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While he was still an amateur, Craig Schommer won a stage of the 1988 Coors Classic and raced on that year’s U.S. Olympic squad in Seoul. He subsequently turned pro with Subaru-Montgomery but never fulfilled his potential before retiring from the sport, in 1994, at age 28. “That last season, I didn’t have that crazy ambition anymore,” Schommer remembered. “I had no plans, but the one thing that helped [was] in the offseason I would take a quarter at college…but no plans of becoming a lawyer or anything like that.”
On retirement, Schommer did go to school fulltime while coaching amateur club riders—“that was a nice transition.” College proved a good choice. He earned a degree in psychology at UC Santa Cruz and a master’s in ergonomics and human factors at San Jose State. “When I was through with school—we were somewhat lucky that the dot-com boom was going on, and we were in the Bay Area. They were hiring anyone that could just learn to get things done. A friend of mine, a software engineer, said, ‘You should get into tech…try and look at usability research, user experience.’ Hmmm, what’s that? So I looked into it, human factors… Wow, this is great—a practical application for psychology and design. So I got a job doing that and I’ve been doing it ever since.
“First I worked at Intuit, which makes QuickBooks and TurboTax. Then I went to an agency that kept changing names. I was with them for eight years, and I’ve been with my current one [Pollinate] for eight years too. I was the 12th employee; we now have over 50.”
Schommer works with a media team, studying web analytics data, analyzing how people react to their ad campaigns and user interfaces on social media, running usability tests and getting live feedback from customers. “One of the things I missed when I stopped riding was just being outside every day…and then you go to the corporate world you just feel cut off. Fortunately, we moved to Portland where my wife grew up,” said Schommer, whose office is a 5-mile bike commute away. “There are actually bike traffic jams when I ride home in the evening.”
Schommer and wife Laura Mullen, a former racer with Team Shaklee, have two teenagers, neither of whom is into cycling. But the parents both ride and share a smart trainer in the wet Oregon winters. “I didn’t do much for years,” Schommer admitted, “so when my wife started riding more, I started as well. Then, when a friend asked me to do the Seattle to Portland ride, 200 miles in one day, I was like, okay. Then I realized, oh shit, I haven’t ridden 100 miles in like 25 years. So, I started doing long rides…and remembered why cycling was such a hard lifestyle!”