What does a bike coach do?
In theory, a bike coach will do everything from teaching someone to ride a bike through to planning out a daily, weekly, monthly and annual training routine to get them in peak form for the next Olympics.
Part of the coach education is teaching people the basics of good pedalling technique, cornering and descending.
A little higher up the ability level a coach should also be able to take you through techniques like using clipless pedals and riding in a group.
It needs a higher level of qualification to then start prescribing training regimes for individuals.
When it comes to the absolute basics, in reality if you have never ridden a bike before, after a little free advice, you might be better teaching yourself. There are some tips to speed the process up but by and large it’s about finding a safe location (supermarket car parks after 4pm on a Sunday or grassy parks that allow cycling are good) and then practicing. It’s one of those situations where effort rather than money is required.
Once you have the basics down it’s time to buy a Highway Code and read it, especially – who’d have thought? – the sections regarding cycling. It’s evidentially a surprise to some that the Highway Code applies to cyclists too. You might also consider some form of readily-available cycling proficiency training which Google will quickly help you find.
For many people this is as far as they will want to go – competent, able and free to enjoy the open road on the most energy efficient means of transport man has yet invented!
Bike coaching really comes into its own once you start to get a little more serious, possibly competitive, either with yourself or others. Do you fancy taking part in a big Sportive event ? Might you be the next Chris Froome ? What does it take to be a good Time Triallist and are those funny helmets mandatory ? Is mountain bike racing something you fancy doing but aren’t sure about ?
The further you get into this, spurred on by how fun it all is, the more confusing it becomes. Are you training enough or too much ? Of the myriad of sports supplements are any worth taking ? You start wondering about the best ways to improve and whether the training plans that appear in magazines apply to you given that you can’t train exactly as they detail.
A bike coach is here to help advise you on all of this, guiding you through the best ways to improve on your abilities and enjoyment of cycling as a sport. The level of detail required depends on the individual but it’s fair to say that the more serious you get the higher the level of detail required. Those put off by data or just looking to be a little quicker are happy with outlines, some basic instructions and a time frame within which to do some key rides. At the other end of the scale will be riders who need precise instructions on how fast to pedal, at what intensity, for how long and on what type of terrain. Heart rate monitors or power meters become essential training aids as things get very scientific.
Now that Britain has had two Tour de France champions, huge success in the Olympics and just about every other aspect of cycling, people are increasingly drawn to the sport from the grass roots upwards.
What a bike coach does is help with each point in that journey.