Ted Huang - Mental Performance Expert. Why do we ride?
On this week’s podcast, we kick off a series of conversations about the meanings and motivations that underlie why we ride. Our first guest is two-time Olympian (wind surfing), former Pro cyclist, Pro team founder, Sport Psychologist, friend, and Ridership member Ted Huang. Together Ted and I explored collaborative vs. coercive team dynamics, the power of vulnerability in leadership, intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, perfectionism and the inner critic, flow states, mindfulness, inclusion and belonging, and other aspects of the riding experience that extend and indeed originate well beyond the bike.
The goal of these episodes is to spark conversation that is of value to the community and its members, and we hope you’ll join us over at the The Ridership forum (sign up at www.theridership.com) with your ideas, questions, and feedback.
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Ted Huang - Episode Transcription
[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the gravel ride podcast. I'm Randall Jacobs, and this is the first in a series of episodes that Craig has graciously invited me to host in which i'll be bringing on guests to unpack the meaning and motivations that underlie why we ride.
[00:00:12]Like Craig's episodes and our joint In The Dirt series, these episodes will simply appear in your feed as they're produced.
[00:00:18] Randall R. Jacobs: [00:00:18] Before we get started. I'd just like to encourage anyone who enjoys the podcast to support Craig in his work by going to buymeacoffee.com/thegravelride and making a donation.
[00:00:28]My first guest is Ted Huang. Ted is a two time Olympian in the sport of wind surfing, a former cat one road racer who competed in professional races here in the U S, a co- founder of two professional teams, one men's and one women's, and finally he is a sports psychologist who helps elite and amateur athletes alike achieve both their performance goals and a more balanced life through cycling. And with that, let's get started.
[00:00:53] Ted Huang, welcome to the podcast. So glad to have you on.
[00:00:57] Ted Huang: [00:00:57] Thank you.
[00:00:58]Randall R. Jacobs: [00:00:58] So this is the first [00:01:00] in a series of conversations here on the pod, talking about this concept of ridership. This concept is pretty broad in the sense, you and I have discussed before around, fellowship and friendship and the bicycle is a vehicle for connection and what does this experience mean in a deeper sense? So I'm really excited to explore this with you. If you could give the audience a quick sense of your background, where you come from and what you do now?
[00:01:23]Ted Huang: [00:01:23] I was born in the Bay area, Sunnyvale native, and I wasn't really into team sports so much when I was younger, I had a couple of bad experiences and ended up falling into the sport called windsurfing some of you may have heard of, it's basically a surfboard with the sales stuck on top that you hang on to and then go cruise to different places. So it's really the ultimate exploration machine on the water.
[00:01:49] And I did that starting the age of 11. Very supportive parents started competing, ended up going to two Olympics in wind surfing and then [00:02:00] also loved the sport of cycling and actually went into road racing. I wanted to see how far I could take that sport just for fun cause I wanted to try something more aerobicly challenging and little did I know road cycling actually was much more of a team sport and help me develop my sense of belonging to something. So I was part of a team really took to the teammates, actually co-founded two professional cycling teams of men's and women's teams, and did that for a number of years.
[00:02:33] And it just made me realize this whole power of many trumps the power of one in terms of satisfaction and reward. So that really helped me find my way to what I'm doing today, which is a mental performance coach. Went back, got my degree in sports psychology, and now trying to help people become the best versions of themselves, or be more comfortable in their own skins.
[00:02:58]Randall R. Jacobs: [00:02:58] That resonates [00:03:00] granted I didn't go quite as far in my professional athletics career. I was a pack fodder pro cross country racer.
[00:03:06]Ted Huang: [00:03:06] That's not what I hear, but yeah.
[00:03:07]Randall R. Jacobs: [00:03:07] I was a decent local competitor at one point.
[00:03:10]And at this point my relationship to the bike has shifted a lot and I really want to explore what is the deeper meaning of this experience? So you talked about connection, for example, and in fact, I recall very fondly being on a group ride and meeting you and we had a brief conversation and it was less the conversation itself than the feeling of here's somebody who's really kind who wants to include everyone in the ride experience . So when we started this off, it was very natural to reach out.
[00:03:35] Ted Huang: [00:03:35] Likewise, when I first met you, it was like this very positive and curious person who was so impassioned by not just cycling. Now it all seems aligned, that you wanted to share the same sense of community with your cycling experience to others, and maybe that's part of your thesis bikes vision is, creating that sense of community with other people.
[00:03:59] [00:04:00]To me it doesn't matter why we ride, how fast we ride, how slow we ride. It's just that we get out there. And that's the most important thing, because I don't know how many times people like, Oh, I don't want to ride with you. You're gonna be too fast or whatever. I'll be too slow . It doesn't really matter. Don't apologize for anything about your speed or your technique, because I'll be the first one to say, I suck at mountain biking, my technical skills are horrible. But I still enjoy it for the same reasons and you're right. It takes time and self-belief and confidence to get past that. I still have trouble, that lack of confidence and things you don't know how to do, but that's the whole neat thing about cycling is there's no shortage of people out there to help you who want to help you. And going back to community, that would probably be the common theme here is that helps build that sense because we all want each other to have fun. At least the riders I want to ride with are like that.
[00:04:52]Randall R. Jacobs: [00:04:52] Yeah, I definitely recall when I was racing particularly within the roadie scene to a lesser extent, the mountain bike scene have a [00:05:00] really strong competitive element. And there was almost on the one hand a masochistic need to suffer and a glorification of suffering. And I can suffer more than you and somehow that's a source of worth.
[00:05:11] And then also I'm going to punish the other riders. I'm going to rip your legs off. I'm going to make your lungs burn and I think it feeds a baser instinct than the reasons I ride and the types of riders I'm attracted to now why they ride and the opportunity for riding and the bicycle itself to be a vehicle for connection . So I'm curious tell me about the transition for you from a wind surfing to riding on a team. What age? Was there a lot of overlap? Was the bike tool for training.
[00:05:41]Ted Huang: [00:05:41] So my high school graduation present was a 1988 Bianchi Superleggera Columbus SLSB tubing, beautiful bike. I bought it from a ski shop and I loved riding it, but it was just a cross-training tool and I just [00:06:00] liked the aerobic nature kind of allowed me to get into that quote unquote zone more quickly than having to drive 45 minutes, unpack your wind surfer, build it up. So basically, it's just a much more efficient way to get that. So I really took to it, but transitioning from the wind surfing, it was just so gear oriented I would be going around the world, carrying the 12 and a half foot long Wind Surfer for, with the 16 and a half foot mast show up to eve…