The weekend of February 24-26, eight other coaches and I spent more than 20 hours gorging ourselves on bicycle skill drills, sports physiology, training plan design and the business of coaching. Our teachers and program presenters were Steven Pye and Derick Williamson and Kevin Dessart. Their certifications and expertise and experience in endurance cycling and coaching are too long to list here. As a long-time high school English teacher, I have been to a plethora of workshops, conferences, seminars and the like, but never have I attended an informational event the quality and professionalism of USAC’s Level 2 Coaching Clinic. I left each day exhausted but inspired in equal measure. The materials and the information delivered were well organized, polished and relevant. Some of the material we learned I have read about in the past, but Steven and Derick crystallized and clarified that info so that I have much more confidence in my knowledge of coaching and training cyclists.
I left these info-packed trainings with a head and heart full of science and training methodology. But the greatest take away is that while there is much science and many different training plans for coaching a cyclist to achieve his or her goals, the most important aspect is that effective coaching and training is an art. Coaching cyclists to ride and race at their best is highly contextual. Each rider brings a highly individualized and unique set of characteristics, demands, limitations, skills and constraints to the “training table,” and it is the task of the coach to analyze those elements, work within them and create a plan that fits the needs and goals of the rider – a complex and satisfying blend of art and science. Nothing could be more human and gratifying than helping another passionate fellow cyclist successfully navigate the complexities and challenges of achieving at an individual’s highest level.
I have loved cycling since I was six, when I first removed the training wheels from my Western Flyer and promptly turned down the handlebars into racer-boy aero position. I have loved teaching and honing my craft with countless pages read and years of countless hours worrying over how to improve my pedagogy. In both – cycling and teaching – I have always looked for ways to get better. To combine this – the desire to improve – and these two, life-long loves – cycling and teaching – in the service of others is a belated, but welcome, dream come true.
Thank you, USA Cycling, Steven, Derick and Kevin.