Cathie Anderson

Sacramento-reared cycling pros opening training studio for amateur, elite athletes

In early May, Sacramento-reared cycling professionals Michael Sayers and Julie Young will open a midtown training center for cyclists, runners and other endurance athletes who want a more efficient approach to their workout regimens.

Wait – don’t leave before you understand that. Although Sayers and Young have competed and coached at the pro level, this mecca will not be an elite-athletes-only kind of place. That business strategy wouldn’t be very viable in the Sacramento region.

“I don’t very often tell people that I was a pro athlete. That’s not my identity,” Sayers told me. “We’re going to make this a community place. It doesn’t have to be about the working out. Tour of Flanders was (held recently). ... If I had been open, I guarantee I would have had Tour of Flanders on at 6 in the morning with the coffee machine fired up. People could come in and watch it because it’s not easy to stream here in America. They could watch it on the big screen, enjoy a cup of coffee, sit on my couch and just lounge.”

The new entry from Sayers and Young, which they are calling Dai! Endurance Studio, is bound to raise the profile of Sacramento’s cycling community and create a ripple of excitement among even backsliding cyclists such as this columnist.

Sayers coached one of the top three pro cycling teams, the BMC Racing Team, and U.S. Olympic road cyclists. Young was a top pro rider and a competitor on the U.S. national A-team for 12 years. As a coach, she has worked with cycling’s most prominent physiologists and coaches: Chris Carmichael, Mirek Mazur, Leonard Harvey Nitz and Dr. Massimo Testa.

At Dai!, 1401 21st St., Young and Sayers want to assist individuals who are serious about improving their performance or about finally achieving a life goal such as finishing the Death Ride or the California International Marathon. They took their studio name from the greeting they received from cycling fans when competing in southern Italy.

 ‘Dai’ is an Italian word for ‘let’s go,’ ” said Sayers, a graduate of Carmichael’s Jesuit High School. “For those of us who have raced in Italy, especially in the southern part, those fans on the side of the road, they yell ‘Dai you!’ You don’t know what it means until you look it up, and then you realize they’re telling you to go.”

He and Young, a graduate of Sacramento’s St. Francis High School, will use physiological tests and state-of-the-art training equipment to raise the performance of their clients. They will work with the Kaiser Permanente sports medicine facility at Golden 1 Center to assess peak oxygen intake and other training targets for clients, Sayers said, and then they’ll design workouts for Wahoo-brand bike trainers with readouts that show whether riders hit the recommended targets.

“We’ll run classes of various difficulties, depending on the day of the week and the time of day,” Sayers said. “We’d do an Intensity Tuesday, for instance. My partner Julie and I will build the training programs out, or if you want to work out as an individual and you have your own training program or you’re working with your own coach, you can certainly come in and use the Wahoo trainers and get your workout in that way.”

It’s not all spin at this studio, though. Long before other pro cyclists, Sayers was cross-training with suspension systems allowing him to work against his own weight. He also was doing yoga and conditioning his body with strength exercises.

He and Young will be offering classes in Foundation Training, movements and positions that teach the muscles to disperse weight more evenly and maintain postural alignment under varying loads, as a way to help clients prevent injury. They are using the Redcord system that many physical therapists use for suspension exercises. Their clients will be able to meet up with cycling buddies by using the addicting Zwift virtual reality system where thousands of avatars pedal away on programmed rides.

Sayers said he likes using physiological testing along with Wahoo and Zwift because, when combined, they all make for incredibly efficient workouts: “The Wahoo system allows you to get the most bang for your buck. ... It allows you to train efficiently, and it gives you a goal to reach. If your aerobic threshold is at 200 watts and we want to make you better, we know that we need to get you to 210. We want to develop a training program for you based on you, not on some study that was done on somebody else. We can target you specifically.”

Young will use motion-capture systems to analyze runners’ gaits as well as the bike fit for cyclists, Sayers said. It’s something she has done for years, most recently through O2fitness, a coaching service she runs.

“The way our location is going to work, you can buy a memberships ... for all the types of classes,” Sayers said, “or you can just come in and do a Wahoo class or a personal training class. We can build out a training program for you. Or, we can just do a training program, and you can just pay ($20) for the classes on a drop-in basis.”

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee