Headshot


As we head into the grand finale of this year’s racing season, there is so much momentum behind women’s cycling. You might have even seen some of the events during the Rio Olympics, I can say that I almost wore myself hoarse shouting at the screen!   

I’m super excited have Michael Engleman of Mission Sports Group with me on this episode to be talking about the movement of women’s cycling and how he’s working to turn all of this momentum into growth and sponsorships.

Michael’s telling stories about individual cyclists and inspirational stories of teams that are being built, because stories sell.

He’s sharing how to get these stories out, and how to use narrative to approach sponsors and investors. Sometimes, you have to present them with an idea for their brand identity they hadn’t even thought of!        

For anyone interested in trying to expand the reach and interest of their industry, or anyone like me who just loves women’s cycling, this episode is for you!

Bravery in Business Quote

“You’re trying to change the world, not just capture a bigger piece of the market that’s already there.” – Michael Engleman

(click to tweet)

Cliff Notes

 

  • Michael Engleman, founder and owner of Mission Sports Group, a company that supports women’s cyclists
  • It doesn’t matter where you start your company as long as you know how to get the resources you need.  Michael runs Missions Sports group out of a small town in Colorado, but there are a lot of intellectual and technological resources for him to tap into.
  • Women’s cycling right now is full of big personalities and stories and cyclists with their own angles and ideas. This makes the industry more interesting to cover and to follow, generating momentum.
  • Use stories to build interest and involvement with your company. Local bike shops can be connected with youth programs, but without someone (like Michael) to get this story out, no one will know.
  • Being passionate about what you’re selling will make you a good salesperson, more than just being good at talking about it. People notice and connect with authenticity.
  • Show prospective investors and/or sponsors the potential in getting involved with your industry. Pitch them how this is an opportunity for new markets, or to expand their brand identity in ways not previously considered.
  • Momentum makes change happen faster. Women’s cycling is a smaller industry than men’s, but with all the stories coming out of it, the rate at which more people get involved and grow the market is changing quickly.

 

“I think those of us that believe in the sport and those of us that see the story, need to start telling it in a bigger way.” – Michael Engleman

(click to tweet)

Resources:

MissionSportsGroup.com

 

Total Women’s Cycling coverage of Team Africa Rising:

TotalWomensCycling.com

 

Jason Gay WSJ article on Mara Abbott

WSJ.com/articles

Transcription (click to expand)

[INTERVIEW START]

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Michael Engleman, welcome to the Intrepid Entrepreneur Podcast.

Michael Engleman: Thank you very much, Kristin.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It’s so great to have you here. I consider you a good friend. I totally respect everything you’ve done for women’s cycling. I’m obviously a stalwart supporter of cycling and women’s cycling. But you’ve really have done such a great job, and I’m so happy to share you with my audience here today to talk about your company, Mission Sports Group, to talk about Amy D., Tour of the Gila, Team Africa Rising–we have a lot to cover. And the timing is really great as we’re kind of winding through the important end races of the season, getting to an important point of gathering for the bicycle industry and interbike. And I just think this is a great opportunity for us to just chat about what you’ve been up to.

Michael Engleman: I really appreciate this. Thank you so much.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So I have to start, just because you are a passion-driven entrepreneur living in an awesome little town in Southwest Colorado which sounds very similar to myself, can you talk with us about how you ended up in your little town and how you founded Mission Sports Group?

Michael Engleman: Well, I probably ended up here partially my parents were here. I grew up in Texas. And as a professional cyclist, I was all over the place. But I think if you come down to Southwest Colorado, it’s pretty difficult to not try to find a way to make a living here. What’s interesting with Durango and Cortez, there’s a lot of intellect, a lot of kind of technology here. So there’s quite a few resources for kind of being out of the way. Maybe the worst resource is airport. But it’s not all bad. It’s a nice, quiet long drive to get to anywhere. Or a couple Hopper flights.

And then the genesis of Mission Sports Group was–I worked for USC Cycling, left in 2004, and kind of went to USC Cycling and just said, “There’s so much women’s talent in the U.S. I mean, how do we really just go after it? It’s out there. There’s so many people doing good work–finding talent and developing talent. We shouldn’t kind of wait for them to rise up. We should go find them earlier, work with them longer. So it kind of gone to USC cycling to say, “How do we do this? Can we do four little mini national team, composite teams around the year?” It didn’t kind of work so I started a program called the U.S. Women’s Cycling Development Program, which is basically just a series of composite teams and things to help athletes find what they need.

