The working relationship I have with Clare is very much the model athlete-coach relationship where we both work through problems together and take responsibility for the overall process. There is very little robust information about coaching Masters athletes, particularly female Masters athletes and I have learnt an enormous amount working with Clare.
“Mark has coached me since 2013. Now aged 54, I continue to build strength and power, year on year, despite the aging process. In 2013 I retired from work and decided I needed a coach. I was new to cycling and competitive sport, so I knew I had yet to reach my potential.
As a result of working with Mark, I have total confidence in my training. He’s helped my personal confidence enormously, and really believes in me, which helps me believe in myself. This is especially important being a relatively inexperienced woman who regularly competes against some very race hardened men. I train and race with a power meter, so he uses the numbers to plan my training, assess race performance, and further tailor my training to target areas for improvement.
I started as a time triallist, and then entered the exciting world of road racing with the League of Veteran Racing Cyclists (LVRC), racing against men, many of whom are ex professionals, national and Olympic Champions.
2014 saw me improve considerably on my TT and crit racing abilities. In this first season, Mark brought consistency to my racing, which resulted in me winning the RTTC Women Veteran’s National Series, and LVRC Regional Criterium Bronze medal, which was a huge achievement, especially as I was the only woman competing against a strong field of men.
In 2015, I focused on road and crit racing, whilst ticking over with TT racing, winning Silver medal at the RTTC Women’s Vets National Series. Mark gave me the confidence to step up to compete in road races, so this was a transitional year, trying new experiences, finding my strengths and weaknesses. Mark targeted my training to all three disciplines of short crits, longer road races and the slog of the time trial.
In 2016, I dropped the TTing and Mark tailored my training to launch myself fully into road and crit racing, learning some hard lessons out on the road. Mark worked tirelessly to make sure I learnt from each experience, picked me up after setbacks, and teased out learning points from each race. He analysed my race power data, so we could build my training to target areas for improvement.
That year, I came 2ndon three occasions at the LVRC MK Bowl summer crit series, 4th overall against the men, and winning First Lady. Spurred on by my form, I entered the British Cycling National Vets Crit Championships, and won silver medal. And as I’d sold my TT bike, I raced the LVRC National TT Championships on my road bike, and won the Women’s Gold Medal, too!
I won 2 national titles in 2018, (criterium racing and time trial), and my first ever road race in 2017, all with the LVRC. I never imagined this would be possible.
Mark tailors my training to accommodate my family life. He monitors my mental and physical health on a daily basis, to judge its impact on my cycling performance, and makes real time adjustments. It’s always a fine line between training my hardest, and recovering sufficiently to give my all in the next training session. He’s guided me through the stresses of the death of my mother, my beloved dog, and the emergence of the menopause! These have had a massive impact on my wellbeing, but Mark amended my training intensity and recovery, to prevent me becoming ill, whilst ensuring I didn’t lose strength or form.
A human being with the highest levels of integrity, emotional intelligence, and a wicked sense of humour, Mark really is a fantastic coach and confidante. I’m a better person for knowing with him.
Clare Simon, Bellissimo, January 2019.“