We Sat Down And Had A Beer With The Primal Audi Men’s Team – This is What We Learned
From the day we met these guys, we knew there was mutual synergy – and we’ve been proud to sponsor Primal - Audi Denver and all their endeavors. When you’ve got a brand promise like “be the team you join for life,” you know there’s something good brewing beneath the surface, so we sat down with one of the Primal – Audi Denver founders, Jordan Sher, to get an inside scoop on what makes a championship-winning team. 1. What is the history behind the Primal – Audi Denver race team? Who were the first members to “make it happen,” so to speak? Love this question. Primal – Audi Denver was founded by a few of us back in 2003 (11 to be exact), but not under the name we have currently. Originally, we went by HART, which stands for… wait for it … “Haulin’ Ass Race Team” (hence our website URL as of current, which is still hartracing.org.) From the get-go, we established our team to be a bit more controversial – or the “anti-team,” if you will. The 11 founders really had the guts and the spirit when it came to racing, so we wanted to stand out amongst other teams who maybe didn’t have the same level of vigor and passion that we did. In the beginning, we were small, with a few helpful sponsorships to get us going. Swanky’s, a bar in downtown Denver, sponsored us initially and provided some basic financial support, as well as a great meeting place. It didn’t take long, however, for our spirit to show, and the guys on the team at the time made a name for themselves – especially in the upper racing categories – which helped build momentum for the team. We had a steady increase in membership, and by 2007 we were discovered by Primal Wear, which started the unique relationship that rolled into the team we are today. Primal is our main sponsor, followed closely by Audi – and to this day we can’t thank Primal enough, as they really changed the trajectory of our team, and also inadvertently led us to discovering Alchemy, which has been a great partnership all around as our two Colorado-based organizations align. Today, our overall roster is 85 guys, which is considerably larger, and we are proud to say that we have won the best all-around team competition with the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado across all categories, and over several years running. 2. Who makes up the race team? Subsequently, how is a member chosen? Can they sign up or is there an evaluation process? In American amateur racing – there’s a category system of 1-5 in order to help define categories of ‘like’ fitness. Category 1 is pro without a contract, and below that are Category 2-5. Category 5 is more or less the novice members. We have 40% category 4-5, 40% category 3, and 20% category 1-2 (around 10 elites), which is pretty much the most balanced team you can expect to find. In fact, we are one of the only teams in Colorado to have strong representation in ALL categories. Each team member must fulfill three requirements; 1) Do community service: they must ride in a charity cycling event to raise money. 2) They must work team races, which means they must be present at the race to participate, support, or co-work. 3) This a big one - every team member has to wear their helmet no matter what, on or off the race trail. Our team members drink the Kool-Aid – and we survive because we have a strong culture. We really put a lot of emphasis and time into making this a culture, too. If you hang out at our events and go to Moab and do picnics and love to race and cheer on your teammates – this is the team for you. 3. Tell us about the dynamic of the team, both on and off-bike. What’s a typical day-in-the-life before and after a race? We make sure the difference between racing with or without a team is felt in our group. During race day, we race at different times, depending on category. Everyone shows up half an hour before and goes through the motions, like getting the number from registration. At that point, we have the team to help pin those numbers on you. We do this because riding without a team – you’d have to do that alone. Just like riding alone in the middle of race, or subsequently finishing the race and getting in your car to go home alone, we strive to push our team mentality. For us, racing starts a week before when we send announcements on Slack. We determine who will lead, what the strategy will be, who will be on it and who is going to be race leader. We then define roles for each person, like “you’ll be this person and go off at the gun.” Or, “you’ll be protecting the race leader from wind. You’ll be the one watching for a break.” The race leaders have the option to email our team director and ask for the Audi Q7 (our sponsored team car!) for game day. Once there, we warm up together. We do the race – execute strategy, look out for each other – and finish strong by sticking around for one another because we’re all part of a team. We wait for results for all – and then, a lot of the time, we celebrate with a beer. To us, cycling is a team sport and a social sport at every stage of rider development or age. That’s the value of not just joining a team, but joining ours. 4. What are some of the team’s favorite local rides? We have a lot of great rides that we stand by. In fact, we participate in group rides every Tuesday and Thursday at Meridian Park. Another ride we love is in Denver near Chatfield State Park, affectionately called “Worlds”. One of my personal favorites is a ride that we consider the FDR “Frustrated Dad Ride just east of Stapleton.” On Saturdays, we like doing a ride called “Gateway” in Boulder. Lastly, every Saturday from January – March, we cruise Dinosaur Ridge, practicing team tactics. 5. Any upcoming races fans should know about? We’ve have a comprehensive list of our upcoming races, which you can find on the Colorado Cycling calendar. Feel free to check it out. 6. The website speaks lightly about some misadventures. Have any funny “misadventures” to share throughout the years? We’ve had a few over the years, but one of the best I can recall was a 100-mile ride we did in Moab at the Canyonlands. First half is all uphill, right? The weather was freezing, but as with anything, if you’re exerting a lot of effort (like going uphill) you tend to forget about the chill. So, there were a lot of us that day – and of course we noticed the weather, but decided to ride on. Besides, we had the team van in case things got real bad. Well, we ascended, made it to the top and congratulated each other and all that, and as we started to descend – we all came to the realization around the same time that “holy sh-t, riding downhill is not nearly as hard of an effort, and we’ve got like 50 miles of descent in the freezing cold rain.” We ended up pulling over, all of us teeth-chattering and wondering why the heck we ever agreed to do this, and we drew straws to see who got to go back down in the van. There we were - standing there with our straws, fates sealed, when the guys who won the trip back in the van started looking around all sheepish. Silence ensued, and all of the sudden these guys were looking at the rest of us suckers who were going to have to go back down in the frigid cold – and one of them took a step forward. “I can’t do it,” he said. “One of you can trade with me. I don’t want to be the guy that went back in the van.” Well, what do you know? We’d all been thinking the same – so at the end of the day, no one wanted to be the wimp that got on the van, and we all ended up bearing the cold together. If that doesn’t say “team,” then I’m not sure what does, and I’ve always cherished that memory. 7. What do you think is the main reason that the Primal Audi men have stuck together and created such a strong team? Mostly because we are actually “the team you join for life” – and we put effort and discipline into making that title true. We have low turnover because we all feel the connection as team members, and equally responsible for our part in the team culture. We’ve been lucky – through our sponsorships – to grow into the team we are today, and I’d say we have enjoyed every minute of it, even the funny “misadventures.” 8. Why do you think Alchemy and Primal make a great partnership? I'd say it comes down to a few things:
- We love supporting local brands who positively impact the Colorado cycling scene. Alchemy is one of the more notable local bike brands in road riding, so it's a great fit.
- We keep our relationships together like a family. Alchemy, Primal, and Audi are already culturally aligned, so it's natural for us to come along for the ride.
- We need quality for the abuse of road racing. We took a tour of the Alchemy facility and knew that these bikes were great for us. The carbon layup is so unique. The process is detail-oriented. The paint is awesome. And of course, Ryan has always been great to us. These bikes are stiff enough for the sprint, but comfortable enough to truly be a competitive advantage on the dirt. That's what we need.