May 22, 2009
Carmichael is most famous today as seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's personal coach, but his influence goes beyond the legendary cyclist.
Carmichael was a member of the U.S. National Cycling Team for six years, was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, then in 1986 rode on the first all-American team to compete in the Tour de France. He came to Colorado Springs in 1990 to serve as a coach with USA Cycling, becoming head coach in 1993, then founded Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) nine years ago.
The company now has 50 full-time employees in three locations, 30 of those in Colorado Springs, plus 25 regional part-time coaches. It provides personal coaching, corporate training, DVDs, books, nutrition and sports camps. CTS' customers include professional athletes in sports as diverse as auto racing and swimming, along with everyday people serious about their training.
For years, CTS was headquartered beneath the Colorado Avenue bridge on Sierra Madre Street. When that building was sold, and local developer Griffis/Blessing drew up plans to redevelop the Midland Roundhouse at the corner of U.S. Highway 24 and 21st Street, Carmichael saw the potential to add a local flavor to the company's offerings.
"We were known much more globally than in the local community," Carmichael said.
"We really felt like it was a great opportunity to showcase us to the local community and also make it a flagship for CTS."
That local component is the new Endurance Sports Club. It's a health club, with resistance training, fitness classes and evaluations, but is focused on endurance athletes such as runners, triathletes and, of course, cyclists.
"It's never been done before," said Steve Harp, CTS' national sales director. "There's definitely potential out there."
CTS has offered classes in the past, but only for limited durations and without a dedicated facility, Harp said. Endurance Sports Club members will be able to participate in 15 to 20 classes a week, for about $100 a month, plus take advantage of CTS' performance testing and bike fitting.
For more than 50 years, the Midland Roundhouse was home to Van Briggle Pottery. Van Briggle moved out in November and reopened this month at 1024 S. Tejon St.
Carmichael said he hopes to commission some Van Briggle pieces for the foyer to tie in that history. He's also marking the roundhouse's latest incarnation with a giant painting depicting the most famous riders in the Tour de France's history riding together in a peloton (the main group of riders in a bicycle race).
The roundhouse's west-side location makes it ideal for outdoor classes, riding on Gold Camp Road or heading up the trails through Red Rock Canyon Open Space, Harp said.
The prominent location is also giving CTS a visibility it's never had before, Harp said.
"When we were under the bridge, we'd get a walk-in every two weeks, maybe," he said.
Now, Harp said, there's been a steady stream of curious visitors.
"That's one thing that's helping us with marketing," he said. "We haven't had to do much because people have noticed the building and all the work that's going on."
Griffis/Blessing spent $2.5 million renovating the 122-year-old building, which once housed the Colorado Midland Railroad's locomotives and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A few railroad artifacts, including rails and spikes, turned up during the renovation, while the building received a face-lift and massive new windows covering the arched entries where train engines once rolled.
"The spaces turned out amazing," said Steve Engel, president of Griffis/Blessing. "You get the character of an old stone building and 2009 renovations."
Dave Hughes of the Old Colorado City Historical Society said the developer did a good job of blending the building's original character with modern functionality.
"It keeps the essential character of the original roundhouse," Hughes said. "At one glance you know it's not a modern architectural building."
CTS is the building's anchor tenant, occupying about 10,500 square feet of the 38,000-square-foot building. Griffis/Blessing wants to attract a bike shop, a restaurant and a physical therapist to round out the roundhouse, replacing steam with sweat as the power source for the building's occupants.
Call the writer at 636-0275.
CARMICHAEL TRAINING SYSTEMS
Carmichael Training Systems' Endurance Sports Club opens June 1 at Highway 24 and 21st Street. The company will hold a public grand opening June 20.
For more information, call 635-0645 or go to www.trainright.com/theclub.