyone that comes early gets a crack at that. So we definitely want to see a forming. 2019, I forget the exact number, but we rewrote quarters of the track, the track records. And a lot of that was just actually… because for me, it’s important to preserve the, what’s the word? The prestige of it, right? Like to me, a track record has to fall on a Friday Night of racing.

Andy Lakatosh:

It can’t fall on a track records can not be attempted on a Sunday afternoon on a private track rental. Like that’s part of the magic of it. You have to do it during racing in front of a crowd is how I feel it has to go. That’s part of what makes it fun. I try to make sure that almost every record becomes available, at least once a season. So people can get a crack out of it. Some years we’ll hit them, and other years we won’t.

Bobby Lea:

19 there was a lot.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. We, we ripped through them.

Bobby Lea:

I’m hoping that 18, 12 and change for the 10 miles stands around for awhile.

Andy Lakatosh:

I think it’s going to. You guys had what, like a six man team pursuit on the front of that thing for the whole way. It didn’t come easy. You still had a

Bobby Lea:

That was a full gas sprint at the end.

Andy Lakatosh:

Was it Archibald I think that just basically just sat on and who was it? It was one of the Kiwis.

Bobby Lea:

No.

Andy Lakatosh:

He tried to cherry pick it from you.

Bobby Lea:

Either Trinidad or Barbados. I forget.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, okay. Yeah. He definitely tried to cherry pick it from Bobby at the very end. Took the free ride. The field started out 30 riders big and by the end was down to 15 at tops, because that was all that could hang on to the train.

Bobby Lea:

I look back at the speeds we were going on that it was insane. I distinctly remember every time I’d watch my computer drop a load 55K an hour, I’d start to get antsy.

Andy Lakatosh:

Which is flying, which is absolutely flying.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing. But I do like the idea that protecting the-

Andy Lakatosh:

The prestige.

Joan Hanscom:

… the prestige of the records, right? Like I think that that was one of the things, even going back to the whole hour record discussion that you keep hearing. Bradley Wiggins talk about how he set the hour record, and then it fell again. And people will ask him if he gets mad that somebody broke his record and he’s like, “No, that’s the value of the record. You want it to keep getting broken, because otherwise it becomes irrelevant.” And we don’t want that to happen here, but yeah, we’ll let you keep yours for a while longer Bobby.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah, no, it’s not a name that gets erased. It’s part of a story. That 10 miles is going to go down, but my contribution was-

Joan Hanscom:

Raising the bar.

Bobby Lea:

… after the better part of 17 or 18 years.

Joan Hanscom:

Heard you raised the bar a lot.

Bobby Lea:

… that can be done.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was Ben in mind flying lap tandem record too. That stood 12, 14 years. Something like that. That’s what makes it fun. It’ll be exciting to see how the records now that we’re keeping better track of the records. Better track of the track records.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, very cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome. Well, thanks for sharing that.

Joan Hanscom:

So what else is going on Bobby? Anything fun planned for the summer? Are we going to see out here at the track?

Bobby Lea:

Yeah, I’ll definitely be. I’ll definitely be out of the track from time to time.

Joan Hanscom:

I think Shane mentioned he wanted you to come back.

Bobby Lea:

He does. he wants me to do in another Madison Cup.

Andy Lakatosh:

Got to get number seven, got to break the record.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. But you know what? If the international fields come back then the Madison Cup, that’s not my show anymore. So I’m a firm believer in stepping back from the stage. I’ve had my time there. There’s a lot of new, young, talented riders that need to come up, and do their thing. And so part of the reason that I was coaxed back to the two medicine cups that I did between retirement now is because there was like this kind of hump that we were trying to get through at the track. It seemed like an appropriate place to come back and show support, and be a part of moving the venue forward. That’s it. My time there as a Friday night person is mostly done.

Bobby Lea:

It’s time for the new guys to come through and it’s time for the new cast of characters. So with any sort of luck, you’ll have a wonderful field there and there will be no need for an old dinosaur like me to come. I now happily enjoy racing from the other side of the boards. However, Masters Nationals might be a different story.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Now we’re talking.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. And you and I have been talking about reuniting our Madison team. I last rode with him 17 years ago at the Australian Madison Championships.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, I love that idea.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, let’s go full, Bobby and let’s take it back to 2001 and get a team pursuit team back on the track for masters national.

Bobby Lea:

No, thank you.

Andy Lakatosh:

See, we can do it like you, me and Friedman did for collegiate nationals. I’ll just sit on, you guys do all the work, and we’ll race it.

Bobby Lea:

Pass.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, as long as we’re going to see out there, I think that’s what matters. And then we’ll get you on Saturdays with your mom.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. But I’m definitely looking forward to the return of the Thursday crits, and especially post-race beers at the Velo Cafe.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, it’s going to be even better this year Bobby, have you heard? We’ll have food as well. So it’s going to be sticky pig and beers after Thursday night racing. We just need to get Thursday night racing back, and we should be happening.

Bobby Lea:

Of all the things that I missed last year, the post-training crib beers at the Velo Cafe was I think, near top of that list.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That turned out to be a really lovely thing every Thursday. Like the racing was fun, even though I was having all my weird iliac artery things, it was still fun to go out and get your teeth kicked in and then go drink beers with your friends.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. And almost without fail somewhere right around like nine, 10 laps to go, I’d start kind of losing interest in the race and start really looking forward to call an asset over to the cafe and getting that first beer.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. That was a fun thing. And now I think hopefully we get more folks to join us because we’ll have food and we’ll have great beers and hopefully make it a really nice social event for us all. We just need the racing to come back. I went and I did the Thursday night crit at Great Valley. The practice create, right? And it wasn’t the same. It’s just without the fun bit of socializing afterwards, it was just another crit and that’s not a knock on Great Valley. I’m thrilled that it’s an option, but the social piece was really nice.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. And this time I’ll be looking forward to loading up in the trailer, and we’ll have the whole family ride down for the crit, and then a little nugget can be running around the Plaza while we’re really busy rehydrating.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. There you go. Well, I think on that note, Andy, you got anything else or should we let Bobby go back to work? Because now he’s a working man.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s it.

Bobby Lea:

Yeah. Working staff.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, thank you, Bobby. We appreciate you joining us today. It’s been lovely to catch up and I know we’re all looking forward to seeing each other face to face and play in bikes together. So fingers crossed that this happens soon. This has been the Talk of the T-town podcast. If you enjoy what you’re hearing, please check us out on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you consume your podcasts. Leave us a good review because that helps more people find us and more people finding us means we can do more podcasts. So thanks to our listeners.

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 the B. Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, the velodrome.com where you can check out the show notes, and subscribe, so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

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Charline Joiner: Into the Deep End

Episode 25

“It was mental. But it was amazing. And I just chucked myself in the deep end.”

Have you ever come across a horse in the middle of a peloton? Tune into this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town to hear Charline’s story of coming across a horse, what Scotland was like during lockdown, her favorite cycling memories, and how Dynamique Fitness got started.

Charline Joiner

Charline Joiner


Website:
dynamiquefitness.com
Instagram:
@chajoiner
@dynamiquefitness
@dynamiquefitnessstudio
Facebook:
@poweryourrange
Twitter: 
@chajoiner

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

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

Andy Lakatosh:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Andy Lakatosh. Along with my co-host, Joan Hanscom. We’re joined today by the 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medalist, a T-Town alumni, and multiple-time Scottish national champion, Charline Joiner from Scotland. Welcome Charline, how are you today?

Charline Joiner:

Hi, Andy I’m good. It’s nice to hear your voice, a nice American voice, again. It’s actually really sunny in Scotland today, which doesn’t happen often, so I’ve got a big smile on my face.

Andy Lakatosh:

I was going to say, this is, what, one of five days a year the sun comes out.

Charline Joiner:

Exactly. And you’ve got me inside.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re sorry.

Charline Joiner:

No, it’s a pleasure. I’m excited to chat to you about lots of fun bike stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. We’re excited to have you.

Andy Lakatosh:

So, speaking of Scotland, aside from the constant rain, what has the last year been like for you guys there with the pandemic going on? I’m always fascinated as to how you guys are independent, but you’re not really independent. Because when you have nationals, you have to ride the British Nationals, but you can also ride Scottish Nationals. And you have the Commonwealth Games, but Scotland doesn’t go to the Olympics type of deal. I guess, for right now in terms of COVID, how does Scotland’s rules work versus GB’s rules, and everything else? What’s that been like for you guys?

Charline Joiner:

Well, the last year has been pretty rubbish, to say the least. Because I’m guessing you speak to people from all around the world as well. So, we actually went into lockdown, the date, I think, was the 16th of March in 2020. Did that year even happen?

Andy Lakatosh:

I was going to say, when I say last year, I’m talking about 2019 a lot. 2020 is like, did it happen?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s the year of interruption, right? It’s the year that didn’t quite happen.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. Exactly. So, last year we went into lockdown then, and I feel like it was a shock. Because it all happened really quickly. And here in Scotland, I guess like most places, just found we were to stay at home and only go out to shop for essentials, like food shopping. And don’t go to the doctor’s unless it’s an emergency. I think it was all on the phone, actually, then. It was literally lockdown for six weeks, and then they locked us down for a little bit longer. And it was just a phased return. So I think in England… So, this is the thing, you’ve got the UK, United Kingdom, and basically Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and it’s all ruled by different governing bodies.

Charline Joiner:

And our government, it was almost like they were having a little battle. Like, “Oh, we are going to be more strict than you.” So I think Boris Johnson was like, “England, you’re free.” And Nicholas Sturgeon was like, “Right, you Scottish people, you’re staying in your house.” And literally, we were so expecting her to be like, yeah should let free. So Glasgow is the biggest city in Scotland.

Andy Lakatosh:

Which is where you are.

Charline Joiner:

Which is where I am. Yeah. I’m in Glasgow. So, for example, gyms didn’t reopen. That’s the industry I’m in just now. And gyms didn’t reopen until September. And then only for a month. And then we were back into lockdown. So, it was then a kind of tiered system. So depending on the COVID cases, in different regions in Scotland, your region would be… Some regions were actually not really in lockdown. They kind of had an easier life because they were in the countryside and there wasn’t many people that had COVID. But the big cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh, we got hit bad. And then, it just got back, Christmas and then boom, another full-on lockdown from January. And last week we just got out to play and group exercise was then allowed, groups of 15. And that is for groups of cyclists as well. Cyclists weren’t allowed to cycle in groups and things.

Joan Hanscom:

But you were allowed to go out by yourself and ride if you were… Some countries weren’t, right? Some countries weren’t even allowed to do that. Like in Spain, I think there were folks that had to ride their trainers because they weren’t allowed to ride on the road. At least y’all were allowed to do that.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. So that’s good. I mean, it was icy and snowing anyway, so we couldn’t. So it was fine. We were on the turbo trainers anyways during that time. But they were telling us to stay within a five-mile radius of your town. And that was what they were saying. I don’t know. It just seemed a bit like… I’m used to it now so, oh, okay. I didn’t really get hit bad from it, this big lockdown in January. I was just kind of like, well, we’ve not really been fully set free yet, so let’s just get on with it and make the most out of the situation that we can. And England were just allowed a little bit earlier than us with opening of things.

Joan Hanscom:

Were you allowed to do… Well, not were you allowed. Here, I know the gym that I belonged to when I lived in Chicago, they started doing all of their small group personal training classes on Instagram live. So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I was able to take class from my old gym in Chicago on Instagram, which was great. And then my yoga teachers in Northern Virginia and so… Or Virginia Beach, sorry. She did all her yoga classes on Zoom. So I was able to take classes pretty much all through lockdown. Were you able to do the same with your business, do it virtually?

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. We turned into completely virtual business. And that was, for me, well, I think we get onto that a little bit later, like my online business. But I think for a lot of personal trainers and coaches and yoga teachers and things like that, it was a massive shock because they never wanted to do anything online. I wanted to, but a lot of people were like, I like face to face, the human interaction, the connection. But that must’ve been really hard for those who don’t want to do it, that had to do it. And we’re also really lucky that we got government funding as well for those people who had businesses, thankfully.

Charline Joiner:

At the start, we were all wondering what was going to happen for self-employed. But, for those with the smaller businesses, it’s helped a lot. We managed to get, I think it was in the first lockdown, 80% of your pay over like three months, which was quite good. And then it went down to, as the phased return allowed you to do more, the percentage went down. I don’t know what you guys do over there, but we also have people who are off on furlough so the government pays their wage, and they just don’t go to work.

Joan Hanscom:

We were slightly less supportive here.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, it’s funny you say human interaction. And it’s like, oh, the good old days. And speaking of the good old days, back to when you raced here. So Charline raced here back in the wild, wild west days, if you will. At least the modern, wild, wild west days, not all the way back to the ’90s, but she was here in 2011 and 2012. And that’s when we didn’t provide housing, not at the university, not through that type of organization. We didn’t have UCI events, right? It was definitely, you came on the folklore of just buy a ticket, go to T-Town, sort it out, right?

Andy Lakatosh:

And Charline survived 2011. I think that’s the nicest way to put it. And decided to come back in 2012. She was definitely one of our most prolific racers of great personality, always down to race everything, it was a race director type of people that we absolutely loved. So that’s why we wanted to have her on. Because while she didn’t spend a lot of time here, she was definitely a very memorable presence in racing and we would always welcome her back any time she’d be willing to come back. But she came here in 2011, 2012, fresh off of your Commonwealth Games, silver medal in 2010 when she was a sprinter. And then she came here and raced everything. But-

Joan Hanscom:

Andy’s favorite thing, sprinters who race the endurance events.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. Bike racers, as we call them. But, things are quite a bit different now, if you came back over. We’re certainly a lot more organized, than the non-COVID years, in a sense. But, do you ever think back to those summers and wish you were, this time of year, still making plans and… Well, now you’d be bugging the crap out of me for what’s the racing that’s happening, where can I stay? Do you ever hit this time of year and that’s just where your mind goes to?

Charline Joiner:

Oh my, I absolutely loved racing in T-Town. Honestly, one of my best cycling memories is, I’ll tell you… Som the first time I went, it was a like last minute thing. And it was 2011 at the time, and one of my Scottish teammates was already out there. She had said, “Oh yeah, just come and stay where I’m staying at T-Town.” I mean, I’d never been to the USA, so I didn’t even know where T-Town was, or Pennsylvania, or anywhere. I just was like, New York flying into there. Someone’s going to pick me up. I can’t remember who it was, actually. Someone picked me up, though, and took me to this house. And I got outside this house and it had skull heads hanging from a tree.

Charline Joiner:

And then there was Jamaican music playing. And I literally was like, “Where am I?” Then this guy was like, “This is it. This is where you’re staying. I’m sure it is.” And I was like, “Okay, cool.” So he took all my stuff out and I’m peeping into the house, because the door is wide open, music playing, and it’s nighttime. I don’t even know what time is because I’ve just come from Scotland. And out comes Erin Hartwell and he’s like, “Charline!” And I’m like, “Who’s that?” I’m like, “But thank god someone knows who I am. I’m in the right place.” And I was like, “Where’s my friend?” And he’s like, “Oh yeah, she’s just stayed out. She was cycling all day and stayed at the pool.” And I was like, “This is going to be a fun summer.”

Charline Joiner:

But yeah. It does bring back lots of amazing memories of getting strong without trying too hard. Because there’s racing all the time. And instead of the training, you just use the racing as the training, and that really worked for me. So yeah, loved it. The community aspects of it was great. And it was almost like everybody knew everybody. And it was so much fun, just meeting new people and the hospitality, as well, that was given to the foreign riders when we came over, it was amazing. I stayed with a few host families who also raced and things, and loved every minute. And they just looked after me. Helped with the dinners, I helped them as well. But it was great.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that’s the nice part. It’s almost like a little bit of summer camp, right? You come here and you’re in a bubble of bike racing camp and it’s kind of cool. It’s like this weird period of time where all it is bikes and fun and people. And not so much for Andy and I.

Andy Lakatosh:

No, not at all.

Charline Joiner:

Maybe not anymore.

Joan Hanscom:

We experienced, not the fun, but we can see that people are in that fun little bike racing summer camp mode. And it’s cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

I definitely, we hit this time of year and I can count the number of gray hairs that come in per day as we get closer to the racing season. That’s really not an exaggeration. I just did it this morning. I was like, oh, look at that. Delightful. No, but it’s quite different now, right? Because we put on these UCI events. And 20, I say last year, but I actually mean 2019. 2019, our biggest UCI event was 200 or 220 unique competitors in a single weekend. That’s just absolutely massive and out of control. That’s as big-

Joan Hanscom:

That’s eight days of UCI racing in one month.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Which was insane.

Andy Lakatosh:

It was a lot.

Charline Joiner:

Wow. Yeah, that’s a bit more than… I think it was maybe like two or three that went on the last year that I came, and it was spread across the summer. So well done for making that happen though. That’s amazing, the changes that you’ve gone through in the last [crosstalk 00:14:58].

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s a lot of work. And it’s super organized. You show up, there’s an application, there’s a whole athlete support proposal that goes out, so you know what you’re getting. And it’s like, before you get here, you have all your instructions of how to get from the airport to the track, to the housing, your bike room, your code is all set up, you get a little baggy with your sheets and stuff. And then you go to, not some random house in a cornfield anymore.

Charline Joiner:

With skulls hanging.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, we’re a little more civilized. You might still have Jamaican music playing, depending which country is your direct neighbor. But we have some great housing providers and stuff that we work with. And they take really good care of us and really good care of the athletes. So the UCI has its own kind of like separate animal that’s very much like a world cup. But then the rest of the season, the part that I know you love the most, is that old T-Town. Like just, I’m going to race, I’m going to race, I’m going to race, I’m going to race. And, oh, I might train a day or two in there, but in general, I’m pretty much racing, recovering, making friendships and making memories. And holy crap, I’m a lot faster at the end of the year than I was at the start.

Andy Lakatosh:

So that’s always one of the cool things about when you commit to the entire summer here, it’s really so much more than just bike racing. And that’s one of the things I love about it and wish more people took part in as well. But so I think we’ve covered one of your favorite off-track memories. What is your favorite on-track memory?

Charline Joiner:

Oh. On track. On track. Okay. No, I don’t have one. Can I see three?

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Andy Lakatosh:

Sure.

Charline Joiner:

Okay. So first one, obviously, was when I won that medal in the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, because I’d only just started racing a few years before that. And I just couldn’t believe it. And that was actually in sprinting. That was in the team sprint. And I was on the podium next to one of my heroes, and someone I looked up to, and that was Anna Meares. And also [Karli McCall 00:17:16], we’re now good friends. But that pairing won the gold and my teammate, Jenny Davis, and I won the silver. And then the Canadians were third. And we were so happy. So that was just such an amazing experience because I never thought I’d get the opportunity to represent my country that soon into the sport.

Charline Joiner:

And then, so the next two are actually in the final year in 2016. So before I came to… Because I came to LA for the World Cycling League. Before that, I went to a six-day race in Ghent. And so, I started as a sprinter, and then I changed in 2011 to be an endurance rider. And I basically emailed everyone, I came back from the Commonwealth Games in October, emailed all the 60 organizers and was like, right, I really, really need a race. Can someone give me a race, an endurance race? So then I got an email back from the Rotterdam Six Day. And she was lie, “Yeah, come along. We’ll get someone to help you.” I was like, “Literally, no one’s going to come with me. I’ve never done a race like this before.” And she was like, “That’s fine. We’ll get a mechanic for you. We’ll do this, we’ll do that.” And I was like, okay, cool. Get someone to pick you up from the airport and we’ll take you to the hotel. And I went and I basically got absolutely slaughtered. I finished three races out of 18.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Charline Joiner:

Three races. I was up against… The field was basically like a world cup field, world cop. It was mental. But it was amazing. And I just chucked myself in the deep end. And the crowds loved me. By the end of the week, whenever I finished a race, maybe the last day I finished all the races, and everyone was like, “Yeah!”, when I was crossing the line like half a lap behind everyone. So they invited me back the next year.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh my god, fan favorite.

Charline Joiner:

I was like, “Are you sure? Are you sure?” And also I was, “I don’t know if I want to.” Oh my god. So then I went to T-Town, about 2011. And it was really, really good for me. And then I went back the next year, finished maybe half the races, they invited me again. And I went to T-Town the next year and that kind of year, I really improved. But anyway, every year I was kind of improving with my endurance. But in that Ghent 60, in 2016, I won a points race against a world cup field, with top riders who would win at world cups, and I beat them. And I was just like, oh my gosh, look at how far I’ve come. And it was like I felt like I won the Olympics. I was like, “Yeah!”

Joan Hanscom:

That’s awesome.

Charline Joiner:

This is a points race but… Oh my gosh. And we were actually there with them, I think I was there with GB. I was there with GB and I remember they were just, “Yeah, well done.” Like are you joking? Like act one, I just beat the other GB riders, I’d beat all of the amazing riders and they were like, “Nice.” God. So, that was one. So that’s two. And then third one was just the track racing in LA for the-

Andy Lakatosh:

World Cycling League.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah, for the World Cycling League. That was such a great experience on the track as well. And yeah, loved that. It was so great. The amazing thing about the World Cycling League was that we got to race as a team, and accumulate points. And that made it… Because I’m such a team player. I come from… Before cycling, I was a hockey player, a field hockey player. And I’m all about team and helping everyone and everyone helping everyone. And it was just so good to see someone else on your team win. It was like ah! You felt like you just won. So yeah, that was amazing. Such a good concept and idea. Loved it.

Andy Lakatosh:

So I’m going to try to tempt you then with this team racing thing that we did here back in the ’90s that I resurrected in 2019, and we’re going to have this year and beyond. But it’s Keirin Revenge.

Joan Hanscom:

It was cool. Super cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

So you’re on teams. It’s a team of, I think we did a team of four, but only three riders from each team raced. And so it’s a keirin points race, right? So you’d do your keirin, top two riders score points two and one. And immediately, as soon as you come across the backstretch, the motors coming back on the track, regrouping, you can do rider substitutions and stuff. But the fun thing is you race as a team, right? So blocking is encouraged. We even let a little bit of argy bargy as you guys…

Joan Hanscom:

It was cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

We let some of that go on. And it gets really fun because it’s so different than the style of racing that we… It’s not a normal keirin by any means. And oh, the motor only comes off with 500 to go. So we keep everyone kind of bunched up a little bit longer. And one of the teams, they let one of the girls kind of roll… Everyone was watching like Maddie Godby, right? And so they let this other rider, Ivy, roll off the front, because everyone’s watching Maddie and Maddie is just doing this. And then Ivy takes off and goes. Right? So there’s all kinds of fun things you can do. We have a penalty box, which undoubtedly I would get in within five minutes. And it’s like a 10-minute period, right? And you race three times during the night. So it’s a really fun-

Joan Hanscom:

Suffice to say, Andy had to do some convincing with the officials that it was going to be okay. And it was okay. It was super good. And the athletes all had so much fun. I think for the same reason that you just talked about that it was like a team thing. And people were super into like a different sort of set of team tactics than they would normally ride. It was cool.

Andy Lakatosh:

So, we’re going to continue to do that. And in the years that aren’t upended by COVID. In ’98 when we did it, it had three different nights of racing throughout the year and then a big final, rights? And there were four teams and it was a whole thing. It was a lot of fun. So hopefully we’ll…

Joan Hanscom:

So Andy’s going to get you to come out of retirement.

Andy Lakatosh:

Just for that.

Joan Hanscom:

Just for this. And you can come over and teach yoga here while you race the Keirin Revenge. We’ll do that.

Andy Lakatosh:

So, speaking of retirement, right? So we have 2016, you do the World Cycling League, you do the race with GB. And then how long after that was it that you retired?

Charline Joiner:

The September, just September.

Andy Lakatosh:

You were that mad at GB that you just said, screw you guys. I’m out, I’m done with bikes.

Charline Joiner:

Pretty much. No, no, I wasn’t there actually. Believe it or not, it was not. So no, I’d finished my track season and was going on the road and had a new opportunity. So basically Ford, Ford cars, had just agreed to sponsor a women’s road cycling team. And that was massive because they’d never done that before. So, I was selected to be on that team that year. And I moved from a really good team before. I was on team WNT. And they were really, really great. But I felt like on that team, the year that I was on WNT, I was one of the only top riders, but I wanted more good riders around me so I could race for other riders as well as I’m racing for me, or riders that could actually race for me, and vice-versa.

Charline Joiner:

So the Ford cycling team, when they entice me on, they were like, this is what you’re going to get. You’re going to get more of a team. And it totally was not like that. And I got on it and it just was not like that. It was same, I was one of the top riders, all the pressure was on me. And I didn’t want that. It’s not me. Yes, I like winning targeted races, but I don’t like going for all of the races. But anyway, I was flying after the World Cycling League and that six-day period was going so well. And then, started the road season. And I was like, right, this is going to be… I’m going the best I’ve ever gone in my life, like flying.

Charline Joiner:

And then the first few races helped one of the riders. And then it came to the race that I was like, this is the race that… We went, it was called the Lincoln Grand Prix. And it was cobbles. And it was just really technical, and I just love that kind of reason. And steep hills, not too long, and just a really good technical course. And I recced around and I felt like I was floating, I felt like I was floating on the pedals. And I was like, I have peaked, I need to go over this. So, everyone was like, right, yep. We’re going for Cha. And then lap one, crash.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, no.

Charline Joiner:

And so there’s a lot of road furniture. So someone went into it. Even though there was a guy there with a flag, someone went into it, and then everyone just went up behind and that I was involved in that crash. In the crash, a chain ring went into my scapula a bit. So I jumped back on the bike, got caught back up to the front group. But was like, “Something’s wrong. I don’t feel right.” And I went up to the team captain, because I was who they were riding for, but then the team captain was calling the shots. So I said, look, I’ve had… She was like, “Where have you been?” And I was like, “In a crash.” I was like, “I can’t sprint, I can’t get out the saddle.” Literally, I had a dead arm basically. So going up the cobble was difficult. I could stay with them, but I was going to be unable to get the saddle up the cobbles for the final thing.

Charline Joiner:

And anyway, that was kind of that over. So, and then she went. I was like, “I’ll be the team captain.” And then she then was like, “Right, I’ll go for it.” Then I said, “But I’ll just help you. I’ll tell you what breaks to go.” And then I told her her to go for the break and the break stuck. And then the team manager was like, “Charline, you need to get over to the break.” And I’m like, “I can’t. I can’t.” And he was like, “Get over there.” And I was like, “Okay.” So I did. I was like, right, I’m just going to have to grit my teeth and get out the saddle and just do it. And then, as I did it, someone clipped my front wheel.

Andy Lakatosh:

Twice in one race. Oh my goodness.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh god.

Charline Joiner:

And then I landed on my head. This was like mid-sprint. Landed on my head, rolled over and was concussed. So couldn’t race on. So that was the end of that. And then basically, two weeks later, I was involved in a crash again. You’ll never believe this one. So it was in a road race, and it was not… The traffic was going on. And I was in a break of eight ahead and I was like, okay. Still feel good, form’s still good. Get over the hill, there’s horses walking towards us.

Joan Hanscom:

I’ve had that happen to me in a race. It’s bizarre, right? You’re like, oh my god, there’s a horse in the middle of the peloton. Yeah.

Charline Joiner:

Oh my gosh. And so, I was at the back and everyone just kind of got scared and went into the field and I clipped my front wheel again, banged my head. Yeah. So a couple of concussions within a really close period. And then I just, for the rest of the season, I felt like I didn’t really recover from that. And then, the team wasn’t very supportive. And yeah, that really, really just traumatized me. And I wasn’t afraid of crashing. I got back on the bike and I won one of the most prestigious races in the UK. And I think it was August or end of July, start of August, the Otley Grand Prix. And yeah, I won that and then I kind of bowed out. I was like, I’m done. Goodbye. There’s your win for the team. And then that was kind of it.

Charline Joiner:

But it wasn’t like… I’m maybe thinking back and it was like a straight cut, that’s me. I think I was like, right, I just need a break. So I thought, I’ll just take a little break. I’ll change team and then everything will be okay and we’ll keep racing.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine.

Charline Joiner:

It’s fine. It’s fine. I just need a break. I’ll get back on the bike after a week or two. And I signed for another team for the Revolution Series, because it was going to be a really big Revolution Series. And I just never got back on my bike. And I had to phone the team manager and say, “Look, I just can not face the bike.” And that was it. And I was like, “I’m sorry.” Yeah. And that was me.

Charline Joiner:

I tried to set up a road cycling team as well, a women’s road cycling team. So I went to the HQ of Renault Cars and pitched to them to try and get some sponsorship to start a women’s cycling team, and went to the UCI base in Switzerland and did my sports directors course, with a scholarship for women to do it. And got all that. And then it didn’t happen in the end. And I just thought… And then I was like, that’s not happening. Why am I resisting leaving? It felt just right to just kind of slowly start to move away from it. But it’s never easy. It’s never easy. That’s when I found yoga, and that really helped me through it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. It’s interesting, right? There’s that end is some people…

Andy Lakatosh:

One of the hardest things to [crosstalk 00:32:51].

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Some people really struggle with it, and some people have a plan for how they’re going to get out. And some people have getting out thrust upon them and it’s, no matter which pathway it is, it’s a planned one, it’s a thrust upon them one, or it’s a gradual fading away. I think it’s never easy because it’s so wrapped up in our identities that we’re cyclists, that this is what we do. And even when you’re not a professional cyclist, your identity becomes stuck around that. And it’s always, I think, a hard thing to transition out of, regardless of who you are and where you are in the sport. But, the yoga thing, talk about that. So, you transitioned out of racing as a professional, and then how did you find yourself doing the yoga practice that you are still doing, I think.

Andy Lakatosh:

Now, I’ll say this, just so everyone knows, this had not been a small part of her life, yoga. There was a point in time where I was getting a barrage of WhatsApp messages from Charline talking about, “You really need to do yoga and this, that, and the other thing.” I’m like, “Charline, I’m as big as a house. I can’t touch my toes. No, I’m not about to do happy baby pose”, or something like that. I don’t need that type of embarrassment.

Joan Hanscom:

My god. That’s a good visual, though, Andy.

Andy Lakatosh:

I know. It’s fantastic. So, this is huge because unsolicited nonstop text messages from Charline like, “Hey bud, hey pal. You really need to do this, if you hop on.” So, just so everyone understands that this is not a casual thing for Charline before she launches into it, so.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think, she’s probably right, Andy.

Andy Lakatosh:

Probably.

Joan Hanscom:

I mean, we’ve had other guests on the podcast talking about the importance of yoga for cyclists, too. So this is not the first time you’ve heard this, Andy.

Charline Joiner:

Yes. That is right. And I’m never going to stop annoying you about that. So anyway, I just was looking for something after cycling. Because I didn’t want to get on my bike. Literally, it wasn’t like oh, I’m just going to end my bike for fun. I completely stopped even… Not exercise. I was going out for runs and started running and started doing fun things in the gym, like circuit classes and things. But, I really was just looking for different things. And when I, probably 2015, I started doing some Yin Yoga, which is just like holding stretch poses, basically. It wasn’t even Yin Yoga. It was like a mobility class. And it was just holding stretches. So I knew the benefits of stretching because I did it a lot.

Charline Joiner:

And I think it was in Scotland, people had started talking about it a little bit more. And I saw that one of my friends who used to be a cyclist went on a yoga retreat, on Instagram. And I’d been living in Glasgow for a couple of years now, and she had moved to Glasgow as well. And I saw that it was linked to a studio, a yoga studio, in Glasgow. So I thought, right, I’m going to go on their website. I’m just going to look at when the classes are and I’m just going to book into one. And I booked into… I was looking at the schedule and I didn’t know what anything meant. Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga, Yin, and then there was power yoga. And I was like, right, that sounds like me. That sounds like what I need. I’m a power athlete. I’m going to this class.

Charline Joiner:

So I booked it. Didn’t tell anyone, I just went. I didn’t want anyone to know I was going. I just went along. And it was so good. It was so hard. I was sweating. But the teacher was really, really good. And it was the first time ever that someone had told me, well, told the class, “This is an opportunity for you to not be the best, not be the strongest, not be the fastest. You don’t need to be anything. You just need to be as you are feeling right now.” And I was like, “No one’s ever told me that. I’ve always been told you need to be better.” And it was just so refreshing and I was like, I need to go back. So I picked a block of 10, and then I saw that the teacher was doing a yoga teacher training the next year.

Charline Joiner:

And I went up to her after class and I was like, “Hello, I just was wondering if I could come on your yoga teacher training.” And then she was like, “Yeah, just apply.” And I didn’t realize that usually when you do yoga teacher training, you’ve been practicing yoga for quite a long time. I just was like, oh, I could use this. I could really use this, as a personal trainer or as a-

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m seeing a trend of straight into the deep end here, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, exactly.

Andy Lakatosh:

Like jumping into the Six Days going, yeah, I’ll give it a shot.

Joan Hanscom:

Going straight to T-Town. Hey…

Andy Lakatosh:

Going straight to T-Town. And so, you come out on the other side of that and you’re killing it at a six day points, so I’m assuming we’re going to get to that same point with you in this.

Charline Joiner:

Basically…

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Charline Joiner:

Well yeah, I started out really rubbish, is the point.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh my god. That’s awesome.

Charline Joiner:

Oh my god. With the yoga teacher, we’re now really good friends. And she was like, “Oh my gosh, I totally winged it, letting you do it. Because I didn’t even know who you were, everyone else knew.” There was only 12 of us. And it was her first yoga teacher training as well, which meant it was so special. So much work had gone into it. It was amazing. We did a 10-day intensive. Everybody cried. I did my date the last day. But it’s funny, I was roommate at… Steph, the yoga teacher, had roomed me with sort of a physical therapist. So we’re kind of both like scientists in head. I’m a sports and exercise scientist.

Charline Joiner:

And we were like, “Why is everyone crying?” At night, we’d go to bed and be like, “Why was everyone crying?” Then by day 10, we’re like, “I don’t even know why I’m crying, but…” It was so intense. You just jump right into all the different theory behind it and things, and chakras, and different energy balances, and the history of your guys. It was really great. And then came the practical. But through the whole yoga process… So my husband’s a professional rugby player, and once their team heard that I was doing yoga teacher training, they were like, “Can you come and take the boys?” So here I am, little old me, 50, massive men in front of me who, like Andy, can’t touch their toes, also can’t have their arms above their heads straight. And I’m trying to write a yoga…

Joan Hanscom:

Oh my god. That is such a good visual of a bunch of guys trying to do…

Andy Lakatosh:

A bunch of big burly rugby players.

Joan Hanscom:

They try to do a crescent lunge with their arms, like not able to do it.

Charline Joiner:

It was great. It was really great. Their favorite part was Shavasana at the end, when they had their eyes closed. And it had [crosstalk 00:40:44].

Joan Hanscom:

Isn’t it everyone’s favorite part?

Charline Joiner:

Yeah, [inaudible 00:40:48]. But totally. Yeah. So I started getting into professional sport with it. So after that summer I was practicing on them and I got my qualification. Then I went to the Braehead Ice Hockey Clan. So, again, big guys, ice hockey, contact sport. And in my head I was like, okay, this is the way I’m going. But I just wanted to get cyclists for yoga. But I’m like, okay. I’m like, obviously, these sports need it. But in my heart, I was like, I want to take cyclists. So yeah, that carried on for three or four years and then we went into lockdown. I ended up taking the Scottish national rugby team as well for yoga. And did a few sessions for Muay Thai groups.

Charline Joiner:

But it kind of changed from just yoga. I mean, I love teaching yoga and I have yoga retreats now that… I have yoga retreats. But, now my product has changed from being just yoga, to Power Your Range, which is a mobility… It’s mobility specifics, so functional range conditioning, which is not just the stretching. It’s about a joint control, joint strengthening, so being strong within your range, strong at your end range. For example, if you have a crash on the bike or if you get tackled in rugby the wrong way, or even to help you get into a better positioning on the bike to allow more of your surface area to be available, muscle area to be available to press the pedals. And just, it’s really, really great for that. So now I’m all about the mobility now.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s funny, we talked about this with Leslie when she was on the podcast about how it’s actually measurable, right? And I’m sure you’re seeing this with your elite athletes that you work with. When I started back, because of COVID, doing a more regular yoga practice after years of sort of being very sporadic with it, I saw my left right power balance on the bike go dead 50/50. And that, I think, is a testament to both the yoga practice, but also I was mentioning the gym that I do Instagram classes with in Chicago. And that’s their whole business. It’s Morning Bird, Chicago. Their whole business is functional strength and mobility for cyclists.

Joan Hanscom:

And all of a sudden, I was back doing that mobility practice, that mobility class. And you see the actual… You have devices on your bike that tell you it’s working. So you see that you are a dead 50/50 power distribution every time you ride. And it’s really fascinating how that translates into more watts, it translates into better power, it transitions to longer power, right? So it’s a real thing. So it must be very exciting for you to be able to apply it to the thing that you were so good at.

Charline Joiner:

I mean, I am just like everyone should do mobility. Because it’s not about… For those obviously that need the extra range, it’s great. But also those that have too much range. So, the hypermobile people, they need to learn how to control their range. And they need to be able to control their range, which is really important as well. And so it works both ways. But yeah, the lockdown was great. I did three mobility classes for three months and then all… It was donation-based only and all the money went to the NHS, which is our national health healthcare service here. So did some donation classes.

Charline Joiner:

And sometimes it was like 35 people online, and just wanting to join and do this mobility. I’m trying to think of cyclists who…Well, Katie Archibald’s done it. She’s a GB track cyclist. You’ve got Alex Dowsett, who’s also a track cyclist. You’ve got Brian Smith, who’s a commentator, he jumped on. [crosstalk 00:45:05]

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, cool. That’s so cool.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. And then also we had some rugby players. We’ve had professional skiers jump on. Skiers, professional swimmers, karate. And then also what was great about it was anyone could join. So they were online and they were like, “Oh my gosh, is that [inaudible 00:45:27] Smith?” Is that Hannah Riley, the swimmer. It’s kind of like cycling. It’s the only sport that you can get up close with the professionals, without having a barrier between you all the time.

Joan Hanscom:

So are you still doing online stuff?

Charline Joiner:

Yes. I am.