The biggest issue I found at USC Cycling when I was there when we do these [inaudible]–the biggest question was the athletes had is: if I have a question, who do I call? And there wasn’t one answer for that so I started the USWCP. We worked with some really good athletes. Lauren Hall and [Krista McGrath and Mara Abbott and Allison Powers?]. It was brilliant to do. It was so rewarding. The difficult part, the frustrating part was sponsorship and credit for the athletes. So hard to get funding, so hard to keep anything continuing. So in 2012, I basically went to people we work with. People that believe in the athletes, believed in the sport, and had always tried to help. We kind of have a global network–medical, legal, sports, science, equipment. And kind of said, “Why don’t we try to start up for profit [inaudible] of the USWCP?”

And that was kind of the genesis of Mission Sports Group. It took us a number of years to really start to connect with companies that kind of jumped on full board. We have an agreement with DECA Sportswear, the old Belgian sportswear brand to open this business in the U.S., and they will sponsor women’s teams. So that was probably one of the first ones that really started to tip things. And as you know, I’ve worked with Tour of the Gila for years as well. So that’s kind of opened doors. So we tried to–rather than say, “I need you to sponsor this athlete or sponsor this team,” we’re trying to figure out how to get kind of the positive people in the room to say, “How do we change the whole sport?” While my cliché has always been, “You know, we’re all fighting over a piece of pie when we should be building a whole new bakery.” And I think–

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Oh, I love that. That is an awesome statement.

Michael Engleman: Well, in the sense, it’s not that hard. I think there’s always everybody struggling to keep the athlete that they signed as far as teams go. Coaches don’t want to lose all the credit with their athlete when they move up. But if we’re all taking care of the start to finish, I think it starts to work better.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Tell me that, Michael, do you see that in other countries such as Europe? Are women cyclists more supported over there?

Michael Engleman: Well, I think as far as Europe goes, there’s so many teams so close together. So you go to a race and there’s 180 women there. In the U.S., it’s such a vast country, it’s kind of spread out. The support is there, it’s still struggling all sides. I don’t think it’s good over there and bad over here. It’s still a work in progress. There’s times, I think a few years ago, I would have said, “Well, you know, women’s cycling is where men’s cycling was in the ‘70s, but it’s not a 40-year process, it’s accelerating. You look at what American women have done in Europe and what European women have done coming over here, and I think with some more big races in the U.S., more European women coming here, and I think the fans are going to want to see the big names here just like they would want to see the men.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So let’s talk about the fans because this is the first year, and you know that I have always–well, not always–for about four years now, I’ve been super obsessed with road cycling and road racing. And I actually started to watch the UCI women’s updates and videos on the channel on the UCI online channel, and I actually got to know most of the women–I follow the Olympics closely, like it was really a turning point for me. And then, of course we got to the [inaudible], I couldn’t find where to watch that anywhere. I mean, it wasn’t on that I could find. Maybe I’m being an idiot, but point being is I actually got super into it. It’s very entertaining. The personalities are all there, all the components are there.

Michael Engleman: It’s true. Well, you know on the race, it’s spectacular–it’s funny as soon as you start talking about that, I started cringing. It’s like, “I know what she’s going to say because it’s so hard to find anything.” And that’s what the fans are saying. “Why doesn’t UCI even get it?” And the other part of that is yes, I work on so many sides of things. Team director, coach, all those things. And I kind of see all sides and say, well, I always try to give everybody an out, but I do think if there was a way for more fans to follow, the fanbase would grow so quickly. I mean, just look at the Olympic road race.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Michael Engleman: Oh, boy.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Well, no. I think it’s actually–I would like to just hear your opinion on it because honestly, I don’t think–I actually lost my voice from yelling at the TV, wanting to cheer Mara Abbott on. And I think so many other people did as well. But give us your take. You’re such a great person to ask about this. What did you think of the women’s Olympic road race this year?

