Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Yuri Hauswald, welcome to the Take Me Outdoors podcast. It’s awesome to have you here today.
Yuri Hauswald: Oh, super excited to talk with you today, Kristin.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Here we are on a snowy December day. Yuri is in California, correct?
Yuri Hauswald: Correct.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: And I’m in Durango, Colorado when we kicked off our podcast called Talking about the Rides That We Did. He got to ride outside, I had to ride on my trainer. Yuri is a community development manager at GU. That is one of Verde’s cherished brands. He also has quite a lot of sponsors. He is a faux pro ultra endurance cycling athlete. Really, I think an inspiration to me and so many others because he’s super class act and he has shown us a path from being an educator and being kind of a hard-working 9 to 5er but turning that into an incredible faux pro racing career. And we happen to be the same young age of 24 forever which is awesome.
Yuri Hauswald: Yes, it is.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: So welcome. And I would love for you to share your story. How did you become the community development manager at GU and this faux pro cyclist from being an elementary school teacher in Northern California? This is something, I think, that will inspire a ton of people in our audience.
Yuri Hauswald: Well, it’s a long story so let me take us all the way back to when I first discovered the bike because I didn’t pick up a bike until I was 24. I discovered the bike when I was teaching at a prep school back east because some friends of mine were into mountain biking and they thought it would be fun to take me out. So that’s when I first discovered the bike. I’d been an athlete in high school and college so I had a bit of an engine and fell in love with the bike. While I taught elementary school back in California, I started “chasing the dream” of racing and I started in the sport category and slowly began working my way up in—
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Oh, mountain biking?
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah, mountain biking. Yup, yup, yup, sorry. I did a bit of road-racing but mountain biking is my true, true passion. Slowly worked my way up into a category that no longer exists anymore. It’s called semi-pro. I don’t know if you remember that category. That was like a stepping stone that you would say cycling had created to help the transition. So the transition wasn’t just from expert category to pro. You went expert, semi-pro, then pro.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: So was it like charm school, kind of?
Yuri Hauswald: Exactly. But when I got to semi-pro, I was [inaudible] at best. Mid to backpack of cross-country races and stuff like that. But in about 2003 or 2004, I discovered 24-hour racing. A friend dared me to do a 24-hour solo and I said, “All right, buddy, I’ll do it. But you have to be my mechanic. You have to stay up all night and [inaudible] for me.” And that was kind of the beginning of my endurance career. I happened to win a couple 24 hours solo races, went to 24-hour worlds in Conyers, Georgia the year they were filming the movie—I think it was called 24/7 when [inaudible] was chasing his 7th title. I placed 9th there that year, and that allowed me to turn pro. I got that coveted license, the pro license. And this was while I was still teaching elementary school.
So the great thing about teaching elementary school besides the kids was I had summers to live out of my car and follow the [inaudible] which some people may or may not remember. And convenient holidays where I could get training in. And then a couple years, my district allowed me to job share which meant that I worked 3 days a week, I had a job share partner. She taught the other days of the week so I could have more days to train and travel. Over those years, I slowly just developed a lot of relationships in the bike industry with—meaning my long-time sponsors. Most of them I’d been with for a decade plus. Then about 7 years ago, I had the opportunity to go to work for my bike sponsor which is Marin Bikes which I believe was founded in 1985 or ‘86.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: The same year we were born.
Yuri Hauswald: True. Yes. Totally. Without any prior industry experience-I was and English major in college-I went to work for Marin Bikes. I stepped out of the classroom and went to work for Marin as their marketing manager and things kind of morphed. I then helped start a magazine called Bike Monkey Magazine and wrote for them. It sort of bounced around a little bit, worked at a bike shop while I was still writing for the mag, I wasn’t working for Marin anymore, and then fell into a role here at GU Energy Labs who I’ve been sponsored by decade plus.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: That’s amazing. I love those guys.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah, they’re rad. I’d actually been really good friends with our cofounder and CEO, Brian Vaughan. We had become friends partly due to my sponsorship by GU. I was a school teacher. But also through 24-hour racing, solar racing, that’s how we sort of came on each other’s radar. And then I was brought in the office 4 years ago. And my [inaudible] is kind of morphed here and there. But we’ve settled on community development manager, and that includes everything from doing a lot of our social media to outreach to teams and athletes, writing periodically here and there for our blog site or magazines, and then still racing a lot. I have a pretty convenient schedule that allows me to train and travel.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: And so the DK, is that kind of your main event or is that just what has been on my radar about you because that’s one that I want to try and do.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah. Dirty Kanza sort of randomly fell in my lap. In 2013, we were a sponsor of the event. I knew nothing about gravel racing at the time. And I went out there with Carmichael Training Systems actually, and fell in love with the event. The promoters, the scenery, just the vibe around the Dirty Kanza is really, really amazing. And had a decent first attempt at the Dirty Kanza and was kind of bit by the gravel bug.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: [inaudible]?