Joan Hanscom:

So you’re going to have to tell our listeners how they can join in. We’ll have to put it in our show notes, that folks can, who want to take a mobility class with Brian Smith, that they can join in via your feed. So make sure we get that stuff for you from the show notes.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. It’s called Power Your Range. So if you just look that up on Facebook. If you don’t have Facebook, then Instagram dynamiquefitness, and it’s with a Q-U-E at the end of dynamique.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. Well, we’ll put the word out and hopefully we’ll get some of our listeners to have their curiosity piqued and go check out your mobility practice. Because it’s definitely worth doing. And yours sounds extra fun if there’s celebrity sightings, in addition to working on mobility,

Andy Lakatosh:

I’ll just say now, I still won’t do it.

Charline Joiner:

Andy, come on.

Andy Lakatosh:

But if you come and ride Keirin Revenge, then I’ll do some yoga with you.

Charline Joiner:

I’ve not got the watts right now.

Andy Lakatosh:

It doesn’t matter. It’s a team thing. Just get in somebody’s way. That’s half the fun of it, right?

Charline Joiner:

Oh, I mean, I don’t even think I could get over to the US right now with the restrictions here.

Andy Lakatosh:

Build a little sailboat and sail your way over. That’s your best bet right now, just land in Canada, then hop across the border.

Joan Hanscom:

She likes the deep end anyway, right?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Charline Joiner:

[inaudible 00:47:14] I dip in. I’ve been dipping in the sea through winter.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. I meant to ask about that, because-

Joan Hanscom:

What does that even mean?

Andy Lakatosh:

It means it’s freezing, like there might be ice on top of the water and she’s like, “Hmm. It looks like a good day for a swim.”

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. Pretty much.

Joan Hanscom:

You had me up until now. And now I’m lost. It’s over.

Andy Lakatosh:

And poor Lee, her husband, she just drags him along for it. He looks happy-ish in the photos but you can tell it’s like, this was not my idea.

Joan Hanscom:

Happy-ish.

Andy Lakatosh:

But this is my person. I’m here. Here we go.

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. He’s more just like, “We survived!”

Joan Hanscom:

So why do you do this to yourself?

Charline Joiner:

Oh, there was nothing else to do. Literally.

Joan Hanscom:

All righty. All right.

Charline Joiner:

It’s good for recovery. It’s good for recovery. Cold water exposure. Good for recovery-

Joan Hanscom:

Hypothermia. Frostbite. It’s all good.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah.

Charline Joiner:

I could shower every day. That’s what you do. Cold shower every day keeps the doctor away. That’s what they say. Not been ill all year. [inaudible 00:48:26] cold water.

Joan Hanscom:

Cold water is different than the ocean with ice on it.

Andy Lakatosh:

You also haven’t been sick all year because we haven’t been outside the house.

Joan Hanscom:

We wear masks.

Charline Joiner:

You can wear a mask and swim.

Andy Lakatosh:

I wish you the best of luck. All right, so we’ll just chalk that up to some weird thing that Scottish people do. But speaking of being Scottish, I know you’re an extremely proud Scot. So Chris Hoy is a legend, your husband wore a kilt at your wedding. What other Scottish things are you most proud of or enjoy the most that we wouldn’t know about here. And then, how accurate is the movie Braveheart, historically? I’m asking for a friend.

Charline Joiner:

It’s all wrong. It’s all wrong. But it’s nice, isn’t it? It’s a nice story.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s fun. It’s our perception of Scotland. Just like you use all of our movies as the perception of America, so.

Charline Joiner:

It pretty much is.

Joan Hanscom:

Gone in 60 Seconds isn’t real, Andy?

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s just when you’re in the car with me, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay.

Andy Lakatosh:

Charline knows that.

Charline Joiner:

So basically, what else Scottish stuff? Oh, so at weddings, obviously yeah, all the guys generally, they either wear tartan kilts or tartan trews, which is just tartan trousers. Pants, we call them. Yeah?

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah, pants.

Charline Joiner:

And then at the end of a wedding, you have a big Ceilidh dance, which is, it’s just mayhem. It’s like country music and… Not your kind of country music, more…

Andy Lakatosh:

Bagpipes?

Charline Joiner:

Bagpipe-y, yeah. Bagpipes, and you have your partner and there’s different routines that you basically learn in school. And it’s all for events or balls and basically the women just get flung around by the guys and it’s actually fun. It’s just great. And obviously Auld Lang Syne at New Year’s Eve. The Hogmanay is massive in Scotland. The New Year’s Eve big party and everyone has a party and sings Auld Lang Syne. And there’s haggis.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay.

Joan Hanscom:

Haggis, yes, you lost me again.

Andy Lakatosh:

Hold on.

Charline Joiner:

Haggis.

Andy Lakatosh:

I got another fun one. We need the official word, Loch Ness Monster, real or fake?

Charline Joiner:

So real.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right.

Joan Hanscom:

You heard it here, folks.

Andy Lakatosh:

We got the official word.

Joan Hanscom:

The Loch Ness Monster is real.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right. Last-

Joan Hanscom:

Charline saw him when she was dipping in the ocean.

Charline Joiner:

[inaudible 00:51:32] Loch.

Andy Lakatosh:

Last question. If you came back… Or should I say, when you come back this summer, or next summer for Keirin Revenge, what is the first thing you have to do as soon as you get off the plane, you make it into T-Town. Where’s the first place you’re going, first thing? Not the track and coming here to race, obviously. But what’s the number one thing you miss or remember the most about T-Town?

Charline Joiner:

This is no exaggeration. But it wasn’t a place. It was more the people. I don’t think of a place when I think of T-Town, I think of it as a community. And I just wish that everyone could be together again. No, I love everything.

Joan Hanscom:

She’s not craving pizza or ice cream or…

Charline Joiner:

I’m not craving the food at all. I don’t crave American food at all.

Joan Hanscom:

Because of the haggis.

Charline Joiner:

Aye. I’ll stick to haggis, thank you very much. I’ll bring a suitcase full of haggis, neeps and tatties. So guess, do you know what it is? Neeps and tatties?

Andy Lakatosh:

No.

Joan Hanscom:

No.

Charline Joiner:

It’s what you have with haggis. Go on, give it a guess. Haggis with neeps and tatties.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, tatties is potatoes.

Charline Joiner:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. See.

Andy Lakatosh:

You got me. I got no idea.

Joan Hanscom:

The other, no clue.

Charline Joiner:

Turnip.

Joan Hanscom:

Ugh.

Charline Joiner:

I know. It’s not really… You got to mix it all up.

Andy Lakatosh:

You got to mix it all up, have a chaser and Pepto-Bismol afterwards [crosstalk 00:53:15].

Joan Hanscom:

You’re not selling it. You’re not selling it.

Charline Joiner:

Scottish thing also is we have fish and chips.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s a good one.

Charline Joiner:

But you can have a battered Mars bar. I don’t know if you knew what that is. A Mars bar.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s like a Snickers bar, right? It’s our equivalent of a Snickers bar thing?

Charline Joiner:

Yeah. So you can get that battered.

Joan Hanscom:

Deep-fried.

Charline Joiner:

Deep-fried. Not healthy at all.

Joan Hanscom:

You can get that here too at all the state fairs.

Andy Lakatosh:

Fairs.

Joan Hanscom:

You can’t get it on the regular. But if you hit a state fair, you can for sure get deep-fried Snickers bars.

Charline Joiner:

You just copied us.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, probably.

Andy Lakatosh:

Probably, Right.

Joan Hanscom:

No doubt.

Andy Lakatosh:

Alrighty. Well, before we go, be sure to tell everyone what your social media handles are so that they can come find you.

Charline Joiner:

Got about a million. But if you just head for Instagram dynamique, [inaudible 00:54:15] or @chajoiner. And then Facebook, just and Charline Joiner Facebook page. Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And we’ll post that in the show notes for folks who want to take class with Brian Smith.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome.

Charline Joiner:

Or Power Your Range on Facebook. Power Your Range page on Facebook.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. Awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Right on. Well, thank you. It’s been delightful having you. And, like Andy said, we’ll see you in 2022 here in T-Town.

Charline Joiner:

Definitely. I’ll be there. I’m looking for flights right now.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. Well, thank you so much. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. We are on all the podcasts platforms, wherever you choose to consume us. Spotify, Apple Podcast, Stitcher. So please give us a like, a share. Let us know if you are enjoying our content. It definitely helps us grow the pod. And thank you for listening.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the talk of the T-Town Podcast with hosts, 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.

 

Posted on

Jeff Tkach: Just Eat Real Food

Jeff Tkach

Episode 24

“What we eat really does impact how we perform in life.”

Does Agriculture Matter to Cycling? Find out the answer to this question on this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town where Joan sits down with Jeff Tkach from the Rodale Institute. They discuss the rich history between the Rodales and cycling, organic farming, and even earthworms.

Jeff Tkach -Chief Impact Officer for the Rodale Institute

Jeff Tkach


Website: https://rodaleinstitute.org
Instagram: @rodaleinstitute
Instagram: @jefftkach
Facebook: @rodaleinstitute
Twitter: @rodaleinstitute

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of The T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling, broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director Joan Hanscom, along with my co host athletic director Andy Lakatosh.

Maura Beuttel:

Hey listeners just as a heads up. During this episode we discuss our guests experience with using alternative medicine treatments. This should not be taken as medical advice. And please consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment or therapeutic programs.

Joan Hanscom:

All right listeners, welcome to this week’s episode of the Talk of The T-Town podcast. We are very excited to have as a guest this week, Jeff Tkach from the Rodale Institute. And I particularly personally am exceedingly excited about this conversation. It’s not about track racing at all, but it’s going to touch on our shared history of the Rodale Institute, it’s going to talk about Jeff’s personal journey through fitness and wellness and bikes and how he ended up in organic farming. And we’re going to talk about why agriculture matters to cyclists because it really truly, honestly does. So with that, I’d like to welcome Jeff to the pod. We’re thrilled to have you. Jeff, welcome.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, Joan, thank you so much. It’s such an honor to be here today. Thank you for allowing me to be your guest today.

Joan Hanscom:

So Jeff, you’ve got a really interesting resume. You have been with Rodale for a while in various capacities. First, you were on the board of the Rodale Institute previously, but you were also active at the publications. And now you are the chief impact officer at the Rodale Institute. Tell us a little bit about that journey through the Rodale family and how you are where you are today?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, absolutely. And it’s a journey, it has been. It’s been about a 20 year journey, to lead me to the work that I’m doing now. But… And interestingly enough, cycling has paralleled that journey. So I’m grateful to the sport in many ways, because it connected me to the work I’m doing now. So I graduated college, and then was-

Joan Hanscom:

Local, right? You were local here?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, I grew up in the Lehigh Valley and graduated from Kutztown University. And at the time, I had just discovered mountain biking and was super passionate about the outdoors. And as anyone sort of with those passions, I kept thinking in my mind, well, I guess I’ll have to move west, maybe out to the Rocky Mountains and build a lifestyle around my passions. And someone said to me, “Well, you are aware that this global publishing company exists in our backyard, that publishes bicycling and mountain bike and all the things you love doing?” And I was like, “No, I didn’t know that actually.” And they said, “Well, Rodale.” And then once I discovered I was astonished to find out that this publishing company was literally just a few miles from the very home I grew up in. And so connected with some people through the sport of cycling that were employees there, found my way into an interview shortly after graduating college in 2001, landed an entry level marketing job, and that really set me on a trajectory that I’m still on today.

Joan Hanscom:

But that’s so cool.

Jeff Tkach:

So I spent about 16 collective years with the publishing company, I did move away to Colorado from 2013 to 2016. And then came back here in 2016 to assume a leadership position with the Rodale Institute.

Joan Hanscom:

So it’s funny, this is a sidebar and this for our listeners, I told Jeff, before we started, I tend to go down rabbit holes and there’s lots of sidebars and tangents, and then we always bring it back around. I too, took a little side trip away from the East Coast out to Colorado for a three year spell. And I’m going to put you on the spot. I think the riding in Pennsylvania is better than the riding in Colorado.

Jeff Tkach:

That’s not putting me on the spot at all. I could not agree more with you.

Joan Hanscom:

Everybody thinks Colorado is so rad for riding and I think the riding here is better.

Jeff Tkach:

Oh, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think… I lived at the epicenter of Boulder, Colorado, right in Denton in the downtown and there was an incredible cycling community. But you got awfully bored doing the same seven rides day in and day out. And so I couldn’t wait to get back on the roads of Pennsylvania when I moved back here.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s so funny. So yeah, that’s my controversial topic of the day, is that I think the riding here is better than in Colorado. Because it was the same thing in the Springs. I was in the Springs, and there was essentially four road rides you could do and there was some good mountain biking too, but it was limited and I’m like, “Oh, riding in the East Coast is better.” So there we go. My controversial stand on-

Jeff Tkach:

We got that out of the way.

Joan Hanscom:

We got it out of the way early. Later we’ll talk about surfing, but is it surfing better in New Jersey or New Hampshire? Don’t-

Jeff Tkach:

Oh, let’s have that debate.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ll have that after. We’ll go down that rabbit hole later. So one thing that jumped out to me was your time with Yoga Journal. I’m just to go because yoga has been something we’ve been touching on with our listeners as well here. So talk to us a little bit about Yoga Journal before I let you go back to the topic of the Rodales and our combined and shared history here. But the Yoga Journal thing jumped out to me.

Jeff Tkach:

Wow! It’s been a long time since anyone’s asked me a question about that little sliver of my career, but I did serve as publisher and general manager of the Yoga Journal brand when I was living in Colorado. That’s the job that actually took me out there.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, really funny.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. And I’ve been practicing yoga for about the same amount of time I’ve been cycling. So about 20 years, I’ve been deeply, deeply entrenched in yoga. And to this day, I devote a lot to the practice.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, that’s super cool. I have found that this last year with COVID, I always have had a pretty decent yoga practice myself. But this last year with COVID actually, people doing Zoom yoga has been like a God sent to my personal yoga practice. I’ve been able to practice yoga more consistently in the past year because of Zoom than in the last five years of my life. So I found that that’s been-

Jeff Tkach:

Well, I’m going to say the same. Shout out to my teacher. His name is Naime Jezzeny, and he runs Digg Yoga, which is done in Lambertville, New Jersey. And I was driving an hour and 15 minutes every other week to practice with him. But then through Zoom, he has been able to take his classes online, so now I can literally do them every morning on my phone. And it’s been awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

And my teacher is in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Jeff Tkach:

Oh, really?

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So, it’s been amazing. So, yeah, that’s why when that-

Jeff Tkach:

Silver lining.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s been great. And it’s been a lovely community. We just had a little party celebrating our one year of online yoga together.

Jeff Tkach:

So cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So that’s why that jumped out at me. I was like, “Oh, I got to ask Jeff about his yoga practice because there’s so much benefits to yoga practice for cyclists.”

Jeff Tkach:

And just to life in general.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Jeff Tkach:

It’s really kept me grounded through this season, through this year that we’ve all live through. It’s an amazing both physical, spiritual and mental practice.

Joan Hanscom:

And just too I think our practice together online has been so nice. I’m single I live by myself with my cat. It’s been so nice to have this group that’s met consistently throughout. It’s been like you said, more than just making my hamstrings loose, it’s been really-

Jeff Tkach:

Building a community.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s been great.

Jeff Tkach:

Cool.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So that’s why I wanted to go down that particular rabbit hole with you just to ask you if you are still actively doing the yoga thing, and the answer is yes.

Jeff Tkach:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah. Sorry, listeners. We’re going to go down lots of rabbit holes with Jeff I think today. So I’ll let you talk about the things though, that we really wanted to focus on which is our shared history with the Rodales. This is a velodrome founded by Bob Rodale in 1975. So we are in our 46th year of existence here, which is super rad coming up on 50 in 2025. And obviously, you work for the Rodale Institute. So that name gives it all away. We share the the Bob Rodale connections.

Jeff Tkach:

Yes we do.

Joan Hanscom:

You want to talk about that a little bit?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. This is really humbling to have to share about… To get to share about actually, because I’ve never met Bob Rodale, he passed away in 1990 while he was doing some work in Russia, he died tragically in a car accident on his way back to the airport. But his life has deeply touched me. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about Bob or that he’s written himself. And if I can meet one person, I would choose him.

Joan Hanscom:

When they do those, “Hey, if you could have dinner with any person?” He’s on the list?

Jeff Tkach:

That’s the person. Yeah, he would be the one. Bob Rodale was a fascinating human being. And it’s rare because his father J.I Rodale was our founder. He started the Rodale Institute in 1947. And many people don’t know this, but J.I Rodale, our founder was credited for really, for number one coining the term organic as it’s used today. But he really was the modern day pioneer of the organic movement right here just a few miles from the velodrome. The whole movement began right here in Pennsylvania, and it’s now $100 billion industry worldwide. So, J.I Rodale was our founder. But then what’s really rare, is when you have a founder and then a next generation leader, who’s even more visionary, and that was Robert Rodale. He was J.I Rodale’s son, and he took over his leadership of the Rodale Enterprise, both the publishing company and the nonprofit after J.I I believe, passed away in 1971. So Bob Rodale took over as leader, and he became a world traveler.

Jeff Tkach:

He was on and off airplanes all the time traveling both for his work in agriculture and his work in publishing. And he was raising a family and running a business and as with anyone under that amount of stress, his doctor suggested that he take up a hobby because he just loved to work, he was so passionate about what he did, but I guess maybe he had some high blood pressure. And his doctor said, “You might want to find a hobby.” So he took up of all things skeet shooting. And if you know the skeet shooting facility behind us here, behind the velodrome, I do believe Bob was also instrumental in starting that. So he takes up skeet shooting just falls head over heels for it. And it’s very much a mental game to what I understand. So it got his mind out of his… It got him out of his body and into his mind. And he was a deeply contemplative man, I believe, and made it all the way to the Olympics. So he became an-

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that I did not know.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. He became an Olympic skeet shooter, while he’s running this global enterprise and a nonprofit. And so he was super into it, he would go out and do altitude training in New Mexico. And then ultimately, he shot I believe in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Is that right?

Joan Hanscom:

That sounds the right time for-

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. So he’s down in Mexico, shooting for the United States and he sees this thing, and he’s like, “What is that odd looking building?” And he walks across the street. And I can almost imagine him looking down upon this building, it’s a velodrome. And around that late 60s, began the energy crisis, if you remember. So he’s seeing these people whip around this bicycle track, and I think he just all these light bulbs, I can almost imagine were going off in his head, and he’s like, “The bicycle, the bicycle.” And he just became so enamored by the bicycle. And he came back here and took his own money and built a velodrome and then donated it back to the county. But as I understand it, on the opening night of this very track, he was out there working in the parking lot directing cars into the parking lot. That’s just who he was.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

Deeply, deeply generous man, visionary. And the whole reason why the Lehigh Valley has this rich cycling community was because of Robert Rodale. And there is a lot of employees that would often spot him… Think about this wealthy CEO. He could have had a limousine driver take him between the corporate office in Emmaus Pennsylvania, to Kutztown to where the Rodale Institute was based, but not Bob Rodale. He was riding his spectrum that Tom made for him-

Joan Hanscom:

That’s cool.

Jeff Tkach:

… between the offices. So you’d often see Bob taking a bike ride during the middle of the day just so he can come and check on the Institute.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so cool.

Jeff Tkach:

What a cool guy!

