Coaching has been described as ‘hiring a conscience’ – we like to add to that comment – coaching is more like ‘hiring a pain regulator’. If you are at a stage that you feel the need to push yourself to your limits, a coach can help you regulate that painful feeling of pushing yourself more so than you might have on your own. Coaching is for anyone at any level – and it is recommended by the fastest guys and gals out on the dirt. Chances are, if you’ve been smoked in competition, that person is truly gifted with great legs and luck, or they have a coach that has developed a program for them to follow to achieve success, or even worse – both!

The Bonebell interviewed Brian Conant of BSC Coaching and Pony Shop fame. Brian has coached some of the best and talented riders in the Chicago area. You’ve seen his coaching success at various levels from Category 3-4 Cyclocross racers, to Elite Category 1 Cyclocross and Mountain Bike racers. He is an ardent supporter of The Pony Shop Team which he calls the “one-stop shop for cyclocross!” His “people” are great success stories. We wanted to get some insight about this excellent participant and coach of the Chicago dirtbaggin’ scene and see what he thinks about the coaching philosophy and the sport of Cyclocross, a love, near and dear to his heart (to say it lightly!).

Brian Conant

Brian Conant

How long have you been competing and in which disciplines?
I have pretty much been racing since the age of 11 off and on, (more on), – so 30 years. I started out racing BMX, then Mountain Bike, as well as Road; became bored with the MTB being in Illinois (it’s a drive to ride trails). So the road became it in the mid-nineties. Cross around 2001 or 2002. CROSS RULES!

How did you get involved with coaching?
I have always given people tips, advice, to do this, to do that, but actual “coaching”, three years ago. It all started with two people, Lou Kuhn (owner of the Pony Shop) and Devon Haskell (bike crazed PERIOD!). Both started tearing it up, people wanted to know what they were doing and ‘Brian Conant’ was the answer. Most of my “people” have come from them. I love coaching, its great seeing Novice to Category 1 cyclists make fitness gains, and having them thank you because they would of never pushed themselves so hard on their own. (NOTE: Devon Haskell, a BSC Coaching prodigy will be riding for TIBCO Pro Womens Cycling team next season. She is also riding for Velo Bella Pro Womens Cyclocross team this season.)

You have a roster of very successful clients in Chicago – what is your advice to a novice cyclist who is looking to be successful?
LOVE your bike. Ride your bike. You have to ride more than a couple days a week. Training is not about going as hard as you can every ride. Find an experienced group of cyclists, they can show you the ropes.

How do you keep ‘yourself’ motivated after all the motivation you give to your clients?
Keeping motivated is easy – I LOVE THE BIKE! I have been addicted to it since the age of 4. The bike is freedom, everything goes out the window when I am riding.

My “people” motivate me, some of the sick stuff I have them do. Everybody I work with are determined and focused, I feed off of them. I do not want to get my ass kicked by people I coach, though a couple can put the hurt on me! I should not coach people I have to race against – HA!

Hang with it!

Hang with it!

Why do you love Cyclocross?
What’s not to love about CROSS?! There is something really cool about riding a road bike off road. Killin’ it over the barriers, snot flying, suffering the whole time and lovin’ every minute of it. There is no hiding in a cross race, the strong win. No sitting in drafting the entire race, its throw down after throw down.

Where do you envision the future of cyclocross in the Chicago racing scene in a few years?
It would be sweet to get an east coast/west coast vibe going, 500+ racers every weekend. Cross is so much fun, you only need to do 1 race and you are hooked for life.

What can Chicago do to keep the spirit of the cowbell alive and well for years to come?
The cowbell is alive and kicking — we need MORE people to come out and race to keep it KICKIN’ for years to come. It’s a killer way to keep and increase fitness going into the next road season. SO COME OUT AND RACE! CROSS RULES!

The Bonebell has determined that Brian Conant believes Cross Rules.  He is right on!

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