Yuri Hauswald: Decent? Well—
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Because we’re talking a 200-mile race, folks.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah. I kind of got 4th through 8 because—I mean, that sounds big, but let me clarify. I was in the front group of 3 of us. 3 of us were off the front early on in the event, and then some flat top and then I ended up rolling in the last 20 with 4 other guys. So 4 of us total, we worked together the last 20 miles together. Instead of trying to spring each other for the finish, we decided just go arm-in-arm. So 4 of us acrossed, arm-in-arm, rolled across the line. So that’s why I say I was either 4 through 8 because they didn’t really score—they scored us. I mean, I got on the podium that year but I didn’t know I got on the podium. So I didn’t even go to the ceremonies. But it was more about just the camaraderie that I’d shared with those four guys—well, four of us total. Three others. And it wasn’t about our placing, really. It was more about just crossing the line together because we have worked so hard together.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: You had seen fire and you had seen rain.
Yuri Hauswald: Exactly. Lots of other things happened out there on the prarie in 200 miles, for sure. So I was definitely smitten by the prairie and decided to go back in 2014. Didn’t have the greatest 2014 flat seat, things like that. But I still finished like, 5 minutes better than the year prior, but was nowhere near the podium. And then, made it my A goal for 2015 and then made some changes to how I approach the season and stuff like that. And then the rest is history. For those of you who don’t know, I won the 2015 edition for the Dirty Kanza.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: And that’s really cool, I think. So that’s very, very inspirational. So what I want again to point out is that obviously, you’ve discovered this engine that you had. I mean, you always had the engine because you were an athlete, but you discovered when you found ultra endurance or 24-hour racing that that was definitely fit for you. I’m assuming that happened in your early to mid-thirties?
Yuri Hauswald: Yes. Well, yeah, I turned pro at age 36, the tender young age of 36, but yeah, I discovered that I had a pension for going long distances—not super fast, but at a relatively good pace. And the longer, the better for me. That is sort of in my MO the last, last decade. I guess now is just longer races usually mean I do better.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: So tell us about this community that you—I think that you obviously work at GU, you’re in the epicenter of it. I’m just going to list up some of your long-time sponsors. And the two that are also Verde clients—Kitsbow which is an awesome mountain biking apparel company in the Bay Area. Chamois Butt’r couldn’t be run by nicer folks. I just love that company so much, that’s one of your main sponsors that we have. Capo, Kaenan Eyewear, Giro, Adam Composite Wheels—I love to say this one—Lauf Forks, and WTB. Right? Did I miss any?
Yuri Hauswald: Camelbak. Sorry, how could I forget Camelbak?
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: You can’t.
Yuri Hauswald: I cannot forget Camelbak. They’ve taken care of me for a long, long time. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their packs. I was actually one of their product testers way back when they were developing their race back vest under the Jersey system.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: I remember that.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah, yeah. It’s been discontinued, unfortunately. But luckily, they gave me about 15 of them.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: I was going to say you probably still have it.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah, I have a stash. I have a stash in my garage to use them because it’s an awesome thing. You can freeze it on really hot days. It becomes like this thermo regulator and then it slowly defrosts over in advance. So I love that thing. But yeah, I think that’s on my sponsors.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Awesome. Well, again, I just want to point out to everybody how amazing it is that you can discover this in your young 30s and then just basically drop the clutch and become a pro and you’re still going strong mid 40s even though I know we’re only 24. I mean, this is awesome. So I think that you’re super inspirational. Tell us a little bit more about what kind of keeps you in the game. Like you know how sometimes you start a new season, you’re like, “Okay, am I really ready for this?” I mean, I never have that question because I just love to beat the tar out of myself and sign up for events and compete. But when you’ve been doing it a long time, do you have anything that kind of gets your head set in the right place for the season or is it just always there because you’re just super enthusiastic about racing?