Joan Hanscom:

And I love the spectrum connection too, it speaks tons to just what this community is and the richness of this community and how deep the cycling routes are here. It’s just very unique here.

Jeff Tkach:

Super unique.

Joan Hanscom:

And I love going just a step back pre Bob Rodale, to is father, I love that the whole farming thing, if I’m not mistaken, had a genesis in his own sort of health issues, right?

Jeff Tkach:

Oh, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Like, he was sort of a sickly fellow and decided that this organic farming thing and the food that he was consuming mattered in terms of his own health.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, I should talk about that actually.

Joan Hanscom:

You should because it’s really fascinating.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. So people are like, “Well, how did the whole organic movement start here in the Lehigh Valley?” Well, Bob… I’m sorry, J.I Rodale and his brother were entrepreneurs. They grew up in lower Manhattan. Their family was of the Jewish descent. And I think his family actually… He came from poverty. But in his late teens, he and his brother became entrepreneurs. They started a business. He had learned accounting, so he became quite proficient in running businesses, and started a business in lower Manhattan that was making electrical components for switch gears. And the business did pretty well. But he realized, “Oh, wait a minute, if I can lower my labor costs, then the bottom line improves. So what if we move the business out of New York City and to out to the countryside?” So they ultimately landed on the Lehigh Valley, and he and his brother and their families moved out here. That company, by the way, still exists today? It’s called Lutron. So Lutron was started by the Rodales.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Jeff Tkach:

And then J.I thought, “Well, wait a minute, I grew up…” He had a whole lineage of unhealth. His dad and brothers and his uncle’s all died at a very young age, due to mostly heart conditions. And J.I was beginning to have some health ailments early on, in his 20s and 30s. He’s like, “Wait a minute, if I don’t get ahead of this, I’m going to be heading in the same direction that my father did.” So he becomes enamored with health, and then he’s like, “Well, I’m moving the family out to the countryside, why don’t we buy a farm and then I can grow my own food, and then I can be healthy?” And he just knew that there was this connection with agriculture and health. So they bought a 40 acre farm, which the Rodale Institute still owns today that’s off of Minesite in Cedar Crest Boulevard. We call that the Founders Farm. But that was actually America’s first intentionally organic farm right here on Cedar Crest Boulevard.

Jeff Tkach:

So he buys this homestead, and then what was super cool about this, is he’s like, “Okay, now I’ve never farmed a day in my life…” J.I Rodale, you never saw him not wearing his suit. He was a businessman, he wasn’t a farmer. So he starts going to Penn State to the extension offices, and he says, “Okay, how do I farm?” And almost two a person, everyone he interviewed of asking them about agriculture, they all said the same thing because it was right around post World War Two. And they said, “Okay, J.I, you want to know how to farm, it’s really simple. You go out and you buy these things called inputs, synthetic pesticides and herbicides, and you bring them onto your farm, and you apply them to the soil. And that’s how you grow food.” And actually, that idea initially made sense to him because he owned a manufacturing company.

Jeff Tkach:

So he knew that in order to make really great switch gears, he had to bring in the very best inputs into the factory in order to make the best product. So the idea of inputs in, outputs out, that idea made sense to him. But then he thought, “Wait a minute, I’m talking about growing healthy food. So could someone please explain to me, is there some magic that happens by bringing these synthetic harmful pesticides into a system, a biological system? Can someone explain how do you grow healthy food using these harmful chemicals?” And of course, no one could explain that. So he’s like, “Okay, I’m going to take a different path. And so he started his own research and began studying organic farming. And in May of 1942, he wrote some words on a chalkboard, where he said healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people. That was his was seminal moment. And that is our mission, even to this day.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And that’s what I wanted to get to, because I know we’re going to tie it all back around to that somewhere down the line later, at least because I’m super interested in that personally. So we are going to do it because I’m interested in it. But yeah. So I wanted to really make sure that we touched on that because I think even before Bob Rodale, I think it’s really interesting genesis story. To me that’s fascinating that A, that it’s here-

Jeff Tkach:

It’s here.

Joan Hanscom:

That it is a true homegrown story. But it’s also really important to understand what the roots of it were and why what the thinking was behind going against the grain so much. And so thank you for sharing that particular thing because again, I find it really fascinating. And I don’t think most of our listeners knew about the Robert Rodale velodrome story and what their inspiration was, and just how deeply connected this building that we are so fortunate to have here in Lehigh Valley, was just a brainchild, right?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

It was inspiration, a light bulb moment as you-

Jeff Tkach:

We have a lot to thank Bob Rodale for, even beyond the velodrome. If you’re a cyclist in the Lehigh Valley, the amazing single track on the backside of Emmaus on the Wildlands all that land, that was Bob Rodale, who bought that land and donated it back to the county. What is there now, 15 miles of single truck up there.

Joan Hanscom:

And that’s the thing. People need to know this stuff. People need to, I think have an appreciation for the history and how fortunate we are, we have the park [crosstalk 00:17:52] across the street. Yeah, the fitness park across the street. It’s such an important legacy for us all to recognize and just sort of appreciate and know that we’re unique. I’ve lived personally many, many places by this point. Sadly, I’ve moved around a lot and rarely have I lived in a community where the cycling community particularly has benefited so much from one benefactor. And so I think it’s just really important for-

Jeff Tkach:

For us to honor that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, for us to honor that and for the people who come here and see the Robert Rodale way sign in the in the driveway, understand what that means and why it mattered that we have that recognition for him because it’s unique here. Most places are not so fortunate to have that type of legacy and that type of benefactor and then I sort of hope that when people drive into the parking lot here at the track and they see that Robert Rodale way sign, we very carefully along with Heidi Rodale picked calling it Robert Rodale Way, versus like Robert Rodale Circle or Robert Rodale Street. We called it Robert Rodale Way, very cognizant of wanting to do things in the Robert Rodale way.

Jeff Tkach:

Yes. Which was all about regeneration, by the way.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. And so that-

Jeff Tkach:

It’s a way of life.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. And that was really important when we picked that to us that people understood and honored what the Robert Rodale way was.

Jeff Tkach:

That’s really beautiful.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s pretty cool. And I love that Heidi Rodale got to have her hand on that. So you’re keeping that continuity of the family connection as well. And she was-

Jeff Tkach:

Well, the whole reason you and I are sitting here is because there’s a continuity that we want to continue.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So I think it is really important for the people who come here to appreciate that and maybe people from other places to get some inspiration from it as well, because it’s really a cool story. So with that said, we started to touch on it, we just said it, the institute’s global mission and work today still based on those words on the chalkboard.

Jeff Tkach:

It is. It’s been unwavering. It’s rare to find a mission driven organization that for 75 years has been unwavering in that mission. We’re laser focused on helping farmers all over the world, transition away from chemical dependent agriculture. Some people call it conventional, but I don’t think there’s anything conventional about spraying harmful pesticides and herbicides on land. But we’re in the business of helping farmers move away from that kind of farming towards these regenerative and organic approaches to agriculture. So we are a science organization, we’re a nonprofit. We’re a team of 70 employees, located now at eight campuses around the United States, but our main campus is here, just outside of Maxatawny. I’m sure many of the listeners ride by us all the time. But we’re a 333 acre research farm, where every square inch of this farm is research, we’re conducting the science that is helping to empower farmers all over the world embrace the best techniques using biological methods instead of chemical methods.

Jeff Tkach:

So we’re a research and education organization. Not only do we do science, but then we have a team of educators that go out and inspire and educate and equip farmers to move away from that old way of farming towards this new way of farming, or new old way of farming, I should say.

Joan Hanscom:

How many people do you have, quote “in residence” right now at the farm?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. So let’s see, we’re probably about 65 full time employees, not all of them are based here. But a majority of them are. We’re 10 PhD scientists. And then we have a very robust training program where we have interns from all over the United States. And some from all over the world that come and actually live on site. We have intern housing, we do a lot of farmer training, there’s a huge gap over the next 20 years, there’s going to be millions of acres that are changing hands. And right now they’re six times the amount of farmers over the age of 65 in the United States, then there are under the age of 35. So there’s this real gap coming where we have to fill with new farmers, we need to fill that pipeline. And so Rodale is working hard to train the next generation of farmers. And so we have one of the most respected farmer training programs in the United States. So any young farmer that aspires to embrace agriculture, most young farmers see the writing on the wall that organic is the future, and so they come to us for training.

Joan Hanscom:

I have a candidate for you.

Jeff Tkach:

Great.

Joan Hanscom:

A guy who used to work for me on my US Gran Prix of Cyclocross series, is now a farmer in upstate New York, and I’m going to make him come talk to you guys.

Jeff Tkach:

Amazing. Send him my way.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I’m going to send him to you, because he’s a fascinating person in and of himself. And so I saw a little light bulb moment there. You said something though, about the number and volume of organic farmers and how it’s the direction of the future. And I think what we were doing the pre show chat, we talked about what the last year has meant for farmers, and for organic farmers and for people reconnecting with farming and farms and growing their own stuff. Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about that thing so that people have a really understanding of how it actually touches them.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, I think we’re living at a time in human history where people are beginning to reconnect with agriculture. We have become so divorced as a society about where our food comes from, and how that food was produced. During the World War Two years, there was something called the Victory Garden Movement. In the early 1940s, 45% of all the produce consumed in this country was grown in our own backyards. So 70 years ago, almost 50% of all the produce in this country was grown in our own backyards. Today, let’s just call it pre-pandemic. 17% of all the food at the grocery store comes from other countries. So we’ve seen this like sort of 70 year divorce from agriculture, we’ve become so… And it’s all because consumers are demanding cheap food. We have devalued food in this country. And in the name of $1,000 iPhones, people are putting less emphasis on food. In 1960, we were spending three times the amount of our GDP on food than we were on health care. Today, we’re spending double on health care than on food.

Jeff Tkach:

However, one silver lining in the pandemic is all of a sudden immunity, health. How can I stay healthy became instantly on the hearts and minds of most Americans. And as a result of that, the National Gardening Association reported last year 22 million new gardens were planted in this country.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s astonishing.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. Direct farm sales. So farmers selling directly to consumers. Those numbers increased by 420% last year. And so I think what we’re beginning to see is humans reconnect with the Earth. We were all sent home from our offices during the pandemic, we weren’t traveling, we weren’t going on vacations. And so I think families took to their backyards, and they said, “How can I inspire and equip my family to be healthy?” Just like J.I Rodale did 70 years ago-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, exactly.

Jeff Tkach:

… when he’s like, “I want to move from New York City to Pennsylvania so I can grow my own food.” Well, guess what? Now people are saying, “I want to build some raised beds in the backyard, or I want to come to the farmer’s market at the velodrome on Saturday mornings.” I think that this sort of shift is beginning to happen. And I think all the listeners today have a responsibility. Here in the Lehigh Valley, we are very blessed. We have some of the greatest organic farms that surround this county and we have access to those farms.

Jeff Tkach:

And I think all of us that have the ability to get to know a farmer and to have a relationship with a farmer right here in the Lehigh Valley, we need to do that and we need to reconnect with our agriculture and begin to keep and I think there’s something powerful about us keeping our food dollars right here in the great Lehigh Valley instead of putting all of our money into Costco and Walmart and Whole Foods, what about coming to the Trexlertown Farmer’s Market, or supporting the local farmers between Bowers and Mertztown and Kutztown?

Jeff Tkach:

There’re some of the best farmers right here where you can literally drive up to the farm gate on the weekends and purchase most of your produce there. And by doing that, then we begin to build a local food economy. And then we don’t have to turn all of our farm fields into warehouses. And then-

Joan Hanscom:

We have great roads to ride on.

Jeff Tkach:

The byproduct is that we have great roads to ride on. So, that’s the mindset that we need to begin to re-embrace.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And it’s so interesting. Not just I think… Obviously, we’re in a time in our society, culture, universe, globe, where all of a sudden, people are finally starting to pay attention to the importance of a healthy environment. And let’s not pretend that the COVID thing was a good thing because it wasn’t. But there are good things coming out of it. And people you can’t buy a bike in a bike shop today. There was a three month waiting list to get a stand up paddleboard, you couldn’t get things to do outdoor recreation, because suddenly people were discovering the outdoors again. They were discovering hiking, they were discovering their local trail networks, they were discovering sort of the beauty of appreciating outdoor spaces instead of sitting in their space with their $1,000 iPhone in front of them. And I think this is an incredibly… And we’ve said this before on different podcasts. This is the year of opportunity.

Jeff Tkach:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

And this is why we’re having this conversation today, is while we have people’s attention on things like outdoors and immunity and health and the environment, let’s double down on it, let’s reemphasize how this stuff is so important. And even if you don’t care about eating organic brussel sprouts, if you’re a cyclist and you live in the Lehigh Valley, you should care about your farming business, the health of your local farms, just like you said, because we don’t want another Amazon warehouse put up here. We don’t want another major truck route going into these beautiful roads that we want to protect. We want to protect everything beautiful about the outdoors and our health and our access to great food that we don’t have to have trucked in from South America or flown in from South America.

Joan Hanscom:

We want to have that stuff available here to us. It’s healthier, it goes back to all those points on the chalkboard, healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people. Those are the things that I think we’re in a position where people are appreciating it right now. And how do we build on this momentum is really interesting.

Jeff Tkach:

I think it’s about reordering of values. And I think we’re all being called to do that right now to begin to value… I’m speaking now to our listeners that we need to begin to value the very things in our own backyard. The velodrome being one of them, because it is a gift to have this track here. It is a gift to have this park here across the street, it is a gift to have access to these incredible agricultural roads. And so you’re absolutely right. We’re being called to reorder our values and to begin to reprioritize our spending habits and how we spend our time ultimately. And by doing that, I think we create a healthier community for all of us.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I just… It’s weird to see such a golden moment of opportunity coming out of something as terrible as the COVID pandemic was, but it’s sort of how I choose to view all of it. It’s how we’re choosing to view our community programs here, right? Hey, all of a sudden people want to buy bikes and want to be on bikes. They’ve dug bikes out of the basement. How can we help them appreciate that experience out on bikes? And how can the institute and the track work together to help people appreciate all of the value that comes with the organic farming piece that comes with supporting their local agriculture, how do we all do this together to even strengthen this even more?

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s funny I was looking at your event calendar on the website of the Institute and this is going to be the weirdest thing, but I don’t have a yard I live in an apartment, but I still find it really fascinating. You have everything available for our people who might be interested in this stuff happening at the institute, whether it’s an on a webinar or in person. You have things right down to webinars about earthworms.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s fascinating stuff to look at what a resource you guys are for people who from our community are healthy minded people. And how many people know that you can take a class about tomatoes, grafting tomatoes?

Jeff Tkach:

Grafting tomatoes, yeah. And I really hope that all of us… I encourage everyone to consider Rodale Institute, their farm too. We’re open to the public seven days a week, you can drive out, we have a visitor center, we’ve got a massive parking lot, restroom facilities. Maybe once in a while start your ride from the Rodale Institute. We have refreshments and food and drink and lots of events to your point Joan. Both digital and virtual events, as well as in person events. Our plant sales are some of the best you can find anywhere in the northeast, our classes, anything from hobby beekeeping, to organic gardening 101, to how to start composting at home. These are very rudimentary things that we often take for granted but Rodale Institute’s experts are some of the best in the world at what they do. I would encourage you to come out and take a class and enjoy our farm. It’s open to you-

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s beautiful.

Jeff Tkach:

It’s incredible. Yeah, bring a picnic and begin and end a ride and let’s consider the Rodale Institute, a really great resource in-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think as we talk about people starting to take this responsibility of connecting with their local environment, it’s a great place to start. It is a tremendous resource.

Jeff Tkach:

I’d be remiss to not mention something, we actually won a very generous grant recently, that’s going to enable us to install a bike share program at Rodale Institute.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s cool.

Jeff Tkach:

So yeah, you’ll now be able to check out a bike using an app on your phone and you can do a whole tour of our 333 acres on a bike.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, that’s super cool.

Jeff Tkach:

So, come out and do that.

Joan Hanscom:

We should organize a group to go out and do that just from here. Yeah, that’s really cool. I think people often wonder how do I get started? How do I transition from shopping at Whole Foods to doing things like growing my own tomatoes?

Jeff Tkach:

Bring them here. I would say the first thing you can do is come here on… What is it? Every Saturday at 9:00 AM.

Joan Hanscom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Saturdays from nine to noon.

Jeff Tkach:

Come get to know a farmer. I support your farmers market here at T-Town and the farmers that you bring in as vendors are some of the best farmers in the Lehigh Valley. They’re growing food in healthy soil using regenerative and organic methods, and have a conversation with one of them, get to know them, they’re some of the most intrepid souls you’ll ever meet. And in addition to supporting a farmers market, try growing something. Build a raised bed in your backyard, come take a workshop on organic gardening 101, we’ll teach you. But it’s not hard. We are blessed with amazing resources right here in the Lehigh Valley. And all of us can participate in this active farming.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, it’s super cool what you guys do. Again, your schedule is just packed. Right through the fall with all the apple stuff, there’s not an excuse to say, “Well, I’m busy this weekend,” because you guys have it going on the entire calendar year. It’s an incredible resource. And as we are starting to look at making those first steps, it’s good to know where the starting line is. Just like when you go to a bike race, you need to know where the start line is. It helps I think, for people who may be curious, but don’t really know what a great resource you are. And so we will make sure that we put links into the show notes for this, so we can get people connected with you guys, because I think it is incredibly cool what you all are doing. And let’s sort of circle around. So this is personal for you too. Right?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

This is not just your job, this is something that matters to you. You are a lifelong cyclist, we already talked on you being a lifelong yoga practitioner. Talk a little bit about what this means to you. Because we’re not just here to talk about the Institute, we’re here to talk with our guests and how this has personal meaning for you.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. So I’ve had two seminal moments in my life having to do with my health. One was at a very young age growing up here in the Lehigh Valley as a young boy, I had a lot of health problems that actually kept me from playing sports. I had severe asthma and allergies that around the age of 13 decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore. Kind of woke up one day, and how fortunate was I that at 13 I had this idea that I could empower my own health and I started reading as early as 13, about nutrition and the role nutrition plays in health and began to change the way I ate. And that led me to a healthier lifestyle. By the time I hit my teenage years, I started riding a mountain bike, I started finding some of the local trail systems and began to embrace a lifestyle of health and fitness at a young age.

Jeff Tkach:

But food was really the power of that transition in my life. And then fast forward to 2015 when I came back to the Lehigh Valley, I was invited back to be one of the leaders of the Rodale Publishing Company, and that’s when I began serving on the board of directors at the institute. So I began connecting with the work of Rodale Institute and how agriculture was fundamentally broken. And then I got sick about a year into this whole thing. I fell ill out of the blue. And that was about October of 2015, and I had to go on medical leave, I wasn’t getting any answers from the doctors that I was being sent to. No one can figure out what caused the health collapse. By February of that following year, I was still sick, I was bedridden at that point, and found my way to a doctor up just outside of the Lehigh Valley, who practices something called functional medicine, which is sort of more of a systems based approach to health.

