What distinguishes TTS from the rest? Systemized, effective coaching that conveys a love of cycling's vast culture

What is it that attracts people to TTS?

For the last 2-3 months, I’ve been preparing for the upcoming season. The majority of my work has been focused on expanding our computraining program. This has involved modest renovations and an in-depth evaluation of the training we offer. I’ve also been directing the development of Team Medique p/b Silber Investments. The team emerged as a force on the Quebec racing scene this summer, so I’ve been meeting with sponsors, consulting with Cycling Canada and Provincial team coaches, evaluating riders, etc for 2014.

I’ll talk more about Team Medique in another post. For now, I want to describe why TTS is different than other Montreal-based coaching services for cyclists. I’ve been thinking about this more lately because the season is about to begin, but also because we are renovating and that forces you to think about the image you want to project.

Ironically, I’ve come to the conclusion that the appearance of a place is very important, but it matters less than you would think. For the last couple of years we ran our computraining program in what felt like the hallway of a gym, and we had little control over the “look” of the area. Yet each year our business had grown in leaps. Many clients would have liked our area to look better, but they kept coming. Why?

We offer great coaching. First off, you will never find a coaching staff that is more committed to each other. I’m extremely privileged to work with Robert, William and Michelle. I can’t tell you how often they drop what they are doing to help me or each other out. They know my strengths and weaknesses, and they just figure out ways to make things work. They do the same for clients. These personal attributes have allowed for our coaching to evolve at a rapid rate. A couple of years ago, Robert and William were just starting out as coaches. The knowledge-base and coaching skills they’ve developed is remarkable and the feedback I get from clients proves it! Michelle remains one of the most important coaches in the city, and one of the few women that other women can turn to for training.

Other facilities also have great coaches with real cycling knowledge, but the way we direct our understanding of the sport is different. We spend time collecting data, evaluating our program and doing the research to improve it. As far as I know, we were the first program in the city to develop rider profiles with “report cards” for clients. We will be handing them out to clients first class! Profiles give riders an assessment of their strengths and weakness over a variety of tested durations, from sprints to 20 min efforts. Our “report cards” also help riders establish goals. As coaches, we are continuing to improve our ability to actively work with these profiles, so we can create individualized targets for any rider on any given day–and you will see some of those developments in action this season.

Most training facilities still evaluate riders primarily with a 20 min time trial. The move to rider profiles was developed by American coaches Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan. The most convincing reason to do this was to be able to evaluate a rider’s strength and weaknesses in a variety of cycling scenarios. Someone who excels at 20 min time trials might still get constantly dropped on group rides with friends because they cannot ride full out for 3 min very well, or they cannot sprint so they have to work really hard every time someone accelerates and then get dropped due to cumulative fatigue.

You can have great coaches and a slick training environment, but if you evaluate riders primarily on 20 min efforts YOUR COACHING DOES NOT RELATE TO THE DYNAMIC SPORT OF CYCLING! Instead, you are providing a specific (and narrow) fitness program carried out on bikes.

Rider profiles also help us evaluate our coaching in a very specific manner. Coach Robert Ralph has been crunching numbers for awhile now, evaluating how clients performed in relation to the targets established by Hunter and Coggan, but also against other TTS clients. We only have a couple years of data so far, and we need to improve the way we collect data, but based on striking trends we are refocusing our coaching program. This slight change in focus will be announced over the first few weeks of the Fall session. “Refocusing” a program seems like a simple thing to say, but last year was by far the most successful indoor group training program  with which I have been involved. The amount of improvement clients achieved throughout the rider profiles was phenomenal. So we are going to tweak an already successful program based on our research.

We are also going to integrate ways of distributing cycling knowledge and debates within targeted periods of training. What? Our training programs are periodized. During parts of each 3 to 6 week period, we will deliver specific info on things like stretching, bike fit and nutrition. Some of this will be obvious, some will be new to you and some will be debatable! Toguri Training is developing multi-leveled coaching in a structured, systemized way.

The goal of our rider profiles and periodized knowledge delivery systems (!) is to maintain an evolving program whose ultimate goal is to contribute to the cycling culture of Quebec. That may sound lofty, but it is our goal. We don’t want riders to freak out about a 20 min TT! We want clients to develop and maintain a love of the sport. We want clients to love their bikes and the history of cycling! We want people to understand their training within the broader culture of cycling, and we have the people-skills to take this project on.

In sum, what distinguishes Toguri Training from competitors is a thoughtful, multi-leveled, effective and evolving program delivered by a team of coaches that loves the culture of cycling. As we were redesigning the training area, this really hit home: our priority is the  ability to offer a great program. Having a nicer training environment is important because it motivates clients on a daily basis. Having great coaches is an obvious necessity. But great coaches and great design are wasted when the training program gets confused with names and image. The image I want to project? Rough around the edges, but in the end we are effective, evolving and our vision has the capacity to make an hour of hard training feel like it’s part of a great day and a worthwhile project.



About Scott Toguri McFarlane

Scott Toguri McFarlane is a former Elite racer, and the founder of Toguri Training Services. For more than a decade, his approach to training has helped aspiring professional racers, provincial team members, and recreational cyclists of all ages and ability achieve their goals, including gold medals at National and Provincial Championships.

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