Cycling coaching packages: what to look for and what to avoid

Rebecca Bland
11 mins

Whether you're new to cycling training or you've been following training plans for years, making the decision to hire a cycling coach and choosing a coaching training package can be a minefield. There's so many to choose from, and it can be difficult to know what or who is worth spending your hard earned money on.

In this article, we will break down what support and advice you should look for in a cycling coaching package and what to avoid so that you can get the most out of your training and your money.

You can download and use Spoked for free. When you're ready, you start your free 30 day Pro plan trial. Download across the  App Store or Google Play.

Cycling coaching

It can seem like every man and his dog is claiming to be a cycling coach these days, but how do you weed through everyone and decide who's worth spending your money on and developing a relationship with?

Want to learn more about whether you really need coaching or what you should look for from a personal perspective? Read our blog: Do you need a cycling coach and what to look for

Look for qualifications

There are different levels of coaching qualifications and training, and the higher the better (obviously), but there are also different disciplines. If you ride a road bike, you should be looking at people who are experienced in that field, not a mountain bike specialist.

That being said, coaching knowledge doesn't always come best from someone who has sat all the exams - if they don't appear to have lots of cycling specific qualifications, are they experienced in the performance side, perhaps as a former athlete? You'll often see former riders starting their own performance or coaching business - why? Because they understand the improvement and analysis needed to improve your fitness for racing and the type of training you need to do, and the nutrition tools required. They should also be able to provide feedback in a way that can be related to actual racing rather than just numbers and analysis.

Essentially, any cycling coaches should be able to explain their logic when setting a cycling plan. How do they plan on you being able to achieve your cycling goals? You should have confidence not just in their knowledge but the way you're being coached and that the support you receive is adequate for you to succeed.

Similarly, if you're looking at apps rather than a personal coach, look for the science behind the algorithm. How transparent are the companies about their product? Without giving away all their secrets, of course. For example, at Spoked you can read about how we approach building your personalised training plan. You need to be able to be confident in the guidance you receive, whether that be from an app or from cycling coaches.

Ask for testimonials from clients - past and present.

This is a really great way to find out what a coach is really like - even better if a friend of yours is a client of theirs. This way you can find out what their contact is like, how flexible are they and are they reliable?

If they have a professional account on social media, can you see who they tag? Or the other way round, any riders you know or look up to tagging any coaching brands? Reach out to them or the tagged riders to understand further just what their coaching style is like and to see whether you will gel based on what other athletes have said.

Furthermore, it's important to decipher why people athletes have stopped using these coaching services. Is it because they weren't getting the right feedback? Because they felt the coach lacked the skills to really help them achieve their goals? Or maybe they felt they didn't put as much effort into their personal training plan as hoped. Ask the questions, and save yourself time and money.

If you want to learn what pro cyclists do as part of their cycling training, why not read our blog: How to train like a pro cyclist.

Training plan packages

Each coach may offer different packages, there's no standardisation that says for a cheaper package they must offer X or X, so make sure the level of contact time and flexibility offered is right for you. When we talk about flexibility, we mean how easily they can adapt your plan in cases of last minute life events.

If you only talk to them once a month and they send out your plan on a fortnightly basis, for example, then how will you deal with your training if something unexpected comes up? How can your coach help you to navigate life's unexpected moments like illness or injury?

This looks to me to be "next level" AI. I couldn't be more pleased. A generous free trial and great input from the developer gave me the opportunity to evaluate in depth. I am a long term (older😮) club rider. Over the years I have used several training programs, including with a coach providing input. Spoked is as close to a "personal coach" as I've experienced with an AI driven program. - Pierre Pfeffer

Finally, while it's not a requirement, perhaps something to think about is whether they've raced before. It doesn't have to be at a high level, but by racing themselves, they will have some degree of experience on the mental and physical challenges associated with following a training plan and racing.

We're not saying you need to be hiring Alex Dowsett if you want to break 20 minutes at your local 10 mile time trial, but having a cycling coach that understands what is required to be competitive, or at least, improve as a cyclist, will pay dividends when it comes to setting your prescribed training plan.

You can download and use Spoked for free. When you're ready, you start your free 30 day Pro plan trial. Download across the  App Store or Google Play.

Before you start looking, however, you'll need to be able to present a coaching goal - something you want to be training towards. It might be altering your body composition, which often happens as you train more anyway in any sport, or improving your performance on the bike for a particular type of race. Training to achieve a result, or just simply as many cyclists find themselves wanting to, improve your fitness. None are without effort, but if you want to find out how cyclists should set goals, read our blog - Cycling goals: how to set them and how to achieve them.

What to look for in a cycling coaching package


Paying a coach can be a big investment, and one that you ideally want to see some success from. It's not just a financial investment, however, but one of your time and energy. Firstly, you'll want to check if the coaching package does align with your budget. Even the cheaper packages should still represent value for money.

Spoked pricing tiers
Spoked has 3 tiers; free, £3.99 and £9.99 p/m

Communication with the cycling coach

Second, think about communication. How much contact time will you get? Many coaches advertise a weekly phone call or limit their messages to your during the week. Make sure you're happy with how much time you will get from your coach, and how they communicate. Where will they send your training sessions? If it's TrainingPeaks, for example, will you require a premium account? This can cost extra, so make sure you ask and include it in your budget if necessary. How are they likely to contact you? Is it through WhatsApp, text, or a community platform like Discord?

Communication levels will also be determined on how many athletes they have on their roster. Are the coaches focused enough or do they seem to be bringing on too many clients?