Jeff Tkach:

And he was able to do some diagnostics, found that I had chronic Lyme disease, and that was the cause of my health collapse. But he said, “Listen, Jeff, at this point, you’re six months in, and there’s no pill I could prescribe you that’s going to get you better.” He said, “So you understand farming, right?” And I said, “Well, yeah, of course.” He said, “Because of your work with Rodale Institute.” And he said, “We’re going to farm your body back to health.” And I just looked at him and there was something in me that was like, “This is going to change the rest of my life this moment.” And from that moment on, my doctor began to see that my body was a system, and it needed to be brought back into homeostasis.

Jeff Tkach:

And so we used things like nutrition and herbal therapy, and acupuncture and ozone therapy, and infrared sauna, and all these modalities that weren’t pharmaceuticals. And it took time, but it got me back to full health. And in that sort of darkest moment of that whole journey, I decided that I wanted to give the rest of my life to the advancement of regenerative agriculture, regenerative organic agriculture. And so that’s what gave me the courage to ultimately step out of my work in media and publishing and into the work with Rodale Institute as a full time employee. And that was four years ago, but it’s deeply personal to me to see the parallels of our healthcare system, and our conventional farming systems. Both of them are looking at how do I treat a symptom with either a pill, or how do I treat a symptom with a chemical? If I’m a farmer and I have a past, well, there’s got to be a chemical for that. Right?

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Jeff Tkach:

Or if I’m a doctor and I have I’m treating a diabetes patient, well, there’s got to be a pill for that, right? Instead of, “Wait a minute, let’s address the root cause. And let’s look at this person as a system. Let’s look at this farm as a biological system, not just a chemical cesspool.” So that’s why I think agriculture and human health are deeply connected. Our founder said so in his very mission statement that soil health has everything to do with human health. And I bore witness to that in my own life. And that conviction is what drives me.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think that I find that super interesting largely, because it’s how good athletics should work as well.

Jeff Tkach:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

There is a deliberate… There’s a line there that when you are an athlete, it is also regenerative, it is also systemic, it is also foundational, and you can’t just go to the gym and squat a lot, you have to have all of the components done, you have to have the mental component, you have to have the physical component, you have to have the cardiovascular component, you have to have so many of the foundational pieces in order to be a high functioning athlete and a healthy athlete. Food of course, being a major part of that, a major one of those systems that you need to regenerate, because obviously, the body won’t perform unless it’s fueled properly. But there’s also a parallel to how you do athletics wrong, that is also similarly chemical based, I would say.

Joan Hanscom:

And we want to avoid that method of athletic performance and really look at the positive method of athletic performance and how do you get there and it isn’t necessarily this chemical supplement, it’s nutrient dense food, it’s eating food that promotes just that restorative thing that that athletes need when you tear your body down through exercise, you also need to build it back up. And so I find the parallel, there’s the farming component, there’s the medical system component, and there’s the athletic component, and they’re all really running-

Jeff Tkach:

In extricable lengths.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, they’re all really well tied together. And so that Well, I think this is a really again, interesting conversation for our listeners to think about when we talk about organic farm and healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy body, then when you’re an athlete, you have those same calls to action. You still have to have the healthy foundation. You too have to have the healthy soil.

Jeff Tkach:

Because an athlete is a system. It’s a biological system.

Joan Hanscom:

Exactly. It is just a biological system. And so we should all be thinking about all the aspects of our life in this way.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. Let’s… I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one more topic that has to do with athletes actually and Rodale’s work. So at Rodale Institute, we’ve sort of coined this term or this phrase hidden hunger. So over the last 40 years, we’ve seen this dramatic depletion of nutrients in our foods. So people ask all the time, why should I buy organic food? Is organic food truly worth it? It’s more expensive. And that’s arguable by the way. If you shop at farmer’s markets, you’re likely are not going to be spending more money on food, because you’re cutting the middleman out of that supply chain. So there’s savings for the consumer. So at Rodale Institute we’ve been hard at work doing studies, long term studies, comparative studies that are looking at organic and conventional crops, and doing the science to answer the question, is there a difference? And our most recent work is this study called the vegetable systems trial. That is the first study of its kind in the world that sets out to answer that question, is organic food truly worth it?

Jeff Tkach:

And so we’ve got a side by side comparison, it’s a 12 acre study that’s growing organic vegetables, using organic methods directly next to plots where we’re spraying it with roundup and other agro chemicals. And we’re looking at… We’re actually looking at the soil health and what’s different in the soils of those crops. And we’re finding dramatic differences. After just four years the study’s only been going four years. Last year, we sent some samples of potatoes off to a laboratory. This is not published yet, this data I’m about to give you, but it will be peer reviewed. And this one study looked at samples of potatoes that were grown organically, versus potatoes grown conventionally, and there was 26 phytonutrients, micronutrients, compounds, minerals, so 26 of those things that existed at levels 100 to 700 times higher in the organic potatoes than in the conventional.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

And if you play that out, because at Rodale, we believe in long term studies, where are we going to be in 10 years, 20 years? As that soil gets depleted through the conventional plots as they continue to get sprayed, season after season, those chemicals kill all the biological life in that soil. Therefore, the nutrients are not ending up in the food. So here in the United States, we’re all walking around, many athletes are walking around with what’s called hidden hunger. We may be eating food that is perceivably healthy, but that’s why Rodale Institute believes that you need to be eating organic food, because those organic foods are grown in healthier soils. And an athlete can ensure that they’re getting the nutrients they need.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And think about that, if you’re an athlete, right? How much money do you spend taking the additional extra stuff. I have my beet juice powder, and I have this and all the things you’re doing to get the-

Jeff Tkach:

The edge.

Joan Hanscom:

… the edge, the minerals, the vitamins that you think your body needs to perform. And we’re spending all of this money on supplements to supplement our food that we’re eating, whereas if you’re eating food that actually has all of that stuff in it, you don’t need to do the supplementation to the same degree. Why do you have to take magnesium supplements? Well, because you don’t get it in food. Okay, well, how can you get the things that you need for your body as an athlete?

Jeff Tkach:

A friend of mine used to use this acronym jerf, just eat real food. And I would add just eat real organic food.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

That’s, I think the secret-

Joan Hanscom:

Well, that’s the big difference, right?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. People ask me all the time. “Jeff, what do you eat? What Did you eat to heal from Lyme disease? What do you eat to feel yourself as an athlete? What do you eat to feel healthy?” And I just eat real organic food. I eat mostly plants, I eat lots of healthy fats. I eat grass fed meats and Coldwater fish and pasture-raised eggs, but I eat real food. I don’t eat… If you’re coming to my house, there’s little to no packaged food. It’s pretty simple, really.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And it’s easy.

Jeff Tkach:

It’s really easy.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s easy and I do think that eating real food matters. I was on a similar… I didn’t have the Lyme disease issue that you had, but I have had a lifelong history of eating disorders for one which we’ve talked about a lot on this podcast, but that leads to some weird eating and unbalanced eating. And so somewhere around 2017 I started working with a sports nutritionist-

Jeff Tkach:

Really?

Joan Hanscom:

Who really looked at what I ate, and he just straight up said, “You are not putting the things into your body that you need to be putting into your body.” And essentially his list that he rattled off for me that changed my eating. And I’ve always eaten healthy, but I didn’t eat balanced or I didn’t eat enough of the right things because I had disordered eating. So while I might have been buying a lot of organic lettuce, I was probably only buying organic lettuce, maybe skipping some of the other things that I needed to eat with it. But he really changed my thinking on food as well from a sports performance perspective.

Joan Hanscom:

He said, “Well, if you want to get the most out of your interval sessions, if you want to get the most out of your time on the bike, you’re not eating enough fat, you’re not eating enough proteins, you’re not eating enough of the complex carbohydrates that you need to have your body properly fueled to do the thing on the bike that you want to do. And essentially, your brain is in low power mode.” He compared it to being on the phone. When your phone-

Jeff Tkach:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

… when your battery runs down, and it says low power mode and starts turning down the apps that are functioning? He’s like, “From a neurological perspective, you are not giving your brain the fuel it needs.” And he was specific, not about even my muscles, but about the brain. He said, “You are not fueling your brain to be successful at doing the things you need to do. You need to eat this.”

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And it was essentially the list of things that you just rattled off. And I can say that since I started following his plan… And it was a leap of faith for me to say, “Wait, I have to eat chicken.”

Jeff Tkach:

Wait, I’m not going to eat energy bar on the bike, I’m going to eat a date or a banana.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. When I started following his just eat real food and balancing out the real foods that I ate, it was astonishing the difference in my body composition in everything that I did. And he was like… My change came in three weeks.

Jeff Tkach:

Three weeks?

Joan Hanscom:

Three weeks. He was like, “You are an incredibly fast responder,” was the term he used. But he said, “It was also a testament to how out of balance your system was.” And so for me the power of that eating real food, real organic food, I lived it. I’ve lived the difference in my own body similarly to you, and it’s been astonishing.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. Amazing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

That’s great.

Joan Hanscom:

But he took it completely from the neuroscience perspective, because that was his core competencies in neuroscience. And so you look at it like, “Okay, well, this guy’s a neuroscientist, so he’s not a rocket scientist, but he’s a neuroscientist. So that’s pretty close, I’m going to trust him and take this great big leap of, all right, I will eat some proteins and I will eat some fats.” And what a difference it’s made in my own overall health, it’s astonishing. And as an athlete, that’s what matters, right?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

As an athlete, if you want your body to perform, you got to give it the right stuff.

Jeff Tkach:

An athlete and just do you want to perform in life?

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Jeff Tkach:

I’m big just in performance as a whole. What we eat really, really does impact how we perform in life. How do I show up? Am I showing up a rooted and grounded and centered person at work? In my personal life, for me food has everything to do with my ability to show up as a good person.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, I would agree with that. And it’s something that I think a lot of people in our sport particularly struggle with. We have complicated relationships with food.

Jeff Tkach:

I agree. I agree. And as the cycle [crosstalk 00:48:24]-

Joan Hanscom:

And I think it doesn’t need to be complicated. Right?

Jeff Tkach:

No.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s the moral of this whole story, is that we should really simplify it and make our relationship with food less complicated and be very simple about it because it’s just real food.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah,

Joan Hanscom:

There you go.

Jeff Tkach:

I couldn’t agree more.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, yeah. That’s good stuff. Right? We’ve done good stuff here in this conversation, I think. And I would highly encourage all of our listeners to dig deeper. Like you said, come to our farmer’s market, or go to your local farmer’s market if you’re listening to this in New Zealand, go to your farmer’s market and talk to a farmer there. And when you’re here in the summer racing your bike, come talk to our farmers on a Saturday morning and visit the Rodale Institute and take a class online, take a webinar about earthworms because I think I want to do that one-

Jeff Tkach:

Because that’s just really cool.

Joan Hanscom:

It is really cool. It is super cool. Earthworms are cool. Like when you were a kid, didn’t you go out and pick up earthworms?

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah, totally.

Joan Hanscom:

Maybe I… Maura is looking at me like, “No, I did not go out and pick up earthworms.” Oh, I did. I used to collect them and put them in their own little jars of dirt.

Jeff Tkach:

To play with. Well, you will now.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. At the very least come see me at the Rodale Institute, let’s go for a ride together. You can find us @Rodaleinstitute, or @JeffTkach, it’d be great to connect. And again, thank you, Joan, so much for having me as your guest today. It’s an honor. It’s a privilege to be able to partner with you in the way that we are. And it’s good to come here.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think it’s going to just be more partnership coming from our two organizations moving forward as we start to emerge from COVID and people can start to do things again. It’s my hope that we partner more on stuff.

Jeff Tkach:

Yeah. Mine too.

Joan Hanscom:

So, cool.

Jeff Tkach:

So let’s do it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Great.

Jeff Tkach:

Awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

Thank you, Jeff, for joining us. This has been the Talk of The T-Town podcast. I’m your host Joan Hanscom, the executive director and we were very lucky to have Jeff join us today.

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 the B. Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, the velodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode.

 

 

Posted on

McKenzie Browne: But Did You Die?

Episode 23

“Track cycling is the most confusing thing that I had ever heard in my life. I’ve been in it, and I still don’t understand it.

Ever wonder what it’s like to go from inline skating to track cycling to speed skating? Listen to this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town to hear Andy and McKenzie discuss how she found inline and cycling and then making the transition to the ice, the similarities between three different worlds of sport, and some fond T-Town memories.

McKenzie Brown

McKenzie Browne


Instagram: @mckenzie_browne
Facebook: @McKenzie-Browne-1530340170513589
Tiktok: @mckenziebrowne

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

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

Andy Lakatosh:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, I’m your host, Andy Lakatosh, and I’m joined today by a national champion in cycling, the many time world’s team member and national record holder in inline skating, a T-Town native, Friday night champion, McKenzie Brown, who is currently chasing down a spot on the, get this, the 2022 Olympic long team. That would be for winter Olympics, spot on the long track speed skating team. Welcome, McKenzie, how are you today?

McKenzie Brown:

Hey. I’m doing great, how are you?

Andy Lakatosh:

I’m doing well. Live in California, 70 and sunny. Maura, how’s the weather in Pennsylvania?

Maura Beuttel:

Crappy. It’s raining, and it’s gray, and it’s gross.

Andy Lakatosh:

Wonderful PA spring day, sounds delightful. How is the weather in Utah, McKenzie?

McKenzie Brown:

Like 45 degrees. It’s been snowing randomly, and then we have a spring day the next day. So pretty bipolar out here. But today [crosstalk 00:01:28].

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, hopefully you don’t get too much more snow. But you do winter sports now, primarily. So that’s not the end of the world, plus you’re indoors.

McKenzie Brown:

That is true. It does not affect us very much.

Andy Lakatosh:

So going back to the little intro, that’s quite the crazy combination of sports and accomplishments there. Can you tell us a little bit, because I know inline is what you started with, and then you found cycling, and now you’ve moved onto ice. But a little bit about how you got started skating, how old you were? I know you grew up here, how you found that in Pennsylvania, because I honestly didn’t know it was a thing, and what some of your biggest accomplishments were in the inline world?

McKenzie Brown:

So I found it back in, I think it was around 2002. I guess I found an ad in the Morning Call about a race that was through SportsFest. It was around Deer High School, it was a five K. Convinced my parents to go to it. Made them buy me a pair of recreational roller blades from Walmart, and did not finish that race, because I would not go down the hill. But we went to it, and a team from Bethlehem called SOS Speed invited me to go to practice, even though I was terrible. Any person that you see that does not already skate, you invite them to come out, similar to cycling. So I went, and then never really looked back from there. I was around seven or eight when I started. Yeah. I never stopped.

Andy Lakatosh:

You did inline as your primary sport then, from seven or eight until how old when you would say that inline was no longer your primary sport?

McKenzie Brown:

Two years ago? So I was maybe 22, 23 when I kind of stopped full-time inline. But I was like 19 went I started cycling. So somewhere in that range.

Andy Lakatosh:

Got you. What would you say were your biggest accomplishments in the inline world before you got to … Well, you have a lot of big accomplishments even after you were cycling kind of full-time too.

McKenzie Brown:

Beforehand, I’d say making my first junior world team in 2011.

Andy Lakatosh:

You were how old?

McKenzie Brown:

Probably my top one. I was 15. Yep. So yeah, that one probably would be first, because that was like the goal we all have growing up. Second to that I would say when I won my first individual national championship in 2009. So I was 13, I had never … This was indoor national championships. So still pretty young. I had never made a final by myself up to this point. We have a division called, it used to be called JO, but it’s Novice now, like the beginner division. I had never made a final in that, let alone the actual elite division. I somehow ended up winning both of those in the same year, after never even making a final. So that definitely is up there as well.

McKenzie Brown:

Then on the world level, I would say finishing seventh in my final 200 meter as a junior. I qualified 12th into that final, they only take 12. So jumping up five positions to finish seventh was a really, really huge deal for me. That’s my best placement ever. So pretty happy with that one.

Andy Lakatosh:

So a couple of interesting things there. First of all you said indoor nationals, right? So you guys have, within the sport of inline, which is going around in a circle, kind of like we do, you have two different national championships?

McKenzie Brown:

That’s correct. There is indoor and then there is outdoor. Indoor is your basic skating rink that basically everyone goes to on a Friday night just to have some fun. So it’s a 100 meter track. Then outdoor, that also gets split up as well. So we have track and then there is road. The track is a 200 meter bank track, that’s what we have world championships on, then as well as that we have the road course, which can be skated in pretty much any parking lot or pavement outside.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. So that’s really, it’s interesting that you guys split it. The road stuff I see as definitely different than the track stuff, right? Because that’s the world that we live in. But it’s interesting that you guys have a separate indoor and outdoor. It would be like us saying, on a scaled sense, we race on a 333 in T-Town, but Carson is an indoor 250. So we’d literally be saying you’d be having two different nationals. Is it that different? Because for us, we look at it and go it’s the same as track racing. Is it that different for you guys? Do different people win that much? Is it a truly different set of skills? What’s that like? Equipment different?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So I’d say it’s a lot different. I’m personally not as good at indoor. It’s all turning versus more power through the outdoor skating. Even the 200 meter track, you’re using a lot more power than you would on the indoor track. Equipment is a lot different. The wheels, specifically, the skate is the same. But the hardness of the wheel changes. So if you would try to wear an outdoor wheel indoor you’re going to be sliding all over the place. Then indoor wheels, outdoor just kind of get torn up super easily. So that’s the biggest difference. But you do definitely have different people winning indoor than outdoor, and vice versa.

Andy Lakatosh:

So another fun question there about the equipment. Because I’ve been in your house. I’ve seen the stacks of wheels. How many different sets of wheels do you have, or is average to have between training, racing, is there different than that? I know sizes make a difference. It’s kind of like gears a little bit for you guys. Can you explain some of that? Because I’m still confused.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So there is a lot of different wheel choices. There is different brands that make them. Again, there is different hardnesses. So that’s going to be your main difference. A softer wheel is essentially going to be grippier, and a harder wheel, you’re going to roll faster. So that’s kind of the broad term to explain that. I have a lot, because you go through them super quickly, especially the outdoor wheels, because obviously if you’re skating on pavement, they’re going to just get worn down, the material just doesn’t hold up very well after a while. So if we’re going to, say, world championships, usually skaters will bring around 10 sets of wheels for a two to three week-

Andy Lakatosh:

Holy shit.

McKenzie Brown:

So that’s probably the most expensive part of the sport.

Andy Lakatosh:

How much does a good set of race wheels cost?

McKenzie Brown:

Around 150 to $200.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. So it’s kind of like … It’s like a set of good piece to speed tires, right? You’re looking at a couple hundred bucks gone. How long do race wheels last you then? Because in T-Town, if you baby your tires and only race on Fridays, you can basically get a full season out of a set of wheels. You guys get one competition?

McKenzie Brown:

If even. Yeah. So depending on what we do, for sprinters, you basically want to have a fresh set on for every race that you skate. So I’d probably go through a 500 meter heat semi-final on the same set. But depending on the conditions of the day and if they get a little too rough, then you’d want to change them, maybe for the thousand the next day, or the hundred. Time trials, I always have a fresh set on no matter what. You just want all the grip that you can get. So they definitely wear down a lot quicker than a cycling tire would.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s an obscene number of wheels.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Andy Lakatosh:

But then again, I mean, you walk into my garage or the bar [inaudible 00:09:37] and see all the wheels and stuff I have, and it’s like, “Why do you need all of these?” “Well, you know, it’s Tuesday.” So, okay, so that’s super interesting. I guess last question there, so from the skater’s perspective, should our nationals be separate? Should we run two nationals for track cycling? Is it as much of a different, T-Town to Carson, as it is indoor to outdoor in skating?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I don’t think so, because you’re still putting the same amount of power into the bike. A little bit of control differences, of course, grip. But other than that, you’re racing the same. Indoor and outdoor for skating is a whole different ballgame with different types of racing, and yeah. It’s a bit different.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay. I got you.

