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TeamODZ Spokane: Making a stamp on their community one pedal at a time.

By: Cecilia Patten  May 01, 2020
"Our main goal is to keep cycling alive and specifically in Spokane, to provide and give back to the community."-ODZ Spokane

TeamODZ was created by two optometrists from Riverside, California, in May 2015. Jason Flores and Quan Flores wanted to start their Zwift rides early enough on Saturdays so they could get their ride in before they had to head to the office. This foundation lead to the creation of a “Child” of TeamODZ. In Spokane Washington, Justin Wagner, a C2 cyclist, started an IRL (in real life) race team. After Wagner moved to Salt Lake City over a year ago, Ryan Kettleson, John Stoker, and Ty Driskel decided to take over and invest in TeamODZ Spokane.

Since then, the three compatriots have transformed the club into more than a racing team. They have a strong focus on community engagement and getting people on bikes. Though lots of clubs are dedicated to the community, TeamODZ Spokane goes above and beyond. On their membership card, there is a quote that radiates their core foundation. It says, “To inspire a better and healthier community by connecting people through cycling and giving back.” Through Zwift, and in real life, a family of cyclists, that ranges levels of ability, come together to make an impact beyond medals.

We had a chance to talk to John and Ryan, and get the inside scoop on TeamODZ Spokane.

Can you please tell us a little about how TeamODZ Spokane got started?

John: Justin Wagner, a C2 cyclist, started an IRL team in Spokane, Washington that was the first Zwift born team, that we are aware of, that has an IRL race team and club. He moved to Salt Lake about a year and a half ago, and Ryan, myself, and our third compatriot, Ty Driskel, decided to invest in the TeamODZ community here and build the cycling club. We are a tangled web and a bit of a child of ODZ. We have a great relationship with ODZ, as we are a part of TeamODZ, and TeamODZ Spokane.

How many members are within your community? Specifically, the Spokane group?

John: There are well over 2,000 Facebook members for TeamODZ, and about 60 for Spokane members. There are a couple of dozen active team members and almost half are racers at USAC events if not more.

“To inspire a better and healthier community by connecting people through cycling and giving back.” -ODZ Spokane

What is your main goal of TeamODZ Spokane?

Ryan: We had an opportunity to take this over and set up some goals. In general, our main goal is to keep cycling alive and specifically in Spokane, to provide and give back to the community.

John: It’s about the community and helping people out. Ryan was a huge part of bringing on some local businesses and sponsors to TeamODZ Spokane group, and that includes one of the local bike shops. For one of their rides, we help raise funds for underprivileged kids in the community.

We have a membership card that says, “To inspire a better and healthier community by connecting people through cycling and giving back.” We are very close to our community, and families and we wanted to make sure that was a part of what we stood for. We aren't just a racing club that is sacrificing all that we had to be top tier. We are trying to balance work and life that’s why Zwift has been great to bring us all together because it allows us to have that balance.

Talk to me about your Zwift events? How many do you have per week and how do they set up?

John: For the Spokane group, we started doing weekly events on Zwift back in December. We typically do Saturday rides outside and as the weather deteriorates on us (and we all shed a tear), we all hop on Zwift and get back together again usually at the same time. Outside of that, there are daily events on Zwift that the larger ODZ team does, so we try to get together with the larger group, but TeamODZ Spokane has a chance to get together on Saturdays.

We are doing something to help local business and community, this month we have an impromptu Zwift race series where we took our Saturday events and created scoring so we could give away gift cards to local partners that are in the food and retail industry to support them while a lot of them are shut down or just doing take out or delivery. It’s a great way to help our community while allowing people to be competitive and support local businesses.

Ryan: Also, members of our group get together using Zwift throughout the week and it doesn’t matter your ability, speed, or what workout you are doing when you’re riding on Zwift because you can all still be riding together.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you are facing right now? How are you all adapting to the changes in the cycling community?

Ryan: Having ODZ on Zwift has made the whole situation easier. We are still able to engage with our members and train together, as John mentioned. We can support and encourage each other. I can’t imagine not being a part of this bike club and not having Zwift.

John: We are a family and we can pull up the GroupMe app (that’s like the Facebook Messenger) and people are posting pictures of what they are eating or workouts they are doing and we can share parts of our lives on and off the bike. It’s nice that it feels like we haven’t lost a beat because of COVID-19 and that was a part of why we thought TeamODZ was special last year because its year-round.

What would you say to someone interested in bikes or hesitant to start?

John: Well I’ve been there not too long ago. I had someone come under my wing and they showed me how to paceline, how to pull, how to draft, and even gave me my first pair of bibs. I would say again that’s why we focus on community and individuals at every level. We are not out there promoting Cat 3 and better guys or Cat 4 or you have to be striving to get to a certain level or Cat. I want to encourage that when we do our events, we are going to have rides and workouts and we will let the team know when it’s going to be a tempo effort or it's going to be a race pace, but we try and cater to those that want to get into the sport too because if we are only building the people that are already in the sport, we are going to create this social or fitness divide. It’s critical in my perspective, as Ryan said, we need to build the next generation of cyclists and not make it seem like an unsurpassable divide.

What’s your next step?

Ryan: I think our next step is to grow our family and members. I would love to look back into my “cycling career” and not to look back and be proud of the records or medals or whatever, I want to make a mark in Spokane and know that we helped businesses, families, and people in need and I think as we grow members, we will continue to give back to Spokane. We all love being competitive but hopefully, our group will also have the same desire to give back. I think we are still trying to figure some of that stuff out and know we are still pretty new and I have some individual things that I would like to accomplish to give back, like fundraising. I would like us to be more than a cycling group and be able to put our stamp on the community.

John: It’s all about how we can help people and how we can be there for them. We both come from backgrounds that are all about support and community, and we want to make sure we are looking outside of fitness and goals. Short term, how can we help bring more events back and bring more people to the sport and get people excited about cycling.

Our first event that we are putting together this year, is the River City Cycling Classic (RC3) August 29th and 30th. It turned into a 3 race omnium series so we are doing a time trial, a criterium, and a road race throughout Spokane and into Idaho so it’s going to be big!

"There can be this stigma that a few of us have seen in the past, right or wrong or different, that cycling is an elitist sport, and you have to have this nice kit or nice bike."

Any additional thoughts to share with the cycling community?

John: For those people who are interested in riding but don’t think they can keep up the pace or they don’t feel like they are adequate, there can be this stigma that a few of us have seen in the past, right or wrong or different, that cycling is an elitist sport, and you have to have this nice kit or nice bike. I was riding around in basketball shorts for the first couple of years and so were some of the best riders on the team. I encourage people to give it a try and we hope to be that name that people see that we are trying to do something good in the community and that we are here to support everyone.

Ryan: I would agree with that, John. I spent three years by myself. And I feel like I missed an opportunity to get mentored and to build a community. If people are interested, they should give us a call. There are a lot of members all over Spokane and people could join us on a ride or Zwift or a conversation on the phone and we would all be happy to have that conversation.

John: Drop-ins are always welcome and most rides are no drop!

How to get in touch with TeamODZ Spokane?



How can people find out more about the River City Cycling Classic (RC3) Omnium?


Online: http://www.rivercitycycling.or...

*The Washington State Bicycling Association (WSBA) has chosen RC3 to host the 2020 Master and Senior Road Race Championships along with the Master Criterium Championships