How often have you quit something, only to come back to it? When you’re driven by passion for an idea, it keeps coming back until you get it right.

Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong is sharing why she retired twice from the sport, and how she came back each time to win again. We’re getting into making goals, prioritizing your time, and creating your own solutions to the changes life throws at you.

This is actually a conversation we had before Kristin won gold in the 2016 Olympics, which makes it a fascinating look into what she was doing to prepare for what led to her Olympic success this year.

Kristin’s also sharing how she and her husband got the idea for their startup K-Edge, and where the company is heading next. They’re listening to their customers!

This is such a great episode about mental toughness, creative solutions, and learning to say “No.” You won’t want to miss it!

Bravery in Business Quote

“There are things you have to decide that are essential and things you have to remove from your life” – Kristin Armstrong

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Cliff Notes:

  • Kristin Armstrong is a three time Olympic gold medalist in cycling in 2008, 2012, 2016.  She has retired from cycling twice and both times was brought back by her love of cycling.
  • It takes mental toughness to succeed. Iron will is required to set your sights on a goal and then make it through all the little steps to get yourself there.
  • When something isn’t working, adapt. Life circumstances change, so you need to be willing to adjust your plan to your current situation in order for it to success.
  • Don’t be afraid to remove things from your life. You can’t do everything, so decide which things are the most important to you and prioritize.
  • Don’t let in the outside noise. Focus on the task in front of you and don’t feel the need to explain yourself to your critics.
  • Create your own solutions to problems. Kristin and her husband designed a chain catcher to prevent her from losing the chain on her bike during competitions.
  • Listen to your customers and know where the market is heading. K-Edge has expanded to provide solutions to other issues that cyclists have, some in response to questions and ideas from customers.

“The most important thing is you have to enjoy your journey” – Kristin Armstrong

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Transcription (click to expand)


Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Welcome, Kristin Armstrong. It is awesome to have you as my guest today on the Intrepid Entrepreneur. Where are you calling in from today?

Kristin Armstrong: I’m here in Boise, Idaho.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Ah, you’re home. That must feel great.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah, it is. It’s my favorite time of the year. It’s when all the leaves are changing and there’s a little bit of cool weather coming in, but it just, to me, is relaxing.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Yes. And this is “the offseason.” For anybody who’s in the pro-cycling scene, is that correct for you as well?

Kristin Armstrong: Yes, it’s interesting because it’s the offseason. Yeah, it’s some of the most beautiful weather that we get. So typically, October and a portion of November, I just try to take some time off, spend some more time with my friends, and really just get back on the right mindset so that I can put everything into my training for the upcoming season.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I think that will be a great place for us to start today because one of the things I wanted to share with our listeners is just–you seem to have this amazing tenacity, and obviously, just a love for the competition in terms of raising your bike and riding your bike. I know you’ve gone through several comebacks, if you will. And I thought if you could maybe walk us through maybe where you first decided you were going to retire and why, and maybe take us through a few of those. Then I’ll introduce the audience to some of the business endeavors that we have on tap for today as well.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah, no problem. It’s interesting because I find sometimes I’m a hypocrite. And what I say sometimes prior to making a decision is really not what maybe I had intended to do. But life sometimes takes you in a direction, in a different path. Because such as cycling, the passion has pretty much overtaken maybe some other ideas I have. Back in 2009 after the world championships is when I first decided to retire from the sports cycling. I had been to two Olympics, and I had just come off winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing. I decided to race one more year in 2009, and just really relax and [inaudible] I don’t have that Olympic goal in front of me. My goal for 2009 was to clearly, have fun, race in my bike, and at the end of the year, really close out with a really strong role championship performance.

