Development race series at the Chicago Velocampus' Velodrome
2x20 - Late but not Forgotten! With Visionquest's Michael Heagney!
No, it is NOT the 2nd of June! However, on the 2nd of June we were all busy racing at The Glencoe Grand Prix. That day Michael Heagney, Coach for Visionquest, won the Masters 30+ 1/2/3 race and I asked him to answer some questions for June’s 2x20. This past weekend he raced at Galena and finished in the top 10 in the pro/1/2 Crit and Masters 40+ road race. Between all that racing, his coaching for Visionquest, and his other day job, it’s understandable that our interview took awhile! However, I am very glad I got the chance to pick Mr. Heagney’s brain. With each 2x20 I read, I learn something new and get excited about how quality the racing and racers are here in Illinois.
1. First off - What does Visionquest mean and why is visionquest called that?
Visionquest is a movie about a passionate underdog. It seems fitting since Visionquest is place where people come to overcome hurdles in their path to success. With facilities personnel & spirit to help anyone accomplish whatever it is they strive for.
2. How long have you been involved in bike racing and briefly how did you get started?
I've been involved in cycling for about 30 years. Originally, as an escape out of the neighborhood, then racing my friends to the neighboring town signs, local group rides, some Friday night track racing at Northbrook Velodrome then it all snowballs from there. As a 15 year old I ran into Randall Coxworth, a young strong local racer, who just got his drivers license, he helped me get into lycra, a new bike and on the road we went to regional races...boy my parents loved that!
3. How did your involvement with coaching begin?
Officially it began about 4 years ago when Robbie Ventura called me asking if I would be interested in racing on his cycling team. From there I offered to get involved in more of the coaching side of things they had going on over at Visionquest. It quickly turned into a true role of coaching athletes, leading rides, running classes and assisting with camps. Prior to that I would say coaching to me was more of an involuntary thing helping out local athletes here and there and always trying to give the best advice. Everything clicked once the VQ outlet was available and the resources were available to take coaching / giving back to the next level.
4. What is your favorite types races to do?
I like the challenges that the different races bring; road races, cyclocross races, an occasional TT, maybe once a year a night at the track but my favorite events are definitely the Criteriums, the more fast paced and technical the better.
5. What is your approach to coaching? In your face or more laid back? Cerebral. Much of my coaching is getting others to discover what is within. It's getting an athlete to sometimes think different, approach things different and change their perspective on how good they really can be. Hard training and wattage will get you so far but when I start to get the athlete to say positive things about what they are doing out there is when the results really
start to happen.
6. Do you yourself have a coach? I know that some do? Have you ever had one?
For many many years I was coached by Doug Close who still does work with many aspiring young cyclists in the area. But over the past several years I have been self coached while always reading and seeking out the advice from experts in their given arena - nutrition, recovery and new workout strategies. At Visionquest many of the experts come to us to discuss the latest ideas and trends which helps me continually add to my knowledge base. I've also learned a lot more about myself since coaching others. The feedback and relationships I have with my athletes continually help me critique and adjust what seems to be not only working for them but what is working for me. It has also helped me remain more regimented with my
training since I do many of the same workouts as my athletes do so I can relate to how they may be feeling and can adjust accordingly.
7. You said you have a wide range of clients - what are they like - age gender wise?
It is a mix from Jr level to 50+, what they have in common are their goals in their particular cycling events. It's about building up the engine room on the bike and in the weight room with constant advice and reinforcement on the intangibles to help get them to the next level.
8. What is your ideal client like: Someone who is very out of shape who can make vast improvements or someone who is in great shape but just trying to get that much faster? The Ideal client is someone who is passionate and open minded about learning new things. When I see ideas or strategies being believed and applied early on I know we're on the road to success.
