In this week’s episode of Fast Talk Femmes, our hosts bring together former Cycling Canada Endurance Track Coach Jenny Trew and Mattamy National Cycling Center Director Chris Reid. They share insights on building effective training groups, fostering cohesion, communicating with athletes, and optimizing training sessions to enhance performance.
Chemistry plays a crucial role in creating an ideal ecosystem for athletes and supporting personal development. The Mattamy National Cycling Center in Milton, Ontario, stands as a flourishing ecosystem and a valuable asset to cycling in Canada. Originally constructed for the Pan American Games, it later evolved into a development center and community hub under the leadership of Steve Bauer. When Bauer stepped down from his role, Chris and Jenny assumed their new positions.
Since then, the duo has further developed the Mattamy National Cycling Center into a hub for cycling excellence with help from Steve Bauer and Coach David Jack. In our conversation with Chris and Jenny, we explore strategies for attracting talent, building training groups, nurturing a developmental ecosystem, fostering cohesion, and instilling a culture of excellence. Tune in to see how you, too, can benefit from The Group Effect!
Dede Barry 00:05
Hi! Welcome to Fast Talk Femme with Dede Barry and Julie Young. Our guests on today’s episode are Chris Reid and Jenny Trew. Chris is the executive director at the National Cycling Institute in Milton, Ontario. Jenny is a cycling coach with an impressive record of creating world and national champions. As former professional cyclists, Julie and I have been fortunate to have been a part of, and witnessed many different training communities and developmental ecosystems. Some have thrived and been fruitful, while others toxic even with strong resources.
Dede Barry 00:37
Chemistry is critical to creating the ideal ecosystem for athlete and personal development. The Mattamy National Cycling center in Milton, Ontario is a budding ecosystem, and a real gift to cycling in Canada.
Dede Barry 00:49
The Mattamy National Cycling center was built for the 2015 Pan American Games. After the game, Steve Bower was the executive director of the Velodrome, and was responsible for creating a development program and community hub from scratch. Steve did a great job of building the foundation for the program. But there was still a long ways to go when he moved on to a world tour Cycling Team director role in Europe.
Dede Barry 01:12
It was in 2017 that I first met Chris Reid, as I was on the board of directors of the NCIM. The board was searching for the right candidate to take over the executive director role left vacant by Steve. Those were not easy shoes to fill. But Chris was the right fit for this role. Around that time his wife Jenny was hired by Canadian cycling as track endurance coach. Prior to Jenny and Chris taking on these roles, Canada had never won a Junior World Championship title on the track and won very few Track World or Olympic championships.
Dede Barry 01:44
At the Mattamy National Cycling center, Chris picked up where Steve left off and built out the programming since 2017. Athletes from within 100 kilometers of the Velodrome have won five Junior World Championship titles and a total of nine medals, as well as one elite World Championship title and a total of two elite World Championship medals. These athletes have come through the introductory structured training and high performance training groups at the Velodrome and then graduated to the Canadian national team where Jenny true and her former colleagues took them to race at the international level for our country with a small population six months of winter and very little cycling culture. The results have been remarkable. The ecosystem built by Steve Bower Chris Reid, Ontario cycling coach David Jack, Jenny Trew and others has proven to be a center of excellence. Our discussion with Chris and Jenny will focus on how to attract talent, build training groups, foster a developmental ecosystem and create a culture of excellence. Welcome to Fast Talk Femme.
Trevor Connor 02:52
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Dede Barry 03:18
Hi, Christian God, Welcome to Fast talk FEM. We appreciate you carving time out of your busy lives to join us today to kick off the conversation. Can you tell us what you’ve been up to most recently?
Chris Reid 03:28
Yeah, I’m the Executive Director of the National cycling Institute in Milton. And so I run a whole range of programming out of the Velodrome here in Ontario to try and grow and develop the sport, from youth outreach to racing leagues to our high performance racing and training. And we’ve also been working in the last year to run a junior boys Road program as well.
Jenny Trew 03:47
And from my part, after spending five years with the National as a national team coach, I’m now working with personal athletes for coaching and also helping Chris out with some of the NCM activities, as well as with Ontario cycling, doing some weekend camps. Chris, I
Dede Barry 04:06
was thinking about when I first really got to know you. And it was when you took your role as executive director at the NCAA aim. I think that was in 2017. But when you started your position at the NCAA, I am Steve Bauer had already done a solid job of getting the youth programming started. But as the track programming was still in its infancy there were still some gaps, particularly in growing the outreach program and getting kids who tried the track to engage in regular programming. What were some of the changes you implemented when you came on board to engage and then keep the kids engaged? Yeah,
Chris Reid 04:39
so I was really lucky when I started that we had a pretty big youth cohort like we had almost 30 Kids in what was called the Youth high performance program, but we didn’t really have a range of programming. And at the time, that group pretty quickly was going to age up and have some challenges like the median was sort of 13 to 15. As they were getting older. They didn’t really have a place and we didn’t really We have a mechanism for bringing kids in. So the probably the first thing I did was trying to layer the programming. So it had a little bit more of a pathway based more on ability than age, to be honest. So an older kid could come in and move through the tracks certification and track programming quickly, and then come into the racing program, whereas younger kids might stay longer at each level so that it was kind of developmentally appropriate for each age. And then because we had kids maturing in the program, that were very quickly becoming very fast. So we had some Like, legitimately fast young guys ripping around with some pretty small kids in our race program. I partnered with Ontario cycling to make an older cohort, which is now called the Ontario Academy. That was probably the biggest thing we did in year one or two was just try and make a pathway for everything. Yeah, it
Dede Barry 05:42
seems like now there’s like really solid groups at all the different levels from like, Intro to like beginning structured training, learning to race, and then up to the high performance level, it’s been really impressive to see that grow out. Yeah,
one of the things that I thought was really important was like, if you’re a kid in Chuck Taylors and gym shorts, I want you to be able to spend your first month there’s run by other kids and Chuck Taylors and gym shorts. Because if I throw you into a group where everyone already has kid and like, they’re just from bike racing families, it’s just overwhelming.
Dede Barry 06:12
Yeah, it would be really intimidating for sure. So
Julie Young 06:14
Jenny, some of the things that I’ve seen in coaching young kids, it’s tricky, because it’s that developmental age. And so we get kids developing at different rates. And I think this is a different scenario for young boys and girls. So you know, I see like these, these young boys who are, you know, developing really quickly, and you see him on the podium, and it’s like, men among boys, and you know, and they’re just crushing it. And so there’s that scenario. And I think that becomes tricky for those kids later on, when they kind of come easy to them early, you know, they have this development on their side. Like I said, they look like men among boys, and it’s easy, and they’re just crushing the competition, then, you know, kind of later on when those boys then start catching up and start developing, then it’s this reality check. You know, and I think early on, when it’s so easy, that can become a little apathetic. And it’s just maybe, maybe get a little bored with it. But then on the other side of the coin, you have those boys that are the late bloomers. And so they’re the ones, you know, kind of getting crushed in this scenario. And so obviously, that’s kind of demoralizing to. So how do you navigate these different developmental timelines? Yeah,
Jenny Trew 07:31
for sure. And to your point, the first year, I went to junior track championships, I played a little bit of a game with myself, where you could see these men that were racing against the boys, but almost all the sprint athletes looked like men. And you could almost tell the difference between first years and second years. And so I think, especially when you’re talking about the size with the muscle mass, it’s really obvious. So when you’re looking at sprinters, I think it does favor those early developers because they get identified into those streams, I think the biggest part is trying to keep things as open as possible for those athletes that are going to come up. And I think one of the really cool things about seeing athletes that are more late developers is they do tend to develop better tactics and technical work because they’re making up although that ground all the time, so you want to give them space to come in. And let them develop that physical part. The great part about cycling and endurance cycling in particular, is it really does tend to be a function of how long you’ve been doing it, and how much you’re willing to do it. So if you can give those athletes a little bit more time to come in, let their bodies catch up a bit. All the work they’ve been doing still counts towards that. I think to Chris’s point, it’s the same kind of idea what trying to move away from that really specific age group stuff. I think when you have, say hockey in Canada, we have so many athletes involved that you can find someone who is both your age and your ability level. But in cycling, we don’t have that same mass of participants. So it really is trying to model that to how do you get in with a group that is more your ability and play up, play down? So sometimes you’re with people of your own age, and sometimes you’re allowed to go up with people that are more your own ability and really looking at each athlete on a case by case basis, and what are their physical needs, but also what are their social needs. Because there is an element of that because it’s a hard sport, you want to keep it fun. You want to make sure that there’s more than just that physical development, especially when you’re training in a group.
