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history & philosophy

by Carl Brewer last modified 2013-05-29 11:59

Where we've been and why we do what we do the way we do it!

I started aboc Cycle Coaching in 2003 as I wanted to help riders who entered the sport of bicycle racing as "older" (not juniors!) riders.  Bicycle clubs offer coaching services for their members, and this is primarily aimed at junior development and elite riders.  Those of us who come in as lowly D graders in our 20's, 30's or later, aren't well catered for by most cycling clubs.  This is not a critisism of the clubs, they have limited resources and most club coaches are volunteers, and they work with the riders that most interest them.

Coming from a background of team sports (rugby union, ice hockey, waterpolo) I felt that most of the riders riding in the lower grades weren't getting as much out of this great sport as they could, so I established from day 1 that I wanted aboc (a bunch of cyclists!) to concentrate on working with riders not only with training and racing, but also socialising and team building.  This is why we have dinners, training camps and we ride in races as teams when and where we can. 

Initially aboc sponsored two riders, Trevor Cameron (Blackburn CC, road/criterium racer) and Neil Robinson (Fat Tyre Flyers CC, MTB and criterium racer), and soon had a small group of riders training for the AUDAX Alpine Classic as well as riders training and racing with the Eastern Vets, Eastern Combine and other clubs around Melbourne.

In 2006 aboc had grown to such an extent that I needed help, I approached Brad Robins to look after elite level riders, as I wanted to continue to work with non-elite riders, and Brad accepted my offer.  This allows riders to stay "in the fold" as they move up from D grade to A grade or beyond.  I also approached Lawrence Maskell, originally an aboc client, to consider joining aboc as a coach once she had completed her qualification.  Lawrence accepted and she looked after a number of riders for about a year.  Early in 2007 Lawrence decided she needed to concentrate more on her training for the 2007 world masters games in Sydney and is no longer coaching with aboc.  Rowan Geddes was going to come on as a new coach in the latter half of 2007 but moved to the UK for work.  Nathan Larkin was part of the aboc coaching team from 2009 until 2013 where he moved on to concentrate on studying photography.  Lisa Cochrane joined the aboc team in May 2013 as our endurance coach

In 2009 aboc was asked by the Deakin University Cycling Club to be their club coaching organisation.  We gladly accepted this role and look forward to a successful developmental program with this very enthusiastic group.  Also in 2009 I started to work with the National Talent ID and Development (NTID) track sprint program and decided to specialize in track sprint cycling, and hand over the endurance coaching role to developmental coaches and to assume a mentoring role for endurance coaches more than a direct coaching role.

Our approach to coaching is to do our best to apply current sports science theory to individual riders' circumstances.  We know what it's like to balance training with a family, relationships, school, study and jobs, we live in the real world too.  We don't pretend to have all the answers and we know that sports science is a mess of contradictory studies.  We try and sort out the stuff that works from the stuff that might work, and the myths and  snakeoil and fit it in with how much time our clients have and their expectations and aspirations.   We use Bayesian methods to decide what may work for our riders. Roughly stated this means that we don't assume that what works for one person will work for everyone, we have to monitor our riders and update our methods according to their responses.

Wherever we can we try to race or complete the same races and events that our riders are training for so we can offer advice from real experience.  Remember the 2006 AUDAX Alpine when it was 43 degrees?  We were there too, riding it.  The 2003 Around the Bay in a day when the weather was foul?  We were there, riding it.  We race regularly and ride as many of the major events as we can. We think this is an important part of what we do as coaches and helps us to provide a better, more informed service to the riders who trust us to coach them.

Where races that our riders want to do don't exist, we've tried to make them happen.  aboc is running for the second season the Bontrager Summer Sprint Series to allow our riders to have a go at track match sprinting, for example.

For the coaching team, aboc is a learning experience and we strive to continue to learn and develop as coaches as we work with our clients.  Our charges are low compared to other commercial coaching services in our area, as we're not trying to make a living from coaching, we're trying to build a community and learn and contribute to the sport of bicycle racing and event riding.



Thankyou for reading!
Carl Brewer, July 2006, updated July 2007, October 2007, February 2009, May 2009, June 2013



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