Justin Knox is one of two recruits on to British Cycling's annual Coach Scholarship programme, which provides a wide variety of coach development opportunities across all of cycling's key disciplines.
Here, the keen Mountain Bike rider explains how in the past month his eyes have not only been opened to different disciplines in cycling, but also the standard of talent at the UK School Games and the workings of the TV trade.
Not bad for his first few weeks as a British Cycling Coaching Scholar!
For the last few months I have been really busy with the scholarship.
Like Monica, it all started with going on a Level 2 Road and Time Trial course, something which I really enjoyed and learned a lot from as mountain biking has been the only cycling discipline I’ve really been involved heavily in.
I really liked the tactics side of road riding and found there was a lot more to it than I had originally thought. The course has inspired me and at the moment I am trying to secure a safe tarmac venue in which to hold regular coaching sessions for my club Matlock CC (if anyone knows of any possible venues in the area, a large tarmac area no traffic, then get in touch with MCC).
I also got the fantastic opportunity of going to the UK School Games, which is a major multi-sport event held over four days.
This year the cycling discipline was mountain biking; something I’m very comfortable with and was held in Wharncliffe Woods just outside Sheffield. The course was fantastic and had everything you would want from a XC event and the first day was spent setting it out and making it safe.
The second day was the start of racing with a dirt crit and team relay. Most of my time was spent helping to make sure the event ran smoothly, from tweeks on the course to marshalling. I also spent some time talking with the commissaires to get an idea of their role. It really made me appreciate the hard work that goes into organising a race event.
The last two days I spent with the East Midlands team, something which gave me a good insight into how a team is run and really got me thinking about the difficulties encountered when trying to get the best out of your team and the best ways to instil the right attitude and work ethic into your riders.
Unfortunately one of the team had a big off but Ihope you are back on your bike soon Jake!
Next I got to go along to a cyclo-cross camp run by some of the talent team coaches. Cyclo-cross as a sport is something I’ve never really been involved in and something I really wanted to learn more about.
What really surprised me was how similar the skills required to do the sport it are to MTB. After watching the coaching sessions over the two days and seeing how the coaches got across certain non-MTB techniques, I felt quite confident to be able to run my own cyclo-cross sessions. In fact, there are some on the horizon, something I would probably not have done if I had not had this opportunity.
I’ve also had some different coaching experiences over the last couple of months. I managed to get a job as MTB coach/safety advisor for ITV, which mainly involved telling Gethin Jones that he couldn’t jump his bike as it would be too dangerous, although some coaching was given to his co-presenter Charlotte. It was an interesting experience and good see how they put a television show together.
I’ve also been working for Thornbridge Outdoors as an MTB instructor, which has been a big learning curve for me as the groups I have had to coach have been so wide ranging in abilities and interest. Every session was different from the other, using what I had learned from the previous session to adapt the next.
On the club front my MTB sessions have finished and I am soon to start some cyclo-cross session and hopefully some road in the future. We also have some big plans for next year’s MTB sessions which may include a race series, so watch this space.
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