Pacific Cycling Centre (PCC) is excited to announce that it is now offering a PCC Coach Mentorship Program to coaches. This program is aimed to assist the development and the personal and professional growth of a mentee coach who wants to take his/her knowledge and skill to the next level.

Through the program coaches will gain practical work and advice, learn from the experience of a mentor, increase their coaching confidence and ability in a real working dynamic environment, be empowered to make appropriate decisions, and establish a sense of direction for themselves and their athletes moving forward.

“While classroom and / or online coaching courses are important academically, nothing can replace working with a coach mentor who can equip you with the important tools necessary to perform to your highest capability,” says PCC Head Coach Houshang Amiri who will lead the program. “Our goal is to identify and achieve career development and personal and professional growth goals with the view to make you a successful coach.”

The program will create opportunities to meet and work with athletes giving coaches hands-on experience with PCC programs. Coaches will learn and gain inside knowledge of working in an organizational setting, as well as running their own coaching business.

The PCC Coach Mentorship Program will cover and is not limited to the following:

  • Coaching art, confidence building, decision making
  • Coaching science and technology, latest tools, and gauges
  • Communications, protocol development, program, training feedback, log keeping
  • Training program development, individual and group
  • Developing athletes’ assessment protocols, in-field, and laboratory
  • Goal setting session
  • Developing short term, mid and long term goals: individual and group
  • Training program monitoring: individual and group
  • Planning and running a training session, pre, during and post session communication
  • Race preparation, coaching at races
  • Observing your mentor coaching at training sessions, training camps and races
  • Engaging with existing training sessions and programs at PCC
  • Engaging with your mentor’s athlete coaching programs (confidentiality clause will apply)
  • Creating your own coaching business or working in an organization setting

These elements of the program will be personalized and adapted to the coach’s needs, working with the mentor in a variety of ways such as one-on-one consultation, two-way communications, in person, online and by phone.

Amiri has extensive experience as an educator and mentor. He was coach educator and instructor for Level 1, 2 and 3 NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) as well as being a Coach Certifier for NCCP Level 3 coach candidates at Cycling Canada for over 10 years.  He became a coach mentor at the National Coaching Institute in the University of Victoria mentoring level 4 and 5 NCCP coach candidates, as well as international coaches at NCI from 2004-2008. From 2009 he worked as Coach educator at UCI and international Olympic Solidarity program, traveling around the world running coaching course for coaches.

For more information on the PCC mentorship program contact

PCC coached rider Zoe Saccio successfully rode her first virtual race with the Echelon Racing League last weekend. On Saturday was the Virtual Indy Crit and Sunday the Dirty Reiver Road Race. These were staged on the racing platform RGT Cycling.

Zoe – who cycles on the Pickle Juice Pro Cycling Team – is based in Portland, Oregon. She was excited but also nervous to race these virtually as she heard they were quite hard. At the Crit start line her heart rate went over zone 2! “When the race started, I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as challenging as I expected. By about halfway through I was in the front group of 10 riders, and it stayed that way until the bunch sprint, which was the most challenging part of the race because I am still learning the physics of the game and did not know when to jump.”

The road race the next day though was “super fun,” she said. “From the gun, my teammate, myself, and another rider we had marked from the day before were in a three woman break. Pretty quickly we had a huge gap and knew there was no way anyone else was going to catch back on. Still the pace was high and every rider was throwing attacks – myself included – trying to fatigue the others or maybe get away. This was when I had to face one of my biggest mental challenges: the knowledge that even if I got dropped from the break, I would still be “on the podium.”

She then remembered a phone call with coach Houshang Amiri a few weeks before. “He told me a story about a rider in a match sprint who said that he wasn’t worried after qualifying for the gold medal ride because worst case he would be second. Houshang told me that is the worst possible mentality because you have lost before giving yourself a chance to win. So there I was, on the trainer, setting some season personal bests for power and heart rate, yelling at myself to keep going. I kept telling myself ‘you will win’ as I felt like I was about to explode. My legs were on fire, my lungs were burning, but I kept talking to myself, and hearing Houshang’s voice in my head. After two hours of racing on the trainer, it was finally the sprint. I got a lead out from my teammate and took the win, with her coming in second place.”

Houshang has been Zoe’s coach since the 2018-2019 season. “From the start she showed a great deal of potential and ability that I believe will take her to the world stage,” he says. “She is very coachable and her commitment and work ethic is what every coach wants from a rider. This is very motivating for me and it is a pleasure working with Zoe.”

