Training, Technique & Skill Development Programs
The best of the best didn’t start by training power, they developed bike handling skills before they trained to win: 4x Tour de France winner Chris Froome and 3x UCI World Champ Peter Sagan developed their bike handling skills & their base as mountain bikers. UCI World Hour Record holder Bradley Wiggins and top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish and Fernando Gaviria developed their skills & base as track cyclists. 2x Pan-Am Cyclocross gold medalist Stephen Hyde started in BMX.
The first skills cyclists need to train are bike handling skills. No different than how we learn to drive, the priority at the outset is to learn how to anticipate and take appropriate action to avoid collisions and crashes. To be able to ride safely and defensively requires cyclists to focus on being comfortable on two wheels in all sorts of conditions. Once comfortable, confidence builds and cyclists can add skills of agility, balance and coordination. These basics set the best of the best to develop efficient pedal strokes which they leverage into speed, endurance and power. Proper progression is key to becoming a consistent peak performer in cycling, in any sport.
The place to start, is not on the road or off road, but in the safety of a parking lot.
The bike to start on is not a road bike, but a bike which makes handling skills fun and easy to learn, such as a mountain bike or dirt-jump bike.
The way to start is with experienced coaches who teach handling skills in a progression matching each rider at their level to build comfort, confidence and skill.
Bike Handling Skills – Novice to Sport Level | ON & OFF ROAD
Dates & Times
Mondays 6:45 – 7:30pm
ON-ROAD @Brant Cycle
Apr 15, 22, 29 & May 6th
ON ROAD Bike Skills Course promo video
Mondays 6:45 – 7:30pm
OFF-ROAD @Glen Eden
May 13, 20 & 27th
Scroll down for an overview of the MTB skills trained in off road sessions & our 2018 team results from: Kelso MTB Race Series, O-CUP MTB Provincials, and the Tour of Pelham
We assume nothing and start with the basics: pre-ride checks, normal & emergency braking, steering (CycloX) turns, leaning (MTB) turns, triathlon & cyclocross mount & dismounts, pace line & group riding skills, wheel lifts, wheelies, track stands, progressing to the skill set needed to complete the Beginner & Novice/Sport/Expert events of the Kelso MTB Race Series. The goal is to have riders comfortable with being on their bike, the functions of their bike, and with basic bike handling skills on and off the road.
Sessions are at least 45 mins long. ON ROAD sessions are held in Brant Cycle’s parking lot (link to Google maps); OFF ROAD sessions start from the WEST LODGE of Glen Eden/start area of the Kelso MTB series (link to Google maps). In the event of a weather related cancellation, athletes will be contacted via email.
You will not be allowed to ride without: a properly fitting helmet & a bike which is in safe working condition. Cracked, expired or helmets without functioning chin straps do not count. Riders are encouraged to have their bike inspected by their local bike shop prior to the start date of the program. Novice level riders should have flat pedals; Sport level riders have the option of riding with clipless pedals.
Access to Kelso Conservation Area: to access the mountain bike (MTB) trails at Glen Eden/Kelso Conservation Area, athletes will need to obtain a day or seasons permit to the park. We recommend a seasons pass if the athlete is going to compete in the Kelso MTB and/or Cyclocross series. The pass is valid for all Halton Conservation Areas, thereby providing access to additional MTB trails at the Hilton Falls park (north side of 401, just west of Appleby off Campbellville Rd).
Refund Policy: TOETT DOES NOT provide refunds. With programs focused on quality, on learning, on athlete’s making significant progress, hi athlete turnover rate would compromise coaching and the experience of all athletes. We ask that prior to registering that all commitments, calendars, etc… are reviewed to avoid joining when the risk is that the athlete will miss many sessions and/or the athlete will have to drop out.
Bike Skills Training: Why You Don’t Start on a Road Bike
Formula One race car drivers didn’t start in Formula One. Olympic gymnasts didn’t start on a balance beam 4ft off the ground, uneven bars 8ft off of the ground or on the rings 10ft off the ground. Slopestyle skiers and snowboarders didn’t start learning their spins, flips and tricks on the rails, jumps or slopes on which they compete. Every top athletes starts by learning at slow speeds and using safe setups (e.g. foam pits or equipment setup close to the ground). Only when skill and experience in executing skills are gained, do athletes progress to executing the same skills with fewer safety measures in place. Its no different in cycling: start slow, start safe, and once comfort, confidence and skills develop do you start to add power.
Basic Mountain Bike (MTB) Skills
Line Selection & Obstacles
Womens Mountain Bike (MTB) competition from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. The course and course obstacles are for Olympic level athletes; however, they offer an overview of the terrain and challenges riders encounter when riding off-road. To conquer each challenge specific skills are required. Trying to muscle up, down and over everything in your path is the fast way to destroying both yourself and your bike. Learning to ride lightly, skillfully, efficiently translates into a rider who can become a consistent peak performer.
Why Triathletes Need Bike Handling Skills
Triathletes need bike handling skills? Watch, wait and see why. First, to learn the rules of the road/race… such as there is no pack/paceline riding in a non-drafting race; second, swinging 2 lanes wide, crossing the course midline into oncoming athletes is not only cause for DQ/disqualification, its indicative of a lack of bike handling skills, placing yourself and all athletes around you at severe risk.
2018 Ironman Texas bike course crash
From Triathlete.com: “Almost every adult-onset triathlete knows the phrase “it’s just like riding a bike” is a gross oversimplification of cycling. The skills required for a good-time ride with friends and family don’t necessarily translate to triathlon.”
Learn to handle a bike off-road – i.e. on loose surfaces, on changing terrain, where there are significant grades both up and down hill – and when back on the road, there will be no set of race conditions that will compromise your performance. In addition to offering an indispensible skill set, training off road also offers athletes an alternative way to train, and an alternative way to compete: in the growing sport of cross triathlons, not to mention MTB, cyclocross & gravel events.
2018 Kelso MTB Race Series – Results
The Kelso MTB Series is a set of 14 races scheduled every Tuesday night from May to August. This year 2 were rained out leaving 12 races which were held on 5 different courses (links to course maps below). Instead of winners being recognized after each race, points are allocated from every race to every athlete as a percentage of the fastest finisher in each race category. At the end of the season, the points are tabulated and series winners are awarded certificates. Last night, TOETT athletes celebrated the conclusion at the Kelso MTB Series Finale; an evening which starts with a Skills Competition followed by Awards and Draw Prizes.
The Skills Competition features the following events: the bunny hop (who clears the highest bar), the wheelie (who wheelies the furthest), the timed descent (who’s the fastest down the new Disco Inferno trail), the ‘square’ (a balance/trackstand competition), and the KOM (King of the Mountain – which is a competition as to who climbs to the top or the highest, up one of the Glen Eden ski hills). The winner of each competition wins a prize. You can watch Mark compete in and conquer the ‘square’ competition (Youtube video).
The evening then moved onto Awards with every TOETT athlete who trained with Serena and Aimee this summer in the Basic Bike Handling Skills course and as part of the Group Rides ending up on the podium. That’s 9 podiums! Congratulations to all for trying something new: mountain biking, and competing in MTB events. What an outcome to watch everyone climb onto the podium.
Next year… those who competed in Beginner need to move up to the Novice category. Gabe needs to move up the overall rankings in the Novice category and taking 1st in his age category should be the objective. Serena & Aimee will stay in Sport to work on moving up the overall rankings as well. Mark will be moving up to Expert and we shall see whether he or his ‘old man’ is faster.
For 2019, we have a new concept for our bike programs. We will unveil our training programs this winter. We are redesigning the programs to ensure that those racing on the loop used by the Novice, Sport & Expert categories have the skills needed to handle the climbs, the descents, and the obstacles that will be in one or all of the race courses. Interested in joining us next year but nervous, no off road experience? No problem. This year athletes who never rode off road, never trained off road, trained to develop the skills needed for MTB’g, serving also to improve their on road skills for both training and racing as cyclists and triathletes. Come join us. Besides your bike handling skills improving, we guarantee you will have a blast.
