Joan Hanscom: Racing, outreach, and intense passion

Published by Craig Constantine on

Movers Mindset
Joan Hanscom: Racing, outreach, and intense passion

Bike racing is Joan Hanscom’s life; from racing for fun, to professionally organizing races, to running an entire bike racing organization, Joan has done it all. She talks about all things bike racing; from how she got started, to organizing, to the challenges facing women in the sport. Joan discusses her work at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, and the importance of outreach and the larger picture. She shares her insights on passion, training, podcasting, and what a career in the sport means to her.

Joan Hanscom is a cyclist, podcast host, and the Executive Director at Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Her love of the sport helped her build a unique career in race promotion and production, working with organizations such as the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Cyclocross World Championships, and USA Cycling. Currently, Joan is the Executive Director of the Valley Preferred Cycling center in Trexlertown, Pa, and hosts the Talk of the T-Town podcast.

Highlight [0:00]

Joan (00:00:05): If you’re at a baseball game, sitting up in the last row of the bleachers, drinking a beer, you’re having a lovely time, right? You are enjoying the sunshine, you are enjoying a tasty beer, you are out with friends. It is a nice time. If you go to the velodrome, or the bike race, they pass by your face. If you’re in turn four …
Craig (00:00:22): Yeah. If you’re the wrong place …
Joan (00:00:23): They pass by your face within inches, and you feel the wind go by, and you feel the sport. I think that, that’s the difference. Whenever I’ve sold sponsorship for bike racing, the ticket is to get people out to see it and feel it, because of it is, it’s sound, it’s color, it’s movement. It’s all tied together in a way that I don’t think other sports are. That’s then the magic in it, right? It’s something that you’ve done. You’ve ridden a bike. I’ve never played major league baseball, but I’ve ridden a bike and I can appreciate the effort that goes into it.

Intro [1:02]

Intro to Cycling [2:29]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Growing up riding a bike, returned to it later
  • Artemis Racing group; unique and thorough onboarding process, really made it accessible
  • Thorough intro was invaluable, kept her in the sport, and gained lifelong friends

Movement through life [9:17]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Did many things; skiing, swimming, gymnastics, ballet, ball sports
  • Parents let her choose what she wanted to pursue: Ballet. Danced through college, but not professionally
  • Biked in high school and college; for fun, not competitively)

Women in cycling [13:47]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Changes over time, leadership that is motivated to change
  • Many of the changes are recent, within the last 5 years
  • Different levels and progression available for women and men, effects of the differences
  • Catch 22; need to invest and grow women’s participation, in all areas, but you won’t make money for the first few years

“You should be looking, here is all the revenue as a sum total and I am investing in an underserved segment of the market because ultimately, if I invest in this underserved segment of the market, I can grow it. If I’ve already maxed out on the number of 55-year-olds, you’re not gonna get more 55-year-olds, but you could potentially grow up the women’s field because they’re underserved. From a business model, I think it’s worth investing in a couple of years of a losing field in order to ultimately grow a segment that is underserved, but that’s me, and I’m biased, which I admit.”

~ Joan Hanscom

Velodrome goals and growth [19:54]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Velodrome widely known in the community
  • Joan’s vision for what the Velodrome and Valley Preferred Cycling center should be; a place for all, a hub
  • Fully integrating into the community; with sponsors, farmers, tourism etc.
  • Looking at the larger picture to really create an impact
  • Preserving the amazing riding in PA and NJ; all kinds, road, mountain, gravel.

“As a person who’s had a career in bike racing since 2002, I was well versed in knowing what the velodrome was, and it was sort of an honor to be tasked with this role. If there’s one thing that I want the velodrome to be is, it’s fun, because that matters. But I also want it to be a place where little kids Pee Wee Pedalers, Squirts and Weebles Wobbles, all the way up to master’s racers, and everybody in between, elite or not, can come and have fun. To me, it’s a place where we can cultivate this lifelong enjoyment of the bike.”

~ Joan Hanscom

Outreach [28:47]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Partnerships in local community; Discover Lehigh Valley, Rodale Institute, Air Products, local Hospital
  • Reaching outside your ‘traditional’ audience, talking to new people
  • the magic of the Velodrome; relatable, real, visceral
  • Joan’s first time working a race… how she got hooked, what makes it magic
  • The connection and engagement of racing, at any level; physical closeness

Passion and motivation [41:01]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Athlete’s process, repetition, in any sport
  • Daily practice, rehearsing, refining, doing things better each time
  • Finding what brings you joy, that is the motivation and focus
  • Training, structure, routine
  • Finding what works for you and your body; Experiment

“It’s the process. It’s the process, no matter what your pursuit is. If you are pursuing excellence in the ballet, it is repetition. It is absolutely repetition. The process of the ballet is every day, there’s a bar, there’s plies, there’s grand plies. There’s jete. It’s a repetition and it’s a process of perfection. Maybe ballet is skewed a little bit more towards perfection than other sports, but it is definitely a repetition and a process and a refinement that you do daily.”

~ Joan Hanscom

Podcasting [53:08]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Began as a way to stay connected, relevant
  • Fun and interesting, wide range of people and topics
  • Janet Atkinson, web designer, podcast post, and collaborator
  • Following the thread of conversation, letting it happen

Bicycling story [1:01:35]

  • Chapter’s transcript…
  • Being ‘inside of the fence’
  • First American Cyclocross Championship event; absolute mess, everything went wrong, but in the end hugely satisfying

Preserving history [1:10:19]

3 words [1:12:49]

Craig (01:12:49):
Well, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t want to suck up your entire day.

Joan (01:12:53):
We have racing tonight.

Craig (01:12:55):
Yeah. What am I doing? What am I doing at Freckle past hair? All right, so I guess I will just say, and of course the final question, three words to describe your practice.

Joan (01:13:07):
Intense, consistent, crazy.

Craig (01:13:16):

Joan (01:13:17):
That’s all you get.

Craig (01:13:17):
No, that’s fine. I say, before we press record, you can do three words, or some people have things that they wanna work out, and I’m not fishing. I’d just really love to hear everybody’s answers. So, thank you very much.

Joan (01:13:31):
Oh, thanks for having me.

Craig (01:13:32):
My pleasure. I think will just say, have a great day. Bye.

Joan (01:13:37):
All right, you too. Thanks.

— Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. 👋

In the Movers Mindset podcast, I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. I’m interested in the nature and philosophy of movement and in exploring themes like independence, self-direction, and human excellence. My interests color each conversation and provide some structure to Movers Mindset. But since I like to take the scenic route, every conversation ends up going somewhere unique.

The purpose of Movers Mindset is to create and share great conversations with movement enthusiasts. Each conversation feeds my insatiable curiosity, but I share them to turn on a light for someone else, to inspire them, or to give them their next question.

I appreciate your time and attention, and I don’t take it for granted.

— Thank you!

My personal mission is creating better conversations to spread understanding and compassion. And Movers Mindset is one of the things I do in service of my mission. Drop by for my weekly email, my other podcasts, writing and more.

The Movers Mindset project grew from conversations I started having as part of my personal journey rediscovering movement. The project started late in 2015, and it was initially simply a web site that shared others’ writing. The project grew, and in 2017 I started the podcast. I’ve worked extremely hard, but none of this would have been possible without so much help from so many people.

Thanks for listening!

Categories: Episodes

Craig Constantine

In the podcast, I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. I’m interested in the nature and philosophy of movement and in exploring themes like independence, self-direction, and human excellence. My interests color each conversation and provide some structure to Movers Mindset. But since I like to take the scenic route, every conversation ends up going somewhere unique.