Rothwell’s Transition to Coaching
Rich Rothwell is a familiar face at Cold Brew Events mountain bike endurance races. He took part in the events from the early days, including the infamously tough Clennel Colossus. Legend has it, he rode 30 miles to the start, won the race, and then rode home again. He won the first Kielder Chiller 24hr solo in what could only be described as THE worst day of weather Kielder has ever seen. (That’s saying something). He’s also won the Chiller in a pair twice, the 12hr Osprey 12 solo, the Lewisburn 8 solo and other Cold Brew races.
Away from Cold Brew events, Rich has podiumed at loads of endurance races, as well as regularly taking on long distance road rides, mountain bike trails and bikepacking events.
Basically, he knows how to win an endurance race or ride long distances fast.
So it came as no surprise for us to hear that, besides running his own cycling skills company, Rich has joined up with Transition MTB Coaching to provide training plans and advice for riders across the off-road disciplines.
I recently caught up with Rich and asked him about his move into coaching and working with Transition;
“Besides having years of experience riding and racing, I’ve always been very interested in developing performance in myself and helping others improve. I love talking about riding and training and I’m always getting asked questions. So last year, I decided that I wanted to move further into performance coaching so I undertook my coaching qualification. Whilst I have a large knowledge bank, I wanted to consolidate what I knew and become a certified coach. It’s an ongoing process and there is so much to learn.
I’ve known the guys at Transition for some time. I’ve seen the way they have elevated riders to incredible heights with insightful customised training plans. I have massive respect for their passion and knowledge, so to be asked to work with them was a fantastic opportunity that I jumped at.
The company is expanding with specialists in various disciplines. Whilst I’ll be working with a variety of riders, my specialist area is endurance mountain bike racing, as well as long distance road and off-road challenges and races”.
Coaching and personalised training plans sounds awfully serious to me and I wonder whether coaches are just a requirement for the ‘serious’ racers. I asked Rich what type of person signed up for a personalised training plan and what makes them do it? Who is the ‘average’ coached rider?
“It can be a real variety of individuals. Very often I find people turn to a coach because they are really motivated to improve their performance, they have targets and aspirations, but do not know how to reach them. I was in this position several years ago, I watched the really fast guys and girls (who were SO much faster than me) and knew that without a more informed approach, I would not be able to get to the sharp end of the racing. When I was first coached, I made huge gains very quickly, and this is often the case when people first receive coaching. I speak to loads of very strong riders with huge potential, but they don’t know what type of training to be doing at different times of the year, or perhaps they do not know how to address the specific demands of their discipline.
There are also the riders already performing at a very high level and at the front of their discipline. They are obviously super motivated and driven individuals, but they are looking for the small tweaks that are going to put them ahead of their equally driven peers. These riders are really interesting to work with as they understand the importance of variation and fluctuation in the training load and techniques. They are also good at communicating how their body is reacting and provide great feedback.
But… Motivated riders can often need tempering! Somebody who is prepared to train for 15 to 20 hours a week (and beyond) is clearly very internally driven. Volume without effective moderation and structure can result in flatlining at best and burn out at worst. Reducing the training volume and adjusting the intensity and specificity for these riders is often the edge they are looking for.
There are also the ‘busy’ riders! (That’s most of us!) Receiving your training plan through Training Peaks, taking the guess work out of your training, and just getting on with it is a massive time saver and a great mental boost as you are confident the sessions are going to help you achieve your objectives. This really helps with motivation.
But there is no ‘average’ coached rider. People from all backgrounds and performance levels are coached and the motivation can come from many directions; increasing performance, approaching personal goals, or simply wishing to improve their general health and fitness. It’s often the process that is engaging and attractive to people”.
So, obviously the race season has taken a massive hit right now with the Coronavirus crisis. Being an event organiser, the uncertainty has made planning challenging to say the least! What advice would you give to riders with a decimated race season? It must be very difficult to keep the motivation up with such an uncertain race diary?
“I reckon most endurance mountain bike racers are realistically looking towards late Summer / Autumn as a best case scenario for racing to restart. Of course, I’m personally really hoping the rescheduled Hammers8, and Kielder Chiller will go ahead in October! I’ll personally be building a wider aerobic base with a structured approach, (which contrary to some people’s belief, does not need to be boring steady miles all the time!). I’ll be doing a lot of stretching and yoga moves to address the tightness and minor niggles I’ve built up over the years! I’ve also been enjoying addressing my ‘car park skills’, something many endurance racers neglect as they are often focusing on fitness. Manuals, bunny hops, fakies, trackstands… they are great fun and when you get out on the trail you feel lively and light and ready to try new lines and sections.
A good number of riders are also looking ahead to the CX season and now is the ideal time to build that base. This is an ideal target as the CX season is far enough away and hopefully the ‘new normal’ will allow a season of winter racing.
But there are other goals I have, and you can set for yourself… I have some bikepacking ITT (Independent Time Trials) on my radar when it’s safe and responsible to get out into some proper wilderness! An ITT or challenge ride is a great target right now as you can set your own date and change if necessary”.
Lots of ideas for keeping the motivation up then Rich.
At Cold Brew Events we hope you are all looking towards the Hammers8 and Kielder Chiller. It would be fantastic if the mountain bike community could be together again in Autumn, and hopefully Rich’s ideas keep you motivated to ride and train.
Contact Transition MTB Coaching (www.onlinemtbcoaching.com) if you are keen to put some structure into your riding and training and fancy giving Rich a hard time at the races when they start again 😉