On my travels around the online world of road cycling I’ve come across a thread on Reddit which opened my eyes to the world of cycling coaches. Firstly, I didn’t even know cyclists outside the professional world used cycling coaches. That was something of a revelation to me. And secondly, the prices some people are paying seems way beyond what I would have expected.
Intrigued I decided to dive on in, and find out what a cycling coach costs, and what a cycling coach actually does for a non-professional rider. Is it worth hiring a cycling coach? I’m sceptical, but let’s crack on and find out.
How Much Does A Cycling Coach Cost?
It’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? To find out just how much it costs to hire a cycling coach. Here’s what I’ve found:
Team EF Coaching: At the top end, Team EF (as in, WorldTour Team EF Education-EasyPost) offer three tiers:
- Essentials: $225 per month
- Core: $425 per month
- Premium: $675 per month
Cycle Coach: A UK cycling coaching service offering a variety of options for cycling, triathlon, nutrition, and one-off sessions. As seems fairly common, at least with all the websites I’ve seen, they offer a three tiered monthly subscription service:
- Silver: £150 per month
- Gold: £210 per month
- Rainbow: £395 per month
Ride Revolution: Another UK cycling coach service, although this one seems a little smaller and more personal. They offer four packages:
- Starters: £90 per month
- Racing: £130 per month
- Premium: £180 per month + £150 sign up fee
- Triathlon: £180 per month
Those are the companies, but of course there are lots of individual coaches who might be cheaper. Here’s what I found on Reddit:
- MaxPowerCoaching: Offers three tiers of coaching ranging from $75-$200 per month.
- parrhesticsonder: Pays $300 monthly for weekly plans, on-the-fly adjustments, feedback on each workout, and regular communication.
- Specific_Scallion: Also pays $300 monthly for similar services including weekly calls and texts.
- CokeCanNinja: Mentions a price of $300 but doesn’t specify the frequency.
- ryanppax: Recommends 347 Coaching for budget-conscious cyclists.
- AdonisChrist: Paid $200 per month for coaching from Empirical Cycling.
- illinihand: Pays $200 a month for coaching.
- MagicShite (Malaysia): Charges MYR 180-300 per month, depending on the complexity of the service.
- in_terrorem (Australia): Pays $20AUD per week for a coach-lite service with CoachRec.
- _thebaroness (Canada): Was paying $150 Canadian per month for one coach and $150 US for another.
- boscha15 (UK): Pays £130 per month for a weekly plan and check-ins.
- itsyaboi67819 (UK): Pays £75 per month.
- needzbeerz (UK): Pays £300 per month.
- Suitable_Hat1417: Pays $175 per month for coaching.
- life_questions: Pays $120 per month with a team discount.
These prices reflect a range of services and levels of interaction with the coach, from basic plans to more comprehensive, personalised coaching.
By way of comparison, online cycling training website TrainingPeaks also offers coaching packages:
- Bronze: $149 per month
- Silver: $229 per month
- Gold: $359 per month
To get the most benefit from a coach, you would need to engage with their services for several months in order to best track your performance and response to their training. Factor that in to your budgeting.
What Does A Cycling Coach Do?
As above, I wasn’t even aware that non-professional cyclists were using the services of a cycling coach. So the first question I had was: what does a cycling coach even do?
After looking at several websites for both individual cycling coaches, and then larger websites for companies that provide cycling coach services, here’s what I have found out.
1. Personalised Training Plans
By using a cycling coach they can put together a customised training plan that is tailored to your specific goals, fitness level, and schedule. This idea here is to get a training plan that is both effective and sustainable.
There’s two types of rider who seem to benefit the most here:
- The complete beginner, who is unsure what they should be doing, when, and why.
- The cyclist with a very specific goal – maybe racing – who wants to get the best bang for their buck when it comes to effective training.
However, I really don’t believe a beginner needs a dedicated cycling coach. So let’s keep going and see what else they provide.
2. Fitness and Performance Assessment
From the websites I’ve looked at, the initial process of engaging with a cycling coach entirely depends on how much you are paying. Every cycling coach website I have looked at has had tiered service levels, where their entry level offering would be a chat with the coach, looking to establish your goals and set up some initial training zones.