I was fortunate enough to win the world championships in 2009, and felt, “Wow.” There’s no better way than to come off an Olympic gold medal and then a world championship in my pocket prior to retirement. My husband and I really wanted to start a family and didn’t know how long it would take. I was in my mid-thirties and I decided that this was the time. I was that person who, prior to having a family and starting a family, I was the one who said when I have a child, that’s it. It’s all about having the child, being a mom, and there’s no [inaudible]. That’s a little bit too selfish.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s interesting.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah. And we got pregnant really quickly. It was December in 2009, I was pregnant and I was due in 2010 in September. The whole time, I actually was able to ride in my bike. It was this one thing I could do. I couldn’t run much. I swam a couple times, but that wasn’t comfortable either. But about two weeks prior to delivering Lucas, I was riding my bike. About 3 months prior to delivering Lucas, my husband would kind of make these comments like, “Could you just relax a little bit? You just have this competitive drive in you still. And you’re 7 or 8 months pregnant.”

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: And you’re like, “And you’re surprised?”

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah, right? I just was like, “Oh yeah, I do.” I didn’t even notice it, really. It was just something he felt. So I didn’t know this was going on, but after I had Lucas, my coach and my husband kind of have this ongoing bet whether or not Kristin Armstrong was going to come back and try to make the London Olympic games. It was mentioned to me kind of in one of our conversations over dinner one night. And I asked my husband, I said, “Are you crazy? There’s no way!” I was still pregnant at the time. It was a couple weeks before having Lucas. And I looked at myself, I mean, look at me.  Like, this body is not racing bikes again. He laughed. When you’re pregnant, you just feel so out of shape. It just is what it is. So we had a healthy baby on September 15th in 2010. That, at the time, was about 23 months before the London games. I was in a fog for the first, definitely two or third weeks.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Oh God, no kidding. I’ve been there.

Kristin Armstrong: [inaudible].

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Yep.

Kristin Armstrong: Once I got out of that fog a little bit, just being who I am, I look at myself and thinking “Wow, I need a goal.” I needed to get back. [inaudible] or something. So all of a sudden, I was talking to my coach and Joe and this joke or this bet behind the scenes became kind of this reality. And we kind of got serious about it. Like, I don’t know, it will be my next fitness goal. That I should go try to make London team. My coach is like, “Well, we can’t waste any time because we only have like, 23 months now.” So November 1st, [inaudible]–[I’ll never forget it?]–we kind of said, “Let’s make a decision whether we’re going to do it or not.” And November 1st, we actually went public and said, “Kristin’s making a comeback, we’re going to do this.” And boy, wow. I’m telling you what, it was an interesting journey.

Gosh, two months into it, I asked myself several times, “What was I thinking?” This is harder than I ever imagined. It wasn’t but 5 months after having Lucas, I was at my first race–just to paint the scene, I was basically more worried about packing his Pack ‘n Play and the stroller and trying to get my bike. I mean, we showed up to the airport, like–

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I can’t even imagine.

Kristin Armstrong: I mean, it was like a circus. And we decided we were going to do this as a family.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: You’d need like porters for that.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah. What were we thinking? Reality is, I didn’t have a traveling nanny or anything. It was my husband, Lucas and myself. So we showed up to–I’ll never forget it–we showed up to [inaudible], and I’m on the start line, and I basically just finished breastfeeding. I’m handling Lucas off to Joe–and the race goes on for a couple of hours. I crossed the finish line and Joe’s handing Lucas back to me, and I’m running basically to breastfeed again. It was really quite a challenge. I think that is the type of person I am. If it was easy, I probably wouldn’t have stuck around for long because of the challenges presented. And the goal of having Lucas being with me and winning another medal in London was what woke me up every morning to get out in the cold weather to ride my bike day after day is just imagining what it would be like to be in London, listen to the national anthem with a 2-year-old in my arms.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s awesome.

Kristin Armstrong: Quite inspirational and quite motivating for me over those 20 months. Everything was going well, I had won every had-to-head–in 2012, head-to-head meeting. Every competition against my biggest competitors in time trialing. And the last showdown was in Boise, Idaho at the Exergy Tour which was a large stage race for women. It was the last qualification race that we had the chance to kind of showcase where we’re at. In the prologue, which was a very short time trial that kicked off the stage race, I was the last one to go. I was in the leading position after the halfway point, and I took a turn and broke my collarbone. My collarbone was broken in half and I had surgery the next morning. It was 9 weeks prior to London, and it was 3 weeks prior to the selection committee making that decision.