McKenzie Brown:

I think cycling is easier to just ride your bike anywhere.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. So we keep the event schedule very similar, and you guys do not. Interesting. All right. So that’s your inline. How the hell did you find track cycling? Please tell me in the Morning Call too, because that would absolutely crack me up.

McKenzie Brown:

No, I don’t think so. I think it was on Facebook, honestly. Something like that. My mom actually, somehow, found Andrew Harris right when [inaudible 00:10:59] was starting. So there wasn’t too much of a team yet, maybe one year of it. But we found him just strictly for strength and conditioning for skating training, because I was at that point, I was getting mid-teenage years, kind of wanted to start putting lifting into my schedule, and just doing something extra, because all we really did was skate at that point.

McKenzie Brown:

So I started training with him in the gym, and after probably two years or so, they finally convinced me to get on a track bike and I went out on the track. I was terrified. I thought I had to lean the bike sideways to stay up on it. I had no idea what was going on. But yeah, that was 2014. So right before I graduated high school, and then I ended up just kind of really liking it. Played around with it throughout the summer. Then the following year, 2015 is when I actually started fully training for it, and went to my first elite nationals, and then collegiate nationals that same year as well.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was the year that you won collegiate nationals, right?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. My first collegiate tournament I won. Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Not such a bad crossover to just hop over and, “Oh, I’ll just take this national title, collegiate or otherwise, it doesn’t matter.” So I mean, it’s always interesting how people find it. I found it because my parents just built a house right next to the track, and we were like, “What is all of this noise about on Friday nights?” So we decided to check it out. So it was interesting, when I asked you when you officially stopped inline, you said later than you officially stopped cycling, basically. So you would consider yourself a full-time inliner and a full-time cyclist when you were competing on the track, right?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. I think I was pretty much full-time for both of them. I think the only year that I didn’t really skate was 2017. I had pretty much given it up just in cycling that year, just to see what would happen. That was the only year that I didn’t go to world championships. I did skate here and there, for fun, to practice. Did some local races. But I didn’t skate nationals at all that year, just to focus on cycling. But other than that, yep, full-time for both of them.

Andy Lakatosh:

What was it like trying to blend two, because you were doing college, and you were borderline full-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods? You really don’t sleep, huh?

McKenzie Brown:

Apparently not, yeah. I also got Koda that year. So add a dog in there.

Andy Lakatosh:

Hold on. Just so everybody knows, we’re not talking about a dog. She has a miniature pony of an Alaskan Malamute, Koda, who is a horse. He trots in the house. He’s actually a horse. He’ll take up the entire couch, bed. We’ve puppy-sat him before, and he is quite the … He thinks he’s a lapdog. He is not said lapdog. So no, you did not get an average dog. You got a horse that you can keep inside.

McKenzie Brown:

Pretty much. A very controlled horse. But yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right. So yeah, so what was blending all of that like? Was it a good crossover? Was it too much at times? How did you wind up managing all of that?

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. I’d say it definitely was too much at times. Some of it would suffer here and there. But I’d found a pretty good balance between them all. I think it was because I just enjoyed doing all of it that I didn’t realize what was really happening. All the scheduling and everything wasn’t much to me, just because I wanted to be there. I wanted to do well in cycling, and I think it was skating at the time, I just wanted to have fun. So I wasn’t training much on my skates, I was doing a full cycling program.

McKenzie Brown:

But that was able to just crossover to skating just from me being on skates once or twice a week, if even. I was just so strong from the bike that I didn’t need to do much other than technique work on skates just to go fast. So I’d say that’s kind of how that went for maybe two years or so. Then even after I’d kind of quit cycling and went back to skating, I was really just in school, working, and doing a lot of gym work with Byrds Sports Performance. He did a lot for me my last year, so even then, I wasn’t really skating and it just crosses over. They all go so well together.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s super cool. I mean, that’s awesome that you were able to take everything you built from cycling and go kick ass in skating and then be like, “Okay, I’m going to go back to riding.” So when you went over to ice then, same thing? You just rock up on the ice and go super fast? Or how has that been?

McKenzie Brown:

So it didn’t take too long, I would say, maybe two months or so to really get my feet under me. But I moved out to Utah in September of 2019. So I finished up the T-Town season, because that’s just the last thing I wanted to do before I came out here. Missed all the summer training, so I literally had not been on ice skates for about a year at that point, and just went right into the season. It’s very different from inline, even though it doesn’t seem like it.

McKenzie Brown:

So my feet were sliding all over the place, I didn’t understand how to put pressure in the ice, because in inline, you kind of just run on top of your wheels, and you’re not in a surface, you’re on top of it. But ice skating, you’re in the ice, and if you’re not, then you’re just going to slide all over the place. So that was really hard to figure out. Just learning to not be terrified of having blades on my feet and going super fast around a corner. But I caught on pretty quick, and then got into a rut. You just keep learning as it goes. So two years later, definitely doing a lot better. But first month or so, it was not easy.

Andy Lakatosh:

It’s so interesting you describe it as being in the ice and not on the ice, because especially from the cycling background, we definitely think of we’re on top of the surface. But you guys actually have to cut into it. That’s the only way you get your grip is how much you cut into it. So do you, I have no idea, do you sharpen your own skates?

McKenzie Brown:

Yes, I do. So about twice a week, I’d say. We do it before every race, and usually before, we call it a tempo day. So just fast laps where you’re going all out just to get a practice time. You want your blades to be as sharp as possible. So usually about twice a week, and then you’re okay. But much easier than inline, where you don’t go through 100 sets of wheels every month.

Andy Lakatosh:

Damn, you really went through wheels like crazy like that?

McKenzie Brown:

Well, not every month. Exaggeration. But it’s definitely a lot easier to take care of your equipment.

Andy Lakatosh:

So how long does it take to sharpen skates?

McKenzie Brown:

Usually like 15 to 20 minutes.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, that’s not bad.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

I remember when I lived at the training center in the Springs, my friend Gideon was friends with Apollo [inaudible 00:18:14], and so we’d hang out with him. He’d be sitting there, sharpening them, doing it a different way. Then on short track, I don’t know if you guys do this, but they actually bend the blade a little bit, right, to help stick through the corner. He’d be sitting there with his gauge, and running it, and tweaking it, and then bend it this way, bend it that way. Do you guys end up having to do that kind of stuff too?

McKenzie Brown:

So we do that usually at the beginning of the season. Normally you don’t have to for long track unless you really mess them up somehow by crashing or kicking skates with someone else, which doesn’t really happen often. The short trackers sharpen a lot more and have to do that a lot more than we do. But yeah, we bend, and then you rock them as well. So our coaches usually take care of that at the beginning of the season, and then we don’t really touch that, usually, until next summer.

Andy Lakatosh:

So rock is the amount of curve in it. You don’t contact with the whole blade at any time, right? It’s not possible? Kind of?

McKenzie Brown:

I think? I don’t know. I don’t really know that part of it too well yet.

Andy Lakatosh:

That’s why your coach does it for you.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay, make my skates fast. Okay, good, let’s go.

McKenzie Brown:

I go fast.

Andy Lakatosh:

So what made you want to go to ice and take … Whereas with inline you were definitely doing both and doing both pretty well. What made you want to go full send, because I know you do inline and cycle still. But what made you want to go full send into the unknown in the apparently very different world of ice?

McKenzie Brown:

So I had kind of always wanted to do it, but I just put it behind me, because I had picked up cycling, and I was, “Oh, maybe that could be my route to the Olympics.” Everyone does ice after skating inline. I think I just wanted to be different. I put that on hold for a bit, I wanted to finish school.

McKenzie Brown:

Then we went to Utah back in, I think it was fall of 2018. They did an inline to ice camp. So a group of inliners went out just to try the ice for, I think it was three days. We were terrible, because we had no idea what we were doing. But I kind of just realized after seeing all of my friends out here that I grew up inline skating with, that this was what I wanted to do. I literally just said, whatever, we’re moving to Utah in September. Yeah. Packed up my entire house, and came out here with maybe five days of ice skating ever.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, that’s about as full committal as you can get to something, right? Right out of the gate, just hell, we’re going to go for it, full send. You graduated from Kutztown in 2019.

McKenzie Brown:

Correct, yep.

Andy Lakatosh:

That was pretty much like, “Done with college, I can go do the real world career thing or I can go slide around on ice.”

McKenzie Brown:

So sliding around on ice it was.

Andy Lakatosh:

What was your degree in from Kutztown?

McKenzie Brown:

I graduated with a Bachelor’s in communications studies and a minor in public relations.

Andy Lakatosh:

Any plans for what you’re going to do with that after riding … Riding. I just think riding. After skating? Or we’re full send into skating and we’ll see what happens after that?

McKenzie Brown:

Kind of full send for right now. But it’s on the back of my mind. Kind of have an idea. I want to work in sports of some sort with it. I’m a huge Philly sports fan, so if I could move back home and work for one of them, that would be the dream. But we’ll see if that happens. If not, just some sort of maybe outdoorsy company. Just something I’m passionate about.

Andy Lakatosh:

So I just want to point out to our listeners right there that McKenzie definitely glossed over something that we’re going to touch on later, that she’s a huge Philly sports fan. That’s an understatement. I’m not allowed to watch sports with McKenzie if the Philly teams are on because I’m not into it enough. So therefore, I’m not allowed to be present when a Philly’s team plays, so she gets kind of violent.

McKenzie Brown:

I do not.

Andy Lakatosh:

You’ve been warned. But anyway, so ice, inline, track skating … Ice, inline, track cycling. Different training between ice and inline?

McKenzie Brown:

For the most part, yes. I think in ice, we have more of a set schedule than I ever did with inline, just because inline skating you kind of meet up at nighttime, after everyone has normal days that go on, and join your local club for your evening practice, and do whatever you want on your own, depending on what level you’re at. But for the ice program out here, it’s similar to what I did with cycling. You’re on a set schedule. If you don’t make practice, you’re in trouble, basically. It’s a set life. Everything else goes around that. So your training schedule goes first.

Andy Lakatosh:

So what does a normal week of training look like for long track?

McKenzie Brown:

Basically, every week is the same. Mondays, we usually have two practices. One on ice, and one off ice. Tuesdays usually are hard days, so we’ll go fast. Wednesday, same thing, back on the ice. Thursday is an active recovery day. Then Friday, Saturday, one or two ice practices, and dry land mixed in through that. We have some on your own bike rides that are outside of the Oval. Basically, skating, dry land, and bike rides are the three main training that we do. Sometimes we mix it up and play some Hockey here and there. Then Sundays off.

Andy Lakatosh:

So you does every ice skater have a bike then? Like that’s a requirement?

McKenzie Brown:

For the most part, I’d say most of them do. We do have some at the Oval that you can just go ride on, just easy spin bikes. But yeah. During the summer, we’re on our bike more than we’re skating. Pretty much everyone has one.

Andy Lakatosh:

So Maura used to swim in college. She uses a term that you used just now a lot. But dry land. I was actually wondering, if you two could compare notes about what dry land … Because you both are dealing with water, McKenzie, you’re is just frozen, right? You’re just frozen swimming, she’s unfrozen swimming. So is the skydiver then like steam swimming? Sorry, that’s [inaudible 00:25:03]. But anyway, what is dry land, Maura, what is dry land like for swimmers? Then McKenzie, what is dry land like for skaters?

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah. So for swimming, we do it every Tuesday, Thursday after practice. It was just like up in the bleachers, doing abs, or running stairs, or circuit work. Just, I don’t know, stuff like that.

Andy Lakatosh:

It sounds like boot camp.

Maura Beuttel:

It’s really awful, especially after you kill yourself in a two, two and a half hour practice. It’s like, “Oh, got another half an hour for you.”

Andy Lakatosh:

McKenzie what is dry land like for you guys?

McKenzie Brown:

So dry land for us is basically technique work. So we have a bunch of different exercises, that you get in skating position, essentially, and work on the technical aspect off ice. So that way, when you get good at it there, it turns us back onto the ice. I feel like swimming, dry land is literal dry land. I don’t know where the term came for us. But that’s what we use.

Andy Lakatosh:

You’re is unfrozen dry land. That’s really funny. So if we go back to 2019, you up and left PA, and we know you love PA, out to Utah, very different scenery. But you took the dog, that’s all that really matters. You basically stepped almost right into your first season of ice, right? Like you got there, and ice pretty much picked up, and you hit the ground running. Then you finished that, COVID hits, and we all go into a really weird, strange thing. For us, here, it’s strange, and it’s different, but at least we’re still doing versions of the same stuff that we’re used to.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you’re now COVID world, in a new world that you’re not even six months into. That’s a pretty rough start to your brand new sport. So I was wondering, and if you would share, because we’re friends, so we stayed in touch through all of this, but what the COVID world of training was like for you? Because you guys would have been off the ice anyway, because the ice shuts down. I know [inaudible 00:27:22] to me before.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you still had to stay on the gas, because you had gaps to close, and things to make up. 2022 is coming relatively quickly, but you don’t have ice. Group can’t train together. I know you did a lot of riding. But I also wanted you to share how you manged to get through that on top of everything else. What it taught you about yourself, and how you grew as an athlete. Because I know when you got back to the ice, you were cooking, right? You stepped in pretty much where you left off, and then just kept going from there. So I was wondering if you could just share your COVID journey as a skater cyclist?

McKenzie Brown:

Yep. Yes. So our season ended in March. We got the entire season in except for one competition. Last year we were supposed to go up to Calgary in Canada, and that was the weekend after everything started shutting down, and we were realizing it was actually happening. So that race got canceled. But at that point, we were all kind of like, “Okay, whatever, season is over. This will be over in a few weeks. No big deal. We’re all going to go home like we had originally planned in April.” So we did that, and then it just kind of kept going as we all know. It was still here. But I went to Colorado at that point, just to be home with my family, because they moved to Colorado. I know most people don’t know that. So I am from Pennsylvania, but they live in Colorado Springs, so I went there to hang out.

McKenzie Brown:

Brought my bike, so I started riding pretty much every day, just because I was bored and had nothing else to do. So that kind of started my off season training. So I was in pretty decent shape by the time I came back to Utah. When we were allowed to do some group stuff again, we kept it pretty minimal, and we don’t really know anyone else here anyways, so we were only around each other, which was a major plus. So yeah. Started training back in mid-May, I’d say, together.

McKenzie Brown:

Did a lot of cycling, I think more than I had done as a cyclist, to be completely honest. I climbed a mountain for the first time ever, that I had never planned on doing. That might be one of my top cycling accomplishments, I would say. It was almost 6,000 feet climbing, like a six hour ride. I fell off my bike at one point, cramping. I got back up, ended up finishing it after throwing a little temper tantrum. But we made it. So that was a pretty cool accomplishment over the summer.

Andy Lakatosh:

As we like to say-

McKenzie Brown:

What’s that?

Andy Lakatosh:

As we like to say, did you die?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I did not. I was close. But I made it.

Andy Lakatosh:

Okay, then everything is fine.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah. So that was cool, just to have something I felt proud of during the summer since there was no racing. I had been missing going back to T-Town to race, which I had originally planned on doing before everything shut down. Had no inline season. So yeah, basically just got back on the bike. Then they put the ice back in for us in August, and got back in there. We were allowed in the Oval during the summer, very limited, to do some short track skating, which is part of our off season training as well. I got to do some of that. Did some [inaudible 00:30:37], which I thought was super fun, that was a good training for me, just kind of bringing the cycling back into it.

McKenzie Brown:

Then yeah, got back on the ice in August. Had our first time trial, I think, end of August, beginning of September, and yeah, picked up right where I left off. I think I was within a 10th of my PB from the end of the season. Yeah. Just kind of kept going from there. Throughout the actual season, though, I think I actually had more issues with COVID than we did during the summer. We had a few shutdowns, some exposures. I ended up having it right during Christmas. So that was a big block in the road for me.

McKenzie Brown:

But as far as the group went, we run pretty strict COVID rules, couldn’t see people outside of our households or training group. Really couldn’t go anywhere. No coffee shops, even. That was a big one for me, just being able to go on rides and sit down somewhere, just a lot of changes you’re not used to just to keep everybody safe. Of course, it’s going to happen anyways. So we did have a few, unfortunately. But we made it through, and we’re able to have national championships at the end of the year.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome. I mean, hey, that’s a win. We didn’t have … At least you got national championships both years. We didn’t have one in 2020, and 2021 is looking good, so far. But only time will tell. But so where are you at in terms of your skating season currently? What do the next few months look like for you coming up now?

McKenzie Brown:

So we just finished our season two weeks ago. We’d still been skating because the ice is still in until this Saturday. So for the last two weeks, we’ve just been having fun skating, doing some fun team stuff on the ice. But we ended with our national championships beginning of March. So I did pretty well for the season that I had. I’m pretty happy with it. Ended with a fourth and fifth place finish in the two 500s that we skated, with a new personal best on the second one. I skated two thousand meter races as well, where I placed sixth and eighth. I ended up fifth overall in the combined four. So pretty good weekend end at the season.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh yeah.

McKenzie Brown:

Going forward, we have about a month or so off. We’re just limited activity, just to kind of recoup, and then back to summer training, going into [inaudible 00:33:15].

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. That’s right. So what is the qualifying process for the games look like for … I’m assuming that it’s probably similar to cycling in the sense of the US has to earn spots first.

McKenzie Brown:

Yep, you got it.

Andy Lakatosh:

Then they have to be filled from within the US team. But how does that whole … In the simplest way possible, I’m sure it can’t possibly be as confusing as track cycling is.

McKenzie Brown:

Track cycling is the most confusing thing that I had ever heard in my life. I’ve been in it, and I still don’t understand it. But skating is similar. I think it’s a little bit less complex for sure. But it does do the same thing, it goes off of world cup spots. Then you qualify from there. So depending on how many would earn for each distance, that’s how many spots that you get for your Olympic trials. So we’d do the trials, which is the main difference, I would say, between the two.

McKenzie Brown:

So I’m already qualified to skate Olympic trials. So no matter what, I will be competing to try to make the team this upcoming January. So based off that, depending on, say you have two spots for a 500, your top two at that trials are going, no matter what. That is your team. As long as you have the time standard, which are set by the ISU, which most people have. So it basically just goes off of that then.

Maura Beuttel:

That’s like Olympic trials for swimming.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah, they’re super similar between the two.

Andy Lakatosh:

But you’re also talking about swimming and skating long track, very linear, very time based, right? It’s not like a sprinter here, where who else is in the field makes a difference of how you get their points raced or something like that. I mean, it would be nice, for the person that wins, it would suck for the person that doesn’t. But anyways, super interesting. Thank you for sharing that with us. Let’s see, what is your proudest accomplishment in inline, cycling, and now on long track so far?

McKenzie Brown:

Let’s see. I touched on inline earlier. I’d still probably say that seventh place finish, maybe my 10th place finish as an elite my first year, in the hundred meter, which is the first year that they had done that, so that was pretty cool. Then winning my first national title, and first world team. Cycling, I’d probably say winning collegiate nationals my first year of racing.