Michael Engleman: It was spectacular. I mean, it was tactical. It’s always interesting with the Olympics because it’s not huge teams. It’s different countries working together even though they may be raced on trade teams. So one thing that’s interesting, I don’t think it’s really been said a lot is two of the three women that chased Mara down were on our trade team. So it just makes for an interesting part of the story. I mean, obviously, they’re racing for their countries as they should. But sitting there watching it as a director and a coach, you’re always looking–you’re running through your brain on what you think’s going to happen. And I remember seeing Mara having [inaudible] to go in 32 seconds. I was like, “Oh, she’s going to win.” It was that close. But you’re thinking, “Okay, if she doesn’t crash–if this person was in that break then this is going to change that.” But basically, I’m doing the same as you. I’m on the floor, slapping my hands on the floor going, “Go, Mara, go!”

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It was a moment, for sure. I mean, I’ll never forget it as long as I live. It was incredible. And I thought that there was some good press that came out after it, and I know that a lot of people in our community felt like it was going to be a flash in the pan and then gone because with the Olympics, oftentimes that happens with the first events. By the time the Olympics wraps up, people forget about it. This is not something that people have stopped talking about.

Michael Engleman: [inaudible] and they haven’t. And Mara is so well-spoken. First of all, just her interview post. And then I don’t know if you’ve seen the articles she did in the Wall Street Journal.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I did, with [inaudible]. That was fantastic.

Michael Engleman: Yeah. And that’s Mara.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I’ll put a link to that in the show notes so everybody else can see it, too.

Michael Engleman: Yeah. And anybody that knows Mara can just hear her saying every single one of those words. And having known Mara for many years, I know it’s been a struggle for her. And working within the sport, as a coach, and even having been an athlete, I know exactly how she feels exactly. And the parts about not getting it back. But as a fan, as someone standing back where we are, you want to tell her how huge it was. That more people are going to remember that. And it doesn’t ring with her yet but it’s [inaudible] with so many other people. I think if she had stood up there–she’s not going to want to hear this. We’re not saying this tomorrow, but stand up on the podium with the medal would be huge. And people would remember that, too, but I think this whole–what the athletic endeavor is about was totally explained there.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Right. Well, tell us what you mean by that.

Michael Engleman: Well, there’s so many failures. I mean, in sports. I think, as coaches, you’re always saying, “Well, man, you learn from your failures so much better than your successes sometimes.” And that’s not one that Mara should have to learn from, but the rest of us learns something. And what’s huge about sport. And obviously, I know Mara. I know her mentality. Like so many of the other women, and I think I’ve–I work with Amber Pierce who I just adore. She’s brilliant. She went to Stanford and she said, “If people knew us, they’d be more involved.” And I think, Mara is the same way. They’re all such strong personalities and so smart. So to see, to know what Mara felt adds a little bit more to it. But usually, in cycling, the athletes are pretty approachable. But to know how much work it takes to go to the Olympics and to know what it’s like to get that close, and then to deal with it, is all part of what life’s about. And whether it’s business or relationships or whatever, it’s a story that hits you between the eyes. Those aren’t always pleasant, but man, you remember them.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Tell me a bit–Mara’s experience. Is it going to help us build a new bakery?

Michael Engleman: I do. I’m actually pretty positive right now, and I don’t. I’m an optimistic pessimist, that’s really my mentality.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That is actually a perfect way of describing yourself now that I’ve known you a little bit.

Michael Engleman: Yeah. And it’s a struggle. The worst time I have during any 24-hour period is 2:00 AM because I always work up to 2:00 AM, stressed and worried and concerned and frustrated. I can’t get on my phone or my iPad or my computer, but I try not to. But once I get up in the morning, I tend to be pretty hopeful. I’m seeing things going the right direction.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I feel like that’s happening, too. And for somebody’s who’s gotten into this–I mean, probably before 2004, but you left USC Cycling at that time to kind of put a stake in the ground, it sounds like, looking at last, I guess what is that? 12 years. You’re feeling positive, probably more positive than pessimistic right now, I would think.

Michael Engleman: I think it feels like there’s momentum sounds kind of big. There’s motion in the right direction. I think motion from a lot of different directions. Not just about a team or a race or USC Cycling or anything. It seems like it’s coming from all directions. It’s just a matter of putting pieces together.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Pointing the arrows in the right direction is what I like to call it. So what are those arrows? Because my listeners might want to take action or learn more about this.

