By: Eric Davis
Matt Adams is President of Mike’s Bikes. But, as he likes to say, he is not Mike. What Matt is however, is a devoted husband and father and Masters-aged Cat 3 bike racer with Team Mike’s Bikes Masters team, who can count a win in a very hotly contested 2013 Pescadero Road Race (Masters 35+ 123 ) among his palmares.
I recently caught up with Matt on his cell as he sat in SFO waiting to board a plane for brief business trip to the Raleigh Bikes US Headquarters in Seattle.
Q: I have to ask – Who is Mike?
A: Who is Mike? Well, the true, historical answer is that Mike was a real guy and he did start Mike’s Bikes in San Rafael back in the day. At Mike’s Bikes in 2014 however, we like to say that Mike is anyone who rides or race, anyone who participates in the broader cycling community: racers, commuters – you name it.
Q: Tell me a about yourself. How did you get involved in racing? How did you first discover the sport and how did it lead into your role with Mike’s Bikes.
A: I grew up in San Rafael during the 80’s and 90’s. I got into biking when my dad bought me a mountain bike, which I used to explore the trails in and around San Rafael. I was in middle school at the time and he and I used to ride together.
Later, I went off to college and discovered other things. I continued to ride, of course. One day I discovered a flyer for a mountain bike race- I’d sort of been jonesing for some competition- and decided to do it. It was my first real “bike race” and I was hooked.
I continued to race mountain bikes through college and my plan was to try and pursue a career as a cross country mountain bike racer. Enduro (mountain biking) was a bigger deal than it is now, you understand. But even if I was going pro, I still needed a steady income.
Q: And this was when you first started working for Mikes?
A: Yes. I got a job as a sales person and raced with their mountain bike team for a year. After awhile, I decided that, in order to keep progressing, I needed to either take it very, very seriously, or choose a different path. I chose the latter.
Q: You stayed with Mikes?
A: Yes, but on the business side, not as a competitor; and eventually I became one of the owners of the company.
Q: Tell me about the Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffees team. What was your involvement initially and how are you involved now?
A: The basic plan was hatched by one of our employees, Hank Scholz, and myself. Initially, we put together a small Elite Road team. I remember going to see the team race at the Land Park Crit in 2011, I think. Watching the team out there sparked something in me and I thought, “I can do this racing thing.”
Q: What was your first race?
A: My first race was “Cat’s Hill” in Los Gatos – it’s a race that Mike’s Bikes sponsors.
Q: Was it difficult for you? Getting back to competitive racing, that is?
A: As with everything in my life, I enjoy the process of getting better, whether its athletics or business. So I kept progressing, always looking at the next level. From looking at the Cat 4s as 5, thinking, “Oh man, that’s going to be hard,” to where I am now as a Cat 3.
Q: And how do balance your desire to keep progressing with the demands of running a successful business and raising a family?
A: Finding the right balance is by far the most challenging thing for me. I don’t have 15 hours a week to ride, so finding the time is critical. Up until this year, I pretty much did it all on my own. But I realized that if I really was going to make the leap to the next level, I needed to some assistance.
Q: Which is where Dana Williams and Achieve PTC come in?
A: Exactly. I met Dana through the team (I knew of him, but I didn’t know him very well before then), and we are started talking. He is also a father and we shared many of the same goals and challenges.
His philosophy boils down to getting the most out the least amount of time- something I that I can intimately related to. It just clicked.
Q: Coming into this season, and knowing that your training was going to be different, what sort of goals did you set for yourself, and how did your training reflect that?
A: Winning Pescadero last year was a surprise, but it was the first time I said to myself, “Yeah, I belong here with these guys.” So this year, my goal was to broaden that success, to be successful at different kinds of races: Snelling, Copperopolis, Tamarancho (I still do the occasional mountain bike race), Nevada City…races like that. And this year, I still managed to get second at Pescadero.
Q: It’s obviously a race that suites you.
A: Yeah, (the finishing climb) Haskins really seems to suite me. But not only those races, I wanted to do well at the (Mike’s Bikes-hosted) Col du Pantoll ride, and even the Chicken ride (an unofficial Friday morning hammer fest that runs from Tiburon to Corte Madera in Marin County). And of course, my ultimate goal is to get my Cat 2 upgrade so that I can do a race or two with our Elite Team…Something I never thought possible when I first started racing.
Q: Any goals for the rest of the season?
A: The first half of the season is fairly well defined for me, but there isn’t an obvious goal for the end of the season. Really, I’d like to be strong enough to help out the team while trying to get my last 6 upgrade points. Oh, and maybe do well at the Mount Tam Hill Climb.
Q: Thanks, Matt. I really appreciate you taking the time for this interview. Best of luck with the rest of the season. Any final words?
A: Just this: I start from a place where I tell myself that the fact that I get to ride my bike every day is pretty cool. At the end of the day, I remind myself that this is just a fun, dumb hobby where a bunch of old guys get go out and ride their bikes. With that perspective, its really very hard to be disappointed.
Matt Adams’ Set-up: