Coaching Session for Islington CC

Today Prime Coaching provided a bespoke coaching morning for Islington Cycle Club. Whilst we are happy to tailor our coaching sessions based on a club’s individual requirements, today’s brief was “we’ll have what London Dynamo had”. Fair enough, so here’s what we did.

Cornering and 4-man-attacks

Cornering and 4-man-attacks

Aidan, from the Islington CC recruited as many as he could from the club, and where numbers were available, padded the session out with riders from the Central London CTC group. On a session like this, more definitely is the merrier to allow us to simulate race scenarios and also keeps cost per rider down. In total, 26 riders made the journey to Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, almost all arriving promptly for the 9:30am start.

Those that ventured across town by bicycle were given the opportunity to shed excess equipment, partake in a hot beverage and a biscuit, and introductions were made to identify the Prime Coaching staff for the day – Steve May and Dave George provided the static coaching, with Ralph and Simon Passey, Rachel McKay and Duncan Adamson providing riding coaching, and Julie May fulfilling the most important role of ensuring the kettle was replenished.

We started the session with a small pen and paper task. As coaches we like to ensure that all training, coaching and racing is carried out with a predetermined list of goals. In this instance, we asked riders to set three goals to achieve from the session. The checlist and goals form we used is available here. Afterwards, we would refer back to the pre-session goals to determine if they had been met. More on this later….

After that, it was straight onto the circuit for the warm up. Splitting the group into two smaller groups based on ability gave the coaches chance to assess how the riders performed as a “chaingang”, rotating constantly forward “through” a working line before moving “off” to the recovery line. First impressions were good. The lines of riders were straight and tight, but it was evident that a little work was needed to reinforce the techniques that would make a smoother, more controlled ride without accelerations and drop offs. Everyone came off the warm up smiling – a good sign!

We then moved onto the first performance exercise – bridging the gap. The riders already have established groupings of A, B and C squads, based on ability. These three groups formed a steady ride at 1/3 lap intervals, with the front two riders expected to accelerate off the front, work together to catch the next group, whereby the next two riders would go off, and so on. Based on the principal that “a rider that is not challenged is a cheated rider” it was evident that the performance aspect was welcomed, enjoyed with just the right amount of challenge.

The skills drill of moving through a line of riders safely but assertively and with confidence came next.

After that, we were starting to combine skills together. The 4-man-attack scenario that we often use, was extended by Steve to include a tight chicane requiring the riders to regulate their speed through an otherwise straight section of the circuit. Adding the cornering to both the tactical and performance aspects started to add additional challenges to the riders.

High Speed Cornering

High speed cornering for Islington CC

Leading on from this, we further broke the squads down into sub-teams, and introduced working for a team and pace management into the session.

All Prime Coaching sessions end with an End Of Session Race, and today was no exception. The A, B and C squads conducted a 5 lap (4.8 miles) handicapped race. A lone rider from the C squad went out on his own to successfully take the finish, whilst the A and B group caught each other and came across the line as one. Back to the clubhouse for tea, and just in time as the sky blackened and a heavy downpour followed…

Back in the clubhouse, we went back to see if the pre-session goals had been fulfilled. A very positive response was given and all involved agreed that the session had met expectations.

A few of the rider forms were left behind, which was useful for us as it served as a spot of feedback in terms of what the riders expected. A brief summary of some goals are as follows:

  • Improve bike handling – We can say everyone improved and we hope we have given the riders something to think about and practice
  • Learn how to race – Racing is the best way to learn how to race, but we hope the riders have an insight into some of the demands racing involves
  • Better Cornering – We covered this and saw confidence and techniques over time
  • Improve Group Riding – Again, something that was practiced and hopefully will continue
  • Have Fun – We hope the riders did. We know we did.
  • Drop Jim – We can’t recall Jim, or if indeed he was dropped, but this was a common theme noted as a goal. Jim, you seem to be a marked man!

Thanks go Aidan for arranging this, and all the riders who made it happen. Well done!

We really enjoy facilitating these sessions, and it is certainly high on the Prime Coaching agenda to get more clubs to attend these and other similar sessions. If you would like to inquire about how we could structure some coaching for your club, team or organisation please do not hesitate to contact Steve May for more details.


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Coaching Session for London Dynamo

Today was the second private coaching event that we have organised for London Dynamo. The weather on the way to the circuit did not bode well, and looked as though a damp miserable day lay ahead. Things had brightened up after the welcome tea was served and introductions and the session format was delivered. One of  benefits of Hillingdon Cycle Circuit is that once the rain does stop, the circuit starts to dry quite quickly.

We moved outside to get the session going. With 21 riders from London Dynamo, and our three riding Coaches from Prime, we split the group into two halves. Each group took to a 20 minute warm up, executing through-and-off from both left to right and right to left.

After warm up, we broke the group down into 3 groups. The focus of the next exercise was bridging gaps. We set the groups off at intervals, and asked the first two from each group to bridge the gap to the next group. When the gap was bridged, the next two riders went off, and so on. Most riders were expected to bridge a gap of around 1/3 of a mile, although for some the gap was much longer.

After this exercise, it was time to let heart rates settle a little. The aim of the next exercise was to introduce riders to make there way down the center of two lines of riders. As well as building confidence within a group, this exercise expects the rider to focus on making themselves bigger, and starting to command their position through the group.


The next exercise was to simulate an attack and to cover it once it was made. Four of the stronger riders were instructed to make a tactical attack somewhere on the circuit. The subsequent chasing group were then to pick up the pace, not letting the attackers get away further than 100m. This worked perfectly from a coaching perspective – a couple of riders attempted to bridge too hard and unaided, which quickly saw them reduce their prolonged chasing ability. We identified the riders who had fallen into the trap, and asked each to reflect on their own performance and describe what had happened. We are pleased to say they recognised the errors and relayed it back to the group correctly.

After another hard effort, we needed some down time. Another skills session, weaving in and out of a line of riders was the exercise aimed at improving confidence, communication and focus.

20140406_104243_3By rider request, we then moved into some simple lead-out train efforts, that saw a fast improvement in organisation as the session progressed. Each lead-out delivered the same sprinting rider, who all buried themselves and gave convincing race like efforts.

Just when they thought the session was ending, we introduced the customary end of session race. 5 laps with energy depleted sprinters was meant to level the field, but again the performance was high. The race ended a very successful session.

We thank London Dynamo greatly for organising enough riders to make these sessions a huge success. We would like to hear from other clubs and organisations that would be interested in attending one of our 3 hour private sessions.



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