cycling

161: jill nazeer of diamondback and athlete rach mcbride on inclusivity in outdoor and cycling

“I want to provide that visibility for other folks who are non binary, who want to participate in sport and help them, acknowledge that there is a place for them. It really helped me as well. Once I really identified and embraced my non-binary identity, I could show up at a start line and know who I am. I know that I don’t fit in, but I know why. And I know that it’s okay.”

– Rach McBride

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Rach McBride, a non-binary pro-athlete, shares how they use their platform to be a vehicle for positive change and how brands can follow their lead
  • People for Bikes introduced new sub committees, including a DEI focused committee bringing together individual brands to discuss racial and gender inequality and how to make everyone feel safe on bikes
  • Hear why accepting progress over perfection is the first step for brands! 

EPISODE PREVIEW:

Rach McBride is known in the sports community as ‘the most interesting person in triathlon.’ They were the first triathlete to come out as non-binary and they are using their voice, story and platform, to create an inclusive community and bring awareness and education to individuals and businesses. Rach joins me on this episode of Channel Mastery, along with Jill Nazeer, Diamondback’s Director of Marketing.

You’ll hear Rach’s story of becoming a professional athlete a little later in life, respectively, and what’s ahead for 2021 after the cancellations of so many races in 2020. Rach and Jill share details of the Diamondback Gravel Scholarship, the growth of gravel and what People for Bikes is doing to create a more inclusive and safer environment for new or established cyclists. 

This is a must-listen for brands and businesses unsure about where to start when it comes to inclusivity, diversification and equality. Brands are in the driver seat of the vehicle of change and it’s time to embrace progress over perfection.

GUEST PROFILES:

RACH MCBRIDE

Rach has been racing full-time as a professional triathlete since 2011. Known as the “Purple Tiger,” they are a three-time Ironman 70.3 Champion and have numerous podium and course record results across several distances in the sport. Deemed “the most interesting [person] in triathlon” by TRS Radio, Rach is the first professional triathlete to be out as gender non-binary. They hold two graduate degrees in genetics and are an accomplished cellist. Rach loves being a minimalist, spinning fire, and working in sexual health education and advocacy in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, where they live and train.

JILL NAZEER

Jill Nazeer is the Marketing Director at Alta Cycling, the parent company of Diamondback, Raleigh, Redline, Haibike, and IZIP. Jill has experience working in the outdoor industry for brands such as K2 and The North Face, as well as at non-profits such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training where she managed their Triathlon and Cycle teams. Originally hailing from Chicago, Jill takes full advantage of Seattle’s adventurous spirit, and enjoys bringing her passion for the outdoors to the community.

TOPICS COVERED:

non-binary professional athlete, athlete sponsorship, Diamondback gravel scholarship, brands as vehicles for change, diversity, equity and inclusion, cancelled professional races, 2021 upcoming races, gravel biking, growth of gravel biking, importance of community

SELECT QUOTES:

“I want to provide that visibility for other folks who are non binary, who want to participate in sport and help them, acknowledge that there is a place for them. And it really helped me as well. Once I really identified and embraced my non-binary identity, it allowed me when I show up at a start line now, I know who I am, I know that I don’t fit in, but I know why. And I know that it’s okay.” – Rach

“Like I never, never, ever thought that I would be able to have such an impact on such a platform. And I am so grateful. I’m so grateful to sport, and I am so grateful to the companies and the people who support me. It’s just, it’s unbelievable. And I never, ever, ever thought that I could be this kind of change maker. And it’s really, for me creating what I feel like is my legacy in this, in this sport. And that means so much.” – Rach

“…I think in my mind, really the important thing for companies to do is to take that initiative, to reach out to their community, to reach out to folks who are visible like myself and others about like, Hey, what’s important? What is it that you think is going to make an impact? And what do you want to see? Like where are there holes in how we are presenting ourselves that we can do better? And I think the asking questions is really important. The recognizing that you’re going to make mistakes…” – Rach

“The bike companies are going to make bikes and they’re going to sell bikes, but we’re not really doing everything we can if we’re not also supporting a community of cyclists, feeling safe and included. And so that’s what we’re going to all work together on.” – Jill

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155: Michelle Duffy, Life Time

“And what, what felt so off or or wrong for us for me was emotionally, yes, these are running races or cycling events, but we’re creating life-changing experiences.”

