If you’re new to cycling and have heard that you should get a coach, there’s a chance you’ve had to ask, ‘But what does a cycling coach do?’ And there are a lot of answers to that question: For top pros, coaches might travel with them to camps, ride alongside of them or motorpace them with scooters, stand on a track and calculate splits and hand out water bottles. A cycling coach might simply make you a training plan, and that’s all there is to the interaction. A cycling coach might make a plan, monitor it and provide regular feedback. A cycling coach might help you work on on-the-bike skills in person, or run a training camp that you can attend. Unlike something more straightforward like a personal trainer, a cycling coach’s list of services can vary wildly just depending on coaching and riding styles. Because this can get confusing, we wanted to talk about the different ways we coach at The Consummate Athlete.
Online Cycling Coach
Online coaching, unlike a simple training plan that tells you how far or how long to ride, and how hard. An online cycling coach generally makes a plan for you in a software like Training Peaks. Online coaching typically includes plan adjustments and regular feedback from your coach based on how you’re performing and what’s going on in your life–if there isn’t a feedback or adjustment protocol, you’re basically paying for a training plan, not a coach. A good coach will look at the data that you’re providing from your workouts and tweak your program to fit how you’re progressing. Coaches will have different ranges of contact and contact styles here: For example, Peter offers daily, weekly and monthly coaching levels that each have different amounts of plan adjustment/client contact associated with them. And depending on your coach, you may have the ability to email, text, reply in the app you’re using, or phone your coach at certain times. (Tip: If you’re new to working with a coach, interview him or her and get clear on what communication is preferable for both of you.)
Cycling Training Plans
These plans are more straightforward. You can buy completely pre-made ones, or get one that’s built with your current goals and limitations (both physical and work/family/time-related in mind). For someone who’s self-disciplined and highly motivated, these can be a great way to get started into coaching to get a sense of what training on a schedule looks and feels like for you. (It can also help you figure out what you do need from a coach!)
Bike Skills Sessions
Bike skills often get left out of the equation when talking about cycling coaching, but here, they’re one of the top things that we care about. Peter has been coaching bike skills for over a decade, and it’s still one of his favorite things to do. Cycling is often missing the skills element when we talk about coaching: Most coaches are online-based, and while that’s great for many athletes, there are tons of athletes (even those who are training with another coach online) who could use some in-person work on skills. Especially when you’re considering an off-road discipline like cyclocross or mountain bike, having skills training alongside of a structured schedule is invaluable!
Camps / Clinics
Like bike skills sessions, but bringing friends along for the ride! These options are great one- or multi-day ways to hone skills and get in some great miles on the bike while asking a coach about all things training-related. If you’re newer to structured training, these are awesome ways to build skills and start to understand what daily training should look like while also improving your fitness. (Find out more information by inquiring about a camp or clinic here.)
If you’re considering coaching of any kind and just don’t know where to start, an easy way is by booking a phone call for a consult. This might be all you need to nudge your training in the right direction, or you might realize that while you thought you wanted online coaching, skills training plus a basic training plan makes more sense for you right now. Really, cycling coaching