Michael Engleman: Well, when you look at anything, I mean, there’s so many programs in the U.S. If you go to your local bike shop and ask what there is for kids, a lot of places have something. But take Amy D. as an example, it’s something that basically day in, day after, Amy was killed to try to make a difference. Well, it’s starting to steamroll as far as empowering girls or kids or women on bikes. And it’s funny. There’s a certain amount of–[inaudible] when’s the tour. It’s about his team. Or if [inaudible]. It’s funny. I had this kind of conversations with some press people about how to steer things toward women. I say, “Well, I always get this feeling when I’m talking to some companies that they’re asked about Mara and then they’re gone, “Okay, let’s go see what [inaudible] is doing.”

It’s like, “But I think that’s starting to change. I think the personalities are growing.” So whether it’s Amy D. or whether it’s 2016, or any of the other teams, they’re all trying to reach board than just go under a race and get on a podium. I mean, I’ve always thought this with women. They’re mostly concerned with what their voice is going to be from the podium, not just standing up there and getting their picture. I know Mara’s is adamant about that, and Amber, Amber [inaudible] is. She does bike programs for kids. So whether it’s helping kids get on bikes or whether it’s working on environmental issues or fitness, it just all comes into place. And I think, working with [inaudible], the German company, we really just went to them.

I love [inaudible]. I think it’s a great way to get boys or girls excited about cycling. It’s pretty safe, we just need more [inaudible], and we’re really high-end writable [inaudible]. So when we went to the Germans, we said, “Is there a way we can help get more [inaudible] to the U.S.?” And we have some ideas. So they’re basically going to open an office and a warehouse facility in Southwest Colorado. They’re working on some new designs for [inaudible] in the U.S. And the point to this is it’s not just tracks, but what else it’s brought to the table, which a wood company called the [Koya?]. And then Universal Forest Products which is a large milling facility. And they’re like, “We didn’t even know this wood was used for tracks, and we never even really thought about cycling too much.”

So it’s kind of drawn other attention to the sport that from companies with–I wouldn’t say deep pockets but certainly have seen the value of associated with the sport. And obviously, I want to drive it from the women’s side, but I’m still really about cycling.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Yeah. That actually will build a bigger bakery right there because you’re bringing in some larger companies and you’re indoctrinating them into the fact that they actually could create some ownership around something they create, and it’s part of their revenue stream, obviously, and their brand identity. And they can tie it with something that I think is really in demand in the United States. It’s just a matter of taking the obstacles away from people stepping into the sport. Because that’s what I think problems with the sport have been in terms of the high-end facet of the sport which we’re even seeing from the Olympics. We’re looking at the pros. But we all have that feeling of knowing that feeling of Christmas morning when you get your first bike, and you still get that when you’re an adult. That never goes away, right? So I feel like it’s something we actually have a lot of opportunity to reengage the population here. On this, if we–maybe this [inaudible] initiative is exactly what we need. It’s one less obstacle for them to go try something out.

Michael Engleman: Yeah. Whether it’s [inaudible] or BMX. I’m a huge fan of cyclo-cross, too. Go out and ride on the field. It’s pretty interesting to talk to a company that’s never even thought about cycling. And you start to explain it to them, and they get excited. Though you know what’s really cool about this is both the [Koya?] US and Universal Forest Products, the people I work with at both these companies are women. So first of all, they get maybe the side of where we’re trying to go. But I just think it shows a lot about the direction the world’s going.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: You mean, the actual executive leadership team is led by–

Michael Engleman: That’s certainly what I deal with as far as the Koya in the US is [inaudible], and she’s awesome.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s so cool.

Michael Engleman: I mean, I’m not pro or anti either sex, it’s just sometimes it’s easier to sit down with someone and start to get the motion going in the right direction. I’m just saying it’s always easier with women. They certainly have to look at a bottom line and go back to their marketing team the same way a man does. But I think the person I deal with at Universal Forestry Products is also a cyclist, so.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s great. So tell me about this. Because I think one of the things we’ve talked about over the years is just the importance of getting the stories out there and create that emotional engagement whether it’s around a Mara Abbott or an Amy D. Foundation and a team, 2016 team, etc. I do feel like that’s something that even in the men’s cycling world right now, we just don’t have a lot of those personalities. I even talked with other people in the industry, that’s not only my opinion. But there really are a lot of great personalities and stories with female cyclists right now.

