With the demise of the Cannondale racing programme, Matt Simmonds launched ProLineMTB, his own coaching and skills setup.
Pete caught up with Matt Simmonds to chat about hanging up his World Cup boots, racing domestically, heading into coaching, setting up ProLineMTB and classic riding mistakes.
How hard was it to call time on racing World Cups?
It was a hard decision, I’d just finished a years testing program for Cannondale and was keen to carry on. Unfortunately, the program got scrapped and it left me searching for another ride. The last few years I’ve been on some of the best teams in the world and I didn’t want take a step backwards. I also feel that with how the sports progressed over the last few years you need a team around you, to really perform.
Will you still be racing domestically?
I planned on racing selected DH and Enduro national rounds, The Malverns and other such events.
Had you done any coaching before you hung up your World Cup boots?
Yeah I’d actually qualified as a coach through Ian Warby at CTC over 10 years ago. I’ve been dipping in and out of it, coaching schools and racers that have gone on to be world class. But over the years I put all my energy into racing, which was my main focus up until now.
Was coaching part of the plan for winding up racing?
Yeah, it’s always been part of my long term plan, I really enjoy helping riders get better, and seeing that look when they finally hit something or it just clicks. When I first qualified I also wasn’t getting paid a lot as a pro so it was nice to have a side hustle.
Was Revolution Bike Park the obvious choice to offer coaching?
I’d coached up at Revs a few times over the last 5 years or more and have watched the park grow to what it is today. Being able to run days there now is ideal with the uplits and great trails that they have. We’ll also be having events on at Llangollen and soon at Hopon and Eastrdige, through forestry England, which will be perfect for entry-level MTB riders.
Was getting support from brands easy or did you have to fight for it?
I wouldn’t say it was easy, brands want to see a return and I’m lucky that these guys want to see me race, test, and develop still. They’re are also keen to help with ProLine MTB coaching were we can get people of all levels riding more and enjoying time on their bikes.
Are there classic mistakes that you see riders making?
The old looking at the front wheel or the brake lever angle are two of the biggest mistakes I see all the time.
Was adding James Anderson to the team an obvious choice?
It was, James had just lost his job at British Cycling after they announced the withdrawal of the partnership with HSBC. His background coaching young kids, guiding, and years of racing knowledge is a big added value.
How long did you take to come up with the name?
A few weeks, I didn’t want to just call it after my name, so there was a lot of brainstorming involved. It was actually the mother in law who said “what about ProLine?”, which kind of made sense with my background and that was it ProLine MTB coaching was born.
Did it take long set up a client base?
We are still in the process of building it to be honest. ProLineMTB only opened its doors for a month or so before the COVID-19 lockdown happened. Weekends were starting to fill up nicely at Revolution Bike Park and I’ve been trying to get our permits sorted to be able to coach on Forestry England land during the week.
Favourite moments so far?
Coaching ten boys and the teacher from Shrewsbury school is always a fun day or the young racers Milan and Dougie. I enjoy seeing them all progress and build in confidence over a session.
I’m trained in first aid so I haven’t really had any disasters like that. Milan got a stick stuck in his rear wheel just before a drop, luckily I noticed and so did he! That could have been quite the disaster.
People to thank?
My wife, Hannah, all clients that have trusted us so far, and the brands that support us: Privateer Bikes, HUNT Wheels, Royal Racing, Seven iDP Protection, Mudhugger, J-Tech Suspension, Kingud cleaning products, KENDA Tyres, and Shimano UK.
Check out everything ProLineMTB related on their website here.