Athlete News

AM Athlete & Priority Health Elite Captain Headed to Indy to Break World Record in 100 Mile Track Timed Trial

July 2nd, 2013 by Athletic Mentors

gottwaldmotionKudos to Chris – We’ll be cheering you on! If you can make it to Indianapolis Friday, July 5th, join the fun at the Major Taylor Velodrome, 6 p.m., to watch Chris break the world record. Whether you can make it or not, please check out to make a donation to the cause he’s riding for!

Chris Gottwald knows there are worse ways to spend four hours than the brutal, high-intensity push through the centrifugal force of the velodrome. He could be watching a child die in Africa from a lack of clean drinking water.

The 42-year-old national cycling sensation is taking on the World Record for 100 Mile Track Timed Trial Friday, July 5 at the Indianapolis Major Taylor Velodrome. He plans to cycle like someone’s life depends on it.

“What motivates me is how lives can be impacted. Every 15 seconds somewhere in the world a child dies from not having clean drinking water. I think I can drill it for four hours to raise awareness of the global water crisis,” Gottwald said.

The self-described “guy next door,” pilot and father of two never dreamed as a kid he’d have a world-class cycling career. He just liked riding his BMX around the neighborhood as a 7-year-old boy in Marion, Indiana. By the time he was a senior in high school, he’d graduated to road bikes and blossomed. At Purdue, he began to compete at a national level, and was named captain of the men’s cycling team. But Gottwald never suspected his greatest cycling accomplishments would come much later in life.

Just 8 years ago at the age of 34, Gottwald rode his first Race Across America after an old cycling pal coaxed him into signing up. The pair “waxed it” with second place. They pedaled from the Pacific to the Atlantic — in 7 days, 7 hours and 7 minutes! — covering 3,000 miles and over 100,000 feet of climbing over two mountain ranges. The next year, he rode solo, and was named “Rookie of the Year.”

Last year, Gottwald repeated RAAM solo to raise money for ActiveWater. Riding 22 hours a day with 90-minutes stops for sleep, pushing himself further – and faster – than ever before takes fight.

“Things are a piece of cake after that. It totally changes your perspective on life. You become more emotional because you turn yourself inside out. You have to fight for it at that level,” Gottwald said.

His passion to inspire others to improve their lifestyle is what makes Gottwald an outstanding captain and a leading community mentor on the Priority Health elite cycling team, according to his team manager at Athletic Mentors.

“Chris is not only an outstanding athlete; he’s an inspiration to everyone around him. He celebrates the accomplishments of his team members and always has a positive contribution to make to the team and the community. It’s the stuff leadership is made of,” said Cheryl Olson.

Gottwald’s coach, Mark Olson, thinks Gottwald’s got a lock on the World Record, and teases him that he could break a world record on a “green machine.”

Gottwald admits he’s a bit nervous, but says he’s cool with whatever happens, and refers to Friday as his “first” attempt, suggesting there will be others.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can push myself,” he said.

“If I make it, I want people to go after my record.

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More than anything, he wants people to become more aware of the global water crisis, and to show him the “love” by making a donation to, which supports projects that bring community wells and related projects to life in underdeveloped countries.

From Gottwald’s vantage, cycling has given him everything; and it’s his way to give back.

“Cycling is an instrument for making a difference. My legs are the tools I’ve been given.”

Download Chris’s Flyer for the TT Event: (Click on Image)



Join Athletic Mentors at Gran Fondo & You Might Be Riding With a World Record Holder

June 24th, 2013 by Athletic Mentors

chris gottwoldGearing Up for Gran Fondo Saturday June 29th

Whether you’re riding to condition for a 2013 World Record attempt like national cycling sensation, Chris Gottwald, or taking the family out for a Euro-style leisure ride and epicurean wander, Team Priority Health & Athletic Mentors staff will be there to ride or guide all comers to Grand Rapid’s inaugural Gran Fondo next Saturday, June 29th.

Gran Fondo means “big ride” and for Michigan, it’s a big deal. Proceeds of the ride benefit skin cancer research at MSU. The event also shines the light on local breweries and Michigan-made food during the Gears for Beers Microwbrew & Music Festival. It promises to be a perennial favorite for its high-fun-quotient and low entry bar, with a 12 mile “family ride,” a medium 40-mile course, or an 80 mile race/ride to Lake Michigan.