At that time, my challenges became a little bit different. I couldn’t ride my bike. I was more worried about what the media was saying, what my chances were then. I was about getting on my bike. I trusted my fitness, I trusted I would heal, but the media was definitely going crazy around Kristin Armstrong–her path is over, she doesn’t have a chance. They were assuming whether they had a childhood collarbone break at one time and their recovery was different, they were assuming that my hopes were over. So at that point, the funny thing is is I was on social media. The power of social media. I would take pictures of me on a bike, training feels great. I’m on the bike, Maybe I was on the bike for like. 2 minutes, but I was on the bike. I had a changed perception of–I like to call them [inaudible]. They are the people that are telling us what they think, and it’s typically the media. It’s not always true.

So I had a change of perception and have confidence that I could do this. Luckily, the stars were aligned and I made the Olympic team and went on to focus. I came out on top in London. And little did I know that having your 2-year-old son on the podium was not normal protocol for the Olympic medal ceremony. We made it happen. I think that’s why that picture of Lucas and myself on the podium went viral is because that doesn’t happen. And I didn’t realize that I had asked when I was on the podium if I can have my son up there and they told me no. So not knowing that at the time when my husband was out in the crowd watching the medal ceremony, he basically just let Lucas down on the ground and Lucas ran to me. And he ran to the podium and nobody could say anything because nobody was going to tell a 2-year-old no. So it was a beautiful moment.

Again, thinking that that was a closure of my career–I mean, what better way? Just like I said in 2009, what better way than to finish on top? I started to have some health problems with my hips. I was lucky that I made it through London because I was having quite a bit of pain trying to just maintain-maintain, working with physical therapist leading into London. So I thought, “Wow, what great closure. That was awesome.” Little did I know that the next 2 ½ years would lead me down the path of three hip surgeries on top of two additional hip procedures, and taking many months off my bike. To think that what in the world was I thinking when Rio was on the forefront? And I had this crazy idea which I think my husband just about had a heart attack when I told him.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Was he sitting down? Were you like, “Honey, I need you to sit down.”

Kristin Armstrong: I didn’t even do it that way this time around. I’m pretty much kind of testing it a little bit. I was like, “Wouldn’t it be crazy? What do you think? You think I can make the team? What do you think?” And he was like, “Seriously Kristin, we’re not going down this road again.” And I go, “Oh, okay.” And then I let it go. But when it kind of caught on, I texted my coach a couple of times. This is interesting because it was in the back of my mind, and I think it was in the back of my mind because I had nothing else, because I was going to do surgeries. At the time, I was feeling sort of sorry for myself. I think one of the hardest things about retiring is not having a goal again. I hate to say not having a goal again, but I always think, “Even the normal person, whether it’s your neighbor or a person who has a goal to lose 5 lbs. or 10 lbs. or run a 5k–everyone seems to succeed when you set goals.”

I felt a little bit lost spending very large amount of time in the last 10 years focusing on the Olympic games or world championships. I’m always having a goal on sight. I didn’t this time around. So I felt like I was recovering from a hip surgery–still having a little bit of issues with one of them. Just why not? So what I did was not even a year ago, every year I go down to Palm Desert in February. It was initially for training, and then it became after retirement for the second time. It became a family vacation just to go out, get away from the winter here in Boise and go spend some time in the sun, riding bikes, and being with my family. So this past February, we were doing the same thing for two weeks. My parents were coming down there so I’d have a lot more time on my hands. I told my husband, I said, “Let’s just ride bikes. Let’s just train like we would.” And I told my coach, “Let’s try to ride more than an hour and a half at a time or two hours.”

So I told him what I was doing, and basically, I went through the two weeks of training like I would if  I was a professional rider again. And [being?] in the two weeks, I got sick and I started having a lot of hip pain again. And I’m thinking, “Oh, here we go again. That’s not even possible. I can’t train like that anymore.” So in March, I went back and forth thinking, “Man, I just wish I could train like that.” So what I decided to do is I decided to really focus for nationals. The national championships were in May in Chattanooga. I had seen the course before because I was visiting and I was commentating at the time.

