Michael Sayers and Julie Young, co-owners of Dai Endurance
SN&R sits down with two cycling pros who run a Midtown fitness studio for busy professionals
Michael Sayers and Julie Young have been riding bicycles together off and on for more than 30 years. Their professional careers took different routes, but the two long-time friends who competed at the highest levels of the sport are pedaling together again as co-founders and partners of Dai Endurance. The Midtown fitness studio, opened last June, extols the benefits of endurance for everyone. The emphasis is on busy professionals of all levels who have limited time but who seek workout programs to improve their fitness. Sayers, a former 15-year pro and Olympic coach, lives in Fair Oaks with his wife and 11-year-old son. Young, director of the Kaiser Permanente Endurance Lab located at Golden 1 Center, was a 12-year pro who had victories around the world. She residents in Truckee and Auburn.
When did the idea start for you to own a business together?
Young: We’ve been talking about this for about seven years, back and forth. We’d visit it again, and then Mike would go away to Europe and I would be doing my thing. And finally, I think, it was about two years ago, I was like, ‘Do you want to do something?’ And we were both like, ‘Let’s do something.’ It took that long to find a location. We weren’t sure.
Sayers: Sacramento from an endurance sports perspective is interesting now. There are a bunch of people moving here who are tied to the industry in some way or have been tied to the industry. I think there are a lot of people moving to town because Sacramento has a lot to offer. And it’s relatively affordable to live here.
Did your careers overlap?
Young: We came up together. Mike was at Jesuit and I was at St. Francis (where she was also a skilled golfer). We were training partners on river rides and on different teams.
Sayers: I kind of started cycling my last two years of high school. I think I did my first race as a senior when I was transitioning out of ski racing.
Mike, you’re married and a have a son. Julie, you are not married and don’t have children. What’s it like as a man and woman owning a business together?
Sayers: I think it does. In a businesses like this, I think it’s really important to have a female influence. Generally, endurance sports, although it’s getter better, have been male-dominated. Or at least the media pays attention to the male side of it. But if you ask anyone in the cycling industry and likely the running industry, their biggest markets are females, and it’s their more important market. I don’t think this facility could happen if there were two guys running it.
Young: I think running has figured out how to tap into the women’s market. Cycling is still struggling, but the women’s market has the greatest potential. The industry is tapping into women and getting more involved in the sport. I like the dynamic of working with Mike. I think we balance each other well.
Combined, the two of you have 27 years as professional athletes. Has that completely helped the business. or have there been any downsides, like maybe you know too much?
Young: I think there’s something to that. Our market is for busy professionals. We are trying to embrace all abilities, all interests. There might be a little perception of intimidation because of what we bring to the table. But that’s not what we want to portray. And that’s why we are downtown for the busy professionals. They have a finite amount of time. We want to make sure that people understand that’s it about elite athletes.
What has been it been like to have a business like yours in Midtown? It’s unique to this part of the city.
Sayers: The Folsom area is where a lot of the cycling events in this area happen, so it’s somewhat overpopulated with cycling businesses. There’s a large number of cyclists who work in Midtown and historically, a lot of the training rides have started in Midtown. The business side of Midtown is growing, but there’s clearly a lot of housing, and the city is addressing it with the high-rises going in. So we want to tap into that population. But we have struggled with that because our business plan is a little bit unique. But I think the sport is continuing to grow but more as an adventure sport.
You guys have experience, you’ve traveled the world, you have a lot of knowledge, but has there been anything about owning a small business that’s surprised you?
Young: Since I have been in business, I knew it wasn’t going go be easy. When I first started, I remember thinking I had a name and I’ve accomplished so much. It should just happen. And it doesn’t. Business is hard, and you have to work for it. I think that’s what Mike and I are figuring out. We believe in this concept, and we know it has legs.
Sayers: We’re not here to compete against other bike shops. There’s plenty of business to go around. Everybody has their niche. We are really trying to show people, and it’s been a challenge. We’re not here to steal customers. We’re not here to take, take and not give anything back. We really want to try to create a sense of community.