More expensive packages tend to expect start with a comprehensive assessment of your current fitness level and cycling skills. This is almost certainly some kind of FTP Test, and who knows, they may even be kind enough to let you use a previous test result, rather than making you do another FTP Test just to get started.
I’ve even seen one cycling coaching program include a bike fit as part of their top end packages. Though I guess that would be location dependant.
3. Ongoing Feedback and Adjustments
Regular feedback on your training progress is probably the most worthwhile aspect of using a cycling coach.
Again, depending on how much you pay / your subscription tier, depends on how much feedback you are going to get.
Regular Analysis of Training Data: On the lower end packages, your coach may analyse a couple of your weekly workout data files, including metrics like power output, heart rate, cadence, and speed. They will use tools like Training Peaks and Golden Cheetah to measure your data over time.
Feedback Sessions: Coaches conduct scheduled discussions, which can be calls, video chats, or in-person meetings, to provide feedback on recent training sessions. They discuss performance insights, highlighting your progress and areas needing improvement.
Again, this depends on your subscription tier, where it might be a chat twice a week via text, or a phone call after every single workout. Whether you want or need that, is up to you (and your wallet!)
Adaptation to Progress: Based on your progress, the coach adjusts your training plan to ensure it remains challenging and achievable. If you’re progressing well, they might increase workout intensity or volume. Conversely, signs of over-training or plateaus might lead to a reduction in intensity.
Here’s where the package tiers get a little closer in value, as regardless of how much money you are paying, you still need to put in several workouts / rides to get the results to see if things are working. You might be paying top whack, but is changing your training schedule on a weekly basis going to have that much impact, versus fortnightly? Probably not.
Goal Reassessment: Over time, your lifestyle requirements and cycling goals might evolve. Coaches should be able to help reassess your goals and restructure your training plans to align with new objectives, including preparation for specific races or events.
4. Nutritional Guidance
On the lower coaching subscription tiers this isn’t mentioned.
Starting from the mid-tiers upwards, you may have anything from chats about nutrition, having your diet analysed, up to having access to someone who’s job it is to be a nutritionist, providing custom plans and recipes.
Of course that’s a top end service with a price to boot.
5. Technical Skills and Tactics
As best I can tell, all the cycling coach websites are offering the coaching services of very experienced cyclists. These may be ex-pros at National and European level. Also Team EF coaching, at the highest subscription tiers, gives you access to world tour supporting coaches.
If you’re already putting in the hours on the bike and looking for those extra little bits of knowledge and wisdom, there is rarely a better person to ask than someone who has been there, and done it already. That doesn’t just go for cycling.
As ever with these things, yes, you probably can find all the information already in books, online, and on YouTube. But you’re paying to cut out all of that, and have a direct line to the source.
6. Equipment and Technology Utilisation
Chances are you’re chock full of gadgets – heart rate monitor, watch, power meter, cadence analyser – which you upload to one or several sites after the end of each and every ride. After all, if it isn’t on Strava, it didn’t happen, right?
Well, aside from having some pretty graphs and stats to admire, what are you actually doing with all that data?
A good coach should be able to help you analyse and make sense of the more in-depth metrics and numbers.
If you’re already paying for software like Training Peaks, it may be included in your monthly subscription fee when engaging with a cycling coach. It’s a small saving, but every little helps.
7. Motivation and Mental Support
The psychological aspect of cycling is not overlooked. Coaches provide motivation and mental strategies to help you overcome challenges and stay committed to your goals.
Motivation and Support: Coaches provide encouragement and motivation, especially during challenging periods. They also offer mental and emotional support, advising on strategies to improve focus and overcome setbacks.
One possible hidden benefit not mentioned on any website I looked at is simply accountability. If you’re having to report back to someone else about your progress, it becomes a lot harder to skip a session due to laziness or otherwise.
Also, personally, when my wallet is involved, I tend to be more engaged. But that’s just me.
8. Access to Exclusive Resources
With premium coaching packages, you may gain access to exclusive resources like instructional videos, special offers, and even VIP events, as offered by programmes such as Team EF Coaching.