Still to come this year… Kelso Cyclocross series: a series of 8 races running Tuesday nights September into October. Stay tuned for results. Interested, then check the Kelso Conservation Area website for registration and race details.
Skills Competition & Awards – Tuesday Aug 28 @ 6:45pm
Race #14 – cancelled due to rain
Race #13 – results link here
Race #12 – results link here
Race #11 – results link here
Race #10 – results link here
Race #9 – results link here
Race #8 – results link here
Race #7 – results link here
Race #6 – results link here
Race #5 – results link here
Race #4 – results link here
Race #3 – results link here
Race #2 – results link here
Race #1 – cancelled due to rain
Athlete list by category:
Juan, Andres, Patricia, Carolina, Matei
Mark, Serena, Aimee, Yuliya
2018 O-Cup MTB Provincial Championships
After a full night of rain, Kelso Conservation Area was soaked through. If you have never ridden off road then you are likely unfamiliar with what happens when mountain bike trails get soaked… instead of biking on firm hard packed dirt, its like riding on wet sand… its work, hard work. When it isn’t hard work pedaling, then its hard work balancing as your bike is slipping and sliding through puddles, muddy turns, over wet roots and rocks.
Gabe raced in the first wave that went off @ 9am. His race was the wet-est as the sun still hadn’t broken through the fog and clouds. Shallow puddles and mud pits marked a few corners, and made uphill climbs challenging. Gabe completed his first ever OCup race and his first ever OCup MTB Provincials placing 5th. Nice! Considering Gabe started biking less than a year ago, to accept the challenge of racing at the premier event for MTB in the province took courage. Congrats Gabe.
Serena and Aimee raced in the second wave that went off @ 10am. Serena in the Cadet Junior Sport girls was staged in a wave a couple minutes head of Aimee in who competed in the Master Sport Women (35-49) category. Both had to complete 2 laps of the 6.1km course. Serena placed 2nd in her category and Aimee finished 5th.
Finally, Mark and MJ took to the trails in the third wave that went off @ 11:45am. Mark had 2 laps to do of Loop B and MJ had to complete 3. With a sprint distance triathlon yesterday (750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run) Mark had his work cut out for him; Mark placed 12th. MJ who decided that the trail signs marking the course needed to be taken down, missing the apex of a turn on Quarry Trail he ended up riding straight into the bushes taking out one sign. Since one fall is not as fun as two, he then decided to test out if the rocks on Rough Trade were as hard as they looked, so he took another spill on the uphill rock garden just before Wide Open. No matter, up you go and back to racing, MJ took 11th place.
Although we all have raced weekly in the Kelso MTB Series all summer, showing up to an Ontario Cycling Association O-Cup event was new and none of us knew what to expect, who we would be racing, nor the quality of the competition. But to do something new… you have to do something new. I think we can all admit that we were a bit anxious going into the event, but once on the trails, once the competition started, everyone focused on the task at hand, had a great time and gained valuable race experience.
The first wave raced on Loop A, second and third waves on Loop B, and the fourth wave raced on Loop C.
2018 Tour of Pelham
The 2018 Tour of Pelham had to be rescheduled this year from April to July as a result of the ice storm and other inclement weather we saw in early spring. As a result, the Tour fit into our race calendar and never having done an Ontario Cycling Association road event we decided to sign up for our first ever Tour. The course was just shy of 35km with approximately 50% road, 35% gravel and 15% off road/MTB and just under 300m of vertical; the sweltering weather made the 12noon start just a bit more challenging for the 70 or so cyclists. The majority rode cyclocross bikes, but with both fixie and fat bike categories there were those as well as a few MTBs and even a road bike in the mix. We opted for MTBs and stuck with the tires we use for the Kelso MTB series due to the off road sections.
Despite going off course twice, and despite being hit by another cyclist during the off road portion (who wasn’t in the event) Serena managed to get back on course finishing 2nd in the U19 category. Mark unfortunately flatted 3km into the race and with the Sweep not having any 29er tubes – despite having every other imagineable tube size, especially Cyclocross – Mark called it a day. Aimee also ended up on the podium finishing 3rd in the Open Womens category.