Published: 29th Apr 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

Spotlight on Coaching

Monday 29th April is the start of UK Coaching Week 2024, which this year has a theme of holistic coaching, or in other words, developing skills for life.

Over the next seven days, Scottish Cycling is going to put a spotlight on coaching and the positive and profound impact it can have. We are also supporting UK Coaching in their message of encouraging our community to express their appreciation and gratitude towards coaches – so when you see your coach this week, give them an extra heartfelt thank you for all they do for you.

To kick off our content this week, we caught up with our 2023 Community Coach of the Year, Pete Bentley, to scratch beneath the surface on what coaching means to him. If you missed our Awards, Pete was nominated and a deserving winner of the award. He is the driving force for cyclocross on Orkney, investing hours of time into getting riders of all ages into ‘cross, with fantastic results. In September he organised a cyclocross weekend of coaching and racing with over 60 people taking part, which is even more impressive given the population of Orkney!

A level 2 coach, Pete works with Active Schools to run taster sessions, and at other end of the spectrum travels to the mainland to support Scottish Cycling youth activity and race in Scottish CX Series events.

Here’s what Pete had to say when after receiving his award in November:

This week we wanted to scratch a little deeper and find out a bit more about the Islander and why he loves coaching. So that’s exactly where we started…

“My initial interest in ‘cross, which was started by my brother-in-law who kept banging on about it, saw me participate in my first race about 10 years ago in Sutherland at Dunrobin Castle, and after that I was hooked!

“To improve my own skills I enrolled on one of Keith Stocker’s masterclass weekends in Inverness, which was really good, and I then wanted a bit more. Being semi-isolated up here in Orkney I thought it would be great if I could get some coaching experience and try and start a scene here on the island, and try and encourage other people to get involved in it, so that’s where it all started.”

As is often the way in the Scottish Cycling community, the same friendly, reliable faces are often omnipresent, and in Pete’s case, as is the case for a lot of cyclocross racers, Keith Stocker is man who often makes things happen.

“It was Keith who took me through my Level 2 DSU course down in Falkirk, so I’ve always had contact with him” says Pete. “During COVID he ran an online seminar to keep coaches engaged, which was also really good, getting one-to-one feedback. Now I’m trickling my coaching down into the Orkney scene.”

So, what does the scene look like on Orkney and who’s involved?

“Unfortunately it’s just me coaching at the moment. The scene is quite young up here, having only been going properly for three or four years, but we have a five race series, and for the juniors we put on some coaching as well. The way the juniors have latched onto it has necessitated getting others on board to expand what we’re doing, as I just can’t physically deal with the numbers now. Anything more than about 10 eight year olds in group gets difficult to manage!

“It’s going well though; my gauge is that people keep coming back – we don’t see a drop off, so people must be enjoying it!

“I’m now working with the community sports officer here in Orkney on the legacy of the Island Games, which are being held here next year, and sportscotland are funding coaching initiatives across a range of sports. So we’re in the early stages of putting together an ‘Introduction to Coaching – Off Road’ course and we have six-eight people who have shown an interest across cross and mountain biking – Kirkwall is getting some mountain bike trails next year too. So it will be great to have some more coaches to support me, but also to support mountain biking as well, so hopefully we can offer more opportunities for youngsters.”

So, what does Pete say to others to encourage them to get involved. Or put more simply, why does he coach himself?

“The satisfaction of seeing people having fun on bikes. The kids are great fun, they have no fear and they’re willing to try anything.

“The other thing – and I notice it more with the adults – is seeing people’s confidence grow with bike handling. Cross is new up here; we have a tiny bit of mountain biking but it’s mainly just road, so cross is completely different and people go off-road and their bike might not do what they think it should be doing. So, seeing their technique improve and then their confidence is very satisfying.

“In some ways coaching cyclocross is life changing for people, as it gives them more confidence and fitness, that they can take into the rest of their lives.”

Never a truer word spoken, as we truly believe in the ability cycling has to change lives. Thanks to Pete for giving us an insight into what he does and what makes him tick.

If you’ve thought about coaching but never taken the plunge, there’s no time like the present – click here to find out more.

For more information on UK Coaching Week Head toUK Coaching Week 2024 – UK Coaching.

Join in on the free webinar from UK Coaching entitled ‘Unlock the Power of Holistic Coaching’ taking place on Friday the 3rd of May at 12pm for 1 hour. This webinar will aim to introduce you to holistic coaching, showing coaches the ‘why’ of it’s importance and how It can enhance the way you coach, no matter who you are coaching. We’ve also for interactive activities planned that you can try out right away in your coaching!