In today’s interview we sit down with newly minted DDA coach Taylor Warren to learn more about eating chili and why you should sign up for your first road event.

10 Questions with Coach Taylor

Q–  First off, we want to formally welcome you to the DDA team.  While Matt, Sam, and myself are all located in Northern California, you’re actually based in San Diego.  Can you tell us briefly how you ended up in San Diego and what led you to make the connection with DDA as a cycling coach? 

A- I’m not entirely sure how I ended up in San Diego. It’s not like I thought, “oh ya, I wanna live in San Diego one day, that place looks great.” San Diego wasn’t on the radar, but I had recently graduated from school in Fort Collins, Colorado and my significant other took a job at UCSD. Long story short, I helped her with the move and ended up staying myself.  

As for connecting with DDA, it’s kind of funny. I was bored riding in the team van coming back from a race in Winston-Salem. I came across the DDA blog and ended up reading a lot of the posts. I was really impressed with the amount of science implemented in the coaching. I came across one post stating that DDA was looking for an additional coach so I sent Nate a message out of the blue and one thing led to another and here I am! 

 Q–  Speaking of San Diego, what’s your absolute favorite stretch of road to ride in the area? 

A- San Diego is full of great riding and super underrated when people think of cycling destinations. My all time favorite road out there is the Sunrise hwy. It’s about 50 miles east of the city, so a bit out there. This road is amazing, it sits on top of Mt. Laguna and rides the ridge north to south and you get these amazing views, mountains to the west and a huge 6000 foot drop to the east that you can see across the whole desert valley floor! 

Q– You went to CSU to study Sports Medicine for your Bachelors degree.  If you had to boil down everything you learned in college to a few bullet points, what would those points be? 

A- I’d say I learned to question everything, figure out your own answers, do the research, learn to sift through garbage studies and think critically. I use those same skills today; using my experience and firsthand knowledge along with what the research is stating to formulate opinions and shape my coaching philosophy.  

 Q– You were racing in the domestic elite scene while getting your college degree.  For anyone else out there trying to juggle school and racing, what would be your number 1 tip excelling in both at the same time? 

A- Have fun and be engaged. School was exhausting sometimes, especially when getting back from a stage race. Living in bike racing world and then having to switch gears and put on my learning cap was a challenge. I really enjoyed what I was studying though and I found I could actually apply the knowledge to live healthier and be a better bike racer. I also had a really good support system, that’s key, you don’t need to try to take everything on by yourself. 

Taylor working on his college degree while doing work in a chili eating contest at CSU Boulder

 Q–  You’ve been working as a coach for the past 5 years.  In your experience, what has been the most important ingredient for an athlete achieving their goals? 

A- Learning what makes each athlete tick and using that to keep the athlete training consistently. I find that consistency is the best quality for progress, so keeping the rider coming back for more and staying mentally fresh block after block has the greatest impact. 

 Q– You’ve been training with power for 8 years.  Over that time power meters have gone from a training luxury to OEM on many new bikes.  We also have more biometric sensors and metrics to measure human performance than ever before.  What’s your personal opinion on how to strike a balance between being “data driven” and “driven insane” by too much data? 

A- Ya I love data, I think it’s great that just about any metric can be measured these days. I think the best way to strike a balance is to keep the human element at the forefront of the “data.” Use the data as feedback, analyze it post ride but during the ride it’s imperative to check in. Ask yourself how you’re feeling, what are the sensations telling you, does it align with your power, your heart rate? Half the time I encourage athletes to not even look at their devices mid ride. At the end of the day, we aren’t robots, learning how to use the data as biofeedback to really get in tune with the “feel” is, in my opinion, the best application. 

Q–  What’s your absolute best memory on the bike? 

A- Wow, it’s hard to boil down many years of riding to one great memory. I’ll answer without dipping to far into the memory bank. I recently went on an epic gravel ride with two of my best friends that started in San Diego and finished at a campsite 70 miles away on top of Mt. Laguna. This ride had all the elements that make any ride the best memory. Great camaraderie, challenging terrain that make you question all your life decisions, hallowing descents that push your mental acuity to the limit, setbacks, overcoming’s; this ride was a real metaphor for life in general. When I was finished, I was exhausted but the epic-ness of the ride had me grinning from ear to ear. 

 Q–  Road cycling/racing seems to be in decline across the country.  State your case for why someone should buck the trend and sign up for their first criterium or road race. 

A- Because it’s hard, it’s primal, racing takes you out of your comfort zone and teaches you more about yourself in one hour than you learn in a year. I’ll admit, road cycling and racing isn’t for everyone, but if you try it, you may just get addicted.  

Taylor completing his first race in 2009

 Q–  Cycling can be an immersive and all-encompassing sport.  Do you have any other hobbies that help provide balance to the bike? 

A- I love being out in nature, exploring, hiking, camping and traveling. I also enjoy cooking quite a bit. Having the bike helps to intertwine all my hobbies into a smorgasbord of health and exploration.  

 Q–  Matt likes some country, Sam sprinkles in old school hip hop, I’m pretty much all EDM when it comes to rides.  What sort of music do you rely on to fuel your most challenging workouts? 

A- I’d say I can relate to Sam the most, probably my most played music genre is hip-hop and rap. Anything fast will do though, as I delve into many musical genres. Often times no music at all is my preference, as I feel it helps me get really in tune with how I’m feeling and just being one with nature out on the road. 

To learn more about coaching with Data Driven Athlete and Taylor click here.

For a complete archive of blog posts click here.

Nate Dunn
Founder/Head Coach
Data Driven Athlete

Written by Nate Dunn M.S.

​Nate has spent his entire career in education and coaching. As a former teacher and now Founder/Head Coach at Data Driven Athlete, he is most excited about helping clients discover more about themselves as they achieve their goals on the bike.