What is a cycling coach?


Like most people, I often am asked what I do for a living. When I tell people that I am a cycling coach, the response I get is often, "what is a cycling coach?" Everyone knows what a basketball or football coach does (In fact, the highest paid public employee in 39 states is a college basketball or football coach). Cycling is not [yet] a mainstream sport in the U.S., so it's a perfectly legitimate question.

My first and most fundamental job is to create a daily training plan for my athletes. To do this, I utilize Training Peaks, which allows me to create custom workouts training plans from anywhere in the world and my athletes to view their training, upload workout data and provide feedback from anywhere in the world. Training for each and every athlete is customized based on their goals, strengths and weaknesses, time availability and feedback. 

Coaching is a partnership. Being a successful athlete isn't as simple as following your training plan perfectly every day. I don't want my athletes to be mindless automatons. I want them to question what they don't understand or agree with. I want them to tell me when they need more rest or they think they can handle more. Consistent feedback as well as metrics such as heart rate, power and cadence allow me to optimize workloads and make training more fun and effective.

For many coaches, coaching starts and ends with writing a training plan, but in my opinion this approach misses many of the other factors that contribute to success. I like to call my approach "holistic", which means that if an athlete has a problem, I examine it from all directions. Fitness is only one aspect of performance. Freshness, nutrition, physical and emotional stress, tactics, equipment and confidence are factors as well that are typically ignored. 

The Backbone Performance tagline is "Empowering Athletes". The way I see it, the path to success is not a well lit road. Obscured by darkness and shadows, you are bound to slip and fall, or wander aimlessly in circles. Ultimately you must be the one with the strength and determination to walk the path. My job is simply to light the way.

- Colin Sandberg, Owner and Head Coach, Backbone Performance