In order to gain some coaching experience as part of his British Cycling Level 2 coaching qualification, John Wych contacted his local Go-Ride Club, Mossley CRT. The club encouraged him to go along, watch what they did and then start delivering his own sessions - and John hasn’t looked back since.
In 2015 he won the North West Coach of the Year Award at the annual Go-Ride Conference in Manchester. We caught up with John to find out what makes him tick.
What made you decide to get into coaching?
I’ve loved cycling ever since I first learned to ride a bike at four years old and raced a lot of different disciplines for nearly 20 years, before ending my ‘career’ working as a mountain bike guide in the Bolivian Andes. Then, family and work took over and I only managed to cycle occasionally for almost 10 years until the urge to ride regularly again got too strong to resist. I joined a club and started taking my own children out for cycle rides but didn’t have the desire or time to train for races again properly. Instead, I realised that I had a lot of experience to share with the new generation of cyclists and coaching enabled me to get involved with the racing side of cycling and I found it massively rewarding seeing the riders I coach improve as they enjoy riding their bikes.
How did you find British Cycling’s coaching pathway?
I found the coaching pathway easy and logical to follow. The main bulk of the Level 2 qualification is over a couple of weekends and the practical part was easy to fit in on an evening once a week. I was also lucky enough to be granted a bursary towards the cost of the qualification.
Can you describe the role of a Club Coach?
Motivator, guru, entertainer, story teller! You’re all these things and draw on all your life experiences to explain, teach and help the riders practice the core skills of cycling. It helps if you have bucket loads of enthusiasm and a bit of patience.
What do you particularly enjoy about the role?
When children race around the circuit safely in a bunch, practising the skills you’ve coached them - the same skills I learnt the hard way at 16 in my first road races!
How often do you typically help out at your club?
I usually help out about once a week, but sometimes more during the summer and less in the winter. You can generally do as much or as little as you like.
What training and support have you had in your role?
I learn a lot from observing other coaches and from the tips they have given me. The coaching reference materials are really good for working out how to structure your sessions and to break down then build up a particular skill. I’ve also been invited to watch full time coaches delivering sessions which I adapt and use for my own sessions.
What would you say to other aspiring coaches?
I’d encourage anyone with a genuine interest in cycling to get involved in coaching. At this grassroots level, you’re not only coaching cycling skills but also setting beginners along a path that teaches them about being fit and healthy, working as a team, setting objectives and putting in the work to achieve those goals.