Crocuses popping up in gardens, the return of red-winged black birds, dry pavement as far as the eye can see—OK, so some signs of spring are more universal than others, but for the region’s cyclists, the arrival of warmer days and snow-free roads is truly a joyful occasion. And for those who’ve spent the winter training with Lauri Brockmiller, it’s time, at long last, to test their mettle after months of preparation for this moment.
Brockmiller is triathlete-turned-cyclist who founded Brockmiller Elite Endurance in Traverse City to help the area’s growing legion of cycling enthusiasts to not only stay on top of their training but also up their game during the off-season. You don’t have to be a pro to work with Brockmiller, but you do have to be seriously committed to the work. She spoke with us about why coaching matters, what makes cycling so special Up North, and where newbies should go to get into this growing sport. Originally this Q&A was published in the May 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
How did you get started in cycling?
I started riding with some of the girls on the Hagerty Cycling Team, and they were very talented riders; I had considered myself kind of fit, but didn’t hold a candle to these women. My background is exercise physiology, and I was a personal trainer, so training was no stranger, but getting that good at cycling takes a lot of focus and precision.
You can’t just go to a spinning class; you need structured training. So I started reading a lot of books and hired a professional coach, and I learned that there were scientific principles you could follow to make you better. And I wanted to share it with everybody. I wanted there to be a place for cyclists in Traverse City to train together. The truth is, you can’t spend September through April not working on your fitness. You’ll never get better.
What does “better” mean in this case?
The cool thing about cycling is that to become good, you have to train all aspects of your cardiovascular system. The better that you can train every aspect of your system, the more equipped you are to win, to be faster than you were last year, to be a better hill climber. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. That’s what my business is. It isn’t about taking somebody in the spring and getting them ready in a month for racing. People start my program in the fall and they work super hard. It’s been awesome to see so many riders at so many different levels get better for themselves.
Talk to us about cycling in Northern Michigan.
We have awesome road riding in Leelanau County—it’s absolutely gorgeous. You can go so far on a bike with very little traffic, see water, see farmland—you come back and you feel like you’ve been on a mini vacation. And then, for mountain bikers we have the VASA and a lot of single-track trails that are really fun to ride.
Any advice for people who want to get more seriously into cycling?
The first step would be a nice bike. The more comfortable you are, the more enjoyment you’re gonna get out of cycling. Get something you can ride on different types of terrain and start going out on safe trails. Start with the TART trail and work some distances there. Once you’re more comfortable, start with the road, or if you’re interested in the dirt, head over to the VASA. Just kind of start groovin’ in.