Coaches Highlight – Bob Violano

Bob has been an incredible coach to work with and to learn from. His coaching style is one we highly value, as his students always walk away with a drastic shift in their confidence and with immediate improvements to their riding. We wanted to hear from him a bit about his coaching style and what motivates him on the bike!

What do you feel is the best advice for someone learning to mountain bike?

My first piece of advice is to take a lesson! There are small adjustments coaches are able to help you make that can be the difference between having a good time and just being nervous/scared all the time. Secondly, celebrate your small successes, take your time, and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Progress takes time and mountain biking can be difficult, which is a good thing! Overcoming challenges is what makes this activity so wonderful because those challenges are different for everyone and there are no ‘rules’ as to when you need to be able to do something.

Can you share one of the biggest mental breakthroughs you’ve had on a bike?

I started mountain biking via lifts and shuttles. I told myself I was a downhiller and would never pedal up. When I first got my trail bike pedaling was the worst thing ever for me…or at least I thought it was the worst. All I wanted was to go downhill as fast as possible. I also never felt like I was ‘fit’ enough to be a good trail rider. So within the past few years I had a couple ah-ha moments. My first ah-ha moment was when I realized that trail riding means you get to be outside, on a bike, with friends, for longer periods of time and you get to see so much nature. My second breakthrough was when I discovered that as long as I stayed at my pace I could pedal for pretty long distances for long periods of time. I stopped thinking about ‘are we there yet’ and just started living in the moment…otherwise, why ride a bike?

How would you describe your coaching style? What is the most important aspect of being a good coach?

I think my coaching style revolves around being a collaborative partner in the process and I value feedback. I think the most important aspect of being a good coach is being able to listen, ask questions and not talk too much. This is sometimes difficult because there is so much to know but a good coach, in my opinion, knows how to be precise and concise. I think I am good at saying just enough so that my students understand what is expected without getting overwhelmed.

What is your favorite thing about mountain biking?

Adventure with friends. Mountain biking alone can be rewarding, going fast is cool, and doing jumps is rad but doing fun stuff with people you like!? Can’t be beat.

How have you seen your students progress through the structure of the Mountain Mastery Program?

I think the biggest change I see is one of confidence. As coaches, teaching skills and maneuvers in a lesson or two is relatively straightforward but working with people week after week helps them be more confident on the bike. From my own riding I know that the more confident I feel, the better I ride and I see that in others too.