Yuri Hauswald: Well, it’s a little bit of all of that, to be totally honest. I’ve always been an athlete my whole life, I’ve been very competitive. Not in a bad way, but I’m motivated by competitions, by pushing my limits. I think I’m a bit of an endorphin junkie for sure. I like that rush. So pushing myself to the ragged edges is something I’ve always really enjoyed. That doesn’t speak to everybody, but it speaks to me. That’s one of the things that motivates me. The last couple seasons, I was an old dog who learned some new tricks. I started working with a coach. I’d never worked with a coach before. I’d always been the quantity over quality type of writer. Writing a lot but never being structured or planned about what I was doing so it meant I have a lot of fun, I wrote a ton.
But I was always sort of just on this flat plateau of decent fitness and would never see spikes of really good fitness so I decided the year—I guess at the end of 2014, I decided to work with a coach and then set Kanza as my A-goal. And the proof was in the [inaudible]. I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I had done at Dirty Kanza if it hadn’t been for the structured plan that I’d followed for 6 plus months with my coach.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Who are you coaching with? Are you still with Carmichael?
Yuri Hauswald: No, I wasn’t working with Carmichael. Well, my current coach is working with Carmichael. His name is Adam Pulford. He does a lot of work with the 2016 women’s team as well and he has many other high-powered real pros, not faux pros. But yes, he provides a lot of structure. We’ve written a lot together over the years so he knows my writing style. He’s just a really dear friend of mine, too. So it works well together. So yeah, you asked what motivates me every season. I enjoy telling the line. I enjoy the camaraderie of all the other people out there, the thrill of racing, going to new places. I’ve just been able to develop this community of friends that have now become like family, like meaning my sponsors have since I’ve been with them for so long. And I don’t want to slow down. I want to keep going. So that’s kind of what motivates me. I try to pick new events. If I can, too, I think that helps every year to keep your motivation up, choose a new event to do each year. So—
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: What have you got on the docket for this year? I’ve got two.
Yuri Hauswald: This year, I will be going back to the Pioneer which is a 7-day stage race in New Zealand. I did it last year. Last year was the first year of the event and I raced it with a Kiwi buddy of mine, Andrew Young who runs a shp in Wellington called iRIDE. We nearly took the top step last year so I’m going back with him to try to see if we can’t improve [inaudible] finish from last year. So that will be February 5th through the 11th. Then I’ll be home for some gravel camp, some stuff like that. I do the Dirty Kanza gravel camp at the end of March. A new event for me will be the Dirty [inaudible] in April. Paul Harrington’s event in the UK. One of the first gravel events that’s ever happened over there. Last year was the first year, I just couldn’t make it over. So that’ll be a new one for me.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: I’m sure everyone will be delighted that you’re showing up to that.
Yuri Hauswald: There’s plenty of other fast dudes out there. But let’s see. I don’t know about any other new events beyond that. Dirty Kanza obviously is on my calendar. That’s June 4th. I’ll be heading to Iceland for a top secret event with Lauf Forks. They have some things up their sleeve and they’ve asked me to come over in July some time to do some scouting with them.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Very cool. I’m pretty basic. I’m just going to try and do—if I get in to [inaudible] and then if I get in to DK.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah, yeah.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Have you ever done [inaudible]?
Yuri Hauswald: I have not done [inaudible]. [inaudible] is one of those events that I probably will never do. I love going out there. I’ve been out there I think 4 or 5 times in supporting folks. I always set up a little camp at the [inaudible]. So it allows me to provide aid, motivation, slaps on the asses, little pushes. So I get a lot of enjoyment out of being in the base of [inaudible] and knowing that I don’t have to ride up it. So yeah, I won’t do [inaudible] but I’ll totally support you. If you need a drop bag or whatever you need, Kristin, I’m there for you.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Slap on the ass.
