Although not a new coach, Frank Overton of FasCat Coaching is opening a new facility in North Boulder. 303Cycling joined his new group ride this past Tuesday. We also asked him a few questions about himself and his business. Here are his answers.
[303Cycling] Cycling coaches have varying back grounds. What is your background and how did it bring you to coaching?
[Frank] I have two “backgrounds”, two passions really, that I’ve managed to merge into one job that I can also be passionate about. Originally the game plan was to go to medical school and become a doctor. Prior to this I was a “laboratory technician” for two years at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University Medical School. We had an NIH grant to study the regenerative effects of cytokines on rat astrocytes. In other words, we were a spinal cord research laboratory.
During this time before grad school, I started getting into bikes. After my day at the lab, I would ride a beater mountain bike around checking out Wake Forest. Next thing you know I'm off exploring the woods on the trails. Somehow that beater bike got stolen and I saved up my money for nearly a year for a Specialized Stumperjumper with a Rock Shox Judy fork. I’ll never forget what my medical student roommate said to me when I brought that bike home, “I don’t know why you bought that – you’re not going to have any time to ride it once you start med school”. But I started riding a lot and for me that naturally turned into racing. I was a complete newbie – I had to go buy a helmet for my first race. It was November and chilly so I wore a pair of long pants that I cut off just below the knee.
After 2 years of culturing spinal cord astrocytes in the lab I decided to go back to school at nearby NC State to study physiology and improve my GPA for my medical school application, still sticking to the original plan. Looking back all I really wanted to do was help people in the two areas I was passionate about - science and my new discovery, bikes. Grad school was awesome because all the subjects that we were studying gave me insight into exercise & performance. Biochemistry, physiology,endocrinology, immunology, nutrition, etc…. I found myself gravitating towards the exercise physiology side of my studies and away from medicine. It went from "what can I learn in school" to "what can I learn to help improve my racing." And I was doing well with mountain bike racing – moving up from the beginning class to the “expert” class all in one season. Long story short, I bailed on medical school and a Ph.D in physiology to move out to Boulder and race bikes.
So now it's 1997, I'm a sport class mountain biker with a masters degree in physiology from NC State University and I moved straight to Boulder for “bikes & biotech”. I had this wild idea that Boulder was the place for me to go if I wanted to be a better mountain biker. And Amgen’s research laboratories were in Boulder so I could probably get a job as a research scientist to support my racing. From 1997 till 2004 that’s what I did: bikes & biotech. During that time I moved from an expert mountain bike up to the semi-pro category and went from a cat 5 to a cat 1 road cyclist.
In biotech I found a home at a place called OmegaTech. (I even got them to sponsor the mountain bike teams I was on from ’99-02.) In 2001 I got as far as filing a patent but by ’02 OmegaTech was done. My attention turned to training and racing full time for the 2002 & 2003 seasons. Had a blast! It was during this time that I decided to act on my interests from grad school and apply my studies to helping cyclists. Like I think I said before, that’s all I originally wanted to do with medical school - help people.
I remember thinking to myself in the winter of 2002, “if I can coach 10 athletes at $100 each, I can train and race full time”. It didn’t quite work out that way but I did grow my coaching business. And I grew it enough that in 2004 I was able to leave biotech to work full time as a and to train and race as a cat 1 road cyclist. I think what made that possible was the growing popularity of training with powermeters. I had been using an SRM since 2001 and had been working with a coach by the name of Dave Morris since 1999. Power data brought the science and physiology of cycling off the road and into the computer. There it was possible to quantify and analyze the data and use the principles of physiology to help athletes “go faster”. It was a career custom tailored for me: the science + the cycling and I put everything I had into it and I still do today.
My background equation = research scientist/biotech/MS in Physiology + Cat 5 > Cat 1 bike racer.
[303Cycling] Tell us about your new coaching facility and what services do you provide?
[Frank] The new coaching facility is a place where endurance athletes of many different levels can come to improve their cycling. They can talk with a knowledgeable staff about our services and what we do can to help them. I’ve hand selected a staff of top notch coaches each with their own individual niche.
I wanted to give our coaching business more than a home office so that we’d have the infrastructure & resources to offer athletes a variety of services: Personal Coaching, Training Camps, Physiological Testing, Performance Bicycle Fitting, Powermeter Sales & Training with Power Consultations,Indoor Cycling Classes
We are equipped with state of the art exercise physiology testing equipment – the very same equipment used at the Olympic Training Center. We have a biomechanics lab for performance bicycle fitting and will be rolling out our power based indoor cycling this Fall. We are also very much about training with power. We can help cyclists figure out which meter makes sense and at a level they can afford. And with that powermeter we’ll give a free month of coaching to maxamize training with the new tool.
[303Cycling] In your opinion what is the first step a cyclist needs to take to improve performance?
[Frank] The first step a cyclist needs to take to improve their performance is to organize their training program and in most cases train more than they have been. If they are already riding as much as they can then they just need to implement a few training strategies to make more out of the time they have.
[303Cycling] Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
[Frank] Come on in! We are located in North Boulder next to Boulder Cycle Sport and Subway because we know everybody rides by there. Stop on in, check the place out, talk with our coaches about what we are doing and how we can help you. You can also follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook or follow our Performance Center blog.
Good luck to Frank and the FasCat Crew from 303Cycling!