Julie Young 09:36
That’s a great point about the Late Bloomers and how they are having to be scrappy, and kind of leverage everything, including tactics. I’m sure in the long run that really plays in their favor. Yeah, I
Jenny Trew 09:49
would, I would think so. I mean, I see it on the girls side as well, right? You get the people that transfer over in their early 20s. And they don’t have to learn the skills in the same way that If you’ve got a little person coming through and just being like, I just have to hold on, okay, how do I save every ounce of energy to stay in here, it’s kind of like that. Necessity is the mother of invention. And so it pushes people to do what they need to do to stay in. And so it gives them a different skill set. And conversely, one of the things you have to watch with the early developers, is that they are still developing that race awareness. Because it’s really easy if you’re developing faster than everybody else, just to win and win and maybe not the smartest way possible. So how do you work with that athlete? How do you, maybe you under gear them on the track so that they don’t have just that raw power that they can play with, they have to work on leg speed, they have to work on positioning and being in the right place at the right time. So there are things that you can manipulate. But I think what’s important is that you play with both sides of those, so that you you take the time, and you say okay, today, today, you’re gonna race against everybody else, and you’re gonna be in a way smaller gear. But don’t worry. Next week, I’m going to let you put whatever gear you you want. So you can win. And hopefully, they start winning in the smaller gear as well. But you got to make it fun, right? They’re still kids, you still have to make it so that there’s a reason for them to come back every every week, I coach,
Julie Young 11:15
a young male athlete, he’s a mountain biker, and he’s an early developer. And again, he’s one that looks like man among boys on the podium, but he’s crushing it, you know, and, to your point, like I want him to continue to be challenged and engaged in the mountain biking team, he’s on the like, they just kind of want to lump him in with his age group, you know, and it’s like, he needs more challenge. So I think to your point, it has to be case by case.
Jenny Trew 11:40
Yeah. And I think we find that, especially in North America, where we just don’t have the volume, right. As I said, like Sidney Crosby, when he’s coming through as a hockey player, you can find people that can challenge him in his own age group, even if they’re only few and far between. In less popular sports, we have to be more creative. And it puts a little bit of ownership on the coaches. But I think it also allows us to do cool things, and to really stretch ourselves as coaches so that you can stretch the athletes in creative ways. And give them all the skills they need and all the physical challenge they need, while keeping it fun. Yeah, that’s
Julie Young 12:17
the most important thing.
Chris Reid 12:19
I think, especially with the young athletes that are really early developers, it’s also important to kind of just respect the timeline and give them space to so you know, we’ve had a couple really quick kids really early here. And I think, on one hand, you want to be challenging them by doing it like letting them race with the seniors, whatever the appropriate racing level is you let them do it. But maybe once a week, you keep them still in the junior program, so that they’re still seeing their peers, and they have that social side. We had a young athlete here, who last year went on to metal misprinted Junior worlds, but a few years ago, like 15, he wanted to play rap basketball. Well, that’s fine, because he’s 15, he should be playing other sports at that age. Also, both his parents were like, five, nine, I wasn’t really worried we were gonna get back eventually. But even though they might be cat one fast, you gotta be balancing in between their cat one fast and 16 years old. So how do you find that blend between on bike and off bike?
Jenny Trew 13:05
And I think that’s the important thing is when when we’re we were building out the pipeline is that when you’re looking at what you reward at a young level, when what are you going to reward with a u 15. U 17? Group? It’s not necessarily speed, but it’s those high performance habits. So how are you at being on time? How are you about listening and contributing? Are you able to gauge your own effort, all of those soft skills that are super important, but those are the things that you reward? And we came up with what we call at the time were the power standards. So looking at positivity, so that part were like, how do you show up and looking at those those skills, as opposed to rewarding performance, which, in high performance sport, you have to be able to reward performance. But looking to do that more at the Unite team, too, probably more specifically, that you 23 elite level. So at the younger levels, you’re rewarding those habits, you’re rewarding behaviors and approaches to things that are going to feed into more longevity in the long run. And so, you know, I equate it to having with my kids, you know, you want to teach them to be good winners, and good losers, right. And those are the things that you’re trying to teach. And those are taught, regardless of how fast you are. And those are the things that are rewarded young. And then you have to be creative when you have outliers throughout the system. But that performance really becomes the number one thing that you reward in as much as you can, at the higher levels when performance actually gets you something whereas performance at a You 17 You 15 level isn’t necessarily going to indicate long term success.
Julie Young 14:47
Jenny I loved your point about teaching those performance skills. Love that. So now I just wanted to talk to you about young female athletes because puberty is such a different experience for young of females as compared to young males, where I feel like typically, when young males are going through puberty, it’s more of a performance enhancing kind of positive experience. And I think for young females it can, it can seem or potentially is kind of more detrimental to performance. And that can be obviously, really discouraging, especially if this young female is started in the sport, and she’s thriving and succeeding, and then the body starts changing, and she just needs some time to adapt to those changes. You know, and I think anecdotally, and studies have shown that this can be really discouraging, and mark the end of young females athletic experience. So Jenny, what are your thoughts here as a coach, in terms of how to best support these young females through this emotionally and physically challenging time?
Jenny Trew 15:50
Yeah, absolutely. It is hard. And one of the things I think that makes it even harder is the time in life that it coincides with for many of these young women. So for a lot of them, they’re coming into a place of high school. So their their outside, influences also change. And I believe there’s been a lot of research that says that most young girls drop out of sport. And the window that they do that in is kind of from 12, to 15. And so you look at that, and there’s a lot of different social pressures. And as you said, like with with your body, changing the one to one feedback is very different, especially if you compare that to puberty, that tends to make boys turning to men much faster. And for women, that that isn’t always the case, I think it is a very sensitive topic, because you walk into the potential of having challenges with eating and focusing on body image at the at these times as well. I think we are getting to a place where we’re able to talk about it a little bit better, so much about these situations is expectations. So if you’re able to use role models, and people that have been through it, and made it through the other side, I think that’s really helpful. I think it’s also a place to note that for many young women, what keeps them in sport, is that social element. So remembering that the social piece for young girls is really important. And those connections are very important. So the more you can get young women to training groups, the more you’re able to hold them through those tough bits, because they show up to be with their friends. And in being with their friends, again, they’re getting that experience that’s a little bit better. And they’re just spending more time in the sport. So for young women, making sure that you’re getting those places where they can come together and train. And this is difficult in a sport like cycling that is so run remotely for lack of better words. And because you have a lower participation for the women, you often have to work a little bit harder to get them in groups. So those groups might look a little bit different than just a weekly training group. And you might not be able to focus as much on kind of that output so that that performance is same as for the boys. I think sometimes for women, you have to focus on those behaviors, and the process almost a little bit longer to keep that group bigger, because you will hold on to a few of the girls that will be able to get through the other side of that just through those social connections.
Julie Young 18:33
I don’t know if you guys have read the paper that Trent Stelling worth wrote, it’s called patients during puberty. It’s a fantastic paper. You
Jenny Trew 18:41
know, I haven’t read that one. But I have a ton of respect for Trent. So I can only imagine that it is pretty fantastic.
Julie Young 18:47
Yeah, it’s really good. Hey, Chris, you you touched on this? And I’m just curious if you have anything else to add, but how do you deal with these different developmental timelines when you’re structuring training and racing groups? Yeah, so
Chris Reid 19:03
the I mean, it ties into some of these dynamics. I mean, so we had an last year, we were always lucky that we had a fairly large group of relatively new junior women that were racing, but they were all juniors. So we had to balance a little bit like their best training group on the track was a program that’s heavily like 20 youth 15 young youth 17 Guys, and from like, a skill acquisition and physical perspective, it was awesome. Like they were riding in traffic. You know, these guys are pretty handy little bike pilots, they’re like, the same speed as probably the top junior women nationally. So like in an in training environment, it was really good. The challenge was like off the track. These young 18 year old women are like pretty with it as young human beings in a way that their 14 year old male counterparts really or not. So it was about having that kind of space. And I think one of the things I’m really cognizant of, like kind of the Jen’s point, it’s like you see these youth clubs that have really good like every use club has a good young women’s program. It’s generally because they have a bunch of like, you don’t see a lot of programs that have like one Junior woman, you see a pro It was like five. And I think that that retention in that critical mass is something we’re really struggling with.
Jenny Trew 20:05
And I think one of the really interesting, like dichotomies in this is that often, your young women that are going to go on to be exceptional actually thrive in the environment with the boys. So they enjoy racing, the boys, they enjoy being there, because they’re getting pushed all the time. But if you want a mass of people to come through, often, it’s really good to have a group of women. And I think it’s also really important that when you find those young women who do deal really well, in their male dominant environments, that you spend time to bring them all together from time to time. And I think that’s something that we really, we tried to capitalize on, when we ran the cycle MRI, which was a road program that we ran for about six years, because we found that one of the challenges when you have these young women that are growing up in a very male dominated environment, is that they’re very rightly told that they’re very special, that they’re very good, that all of that the world is their oyster, which is great. But you need that perspective balance. Meaning if there are 20 youth clubs in Canada, and each of them have one female athlete, in that one athlete, and each club is being told that they’re the best, they’re the fastest, and that they are owed all these opportunities. If they never come together with their peers, they don’t understand that, yes, they are very good. Yes, they are very fast. But there are another 19 of them scattered throughout the country. And so then that competition piece gets very difficult. Whereas I think young boys come up fighting all the time, there’s always somebody that one day is going to be faster than you, if you’re always the best. If you’re always the fastest, it gets really hard when you come to that place. And you’re not that special anymore, when you’re not given everything. And if you haven’t focused on those high performance habits early on, and you haven’t given those opportunities to mix with your peers, it makes it really difficult to keep going forward. So it’s a really interesting balance of how you manage that for young women. And
Chris Reid 22:12
it’s probably exacerbated in a Canadian context. Because like, geographically, we’re really big. And we don’t have a very healthy domestic racing scene. So our top talent might see each other one day a year. Yeah,
Julie Young 22:22
I mean, we’ve we’ve kind of touched on this. But I’d love to dive just a little bit deeper. Jenny definitely referenced this. But since this podcast is about that group effect and training, do you feel like males or females seem to be drawn to that environment more than the other or equally? So what’s your thought there?
