Professional Touch

From Olympians to Amateurs, Coaches Learn to Adapt

By R.E. Graswich
March 2019

For people new to cycling, it’s nice to know Mike Sayers and Julie Young are here to help.

They spend hours making sure a new bike fits the rider. They write training plans and advise on everything from clothing and equipment to diet.

Many personal coaches provide similar services. But many coaches are not Sayers and Young.

Sayers coached the U.S. Olympic men’s road cycling team at the London Olympics in 2012 and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. He was a professional cyclist for 13 years, competing across the U.S. and Europe.

Young likewise has an elite cycling pedigree. She was a touring pro for 12 years, renowned for her performances in European stage races.

Today they can be found at 21st and N streets, working in their studio called Dai! Endurance, which capitalizes on the Italian word for “let’s go.” They apply the urgency of “dai!” to clients of all ages and skills—but especially people who aren’t great athletes.

“The weekend warrior is our sweet spot,” Sayers says. “We’ve obviously worked with lots of elite athletes, but whatever your goal is, we want you to be successful. If your goal is to complete a triathlon or finish the California International Marathon and qualify for Boston, that’s just as important as wanting to win an Olympic medal. Your goal matters.”

Sayers and Young have been in business almost two years. They have learned much. “Sometimes I think, wow, what did we get into?” Sayers says. “In a lot of respects, we had no idea about retail.”

Their endurance paid off. They built a referral network to help clients who need chiropractic, massage and physical therapy services. They have connections with Kaiser doctors and experts who provide training for runners or people interested in low-stress yoga. They can send you to the right shoe store or bike shop.

And they have adapted to changing markets, widening their cycling focus to include BMX and off-road treks and trainings.

“Gravel and dirt riding are the big things now,” Sayers says. “It’s about the experience more than the competition.”

 

The idea that elite, Olympic-level coaches would be hanging around Midtown, ready to help average people achieve athletic success, is a true hidden wonder of Sacramento.

In places such as the Bay Area and Los Angeles, coaches with professional-level experience are available, but rarely to the masses and not without serious financial commitments. Dai! Endurance is a local retail business priced competitively for Sacramento, not San Francisco.

“I would argue you’re not going to find any services in the Bay Area are better than what we offer, and definitely not for the price,” Sayers says. “This is Sacramento.”

Sayers and Young both grew up in Sacramento, attending Jesuit and St. Francis high schools. After careers based largely in Europe, they returned to Northern California. Sayers lives with his family in Fair Oaks. Young commutes from Auburn.

The former Olympic coach enjoys working with amateurs. Pros bring relentless emotional pressure. Weekend warriors seek a special joy. “When you’re riding or running or whatever for fun, it’s got to be fun, or you won’t do it,” he says. “We never forget that.”

R.E. Graswich can be reached at reg@graswich.com.

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