Zoe is looking forward to more virtual races. “I learned a lot about myself this past weekend and got to practice the self-talking strategies Houshang has been teaching me all winter. I am excited to race more, which is good because my placings this weekend qualified me for the pro races next weekend.”

Due to the current province-wide restrictions and the Provincial Health Orders, all PCC group rides and the December training camp are cancelled until at least January 8, 2021.

Information on the PHO Orders.

Pacific Cycling Centre has revealed its 2021 team training kit. Designed by Jakroo Canada the kit features a cycling jersey, thermal jersey, pro bib shorts, wind vest, arm warmers, leg warmers and a neck wrap. Prices are discounted by 20% but the more orders placed the bigger the discount. To guarantee delivery by December 22, orders must be in by December 8.

Check out the full kit and price points here:

Pacific Cycling Centre (PCC) is excited to announce that limited new applications are now being accepted for online and Victoria-based athletes for the 2020-2021 cycling season in its Development and High-Performance Talent Development Programs. Over the past few seasons PCC-coached athletes produced successful results, with many achieving podium performances, making the National team standards, achieving podium finishes at UCI World Cups and National Championships, and racing with top teams in North America.

The 2020-2021 program will identify a group of athletes who are committed to excellence, and who are willing to develop their potential to progress to the next level and eventually to elite status. The goal would be for them to make the entry to the National team, National trade team and continental teams.  Applications are open to men and women in U19 to U23 as well elite and Masters with the objective to channel athletes into the development and HP racing team, while maintaining a permanent, high-performance training group at the Pacific Cycling Centre, with the appropriate coaching and support system. For U19-U23 a PCC talent development scholarship is available.

The athletes training will be based on the Cycling Canada Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model at the Train-to-Train, Train-to-Compete, Learn-To-Win and Train-To-Win levels.  Athletes from road, track and mountain bike will be accepted into the program, and will have access to the highest quality professional coaching and training in a peer group setting, training camps, regular physiological testing, mentorship opportunities with Olympians and for those showing talent, support at race competitions.

“Having a full development and HP program in Victoria BC that includes coaching and racing opportunities with their desired team creates a very exciting opportunity for the next generation of upcoming cyclists,” says Houshang Amiri, PCC Head Coach. “The program provides a professional sport career pathway for PCC riders to progress to the next level.”

PCC has decades of experience with distance and online coaching and has protocols in place for in-person coaching. PCC is following the guidelines on COVOD-19 as outlined by the BC Provincial Health Office, ViaSport and Cycling BC.

Interested athletes can send a race CV and cover letter to

With a new season comes the return of the Saturday group rides for PCC athletes.  Riders, under the guidance of the Pacific Cycling Centre head coach, meet and ride for four-six hours around Victoria. The first ride was on Saturday, November 6. Here is Alex Amiri’s account of the day.

This year rides are a little bit different with reduced numbers of riders because of the pandemic restrictions. Rather than meeting inside the PISE offices at the Commonwealth Pool in Saanich, we convened just outside. Before starting the workout, head coach Houshang Amiri addressed the riders and talked them through COVID-19 guidelines and the safety measures that must be followed during the ride. We then did a series of pre-ride activation techniques.

The biggest cog in a cyclist’s engine is learning how to breathe properly so we began with breathing exercises, focusing on activating the diaphragm. The focus on breathing also brings into play the off-bike work that needs to be kept up with, such as a solid foundation for your core muscles and core stability, as well as upper body and shoulder mobility. All this factors into more efficiency on the bike.

Following this the riders proceeded to take part in a dynamic warmup, consisting of leg swings in all directions. What this does is help bring a conscious mind to the legs, allowing riders to better focus on pedaling dynamics. Leg swings help in other ways as well, by opening the hips and activating the core it helps the riders to feel more relaxed on the bike.

The objective of the ride was base endurance while practising our breathing technique. The four-hour ride took in the peninsula with rolling hills.

For more information on these riding techniques be sure to check out our training tips page regularly, where we will begin uploading tips and tricks learned by head coach Houshang Amiri.

Infinit Nutrition has profiled U19 athletes Luke Hubner and Parker Swanstrom – Check it out here.

Luke Hubner. Photo by Filip Funk

Parker Swanstrom

PCC athlete Holly Henry competed in the Burnt Bridge Gravel Fondo last weekend in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. This annual cycling classic had to adapt its format because of the COVID-19 restrictions with wave starts and a time trial format. Here is Holly’s account of her race.