Jenny Trew 22:43
I think they engage in it differently. I think everybody really does well, when they’re there with their peers, I think you can learn so much from somebody that is in a similar place as you are. And our job as coaches is to formalize some of that learning, but we’re never going to be able to formalize all of it, you’re still gonna pick up something from riding and racing somebody on the road that as coaches we could never come up with to design, right. Like that’s part of it. I think young male athletes love being in a group. And you see this all the time where you’re like, can you guys slow down, please, no, we need to warm up, we need to this is zone one, we’re not racing. It’s not a race today, guys, chill out. That’s how they engage. And they but I think generally speaking, young men engage positively with each other. So they’ll duke it out on on the field of play, they’ll have so much fun, they’ll push each other, they’ll come off, and they’ve left everything on the field of play. And for the most part, they’re able to take all the positives, and kind of hash out where you’re going. And so you have minimal rules of engagement for that, because I think young men, they’re used to that they have less problem according hierarchy. Like they’re happy with that. So they they go out, they do great things, they come back for young women, I think the challenge is that they don’t engage in that the same way. They benefit greatly. And good teams beat the competition, because there’s that positive energy that rolls forward. And when you can get that that extra special. In a training group, especially with young women, it does just amazing things, I think you do need to set out more rigid guidelines about how you’re going to engage on the field of play and off the field input of play. I think you have to frame things again, on that process piece. I think you get a lot of in these training groups, you can end up with a fear of failure becoming really prominent, so then certain people don’t engage because they don’t want to fail. And so you have to be really careful with that. But I do think that as long as you set forward those rules of engagement that look different for men and they look different for women, but if you’re if you’re good at setting up Those rules of engagement, everybody really benefits from being with each other from learning from each other being pushed by somebody else. Yeah,
Chris Reid 25:07
I mean, one of the things I would jump on here is just as a guy that ended up working with a young women’s road team was that it starts really early, like the nature of how you gel a cohesive team, I think, is very different. The first time I ran the cycling road camp by myself was when our son was born. So Jen wasn’t there. And all of the things that work to really bond and gel a men’s program don’t necessarily work the same way with a women’s program. So I think in a guy’s program, the experience of the training can be the connective tissue, you know, if you want to have a young guys seem to get along, well take them on a training camp and make the first couple of days kind of over the top. Ideally, it’s raining everyone bonks. And that, like shared experience will really bond them, it does not work as well.
Jenny Trew 25:47
Yeah. So the way that I have heard it explained is that for men, it goes, you train, you compete and perform and bond, because it’s that competing, that Bond’s them. But for women, generally, you need to be able to bond so that you can put yourself out there to train so that you can compete and win. So it’s just a slightly different order. So being aware that that social component is so important. And the other piece that I’ve heard say is, you look at this, and if you go to a men’s hockey team, your captain is always going to be your strongest player, that’s just like the hierarchy fits. If you went to the equivalent women’s team, your captain tends to be your social, like the center of your social network. Often that will be one of your best players as well. But the social piece plays, whereas on a men’s team, it’s less important because the reference to somebody being very good at the sport is different. So you can have a kind of socially awkward, young male be your captain, because he is like, just technically tactically phenomenal. That doesn’t happen as much. On the women’s side, you’ll have somebody who’s, like 95% of it, but he’s able to connect with all the players.
Julie Young 27:02
Those are really good examples. And you’d mentioned Jenny, fear of failure. And I was curious if you find that fear of failure is more prevalent among young females. Because I guess when I’m coaching young males and young females, I often times feel like the young males have this kind of inflated confidence, and kind of where maybe they might not necessarily should have it. And then the young females who should be confident, because they’re so they’re so gifted, and they have that great work ethic, they kind of lacked the confidence. So that’s kind of an interesting observation for me. Yeah,
Jenny Trew 27:43
absolutely. And I’ve found the same that I do think that fear of failure is something that tends to come with your young female athletes more. So I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had coaches come to me and be like, No, I don’t think you understand this young woman. She’s good at everything. She’s great at school, she’s great at sports. But she’s like, we have to treat her differently. Because you don’t understand you’ve never seen these and I’m like, Well, yeah, okay, I get it. And again, it’s that one female to the 20 males that she’s training with. But most of the young women that I’ve seen come through in Excel are very type A are people pleasers, they do have that fear of failure, because they don’t want to let you down. And that’s part of what has given them so much success. And it’s not just success in sport, it’s success at school, it’s success in leadership, it’s and so it is this really interesting place where they’ve always been good at everything. So it’s really hard when they’re not good at something. So I think that’s where the fear of failure plays in. You’re like, but no, I’ve always been good at school. And I’ve been good at sports, and I’ve been good at anything I’ve tried. I’ve been good at it. And now you’re asking me to go out there and do something and, and risk not being good at it that that’s not congruent with my personality. And again, I think because right from day one, the boys have their own fears. And they’re really used to okay, I Okay, yeah, I want five of them. But I lost one of them. Right? And so they’re getting that, whereas the women don’t have the people as close. So they’re winning all six of them for years and years on time. So then they come second, and the world’s going to end but I think part of that is just being aware as coaches that that is a really common trait that you have like these super high achievers across the board. And so they don’t like doing badly because they’ve never done badly. You’ve
Dede Barry 29:33
definitely done a great job of talking to the challenges of women growing up in silos in the sport. Chris, I can also remember having conversations with you about the siloed nature, more generally of Canadian cycling. And I think it was when you first took on your role as executive director at the NCI M. You had vowed to break down some of those silos, which from my perspective, you’ve had a lot of success with It’s never easy. And it takes a pretty big shift in culture to build the kind of environment and culture that you want. But what are some of the strategies that you’ve used to foster relationships among riders, clubs and coaches, I
Chris Reid 30:15
think some of the places we had the most success was given Santero cycling to let us run a Tuesday night training group in which we just by design invited the top kids from every club. And then it was a different environment for all those kids they were training with appears the first year we ran it, they let me call it Shark Tank, and then it got more formal. And I was never allowed to call it again, which was too bad. But having those kids train peer to peer then rolled into the races as well, I think because those kids for the first time spent more time with each other. So then we got to race weekends. And track racing is like weird because you’re there like all day in a fishbowl. And there’s like a grid of fences in the middle, and everyone’s sets up in their little pit. And that doesn’t talk to anyone for like, the next 72 hours. And well, because the kids knew each other now they started to mingle more, and it actually broke down some of those, like pretty artificial, and like if I’m honest, a little bit by design walls that had been built up between clubs. And I think that actually translated like, you know, at our regional level, Ontario got better as a province at Nationals, because we had more cohesion going up. You know, one of the things that Jenny did that was pretty amazing was she did it on a national level. And we had these kids that didn’t have peers, suddenly having peers, and they could come in and train skills and like, also providing spaces where like, it’s about coming in and learning like the craft of bike racing. And it’s not always performance, like on demand. I mean, as I mentioned before, like, we don’t have a great domestic calendar in Canada, which sometimes means every time we’re doing things like everything’s on the line, like I raised my peers once and that decides whether I’m going to junior worlds. So having opportunities where you could just kind of like throw stuff at the wall and see what stick was really good. Yeah,
Dede Barry 31:43
I’ve I’ve really enjoyed watching all the kids mangle at the track when I’ve been there on the race weekends. And they all come from such different backgrounds. And it’s it’s just nice to see how much sharing and how much they all enjoy each other off the bike and how they learn from each other and encourage each other as well. I can remember when I was young, going to the Velodrome it was a more competitive environment, and not quite as collaborative. So I think you’ve, you’ve done a great job with that, it’s a it’s really good to see. And I think it’s made it more sticky for the kids to write like they want to go back. And they want that social engagement as much as they want to race, which is really nice to see as well. But haven’t been an athlete most of my life, there’s no doubt I’ve been a part of and witness many different types of groups. And obviously, they tend to function better with the level among the groups as well matched. But equally important is the energy flow within the groups. And you’ve touched on this a little bit earlier. But Chris, when you’re building the training groups at the Velodrome, what are some of the key metrics that you consider when you’re structuring? Because I think there is like character dynamics to you that you may or may not consider, you know, and also what are some of the critical components to fostering them.
