IT'S rare to come face to face with your athletic heroes, but at a new training facility on the North Shore, not only will local legends in the cycling world share their expertise to help you reach your personal goals, they'll also bring you water and towels.
TaG Cycling co-founder and North Vancouver resident Lesley Tomlinson laughs when she shares this fact during a chat with the North Shore News Wednesday.
Jokes aside, her excitement and passion for the new venture, a partnership with fellow cycling Olympian Gina Grain (track), a Vancouver resident, is clearly evident.
Primarily working with newcomers to the sport, it's been amazing to watch their journey, and their growing fitness and confidence, she says.
"It's unbelievable how rewarding it is to see them just become comfortable with (cycling)," says Tomlinson, 52. "And for a lot of them discovering something new in their 30s and 40s and 50s and even 60s, I don't know, we just kind of get excited about it. I don't know that was something that we really knew would happen in the beginning but it's definitely something that has come out of it for us. It's a feeling of accomplishment and it just makes us happy to see them enjoying it."
TaG (Tomlinson and Grain) Cycling was founded in 2010 and provides opportunities for members of the general public of all ages and levels to receive one-on-one and group cycling training from a team of highly accomplished cyclists (road, mountain bike and track) - Tomlinson and Grain included.
"My vision with this is that everybody coaching is at least a national team cyclist or has been a national team cyclist or better," says Tomlinson. "I sort of feel that 'credentials first.'"
Tomlinson's career highs include representing Canada at 13 World Championships (road and mountain biking) and at the Olympics for mountain biking. Her partner Grain is a world championship silver medallist. Other instructors include: Canadian mountain bike Olympian Chrissy de Vall; international road professional and 2010 GranFondo Whistler champion Andrew Pinfold; 12-year national mountain bike team veteran Trish Sinclaire; and, mountain bike professional Greg Day.
The company's emergence was the result of Tomlinson being asked by a group of women to help them learn to ride their road bikes in spring 2010. Initially a small group, it quickly grew to approximately 70 riders. She asked Grain to assist her in the training and based on positive response, moved forward with founding TaG.
Training is based at one of two indoor training facilities, in North Vancouver and Whistler. TaG's current home on the North Shore is a temporary space at 202-55 Gostick Place, however they'll move into their permanent space across the street at 201-758 Copping St. once construction is completed in approximately three weeks.
Programs are offered year-round, incorporating both indoor (on stationary bikes) and outdoor training. Clients have the option of joining at any time and participating in offered courses, typically six, 12 or 24 weeks in duration and involving, on average, two visits per week.
Programs can also be tailored to fit their personal needs, for example helping them gear up for a big race, event or cycling trip. Cycle safety is a main focus.
"We do have some high-performance and we have some high-level people, you know provincial level/national level riders that have come to us for help, but the main focus we're wanting to offer is a way for someone that's just enthusiastic, maybe brand new and passionate about the sport, just to kind of help them and guide them quickly through their evolution as a cyclist," says Tomlinson.
They're also endeavouring to serve interested riders in all disciplines.
"All of our coaches, all of us have come from every discipline as a combination," she says. "If someone wants to work on their mountain biking, or track riding or BMXing - that would be younger riders usually - then we offer all of that.
"The fundamentals of cycling apply to all the different disciplines. So a lot of what we do, particularly indoors, it's really easy to work with all the disciplines and create things that can help them," she says.
TaG Cycling charges a fee for service, though Tomlinson feels it's reasonable.
"In all our sessions, our coach-to-rider ratio is high, even in our indoor classes we always have a coach on the floor to help them and a coach leading the session.
"So that way we can give them one-on-one and group guidance so we're always able to take care of them at that level and make sure they're getting what they need. Our pricing is very comparable to any of the other programs around," she says.
Future plans for TaG Cycling include opening a Vancouver training studio.
TaG has some cycling performance programs for youth and adults, led by Tomlinson, Grain and Pinfold, getting underway Jan. 25 as well as plan to offer some spring break events.
For a full schedule, costs and more information, visit www. tagcycling.com.