This September marked the launch of the inaugural Ontario Cycling – Cycling Canada High Performance Training Group, aimed to address a system gap by supporting U23/Elite athletes bridge into higher programs.
The transition from junior into U23/Elite is a significant development jump, often creating challenges for many strong athletes that aren’t able to progress directly into a national team program, trade team, or other supported programming. Additionally, even when athletes are able to enter into these programs, they are often facing new lifestyle challenges transitioning into post-secondary, starting careers, and/or moving away from their familiar home and training environment. All of these changes can result elevated stress levels and decreased motivation, often resulting in talented athletes leaving the system prior to reaching their full athletic potential.
Recognizing these issues, the Training Group concept was formed through discussion between Jenny Trew, Cycling Canada NextGen Coach, and Michael Suraci, Ontario Cycling High Performance Manager, back in 2019. In early 2020 a framework was created and, with approvals and funding in place, the program was able to open to applications in July and formally launch in September. Although the program is based out of the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, it is open to identified athletes from all Ontario Cycling – Cycling Canada recognized cycling sports. The program is unique in that it is not a replacement to the training prescribed by personal coaches but rather provides opportunities to complete workouts alongside other high level athletes in a supportive environment and gain access to sport science and personal growth services. Understanding that athletes at this age have other life commitments, the program remains flexible and works with each athlete to help maximize their involvement and coordinate training schedules.
“It’s very motivating to have the opportunity to train with the best cyclists in Ontario. I love being surrounded by positive people that are working hard to take their performance to the next level. The training dynamic is fun and it is great to be around people that share a similar passion…It’s a massive benefit to have this support network to help me improve as an athlete.”
– Andrew Scott, Track Sprint Athlete
A typical week of programming includes:
- An outdoor, coach lead, training session involving intervals, standing start efforts, uphill starts, etc. [this session will move onto the velodrome once the cold weather arrives]
- An in-gym session under the guidance of a Canadian Sport Institute Ontario Strength Coach [all athletes receive strength programs and are monitored]
- A 2-3 hour on-track session in the velodrome
- A pre-planned endurance ride [road/gravel/MTB] with specific KOM segments
- An online workshop relating to nutrition, mental performance, training behaviours, personal growth/development
“The last six months has really highlighted the benefits of in-person coaching and the daily training environment. Having the chance to work with athletes week-over-week allows Dave [Jack] and I to influence material changes for the athletes, not only physiology, but also in bike fit, as well as tactical, technical and mental approaches to sport. The athletes are reaching new heights as they challenge themselves against their top peers in Ontario – it’s really great to see!”
– Jenny Trew, Team Canada NextGen Coach
Athletes have also expressed their appreciation for the new program, which has allowed them to re-establish some of the social elements of training and meet new athletes from other cycling sports.
“This year had been filled with solo training or riding with one other person at most, so getting to be with a group again was amazing. The combination of different riders from different disciplines meant there were so many different strengths, opinions and experiences in one group…everyone was excited about training and bettering themselves and after a tough year that was so inspiring to see.”
– Ruby West, Team Canada Cyclo-Cross Athlete
The program will continue through the winter months, transitioning to primarily indoor on-track training as well as gym workouts and professional development sessions. The group will also be involved in bike handling workshops at JoyRide150 and will be introduced to snow-based endurance work such as cross-country skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing. For anyone interested in joining the Training Group, applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Jan – Apr in-take: 2021 Application
To help better showcase the program and athletes, the OCA will be hosting an Instagram Takeover and posting video bios from all program athletes and coaches in the upcoming weeks,
Inaugural Training Group Athletes
Chris Ernst [Track Endurance/Road]
Ruby West [Cyclo-cross]
Miriam Brouwer [Track Endurance/Road]
James Hedgcock [BMX/Track Sprint]
Dylan Bibic [Track Endurance/Road]
Andrew Scott [Track Sprint]
Madison Dempster [Track Sprint]
Megan Muys [Track Sprint]
William Grundy [Track Endurance/Road]
Dan Gregory [Track Endurance/Road]
Jackie Boyle [Track Sprint – RBC Athlete]
Ryan Macdonald [Track Sprint – RBC Athlete]
Ethan Sittlington [Road]
Kaitlyn Rauwerda [Track Endurance/Road]