Michael Engleman: Oh, tons. I mean, I was the pro cyclist. I mean, we kind of have a [inaudible] kind of have our–not ego, but you kind of have the life you do. You talk about the race, you talk about your training, and you go home. People like Mara, they’re going to have a totally different angle on the story that’s so entertaining. And they’re such interesting people writing about cycling, honestly. I love Bonnie Ford. She’s such a brilliant writer for ESPN. Sarah Connely who does the podcast. She’s just the funniest thing in broadcast. I mean, she should be on TV, you know what I mean? I think there’s a lot of pieces that–it’s not about there’s something wrong with the story, there’s just people haven’t been made aware of the story yet. And I think that’s what’s coming.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Right. I feel like that’s coming, too. That’s a very exciting feeling right there. And I think some of the things that are making the tide turn is the fact that we actually have capabilities now to really target those stories to audiences through different things like social media, etc. There are more points of entry, I think, that could enable somebody to discover it and identify with it.

Michael Engleman: I agree. It’s interesting–with my mind goes a thousand miles an hour. I’m really, really good at thinking outside the box and really poor being inside the box. So I’m always trying to think, “Okay, how do I get this story on a different way I haven’t thought before?” And it’s not really my expertise but I’m running across people that either getting excited about the story or saying, “Hey, have you ever thought about telling it this way?” You’ve known me a little while. I’m not much of a self-promoter but I certainly believe in–I sat in front of a big company one time, talking to the CEO about all this. And I go, “I’m not a salesman.” He goes, “No, you’re a great salesman because you believe in what you’re selling.” But I think those of us that believe in the sport and those of us that see the story, need to start telling it in a bigger way. I think we are, it’s just a little bit of a tide turning.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I think you’re sitting on some of the most exciting stories. So we’ve touched on Amy D., is there anything else that you’d like to share with my audience on just the trajectory of Amy D.?

Michael Engleman: Well, it’s funny. It’s kind of a small town. If you know Dan, you know Amy. They were both super smart and very humble. And I think they’re both–Dan’s really starting to see this idea. He can really make a huge change. And our big story is, with Team Africa Rising and Kimberly Coats which comes out of Team Rwanda. Kimberly is just a hero for women’s cycling. She works out of Rwanda, she’s been working to get more African women racing bikes. So her goal is to do an African women’s team. She approached me 3 or 4 months ago, and just asked for a little bit of help. And I had really decided to retrieve a little bit from being involved, just on the race side of things even though that’s–

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I remember. You’d keep trying to leave and you get rubber banded right back in.

Michael Engleman: Well, I think I’ve kind of come to the point. I guess there’s a purpose to that so I should stop fighting it.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: You might be right on that.

Michael Engleman: I’m so excited to work with them. I mean, it’s just exactly why I love women’s cycling. Tt’s just the story behind the story. There’s going to be so many stories here with women from different African nations certainly breaking the grounds. And Amy D.–I kind of went to Dan and the board and Amy D. and said, “This is such a brilliant story.” And Dan just jumped all over it. He said, “This is exactly what Amy D. is all about.” So they made an invitation to one of the writers, [inaudible] from [inaudible] to come race with Amy D. at the Green Mountain Stage Race this September. So we’re just kind of in the throngs of the logistics of making that happen.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That is really exciting.

Michael Engleman: Yep. Flying from Africa to Boston, Massachusetts and spend a few days in Boston and hopefully do a little press, and then go up and race with the Amy D. Team. And yeah, there’s more stories coming to this team. Unfortunately, I can’t say right this moment, but it’s pretty exciting stuff. I think it’s going to be huge. It’s certainly a global story. It’s certainly a story about empowering women. But I think it’s just another example of–the stories of women’s cycling. Whether it’s a small team in Boston or an African UCI team, it’s just huge progress. It makes me so happy.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I can hear it in your voice, that you really do sound like–whether or not we’re out of precipice or whether or not the movement is huge or not, hearing it in your voice makes me feel like something’s taking hold in a shift that’s happening. And I also just think it’s really important to point out the fact that I think 2016 has been a really big year. Unfortunately, I think that the industry looks at sales only and they’re like, “Oh, it really hasn’t been that big of a year.” And our bike companies aren’t seeing the potential momentum here, but we are getting some corporations that see it, which is super exciting.

Michael Engleman: Well, I’ve always said this. We can’t keep feeding on ourselves. It’s all been the bakery mentality, but we can’t keep going to buy companies [inaudible] sponsor one more team. I need you to just throw in $1M. I do have frustrations with a few bike companies that have said things to me, like, “Well, we already sell tons of bikes to women. We don’t have a team, why should we sponsor a team?” It’s like, well, because, you’re trying to change the world, not just capture a bigger piece of the market that’s already there. But I do see bike companies thinking outside of the box a little more. And I see as why we’ve gone to some of the European companies we did because they totally understand cycling in Europe. They grew up with it.

