What's your background in racing?
I started “racing” in 2007 with alley cat messenger style racing in Pittsburgh. After many unsanctioned but seriously fun races around the city, I decided that I wanted to compete on a closed course - something where cars weren't trying to hit you. I entered my first cyclocross race at the local “Month of Mud” series and was awoken to the world of actual racing. From there I trained and raced as much as possible - traveling all around North America collecting lots of experience and some good results . Those results earned me my pro mountain bike license and category 1 cyclocross license. Most of my experience is in cyclocross and mountain bike racing but I did jump in both feet to road racing for a couple of years - which was an experience unto itself.
What made you decide to start coaching?
I have always liked talking and connecting with people and sharing skills that I’ve accumulated over the years. After helping some of my friends with simple coaching plans, I decided - this is for me. Helping people reach their goals and make progress is a massive perk of coaching; that rewarding feeling is worth the work. I set out to tap every resource I had to help me learn the craft and better my understanding of coaching athletes to success.
You're balancing a family and coaching similarly to how many of your athletes may be balancing a family and racing: what are ways you make it all work?
Firstly, you need to hash out your objectives and goals with your family as well as your coach. Without the support of your family, training and racing can be very hard, so laying out the best way to achieve your goals and mark out some key “must have” events are paramount. I’m a fan of bringing the family into your training and cycling habits. My four-year-old son and I do core workouts and we do family recovery rides together. It’s nothing crazy but it allows us to connect and lets you take a break from the rigors of training and remember why I’m doing it all. We all train and race for some reason, finding that reason makes your practice more accessible and more thoughtful throughout the season.
How do you bring a unique advantage to your athletes?
I like to think that I give them peace of mind, knowing that I’m here to talk to and support them 100%. At Cycle-Smart we have some of the cycling world’s best minds to bounce questions off of and get feedback for clients. I like to think that any problem or situation that an athlete is dealing with, we can help and turn that into fuel to go faster and train harder. There is nothing that we can’t solve and work though. We have access to the best, and that's what our athletes get; the best.
If you defined your coaching style, what would it entail?
Communicative and positive. I like to look at the whole picture when coaching an athlete. I look at the occupation, life stress, goals and available time to train. When an athlete is in a proper headspace and thinking positively they will perform much better and have more passion to train. If they are stressing to get a two-hour ride in after a long day on their feet at work, that’s not worth it. I take all that into consideration when talking goals and writing programs for my athletes. I’m a big proponent of feedback and staying connected, and I try to instill positivity and mindfulness into their training, enabling more successful outcomes in training and daily life.
What's the last book you read?
A recent book I re-read was “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor E. Frankl. The inventor of logotherapy, Frankl discusses his experiences – what helped him survive in a concentration camp and shows the reader how you can – and must – find meaning in your life. The book is very inspirational and puts the small inconveniences of our daily life into perspective, a must read for all.
Meat Free Athlete - they cover lots of issues that come up for vegetarian and vegan athletes as well as incorporate views from across the athletic world - Its commonplace for the host to interview an athlete with a running background and then move to an MMA fighter, I love hearing all the different ways these athletes train and eat.
What events are you most looking forward to this season?
This season will be bittersweet to me; last October after winning the PA State Elite Cyclocross Championships a close friend an I were involved in a car crash where I broke my femur entirely in half. After surgery and rest, I started rehab and walking without assistance. Now I’m riding my bike outside and learning to train again in hopes of hitting the regional and national races in the late summer. Coming back from this injury is very hard both mentally and physically but has given me the understanding and experience of starting from zero and working back to form. The bitter part of the injury is still there, but the sweet part is knowing that I can still ride and still do the things I love with my family, I will never take those things for granted again.