A few days before the Tour of California kicked off, the folks at CytoSport in the port side town of San Benicia threw open their doors for a lunch ride with the UnitedHealthcare team. Besides team riders, the folks from Cyto also invited local cyclists of all stripes to enjoy a beautiful day on the road.
There were about 50 people friends and fans who came out for the ride headed out from Cyto's headquarters.
It's good to have friends (in high places) and having a rolling road closure for the ride was pretty sweet!
The UHC team is sponsored by NeilPryde
bikes this year. Equipment sponsors include: SRAM, ENVE, Chris King and Ritchey.
WHAT THE LOCALS RODE
As usual, there was no shortage of Specialized Tarmacs showing up.
Carbon aero road from Litespeed.
Despite its basic black appearance, this custom lightweight Parlee was attracting a lot of attention.
From carbon wonder-bikes to a beautiful wood bike from Renovo.
We tried to get one of these rare non-black/red BMC Racer Machines to test last year with no luck - this guy got lucky! Colors are good.
Few bikes we've ever seen have a sported a head tube this big...leave it to a custom Zinn.
No doubt the nicest bike at the ride was this 1992 Vitus that was still being ridden by the original owner.
Yeah actually, internal cable routing has been around for a long time.
After the short ride the food was brought out with, surprise, plenty of Cytomax to wash it all down.
NOW FOR A LOOK INSIDE THE PLACE...
When everyone departed, we were allowed a rare tour of the Cyto factory where all the powders are collected and mixed before getting shipped out. How big of a deal is it? We had to sign non-disclosure agreements before we were allowed in. It was after walking through a second security door that our original host (and Brand Manager) Greg Sellers passed Neil and I off on Mike Pickett, who along with his sister Nikki, pretty much run the place. For as big a presence that Cyto has in the universe, you'd probably be as surprised as we were to find out that it remains a family run operation. Nice.
Dr. George Brooks is the mad scientist behind the performance benefits of Cytomax products.
The Cyto brand was founded in 1988, but it's real roots lie in a company first begun by Mike's grandpa Don back in the mid-'50's that sold multivitamins and protein powders. After Gpa sold the company in 1980, his son Greg and grandson Mike kept the business interest alive and partnered with Mike Zampano to start Champion Nutrition. More than anything, Greg's expertise was in flavor systems development - he brought the palatable taste to the products. Their original products were mostly marketed to body builders, but after meeting up with Dr. George Brooks who brought new protein management and lactic acid fighting science to the brand, Greg decided to expand into endurance sports. And so in 1998 with his son Mike at his side, CytoSport was formed and together the Pickett family took off in a new direction of creating products for endurance athletes.
In 2000 they developed Muscle Milk powder which was followed by the ready to drink Muscle Milk in 2003 and that's when things really went big for the company. Muscle Milk proved hugely popular and among other endeavors, became a title sponsor for the factory KTM and Honda motocross teams. The company is heavily involved with a range of both college and pro sport teams.
Once inside we met up with Mike Pickett who gave us a tour of the sprawling 275,000 sq ft facility. Inside were stacks of bags filled with mixes and huge powder mixers and blenders. Mike is an energetic, but low-key guy, greeting every worker and extremely proud that despite their growth the family has made sure to maintain their manufacturing base in America.
After getting a tour of the factory floor, the warehouse was about the only thing we were allowed to take photos of...well, that and the race shop.
It turns out that Mike's dad is quite the accomplished race care driver (and Mike's 17 year old son is now a racer as well). This rare Porsche RS Spyder is one of the older race cars in the fleet.
This is the car that Mike's son has been racing.
CYTO SCHWAG CONTEST
A CytoSport musette bag filled with Road Bike Action and CytoMax water bottles, a bottle of Muscle Milk, two Muscle Milk bars and two bags of Cyto Energy Drops will go to the random entry who answers the following questions:
1. How many different flavors of CytoSport
drink mix are there?
2. How many riders make up the UnitedHealthcare Cycling Team
3. Why do you ride?
Send your answers to: Road Bike Action