Spoked Discord community is a great place to ask questions

Training flexibility

Thirdly, how flexible are they if you need to alter your training plan? You can't always predict when you'll be short on time, or if something crops up like the kids are sick or you need to put in some overtime at work - make sure that the coaching package allows for some degree of flexibility so your prescribed training doesn't suffer because they only want to adjust it on a monthly basis.

Training personalisation

Finally, is your training plan tailored to you, or is it a generic, copy and paste training plan? This can be hard to tell before you sign a contract or start your structured training plan, but having confidence in your cycling coach and what they're providing you with is key to a successful relationship, and, better results on the bike.

Ensure you're clear on what the focus is of your training plan and the sessions the coach sets. Have you made it clear a particular goal you would like to work towards? Your current fitness level and how you plan to measure progress - do you have a power meter, for instance, and will be using that to train with and measure your performance? Or, for complete beginners, perhaps a heart rate monitor or rate of perceived exertion as the way your training sessions are delivered. If your coach understands your specific set of circumstances and can adapt your weekly training time and training program to your lifestyle, then you're on the right track.

Spoked edit week form
Edit your week anytime

Efficient training is key for athletes strapped for time, no matter what you want to achieve on the bike. So it's no wonder a lot of riders head straight to Google to try and find some training plan that will magically improve their performance without it actually being tailored to them, their knowledge base, their schedule, or riding ability. Want to learn more? Read our blog, the problem with British Cycling training plans (aka static training plans).

What to avoid in cycling coaching packages

We've discussed what you should look for in a cycling coach, but what about things you should be wary of or avoid?

Can't find testimonials

If you've done as we suggested above and tried to find client testimonials, but can't, that could be a red flag. Unless the coach is absolutely brand new and lacks extensive experience in the field, you should be able to speak to or reach out to another rider to get an honest review of the coach.

If the coaching service is brand new, however, that doesn't mean their plans should be any less developed than more experienced coaches. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith, and if you believe that you will find achieve your riding goals with their guidance and support, then give it a go. See if they offer a free trial as they work to build their client base.

Is strict on the metrics they can work with

Contrary to what you might see on Instagram, not all training cyclists own a power meter, and not everyone wants to work with heart rate in their training plan. So if you find a coach that is unwilling or unable to be flexible, then consider another coach.

It is possible for cyclists to see performance gains wther they use heart rate monitors, power, or by rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and professional coaches should be able to offer training and support for all three types of metrics.

If you want to learn more about how training with these metrics is possible in this sport, then read our blog: How to train with power, heart rate or by feel.

Overpriced for what you receive

Secondly, how does the coaching package stack up compared to other offerings? Of course, packages vary greatly depending on cpac experience, type of package and more, but if the package is £300 per month but you only receive a monthly call to talk about your plan, it doesn't represent great value for money. Remember that yes, while you are paying a premium for the cycling coach knowledge base and dexperience, you should expect more than just a training plan in return.

Coach v. rider relationship

Furthermore, do you feel like you will get on with the coach? Do you have a good rapport or does it feel forced? You don't need to be best mates with them but understanding each other and knowing where they're coming from is a big deal if you're going to build a relationship and trust their training plans.

If you're not sure based off of one phone call or a couple of messages, why not see if you can undertake a trial period?

No structure or analysis

And finally, can the coach explain why they want you to undertake a certain training session? If you are to undertake their structured approach you need to be able to have confidence in their professional advice and what they set you. You won't train as well or train as consistently if you're not 100% convinced they have your best interests at heart - which is why we suggest you ensure it's not a copy and paste training plan job.

What can Spoked offer?

Hiring a cycling coach or buying a cycling coaching package isn't for everyone. They can be expensive, and some require a minimum contract length. So what are the alternatives?

Spoked, for one thing! Backed up by science and AI technology, it's been designed using an algorithm to get you the most bang for your buck, and showcasing how you can make the most of your limited time on the bike.

Adaptive mode
Spoked can adjust your training after every completed workout

Our app is competitively priced, at either £3.99 or £9.99 per month after a 30 day free trial period that you start when you're ready. It's also highly flexible. Have a busy schedule with various work commitments? Spoked offers complete flexibility at any time. You can adjust your training plan and workload from within the app at the touch of a few buttons, and the algorithm will adapt your training plan so that you can still reach your goals and see improvement.

We also offer something called a readiness score, which is unique to our app and provides an insight into how you might be feeling and able to perform on any given day. This is based on metrics you input into the app every day, alongside feedback from your completed sessions.

The Spoked Readiness score
The Spoked Readiness score

Spoked comes with plenty of plans to choose from, from XC mountain biking to time trialling. Each plan, however, is then tailored to your specific goals so that you can see progress and development as a rider throughout your training plan.

Spoked goal ambition
Goal ambition impacts the suggested weekly hours and number of rest days

Final thoughts

There are plenty of excellent cycling coaching professionals and apps out there nowadays but that also means as the market is inundated with athletes looking for guaranteed results, there will always self-proclaimed experts that unfortunately aren't what they claim.

Hopefully this article has helped you to understand what to look for and what differentiates a good coach to a not so good one. Choose wisely, and make sure you find someone you gel with otherwise you could be in for a lot of hard work.

Of course, if this all seems like too much, why not consider Spoked? You can improve your riding whether you've just started cycling or you're a high performance athlete for a fraction of the cost of a head coach or coaching package, and likely with far more flexibility.

Spoked is free to use and there is a 30 day free Pro trial that you can start when you're ready. Download the app from the App Store or Google Play.