Yuri Hauswald: Yep, slap on the ass. A push, whatever you want.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: That’s awesome. That brings me to my next question. [inaudible] I know you’re often referred to as the authenticator or the glue—you obviously talk so much about the family that the outdoor community provides us, and you have a special part of that, obviously. Can you tell us what it’s like to manage athletes and do community management for an amazing company like GU?
Yuri Hauswald: Well, I mean, it’s fun to manage other likeminded folks when you talk about managing athletes. I would imagine your experience in the industry is that you’re chatting and working with other people who are much like you. So we’re lucky here at GU that we have an amazing, stable athletes and themes from some of the top runners, and watermen in the world, to some of the best cyclists. And we have some new teams this year that we’re supporting on the cycling side of things. Mike Creed has a new development program that we’re going to be supporting this year which is really exciting. So I just really enjoy helping them, make sure they have the products they need so that they can go out and be the best athletes. So that they need to be to do their jobs. So it’s really—I mean, I don’t find it to be a ton of laborious work, it’s fun. I’m like an enabler, just make sure they have what they need. And we connect on social media, this and that. There’s a lot of give and take but it’s great. I really enjoy being immersed in that side of things. I like being able to speak athlete and help athletes.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Yep, I’m totally with you. So okay, here’s two words and I’m going to ask a question after. Pain tolerance, okay? Is that what teaching elementary school—is that what you were able to carry into your racing career?
Yuri Hauswald: Pain tolerance.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: I have an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old and I love them dearly, but holy God, have I aged.
Yuri Hauswald: Yeah. Well, I think what I maybe transferred over the most from being an elementary school teacher would be patience. It’s not necessarily pain tolerance although you do have to have a high pain tolerance to deal with little ones. I taught for 2nd and 3rd grade. It was really fun. What I tried to actually bring into the classroom from my racing was this whole idea of just doing your personal best. There’s only one person that can win the race. And that can be very defeating for kids, but I always tried to instill in them that if you’ve done your homework and you do your best and your best is a B, that’s a win. Not everybody’s an A student.
So as long as you are putting in all the hard work and know that you’ve given your best effort, then you can walk away from that feeling good about yourself. So I try to remind myself of that wisdom that I imparted on young minds when I don’t have the greatest training day or a race doesn’t go my way. But I think patience—patience too with my training because it can be a long, slow process to build up to that A race. I still have six months until Kansas come. So I have to be patient and follow my coach’s plan and have faith that he knows what he’s doing which he totally does and stick to it and see what happens come June 4th.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Well, I just also have to say, and I think it’s a really perfect point for us to wrap up with, you really epitomize like you have this diverse background and you’ve done a ton of different things in the industry as well as before you got into the industry, always having that common [inaudible] of being an athlete. But I also think what’s kind of brought you in in the stranglehold that we have on you that you’ll never get to leave is your passion. You say speak athlete, help athlete, you really are like this personification of a competitive spirit but also a community that exists in the outdoor community. That’s why I wanted to share you with the audience today. You’re like a ring leader in that [inaudible].
Yuri Hauswald: Well, thanks. I mean, I’m really, really fortunate that I’m able to do what I love for my work, right? That I’m able to be passionate about my job which is essentially riding bikes which is really cool. But also enabling other people to be the best athlete that they can be and imparting knowledge about nutrition and training and stuff like that. But yeah, I’m really blessed to be where I’m at right now. Hopefully, people can find what they’re passionate about and integrate that more into their lives as they continue to go down this journey of life.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: That’s exactly what you have shown us that you’re [inaudible—it’s possible, that’s what you have shown us. So that’s exactly why I wanted to have you on the show today. So thank you so much for your time. We’re going to be watching your results and cheering you on.
Yuri Hauswald: Thank you.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: And providing fun handouts at every race we can.
Yuri Hauswald: Of course, of course.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Thank you so much. I look forward to again, following your season and having you back on the show after you completely wrecked [inaudible] in June out on the prairie.
Yuri Hauswald: I don’t know about that but I will do my best, thank you.
Kristin Carpenter Ogden: Awesome. Well, best of luck to you this year.
Yuri Hauswald: Thanks.