For Team Priority Health Elite Team Captain Chris Gottwald, it’s a chance to ride for fun and a bit of conditioning before attempting a world speed record July 5th at the Indianapolis Velodrome for 100-mile timed trials. Gottwald put Michigan on the worldwide cycling map with his 3,000-mile Race Across America “Cyclist of the Year” title, and most recently led the PH Elite team to total victory in West Branch. No stranger to the podium since his early days on the Purdue cycling team and owner of his 3rd consecutive King of the Mountain title, the 42-year-old pilot calls his imminent effort his “first attempt” at the World Record, which will benefit the global water crisis through an organization called Active Water.

“What I really want is for people to be inspired. If I can do this, so can they. I’m just the guy next door…What motivates me is how lives can be impacted. Every 15 seconds a child dies somewhere in the world because they don’t have clean drinking water. So it’s really not so hard to drill it for four hours and 480 laps in a velodrome by comparison,” Gottwald said of the record attempt. (To donate or learn more, follow this link.)

By comparison, the Gran Fondo will be downright fun. Gottwald is hoping his 11-year-old daughter, Gigi, rides the 12 mile, and plans to kibbutz with fellow cyclists and newcomers to the sport.

“It’s an outstanding opportunity to experience the joys of riding and the great sense of satisfaction you get raising money and awareness for a good cause. That’s what kept me going in the Race Across America, and that what makes the Gran Fondo a “don’t miss” event,” said Gottwald.

Athletic Mentors co-founder and multisport coach, Cheryl Olson, manages Team Priority Health and recently ran a clinic to help registrants get ready to ride.
“The best part about Gran Fondo is that there is a course for every level of participant, right down to a casual family 12-mile ride,” says Olson. She credits the mass-participation and recreational nature of the Gran Fondo as causing the burgeoning popularity of the format. Grand Fondos events are springing up worldwide.

“Priority Health chose to be a title sponsor not only because of the very worthy cause, but because it gives the whole family the opportunity to get active and create a starting point for healthy living.”

Olson says the free registration for children under 12 and the European flavor of the family-oriented portion of the ride are great ways to introduce young people to endurance sports, a goal close to the hearts of her athletes and their community outreach efforts.

“Everyone should experience the camaraderie and exhilaration of a great ride. It’s a wonderful way to spend a day,” she said. “If we want our kids off the couch, we have to show them the way!”

Fast Facts About the Gran Fondo

• 12 Mile family ride
• 40 Mile ride
• 80 Mile ride

Event Schedule
8:00 a.m. – Start for the 40-mile and 80-mile rides
9:30 a.m. – Start for the 12-mile family ride
Afternoon – After Sparty at the B.O.B. – Gears for Beers with Michigan microbrews and wine sampling, amazing street food stations and great live music
Afternoon – Herman Miller Brickyard Classic (nearby location)
Post event – Electronic timing and ride results posted at
To Register, or Learn More:

AM / TPH Graduates Sweep the US Pro TT Championships!

May 29th, 2013 by Cheryl Sherwood

May 25th was the US Pro Men’s Time Trial Championship and 5 of the top 10 riders spent time in a PH jersey to get there! Read the rest of this entry »

Gull Lake Girls Soccer Dominate. What’s their Secret?

April 30th, 2013 by Cheryl Sherwood

The Kalamazoo Gazette and mlive recently report that Gull Lake Girl’s soccer is off to dominating start this season. At 6-0-0, the Blue Devils have outscored opponents by an overwhelming 32-1 margin. Here is what they said when asked what they are doing differently:

“Sweat equity: Knowing this could be a special season, Gull Lake players put in extra effort during the offseason. The Blue Devils trained with Mark Olson, out of Athletic Mentors, three to four days per weGull Lake soccer photoek. “It started at the end of November and we would all train for 18 weeks ‚Äì almost the whole, entire team plus some of the people on JV,” senior co-captain Carley Rice said. “Just getting ready, lifting weights, conditioning, stuff like that. And you can see it (in the team’s results) ‚Äì like our endurance. Sometimes that wins us games.””

