In this episode of the Sport Lifestyle Network Podcast, our guest host Michael Jaquet, or MJ, speaks with his friend Rob DeMartini, the current CEO of USA Cycling and formerly the CEO of New Balance. MJ is uniquely qualified to have this conversation as he is the Chief Partnership Officer at DRAGONFLi Media and was the CMO for USA Ski and Snowboard. No one knows the NGB space better than MJ.

The guys discuss Rob’s path to USA Cycling, previously running business units and divisions at P&G, later serving as the CEO at New Balance, all before becoming a small business owner in Park City, Utah, where he currently resides.  Rob discusses the challenges of leading a passion-driven organization like USA Cycling, along with the silver linings the Covid Pandemic has provided. USA Cycling has ambitious goals for Tokyo in 2021, along with Paris and Los Angeles.

Podcast Highlights

10:56 –  A passion-driven industry: “I think I’d like to have resources and passion. I think if you gave me a choice, I’ll take passion over resources. And if I can get the mix right, we can accomplish what we need to do.”

13:30 – Covid allowed new opportunities: “It forced the team to really think differently. And it’s led us to a number of things that I hope we’ll get a chance to talk about when we’re there.”

15:10 – Making cycling more approachable: “I sat back when I first got here and I looked at the size of the different NGBs, and then I looked at the size of the sport. And, you know, in some ways we have just this massive opportunity because cycling is I’ll call it a mid-sized NGB, but from sport participation, we have one of the biggest sports out there.”

19:03 – Building a path to cycling: “Almost all of our top athletes come from another sport. And they’ve either skilled out or they’ve burned out or they’ve injured out. And then they have a family member or a close friend who says, hey, you got a big engine. Why don’t you get on a bike? Well, that’s a great way in, but it’s not very democratic. It’s not getting to kids who don’t have that path. And that’s what we got to build.”

23:03 – We Champion Cycling: “We’ve got a new mission called We Champion Cycling. It’s about getting more people in youth programs at the bottom of participation, encouragement in the middle, and then a good Olympic development engine that will find the talent and develop it.”

26:05 – The potential of racing: “ I mean, just rough numbers, you know, racing, active racing membership has been around 75,000 to 100,000 for the last decade. And historically the organization has done a pretty good job of kind of keeping that number flat, but it’s not growing. We have 75,000 to 100,00 racers, and 7,000,000 active cyclists.”

38:35 – Connecting entry-level audience to top athletes: “I do believe in serving the entry-level of the market. And then connecting these top athletes and Kate (Courtney) and I have talked about this. She’s done some of this already. You know, she has real passion for getting more girls riding.”

49:50 – USA Coaches looking ahead: “I think it was about six weeks probably before Tokyo pulled the trigger. And, you know, as soon as it was pulled, Jim’s (Miller) immediate reaction was how do I make the USA cycling team stronger next summer than they are this summer?”