And they don’t understand cycling in America but they’re saying, “Well, if there’s that many millions of fans in Europe, there should be millions of fans in the U.S. maybe they just don’t know their fans yet.” So whether it’s DECA or [inaudible] or anybody else we’re starting to talk to, I think. And who knows what will come out of Africa? Team Africa Rising will race in the U.S. So they will be here at times. And hopefully, the story will come first so people will want to come see the team. And whether it’s [inaudible] team or [inaudible] team or Team Africa Rising, it’s all athletes racing an international sport. So…

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s the story. The other thing that I was going to tell you, because obviously, you’re male and I’m female, but we both share this love of cycling and furthering women in the sport, last year when we were researching the panels for interbike that we do for Verde on increasing the participation within your community of female cyclist of all ages, Selene Yeager was somebody I interviewed, who’s the columnist for Bicycling, and an author, and a pro-athlete, I believe, cyclist. But she said something that I’ll never forget. She said, “Get a woman on a bike or give a woman a bike or get a woman hooked on cycling, and watch her life change.” Women literally become crazy advocates–tell everybody they know who may be interested. Because a very, very different experience of being empowered, I believe, but I could be completely wrong because I’m female. But I really feel like that–when we are able to connect the stories of the women that you’re talking about on the pro-circuit, with the people who are maybe just starting to scratch the surface of developing a cycling identity, that’s when I think the rubber’s really going to meet the road.

Michael Engleman: And I agree. Cycling is very empowering. And to get on a bike, and first you ride 10 miles and then you ride 50 miles, the next thing you know, you’re doing a century and you can go anywhere you want. The difference for the men is it’s a little easier for them to maybe jump into the group. Where with the women, there’s less of a group. Or it’s harder to find that group. But I think that’s changing, and it’ll change faster. There’s so many interesting stories that I know of with pro women that got their moms on bikes and what that did for them. There’s a great one–I should send you the link. Amber Pierce has got one of the best ones about getting her mom on a bike. And I think, she actually put her on one of those electric assist bikes to start with.

But the point is it doesn’t matter if it’s your six-year-old daughter or your mom or your grandmother. The whole thing of getting on a bike is just so brilliant, and it’s just about how to do it. And yes, I think there’s always been these stories about women not feeling comfortable even going into a bike shop. And I think bike shops are getting more aware of that. But it is hard to figure out where to start. Though it’s funny having been on the sport for 31 years, it seems so easy. It’s like, it’s really simple. Let’s go get a bike and I’ll show you.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Right. But it isn’t that easy for other people, for sure. But you’re right, I feel like that part is changing as well. And we have 80% buying power in our households so I think people are starting to put two and two together on the industry side as well, which is exciting to see.

Michael Engleman: It is. And it’s great that the awareness is becoming there. It’s probably still on women a lot to drive things, but within the sport–and I think the women pros are certainly up for the task. It’s–I think you and I talked about this before. It’s a busy world. It’s really hard to take the time sometimes [inaudible] tell your story or to do the labors. And it’s always impressive to me when people like Amber Pierce do her–[inaudible] to be program. That really does the extra work to get kids on bikes. So there’s just so much good out there. And I think, as the stories come out, as the people get to know the athletes, they’re going to want to follow them.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And that’s something that I think we have to keep up after the Olympics and after this year with the whole UCI thing. We just have to figure out ways to promote that. So my audience is full of motivated doers who really are proactive and who fall in love with causes and really want to root for women’s cycling, I believe. So can you tell them where they might go to plug into this a little bit more? I mean, obviously, you’ve got your website at missionsportsgroup.com, but where else might you send somebody who might be curious about learning more about what you’re doing to advocate for women’s cycling or just the movement you’re seeing in women’s cycling?

Michael Engleman: Well, I mean, if you follow some of the riders like Bonnie Ford of the ESPN W or–and even USC Cycling. I mean, every federations has its pluses and its minuses. But it’s certainly a place to understand where to rally things around. I’m a huge fan, obviously, of Amy D. but I think one thing we need to do within the sport is promote other programs that are doing what Amy D. does. So lots of times, local bike shops are connected whether it’s youth programs or can connect you with something else outside of the area. That the stories are going to grow. I still feel like it’s on people like me to help get those stories out. It’s funny with Facebook, even when we started the DECA US Facebook site–so far it’s just been about telling the US DECA’s here.