McKenzie Brown:

That was just super cool, just to be brand new at it, and had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t think. I was just racing. I think that’s why I ended up doing so well. That was in Colorado Springs as well. So I got to win that in front of my family. It’s kind of like a second home track. So riding on a cycling track instead of the skating track, and I guess winning two different sports titles in the same track was pretty cool too.

Andy Lakatosh:

Same venue, yeah. So just real quick, for anyone who has never been to Springs, the infield actually has an outdoor skating track on the inside of the infield, much the same as Bryan Piccolo does in Florida. I also remember, because we had no idea what inline was, and we went to Springs [inaudible 00:38:25]. This isn’t bank steep enough for us to try to race around this. I was like, no, no, no, it’s for skating. So it is super cool. It’s super cool to win national titles for different sports at the same venue. That’s super trippy. Then long track, what’s your favorite in long track so far?

McKenzie Brown:

I’d probably say the race from two weeks ago, just because I had a pretty rough season with COVID. Then I also had a back injury that I didn’t really say much of to anyone as well. But I was out for almost two months with that and COVID in the middle of the season. So being able to come back from that and place top five in the 500, with a new personal best, was pretty huge for me. So I haven’t raced too much, especially with COVID. So that definitely would be my favorite so far.

Andy Lakatosh:

Awesome. All right. Favorite T-Town memory on or off the bike?

McKenzie Brown:

On the bike, definitely winning a Friday night race for the first time, my one and only time. But I won the longest-

Andy Lakatosh:

A win is a win.

McKenzie Brown:

Yep. Still a win. I think that one was so fun, too, because it was kind of after I quit. I came back the following summer, I didn’t really mean to race it. I didn’t know where my equipment was. I could barely fit it. I had my dad’s car at the time, I didn’t even have my car in town. So I had a two-seater that I folded up my bike and my racing wheels into, and didn’t even know where my helmet was. I had no idea. So I show up to race, and somehow end up winning the longest lap. I don’t even think I really knew how to track stand at that point. But I was just in perfect position, and still had my start. So the gun blew, and that one lap time trial, and crossed the line first.

Andy Lakatosh:

You didn’t even realize that you’d been training your whole life for a longest lap, and you finally had the opportunity.

McKenzie Brown:

Right, I had no idea. It was a sprint, let’s go, I got this.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yep. Hey, that’s how it goes.

McKenzie Brown:

So definitely on the bike for that one. Then off the bike, honestly, just being able to hang out and make friends with so many people from all across the world. Definitely not something that most people get to do. I think it’s a lot cooler than even making friends in skating. Obviously I know people from everywhere from both sports. But having them in my own hometown, I think, was just really, really cool experience to be around all the time.

Andy Lakatosh:

Very fun. That is one of the coolest. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved most about T-Town is friends, and family, and stuff, and come out and watch you do a cool thing. Favorite T-Town Friday night song, no lies.

McKenzie Brown:

All of them, honestly. Probably Welcome to the Jungle, of course, that’s going to be like the number one for everybody, I think. Enter Sandman is on there. Then throw a curve ball in there, I’m going to go with Cruise, because that’s usually on there. Mainly from summer of 2018, because the whole group I was kind of hanging out with that year, that was kind of our song. So whenever I hear that, I just think about Friday nights at T-Town and it just makes me really happy.

Andy Lakatosh:

There is nothing quite like that. But where does Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake rate on there? Because I know that’s a favorite song of yours. You just don’t want to admit it publicly.

McKenzie Brown:

Oh yeah, it’s on there.

Andy Lakatosh:

All right, well, what’s the number one thing you look forward to when you come back to T-Town, besides Wawa.

McKenzie Brown:

Let’s see, other than that, again, just being around everybody that I don’t get to see throughout the rest of the year. It’s always such a good feeling when you get back to that first Friday night and see everybody. Everyone is just having a great time. Obviously the racing is important too. But just kind of being around all of it. Then T-Town is home for me, so since I moved away, I’m just excited to go home again and be around it, and ride my bike through a cornfield and not up a mountain.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. You and me share the [inaudible 00:42:37]. Green is a much better look.

McKenzie Brown:

Yeah, it’s pretty bad here. So just being around all that again just makes you feel like you’re home.

Andy Lakatosh:

Yeah. No, I’m very familiar. I’m looking forward to seeing green in a few short weeks. All right. Last question, and I know your answer is yes, but let’s be realistic about this. Do you actually think the Eagles will ever win another Super Bowl so long as you have aired your [inaudible 00:43:03]? Not your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Will you ever see them win another Super Bowl?

McKenzie Brown:

No, I really hope so. Right now I’m a little worried. But I think we’ll pull back through. I’m glad I got to experience that win like I did. But honestly, I’m kind of hoping for a Flyers win first, before that one happens again.

Andy Lakatosh:

Oh, okay.

McKenzie Brown:

I haven’t seen that one yet.

Andy Lakatosh:

Well, I guess we’ll find out. I hope for the … Have you found a good bar in Utah that palsy all the Philly sports?

McKenzie Brown:

No. There are none. But my good friend Ally gave me her RCN cable pass, so [crosstalk 00:43:47] has been a great Philly sports viewing. I have my Eagles championship poster up in here still, and I have a nice Pennsylvania home metal sign, I guess that I got for Christmas. I feel like I’m home, even though I’m not.

Andy Lakatosh:

Koda is pretty much always wearing a neckerchief with something Philly’s related.

McKenzie Brown:

It’s on him right now. He’s got a gray bandanna and a Flyers [inaudible 00:44:12].

Andy Lakatosh:

True PA girl through and through. All righty. Well, I think that wraps it up for this episode of Talk of the T-Town Podcast. If you like what you hear and you want to hear more, don’t forget to click subscribe. You can find us all the places you like to get your podcasts from. Thank you very much, McKenzie, and we’ll see you next week.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of The T-Town Podcast with hosts 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.

 

 

 

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Christine D’Ercole: Showing Up

Episode 22

“You’ve got to show up… Showing up is gold.

Does your self-talk get in the way of trying something new? On this week’s episode of Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits down with Christine D’Ercole, Master’s World Champion on the track and Peloton instructor. They explore body image and embracing your body type, dealing with adversity and overcoming it, and the importance of changing your chatter and making yourself proud.

Christine D’Ercole

Christine D’Erocole

Website: https://christinedercole.com
Instagram: @iamicaniwillido
Facebook: @iamicaniwillido

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


Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

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

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of The T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom joined today by my co-worker Maura Beuttel, and our special guest this week, many of you will know her, she is a Masters World Champion on the track, a national champion on the track. She is a storyteller. She is a Peloton instructor. We are thrilled to have with us today, the ever empowering, Christine D’Ercole joining us here in the T-Town Podcast in the month of March, which is a month about women’s empowerment, and it is in the month that we have announced our 50-50 in 50 initiative to get 50%-50% participation of male to female here at the track by our 50th anniversary in 2025.

Joan Hanscom:

I can think of nobody better qualified to help us kick off this message that all women belong at the track than Christine. Christine, thank you so much for joining us. Welcome to the pod. We’re thrilled to have you. Yeah, welcome.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you so much for that lovely introduction, and I am really, really excited about this initiative. I know that there’s… It can be, it’s not meant to be an intimidating situation, the banking, the idea that the bikes have no brakes, all of that seems incredibly daunting for a newbie, but at least through my experience, it was never anything but totally welcoming.

Christine D’Ercole:

I want to pass that on. I want to get as many women on bikes as possible, and I’m very proud to say that I’ve got a little posse that, where that I am, I can, I will, I do kit, who some of them have raced before and some of them, my age, older, younger, trying out something completely new and breaking the myth that you can’t engage in a sport after a certain age and breaking that spell of intimidation. I’m really thrilled about this and hopefully, fingers crossed we will get to 50-50.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, I think we’re going to build a coalition. Kim Geist has said, she’s like 100% on board with supporting the mission. Every woman that we’ve talked to since we’ve announced it has been like yeah, sisters, let’s get it done, which I think is awesome. By the way, those kits, the I am, I can, I will do kits are beautiful. They are stunning. You rarely say that about cycling kit and yours are quite good.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s part of it. You look good, you feel good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It can certainly help. It can certainly help when you’re confident in your superhero cape costume. You go out there on the track.

Joan Hanscom:

I raced for a team one year that the kids were white, and it was a tough year.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was a tough year to rock up to the line feeling your best, I will say.

Joan Hanscom:

Particularly when you’re on the pale side as well, so you’re pale, and you’re wearing white, it was not good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was a little vulnerable.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh yeah, it was just like, hey, this is white. Yeah, it’s not good. One of the things that I find particularly interesting about you is that you refer to yourself as a storyteller, a professional storyteller, and I have listened to you tell your story, a number of times on a number of different platforms. I think it’s a story worth repeating, certainly in our sport. Like you, I have a background in the ballet. I started when I was four years old and very single mindedly pursued that as far as I could through college. I haven’t really talked about this publicly, terribly a lot. My closer friends know, but certainly not public, I’m old.

Joan Hanscom:

Back when I was dancing, there was a very specific aesthetic, it was the Balanchine years, it was, you had to have very long legs, a very short torso, a very long neck and a very small head, and that was the aesthetic. I remember going to auditions and they would hand you… It was pre-internet, so they would hand you a little card, and the card would have your number on it, and then it would have on the back of the card length of femur to tibia. You were being measured like you were a pony at a horse auction. It didn’t matter how great you were, it just mattered that your femurs were the right length, and you were the sum of your parts.

Joan Hanscom:

I will not go into the details of which ballet company I auditioned for, or who the ballet master was at the time, but I auditioned for a ballet company at 108 pounds. I’m 5’8″, and I was-

Christine D’Ercole:

So am I, wow.

Joan Hanscom:

I was told that I had danced brilliantly, and if I could lose 10 more pounds, I’d be in.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s so dangerous. That’s so dangerous.

Joan Hanscom:

I have grappled with that my whole life. I had one ballet master who would decide if we were thin enough if we could hold a teacup in our clavicle. You’ve talked about body image and eating disorders, and then you hear athletes in our sport, a lot of junior athletes who wash out of the professional side of our sport, talk about eating disorders. I think athletes like Ruth Winder have been very open about their struggles, Brad Huff very open with their struggles with eating disorders.

Joan Hanscom:

We were joking about how attractive your kid is and how you feel good in your Superman suit.

Christine D’Ercole:

Woman, Superwoman.

Joan Hanscom:

But this whole notion of what we wear when we come out to ride our bikes does play a factor into this whole body image thing. I feel like I’ve always worked against body type. You’ve embraced your body type. I’ve talked a lot about me as a way of setting this up for you to dig into what is I think, probably far more positive body image than what I have experienced.

Christine D’Ercole:

Our journeys are very parallel. I didn’t get to quite that level, there was no auditioning for major companies for me, and I bowed out around age 14, 15. But the experience was the same, where all the little girls are lined up in the back of the room and brought forward one by one as though walking up to a scaffold. They get on that scale, and have their name and their life’s worth written in a number next to their name, and to be told, I was told that I’d have a chance at getting certain parts, which happened to be the costumes with the short tutus if I’d lose another 10 pounds.

Christine D’Ercole:

My smallest was 112, and I did lots of very, very harming things to myself in order to get there. I remember asking the dance teacher, “How do I look now?” I was so proud. I was so proud of that number on the scale, and she said, “Well, now you look like a regular person, but you don’t look like a dancer yet, keep going.”

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Christine D’Ercole:

This is so destructive. I knew I was built a little bit bigger than the other girls. But in my head, this myth developed that I was so much bigger than everyone else, and she’s a big girl. I carried this, I’m a big girl story, I still carry it, and I’ve done a lot of podcasts where I’ve been asked, “Well how did you achieve this grand state of acceptance?” I’m better at how I talked to myself about it. I don’t know that… I’m in a way better place than I was. I don’t know that there’s an official, I’ve got this down and I figured it out completely because those little voices, they get routed from that very, very early age.

Christine D’Ercole:

Just for transparency, I’m still aware when I put my kid on, I’m still aware of myself, even when I get up to teach. But then I shift my gears. Well, that’s part of the work that I do with my workshops is about how do we cope with those moments where we’re saying all of this terrible negative stuff to ourselves? Because we still got to go on.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

We better change… Nobody can tell us… Sorry, everyone can tell us lots of great thing is about how great we look or how talented and strong we are, but until we hear it from ourselves, none of it’s going to be sustainable.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that’s so important for our junior athletes, in particular, to hear you say that, because they’re at the age that we were at when we started hearing the negative self talk about oh, just 10 pounds more, and you’ll be awesome, or you think now like, oh, well, just 10 more pounds, and my watts to kilo are going to be bonkers.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s what I was going to say next, your power to weight ratio is going to improve. I’ve been through this story in my head where it’s not about, I don’t need to lose weight, I want to change my power to weight ratio, and I will be this much faster in my 200 meter time trial or whatever race. While that might be true, and I’m sure it’s 100% true that if I lost whatever amount of weight, I’d improve that power to weight ratio, will I be happy? Because-

Joan Hanscom:

Or healthier.

Christine D’Ercole:

… I have to check myself. At one point, how is the time of my 200 meter time trial any different than the number on the scale? Whether you’re trying to make a number go up your speed or down your time trial time, you’re still equating your worth with a number. I have to say when I went to worlds last… The time is a warp, right? Not last year, the year before.

Joan Hanscom:

Before the Great Interruption.

Christine D’Ercole:

Before the Great Interruption, I remember and I don’t know, I think everybody does this, you try to get a sense of where you stand amongst the competition, by doing all this research and Googling everybody else’s time and try to get idea of how fit they look, and to create this whole monstrosity in your head, where you almost decide whether or not you have a chance of winning the race before you’ve ever stepped on the track. We disguise that under, I’m just being realistic. But if I really went with that, then there’s no way I should have won that team sprint with [inaudible 00:13:00] if I just used the numbers. You know how they do the race predictor.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

That makes me so angry.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, my coach once said, we were at a training camp for a team I was racing on and everybody was like, when we weren’t on the bike, everyone’s like, FTP test, what’s your… Of course, somebody’s FTP, who’s five foot two has nothing to do with your FTP at five foot eight. But we were all going down the rabbit hole. He finally said, “Look, if FTP was the only thing to winning bike races, you’d show up with your power test, and they’d write you a check at the registration desk.”

Christine D’Ercole:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

When I start to go down the rabbit hole or spiral a little bit on numbers, which, as a person with OCD, I can very easily do, I try to remind myself of that conversation where he just looked at the whole group of us and went, “If it was only FTP, we wouldn’t even have to race our bikes.”

Christine D’Ercole:

That is a tremendous statement. I do try to impart that fact in my classes as well, because I see a lot of people post, I improved my FTP by X amount or it went down by two points. It’s just become another scale for self-judgment, and it really does not have anything to do with your ability to win, and it doesn’t determine your ability to win, and it definitely does not determine your worth.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. I think that, that is such an important thing for folks to understand because it is so easy to get into training peaks or into your Peloton class, or whatever your swift results are start to be like, “Oh, this is hopeless, or, why am I bothering or I don’t belong here.” I think that the answer is, look, very few people are ever going to go to the Olympics, but you can ride a bike for your whole life. If you like doing the thing, embrace doing the thing for the purpose of doing the thing, and not necessarily for an outcome, but do it because you enjoy the process of training, do it because you enjoy the social life, do it because you enjoy competition, whether it’s against yourself or other people, but don’t let the numbers intimidate you away.

Christine D’Ercole:

Don’t let those numbers take your joy. Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that that’s an incredibly empowering way to approach sport. Again, specifically with cycling, because we can do it till we’re old. You think about things like football for boys, they play football in grammar school and high school. Most people stop then because most people don’t move on to college, certainly don’t play once you’ve graduated from college, if you played there. You can’t do it for life. It’s not a for life sport.

Joan Hanscom:

But cycling is a for life sport. I got my first bike when I was four years old, and I raced around my block, my one block that my mother allowed me to ride my bike on for hours at a time. Weirdly enough, I’m still doing the equivalent of that many decades later, I’m still doing the same thing. Maybe that explains why I like to ride the same routes all the time, because I was programmed as a child to go around one block. But we can do that late into life, and we can find competition where we are.

Joan Hanscom:

I think that goes back to this whole thing of wanting more women to feel empowered to come out to the track or come out to bike racing or to try a Peloton class. You don’t have to race bikes, but you can love riding them, and you can feel empowered riding them and being part of that community and have an identity as a cyclist. That’s not scary, but I think a lot of people are scared.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think so. When I share the type of cycling that I do, there’s a wave of, oh my God, that I’m so intimidated by that. Honestly, how is it any different than skiing, in terms of intimidation factor or scary to have no brakes, you don’t really have brakes… It’s very similar in a lot of ways to skiing, and that demystifies it. But I think another piece that can be intimidating that I’m obviously trying very hard to help people break through is, those kits, you’re exposed, there you are, zipped up skin tight, and not every single kit is going to hug your thighs in the most flattering manner.

Christine D’Ercole:

That then ties back to all of the shame that as soon as our bodies start to change in puberty, and you may have been a tiny skinny kid, and then suddenly you’re blooming into all of these curves, and you become self-conscious and self-aware and trying to hide those things. I know that dance did that to me, it made me ashamed of my body, and specifically, my thighs, my legs, because they wouldn’t put me in that short tutu because my legs were bigger than the other girls, and I would stand out.

Christine D’Ercole:

When I discovered cycling back in the ’90s and started winning races, I suddenly became proud of the thing I had been ashamed of. That was a tremendous breakthrough for me. I was finally able to be successful and have joy in my body, because of my body, not in spite of it.

Joan Hanscom:

You embraced it.

Christine D’Ercole:

In dance, in theater, in modeling, in all of these spaces, your success is based on someone else’s opinion of your physique. The Balanchine body, if you don’t have that length of femur, you’re out of luck. While genetics plays a part in success in many different ways, in many different sports, some people are better built for one thing than another. In cycling, I was successful because of myself, because of my decisions, and because of strength that I naturally had, not because I was pretty enough, or tall enough or skinny enough. When you go to the track, and you see, this is so empowering to me, I love showing up at the track and seeing all the different bodies, all of these beautifully strong bodies, all different shapes.

Christine D’Ercole:

I want all women to see that, because the fight for the thinner thighs is real out there. The messages that I get back when I say in a class, or somewhere on social, you are bigger than a smaller pair of pants, it’s like a revelation, and it is a revelation. We’ve been taught that, until you fit into that smaller pair of pants, you’re not worth being seen, and we all know that this is just not true, we have to break that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, and it’s a hard thing to break. It’s easy for us to say that. Those are simple words to say out loud. But the bigger challenge is to internalize that and to actually believe it. It’s particularly hard, I think, when the outside voices are still amplifying the other message. I think in the past year here, one of the most disturbing things that happened to me, and I lost a ton of weight, I had a bunch of surgery. Over the course of having three major surgeries in six months, I’ve lost 30 pounds, and I’m happy, like, yay, I’ve lost 30 pounds, and that’s the old brain, that’s my weird monkey brain kicking in that says that’s better.

