Phil Stonelake

Phil Stonelake

I came to hill climb racing later than most at the age of 42. I’d been a relatively good climber in my youth racing mountain bikes, and if I‘d known there was a specific discipline just for racing uphill I’d have probably started earlier. So when I did eventually discover it, I wanted to achieve as much as possible as quickly as possible before the ravages of time caught up, nipping at my heels as they were.

In 2018, my second year, I took the hill climb season pretty seriously, trained myself half to death and I did a bit better in the local races than the previous year. But that year I  realised that I’d overcooked the training, and that I didn’t really know what I was doing. I also realised that the National champs in 2019 were on a long course that would suit me (usually the nationals are on something shorter and steeper). I wasn’t getting any younger and I knew I probably had only one shot to achieve the goal of becoming national veteran champion. I decided to make that the entire focus of my 2019 season and throw everything I could at making it happen.

But I needed help. The one thing I needed most was to shortcut the process of learning how to  train through trial and error, and I knew I needed a coach to help me do that. Glyn had successfully coached a few local riders, and came strongly recommended when I asked around. And as the 2018 national veteran champion and general West District hill climb supremo, I knew that his passion for the discipline would be second to none.

We met and discussed goals, motivation, time constraints, the sort of training I preferred. From that point on Glyn took on the planning of my training sessions – he plans the longer term cycles around your key races, and gives you structured sessions to do throughout the year to meet the goals specific to your target event. Glyn uses power and heart rate data in his training sessions, so you’ll need the gadgetry to make that work. But I’m guessing if you’re at the point you’re looking to acquire the services of a coach, you’ll probably have these things already.

But there is a lot more to it than that. I was given sessions in the gym to build strength (which I now really love, although I felt a bit reluctant at first!). I was encouraged to track my nutrition for a while, through which I learnt a huge amount about how much and what I was eating. On the build up to race day, Glyn makes sure you feel ready, advises on your mental game, warm up and pacing strategies. So by the time you get to the start line you know all you have to do is follow the plan, and let the results take care of themselves. And they did for me in the 2019 nationals. If I hadn’t been working with Glyn I’m certain I wouldn’t have achieved that dream.

Glyn really knows his stuff, but if he’s less sure about something he won’t make it up. He’s a very clear, straight up communicator, wants to know your feedback and he responds to it. He is a whiz with the data, and that complements me well as I know nothing about that. He is generous with his time and attention, and flexible when things need to change. I wouldn’t want to be coached by anyone else.


Photo thanks to Sam Nancarrow Photography