Chris Reid 32:57
I mean, I think one of the channels with the personality pieces, like in a sport setting like ours is, you really have to consider them and take them into account, but you might not be able to control them, like, those people may just be in your training groups. So you got to kind of work around that. I think, like the things that really matter, I think you touched like, if you have people in a narrow bandwidth, you get the most out of them, I think, and then letting them play up and down in that bandwidth. And I also think, like, from where we’re really lucky in the track is that it’s like a coach sport. From an eyes on perspective, it’s fantastic. So just making sure there’s like the right number for the training sessions, which might change a lot session to session, you know, like, I’m really big on trying to make like holistic bike racers. So a bigger training group was like, for lack of a better word, a little more chaos going on in any one type, because bike racing is inherently chaotic. So you have to grow up being used to dealing with it. But then for our older kids, you know, it’s their summers determined by whether or not they make pursuit standards. Well, you need less kids on the track. So they get more time for more reps to really like dial in that pursuit. So you got to move it back and forth. And I think it’s important just like personality wise to try and like come to the kids where they’re at, like I was saying before, like some of these kids have a ton of agency over their own writing. And some of them are like Youth and Sports still where their moms are still involved or their dads are involved. One of the things I always personally really liked was working with youth 20 threes, because they like they’re at a junction where they really own their own cycling, like, they’ve decided to do this. They’re balancing it in university. It’s their choice. Whereas like, you know, our youngest kids at the Velodrome. It’s like, it’s programming for Thursday night. They could also be playing dodgeball.
Julie Young 34:25
That’s true. Chris and Jenny is curious in developing your youth training sessions. How do you navigate those you manage to make them effective, like you’re getting good work out of the kids, but they’re fun and engaging to to avoid the burnout risk. And I think about an experience I had when I was helping Jeff slosh who was the head coach of our far west Nordic program. And I always marveled at Jeff because he managed to get such good work out of the kids but he kept it so fun like I think about this one session where we like ski walked up the super steep resort Hill. And then, you know, we ended up at this lake and the kids were goofing around and swimming and jumping off rocks, and but he still got really good work out of those kids. So I’d be curious to hear how you guys manage that? Yeah,
Jenny Trew 35:17
I think it it is one of those things that you have to remember when you’re dealing with anybody falls under that Jr. That they’re first and foremost, their kids, and you want to develop this love of sport, and love of the sport of cycling, for sure. But love of sport, love of moving your body. And I think so much of that has to do with the environment that is brought forward. And a lot of that set as the tone of the coaches that are there. So thinking about your what you’re saying is you have a coach that has come and said, Okay, we’re gonna go do this crazy thing. All right, let’s go after and you almost disguise the work through other activities. And I think cycling is so interesting, because so much of it is done through things like training peaks, that it is this remote place where you read something and you go, Okay, I’m going to do this, that we often forget about the technical tactical, or we don’t formalize that technical tactical, the mental performance piece of it. And so, one of my favorite drills to do on the track, and we’ve done it for warmup is that you just get the kids out on the track, and they’re writing, and then you’re like, Okay, I want two lines. So they, they have to figure out how to get to two lines, okay, I want you to put your hand on that person’s shoulder. And they’re just and as we come through every lap, I get them to do something different. There are moments that are terrifying. You’re like, Okay, let’s go to three lines. And then there are three lines, you’re like, Okay, come back down to one line, you’re like, God, I really hope no one crashes. But what they’re able to do is phenomenal. And you’ve got there them out there writing for 2025 minutes, and they come off and they forget that that’s what they’ve been doing. And so I think, a lot of really focusing on what are those process pieces, and Chris does a bunch of young group and you have a lot of great coaches that are good at that sort of thing. But yeah, you don’t want to it to Chris’s point, if you’re doing pursuit work, sometimes, the only way to do it is by doing paced, single efforts. And I struggled with that when I first came into to high level like high performance coaching, that sometimes you just have to do the workouts and they don’t have to be exciting, but you have to intermingle that with the exciting piece of it. Because that is it’s the love of sport. It’s what keeps all of us still on our bikes, right that your leg, there’s some inherent awesomeness to just being on your bike. But you have to you almost have to teach that at the young level.
Chris Reid 37:38
Yeah, I think two thoughts on this one is I’m going to hug Jen smart, she’s really good at like bringing things down to fundamentals and like what she was describing we do with kids, but like 90% of the Masters trying to racetrack or road bikes should probably do that kind of stuff. You know, they’ll all get worried that they’re like TSS is in high for the session, but they’re nervous riding around other people. Bring it back to fundamentals. Like if you’re in an orchestra, you never stopped playing scales like NBA players still do layups, like, get it back to basics. The other thing I think that’s really powerful in a training group is you can do that work in a way that’s not dull. So like, case in point, our Wednesday group, we got like, 30 kids, if I told you that every third Wednesday, as a treat, you were gonna get to do 40 minutes of 4040s. At the end, you think I was bent, but we do Madison. And it’s like, they’re fired up about it all the time. And nothing’s like physically harder. Nothing’s better for just like, building awareness on bike. I mean, Madison’s like the if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball of bike racing, like it’s so great for the amount going on. Yeah,
Jenny Trew 38:36
I think Madison is like the secret weapon. If you can get a young rider to be able to be good at Madison, you’re hitting all the boxes, you’re hitting those physical pieces, you have speed, you have endurance, you have recovery. And then from a technical point of view, you’re actually using more than just your legs using your whole body. From a tactical point of view. It’s absolute chaos. So if you can learn to navigate within the Madison, you can, the rest of fundraising is going to be relatively straightforward. And just that ability to stay calm and make good decisions in that area. Plus, it’s with somebody else. So you have that team element too. So it really ticks all the boxes for me and I love that Chris is doing so much Madison stuff with the young riders on the track. Because I think it is something that I wanted to push in the landscape for years. I think it’s it’s the best skill development we can do. I
Dede Barry 39:27
agree with that. But I will say as a mom on the sidelines, it’s pretty stressful to watch. It’s like all the risk and none other control. It’s, it’s not the easiest to watch. No. The
Jenny Trew 39:42
first time I went to junior worlds I watched the event and I thought like my inner monologue was if these kids crash really badly, how much liability do I have? I can’t even really watch what’s going on. And somewhere along the way, I developed my reaction to things that scared me on that practice to look away to which I’m like, I’m not sure that’s the best coaching mechanism. But often, if you look away, it’s better by the time you look back, so there’s that. Yeah,
Julie Young 40:08
I think what you guys are describing is just keep it playful and game like, I think that’s helps kids engage. And in preparing for this episode, I was thinking about, like kids that don’t have access to your incredible programming, to me, like the local fast paced group rides can kind of fill that same niche, or, you know, they create their own little core group of people that go out and do like fast laps with. But I think that just provides such good feedback on fitness. And you avoid that staleness of solo training, and you gain experience and race like situations. And we actually started a fast paced gravel ride in Truckee, where I live, and some of the kids come out and do that. And I found like, it’s the best opportunity like to learn things like these nuances of writing, you know, Chris, you said, it’s, it’s not just about like, there’s so many attributes to performance. It’s not just about that TSS score hitting those power numbers. But like, in these fast paced group rides, you can really like there are these learning opportunities, again, that you just don’t get in a training session, you know, how a kid is like using their gearing or how they’re kind of falling in line of the of the paceline. And they’re just Yeah, I just found they’re really valuable.
Jenny Trew 41:29
It’s so important. And I think it’s really interesting. If you look back over, like my time in this sport, it’s been about 25 years and how everything has structured differently through that. And actually, one of the really interesting things is Chris’s development through sport of cycling versus mine. So, Chris, I would say you had a more kind of traditional young, junior years.