So I just basically decided to take the approach of training quality over quantity. I’m like, “Well, if I can’t train that many hours a week, maybe I can train high intensity, but I don’t have to train that many hours a week?” So that’s what I did going into nationals. It wasn’t until April that I decided I want to make an announcement that I’m going to do the Tour De California Time Trial and nationals. Honestly, I just wasn’t sure if I could. That’s why I waited till late. So I made that announcement and thought, “One step at a time.” My path is I need to win nationals because I needed to make [inaudible] and want to make worlds. I need to get Top 3 to make the Olympic team. The first step I accomplished, and felt really good about winning. And then I went to Richmond and then was hoping, of course, to be Top 3.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. But looking back on Richmond, I feel very fortunate and I felt like I had a solid ride. And after taking 2 ½ years off, I felt good about where I am. And I was the top American which is a great place to be the year before the Olympic games. So now we’re going into 2016–and again, we’re at the same place as we were going into 2012 is there hasn’t been any automatic qualifications for the time trial spots. There’s two of them. And looking into Rio, we have a big six months in front of us. Though [inaudible] along came in December which means those members on the [inaudible] are the only ones that can only be considered for Rio. And then they’ll choose the Olympic team June 20th. So I feel really good about the path, I really feel good about where I am fitness-wise, and yeah, I’m up for the challenge. I’m a little bit crazy, but it keeps me happy and it keeps me balanced. And yeah, I think it’s been good.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: Well, that’s an incredible story. I’ve just been sitting here biting my tongue so I have some questions for you. First of all, I want to just stay what I think where we’re going with the questions I’m about to present really does inform the company, the family business that we’ll be getting to in [inaudible] once we get through this next little setup of questions here because I just can’t help but get stuck in a way where I’m really admiring you on the mental toughness and the tie of that into the confidence. I mean, just hearing about just what you getting your head–once the idea’s in your head, it almost seems like there’s this iron will that takes over. I think as another working mother–I’m definitely not working on the level that you are in terms of athletics, but making it all balanced to have basically two teams like you described is so unique, I think, to any other woman that might be competing for these spots on the team.

As somebody who knows the challenge of balancing, trying to have a life and have some semblance of an aspirational identity as an athlete and running my companies, that’s very, very difficult. I can’t imagine doing it on your level. So like, hats off to you and Joe and your coach for forming the team that you have. And it’s really hard to get a husband to sign up on that level. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s a very dear story, actually, to hear about the three of you just going all over the world and doing these races together. It just seems like you almost get like this download–almost like a divine download like, “Okay, Kristin. You have this many months till this is happening.” Then you break it into little goals. They’re not little, but they’re smaller goals.

Like the most recent attempt, right? You focused on, as you said, the May race is in the nationals, and then it become focused on Rio. You’re just sort of taking it one step at a time. But the thing that I’m really admiring is how you’ve had to adapt your training to make this work. It seems like doing more high intensity, high quality workouts actually–if you want to maybe tell me if I’m right or wrong about this was what kind of solidified the tour of California and the other results that you got. It’s like you started to train differently. And you had to do that because you are adapting to what life was for you now.

Kristin Armstrong: Definitely. I’ve had to make a lot of adaptions to my training. Again, I’m a mom first–number 1, first and foremost. And I will always be a mom, number 1, and a cyclist, number 2. That’s important. I feel that you always have to look at the positives. And you can look at life and you can say, “I just can’t do this. There’s too many things coming at me. I’m overwhelmed.” I think of it if people [inaudible] take a step back and really try to organize your lives in a sense of–number 1, you can only be happy if you’re healthy. Whether you’re competing on an Olympic level or you’re just exercising to be healthy–because you have to bring that health back to your family. To me, it doesn’t matter if your mom, like myself, [going through?] Olympics for a mom who owns a company like yourself–those, to me, aren’t the same type of goal.

