Tag Archive for: Pacific Cycling Centre

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!


Parker Swanstrom on his way to victory. Photo by Jay Wallace

The last Windsor Park Criterium of the season took place on Sunday and two U19 PCC-coached athletes – Parker Swanstrom and Luke Hubner – placed first and second in Category A.

It was an exciting race with a fast field. Three laps from the end Luke launched a counter attack followed by Parker. They opened up a 15 second gap – enough to take the top two spots from the breakaway.

The Windsor Park Criterium is a popular race on the Victoria cycling scene held every July and August and hosted by the Victoria Wheelers Cycling Club. Windsor Park has a rich cycling history. It was established in 1890 as the Oak Bay Recreation Park and in 1895 a bicycle racing track was built by the Victoria Railway and Electric Lighting Company to encourage use of the streetcar system.

Holly Simonson – Elite BC Provincial Champion. Photo courtesy: TLBVelo Photography

PCC Athletes had a successful day at the BC Road Race Provincial Championships last weekend. Holly Simonson was crowned champion in the elite women’s race and Luke Hubner in the Junior Boys category. Keisha Besler was fifth in the women’s elite race. Micaiah Besler won the U23 Women category but as a non-BC resident couldn’t claim the championship title. She was sixth overall in the race.

Other top ten athletes were: Amiel Flett-Brown (seventh) and Chris MacLeod (ninth) in the Elite Men. Caleb Bender was fourth in the U23 and Brenna Pauly 10th in the Elite Women/U23 Cat 1/2/3.

Congratulations to everyone.

Luke Hubner – Junior Boys BC Provincial Champion. Photo courtesy: TLBVelo Photography

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.

Zoe (right) on the podium at the Tour of America’s Dairyland. Photo courtesy Karl Hendriske, ToAD Official Photographer

PCC riders have been keeping busy this year despite the pandemic. Many races in the U.S. have been happening enabling riders to continue their training and racing. Zoe Saccio has been racing a lot – mainly criteriums. Her season started in Arlington, VA at the Armed Forces Cycling Classic, then she raced Tour of America’s Dairyland, a 10-day criterium series in Wisconsin. “I had some great racing including a top 10 at the Manitowoc Maritime Bay Classic, third place in the series sprint competition, and got lots of primes,” she said.

This past weekend she was in the Boise Twilight Criterium, which is part of the USA Crit Series and the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour. Next up for Zoe is the Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago from July 16 – 25. This a series of nine races (criteriums and road races) in the metropolitan Chicago area.

With BC now into Return to Sport Restart 2.0 Pacific Cycling Centre athletes are back training as a group on the track and road. PCC will be following the guidelines as posted by ViaSport on indoor and outdoor sport.

Track sessions are Tuesdays and Fridays from 4 – 6 pm at the Westshore Velodrome in Victoria and group rides have resumed on Saturday mornings from PISE at Commonwealth Place.

PCC Head Coach has also announced that all services including VO2 Max and Wingate testing, and bike fitting is open. Check out the services here.

During the pandemic PCC athletes have continued their training and racing when they have been able, but being in stage 3 of the BC Restart, and with more provinces opening up, they will be able to compete more.

Coming up later this month is Trackfest at the Westshore Velodrome from July 23 – 25.

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).


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