Chris Reid 41:53
Yeah, like, there wasn’t youth clubs in Ontario, where I was from, and I think Ontario was a bit on the downswing like this province I’m from. So I was like a mountain bike kid, I was an alpine ski racer, and they told us to mountain bike in the summer for cross training, and mountain biking was cool. And I was better at that than ski racing, which I was not good at mountain biking, which is a testament to how bad I was at ski racing. But you know, like, it was really unstructured. We just rode trails a lot, and then started going to races every weekend, I got into road racing. And it was like the calendar really just dictated the training. And so we did a lot of racing did a lot of riding, I became a road racer, because I was the alternate for both mountain bike and road nationals one year for the Ontario team, and my parents had to help me out with ones and like, I literally just picked road because there were three races, not one. That’s how I became a road racer. Also, I was probably better at it. But yeah, it was really calendar driven. And it wasn’t. And one of things I worry about now is like as a sport, we like we hinge so much on just being able to do tons of racing for skill development and learning and even just training. And as the sports become way more expensive, the biggest ask your kid is in their family be like, Okay, you’re gonna race 60 days this summer. And that’s how you’re going to learn. And that’s how you’re going to train. Well, we got to do some learning and training before we get to the racing to start making the value there, which I think is a big shift. And I’ll let Jen Talk about her own experience. But I mean, I can tell you that I was always jealous of the program she came out of because they actually had a huge Junior crew. So I’d go to Nationals. It’d be like me and the two other dudes from Ontario. And there’d be this like, raft of 15 kids hanging out at the banquet. I mean, I think when I came up most of the Ontario kids raised for Quebec clubs, and we’re five and six hours away from Quebec. So yeah,
Jenny Trew 43:23
and conversely. So my introduction to cycling was through triathlon and to triathlon was through competitive swimming. So I was a competitive swimmer. And until I was 14, then I decided I wasn’t going to be good enough. So it probably falls under many of the discussions that we’ve talked about for young women coming up through sport and spent the first like the fall playing volleyball and then hung out on my couch for a month at which point my mom said no, this is not gonna happen. Called found the only Junior triathlon club in Calgary at the time, which was run by Dan Prue, who is now the national team head coach for cycling. So I joined a triathlon club and that triathlon club over the next few years morphed into a cycling team. And we were very structured the workouts were in person, we would go to the Olympic Oval at the time, so speed skating oval and ride trainers on the outside. And we had workouts to go to every day of the week, I was probably 18 or 19, before I started writing on my own, all the other writing that I’d ever done was with other people around. I started as a bike racer on a trainer for months, and I did my first like outside training camp. All my best friends were in that group. Many of those people are still involved in the Canadian Cycling Network, which is kind of interesting, too. And, yeah, just very structured. I come from a very highly structured background and Chris comes from kind of the opposite and just watching how those two interplay and then watching how we’ve developed to this place that it’s so driven by Power and so driven by having to do very specific things and how we’ve missed out. And now we’re missing, as you said, that piece of group rides, where it’s not really structured. And it’s like, oh, we’re gonna go fast now, because it’s going up a hill, and trying to also bring that back in to that environment. You know, like, I’ll say to people, like, I need you to do this effort at two and a half minutes all out, and I need for them. Yeah, but what power? I don’t know what power, what is the power that you can hold for four of these that it’s going to be the same. And I’m going to bet that when we all grew up, racing, that was just something you did. But a lot of these athletes don’t have that internal metronome anymore, because it’s very much about looking at power and executing and doing it perfectly. Whereas cycling isn’t that to Chris’s point. It’s chaos, right? There are pieces of cycling, like an IP, or a TT that are more controllable. But generally speaking, bike racing is a little bit of chaos. And it’s how you navigate yourself through that chaos. So bringing that back in. And my point being the tight back is I remember talking to a friend of mine, who’s also a coach, and she was like, I don’t remember ever doing like Max Power stuff. When I was racing. It’s really interesting that we incorporate this. And then she had a moment and she was like, oh, no, wait, we did them every ride when we were doing sign Sprint’s that’s how we did max power. And you’re like, Okay, so these things were in there, because people knew they were important. But they weren’t like 10 second interval on my training peaks. So I didn’t think about it. Yeah,
Dede Barry 46:30
the sort of level of surveillance and judgment was different to like, you either won this brand, or your second or third or last, you know, in the group. And now it’s all about the numbers you can hit, right. So, like a lot of these kids now are comparing themselves to, you know, the best in the world. And they can easily do that on training peaks, and on all these other Strava, all these other platforms. So I’ve
Chris Reid 46:56
actually wondered if decent results have negatively impacted regional racing, because it used to be like, you’d have to stand on the side of like the truckers they went by, and you try and call numbers. So results went like 10, deep if you were lucky. And then after that, like whatever, you’re in the bunch, but I think it’s actually changed the dynamic, which some kids race bikes, because they can be 27 or 33rd. Whereas before, like you were in the boat race, or you weren’t, and maybe you got on the result sheet at the end, but it was more important to be like in the race than it was to sprint for 30th. Yeah,
Dede Barry 47:25
my husband, Michael, who raised professionally, has often mentioned how there was this culture shift in the years he was racing professionally. And he likens it to when social media became popular. And suddenly, a lot more of the races were live streamed and domestiques that used to not necessarily care whether they finished 30th or a 100th, or suddenly trying to get get their own results, especially some of the young ones that were newer to the sport of cycling. So yeah, I mean, I think that that has created somewhat of a culture shift for sure. In terms of people, I was feeling like they’re being watched and worried more about their own personal result versus like that of the team in certain situations.
Jenny Trew 48:10
Yeah, it’s Team Racing on the road is a very, it’s not super intuitive. If you haven’t grown up learning it, I think. And if you describe it to, to an outsider, where you’re like, okay, so yeah, you’re all on the same team, but only one of you gets to go on the podium, and in like a professional setting. Okay, that’s fairly easy for people to understand what they can get out of it. But I think when you’re talking, it is a culture piece that you have to embed very early on. And you need the right people messaging that. And I think one of Chris’s real strengths as a coach and a director has been his innate ability to value that and to celebrate athletes when they’re being part of that. And
Chris Reid 48:56
this actually ties in with some of the themes of this about young riders and specific young women in sport. And with the caveat that anytime we’re talking anything kind of gender, there’s like outliers in both ways. But I would say as a group, when I look at young guys that we’re working with in the sport and young women in the sport, the guys are bigger nerds for the sport. Like they generally follow it more they listen to podcasts, they watch, like live stream races. Oftentimes young women are like perfectionist, but they may not spend the time just being a fan of their sport. And I think that impacts, like how you grasp tactics, how you grasp team roles, how you. So I think sometimes it has to be taught to the women more by design, whereas the guys will pick it up in the landscapes because they’re just like sponges for the sport in general. Yeah. And
Jenny Trew 49:36
we ran into that when we first started the Cyclery. Because we’d be chatting. And Chris and I would talk through strategy, and then he, he’d be like, Okay, it’s this and I’m like, Yeah, but we need to we need to bring it back about three steps
Chris Reid 49:47
to to have a natural team at like a 60. And they didn’t know who joined to horror and a lot of Capecchi work.
Jenny Trew 49:52
Yeah, it was really it was it was sad.
Chris Reid 49:56
In the event you’re doing here that’s
Julie Young 49:58
an interesting Oh, observation I can totally see that.
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Julie Young 50:46
Chris, you’ve mentioned a couple times cohesion. And that is such a critical component of a group that’s working towards a goal. But I think it seems like it would be a little tricky in the sport of cycling, where in some respects it is individual. And in my opinion, just anecdotally, like, seems that cycling draws like an individual, more individual, more independent minded kind of introvert sometimes that you know, happy to go off and pedal for hours at a time on their own. So how do you reconcile those two things, you know, taking that individual and really blending them into that cohesive team?
Chris Reid 51:25
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think you’re right, for a long time, like cycling has been just a sanctuary for the weird. I’m an acolyte of that I got into the sport, because like you’re not playing basketball. And I think it’s a lot of it’s just really Yeah, meeting those personalities. I mean, Junior boys, like I took a team dabit TV this year, and like, they were all new, and how you can get them to come together if you have a shared purpose. And we’re going to pick on you, Pat, if you’re listening. We had one kid who was like, right on his like, I’m writing for GC. And he had that kind of like Junior boys swagger that only juniors have. And he was like, that was the goal. He was going to do it. I’m not sure he had a business doing it. But they all bought into it. And he ended up having a pretty good tilt at it to his credit. But I think if I had just if I hadn’t let that group come to their own goals, I don’t think it would have worked as well. You know, they decided to try and do something outrageous. And they all bought into it. I was like, Okay, well, we’ll have a crack at it. And if we don’t, that’s fine.
Jenny Trew 52:15
I think yeah, that’s the piece is it’s having that overall vision, and understanding your purpose and how you fit into that vision. And to this day, the most amazing thing I think I’ve ever been a part of as a coach was in 2016, with the Cyclery girls, we sat down at camp and was it February, and said, Hey, nationals are in Ottawa, which is where we were based out of, let’s win nationals. And everything we did that year was based around that. And we put together values for that. And all the races were a build up to Nationals. And part of where we really tried to push things with the Cyclery was trying to get these young women to race in a more aggressive fashion. Again, that kind of fear of failure, holding them back like well, I’m going to fit in here. And then when I sprint to seven, you know, like I didn’t, I didn’t explode on the course. So really trying to impress upon them that we’re going to race from the front. And sometimes it’s going to work and sometimes it isn’t going to work. And so we had this group, and went into nationals where I think at all levels, fear of failure plays a huge part in nationals when you’re like, Come on, let’s make this aggressive, let’s make this fun. And they wrote from the front. And Annie Foreman Mackey ended up winning by a couple of minutes anyways, because she got an A group of four, kind of 25k into the race and slowly rode the other three offer wheel. And part of that was that we had nine girls on the course who were ready to go out and do whatever it took for one of them to win. And there wasn’t anybody who was more invested in themselves winning than the team winning. And that was a really special place to be. But I think it really came from articulating what we were trying to do, and how we were going to do that and reinforcing that daily. And we just also had a really special group of people.
Chris Reid 54:13
And if you had told me the morning of that race to like write down the order of cycler riders and who’s more likely to win nationals and he probably would have been third or fourth, like in a world in which they don’t buy into racing as a group and don’t care who wins. None of them win.