But it’s interesting because there are so many in our society today–there are so many things that are coming at us a million miles an hour. There are things that you have to decide that are essential, and things that you have to remove from your life. I think what separates myself and my balance from others who are trying to do the same thing and ask for advice over and over, but can’t seem to accomplish it is they’re having a difficult time removing things from their life. So if you were to ask any of my close friends what I removed from my life, they’ll probably think I’m a hermit and I’m not very social. I would say that, yeah. As I have a 5-year-old and I enjoy spending more time at home, there’s no question. But it’s my time with my family.

When I do have my offseason in October, you’ll find me adding little things in my life. It’s because I’m not spending two to four hours a day training. So I think that one of the things that I’ve seen is that you can do this. It doesn’t matter how busy you are. What we’re not doing a good job at is taking away things that are–I don’t want to say not important, but you’re taking away things that aren’t critical at that time in your life. You have to learn it. It’s almost like the art of saying, “No, I really appreciate your invite to your party, but unfortunately, I just can’t make that.”

They’re just sacrifices. When we talk about sacrifices, everyone is going to choose what their own sacrifices are. But for myself, I think, it’s no different than when I was in college. For some reason, the more credits I took, the better I did. It’s because I’m a very structured individual. So now, the way I look at it is instead of having the option of training anytime during the day, I have the option–and I have a window that I mark out on my outlook calendar. If it’s raining at 10 o’clock and my training time is from 9 a.m. to noon, that means I have to make choices. It’s raining, it’s cold, that means I have to take my workout inside. It doesn’t mean that I wait 4 hours and look out the window every 30 minutes to see if I can get out yet. That’s very inefficient use of your time, right?

So I’m trying to look at things as like we say the glass is half-full versus half-empty in that–my perspective is, “Hey, a lot of my competitors and my peers that are on the same level as I am in the sports cycling–they are maybe not as efficient as I am when they’re training because they have whole day.” So I think when you’re in a situation, you’re going to justify whatever situation you’re in [inaudible]. So yeah, today, I’m at work and I’m thinking about– “Am I envious of others at times that have that day in front of them to decide when they get to do their training and when they don’t?” Absolutely, but that’s not reality for me today in my world. So both of my comebacks when people ask me, “Okay, Kristin. Seriously, you’re coming back again?”

What people don’t realize–and that maybe I’ll be the only one that realizes this, but in my journey of each comeback, they’re so unique and there are different challenges that have been put in front of me on each of these. So to me, it makes it really fun. For a long time, I was trying to figure out, because people would ask me, “What’s your story? Why are you making a comeback? What’s the deal?” And I was actually trying to come up with a story. At the end of the day, I’m back to the sport because I can, and I love cycling. So, I think that’s a simple answer.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I think that’s a fantastic answer. So there’s two things that I’ve learned that I think helped [an?] approach that you have which I really admire, and I think there’s so much to learn from, and so many takeaways from what you’ve shared. Number 1, we can’t really give a rat’s ass what people think of us, right? Pardon my expression, but like, you’ve basically have cut that out as a non-essential as well. Like, you have what’s in front of you, you’re making it work. You have your goals and you have your teams. I.e., the hometeam and your coach, and your, obviously, anybody that’s on a team for cycling, right? It’s very amazing how much you focus.

And when you don’t let in some of that outside noise, I think it really also makes what you are putting into your passion so much more applicable, and makes it stronger. It’s like a better session when you’re only focused on that, and not really caring what people think on the outside. That’s a big part of it that I’ve learned from your story here today. Then also, that kind of ties into like, you don’t need to have a story. This is just your life and the partnership that you’ve created with your husband, and your coach etc., and the promise that you wanted to have to yourself in terms of always having a passion in your life. And obviously, cycling’s that passion. Frankly, that makes you a better parent and a wife, in my opinion.

