VCM-Devo & Mudclub – Rideabout & Grass Roots Cycling

Michael Guilford Coaching

My coaching work takes place in two contexts, coaching riders 1-2-1 these are generally competitive riders and most of this takes place not face-face, and I coach groups of MTB and road riders face to face.  I run two youth focused programmes, VC Meudon Devo and Mudclub. Mudclub has been running since September 2017 and VCM-Devo since September 2015.

Why do I run Youth Cycling programmes?

Part of my coaching philosophy is to build experience through face to face coaching, which will help me to develop a athlete centred coaching style. I find that coaching groups challenges my skills to a much higher level, than working with individuals. Young riders are particularly interesting to work with as they are much more open to a wider range of coaching techniques.

Another part of my philosophy is the creative element. Developing a youth programmes have a lot of oppurtunity for creativity. For example, creating ‘moments’ in activities can increase the feeling of belonging and responsibility that the riders have for the sessions.

There are also more altruistic reasons. I feel that youth cycling is the future of the sport, without grass roots cycling top level cycling cant be sustained. My personal experience is that, I didnt have the oppurtunity to take part in an individual sport as a youth, so I want to give others that oppurtunity.

A bit more about the projects…

VC Meudon Devo

VCM-Devo is built on the model that youth riders can be integrated into an all age club in order to maintain engagement with cycling. VC Meudon is the parent club of the programme. VCM-Devo is aimed at Youth- Junior riders who want to be competitive or just take part in the sport.

The coaching sessions are built on the British Cycling Talent Centre Structure, which is a format working, on core skills, strength & conditioning, cycling fitness and race specific skills.

The growth in cycling participation has meant there has been an influx of older adult riders into clubs and competitive teams. Whilst British Cycling  Go-Ride has catered for youth rider (U16), there is a diffficult stage in cycling development between 16yrs and 25yrs, when a lot of riders drop out. Junior (16-18yrs) is particularly difficult, as riders are faced with a particularly new form of racing against much older stronger riders. Typically youth racers will enter junior category as 3rd category riders, and race against adults. The only Junior specific series is the Junior National Series are road race, which are longer than youth races and open roads, and to be Top 10 competitive in these races Juniors need to be at a top 10 level in 2/3rd senior category.

Why is the coaching all-age sessions?

VC Meudon want to intergrate young riders with a club. Going out on club runs develops relationships with other cyclists, which will help them to stay in touch with the sport even if they decide they dont want to compete. Juniors riders have to make the tranisition to racing with adults, so having adults in the sessions helps to create the environment they will be faced with when racing aas a junior.

Mudclub MTB Go-Ride

Mudclub is about challenge and having fun on mountain bikes. We want to give youngsters the oppurtunity to presented with new challenges. We run rides and coaching sessions each week, and we run trips to different mountain bike centres for the riders who achieved a suitable level of technical competetence.

Its slightly different ot VCM Devo in that its a Go-Ride BC club.

This is a hard club to run, as it requries having discipline specific coaches and leaders, (Level 2 MTB) and MTBers with a high level of ability. Whilst its not necessary to be able to do everything have riders with a much higher level of skill in the sessions changes the learning dynamics.

Mountain biking runs deep with me. I started mountain biking shortly after starting at The University of Sheffield. I started with road cycling but had a number of crashes so decided to take up mountain biking in order to improve my bike handling skill. I didnt start racing 4 year later in 2010. Mountain biking is all about the wild, it has a therapeutic effect, and its a really good outlet for people who feel they need to get away from it. On the one side, its tough challenging and scary (at times), on the other side it can be a massive rush of adrenlain, and give a huge sense of achievement.

I hope that Mudclub will give an outlet for some riders to get into racing but its not the primary aim.

I hope this has given you some insight into my involvment in grass roots cycling, and if you have any questions or thoughts please get in touch! @rideaboutuk Twitter.