– Michelle Duffy

EPISODE PREVIEW:

Michelle Duffy, Director of Off-Road Events and Marketing for Life Time leads a small and mighty team with huge hearts and a huge commitment to their event athletes. If you are a long-time listener of the podcast, you have likely heard me talk about my love for Leadville and other events that the team at Life Time puts on annually. If you haven’t heard me talk about it, episode 100 recaps the significance of the 2019 race for me personally and introduces Kimo Seymour, SVP of Operations at Life Time. Understanding my own personal love for the events they host, it was obviously unfortunate that almost every single event was cancelled due to the pandemic this year. 

What I am most proud of though in working with Michelle directly and Life Time as a client of Verde Brand Communications throughout the year, is that their team did not shy away from the public, they didn’t climb into the figurative holes each of us likely considered, even if just for a second. No – Life Time’s team immediately found ways to stay connected to their target consumers. They offered challenges to all groups of people to participate in, they rebranded in the midst of a pandemic, they raised unbelievable amounts of money for foundations and organizations within their racing communities and pivoted in so many more ways than you’d believe.

I cannot wait to see what the Life Time team does in 2021!

GUEST PROFILES:

Michelle Duffy

Michelle Duffy is the Director of Off-Road Events and Marketing for Life Time.

TOPICS COVERED:

2020 Event Pivots, Event Management in a Pandemic, Virtual Racing Events, Cycling, Life Time Events, Dirty Kanza Rebranding, Unbound 2021, Emporia, Kansas, Bentonville, Arkansas, Leadville 100,000 Challenge, Leadville Racing

SELECT QUOTES:

And what, what felt so off or or wrong for us for me was emotionally, yes, these are running races or cycling events, but we’re creating life-changing experiences.”

“…And always like, whatever we’re doing is contributing positively. Whether that person holds on to the event experience, it’s just another like notch in the belt for them, or it’s something that changes their life for the entirety of their life. We’re always providing something euphoric joy, a point on the calendar that you, your family, your loved ones, your coworkers know you’re trending towards. And to then cancel, that was, it’s not just like you’re closing a store down for a short time and you’re not able to go get your groceries at the store. You’re used to going to go get your drink at the bar. You’re going to, this is like we’re dream makers. And we became dream breakers. And that was really hard for us because it’s so foreign to crush people. Usually our courses are what’s crushing people, but not the, the ability to have the event. So that was emotional, I think, for the whole team and for our communities.”

“…And a hundred thousand feet is ridiculously hard in an area like Florida or Ohio, but we came out with different content pieces or suggestions on how you, okay. You live in Florida, we’ll find a bridge and figure out how, what the elevation gain is on that bridge and go and do it as many times as you need to, until you hit a hundred thousand feet. And we had people do that and we had people manipulate their treadmills to add even more vertical gain on their treadmill so they could accomplish it. Or they spent a lot of time on the trainer. And we also launched a relay option, which was really successful particularly for families. So children haven’t been able to participate in our events but they could do this challenge…”

“I mean, it’s {Dirty Kanza race re-branding to Unbound} supposed to represent the feeling that people feel out there, like these roads, these, the Prairie, it feels limitless. And you’re kind of stepping away from all of reality when you’re out there riding 50, a hundred, 200, 350 miles of Flint Hills gravel. It’s also, it’s pretty unforgiving out there and yeah, so we’re excited and no rebrand is easy, you know, I’ve joked like how do you rebrand Pepsi? Or how do you rebrand Nike, and while I understand we are not Pepsi or Nike, we are in our space.”

