ARO Pistachios has joined GigaOM in co-sponsoring our men’s elite cycling team consisting of 10 racers: David Bangor, Jason Benford, Joseph Ison, Kevin Leong, Naveen Molloy, Gabe Morford, Jaffa Prince, Zachary Scott, Connor Spencer, Travis “T.” Big Kudos to David Bangor from GigaOM-ARO Pistachios who won Topsport Stage Race” this month! The team competes in the highest level of amateur racing known as the “elite” Category 1/2. We got on the inside racing track with our Q&A for the team’s insights, tips, and philosophies in training and achievement.
Q. 1. Describe how the team was conceived and formed.
A. The team was started by Connor Spencer, Joseph Ison, and Naveen Molloy. We were all on another team, but at a certain point we realized our definition of team was not the way things were. We collectively had a vision of how we wanted our ideal team to operate and so we simply decided, “lets give it a shot.” After a couple of weeks of talking to others and putting ideas together, things fell into place, and it has just been great progress ever since.
Q. 2. Where is the team located? Where does the team train primarily?
A. We are based out of San Francisco, Calif. with a couple of riders in the Oakland/Berkeley area. We primarily train in Marin County and around the Bay Area. We are pretty blessed with some of the best riding just outside our doors.
Q. 3. What is the team’s usual training routine in terms of cycling? In terms of other sports training in fortifying and preparing for training?
A. Most of our riders work with the Whole Athlete (http://wholeathlete.com/) program which is run by Dario Fredrick. They devise training plans tailored specifically for each rider and their respective goals. In addition, we have days off the bike to work on yoga and core workouts, as well as meditation training. Cycling isn’t just about pedaling hard, so the program is great about making everything else work well together, nutrition, your body with yoga stretches, and mentally being a smart focused racer. In addition, we are lucky to have the support and sponsorship of Dan Tian Wellness (http://www.dantianwellness.com/). Edith Chan comes from a holistic approach of healing clients, and because of her endurance sports background, she is very knowledgeable in helping the team with injuries and nutrition.
Q. 4. Do you see a nutritionist in your wellness program? Describe any benefits from integrating pistachios in your program? Or just why they are an ideal food for cycling?
A. Edith Chan also helps the team in this department. One of things she emphasizes is eating simple high nutritional foods. ARO Pistachios do the job very well—the Himalayan Pink Salt provides excellent trace minerals and the high amount of argenine found in pistachios.
Q. 5. What are the team’s goals for this racing season?
A. In our second year, we want to have a bigger presence in the Cat 1/2 races and continue to progress the guys from the lower categories. We also stress a strong team riding, as part of the focus of the team. We were all friends before we really started racing, and so that makes it easier to ride hard and sacrifice yourself for the good of the team. Ultimately that’s what makes it fun and we enjoy doing that.
Q. 6. What is the Category system of classification to someone unfamiliar with racing?
A. To describe the racing ranking system, it starts with Category 5 and goes to Category 1, with Cat 5 being beginner. Often the Cat 1 and Cat 2s get to mix in with some Professionals as well, so the caliber of racing is extremely tough especially in the NCNCA region which has plenty of National champions and has the reputation of being the fastest region in the US. You get to upgrade categories as you have success and obtain results, which is based on a points system. For example, to upgrade from Category 3 to a Category 2 racer you need to have placed, i.e. 1st through 9th place, in multiple races. So both a Cat 1 or Cat 2 rider is highly experienced and has had some success in achieving that status.
Q. 7. Describe some of the team’s challenges and how that’s been overcome.
A. Cycling is a expensive sport, so some of the challenges are things like getting the resources to train and compete. We are also lucky to have an amazing service course in the form of Fresh Air Bicycles shop. The shop has helped organize us in getting equipment from Focus Bicycles and keeping our bikes tuned!
Q. 8. Is there a team mantra or individual mantra practiced?
A. Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude. Work Hard. Emphasis on team. The rest will fall into place.
Q. 9. What is the average age of the team members?
A. Our average age is around 30. In some cases it correlates with the categories as there are masters races for 35+ which some of the guys do depending on the race. But for the most part we race the Elite category, which is a broader category that includes all ages.
Q. 10. What advice would the team give to anyone interested in becoming involved with cycling, racing, or taking cycling from a hobby to the next level?
A. The first thing to remember is to have fun and make sure you enjoy riding a bicycle. If you want to progress and move up in the ranks, it takes time and dedication, which will be hard to keep up with if you don’t enjoy riding your bike. Reach out to your local bike shops and clubs to find local rides and meet fellow racers. You can get exposed to a lot of new roads and areas around you that you never knew existed. We have come across bay area residents that have never been to, or heard of spots around their own neighborhoods in Marin! But in some cases it is good to keep them as hidden gems!
Thank you for this opportunity to chat, and we look forward to seeing you out on the road!