Photo by Jay Wallace

Burnt Bridge Classic Gravel Fondo took on a totally new format this year. The course was the same as last year with some modifications and was turned into a 76 km gravel TT.  After six months of no racing (aside from a few Tuesday night TTs) I was so excited to sign up to race!

As expected with typical Vancouver Island weather, it was pouring rain and cold at the start. I had the fifth start spot in the expert women’s category and went out pretty hard: hard enough to see my heart rate go up from 120 to 170 bpm within the first 20 seconds of starting. At 5.5 km into the ride there was a race KOM/QOM that went to the 13km marker. After doing a course recon earlier in the week and racing last year, I knew not to go out too hard into the long climb but with being able to see my competitors up the road I had a hard time holding myself back. By the end of the climb I caught and passed all the expert women who had started ahead of me and ended up with the fastest hill climb of the day for the women.

After a hard push to the top of the hill it started to get chilly and the rain was still coming down hard. I took about a minute of easier pedalling to try and recover a bit, took a gel, and then picked up the pace again to try and stay as warm as possible. I got into a good rhythm and don’t remember much except for going hard up to the checkpoint at 34 km. The checkpoint allowed me to stop for a few seconds, refocus, and then get back on with the race. There was a lot of short climbs and descents between the checkpoint and the long descent back down. I focused on staying controlled up the climbs and descending quickly but safely by carefully choosing my lines, and not taking any big risks.

Photo by Jay Wallace

At about 50 km I started onto the long descent. I was feeling really motivated to get down the hill quickly but then unfortunately hit a rock the wrong way and got a flat in my back tire. I made a quick decision to not put in a tube but pulled out a CO2 instead. Thankfully I was running tubeless tires and was able to get the tired sealed in record time. While fixing the flat I didn’t see any expert woman go by me. Motivated by thinking I still had a chance at the win, and with a lot of adrenaline I got back onto the bike and into my groove right away. I took the rest of the descent extra cautiously and luckily the tire held up to the bottom. At the end of the descent I started onto the Cowichan Valley Trail. This part was an almost 10km false flat section. By this point the rain had stopped and the sun was coming out. Sounds great, but it wasn’t. This was by far the hardest point of the race for me. My legs were starting to feel the fatigue, the trail seemed to go on forever and worst of all was that some of the expert men were starting to catch up and pass me. Finally, the course turned off the trail and started a long steep climb. My legs were hurting a lot by this point but I just kept reminding myself that this was the last bit of the race before the final descent.

The last part of the climb was the hardest. It was a steep and technical section and I was tired but got through a tight technical corner at the top before but descending. During the recon the descent was my favourite part of the course because it was fast and technical, two of my favourite things. In the race though, after already getting one flat I didn’t want to risk another so I went down a lot slower than in recon to be cautious. I didn’t want to end up running it in. The cautious descending paid off because I heard that a few other people got flats on that section. By the end of the race I had completely emptied the tank and ended up with the fastest time out of the women.

This race was definitely a highlight of my year and I am so thankful to Jon Watkin and all of the volunteers for putting this race on. I will be back next year and am crossing my fingers that it won’t have to be another TT.

About Pacific Cycling Centre: PCC brings four decades of experience, providing coaching and training services for Elite, Masters, and Junior athletes in road, mountain bike, track, and cyclo-cross. PCC’s goal is to create a training environment for athletes at the development level, and to maintain a permanent, high-performance training group of national team and pre-national team athletes at the Centre with the appropriate coaching and support system. This will be achieved through expert one-on-one coaching, focused training camps, and competing in many local, provincial and national races.

Photos by Lori Swanstrom

PCC athlete Caleb Bender competed in the 2020 Time Trial Challenge at Westshore Velodrome in Victoria last month coming away with a gold medal. Here is his account of the competition.

Mid August last year I was wrapping up a long season of racing with the track provincial championships, slowly shifting from a race every other weekend to off-season base miles. Of course 2020 is far from a typical year. August 22 marked my first race weekend since February, with a day of safely run and social distanced individual timed events courtesy of the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association. With a few weeks of Dr. Walker/PCC track time in the legs and a bike themed mask for between races, it was time to get back to racing.

The day consisted of three timed events, with different age groups running at different times throughout the day to minimize athletes on track at one time. A flying 200m kicked things off, followed by the Kilo and the Individual Pursuit. With minimal wind it was set to be a good day against the clock, and I was looking forward to testing the legs at race pace for the first time in quite a while. The weekend also presented an opportunity for me to do my first 4km IP in a race.

