Iain Clow cycling coach

Anyone can #BeTheCoach

Parents and riders alike are finding a pathway as cycling coaches

Effective coaching is at the heart of performance at every level of cycling. Scottish Cycling are working alongside British Cycling to create a strong network of coaches doing just that.

If you are new to cycling coaching, have limited coaching knowledge or want to get more involved in your club, the Foundation Coach Award is the best starting point for your coaching journey.

Sport First spoke to two coaches who have just completed their Level 1 qualification. They hail from the same club but they are on very different pathways.

Iain Clow, 51

Lives: East Kilbride

Club: Glasgow Riderz

What made you want to coach?

My two sons got into riding when they were big enough to walk. My eldest joined Glasgow Riderz a couple of years ago and I started coming along as a parent helper once I had gone through the various checks (PVG etc). Once I saw the set-up, the fun and benefits the young riders were getting, and the organised enthusiasm of the coaches, I decided I would begin my coaching journey and try to help with the development of the group and give something back.

What is your background in cycling / sport?

I have been riding bikes for as long as I can remember and am a keen mountain, road and track rider.  I have been an active member of Glasgow Mountain Bike Club for about 15 years and did a spell on the club committee. My main passion is mountain biking and I like nothing better than getting out in the hills with friends, or my kids.

Iain Clow cycling coach

How did you find the Level 1 coaching course?

The course was really well organised with lots of online training, careful mentoring and lots of support. Online chat groups meant that all the candidates knew who else was on the course a few weeks in advance and we could share any problems we were having with the online modules. The tutors were great, setting us weekly goals and supporting throughout. The face-to-face days were great fun and extremely informative in a relaxed learning atmosphere.

What's it like coaching at your club?

Glasgow Riderz is a big club, with about 154 members, 20 coaches, 16 ride leaders and a bank of 30 parent helpers who play a variety of roles. We normally run three coaching sessions a week from Standard Go ride on a Saturday to a two-hour club road ride, rollers or CX/ road crit sessions. The club is active in organising and supporting the West region with coaches for its Track and MTB Cluster sessions. I am currently coaching Group 4, along with a Level 2 coach, so I'm coaching mid-level, fairly competent riders, where were are looking to develop their MTB and general skills. I am also working with other coaches on our summer Tuesday evening road crit sessions. 

What advice would you give prospective new coaches?

It's great fun, go for it! Initially it can be a bit daunting, but there are lots of people around to help. It's good to be able to give something back and help youngsters on the route to a cycling lifestyle, where health and fitness become ingrained. There is good financial support from sportscotland for the training course costs and if you are involved with a club they should also be able to assist. 

Where do you want to take your coaching in the future?

Since doing my Level 1 coaching I have enrolled for Level 2, which is in June this year. This will allow me to lead groups with Glasgow Riderz and develop specific coaching plans. I have recently completed my Ride Leader training with Glasgow Life and my British Cycling Mountain Bike Leader (level 2) qualification. 

Who inspired or inspires you in coaching?

There are so many! All the coaches at Riderz are friendly, professional and massively helpful, so I couldn't pick out any individuals. On a wider scale, watching the Olympic successes on track and the Tour victories by Wiggins and Froome in the last decade have been highly inspirational. I was lucky enough to have finish-line tickets for the final stage of the 2016 Tour de France in Paris with my eldest son, which was an amazing sight and great source of motivation. 

If you had a coaching superpower what would it be?

That's an easy one - to get all the kids to listen all the time!


Jonathon Hilbourne, 16 

Lives: Ayr

Club: Ayr Road CC,  coaches with Glasgow Riderz 

Jonathon HilbourneWhat made you want to coach?

Being able to do something that allows someone else to be the best they can be and watch people improve.

What is your background in cycling / sport?

I’ve been cycling since I was young but started competitive cycling four-and-a-half years ago and have done so ever since.

How did you find the Level 1 coaching course? 

It's interactive, fun, relaxed, helpful and informative. I would highly recommend it to others.

What's it like coaching at your club?  

It’s a fun environment for new and experienced cyclists to learn and enjoy cycling. I coach riders aged 9-14 but my usual group is 11-12. We have seven groups based on a combination of age and ability with seven being the most experienced/oldest. These groups do a variety of mountain bike/cyclocross activities. We also have a road ride for those on road bikes.

What advice would you give prospective new coaches?  

Get stuck in! The best thing you can do is do as much as possible to get experience. Take every opportunity you can. The worst thing that can happen is you get told no by the organisers of the session. Make sure there is a more experienced coach at your sessions when starting off.

Where do you want to take your coaching in the future?

I want to start coaching adults who are competitive. I plan on getting my level 2 when I am old enough.


Who inspired or inspires you in coaching?

Joe Malik, the British Youth Performance Coach for Scotland. He was always positive, friendly and happy to help. He always helped everyone out and did not just favour those who were the "best and fastest".

If you had a coaching superpower what would it be?

To be able to clone myself so I can talk to and help as many different people that need it at the same time! 

Jonathon Hilbourne

Jonathon (left) alongside Jack Cruden in the HOY Future Stars Competition

Developing the workforce

David Forbes, sportscotland partnership manager, said: “It’s great to read the stories of Iain and Jonathan and to see such a diverse range of coaches accessing the Coach Education qualifications offered by Scottish Cycling.  

“Developing a diverse high quality coaching workforce is a critical element of our world class sporting system.

“Excellent coach education is vitally important, which is why sportscotland offer a subsidy to coaches accessing the UKCC qualifications.”

Find out more

If you have been inspired by these stories to take up coaching, please find more information on the Scottish Cycling and sportscotland websites.

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