The experience is that your family has all of you working toward these goals together, I think, is going to comprise a pretty fantastic childhood for your son. It’s just a really cool story. I also love that you guys have built a family business around this. I’d love it if you could share the founding story, if you will, around the disadvantage you can have being a cyclist on your level–competing on the world stage with something as simple and catastrophic as a chain drop. So can you talk a little bit about the family business that was created around preventing that problem for you?

Kristin Armstrong: Absolutely. Back in 2006 at the world championships in Salzburg, Austria, I was going after the win. I came up on a climb and they came from a very fast section–so I was in my big chain ring, and of course, what happens is under pressure, we shift. When you’re cross chained, your chain will drop. I went out of this climb cross-chained, shifted, really under a lot of pressure–and my chain dropped. Typically, we know how as at our level of cycling, we can fidget around with our shifting and we can get that chain to be back on our chain ring. There’s very few times when you can’t do that.

Unfortunately, one of those times is when you’re on a steep hill and you don’t have momentum to keep coasting to help get that chain back on that chain ring. So in Austria, not only did I drop my chain, but I had to actually get off my bike, straddle my bike. The mechanic followed me, he had to get out and helped me get my chain back on. Very, very, rookie move especially at the level I was in 2006. So I went on, and I somehow [inaudible]. I think because my endorphins kicked in. After dropping that chain, I got back on my bike and I pretty much attacked that course. And ended up winning my first world championship. Which was crazy still to think back about.

But leading into how our family business started–right before Beijing, we were going over. I had visited the course, the time trial course. We were going over the course, and my husband was–I was showing the course to him and talking about it. The last 500 meters, we were going down a very steep descent, high-speed, and we were going to make a 180 ° turn, and we had 500 meters up a hill to the finish line. The only thing that’s going in my husband’s mind is, “Oh, no. [inaudible] happen again. [inaudible]. I want to tell her a thousand times how not to cross chains, she doesn’t do it anyway. I cannot watch this happen in Beijing. I have to figure out a solution. And she can’t [inaudible] her chain.” It’s not even the solution at the time because my husband’s an engineer. “I’m just going to tell her over and over and over not to do this [inaudible].” Like, “I need to find a device that’s going to make sure her chain has not come off.”

So my husband and his brother started talking about things. One thing led to the next, and they had created this drawing and decided like, “We want to create this chain catcher that attaches to the front [inaudible] so that now her chain can’t come off.” So our friend who’s now one of the owners along with us, Eric Jensen, he has a family manufacturing farm in town called AceCo Manufacturing. So it was the only–it was our buddy, and it was a machine shop. So basically, we were able to take the drawings down there, and they produced a prototype. It was about two weeks before Beijing that they put this on my bike for just a couple of tests. So I would try to shift my bike really hard and see if that can get a chain drop, and it wouldn’t. So basically, we attached this to my front [inaudible] and I rode it in Beijing. The whole time, I guess, during my race, my husband is just [inaudible] thinking, “Please, don’t have a mechanical,” or, “Please, I hope this chain catcher stays on her bike and doesn’t create even a catastrophic–like, have a mishap. Because this is something that–it’s just a prototype.”

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: I was just going to ask. So it was still a proto.

Kristin Armstrong: Oh, it was still a prototype. Yeah. It was definitely being manufactured, and we can manufacture that. But it was just definitely something that we had not tested for a long, long time.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s an incredible story right there.

Kristin Armstrong: So basically, everything turned out great. I ended up winning a gold medal. After that, I told Joe, I said, “We need to produce these. We need to go into business. He goes, “No, no, no.” He goes, “The time and commitment it would take to sell a dozen [inaudible] would not be worth it.” Like, “What are you talking about?” I’m like, “Seriously.” He’s like, “No, no, no.” He was working at the time, and he just was interested in making this a fulltime deal. Nor did he think he would ever actually get as big as it could. But I guess 9 months later in the Spring Classics when they’re going over this rough terrain and going over [inaudible], cobblestones–I guess there’s a high risk of dropping the chain because the chain’s bouncing. And it comes off. So it wasn’t long before he had an email from one of the largest teams–men’s pro-cycling teams–that said, “Hey, what do you think about sending us 80 of these chain catchers?” And he’s like, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to produce 80 of these?”