Julie Young 54:27
Hey, Jenny, you had mentioned camps. And I was thinking about this. You know, I think with these World Tour teams having these incredible performances, you know, people are dissecting like, what are they doing? And the one thing that seems to me is that these teams are having more training camps through the year obviously for physiologic purposes primarily, but I think too there’s that, that opportunity to bond you know, off the bike and really create that cohesion. Curious Do you Do you think that could play into like creating that cohesion in US work that’s a little bit more individualistic.
Jenny Trew 55:02
Absolutely. I’ve always been a big believer in camps, when we first started with the Cyclery, part of what we said was actually that we were going to take Ottawa based athletes. And part of the reason was that was so that we could have more touch points with these athletes. And it pretty quickly grew to Ontario, slash eastern Canada. But we had these weekend camps through the winter, kind of one a month. And the idea was that we’d spend three days together and we’d go skiing. And we went to, I don’t know, I think we went rock climbing ones, there was always a social element in it. And part of what was driving that was, at the time, I hadn’t heard the part where you need to bond before you can train before you can perform. But I think I innately understood that. And part of that being to this day, the majority of my social network is from the sport of cycling. And for me, when I was racing, there was one group in particular, one team that I was on that just was so special. And I loved spending time with those people. And I think we are social beings. And if you care, and you want it more, you can get more out of yourself. And I think when we have those social bonds and those ties with each other, were able to just dig that little bit deeper, or hold on that little bit longer. If you know that you’re doing this not just for you, but also for your team, maybe you can get an extra 500 meters out of yourself going up that climb if you’re coming into the finale. And you know how hard everybody’s work for you up until that point, maybe that just gives you that little bit of extra push to be like, Yeah, I’m going to do this. And one of my favorite things when I watch anything to do with Pro Cycling is watching the draw that the riders have to each other and how often that strong leadership plays such a big, big role in that. This summer, I got the opportunity to work with Alex Catford and Carolyn Carell on putting the tour Gatineau back together. And so that was a race. And it was the first time I’d really worked with either of them. And both of them were career domestiques. And it was really interesting for me to watch them in a non cycling, but professional setting where I was like, You guys are so good at valuing the input of everybody else. And it makes you want to work harder for them because they value you because they’re putting forth and I’m like, Well, this it’s kind of that chicken in the egg. Like Were you an exceptional Domestique because you connected with your teammates, and you were able to really bring out the best in them? Or did you learn that and then become exceptional at your job? But I think, yeah, just remembering that we’re people. And part of how you make people exceptional is by connecting with them. And the people that are really good at that. They’re able to be exceptional teammates and be able to do wonderful things. And I think part of that comes from just spending time together. Yeah,
Julie Young 58:02
I think another kind of side of cycling, I mean, any any sport really any and you guys have both mentioned this is that you get people that are achievers and Type A’s. And so you know, all those things that make them a really great athlete are also things that are very, like create those dominant, strong personalities. And Dede and I have both been on teams or where we’ve had teammates like that. And I think that can be a real tricky component of creating a cohesive team, have you guys ever had to deal with those kinds of situations? So
Jenny Trew 58:35
yeah, one of my challenges as a coach was trying to figure out how to moderate my own personality so that I didn’t impose myself too much on the team. And I am quite dominant as a personality. But that having been said, the best team that I was ever on, had probably three or four of us that were all like that. And we just learned to interact with each other. And part of that was it was just very direct, and very loud, I think is really what it came down to. But I think it comes back to that place is if you can set those expectations. There’s nothing wrong with people being able to express their opinions. There’s nothing wrong with people being really opinionated, but you need to set how you’re going to do that everything needs to come from a place of respect. So as long as everyone understands the ground rules of we don’t have to agree with each other. But when we’re having a disagreement, this is how we’re going to do it. And we’re going to lay it all out on the table. And we’re going to have a conversation and we’re not leaving this table until that’s been sorted. I think one of the challenges and I think especially with women, is that if you do not lay those those expectations out to begin with, it can jump the shark pretty quickly. Yeah. And
Chris Reid 59:46
one of the interesting things here, as we’re thinking, as I’m thinking about this, in terms of cycling is from a track perspective, it’s either way less like you just have to be respectful human beings in the environment, because all the bunch racing is essentially you’re racing for your own results, or it’s way more conjoined and Certainly we’ve had some very talented young riders who like when I look at because we do with teams of Ontario, like Kimber suits a big push for Ontario, it doesn’t matter how much of a gangster you look like and how big your polls are like, you gotta get three of you across the line and your time is going to be the third guy’s time, like your result is conjoined at the hip. And to get people to mitigate that, I think is an interesting part of like, Ms. Part. What makes timber super fun is that it is like, you are one cohesive unit and you can’t really get outside that box. And then I almost put this question to you guys, as I’m thinking this through. But like a piece of the road, I think it’s it’s so important to have like a shared framework for how you’re approaching races throughout the whole season. And probably the better your team is the more important that is like I can only imagine if like if you guys were both on Saturday, like what percentage of the North American hitters was on your squad at that time? Like, you have to be working to make everyone understand that through a common playbook is probably everyone’s best opportunities I would imagine. Yeah,
Dede Barry 1:00:53
for sure. I mean, I liked what you said before JD about Jared groundwork on how you communicate with each other and communication coming from like a place of respect. Ultimately, I think that’s what’s most critical. And I think that’s what builds a functional team is, you know, coming to an agreement on the groundwork, the best teams that I wrote for had that and it almost didn’t matter how many dominant personalities they were as long as like that was sort of the foundation for how we communicated. So I want to shift the conversation now to talk about talent identification. I know, there have been a few athletes such as Olympic gold medalist Kelsey Mitchell that have come from the RBC training ground talent ID program in Canada, which for our listeners who have not heard of it, this is a program that’s a talent ID and athlete funding program designed to find young athletes with Olympic potential and provide them with the resources they need to achieve their podium dreams. This program travels the country searching for and testing athletes between the ages of 14 and 25 with specific parameters, with the idea that it will fuel the Canadian Olympic pipeline and specific sports and, you know, Kelsey is a great example of how successful that program has been was specific athletes. But Chris and Jenny, I would be curious to know if you’ve found the RBC talent ID program to be beneficial more generally, in terms of a pipeline, like do these athletes tend to fit in and develop as well within the auspices of the NCAA aim and Canadian cycling pipelines? Or do you feel like athletes like Kelsey Mitchell had been more of an outlier within the program,
Jenny Trew 1:02:31
I think it’s one of those places where we’re still trying to figure it out. If if we look at an athlete, like a complete athlete of being, you have these physical abilities, you have technical abilities, tactical abilities, mental abilities, and an ability to fit into team. So kind of five pillars, when you’re talking about talent transfer athletes, they’re coming in with a very high, like, if you think of it as bargraph, very high on the physical, they’re missing technical tactical, they often have very high mental as well, because they’ve been successful in another sport. They have very high physical literacy and physical abilities, and very good mental capacities as an athlete. And often they come from team sports, because one of the reasons you see them being able to excel when they come to cycling is they’re like, oh, I have this unhidden physical capacity that didn’t show while I was running around on a soccer field chasing a ball. And so I think we are an Olympic sport. Cycling is so interesting, right? Everybody learns to ride a bike when they’re three, and then it’s how do you put them back into that pipeline? And I think that’s been really cool to watch Chris at the NCM to watch what happens with having a velodrome here in Canada, as you watch these kids start racing much earlier. You You see somebody like Michael Leonard, or Carson Mattern, or, you know, and they started when the Velodrome opened, and they’ve been riding the whole time, and you see, oh, this is really great. Like we’re producing athletes. And that hasn’t traditionally been the case for cycling. So we’ve been looking to bring people in from other sports. And so it just exposes, one of the benefits of RBC is exposing more athletes to this place. And they’re coming in and they’re high physical, and they’re high mental. And so we need to teach them technical and tactical for the most part. So one of the challenges is outside of the NCAM. There’s not a lot of programming in Canada, geared towards teaching technical and tactical abilities. So I think it’s been a really awesome and Chris will talk a little bit about how you’ve capitalized on the pool coming from RBC. But again, it’s that place where we have to really look at these athletes as specific case by case. And I think the most important piece that you can do there is teach athletes to be in love with the sport of cycling. And if you take a few steps back to earlier in the conversation, as Chris said, That’s not It’s something that a lot of our young women do naturally. So having to do that in a really structured way where you’re like, Okay, this is bike racing. Can you watch this for a moment? Like, be familiar, be a fan of the sport. The example I always use, it’s funny, I never played hockey. I don’t know why all my examples are hockey. But growing up in Canada, there were boys that were on AAA hockey teams. And that was their life, their life was hockey. But I can to this day tell you who their favorite hockey team like NHL teams were. So you know that they were 100%. So into their own hockey, but that they were also watching two or three games a week of the NHL, like desperately. And so how can we expect to have young riders coming up that don’t do the same for a highly tactical sport, like cycling? So I think, yeah, looking at each of those, and especially on the women’s side, which has a higher incidence of talent transfer, just because I think we have less depth. So there’s more possibility to do that transfer over. But really ingraining that love of the sport, because it’s hard. It’s gonna take a while. And if you don’t love the process, it’s really hard to be good at the end. And I’ve run into many women who have come across on any real talent transfer, because I think Cycling is a sport that’s pretty ripe for talent transfer, right? They’re like, Oh, I have a great endurance, what do we do with it, but then they run into their first roadblock. And if they don’t love the activity, they’re doing it because they want to go to the Olympics, it’s pretty hard to get through those plateaus. Whereas if you can teach them when they first come in that it’s a really awesome sport. These are all the cool things and have them love the sport and help them weather those plateaus, those inevitable plateaus, then you can have more success along the way.
