How e-bikes are changing the coaching landscape
E-bike technology is opening the door to accessible and enjoyable coaching experiences.
Photo from team Wheel D'Beasts, Utah Interscholastic Cycling League
There’s a new kid on the block. Shiny, bright, and pedal-assisted, e-bikes are popping up all over the country at NICA practices and events.
Except…they’re not new! Believe it or not, electric assisted mountain bikes have existed in some capacity since the 1990s. However, advances in technology, updated legislation, and clearer regulations have brought these bikes to the forefront of our community.
You may have a coach with an e-bike on your team, or maybe you’re using one yourself. Not only do e-bikes allow people that may not have been able to coach on a standard bike to join our community, but they can also enhance and empower existing coaches!
If you have access to one (or two) e-bikes, consider taking advantage of them to split coaches into different groups. A coach on an eBike might be able to go ahead and scout out a trail, hang behind to help out with mechanicals, or be able to bounce between groups of kids depending on where more support is needed.
Are you interested in adding an e-bike to your arsenal? Many of our NICA partners offer discounts on e-bike through their coach benefits. Check out a few discount options below.
To learn more about how e-bikes are changing the coaching landscape, NICA recently checked in with Alison Cormier, Head Coach of the Wheel D’Beasts Mountain Bike Team. Check out her story below!
On Tuesday nights, somewhere beyond the flashing neon signs of Las Vegas, you can find the bright lights of the Wheel d’Beast Mountain Bike Team weaving through the trails of the Southern Nevada desert.
The team of 27 student-athletes often enjoy night rides during their weekly practices, organized by longtime mountain-biker and Head Coach Alison Cormier. Alison learned about NICA through a local GRiT clinic and signed up for the coach training “OTB 101” the very next day. Right away, she knew she wanted to get involved with a local team.
“I joined the Wheel D’Beasts at a time when both the team director and the head coach were ready to pass the torch. I was looking to step-up in the mountain biking community after my retirement from work life, and I knew the team was going to need a new leader.”
So, Alison earned her Level 3 NICA Coach license and took the Wheel D’Beast team’s reins!
Along with her fellow coaches, Alison leads, sweeps, and everything in between at three practices every week. With so many student-athletes, the group is often split into two based on skill level. Varying coach schedules, athlete abilities, and occasional mechanicals mean that Alison needs to be flexible at practice. She’s got to be ready to cover a ton of ground, fast. That’s where her e-bike comes in.
“Without my e-bike, there is no way I could coach at every practice. Having an eBike allows me to lead rides when other coaches aren’t familiar with trail systems, or sweep when I want to spend time coaching the newer kids. And, outside of NICA, I ride with my husband and a women’s group weekly. It makes it much more enjoyable to ride multiple times each week.”
Alison has been mountain biking for more than twenty years, and watched the rise of e-bikes’ popularity. She says other riders have been much more accepting of them lately, and two other coaches on her team use them as well now.
She says historical pushback to e-bikes came from perceived “bad trail etiquette”, but this is where her other role comes in— Alison is also the Education Coordinator for her local mountain bike association. Here, she teaches cyclists about trail rules and guidelines that apply to all riders, regardless of the bikes they’re pedaling.
Keeping up with the speedy Wheel D'Beasts is no joke. E-bikes have expanded access and opportunity for many NICA coaches, including head coach Alison Cormier. E-bikes allow coaches to use them as a tool while working with NICA student-athletes, whether they're leading a fast-paced crew, or sweeping and supporting a ride group.
“As a NICA parent, it’s been awesome to see e-bikes play such a positive role in practices and group rides. I’ve seen the way coaches use e-bikes to not only pace the lead groups but to go back and forth between groups of varying speeds; and what’s been especially great is the increase in parents coming out to group rides. It all goes back to accessibility—e-bikes have been a great tool for bringing the benefits and fun of biking to parents and has expanded the pool of potential coaches.
Alison isn’t the only one spreading the word about how e-bikes have extended her coaching reach. NICA partner Bosch is leading the advocacy charge. Their initiatives encompass access to these bikes for sustainable commuting, outdoor leisure, and, of course, accessible and enhanced sport.
Steven Sheffield, full-time NICA parent (and Bosch Team Leader for Product Management & Business Development), has been overjoyed to see all the ways coaches have used e-bikes to level up their coaching.
“As a NICA parent, it’s been awesome to see e-bikes play such a positive role in practices and group rides. I’ve seen the way coaches use eBikes to not only pace the lead groups but to go back and forth between groups of varying speeds; and what’s been especially great is the increase in parents coming out to group rides. It all goes back to accessibility—eBikes have been a great tool for bringing the benefits and fun of biking to parents and has expanded the pool of potential coaches. As a member of the cycling industry (and NICA parent) it makes all of us at Bosch E-bike Systems proud to see the work NICA is doing to bring this great sport to a broader audience.”
While Alison’s story is certainly unique, she stands among many other dedicated coaches who are able to lead their teams, in part, due to the assistance of their e-bikes.
The rest? Well, Alison says that’s simple.
“Have fun! Don’t stress too much. Coaches should be having fun, alongside the kids.”
We wholeheartedly agree!