Joan Hanscom:

But I had a parent of a junior athlete in front of the junior athlete roll up to me and say, oh, somebody has been riding their bike, you look really fit. There was a moment in that exchange where I felt good. Oh, I look the part of a bike racer now. Whereas before, maybe I didn’t, even though I’ve been racing bikes for 20 years.

Joan Hanscom:

Then instantly behind that was, oh, crap, you did not just say that in front of your kid, because it did a number on my head in that exchange. But then I thought, what’s the message to the kid? I was just like-

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s a huge moment of reflection.

Joan Hanscom:

We confront that all the time. That wasn’t at the track, that was a road setting. But still, it makes me feel glad that you have not had that experience here at the track, and that’s certainly the environment we’re trying to create here is that you don’t have that experience here at the track. But it does exist in our sport, and we have to fight that, we definitely have to do what you do, which is look around and say, look at all these great, strong, athletic people. It doesn’t matter if they have short legs or long legs.

Christine D’Ercole:

It definitely doesn’t matter. We need to have those conversations in the infield with each other, that you’re fine just the way you are and you have no idea what you’re capable of, just the way you are. We have to change that chatter, and really, really embrace real bodies, because they are far more powerful, and they’re far more capable of making us proud if we would simply, simply allow it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yep. That’s the hard part though. That’s where the work gets done.

Christine D’Ercole:

It requires risk taking, it requires people showing up as they are. It requires taking the risk of showing up, of doing something new, of not judging oneself, and entering the track, entering the space with curiosity, about one’s own capacity for a possibility. It requires bravery. But the more people who do that, it does become contagious, and over time will change the community, will change the environment, will change the atmosphere when more and more people do that.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think it requires conversations like this, it requires things like the Women’s Wednesdays. It’s the communication and the conversations that’s going to help change the conversation in one’s own head.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, let’s set that… We started with the deep dark side of things, we went right to the heart of the beast. But let’s turn the narrative. Because you said, let’s see the possibilities. Let’s grasp that topic now, because I love that topic of the possibilities. We had the great year of interruption, we had COVID, where I like to pretend that that year just didn’t actually happen. That it exists in a weird parallel universe. But 2021 is coming up, and hopefully things are a little better this year than they were last year. I think we have lots of reasons for optimism between vaccines and numbers coming down and more knowledge, more tools this year to be safe.

Joan Hanscom:

What I viewed as a year of great possibility, and again, we have an opportunity this year, more people than ever bought bikes during COVID. You can’t buy a bike in a bike store right now. You can’t buy parts for your bike. So many people went out and bought them. I think there was certainly a massive run on Peloton bikes.

Christine D’Ercole:

Yeah, there was a little one.

Joan Hanscom:

Maura herself is a living testament to that. I view this as a year of great possibility here at the track for just more people, more kids, more women, more men, more people, more families. But let’s talk about what you view as possible for you this year, in this great year of renewed possibility. What’s ahead for you, Christine in 2021?

Christine D’Ercole:

For me, I had the experience of actually being totally sidelined from my training for the past month. I was diagnosed with a squamous cell carcinoma. I had to go through its removal and the reconstruction around it on my face, smack in the middle. I literally was not allowed to move for three weeks. Now, I’m just coming back very, very, very carefully.

Joan Hanscom:

You look great, by the way. Our listeners can’t see you because we’re not a video podcast, but I can see you and you look terrific.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you, my glasses are hiding it, and I’m a little skilled with the makeup. But I was plowing through my training, and I actually, before this happened, a few weeks before the surgery, I was speaking with my coach Missy Erickson, the amazing Missy Erickson and I kept tweaking things. I tweak my elbow, I tweak my knee, I tweak my… Every other week, it was something that I had to modify and adapt for, and I was like, I need to shift gears.

Christine D’Ercole:

So, did things a little differently. I wasn’t able to lift what I wanted to lift, I wasn’t able to squat what I wanted to squat, and my headspace is going, oh boy, you’re supposed to be making gains now, you’re supposed to be building your base now, and you can’t right now. Then this happened. It’s been a big leap of faith to simply accept, this is where I am and I’m starting from scratch.

Christine D’Ercole:

I’m sure some base is still in there after as many years, as I’ve put into to cycling. However, I am starting with no expectations right now. I want to do nationals, I want to do worlds, I’m planning on showing up, but with a completely different attitude. I really had a hard time in 2019 at Nationals with my headspace, I really, really struggled with my chatter. From there to hear, I feel a tremendous shift in terms of actually being able to do what I say, what I preach about entering a space with curiosity and not judging yourself. Not judging yourself, on your own opinion of yourself or against anybody else’s opinion of you, or against anybody else’s times or power to weight.

Christine D’Ercole:

Coming in naked, basically. We’ll see what happens. But I plan on showing up. The thing that makes my heart race is, I want to stick with Masters to start, but I remember in 2018, when I came down, and there was UCI races and Masters races happening, and I remember thinking, well, I don’t do elite, I don’t do UCI. I’m not fast enough for that. Then I remember seeing several of the women who I had just raced with, do UCI races, and I said, oh, damn, you cannot ignore the fact that you were just in a race with those women, and you were hanging with them and doing well, doing great, and now they are hanging with the elites, then you have no excuse but to try to get out there and see what happens.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was that shift again of, okay, no expectations, let’s see what happens. There was that one UCI scratch race, and it was a C-1 race. I forget what the parameters are, but I think there were five countries present and cyclists of a certain caliber. There was a breakaway, and I found myself in a chase, literally found myself in a chase, it was on the girls’ wheel, and suddenly we were in the front of the pack, and I’m like, oh no, this is not what you… You think you’re a sprinter, sprinters don’t do this, they wait at the back, they don’t go for breakaways, and there I was, there we were, and we caught the girl who was ahead of us, we went by her. We kept very, very gracefully taking turns.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was such a beautiful experience of sportswomanship. Then the bell rang, and I found just a tiny bit of extra kick there as I came around, and I was in the front, there was no more sharing laps. This was to the death, and the pack was charging and Kim Geist is there and I think Rushlee Buchanan was there. I’m old enough to be some of their mom. Then I crossed the finish line first, and I won that UCI category one race against big, big, big deals.

Christine D’Ercole:

Then that other voice in my head says, will they let you go? Well, there is always this give and take of under estimating someone and it being a mistake.

Joan Hanscom:

That goes back to the earlier, it’s not just your FTP that wins bike races, your brain has to win bike races too.

Christine D’Ercole:

Exactly. That was such an empowering moment of not having any expectation at all and enjoying myself.

Joan Hanscom:

You just have to show up and let it go from there.

Christine D’Ercole:

Yep, you’ve got to show up… Showing up is gold.

Joan Hanscom:

Right? It’s funny that you say that, I mentioned earlier I had three big surgeries, two iliac artery reconstructions, and one other surgery. Those were in the fall of 2019. Obviously, when you have iliac arteries that are blocked or shut off, or you don’t get blood flow to your legs, which is exceedingly problematic, if you want to race bikes. It definitely impedes your performance. For years, I had had this building up of this iliac artery issue. Then I got them fixed. I finally got diagnosed, which, it’s a hard diagnosis to get. Finally got the diagnosis, finally had the big surgeries, was off the bike for 12 weeks, and was all looking forward to the 2020 season to come back and test the legs, and see, well, was it really the iliac arteries the reason why I was performing the way I was performing?

Joan Hanscom:

Then 2020 was not the year to test the legs. Another year has gone by, you’re a year older. I still want to test the legs this summer, myself, and it is that leap of, all right, can I show up and do it? And can I accept the consequences? Can I accept that either I’m going to have the legs that I think I’m going to have, because I had all this work done and I’ve tried hard in the time intervening to get back, or have too many years intervened where you weren’t a good bike racer to come back to it. Then it’s a real mental battle. But you got to show up to find out, you got to show up to get the answers.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fun to talk to you where you’re in a similar, although-

Christine D’Ercole:

Very similar place, yes.

Joan Hanscom:

I don’t recommend 12 weeks, by the way.

Christine D’Ercole:

My heart banged in my chest when you said 12 weeks. After a day or two of not moving, I’m always like, I would like to move.

Joan Hanscom:

I was allowed to walk. So, I became the world’s greatest walker, which is so not a bicycling thing. But I was going for QOMs on the local trail network, walking QOMs, which was ridiculous. I was going out and doing 12 mile walks after work in the dark with a headlamp on. I was like, “I’m going to get fit again.” I was out there walking my little heart out, because it was the only thing I was allowed to do. I tend to become a very, very unpleasant person if I don’t burn off my nervous energy, of which there is a lot.

Joan Hanscom:

I became a champion walker. At one point, I thought I should just do this, I’m really good at this. I could do race walking, I’m good at this thing.

Christine D’Ercole:

There’s a lot of people who have to change their modality. So many runners come to cycling because of running injuries.

Joan Hanscom:

Nobody goes the other way, though.

Christine D’Ercole:

Nobody goes the way though, this is true.

Joan Hanscom:

Nobody does that.

Christine D’Ercole:

I’ve been really inspired by a lot of Peloton riders who have had setbacks and been sidelined by limb loss, by replacement joints, and COVID itself. I read their stories, and it gives me perspective on my situation like okay. It becomes a mirror. We’re all going through the same thing, so many of us going through the same thing of trying to… First, how do you get to the starting line again, with a different body, with different lungs, with less limbs, or with changed situations, and how do you move around new scars, both mental and physical.

Christine D’Ercole:

If we, through this conversation can help encourage people to walk up to that line and acknowledge all of the fears that are running through your head, I am scared, I am petrified and also acknowledge that in that is, I am hopeful, I can try, I will begin. Use whatever framework one uses, that’s the framework that I use for myself. I am where I am, I can do something about it, here’s what I will do, and then do it.

Joan Hanscom:

I think the last one is the one that gets me right, is I will do it, I will do it. That’s the first step, and then it’s the second step, and it’s every day deciding to do every day. You got to get to the I do every day. My mom had MS for 60 years. She obviously struggled and suffered. It was painful. But she said, “You know, Joanie, I don’t get depressed. Every day, I get up and I move forward.” What a lesson, right?

Christine D’Ercole:

Absolutely.

Joan Hanscom:

Every day, you get up and you move forward. Some days are better than others, but they’re all days, and you can do something every day. Sometimes that might just be a very small thing. It doesn’t mean you set a new power record. It just means you do something. What that something is-

Christine D’Ercole:

It’s very powerful to not judge ourselves whether what we did was big or small.

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Christine D’Ercole:

It’s like putting in the base miles, and just keep going.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I know Maura over here, she’s my baby bike racer. I’m going to teach her how to race bikes this year.

Maura Beuttel:

I was one of the lucky ones to get a bike during COVID, which good.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s fantastic.

Maura Beuttel:

Joan has been taken me out and mentoring me and showing me the ropes, which has been great.

Christine D’Ercole:

I love it.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m going to turn her into a roadie. Sorry, track can’t have her. Need more roadies. But Maura, I think you’ve been doing the Peloton all through the COVID with Christine, what’s your experience been doing?

Maura Beuttel:

Getting the Peloton, and you take the first couple of classes, you take instructor here, instructor there, and just figuring out what kind of class you like, what instructors and stuff. I got really into Kendall Toole’s classes. She kicks my butt every day. Then I came across you I’m like, wait, she comes down and races at T-Town, I should take her classes, I know her through people, this is cool.

Maura Beuttel:

I took your class, and I was like, wow, this is just so… Everything, the self-talk. I’m coming into cycling from swimming, and just experiencing a lot of stuff that we’ve already talked about with the numbers and everything through that and coming into cycling, and I never used my legs in swimming at all. It’s great, coming into this and actually doing a sport where I can use them. But everything in your classes… I’ve actually taken all of your Haleakalā rides.

Christine D’Ercole:

I read that. Congratulations.

Maura Beuttel:

Thank you. They were really hard. I can’t imagine how you did it all together, five hours. Actually up a volcano, I’m sitting up in our Peloton room looking outside at three feet of snow and I’m like, I hate this, this is awful, and I wanted to quit so bad, and I was like, no, you’re not allowed to quit. If she can do it, all together, you can do it separately. You have 20 minutes to go.

Maura Beuttel:

The last 10 minutes or your final ride, I wanted to die. I was like, my legs can’t handle it anymore, I have nothing left. You had said at that point, you had switched your frame of mind from I am, I can, I will, I do, to don’t fucking stop, you asshole. I was like, yes, I have never resonated with something so much in my entire life. It’s like you put in over four hours of work, you have 10 minutes left to go, you just have to keep chugging along and doing the thing. It didn’t hurt that the last song you had was Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars. It was such a great song to finish with.

Maura Beuttel:

I finished that last hour and I’m sitting there on the bike and I’m crying because I’m like, oh my God.

Joan Hanscom:

She’s texting me by my [inaudible 00:44:41]

Maura Beuttel:

Yeah, and I’m texting her. Every day I’m like, oh, my output is this now and I actually had to retake my FTP because the first time I did it was all messed up. I know nothing about any of us right now. So, Molly Joan, I don’t know if this is good or not. She’s like, “No, you’re doing a great job. Thumbs up, keep going.” All the thumbs up.

Maura Beuttel:

But getting so close to something and wanting to quit at the end because you’re so drained, but the feeling of accomplishment, you’re so proud of yourself like, damn, I really did the thing. I can’t even imagine how you must have felt when you got to the top of that volcano and seeing the view, and just having it all be worth it.

Christine D’Ercole:

Well, you know, what was worth it was not the view of the vista, which was beautiful. But it was a different view of myself, and what I was capable of. I saw myself differently. Yeah, there were so many moments that I just wanted it to hurt less.

Maura Beuttel:

Well, and your bike wasn’t geared right either.

Christine D’Ercole:

No, that was… What a dumb mistake. For someone who’s been around bikes as long as I have, I’m not an expert by any means, but why… I’m sorry, but why didn’t the bike shop suggest, maybe you might want a different [inaudible 00:46:18] They were lovely, by the way, they were probably just busy. Also, people right up that volcano on completely inappropriate bikes, and it can be done. That challenge, it was humbling, and it made me proud at the same time.

Christine D’Ercole:

The relentlessness of it, which I tried very, very hard to impart on the rides, I did replicating it on Peloton that, it’s either steep or less steep, but you never really get a break, so you have to reframe what your break is. When you’re on a switchback where the stretch is a little bit less intense than the one before, you allow that, because you realize, you’re only at 3,000 feet, and there’s 10,000 to be covered. So often we start with so much ambition, and we just want to plow through it. I’m going to do this in four hours.

Christine D’Ercole:

I think one absolute elite professional guy did it in four hours with support and no stopping. We get excited about doing something like that, and go out of the gates too hard. One of the big things that climbing Haleakalā reinforced in me, taught me again, because I think we need to learn lessons over and over and over again, is patience, patience. In all of those moments where I heard the words in my head, wow, you know you don’t have to do this. Wow, your lower back is really fatigued. Your butt could use a break. But standing up is going to cost your thighs too much to give your butt the break.

Christine D’Ercole:

Letting those thoughts pass, and not getting stuck in them was something that I experienced. Yes, you’re feeling all of these things. It became very, like in Savasana in yoga where you’re lying there and your nose is itching, and the cue is don’t move and allow the sensations to pass. It happens in a bike race to me a lot. I’m like, oh my gosh, this hurts, that hurts. I can’t hold on to this intensity anymore.

Christine D’Ercole:

Catching yourself, refocusing shifting the words in your head, get back in the race, get back in the game, get back in the ride, focus on the top of the hill, focus not on what’s happening in the body, but focus on where you’re going. You’ve got to stay in the thing long enough to get to that point, to have that conversation, to change the chatter, to keep going. All of that conversation is how I got to the top of that volcano.

Christine D’Ercole:

I remember getting to where you can see the observation thing, the goal, the building that says 10,023 feet of elevation. Right before it is like a 10% incline, and you’ve got to be kidding me, you’ve got to be kidding me, how can you put that here? Then I found a way, because I wasn’t going to quit that close to surge up the top. After everything my body had been through, there is something about seeing that finish line that lights a fire.

Christine D’Ercole:

It was such a beautiful moment, it was such a beautiful moment. Changing that chatter, that moment when you flip the switch. I think that’s why I love racing so much, or cycling in general, because it gives me the opportunity to encounter those moments on a regular basis, and come out the other side proud.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s it. I think that’s the message that I want to leave our listeners with today. Is that… Or maybe potential listeners, maybe people who haven’t come out and raced yet, but somebody who does race is going to say, oh, you’ve been thinking about, you should listen to this podcast. For folks who haven’t come out and given a shot, whether it’s road or track or mountain bike or gravel, whatever the thing, if there’s a message to take away from this podcast today is that do the thing-

Christine D’Ercole:

Make yourself proud.

Joan Hanscom:

… experience the thing, and then have that moment at the end. Because if you have that moment at the end just once, you’re going to want to have that moment again. I remember the first marathon I ran, I was like, that last point too, I was just like, I hate this, I’m never doing this again, this is the worst thing ever. Why do people do this? This is barbaric.

Joan Hanscom:

The second I finished the line, I was like, when can I do it again? I even caught myself like, wow, that was a quick switch. Literally 10 steps ago, you were vowing never to do something this stupid ever again, and here you are saying when’s the next one I can sign up for, because that moment of the achievement, whether it’s crossing the line in your first crit, or doing your first race here at the track or doing a gravel race and finishing and having a really grand old time with the beer tent, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, but that experience of finishing the thing or Peloton ride for Maura, when she was texting me after stage five, it doesn’t matter what the thing is, but when you have the thing and you finish it, it feels so good.

Christine D’Ercole:

It feels so good.

Joan Hanscom:

It doesn’t matter if you did it the fastest, it doesn’t matter if you won or didn’t win, it doesn’t matter, you did the thing. I guess that would be out of this whole, I think rather beautiful long conversation is come out and do the thing. The moral of the story is-

Christine D’Ercole:

If you’re afraid of it, all the more reason. I think if we have inklings, maybe we thought about trying that once, that we’re obligated to our potential, we are obligated to our potential to listen to those inklings, take that risk, show up without judgment, see what happens, and when you realize you’re at that moment, wow, why did I do this?

Christine D’Ercole:

Then you get to that line, and you have that flip, you realize that making yourself proud becomes addictive, in the best way possible.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. That’s where we should end this conversation today, because we can’t hit a higher note. That’s the message of the day. Right, let’s hit that note, all, let’s go into 2021 looking for that, here at the track and we can’t wait to see you back down here.

Christine D’Ercole:

I cannot wait, it’s been way too long.

Joan Hanscom:

I hope you have another night where you can bring your fan club out, because that was brilliant.

Christine D’Ercole:

That’s so beautiful.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ll look forward to having the cheering section up in the stands, socially distanced and masked wearing, but still out to cheer, and it will be terrific. I cannot thank you enough for coming on the pod today and sharing our goal of 50-50 in 50. I think with a whole lot of voices like yours chiming in, we’ll get there. So, thank you so much.

Christine D’Ercole:

Thank you so much for having me. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with you.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. We look forward to bringing you more content like this. If you liked what you heard, please like, share, follow comment, it all helps us gain listeners. Please, if you did like the message today and you do have friends who are track curious, share this message with them, tell them to listen to this podcast and encourage folks to come out and try the thing and to get that same feeling of crossing the line or scaling the volcano. We look forward to seeing everybody here at the track.

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 the 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.