4:11pm | March 18, 2014
Q&A with Chris Carmichael, Founder and CEO of Carmichael Training Systems
How old were you when you first got into cycling? What made you decide to go pro?
I’ve enjoyed riding a bike ever since I can remember, and I entered my first race when I was 9 years old. As a teenager bike racing gave me the opportunity to see the world, and with a lot of hard work I reached the level where I was part of the 1984 Olympic Team and raced the Tour de France as part of the 7-Eleven Team, and I continue experiencing the world on two wheels.
What kind of bike do you ride?
Like all of the CTS Coaches I ride a 7 Series Trek Madone. We use a variety of power meters on coaches’ bikes, and I have an Dura-Ace SRM power meter on mine.
Do you have any cycling tips to share with Bottega Gran Fondo participants?
In addition to things like staying safe, watching out for each other, and staying well fed/hydrated, it’s important to ride at a pace that’s right for you. You want to enjoy the last hour you’re on the bike, and that means you need to be careful about how hard you’re going in the first hour. Whatever energy you put out when you dig deep early on is energy you won’t have for efforts later.
What is your craziest cycling story?
I’ve been involved in cycling for more than 40 years, so that’s a hard question. When I look back the craziest period was the mid 1980s when North American cyclists were trying to make our way in Europe. We didn’t fit in, didn’t speak the language, and didn’t necessarily understand all the customs. It led to some pretty funny experiences, but it wasn’t long before guys were taking some pretty big wins.
What do you eat/drink to stay energized and fueled on long rides?
Sports nutrition has come a long way and continues to evolve. Right now I’m glad we’re seeing a return to whole foods like bars from Probar. They taste great and they give you the energy you need quickly. I recommend separating calories from hydration, so I keep my food in my pocket and rely on lower-calorie drinks from Osmo Nutrition that contain electrolytes. On hot days or harder rides, this allows athletes to increase fluid intake without overloading their guts with more calories than they can handle.
Where is your favorite place in the world to cycle?
California. I’ve ridden the entire course of the Amgen Tour of California each of the past three years and will ride the 2014 course with the CTS ATOC Race Experience in May. I must say that one of my favorite areas to ride is the Santa Ynez Valley down on the central coast. I love the riding there and we have a CTS Training Center there as well. I love this state for the variety of terrain, incredible weather, amazing scenery, and of course wineries and restaurants like Michael Chiarello’s.
How do you stay fit? Exercise-wise, what is a typical week for you?
At this point in my life I classify myself as a time-crunched athlete. I’m married, I have three great kids, and I run a business, so I’m fortunate if I get out for 4 good training rides a week. I commute to work (about 10miles each way) sometimes as well. In order to be fit within that amount of riding time, I also make sure to do some good interval work in two or three of those weekly rides.
You were on the Olympic team in 1984, coached other cyclists who have won numerous medals, developed the Carmichael training systems for endurance athletes, and authored many books—what’s next for you? Are there any goals you have for your life that you haven’t reached but would like to in the future?
I’m looking forward to continuing to grow CTS and give athletes the opportunity to work with the great coaches we have in the company. We will also be expanding into some international locations in the next year or so. For me, I’m in the early stages of working on another book and I want to continue riding and racing Bucket List events all over the world, and bringing athletes along to share the experience and achieve their own personal goals.
How did you meet Michael Chiarello? Have you cycled together?
I first met Michael four years ago at the Napa Valley Tour de Cure ride. He was kind enough to invite me to lunch at his restaurant and we have been friends ever since. We have ridden together on various routes of the Amgen Tour of California and in South Carolina and we have trained Michael to get ready for his epic rides in Alps and Italy. He is a strong cyclist, incredible chef and my friend as well.
What is your favorite food and wine indulgence?
What I enjoy most is expertise. So for me it’s less about what the dish or wine is, and more about admiring and appreciating the expertise that went into creating it. If we’re fortunate in life and we work hard, we can become very good at something. And with food and wine you get the unique chance to taste and experience the best of a person’s craft.
What about the inaugural Bottega Gran Fondo are you most looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to the food, and particularly the combination of great riding and incredible food! I’ve ridden in some wonderful places and thanks to chefs like Michael I’ve enjoyed some amazing dishes. The opportunity to combine those experience into one spectacular day, and to meet other people who also have a passion for cycling and food… those are the things I’m looking forward to.
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