Click here to READ THE FULL STORY.

Click here for more information about our SUMMER SOCCER PROGRAM.


The Ultimate Holiday Guide to Great Gifts for Triathletes

November 16th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about gifts for your significant other, sister, brother, best friend etc. If you are not a tri fanatic like they might be then you are probably confused as to what he or she might need. As triathlon is an expensive sport you might wonder how a triathlete could possibly NEED anything else. Well I’m here to tell you there is always something that a triathlete could use, actually needing the item is another story. In the spirit of Oprah’s favorite things I have created a list of my gift suggestions for your triathlete this holiday season. Below you will find that I have broken the presents down based on cost assuming that you might have different price ranges based on your relationship with this person.

For that special someone

Garmin Watch – If your triathlete is at all interested in improving their results they have probably heard that training with heart rate can produce better results. The new Garmin 910XT will give them all the data they could ever want with heart rate, elevation, pace, swim distance, stroke count and a few other metrics. They will then be able to track their progress when they upload their data to the Garmin software or into Training Peaks. I can honestly say that my Garmin watch is one of the best purchases I have ever made. For more information, visit: Garmin Watch


Athletic Mentors Florida Cycling Camp – Believe me when I say that your triathlete will be immensely grateful for a week of cycling in the sunshine state during the worst time of the year to ride in Michigan. This February they can enjoy lush accommodations, home cooked meals, and fantastic riding all while receiving coaching from pro mountain biker Kelli Emmett and Athletic Mentors head coach Mark Olson. Check out all the details about the great facilities, itinerary, and holiday registration discount pricing at: Athletic Mentors Cycling Camp


Nicely wrapped presents

  • Swim Buoy – Greatest invention for open water swimming. My training buddy and I always have these with us. They are very visible in the water and are reasonably priced at $35. When we are taking recovery intervals we even take time to float around on these. For more information, visit Swim Buoy
  • Back pack – I have not made this purchase yet but I do understand why fellow triathletes have. There have been multiple occasions where I thought I would wipe out during my pre or post race ride from transition to or from my car. There is nothing more frustrating than having to lug your gear while trying to balance on your bike. For more information, visit Back Pack
  • Gift Card – There is something to be said about a gift as basic as gift card to local bike shop. Since I have been competing in triathlon for a while now I have most everything I could need. Therefore, I personally love having the freedom to get whatever part I need to fix my bike or other random purchase I might need to make in the next few months. That is not to say that you shouldn’t make the attempt at buying something unique. I am just stating that if you know your triathlete has everything they could need then a gift card will suffice.


Stocking Stuffers

  • Nutrition – Triathletes are always in need of additional nutrition reserves so gifts like sports beans, GU, Hammer gels, or Clif bars are always appreciated. Follow this link for: Nutrition
  • Toe Warmers – If your triathletes lives in the North and rides outside at all then they would probably appreciate Grabber toe warmers. These nifty disposable warmers are air activated and provide heat to your feet for up to 6 hours. For more information, visit Toe warmers
  • Tubes – What cyclist couldn’t use extra tubes? I like Bontrager, which feature “Tubeless Ready technology” and provide all the performance advantages of a tubeless system without the usual weight penalty. It’s a better way to go tubeless. Check them out by visiting: Tubes
  • Aero Water Bottles – Aero water bottles are great for the triathlete who has a triathlon bike. If they are doing distances longer than Olympic I would recommend the Aquacell. If they are doing anything shorter then the aerodrink should work fine. For more information, visit: Aero Water Bottles
  • Tieless laces – This is one of the first things I would recommend an athlete use to improve their transition times. I even put these laces on all my shoes because they make putting your shoes on and taking them off so easy. Check out the options here: Tieless Laces


FREE Grand Rapids Cycling Clinic

August 14th, 2012 by Katie Whidden USAT certified coach

Interested in bike racing but want to learn more about the sport before signing up for a race? Are you a current racer who would like to improve your skills and learn a few new things from some of Michigan’s top bike racers? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you are in luck because Real Women Tri and Team Priority Health have teamed up to host a free cycling clinic this Saturday, August 18th at 3pm. Details and registration are found in the below link. Men, Women and Juniors are all welcome to attend so spread the word.

