The coach/ squad

Who is “Trek 52”?

Matt Smithson is Trek52, been around the sport since 1989. Have had personal success in cycling, triathlon and running and now coaching under the “Rant” coaching banner.

Where are you based?

In North Western Sydney

How did you come to the sport?

I grew up with a few guys whose families raced and they convinced me to ride my bike around Parramatta Park with them, one of these kids was Brad McGee

How did you come to coaching?

I realised there is a massive gap in cycling and triathlon in the skills, tactics and personal side of the sport. Seems everyone wants to give physiological improvement programs but no one wants to actually advise the athlete how to best use their own skills. A very close female friend went through the AIS programs and didn’t realise she could change gear whilst riding out of the seat!!!

What type of coaching do you do? Face to face/ internet/ squad based?

Face to face, in race and internet. I like to get to know the people I work with.

Do you have a favourite distance to coach?

I prefer to coach newcomers to cycling or Triathlon and experienced athletes looking for improvement outside of a training program.

Do you have a favourite discipline to coach?


What is the one thing that you think is unique about your coaching or squad?

That I offer experience of wining 100s of bike races based on positioning and knowing what to do when. Not ever in those races was I the fittest, fastest or most talented. So I offer ways for people to obtain results with what they already have

Do you think it is important for a coach to have competed in triathlon/ competed at a high level in triathlon/ competed at the distances they coach?

Yes and no, can I make someone faster at ironman yes, but can I offer them nutrition advice no as I haven’t done one but I can help anyone in Tri or Cycling become better at sport, not just fitter.

How many people do you coach?

At the moment only 6 athletes, I don’t work with everyone, they have to know where I am coming from and vice versa.

Qualifications? (Theoretical and/or real life experience)

I have an applied science degree and have cycled and Tri’d across the world in everything from a club race to a world title.

As a coach what are your goals?

For anyone I work with to come away understanding and respecting the sport more.

Method/ style

How would you describe your coaching style?

Relaxed and discussion, need to come on the journey with me. I am open and expect the athlete to me. I am more of a “man” manager.

Do you follow a general philosophy or influence, e.g. Friel, Lydiard, etc.

I have worked with Col Stewart and Ron Bonham and others over the years and have learnt what works and doesn’t work in relation to the person, each athlete is different

What method do you use to communicate with your clients (phone, email, face to face)?

Phone, email and face to face as often as is required by them.

How do you gauge performance improvements? (Races, training, tts, power analysis)

Power meters for fitness and results. If you can’t win B grade then you can’t win A grade.

Do you believe in/use gadgets? (Pace watch/PM/hr monitor)

Yes I love power meters to show improvement and set sessions that people won’t overdo, but I also believe they are over used in cycle racing, follow the wheel is the key, not the power numbers

How much feedback do you give your athletes on workouts? (Daily/weekly/as needed)

As needed

Do you use training peaks or something similar?

I can but prefer to track them on Trainer Road

What's your experience working with people who work extreme hours and how do you adapt their programmes to that?

I tailor to the times they can train, my athletes do less training than most others. They just do it correctly.
How individually tailored are your programs?

How individually tailored are your programs?

Very, I believe the key is knowing your weaknesses and strengths and how and when to use them. A program that is generic will not work with the type of coaching I provide

Do you have a holistic approach?

I offer an attitude and belief approach

Do you offer advice on diet, vitamins, supplements and alternative therapies (such as chiro, accu, yoga)



What attributes do you think make an athlete easier to coach to their desired results?

That they are doing it for themselves not for others, they need to want to do it, they also must believe 100% in what we are doing together.

Do you specialise in or have a preference for novice athletes or seasoned athletes?

I prefer novice and athletes that are fit as hell and are just not getting results.

Would you be honest with me in regards to my goals and aspirations?

Yes 100% if you don’t have the ability, physically or mentally I will tell you. Will offer ideas at what will suit you but will never take money by leading someone on.

Have you ever sacked a client who didn't follow your advice?

Yes a number of times

Have you coached mature athletes? How do you treat them differently?

I work with a number of masters cyclists, need to contain their enthusiasm and realise that rest is important.

Do you understand the recovery needs of older athletes?

Yes very much, I like to work a 3 day on, one day off program.

What percentage of your athletes survive the training injury free?

All of them.

Do you practice what you preach?

Not always, I take shortcuts

How do you look at intensity vs volumes?

I am an intensity guy, most people over train volumes.


Everyone’s idea of success is different. Tell me a couple of your success stories both as a coach and with athletes you train.

I have had success in building confidence in getting people to back their abilities. Sarah Roy won a national crit title after working through the positioning and tactical side of racing with me, whilst I did not write her program the work we did allowed her to back her ability. This is the same with everyone I have coached, they understand what it takes for the result.
I took a young u/17 cyclist from 500km a week and no results to 200km a week and state medals and making the NSW team, it was about belief not training with him.
Success as a coach comes from seeing the person improve through my advice and for them to enjoy the sport more. There is so much more to it that a training program.


Cost and what do I get for this?

I come from a background of no money and no support so I coach juniors from let’s say a low socio economic background for free, but generally charge $20 a week. I keep this low as my results come through understand and guidance not from spending hours on programs. Programs come with my coaching but I believe most people can reach 70% of their potential through consistent training of any sort. I get them the lost 20% of understanding the sport and the last 10% I will leave to the pro coaches. I someone reaches that 90% with me then I will hand them over to someone that can take them to that level.