I've worked for over thirteen years as a professional cycling coach. And as I wrote that sentence I was hit by a flood of memories from my tenure as a coach. Just to name a few:
- A 3:00 a.m. call from a new pro in Italy exclaiming she was 30th GC in her first Giro d’Italia. (That, and she was running out of peanut butter.)
- Corralling 30+ USC and UCLA cyclists during a training camp in Solvang
- Visiting a former client (a prominent attorney) and seeing, proudly displayed above his mantle, the medal earned by winning his first Cat 4 criterium.
Then there are the memories of the ten years preceding my coaching years when cycling was the driving force in my life. It started at the University of Colorado when my college roommate introduced me to mountain biking. I was hooked. Soon I had scrounged together enough money to purchase a mountain bike of my own. As with all addictions, it did not stop there. My first attempt at racing was immediately followed by selling my car. I needed road bike training because getting trounced in your first MTB race is a miserable experience. The journey had begun...
Thankfully my initial MTB race experience was not indicative of my cycling career. In road racing I discovered my calling. While I loved the physical challenge, the tactics (“chess at 30 mph”) fascinated me. Eventually I joined the professional ranks, which led me to Belgium. And Belgium, with its fields full of tough guys from all over the world, taught me how to truly race a bike.
In addition to coaching, I have spent the past ten years doing professional bike fits. I have fit over a thousand cyclists, from brand new riders to professional triathletes, national champions, Tour de France stage winners, and world champions. How are bike fits relevant to coaching? The in-depth, detailed interaction of fitting has provided the ideal venue to hone my ability to really hear what an athlete is telling me. Whether as a coach, in the saddle, or as a fitter, the more cyclists I interact with, the more I learn.
- Cat 1 masters racer
- Eight state championships in Colorado and California in criteriums, road races, time trials, and team time trials
Coaching is an art. It is the art of listening to athletes and understanding goals and motivations, strengths and weaknesses. It is having the foresight to anticipate challenges and prepare athletes physically and mentally to overcome them. Coaching is combining all available data, from power files to rider feedback, and customizing a plan that blends cycling with, well, all that other stuff people do.
Even with the perfect training plan, something always comes along to disrupt the flow: travel for work, a prolonged flu, family demands. It just happens. It is my job to build in flexibility and get you back on track sooner and smarter.
Cycling is an endeavor where we constantly strive to achieve our potential. Cycling is also a journey. A very long journey. Just as I plan on riding well into my twilight years, so I work with athletes with that big picture in mind. Though we work hard and suffer willingly, in the end cycling must be an enjoyable, memorable adventure.
Ron is great. To have started racing 4 years ago and to have placed third in UCI Worlds and US Nationals and to have won a California state championship in that time simply could not have been possible without his help. Not everything is intuitive in this sport and the guidance he gives me in terms of timing, quantity and quality of the workouts has been critical to the success I have had. It is a lot of work for a guy my age but it has paid off. - Rich, California
Ron is an excellent coach and has real knowledge of how to become a better and more competitive rider/racer. The past two years I have seen some real growth in my fitness and race results as well. Great to have Ron coaching me; again, he has really brought me to a much higher level and I am not burnt out or fatigued getting there. - Yehuda, California
Ron Peterson has coached me since 2004. I was already riding well in time trials, but I was still VERY wet behind the ears when it came training and racing. Criteriums were insanely fast and confusing...and road racing was a moving chess game. Ron focused my training, which I had never had as a cyclist, and being able to follow a training plan really made my life easier. We discussed my goals for the year, and then he was able to custom tailor a training plan to help me attain them. I was already known as a strong rider, but I was never a huge threat because I really had a hard time understanding all that is involved in a bicycle race. There are big teams, and drafting, and attacking, and counter-attacking, and chasing, and blocking... My brain struggled with the complexities within the race. Perhaps Ron's biggest contribution to me was his knowledge of tactics and strategy. He helped me learn, even though I am a slow learner. Now when I line up for a race, I know how to use my strengths to my advantage. The other racers have to consider me a big threat to win, week after week. I have now won seven state championships. I have won a state title in criterium, road race, time trial, and team time trial. In 2006 I won the year-long SoCal Cup in the ever-competitive 35+ category, beating out multi-national champion Rich Meeker and multi-world champion Thurlow Rogers. I still feel like my biggest accomplishment is being three-time winner of the San Dimas Stage Race. Thanks, Ron! - Greg Leibert