Chris Reid 1:06:50
Yeah, I mean, 100% agree. I think one of the things with RBC is it’s uniquely tailored to sprinting, like tracks printing is specific because that’s such a unique skill set. I mean, Kelsey Hit like 1300 Watts and running shoes on a Monarch the first time they tested her, so yeah, she was gonna make a bike go. But then to Jen’s point, there’s so many other things you have to backfill so I’ll use them as kind of a counterpoint like cool Dempster who got third at junior worlds last year and junior worlds is no Olympic gold medal. Let’s be clear on that. But he’s been in the program since I’ve been there. So five, six years. So how many lifetime bunch race Karen Sprint’s finishes does Cole have, if you bring in an athlete at 25, they’re going to be 32. By the time they get that number of reps. Plus, you’re probably never gonna give them that many reps because you’re so focused on them being a specific track rider. I mean, one of the things that was really interesting with that 2021 Olympic in the sprint events, a lot of new riders broke through Elise Andrews from New Zealand, both Kelsey both lorianne. If I had to speculate some of that probably weighed in, like we’ve probably never had as high level of Sprint tournament or Kieran tournament, in which so few countries had clear understandings of the competition, because there were so many new riders. And I think that probably had an impact. I’ve
Jenny Trew 1:08:04
heard it speculated that one of the advantages that as Canadians we were we were afforded for those sprinters is that no one had raced very much in the two years prior to it. And so the lack of race experience was less of a detriment than it would have been otherwise, which I think fits to your point. Yeah, that’s
Dede Barry 1:08:23
Chris Reid 1:08:25
I mean, in my own stuff that I’m doing to me, the greatest potential of RBC has less to do with funding the top kids, the fact that because they’ve had success like Kelsey, they now have a program we’re, like, seven to 800 kids show up at the tryouts and they’re all looking for a sport. Well, how do we position cycling, whether you win the transfer or not, this is something that you can come and do. And you know, the last few years, we put together like a summer academy program, that’s literally like, if you went to the trials, and you want to come and try riding the track show up in June 1, we got to try the track. If you think that’s fun, sign up twice a week for the rest of the summer. Because I do think, especially if we’re looking at endurance riders and younger riders like it’s, it’s just a function of their own commitment. I mean, we talked about talent ID but at the end of the day, how many top athletes was talent there limiter, and how often was it other factors? So I think it’s about trying to help athletes achieve their potential, whatever that potential might be.
Dede Barry 1:09:18
Yeah, I think that’s a great way to look at it in terms of like widening the funnel, because I think, obviously, like the more athletes you can keep in the sport longer than the more chance you have of having more athletes come out on top right, and just building better people too. So I really liked that. Last year, I read a book called out of thin air and the author of it Michael Crawley lived in train with Ethiopian runners for a year in order to gain a better understanding of what’s behind their international success. And one of the things I found interesting was that Ethiopians don’t believe that any athlete has more talent or genetic ability. They actually believe that success and Sports is a process of adaptation. And if you allow yourself the time and put yourself into a situation where you can adapt, you’ll find success. They don’t believe in limits. And they believe that if you train hard anyone can transcend. That said, the science tells us there are some genetic limits. I mean, we all have to work within some level of elasticity. But how do you as coaches and leaders approach the mindset of athletes and training groups that you work with? Because I would imagine, like having a mindset, where you don’t believe that you’re limited would help you is that something that you try and foster, I think
Jenny Trew 1:10:39
my honest belief is, as a coach, my job is to help athletes achieve their personal potential, as Chris was saying, and that personal potential where we happen to be using the sport of cycling, because I love the sport of cycling, and hopefully, they love the sport of cycling. So this is an excellent opportunity to just help them be the best people, the best humans that they can be. I think part of that is setting lofty goals and learning how to push yourself beyond what you thought was was possible. Because I think that’s that is what is amazing. With sport, we all have limits. But I think anybody who has been involved in sport and any for any length of time knows that there was that one time that they did something they didn’t think was going to be possible. And that’s incredibly rewarding as a human. And that’s our job as coaches to facilitate that. And so I think part of it is, and Chris has said this a number of times is understanding where the athlete is at, and where you’re trying to help them get to, and where do they think is possible, and sometimes challenging them to say no, you know, what, I think maybe a little bit more as possible, because we’ve all done well with with that, I’m sure where you meet somebody, and they’re like, I see all this potential in you. Have you tried doing this? And so having that, having that belief, and being able to take that process to just push yourself farther than you can go?
Chris Reid 1:12:02
And I think so often, it’s not the belief in what’s possible that holds people back, it’s like, Well, are you willing to commit to it? Or do they put up their own artificial, like mental barriers, but I mean, if you’re a 16 year old kid, and you tell me you want to go to the Olympics, or you want to be a world for a rider? And the next question is, okay, you’re gonna ride your bike 15 hours this week? And you say no, well, doesn’t really matter. If you believe it’s possible. If you don’t do the work, like cycling is such a function of input in my mind, like, most people never see the ragged edges of what their actual performance abilities are, because there’s a lot of good reasons to not get there. You know, they might prioritize school, they might prioritize social and all kinds of valid reasons. But if you want to be the best bike racer, you can, it’s just going to be a matter of like doing work day in and day out. And I think it’s really important from a youth program, not to just cater to the top outliers, like the outliers are genetically gifted, you don’t really have to do a lot. I believe I can be wildly wrong. I don’t think I have to treat those top genetic outliers differently than the kid whose goal is to win the provincial criterium championship, like if that’s his Everest, that’s fine, you’re gonna work towards that you commit another kid who maybe has the potential to do something way bigger, you’re still gonna hold them to the same standards? Like if that’s your goal, are you willing to commit to the work to it? Because functionally you’re not, it doesn’t matter.
Jenny Trew 1:13:18
And I think that brings us back to the beginning of the conversation, where we were talking about when you’re specifically with younger athletes, you’re in graining, those high performance habits of commitment and being on time and being positive and work ethic and all of those things, and teaching people how to communicate.
Chris Reid 1:13:37
It’s funny, you mentioned the independent ebook, because there were two things that really like like anecdotes in it that I thought were really interesting. One was the discussion that Ethiopian running was created by design in the 1970s. Because I think from the western perspective, we tend to think of African running is just this monolithic cultural thing they’ve always been good at. So it was interesting hearing that it was something that they chose to invest in and build. As you know, in Canada, we’re talking about trying to be a cycling nation, and what does that look like? And well, maybe that’s just something that we do with intent. The other one that I thought was funny and kind of fits into this talent ID piece was at one point in the book, they take some Barb’s at the Nike breaking to project where they bring in think Khashoggi is one of the guys and they bring in these other offenses, a bunch of Ethiopians in the program, and they bring them all in, and then they’re gonna physiologically test them to see what’s under the hood. Well, you’ve just brought in some of the most successful distance runners on the planet, probably going to see something good under the hood. Like, do you really have to retcon it that way? So I think, to some degree, if we just get the right people and they’re doing the right work, and you’re seeing in the results sheet, that can be the validation we need. Yeah,
Dede Barry 1:14:43
I would agree with that. And then I think also just trying to keep as many athletes in the program for as long as possible, right, to just allow them to continue to develop and have fun and develop their passion for the sport. Because I think ultimately, you know, coming back to what we talked about or earlier, related to the different developmental timelines, you just want to kind of keep them through the thick and thin of all that,
Jenny Trew 1:15:07
I find it really interesting. And we’re also as a sport at an interesting crossroads. Because we’ve had a number of examples of young champions in the last five or so years, there’s been a push to go younger with all of these development pieces, which has the potential to cut out talent earlier and not keep the funnel as wide as it needs to be. And you really don’t want to be doing that to these points, because you have people that will come in at a different time. And I find it really interesting, because while we’re trying to push younger, through some areas, many sports are looking to athletes that are getting older. So it’s just interesting to me that this is one of those pieces. And I think we have to be aware that if we push too young that you have a potential to identify those who have developed early and that’s about it.
