Coach Wanky

December 30, 2015 § 8 Comments

I have been a lot of things in life but I have never been a coach. Even my kids never asked me how to do anything, except the boys both made me teach them how to spit.

But this blog is a crazy thing. People read it, and some of them take it seriously. I know, I know.

So this guy called me who I’ve never set eyes on. He lives in the South Bay and apparently does some of the local rides. “Can you coach me?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because I don’t know shit about cycling, and even less about coaching.”

“But you have that blog and you go pretty good on the group rides.”

“Going pretty good on a group ride is to coaching as digging for boogers is to brain surgery. Plus I have a cracked pelvis and am in a real bad mood.”

“Oh, come on. Please?”

“Why in the world should I?” I asked.

“Because I’ll pay you.”

I perked up. “How much?”

“What about $2.99 a month?”


So I took down his credit card number and signed him up. “Now here are the rules,” I said. “First, don’t ever call me. Second, don’t ever text or email me. Third, don’t ever come up to me on the Donut and ask me anything.”

“Okay, but how are you going to coach me?” It was a reasonable question, but he had hired an unreasonable man.

“I’m going to send you some coaching tips in a letter.”

“What if I don’t understand them?”

“Then you’ll be lucky.”

“What if I have questions? Am I supposed to write you letters back? With stamps and stuff? That’ll take forever.”

“If you have questions I will ignore them. One fool can keep a hundred wise men busy for a thousand years.”

“Okay,” he said.

So that night I knocked back some of LA’s best cycling craft water from “L’Etape,” took out a pencil and got to work.



I’ve always had a hard time understanding why cycling is so complex that in order to do it properly you need to pay someone, especially since you are simply flailing around trying to have fun, not win the Tour. Most coachees have never been involved in any sport before and are essentially seeking emotional counseling to answer the question, “Why do I suck so badly?”

The answer is usually simple. Pick as many as apply.

  1. You are old.
  2. You are lazy.
  3. You are weak.

The other reason you suck so badly is that you haven’t yet learned how to move the goal posts. For example, you keep trying to beat people who are your genetic and physical and mental superiors. Stop doing that right now.

Instead, pick people who are your inferiors. If you have never met such a cyclist, entice a very sick person or a toddler out on a bike ride.


Now a word about equipment. When people start a new activity they spend a lot of money on it. When people have been doing something a long time they (usually) become much more selective about what they buy, even when they buy expensive stuff. Or, in the case of cycling, they get cheaper because it’s a sport that makes you more broke than children. Really, it does.

But at your stage, you’re too ignorant to know what you need. That’s because what you need isn’t sold in stores, it’s available for free out on the road, and it’s called “exercise.” After you’ve ridden a series of 10,000-mile seasons, come back to me (if your credit card is still good) and we’ll discuss your bike fit and why your knees hit beneath your chin and whether that’s good or not.

Until then don’t ask me about wheels or gearing or frames or sizes or saddles or aero. After then feel free to ask about all those things but I’ll just shrug and send you to Bike Effect where they actually know what they’re talking about.

Pro tip: the answer to “Why do I suck?” is never “Because I need better stuff,” and is always “Because I am lazy.” This is important in a “stuff” intensive activity like cycling, where there is no upper limit on expense, and where everyone struggles to pay the bills AND to buy the best stuff. You should be struggling to pedal your bike, not pay for it.

Also–the focus on equipment will take all the fun out of it for you. If it’s already not fun, then you really are on your way to being a real cyclist. The only way to perfect yourself is to not be able to afford all the stuff you get bored with immediately after you go into debt to buy it.


Okay, now that we’re through with the preliminaries, here is your training plan for 2015-2018.

  1. Learn to draft.
  2. Make other people pay for your coffee.
  3. Ride your fuggin’ bike.

PS: Your credit card was declined. Do you have another?



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and become my second coachee. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

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§ 8 Responses to Coach Wanky

  • Brian in VA says:

    And you said you couldn’t coach!

  • dneid says:

    Best coaching advice I’ve ever read. I really feel like I owe you 2.99 now… but first, I need to buy those new wheels.

  • Tamar T. says:

    I am slow. When ever I tell people they don’t want to ride with me because I’m slow, they say, Oh, it will be a mellow ride. And then they kill me. So, yes, I learned to draft. Early and often. Until I fall off the back. But I have been riding more lately, and doing more climbing, which is my bagaboo (besides being slow and lazy I’m also old and fat). So, I’m still slow, but way less slow. That’s why 1 and 3 work so well for me. As for 2, I’m happy to buy you a cup if I can get you to ride with me while you’re still slow.

  • Naftali says:

    Someone needs to invent a method where you can laugh and still read at the same time

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