It's National Eagle Day here in the USA and I thought I should share an experience I had with the bald eagle one morning before class. I actually had this post sitting as a draft from a few weeks ago. As often happens, I got distracted and never finished it. Learning that today is our day to celebrate these majestic birds has me back at the keyboard.
A great metaphor flew over me this morning!
And when I say flew over me this morning, I mean flew right over me! This bald eagle flew directly over my head, and swooped down on one of the many fat rabbits we have around here, quickly dispatching it.
I was walking into the club this morning (it was a Saturday and I was subbing for my partner who doesn't like to wake up in the morning), thinking through my profile when I heard (and felt) this loud swoosh before seeing this massive bird dive in on his breakfast. If you haven't seen one of these strong, majestic birds up close and personal you are missing a great treat. They stand nearly 3 feet tall and with a wingspan of over 6 feet, the sudden presence directly over my head was quite startling and I'll admit a bit frightening.
Side note: this particular Lifetime Fitness sits on the edge of a large swamp/wetlands and only a few blocks from a major shopping mall. Seeing a bald eagle isn't all that surprising around here. It was always very common to see these beautiful birds perched in trees as you drive through northern Minnesota. Now it seems that wildlife of a every sort is moving back to the suburbs to reclaim their place in what was once farms and prairies.
But this beautiful bird had a problem. Despite their reputed incredible eyesight, she (?) (how do you tell the difference?) appeared to have completely overreached, miss judging it's weight and wasn't strong enough to carry away her breakfast. With a firm grasp on her rabbit, she leaped off the ground with wings powerfully flapping. But try as she might, she was only able to get three or four feet off the ground before stalling, dropping the rabbit before she herself crashed back to earth. I watched from about 20 feet away as she circled repeatedly, each time swooping over my head, attempting to grasp the rabbit and fly off. Each time with the same results… and then I realized she had a plan.
With every attempt to carry off the rabbit, she moved it 10 or 15 feet. It became obvious that she wasn't going to sit and consume her catch right there in the middle of a parking lot, but rather her plan was to move it to a stand of trees, which were across the road from the club – across four busy lanes of traffic, I should add.
It was a climbing day, per our class schedule and my plan was to show Epic Beartooth Pass. As I was getting dressed for class, I realized what a fantastic metaphor I just observed. So during the warm-up I told the story of what I had just witnessed. I talked about how impressed I was with the Eagle. How I watched her develop a plan – improvising a strategy, so as not to lose what she was fighting to accomplish.
I asked the class; do you have the confidence to overreach today on this climb?
I mean really overreach… to the point where you're forced to resort to Plan B?
A common strategy out long climbs as to alternate between seated and standing. As you ride along you'll add an extra gear or two, which has the effect of forcing you out of the saddle. Then you remove those gears and returned to the seat. Because we're riding Freemotion cycles with power, I'm able to coach everyone how they find their two, individual, climbing gears. After we're warmed up I have everyone work through a five-minute effort at or very near threshold HR. this gives us a baseline power average to work with. Maintaining a steady 80-ish cadence, seated efforts are just below this wattage number and the standing number just above. There's no break in this climb. The effort is continuous. Over and over we alternate position – adding for standing, remove slightly and back to the saddle.
After class I hurried out to see if the eagle had been successful. It wasn't difficult to figure out where she was. A swarm of angry blackbirds were taking turns diving at her, as she sat perched in the tree looking down at her catch. I walked over and this is where I had the chance to take her picture. Complete confidence 🙂
Originally posted 2012-06-20 07:39:59.
John is a member on the AFS (Association of Fitness Studios) Advisory Council.
Holding certifications from; Schwinn, Heart Zones, Team ICG and Life Time Fitness, John's held regularly scheduled cycling classes between 1998 and 2015 when he moved to Florida.
When the weather permits, you'll find him riding and leading outdoor groups by himself or with his Tandem partner (wife) Amy.
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