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153: Eric Porter, Diamondback Athlete

“…And so what that got me thinking was how can I connect to my audience and come across in a way that really is me and that isn’t trying to jump on a trend and trying to make it on YouTube, but really just putting across my thoughts. And so that was, you know, I had to figure out how I wanted to come in the videos and how I could sound like me and talk to the camera…I really wanted to come across in [my videos] as me.”

– Eric Porter

EPISODE PREVIEW:

Eric Porter is a professional mountain biker that I have worked with over the years in a variety of different ways. At the end of every year, he’s traditionally planning his trips for the new year, but just like so many of us in 2020, he had to change how he approached this past year. 

With cancelled trips, races and essentially all plans, he pivoted to focus on video production and ramped up his Youtube Channel – Porter MTB – over the past year. His goal throughout the year was reaching 100k follower and for him, he’s committed to turning out high quality videos, ensuring the videos he shares feature him authentically and that he’s connecting with his fans and followers. 

As we’ve all seen in 2020, we have to adjust to where our consumers are and how their behavior has shifted. Eric and his fellow athletes at Diamondback and other brands are practicing what they preach and providing authentic content that speaks to their followers. 

Listen to the full episode to hear how he reached – and exceeded – that 100k followers goal and what’s next to come for him!

GUEST PROFILES:

Eric Porter

Eric Porter is a father, fly fisherman, backcountry snowboarder, and Professional Mountain Biker. He grew up racing cross country mountain bikes, then switched to downhill and won Collegiate National Championships, and then switched to freeriding, where he was the first to grind handrails on a mountain bike. He spent the next 8 years on the World Slopestyle Tour and filming for big free ride videos, which piqued his interest in traveling the world. Since 2011 he has been on the forefront of mountain bike adventuring, riding his bike places no one else has been, and sharing those adventures with the world. He spends time on all of his bikes, from the road bike at home while training, to dirt jumping in his legendary backyard riding setup, to the XC bike for endurance and adventure racing, and mixing in a healthy dose of bikepacking as well. He is also trying hard to help as a public lands and trails advocate, volunteering as President of Wasatch Trails Foundation, helping to build and maintain multi-use trails in Utah.

TOPICS COVERED:

mountain biking, professional cycling, professional athlete, 2020 reflection

SELECT QUOTES:

“…And so what that got me thinking was how can I connect to my audience and come across in a way that really is me and that isn’t trying to jump on a trend and trying to make it on YouTube, but really just putting across my thoughts. And so that was, you know, I had to figure out how I wanted to come in the videos and how I could sound like me and talk to the camera…I really wanted to come across in [my videos] as me.”

“…I do feel like a large majority of the people that are getting bikes and getting into mountain biking. Now they’re not going to leave. It’s one of those things that once you discover it, I think you’re in it’s really fun. And the more you do it, the more fun it gets and you, you don’t have to have a team. You don’t have to have you know, you can just go out and ride and have a good time. So I’m hoping that you know, a lot of people stick around for longer. And so think part of that with my channel is that I can speak directly to a lot of those new consumers and on some of the ethics of mountain biking and tell them that trail advocacy matters because they’re new.”

“It’s been 10 years that I’ve been on Diamondback and every trip I go on, almost every time I hear a story from somebody that I meet in a new town or wherever on the trail about their first time and back, everybody’s got a story about it. So yeah, a lot of people have a really personal longtime connection to this brand.”

“I have no idea where I’ll be able to go or what I’ll be able to do, but I do know that my job is to connect with consumers that are potentially looking to buy stuff from the brands…”

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152: Steve Matous, National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA)

Steve Matous, the president of National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), shares how NICA immediately reached out to partners and sponsors at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure they could still operate and continue to serve the cycling community, their initiatives to invite newcomers to the sport, the importance of their missions through the pandemic and more.