But we’re trying to push those stories that go with it more. To be honest, I would tell everybody that–oh, I can’t remember Sarah Connely’s website. I’m really bad. It’s so funny. She’s got so much of the funny inside stories of the sport. If somebody wants to get on a bike, it’s really not that hard. For that matter, if you go to the Mission Sports Group website, my phone number’s on there. Call me. I will connect you. Everyday we’re working with athletes who’ll call and just say, “I want to get on a team. How do I do it?” Or have somebody call, like, “How do we get a better bike fit?” Those are a little more complicated, but I can certainly send people in the right direction. I think–and this is what usually happens. If your mom and your dad are baseball fans, you’re probably going to grow up being a baseball fan. If your mom and dad are cycling fans, you’re probably going to be a cycling fan. So I think this is all growing. And this doesn’t mean that we miss the generation. I think that generation is still recruitable. So, yeah. It’s–

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I need to ask you one thing before we wrap up here. So obviously, the Tour of the Gila is a huge part of my heart. It was like the first stage race I’ve ever done. I went into it totally terrified, to be honest, because I went to it as one of the first races I’d ever done. And people were like, “You’re crazy, you should never have your first criterium be the Tour of the Gila especially in [inaudible]. and I was like, “Whatever, I’m going to go do this.” We had the time of our life. We came home with a puppy. I can’t even tell you the emotional engagement I have with that race. Can you tell me about what you’re brewing up for October of this year, 2016, around the Tour of the Gila?

Michael Engleman: Well, the Tour of the Gila organizations–I mean, it’s fun to me, too. It’s just amazing the race that a small bike shop and a small community puts together every year. One of the best races in the country. It’s been one of my passions to try to get that word out more. And to be honest, I think it’s such a brilliant women’s road race. It’s really my push to help Jack and his crew get more sponsorship for that. But the organization every year in October has a grand fund [inaudible], which they call the grand fondue. So they have fondue pots in every stop.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: So fondue [inaudible].

Michael Engleman: It’s the Gila Monster Gran Fondo. It should be up on their website soon. I think if you go to tourofthegila.com and you click on “Races,” you can go down, the grand fondue will be up there. But it’s October 8th, it’s the classic small town experience. And my goal this year had been to really expand the race. There’s so many [inaudible] fans whether it’s Tucson or El Paso or Austen or Albuquerque or even Four Corners. They could go down there and do that. And I’m really pushing hard my goals to get more the women pros from kind of my [inaudible] and just before. I’ve invited Inga Thompson and Ruthy Matthes. And asked Connie and Davis Phinney to come, and I think it’s their wedding anniversary, which is a pretty good excuse, I guess. And we’re asking men, too. This isn’t a–all the women pros. But the coolest thing about the personalities the women–is their personalities. So if you can go ride with some women pros from prior generations in Silver City in October…

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Why wouldn’t you?

Michael Engleman: Why wouldn’t you. Exactly. And there’s 3 or 4 different distances on the advance. You don’t have to do the whole thing. I mean, if I’m there, I’m driving a car.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And it is truly one of the most beautiful locations ever. It really is. You had me at Ruthy Matthes. That’s all I needed to hear.

Michael Engleman: Isn’t Ruthy awesome?

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: She is.

Michael Engleman: If you stumble across her in town, tell her she has to go. I’m driving her down there. We actually talked about that because I think there’s a group coming from LA in a van. Like one of the clubs is piling in, and they talked about the same from Tucson. So why wouldn’t we do one from Durango-Cortez? Let’s just all get in a mini bus and go down there and tell stories all the way down.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That would be awesome. Well, I’m in.

Michael Engleman: Okay, good. [inaudible].

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Okay, cool. Well, it was wonderful to connect with you. This has been a really fantastic conversation. And I look forward to actually bringing you back on when you can, divulge a little bit more about Team Africa Rising and give us maybe more of an update as we head into the new season in 2017 around maybe how some of the trajectory and movement you’ve seen has jelled and is setting us up for maybe a bigger year next year.

Michael Engleman: Thrilled to talk to you anytime. Thank you so much, Kristin.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Thank you.

Michael Engleman: Bye.

[INTERVIEW END]

Join the Conversation

comments