9. My coaches least favorite workout (to do himself) is 5 minute VO2 Max intervals what about you? Do you have a least favorite workout to do? My least favorite workout to do is a medium / fast ride. There is nothing worse than riding with someone who is riding on the edge of the talking zone. It's not super hard but it never lets up, most times there is no training purpose to this ride "lets slow down or throw down".
10. What is your FAVORITE workout to do? My favorite ride is a 2.5 hour ride at about 12 mph chatting with a buddy. This is when you know your work is in and it's time to smell the flowers and just enjoy an active rest day. Sometimes we forget about the joy of just getting out and being on the bike, it's really where it all began and why we still all continue to do this.
11. In your opinion, when and why should someone choose coaching? When an athlete is ready to explore new ideas they are ready for coaching. I believe coaching is a soundboard, someone to look at things from another perspective and lend their expertise in streamlining a better way to a solution. I'll always tell an athlete that coaching is not a dictatorship but a relationship, the more feedback and communication the more fruitful the results will be.
12. What levels of service do you offer clients? On-line programs, workout analyzation, resistance training periodization, bike position, pedal analyzation and simply being a soundboard. Also, with 30 years of experience I have a lot to offer on the bike, you can learn a lot about an athlete by just going out on a ride with them. So much can be learned by changing mechanics and being aware of your relationship to the bike and just how many ways there
are to change that relationship. Pedal stroke, good bike position and great awareness many times crosses the finish line before big wattage does.
13. Is it hard to let clients go? Athletes will come and go, sometimes getting another perspective or taking a perspective to another level is important. At Visionquest there are so many alternatives that switching to another coach within the system is really not that uncommon and many times continues the growth pattern for that athlete.
14. What is coming up next for you in racing? Any big goals this season? I'm just a weekend warrior. It is a short and quick season this year with many of the big races starting the beginning of June and ending already in the early part of August. I'm particularly looking forward to the Tour of Americas Dairyland races coming up in here in June, the fields and level of competiion are taken to the next level making it so much more rewarding when
getting up on that podium.
15. What has been your favorite experience as a racer? My favorite experiences as a racer continue to be doing well or winning a race where you have a lot of friends and family cheering you on. They're the ones that know how much time and effort you sink into the sport and therefore share in the joys when you succeed.
16. What about as a coach? Seeing an athlete have everything come together on the day they intended. Like above, many times this is a hometown event or maybe a State or National level event and when all things are ticking, the peak was timed nicely, it's good to see the athlete in the zone.
17. Who is your favorite client? An athlete who is able to soak up information and is able to apply it is so rewarding. Sometimes an athlete just needs a way to unleash their potential and when you are that coach who is able to help open the floodgates it's pretty cool.
18. What is it like working with Robbie Ventura? Working with Robbie is great, I have the latitude to do and create many of the things I do at VQ. Between group rides, camps, personal coaching, running classes and or creating new programs the last thing he wants is for me, or any coach for that matter, to get spread too thin and not focusing on the things they're best at. Being honest about your strengths, knowing your weaknesses and communicating
this is best for the whole.
19. Are you taking new clients? I'm taking on the right athletes if it seems like the right fit. Fit is important and I'm always excited about opening up the discussion or going out on a bike ride to make sure the relationship would be fruitful.
20. AND do you listen to music when working out or warming up and if so what’s your favorite song to get you pumped? I do listen to music when working out at the gym or indoors on a trainer, though, I never ride outside with headphones since I like to be more aware of my surrounding when out on the bike. When getting pumped up I may lean towards The Dillinger Escape Plan or Melvins, when cooling down it's more likely Miles Davis or Ween and when I'm
ready to laugh again I'm likely to listen to Frank Zappa.
For more information about coaching with Mike Heagney or seeking out more information about Visionquest Coaching please go to www.visionquestcoaching.com
Quad Cities Criterium - a portion of the 4 day Memorial Day Weekend race series in Eastern Iowa/Western, IL
The South Chicago Wheelmen
The South Chicago Wheelmen
Thursday night race series that runs throughout the summer at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook