My wife and I relocated to Colorado in November 2018, and Mike was one of the very first guys to reach out and invite me to join one of the Longmont Velo (local bike shop) group rides. Since that initial invite, I have learned this is very typical of Mike. In groups of any size, there is always a small handful who step up to organize and plan activities. Locally, that would be Mike. Extremely welcoming to new cyclists and always eager to share his favorite rides / routes with Colorado newbies like myself. Mike simply loves everything about cycling: the bikes, the kits, the history of the sport, and more than anything else – the roads.
I have stated before that this blogsite is one-part curiosity of how other 50+ athletes train, eat, prepare and recover – and one part to demonstrate that exercise is even better than medicine. What I can never forget is how important community is to each of us and the role it plays in our overall health. I began Mike’s interview, thinking I would simply profile another outstanding example of overall physical health for another 50+ athlete, but quickly realized this was more of a profile of the importance of community. I believe the “why” requires a little background:
Mike Helmut Schweiger. Hard to find a more German name. In fact, Mike is a first generation American….and a first generation Canadian. Came into the world as a Canadian, but the family quickly relocated to New York, where his parents ran an Italian deli in Long Island. After 18 years of soaking up the Italian culture on Long Island, Mike packed up his pizza oven (this is only funny if you know that almost every true Long Island Italian has a pizza oven, usually on the back deck) and relocated to Fort Lauderdale to be heavily influenced by Cubans to the south in Miami, and the snowbirds to the north in Boca and West Palm.
For the first half of his life, Mike was never a “local”. And when you are an outsider, you tend to be much more inclusive of others. I hope Mike will not mind this leap, but I believe being a Canadian/American of German descent living right in the middle of strong influences from Latinos, Snowbirds, and a large percentage of relocated Europeans – greatly shaped Mike’s empathy for others and his knack for building community.
This background leads directly to Mike’s “cycling origin story”. While working at Zimmerman Advertising, Mike founded zMotion – a 501c3. The foundation’s original intent was to get their employees more active and living a healthier lifestyle. They tried running as a group, but running just didn’t stick. When they introduced the idea of cycling, and participating in the Bike MS fundraiser, it stuck – in a big way. Zimmerman even offered to purchase bikes for employees who signed up for the event and the training program. Zimmerman purchased 50 bikes in their inaugural year and almost double the next. Before Mike departed Zimmerman, zMotion opened membership to non-employees and boasted a roster of 500+.
Over the years, zMotion raised over $5 million to support local & national charities. Beneficiaries of Mike’s passion to build and support his community included the MS Society of South Florida, Livestrong Foundation, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, & Kids in Distress.
Now living in Colorado, Mike’s passion for cycling keeps him fit, healthy (physically and mentally) and right in the middle of several northern Colorado towns that all value cycling and access to incredible hikes through the Rockies. That is the story, now for the details.
50+ years in 50 seconds
Athlete: Mike Schweiger
Home residence: Lyons, CO
Basic Biometrics: 6’0”, 150 – 155.
Occupation when not participating in your sport: bean counter of Cocona, a Boulder based company. (also known as 37.5)
Sports/activities in order of time and preference: cycling is way out in front, then hiking.
Sports when younger? Soccer and basketball in HS
Current injuries: wrist tendonitis (attributes it maybe/possibly to the jump rope)
Past injuries fully recovered: broken collarbone, lots of road rash, broken wrist. Still has the plate and screw from that re-build.
Past injuries that effect today: still has the wrist tendonitis, but does not affect his cycling….much. He still feels it after a long climb.
Age when you stopped recovering quickly from injuries: 51. Also started getting harder to maintain his weight.
Medications I currently use: does not apply
Medications I was able to stop using once I started training: does not apply
Supplements I currently use: I take a daily multi and & a shot of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
Dietary choices or restrictions: Omnivore. I eat a good balance of everything
Average hours of sleep: For years, I’ve consistently gotten 6-7
Do you track your quality of sleep? Nope!
Greatest achievement of being a 50+ athlete: Feeling like I can still hang with the much younger “A group” of cyclists.
Specific to the sport of Cycling
When you started riding:
In my late 30’s. (see above, regarding his time at Zimmerman)
Average miles per year: 8500
Target miles for this year: Same Next year? Same (do you get the feeling Mike is pretty disciplined?)
How do you fuel your rides? (in the bottle / in the pocket)
For breakfast, I start with Bobs Old Fashion rolled oats oatmeal. Pre-Ride, I drink BSN N.O. Explode.
In the pocket, I use Gel Shot Mocha and Bonk Breaker protein bars. In the bottle, I use Science In Sport’s Electrolyte drink with a shot of protein.
Aero bike or climbing bike? Both!
Dream bike? Cervelo
Your next bike? Cervelo.
More than one bike? (for non-cyclists: the correct number of bikes to own is N+1) 9 and counting. (all Cervelos)
Types of riding you most enjoy:
Road primarily. But sometimes….road. Considering more road riding this year…then maybe some gravel.
Any huge bucket list goals or adventures planed?
Training for the Hincapie Fondo in Greenville, SC this October and hopefully a multi-day ride through the Rockies with a small group of friends.
Who most inspires you in your sport?
No single individual. My greatest inspiration are the people on the group rides.
Do you prefer training solo or with a group? Why?
Both. Love the community of the group rides, but the solo rides are tremendous for personal stress and meditation. And if I’m going to explore new roads, I usually go alone the first time.
Favorite training / tracking app?
Strava for the app and my Garmin 1030 for the device. I’m really loving the new mapping & routing features on Strava and the Garmin’s screen really shows off the maps.
Strava: just enjoy the ride, or go “PR hunting”?
Enjoy the ride! Not a big PR hunter.
Not a fan. Hate it. I have rollers but rarely use them. (NOT Mike in the video)
Great irritant related to cycling:
None really. Because of my time w/ zMotion, working with everyone from competitive athletes to complete beginners, I tend to be really tolerant.
Something non-cyclists should know about cyclists:
Non cyclists need to understand that we are husbands, wives, father’s, brothers. No need to make it more dangerous for us. No need to intimidate. Just like you, we want to get home safely to our families.
Why? What motivates you to put yourself through this suffering?
People. Friends. Camaraderie and community. No greater motivation needed.
What singular achievements are you most proud of?
Earlier, when living in south Florida – founding and growing zMotion. This pandemic year, just finding new roads, new routes has been incredibly rewarding. Closer to home – rediscovering family time!
Let’s discuss injuries or medical conditions that effect your training and/or goals:
Just that damned wrist!
Outside of your sport, how do you prepare your body for the stressors of that sport?
I try to consistently work in cross training exercises such as the CrossRope jump rope system, and I take advantage of Fitness Blender’s programs for both kettlebell & body weight exercises. Plus, daily stretching does wonders to eliminate those aches & pains associated with getting older.
Nutrition / diet: has training changed anything about how you eat or drink?
Not dramatically, but I do tend to eat healthier when the training miles ramp up – more in the summer..
Recovery? (not post-exercise, but throughout the year)
I don’t really schedule a specific time of year for recovery, buy I do usually back off mileage through the holidays. I just lose motivation in wintertime.
Any “non-exercise” forms of preventative care? (massage, chiro, personal trainer, blood work, etc)
When the training mileage ramps up – spring and summer – I try to schedule deep tissue massage every 45-60 days.
How healthy were your parents at your age?
Dad was bigtime smoker. He was a very hard worker, but not into fitness at all. He had a triple bypass in his mid-60’s, but there’s no real history of heart disease or other hereditary issues.
Any family history you’ve been able to avoid?
Not really. My dad’s dad died in his 50’s, maybe heart related. Everyone was healthy on Mom’s side.
The health benefits of training / competing: is that a focus? Or just a happy and beneficial outcome?
Just a beneficial outcome. I’m on the bike for so many reasons, but “getting healthy” is not my primary focus.
How do you feel – physically and emotionally – when you miss several days of training?
During the winter – not so bad! During the summer – hate to miss training days.
Do you find a supportive community in your sport / activity?
Yes. But even if I couldn’t find it – I’d create the community for others to find.
Is your family supportive?
Putting on your coaching hat…
What advice would you give your younger self?
Find a coach and get on a structured training program. I have achieved a lot in the world of cycling, but always wondered how far I could have gone if I had worked with a coach. Knowing that someone else is expecting you to show up keeps you disciplined. Maybe become part of a team – the accountability factor is very important.
What advice would you give any 50+ individual that believes their athletic days are better left in the past?
Find a sport you love, then find your motivation to remain consistent. And be patient with the body. Understand the body is not going to change as drastically as it might have when younger.
Any final hard-earned wisdom you’d like to share to the 50+ crowd?
Find what you enjoy and find the time to enjoy your interests. Enjoy the adventure, pedal hard to keep moving forward, push through the headwinds, stay the course, and celebrate the finish line.
Questions for Mike?
Include any questions in the comment section below and I’ll forward his reply.