Kudos to Athletic Mentors Hockey Alumni Andrey Alexeev!

July 25th, 2012 by Athletic Mentors
Adnnrey Alexeev was drateted to the Saginaw Spirit

Photo Courtesy of

Athletic Mentor Coach Mark Olson is pleased to congratulate hockey camp alumni Andrey Alexeev for his recent draft to the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit late last week. The Russian forward is slated to lace up for the Spirit’s 2012/2013 training camp in late August.

Andrey came to Athletic Mentors to prepare for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (also known as the U-18 Junior World Cup and formerly known as the Pacific Cup and the Nations Cup) and the upcoming 2012/2013 OHL season. He has been recovering from shoulder surgery for numerous months and was eager to get back into shape.

“Andrey has worked extremely hard 6 days per week for the past 5 weeks and has shown tremendous commitment to his game, and he is looking AWESOME! He is fit, strong and fast. He is a stand-out during our camps on ice sessions. I expect to see Andrey do some great things with the Spirit next season!” Olson said.

Alexeev played for Team Russia in the 2011 Under 16, Four Nations Tournament, where he was one of the team’s top scorers.

The 1995-year left winger was selected by the Spirit as the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 CHL Import Draft. Alexeev follows fellow countryman and Import Selection goaltender Nikita Serebryakov in the committing to the Spirit program, joining OHL Priority Selection picks Jeremiah Addison, Brandon Prophet, and Dylan Sadowy as signed prospects for Saginaw.
Congrats, Andrey!

Check out

Cycling Pro Chris Fisher Joins Athletic Mentors Coaching Cadre

April 19th, 2012 by Athletic Mentors

Chris Fisher, pro cyclist and coach for Athletic MentorsAthletic Mentors is excited to announce the addition of distinguished cycling pro and Alpine skier Chris Fisher to our coaching talent pool!

Fisher is known best for his passionate team-playing and extreme capacity to outlast his competitors as a team “berserker.” As a lieutenant for many team captains over the years, he routinely destroyed the legs and psyche of other teams, setting up his captains for the win.

In his is cycling career, he earned his first professional mountain bike contract in ’94 (Klein/Powerpost), raced for Dutch top-team Wilton-Snel ’95-’96, earned his first professional road contract in ’97 (OilMe/Klein) and raced for OilMe/Klein (’97-’98), Merlin/Hind (’99), 7-Up (’00), Saturn (’01-’02), and Jelly Belly (’03). In 2011, 8 years after retiring from the professional circuit, Chris won the Michigan Elite RR Championship.

As an Alpine skier, he was a member of Bates College NCAA Div. 1 Alpine ski team from ’87-’91 (captain ’89-’90, ’90-’91) and ski raced at NORAM level through ’93.

Chris is now a level 1 USSA official/certified coach who enjoys sharing his passion and competitive spirit with talented young athletes. He formerly served as assistant Coach to CU Boulder’s USCSA Alpine development team (’03-’04, ’04-’05) and continues to coach soccer, skiing and cycling.

His greatest joy is motivating competitive athletes to use passion as a powerful tool: “Your passion will allow you to push yourself through when you think you can’t, which in turn makes you stronger.”

Contact us if you’d like to train with Chris!

We Have a Winner…

March 6th, 2012 by Roxane Kippen, USA Triathlon Certified Coach

Cody Cross won the drawing for a $50 Athletic Mentors gift certificate for completing a triathlon clinic survey. Thank you to the many participants who provided feedback on our free clinics. Please remember the next clinic is this Saturday at 9am at the David D Hunting YMCA, downtown Grand Rapids. Athletic Mentors and the Grand Rapids Triathlon are bringing you a Women’s Panel Discussion. Ladies, come on down and get some valuable advice from our panel of outstanding women triathletes!

GR Tri & MI Ti – Free Bike Clinic Video

February 12th, 2012 by Roxane Kippen, USA Triathlon Certified Coach

The Athletic Mentors team presented another round in its series of free clinics for the Grand Rapids Triathlon and Michigan Titanium this weekend. If you weren’t able to attend, a good portion of the bike clinic is available online. Click the link below to access the video.

Bike Clinic Video