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Photo courtesy Drew Coleman

PCC’s Holly Henry has just returned from Europe where she has been competing with her team, InstaFund.

Holly signed with InstaFund Racing early in the season competing in early July in the Boise Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho. She then went on to race in the Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago. This was a series of nine criteriums from July 16 to 25th which proved a great race experience for her.

In early August Holly based herself in Boulder, Colorado in preparation for the Joe Martin stage UCI America Tour, Category 2 race taking place in Fayetteville, Arkansas from August 26-29th. “This was the first UCI race for Holly giving her valuable experience in a competitive environment,” said PCC Head Coach Houshang Amiri.

The day after the Joe Martin Tour Holly then traveled to Spain for the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta taking place from September 2-5th. This was the first race where the best in world, top pro teams and world champions were present. “Holly was competitive during this stage and pulled a very good performance considering there was no rest between two stage races, she had done a lot of traveling and there were COVID restrictions to follow,” said Amiri.

Stage 4 and final GC results

Holly has arrived back in Canada and is preparing to race at the Canadian Road Nationals from September 10-12th.

“This was a tight schedule for Holly and her team, however given COVID circumstances and the limited access to racing there were some great opportunities,” added Amiri. “I knew Holly was ready for these races and when there is an opportunity to compete she will always do well.”

With so many races cancelled in 2020 and this year, some up and coming athletes were affected. “Racing is an important part of an athlete’s development and competing can provide invaluable experience and can often be a bridge to moving up to the next level,” said Amiri.

 

The 2021 BC Road Provincial Championships. Photo by TLBVelo Photography

Despite a disrupted race season PCC athlete Brenna Pauly has been busy occupying her time from adventure riding to road racing. 

Just like last year 2021 has been another unconventional year for bike racing. The theme of adaptability has come up on numerous occasions. I think it is an important lesson that can be taken away from this year both on and off the bike. While I thought I had already learnt that lesson, I was proved that I needed a little reminder.

The first part of the 2021 season started off like 2020. Cancelled bike races and ever-changing public health restrictions left lots of time to train and adventure by bike. I took to the gravel roads and continued to explore my own backyard. It amazes me that there are still many new routes to explore. With the anticipated return or racing in July, I undertook one last adventure for a little while. The second edition of the summer solstice ride. A gravel loop starting and ending in Victoria and heading west towards Jordan River, up to Lake Cowichan and back. Riding from dawn until dark on gravel roads the day went flawlessly. So smoothly that upon returning to Victoria with just over 300km on the odometer we decided to continue on to complete 320km (200 miles).

Brenna (left) with her Red Truck team at the provincials. Photo by TLBVelo Photography.

I then switched my focus to racing. Starting off small with local VCL races and building to the provincial championships and Tour de Concord over the last few weeks. While it has been so positive seeing teammates and friends and racing again, the path has been a little bumpy. Just when I thought I was gaining momentum race dates changed and got cancelled. It was frustrating at first to feel like we were going backwards again, but with Houshang’s help and a bike packing trip to remind me to just have fun riding, I am back on track. I am currently preparing for the National Road and Time trial championships in Quebec from September 10-12th. I am looking forward to putting all the training to use, and racing against some of the best in the country!

 

On the podium at the Mill Bay Road Race – Alex Amiri, Alexander Fraser-Maraun and Luke Hubner

After 17 months away from racing PCC athletes are back racing. They pinned on their numbers on Wednesday, July 14th, at the Victoria Cycling League’s first road race, Newton Heights. Alex Amiri took the win in the men’s A category, while Luke Hubner (junior) and Keisha Besler had podium finishes in the B men’s and women’s races.

On Sunday, July 18th, the athletes travelled to Vancouver to race Jeremy’s Roubaix, where Chris Macleod finished 4th in the elite men’s field, and Holly Simonson finished 2nd in the elite woman’s race. Back on Vancouver Island the Victoria Cycling League hosted its second race, the Cherry Point Road Race, just north of Victoria where Alex Amiri, Luke Hubner, Keisha Besler had podium finishes in their respective categories after a hard-fought race.

Most recently on July 23rd, 24th, and 25th, the Greater Victoria Velodrome Association hosted Track Fest #1, where Luke Hubner and Caleb Bender podium finished in the A Category. Brenna Pauly, Holly Simonson, and Micaiah Besler had strong showings in the A categories, racing in mixed fields with the men, resulting in Micaiah winning the Points race.  PCC U18 rider Parker Swanstrom also rode well in the A Category field. Keisha finished her first track race in 2nd place in a mixed (men and women) B Category Omnium.

Women’s podium at the Mill Bay Road Race – Keisha Besler, Isla Walker and Holly Simonson

The Victoria Cycling League hosted their third and fourth races of the season with the Windsor Park Criterium on July 24th and the Mill Bay Road Race on July 25th. With PCC athletes competing at Track Fest on the 24th only Chris Macleod attended the Windsor Park Criterium supporting his Trek Red Truck team mate to third place. The Following day PCC athletes came out in force to the Mill Bay Road Race. Alex,  Luke, Keisha, and Holly podium finished in their category after another hard road race, with Luke finishing third in the A category.

While the local races were happening, two PCC athletes Holly Henry and Zoe Saccio were racing in Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago from July 16 – 25.