Julie Young 1:16:06
Jenny, I agree with that. And you’re right, like we hear about, you know, polka char and all these young phenom so now, I think it’s sad because certain athletes feel like gosh, if I don’t hit it by 19 or 20, my career’s over. And every athlete as we’ve been chatting has different trajectories and different pathways. So I agree with you. There’s
Chris Reid 1:16:27
also been a fair bit of research across sports that time in sport and time at the top of sport doesn’t change that much depending on when athletes break by age. So if you’re on average getting to quadrennial, instead of a world class athlete, it doesn’t really matter if you find them at 21, or 26. Like the auto wreck doesn’t stay in the sport as long as a rider that develops later. Yeah,
Dede Barry 1:16:50
I actually agree with everything you’re saying. But the only comment I would maybe add though, is that it can be trickier teaching some of the technical skills as athletes risk taking levels drop as they get older. So obviously, when you try to teach like a 30, or 40, or 50 year old, how to ride a Madison and kind of work within the chaos of that it’s very different than trying to teach a 14 year old. And so I think there are a few skills that take longer and are harder to develop with older athletes. But in general, I completely agree with everything you’re saying. And in
Chris Reid 1:17:30
some ways, we’re conflating two things here, right? Because if we’re talking about skill acquisition in youth, and the age at which you sign on commit to being a world tour rider, they don’t necessarily have to be in lockstep. We can have fun youth grass roots racing at younger levels than we currently do in North America, and also not committed people to the World Tour straight out of junior as the desired pathway. Yeah,
Dede Barry 1:17:51
that’s definitely true. It’s a good point. From my perspective, though, having been at the track over the last several years with my son, I can see how the ecosystem is helping all the riders to progress to their highest level. And, you know, when I look at ash, and not only is he pushed to a higher level by training and racing with World Champions, but he now also believes he can compete against the best in the world. So when he races internationally, he has some sort of level of confidence, and I think his whole cohort does. And I really believe success feeds on success. I think for all these kids seeing Carson and Dylan and Cole be so successful at the junior worlds level, it’s instilled like a belief system in them that they can get there if they continue to work hard. But you know, the one thing that I would say disappoints me is that once riders leave the junior ranks and enter their national elite team, they rarely race at the local level anymore. Like just for instance, we don’t really see Dylan and Carson coming back all that often to race at the local level at the Velodrome. And to me, this seems like a little bit of a mistake in terms of like the continuation of development and the theater system, as I think that they could have a role in further inspiring the young talent coming up and continue to build the community. But I’d be curious, Jenny, what your thoughts are as a former Canadian cycling team on this, and just kind of the the role of blending those national level athletes with the younger development athletes coming up in the program? For sure.
Jenny Trew 1:19:23
I think, what is the statement, it’s hard to be what you can’t see. So I think having those development overlap with your success is so important. And as you started talking, I’ve kind of had a flash in my mind, and I guess it would have been about two years ago, at one of the advancement camps. We had Dylan coming back from junior worlds, is that right? Yeah. And Ashlyn was there and the two of them, we did an elimination and the two of them were duking it out at the end, and I’m like, this is just amazing. Watching and neither of them were gonna back down I’m pretty sure if it came down. Do it, they would have, they would have hit the deck, which was kind of awesome at the same time, right? Like, you’ve got this kid that’s just come back from winning Junior worlds. And you’ve got this up and coming, kid who’s like, Whatever, I’m still gonna beat you. And if you will, both of them, and it was so awesome to watch. And it brings me back to when we were racing, because we didn’t have an international track at the time, our national team was moved down to Los Angeles for four or five years. And I think it really damaged the development pipeline, because it seemed out of it was no longer attainable for people to get there. And conversely, you’ve now got Milton, and you’ve got these people in this ecosystem. And to your point, yeah, Dylan goes, he wins worlds. Everyone’s like, Oh, that’s so amazing. And Carson wins worlds. And that’s amazing. But then he wins to the next year. And then this year, even wins, and you’re just like, holy this is this is a pretty amazing, like snowball effect, right is that now you’ve got these kids that are going to Worlds expecting to do well, as opposed to just going and I remember sitting in a room with the athletes at an advancement can’t really early on. And part of what I wanted to do was this student of the sport piece, and I sat them down and I said, Where do you think Canada sits? Like, for other people? Where’s Canada in track cycling, and they all kind of looked at me like I was crazy. And you know, we’re over the top of the second tier, right? We’re not Great Britain. We’re not like we don’t have these crazy expectations. But we’re respected and we think we’re good. And, and we are good. But how do you move from being that to being a powerhouse? Well, part of it is just getting used to being great. And as Canadians we’re really bad at that. We don’t like talking about being great. And it’s I think it’s one of the fundamental, like friction points in our high performance sport system across the board, is that it’s really hard for us to come in and say, You know what, today, I’m going to be awesome, I’m going to be the best in the world today. And people are like, Oh, but you’re supposed to be a little bit more humble. Do you really want to be the best in the world? Maybe you can be the best you can be today, you know, like maybe watch, watch your attitude a little bit. And one of the things about having multiple World Champions coming back to a place is that I think it it starts letting people dream. And it starts normalizing that. And so yeah, to your point, Didi, I think we absolutely have kids that are like I’m going to worlds and I’m going to win. And that isn’t Canadian, quote unquote. And that isn’t where we’ve been traditionally. And so it’s I think it’s a really special thing. And it’s something we need to keep pushing and keep coming. And part of that is by having those athletes come to races and teach and bring their experiences and just race so that I think another thing that you hear is people like well, they have two arms and they have two legs like, but there’s an element of that. Right. So come out. Let these athletes see that. You know, some days. Yeah, you’re an offseason, too. So no, you’re not you’re not so good. But that’s okay.
Dede Barry 1:22:59
God, I love that. I mean, I think so much is believing and then just put in the work and to build towards those beliefs. Well,
Chris Reid 1:23:06
I think like, our current national team makes some real mistakes with not attending regional races even not always going to Nationals is like, you know, we talked a lot about transfer athletes and crossover athletes. Well, they’re missing those chances to like a race people that might be the same speed as them if they’re, you know, a newer developing rider, but also just being in a race environment. Like how many of these talented crossover riders are going to go to major UCI competitions with some of their first races? Well, it’s easy to get the heebie jeebies out if you’ve gone to o cups are just developing those habits to making it through a competition day, that they’re kind of missing a lot of those pieces. And I think I agree with everything about this cultural shift. And, you know, candidate is habitually I’m sorry kind of nation. And I think that’s really shifting in Milton around how we’re approaching Jr. Worlds specifically, but the potential around our track athletes, I think, relevant to this podcast, we have a big problem and a big elephant in the room. If I say Dylan was world champion, Carson was world champion, Ethan was world champion Cole metalled, Men’s Team Pursuit metal crickets, you know, since we built Milton, the junior boys IP is over 15 seconds faster than it was when this play started. And it’s about the same for the junior women. So for whatever we’re doing, it’s not mapping over to Junior women’s success in the same way it is Junior men success. Well,
Julie Young 1:24:26
it’s great to hear generally just about the snowball effect and success you guys are having up there. But Chris and Jenny, as we wrap up, I’d love to hear from both of you on this question for coaches and athletes who are trying to develop training groups. What would be your top three pieces of advice?
Jenny Trew 1:24:44
I think make it a priority as part of it. I think understand that when you get to train with other people. It will make you better it’s kind of a rising waters. Not just gonna raise all boats. There we go. There we go. So, and it doesn’t have to be complex, maybe it’s that you and three of your friends are riding together every Saturday, and maybe over the winter, it’s that you’re on Swift together. And it’s just something that accountability piece is huge. But it doesn’t need to be complex, make it something that’s fun, make it something that you’re looking towards.
Chris Reid 1:25:24
I mean, on that, I think the biggest power of a training group is that, you know, everyone’s got busy lives, you can be a, whether you’re a student, whether you got jobs, whatever it is, you walk into the that training group, twice a week, or whatever it is. And for those two hours, all you’re worried about is the craft of bike racing. You put your stats projects aside, you don’t worry about your econ exams, and you just immerse yourself in being a better bike racer for those two hours. And I think it takes some of those benefits you get out of a training camp, and it lets you dose that same dynamic every week. Yeah,
Jenny Trew 1:25:54
that commitment to it, that it can be simple and that it needs to be fun.
Chris Reid 1:25:59
Yeah, the works hard. The work should be hard. Make it fun, so you don’t notice the hard work.
Julie Young 1:26:04
Yeah, I like what Jenny said, disguise the work. Yeah.
Dede Barry 1:26:07
I love that, guys. Thanks. You just had so many good nuggets of advice in there. So I appreciate that.
Julie Young 1:26:13
I agree. Some really great insights. Appreciate your time.
Jenny Trew 1:26:16
Thanks for having us.
Dede Barry 1:26:19
That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme, subscribe to Fast Talk Femme. Wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback, and any thoughts you have on topics or guests that may be of interest for you. Get in touch via social. You can find Fast Talk Labs on Twitter and Instagram @fasttalklabs, where you’ll also find all of our episodes. You can also check them out on the web at fasttalklabs.com for Chris Reid, Jenny Trew, and Julie Young. I’m Dede Barry. Thank you for listening!