Despite being a day of solo efforts under the conditions of the new normal we all know so well now, the time trial challenge still felt like any other race day. I wouldn’t have thought that I’d miss all the planning and prep involved pre and post race, but the warm-up, recovery, and nutrition between events oddly provided the atmosphere I’d missed in this “training year.” Even a bit of the pre-race nerves kicked in!

Overall, I was satisfied with the efforts I had on the weekend, setting a new PB in the 200m and pushing myself for my first 4km IP. Another plus from the weekend was the chance to identify what needed a little bit of fine tuning in my efforts. Finding the little things that I could work on gave the chance to set some motivating short-term goals: something that is always tricky to do in the necessary absence of competition.

My thanks go out to the GVVA for hosting a safe and responsibly run day of racing. I’d also like to thank Houshang and Pacific Cycling Centre for the training, direction, and support over the past few months (and years). Looking forward to what comes next, whatever that may be!

TT Challenge results

Just under two weeks ago Alex Amiri and Caleb Bender successfully completed their Everesting for MS. Alex reflects back on the day and how the idea originated.

A few weeks ago I reached out to a friend of mine, Caleb Bender and pitched the idea of Everesting instead of just doing the Virtual MS Bike. He was all over the idea and luckily, Caleb has a ton of experience with MS Bike. We were also fortunate that our coach Houshang Amiri has an endless amount of experience in training athletes to perform and recover at their best.

First off Caleb and I set up a donation page through MS Bike deciding on a team goal of $2,000, ($1,000 each). At the time of writing this we upped the team goal to $4,000, $2,000 each and we are happy to say we have PASSED this goal. The feedback has been incredibly humbling. The involvement of the local and the cycling community was the real motivator when things got tough during the ride.

Alex near the top. Photo by Jay Wallace.

So to the ride. We planned on a time just over two weeks from our decision date, which landed us on August 1. Neither of us really knew just how hard it would be, or just how important it was to pace our effort. Two weeks before our August 1. effort we agreed it would be smart to see what kind of pace we could maintain.

First, we talked to Houshang, and he told us what sort of pace would be realistic. We both did 10-15 efforts, once a week for two weeks. We hit the climb on the first week and we felt the pace was manageable. We agreed to do this again the second week. But this time we had a bit more riding in the legs. The pace still felt fine by the 11th effort. Once we got off the climb that time we started thinking about nutrition as that was going to be even more important on an effort like this, compared to the Zone 2 riding we had been doing.

After a nice slow ride to get to Goldstream Heights, south of the Cowichan Valley, where we were going to do the climb, we were ready to start at 7:30 am. We set our own respective performance goal of what sort of time we want to finish in. I was aiming for 8:30. Starting out, we were a bit ahead of pace so we quickly adjusted and carried on. For the first five hours I was feeling comfortable with the pace I was holding, and the speed I was targeting on the climb. As the fifth hour carried on the wind started, first it was a cross-headwind, then by the sixth hour it was a headwind, and it only got worse. While the pace waivered it became more and more difficult.


The support helped moral. Photo by Jay Wallace.

Thankfully around this time is when people started to show up in support. We had friends on the side of the road, and fellow cyclists riding up with us. This helped the morale. Around this time my mind was blank, and the effort along with the 31 degree heat and the headwind took its toll. The pace dropped but this was okay because until this point I had been ahead of schedule. After 45 minutes, I slowly rebuilt the pace back to what was comfortable. For the last hour of the ride, I was doing okay mentally. The legs hit a point where I couldn’t go much slower, but I couldn’t go any harder either. You start to think about everyone who supported you along the way, and each person you think of makes you feel a little bit stronger. This is what really drove the final hour home for me (the two cokes I had during this hour might have helped to). I ended with a time of 8:40, completing the first section of Goldstream Heights Drive 73 times.

It has been 12 days since the effort now and its given me time to collect my thoughts and get the body properly recovered. That effort sucked but now it’s probably one of the things I’m personally most proud of. Beside the effort, the fundraiser went incredibly well. Our donation pages are both still active, I urge you to check it out and read the donor list, as all those who supported us there are listed and deserve recognition beyond what I can provide.

Alex’s fundraising page

Caleb’s fundraising page

Team fundraising page

If any of you out there want to try Everesting, talk to Houshang, He’ll set you up for success no matter the effort. Photo by Jay Wallace