Honestly, how much value these things offer is questionable to me. It just seems like something being thrown on to pad out the packages.
9. Structured Indoor and Outdoor Training
Whether you prefer outdoor cycling or indoor turbo sessions, a cycling coach can adapt your training plan accordingly, ensuring effective workouts in any setting.
That said, many of the online cycling performance tracking software tools we can access already offer things like this, as we will see below.
Why Choose a Cycling Coach?
All that said, why might you choose to engage with a cycling coach?
Here’s a quick summary.
- Personalised Attention: Every cyclist is unique, and a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. A coach provides individualised guidance tailored to your specific needs.
- Expertise and Experience: Coaches bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, often from their own cycling careers, which can significantly accelerate your learning curve if you have a specific goal in mind.
- Data-Driven Approach: The use of technology and data analysis ensures that your training is based on objective metrics, leading to more effective and efficient improvement. A coach should be able to help you make sense of all that data you have been collecting.
- Goal Achievement: Whether your aim is to complete a sportive, improve race performance, or enhance fitness, a coach can help you set realistic goals and create a roadmap to achieve them.
- Community and Networking: Being part of a coaching programme may mean being part of a community where you can connect with other cyclists, share experiences, and even participate in events together. From what I have seen, this tends to be something of an upsell (read: extra cost).
As I said above, for me it seems like there are two types of riders who get the most out of using a cycling coach.
One is a relative beginner who, were they to use a gym, would likely engage with a personal trainer. They want a one-on-one instructor led experience, maximising the use of their time and efforts.
The other is a cyclist who is dedicated to some specific outcome. Probably a racer, triathlete, or other competitive individual looking to take part in, and ideally win an event.
For the average recreational roadie, I am struggling to find the middle ground.
The one other thing I’ve not mentioned so far is coach-cyclist compatibility. The effectiveness of coaching appears to be highly dependent on the compatibility between the coach and the cyclist. Some forum posts I’ve read shared experiences of switching coaches to find the right fit.
What About Online Or AI Cycling Coaching?
Would it be 2024 without talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) in some capacity? Of course not.
However a couple of cycling training apps were ahead of this curve – read: not just whacking on AI as a buzzword for the 2024 hype train.
Two that spring to mind are:
- Focus: Structured indoor training using power-based workouts.
- AI Feature: Adaptive Training, which adjusts your training plan based on your workout performance, fatigue level, and schedule changes.
- Compatibility: Works with various indoor trainers and devices.
- Focus: Detailed training plan creation and tracking.
- AI Integration: While not AI-driven, it offers advanced analytics and is often used by coaches to create personalised plans.
- Features: Syncs with many devices and provides thorough data analysis.
Up until recently there was also Today’s Plan, but they are closing down shortly.
And in researching this section I found out about another cycling app I wasn’t previously aware of:
- Focus: Real-time performance analysis and custom workout recommendations.
- AI Feature: Uses algorithms to analyse your power data and predict fitness metrics.
- Compatibility: Syncs with various cycling devices.
Do I Even Need A Cycling Coach?
As I said at the start, I wasn’t even aware that non-professional cyclists were using cycling coaches.
After investigating, I am left with the question: do I even need a cycling coach?
I would say, for me, no.
I am comfortable managing my own workout schedule, weekly Zwift races, quarterly FTP tests, and recreational rides. For what it’s worth, I track all this stuff on a dedicated website.
However, as I also mentioned, if you are the type of person who would hire a personal trainer at the gym, I could see some benefit in hiring a cycling coach for your cycling.
And if you have specific cycling goals, maybe to ride in (and win) a race, take part in a full on longer endurance ride, or have some other target in mind, then yes, a coach may be a good fit.
For the average cyclist, I think it’s massively overkill.
But this is just my opinion. And it’s based on my personal circumstances.
Ultimately, the decision to hire a cycling coach depends on your personal goals, commitment level, and how much you’re willing to invest in your cycling journey. Whether you choose a personal coach, an online service, or a combination of both, the key is to find a solution that aligns with your objectives and enhances your overall cycling experience.
I’d love to hear your thoughts though, so do leave a comment and share.