Cycling is a world renowned sport and requires one of the most demanding training from every athlete. Like any other sport, competitive cyclists undergo elaborate training programs to improve their performance and even push their limit to beat the competition.
One can only imagine how cycling has changed over the years. But for Ivan Leopando, he has seen most of it in the local cycling scene. The last 23 years of competitive cycling, to be exact. Ivan takes us through his journey in competitive cycling, multisport, and coaching; how it was back then, and how it evolved into what it is now.
The Breakaway: How long have you been into cycling?
Ivan Leopando: Since 1992. Actually, that was the same year I started racing with an Executive Racing Team. Cycling back then was Inter-Club, before it was Executive Racing. I was part of the Greenhills Cycling Club and we used to train at Strata 200 (Ortigas). That's where I met Frank Lacson, and some other cycling legends.
TB: For the past 23 years, how many teams have you been in?
IVAN: I've been with the Greenhills Cycling Club from 1992 to 1999. And in 2000, I started getting into triathlon. Back then, there were no teams yet and we competed individually. Then I was with the Heritage Cycling Team in 2008, after that I was with Von Dutch in 2012, and currently with Sante Barley since 2013.
TB: Have you ever considered going professional?
IVAN: I was never a Pro. I never became a Pro, even back in the 90s. Cycling wasn't that big in the Philippines, unlike in Europe. It was way different in the western countries. You can consider professional racing as the NBA of cycling.
TB: What are your most notable milestones in your cycling career?
IVAN: My first ever race in 1992 in Strata, Executive Racing. I won the sprint in the road criterium, and our team became champion that year. In '94-'95, road race from Baclaran to Nasugbu. I also won 2nd place in the Urdaneta to Baguio road race in 1994. I even had the chance to race outside the country, the 4-day Tour of Friendship in Thailand. I also started racing mountain bikes in 1994, cross-country and downhill. I had a memorable race in 1999 when I fell off my bike on a downhill and broke my collar bone.
TB: What do you consider the most memorable race of your career?
IVAN: Also my first ever race in 1992. I was 15 and just starting. People kept telling me to train with Danny Manlulu, one of the biggest names in the Executive Racing and was the back-to-back champion in the Baguio races. So I kept going with them, training with them at Strata. When I was starting, I kept falling behind during training because I can't keep up with their pace. Eventually I was able to keep up with them, then started finishing the training, and eventually beating them at the races. It felt like I won a Tour! Haha.
TB: How did you get into coaching? How long have you been doing it?
IVAN: I started coaching in 2000, but with only a handful of students. I just wanted to share my experiences in cycling, and everything I have learned before. I taught them proper technique, what programs to follow during training. That's how it started. Now it has gotten bigger, and I continued doing it ever since.
TB: How about in coaching triathlon?
IVAN: I got into triathlon coaching in 2003. I started coaching in multisports together with my wife. She's the one handling the swim trainings, and I'm in-charge of running and cycling. After years of coaching we eventually started our own team, Attack Tri.
TB: Tell us more about Attack Tri.
IVAN: In 2007 I had students I've been coaching in triathlon, four of them actually. They were all just starting and didn't have teams, and they kept asking me "Why not start your own triathlon team?" I said no at first and was content at just coaching, but they were persistent. I usually say "attack this, attack that" while training them, and that's where I got the name.
TB: How would you compare cycling then and now?
IVAN: We didn't have carbon bikes before, all we had were steel bikes. We were all on steel bikes. There are technological advances, even trainings became scientific. We just used to go out and train before. Whatever the coach says, we do. Some would even tell us to ride going to Bugarin with only one full water bottle and be sure to make it back with just that, so we'd get used to not drinking much on race day. Science has changed all that. Now you have your supplements and power gels. I remember we used to put coffee in small plastic bags before, and we bite and squeeze it when we need caffeine out on races. Even pancit and spaghetti, we bring them in plastic bags on rides in case we get hungry.
TB: What are you focusing on right now, and what are your plans in the immediate future?
IVAN: I was actually supposed to retire from cycling and multisports this year and concentrate on coaching instead. But my body is so used to being active. I'm still with Sante Barley, I still have Attack Tri. I will continue to train with both, but with less intensity as before. I will still be competing in the future, but with less frequency. I'll definitely be focusing more on coaching, to be able to pass down all the experiences I had in my career.