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: He’s like, “My first order.”

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah, my first order. Awesome. So he got really excited and I, of course, being the wife, I’m like, “I told you so. I told you so.” So basically, it caught on. It wasn’t long before we had another pro-team, another pro-team– and that’s how it all started is with these chain catchers. We called it the K-Edge meaning Kristin’s edge over her competition. We took it to the road bike and then it wasn’t long after where there were these signal speeds starting. So we had had the one chain ring in the front, and they had a different issue. So we were creating the front chain rings. The chains were coming off the outside on a single ring so we created a solution for that. So we had these cages that we keep that ring on. Then we also went to creating on the mountain bike–there were a lot of times where people were dropping the chains or they’re having chain sucked.

So we’d created a solution for anything around really keeping the chain on, keeping the chain from coming up and being sucked between your rear [inaudible] which, on bikes these days, they can be thousands of dollars. All it takes is your chain to get stuck in that rear [inaudible] and to get pulled out, and you’d ruined your [inaudible]. So we just really started around creating products that we’re protecting not only the chain from coming off, but also protecting your frames. [inaudible] important thing about this was we wanted to make sure that they were high quality. Of course, high quality, lightweight so they were all–and also, all manufactured from start to finish in Boise, Idaho. So to this day, we’re still producing all of our products in Boise from start to finish. And we’re proud of that.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That’s awesome.

Kristin Armstrong: They’re very high-end products, they’re very lightweight. There’s a lot of precision around them. But our line has grown from chain catchers to camera mounts to computer mounts. So we continue to provide solutions to cyclists for many things and many reasons. And the ideas that we receive from customers are amazing as well. Today, we’re only in the cycling industry. We would like to take our concepts and designs to a number of industries. Because if you look at the cycling industry, we’re a very small industry. And some of our solutions can really be taken to a number of different industries and be successful.

But today, with how we’re using camera and how we’re capturing media, I feel like we’re in support for amenities, large companies who are producing the actual cameras or the actual computers. So it’s been a lot of fun. What I find is seeing my husband who work for as an engineer for so many years, over 20 years with companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Finding Solutions–and around basically LaserJet printers. To see him take a passion and be able to work in an industry that he loves makes me happy as well because it created a lot of balance for our family, though owning your own company is very difficult and it takes a lot of time. It’s so different to see him and his happiness when he’s working in an industry and feel that he has passion around and just finding solutions for things for really, the general consumer–anyone who loves to be outdoors and to be active. It’s just been a lot of fun to watch.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It’s a great, great story. Again, my entire show here is about passion-driven business. And obviously, what you bring to racing informs the brand as the K-Edge–the K in K-Edge, but also the edge that the products give you, I just love that so much. And just in the same way that your pro-cycling feeds you the K-Edge being focused in the core market of passion for Joe is something else that I just sort of imagine kind of brings the whole piece full circle, if you will. Kind of how cycling has kind of informed this lifestyle for your family.