The rest of the Victoria Cycling League calendar and host clubs is as follows:

Tuesday, July 27 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Wednesday, July 28 -Newton Heights – Wheelers

Wednesday, August 11 – Newton Heights – Wheelers / Maybe Caleb

Tuesday, August 17 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Sunday, August 22 – Metchosin RR – VBC

Wednesday, August 25 – North Saanich – Wheelers (new course)

Sunday, August 29 – Windsor Park – OBB/Wheelers

Tuesday, August 31 – Speedway – Tripleshot

Also on Tuesdays are the weekly Time Trials hosted by the Sidney Velo Cycling Club.

“All PCC athletes are excited racing has started again and look forward to gaining their race fitness and skills that have been so dearly missed over the last year and a half,” said PCC Head Coach, Houshang Amiri.

The Cycling BC Provincial Championships will be back this year after having to cancel in 2020. Up first are the road championships in the Frazer Valley on August 7th and 8th.

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 info@pacificcyclingcentre.ca

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.”

Houshang and PCC athletes pre-COVID

Building and having an applicable and balanced plan is something of a coaching art which includes science and knowledge of the athlete’s physical and mental state.

No matter what life throws at us we all need to have a plan in life that steers our day-to-day activities towards achieving our goals. Those goals should be the main motivation to keep you going during the pandemic.

The Way we Were

Over the past 20 years I have run training camps during the cycling season. From the National Training Centre to 2000 when it became the National Cycling Centre, and then in 2009 the Pacific Cycling Centre as a director and head coach. These camps included seminars covering nutrition, rest and recovery, training adaptations and many other topics. Often some of my past athletes would be guest speakers including Pro-tour riders like Erinne Willock and Svein Tuft.

Those training camps developed all levels of riders during the winter/spring, each having specific goals and objectives, modified for each group in preparation for early season races, usually from late February to April. Some years we moved these camps to Tucson, AZ or Palm Springs, CA. to achieve larger training volumes in a warmer climate. At the camps a personalized plan was prepared for each rider according to their goal races and performance needs.

The Here and Now

In 2020 we had to put a stop to these camps. So far in 2021,  health authorities and the guidelines for public safety measures have not allowed any group training sessions, let alone travel within the province. These are precautions we all need to take.

Now we are a year deep into the pandemic and we have learned a great deal about COVID-19 and how devasting it is to our health and economy. In the early months of last year it was clear the situation was not going away anytime soon. With cancellations of all domestic races, I had to replan the approach to the 2020 season, adjusting goals in March.

Last year training for PCC athletes was very different but it had its pluses. We had more time on hand given there was no travelling to and from races (usually there is no recovery time from race to race). Everyone who followed their plan set many new PBs, finding new form and gaining a new level of fitness. This was a great achievement for us. So we now have a better idea of how to plan and set goals given the circumstances we are in

What we learned last year from training was that most of our riders were beginning racing prematurely, entering the season without enough training, leading to poor performances, and struggling for the first part of the season.

2021 Plan

When planning the 2021 training season (YTP) there are new considerations we have to be aware of. Firstly is the public’s health orders, the restrictions and how we can work within them, secondly is the 2021 race calendar with many domestic races being moved closer to the end of season (September to November).

Tips

Here are some tips for planning your 2021 season and setting goals

  1. Make sure you have done your past season review with your coach.
  2. Based on the outcome of the review you may have an area you need to work on e.g. improve aerobic power or increase w/kg, etc.
  3. Write down all the races you would like to do (consider some of those early season races that won’t be happening in 2021.)
  4. Based on the above you now can plan your season and set your new goals. Remember, an experienced coach who knows and understands you is your biggest advantage to plan the various training elements at the correct time of the year.
  5. Your goals should be realistic and you need to work to achieve them.
  6. Your coach may plan different blocks in your YTP depending on your individual requirements and your short-mid and long-term goals.
  7. When your plan is set, you should trust it and not deviate from it never doubting yourself and your ability.

 

By Houshang Amiri ChPC
UCC-WCC Expert Coach

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 info@pacificcyclingcentre.ca

Incorporating strength and core exercises during the off-season will make you stronger on the bike

Many question the difference between training regimens in the race season and the off-season. With the onset of winter and colder weather are there many changes to be made?

The answer is yes. You can just do what you were doing in the summer for the off-season, but you also need to take advantage of the down time to work on some bike skills and strength base exercises to make you stronger. This can include muscular strength, on bike efficiency, body composition and more importantly flexibility  and core strength /stability. Your program must also facilitate maintaining Key Performance Factors (KPF)  which would include the aerobic and anaerobic systems and building a foundation of speed and agility. (See below for the KPF components).

At the end of the cycling season (traditionally October) you and your coach will review the ups and downs of the past season. This ‘performance audit’  will review each KPF and also Key Performance Indicators (KPI). From this review we are able to provide new guidelines, do a new plan and set training targets for the upcoming season.

It is important to remember that your training during off-season will affect your performance in mid-season and race season. All the above may sound complicated but it is your coach’s responsibility to work with you and ensure you have the right training program for your needs and goals.

Key Performance Factors:

Aerobic System:

  • Maximal Aerobic Power
  • Endurance Capacity

Anaerobic Lactic System:

  • Power/Capacity

Speed:

  • Acceleration Speed (Speed Strength)
  • Speed Endurance
  • Maximum Speed
  • Change of Speed

Muscular Endurance and Strength

Core Strength and Stability

Flexibility

Body Composition , Nutrition

On Bike Efficiency / Riding Economy and Pacing   /Aerodynamics

By Houshang Amiri ChPc

 

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 systems. This will be achieved through expert one-on-one coaching, focused training camps, and competing in many local, provincial and national races.

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.

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.