Kristin Armstrong: It has. I think that having K=Edge located in–having all the manufacturing and the distribution out of Boise, Idaho is part of what makes it really unique. I say that because what I’ve learned is when you do own your own company and–you are part of it every day. Being able to touch whether it’s the employees or touch the products that are being made every day, I think that it brings an extra piece of passion to the business and to the successes that both Joe and his partner have had in the daily operations. I feel what I bring to K-Edge and the company is I am really the person who unfortunately had to have the chain drop [inaudible] race. But the brand [I bring?] a lot of passion, I’m out there still racing. And even though when I wasn’t racing, I was putting on camps for women, going out to different gran fondos, just really getting that brand out there and having it come and be part of our family, and just kind of brings our story together. It’s been fun, and it’s created, just like I said, a lot of balance for all of us.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It’s also quite inspirational as working in the cycling industry as well as outdoor and snow sports and endurance. But being in the cycling market, to know that this product was actually inspired by a female pro-cyclist in yourself, and that you continue to inform the brand and help with product design and development, there just really aren’t very many hard goods manufacturers that are this technical, if any at all that I can think of that have a woman at the helm.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah, I know. A couple of people have mentioned that to me about–told me that a female has been part of the conceptual phase. And really, just watching it–I can [inaudible] to any [inaudible] really gone any cycling media platform and see a K-Edge product on a bike. Most photos, whether it be a computer mount, a camera mount, a chain catcher–it’s happening in all of [inaudible]. In mountain bike, cross bike, road, time trail. I’m pleased to see that K-Edge is, like I said, it’s worldwide, it’s creating a solution, and–yeah, it’s so great to be part of it.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: It’s just super inspiring to see so independently owned, made in America, Boise, Idaho, and co-female founded. That’s pretty rad in my opinion. So hats off. I just have to say I wasn’t quite sure exactly where this was going to go because I know that you’re not going and showing up at K-Edge every day. As you know, my show is about entrepreneurs and these small businesses. But you’re a really important part of that because you have this personal brand that’s very inspiring to so many people–male and female in and around cycling. But now it’s also been part of the birthing process of K-Edge which I think is just getting started. I mean, it’s a very innovative company and I love the family-owned feel. I love that your customers are sending you ideas. Everything about it is–it shows me that it’s going to be teeing up for being kind of an American cycling company’s success story. And I love that so much.

If you look at the trajectory of your racing, Kristin, and you think about that–it’s like you decided to do these comebacks, but it’s not so much like you’re coming back like the underdog coming back. You come back from winning a gold medal or a national championship, and then you go on to create this part of your life you wanted to come back and do, and then you come back into cycling. So it’s almost like it’s these waves where you come in, and your goal is focused on that. You achieve a goal, and then you go out and you create that balance. And you come back in a different person, a different competitor. And you’re competing on a really different level. Just because you’re a different person with what you’ve done being off the bike for years, or 2 years that you have between these stints that you’ve had in retirement.

So I just love the whole–I know that you didn’t mean for it to be an orchestration, but it really does feel like one when you look at the whole–the ebbs and flows of the retirement, the launch of K-Edge. And just kind of how the family has been the [inaudible] around this and the passion of cycling. It seems to make all the sense in the world, and it’s such a great story. I really appreciate you sharing it. I have been following your career for a while, and I literally have not been able to get a line of sight into how all of this fits together until we sat down and talked today. I hope that others find the same. It’s been really awesome.

Kristin Armstrong: Yeah. Sometimes, I don’t realize how everything fits together because we wake up and we go through our day. I have to be reminded quite often. And I like to remind people just as often that you have to always wake up and you can’t forget about your successes along the way. I think that we tend, in life, to always focus on things that we haven’t accomplished and what we want to accomplish. And that’s great, and we have to set goals and go after those. But we can’t forget about the things that we have accomplished. Having interviews like with yourself and others always is a great opportunity for me to not only share my story with others, but also, it’s a great reminder of the things that have happened over the last 10 years of my life and the successes that I have made.

So looking forward, I like to tell people, when you have a goal and you set off to do something, like for instance, myself, and [inaudible] trying to make the team in Rio– the most important thing is that you have to enjoy your journey. If you don’t enjoy your journey and wake up every day and have a passion for it, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket to just make that team. If it doesn’t work out, at the end of the day, you have to say, “That was really fun [inaudible].” If it’s all about just that one day, it may or may not happen. But again, I always like to stress and remind myself that you have to enjoy every day and what you’re doing and you have to enjoy your journey.

Kristin Carpenter-Ogden: That is a perfect place for us to close our conversation today. Just so you know, I wish you personally the very best of luck. I will be watching and cheering you on from the sidelines, and I’m sure many other people listening to this podcast will be as well. And I’d like to just quickly put in there, if you’d like to learn more about K-Edge, go to acecosportgroup– and that’ll be in the podcast notes page as well–.com. So acecosportgroup.com. And Kristin, thank you so very much for joining us here today. This has been so inspiring and motivating.

Kristin Armstrong: Thank you for having me.


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