All the confidence in the world and totally clueless.

I actually got myself in a little trouble exposing Myth #2

You (the Instructor) can set yourself up correctly.

It was at the end of an Instructor evaluation, where I was a pretend participant. The Dept Head asked us if we had any comments or suggestions for the Instructor being evaluated. Now I'm not normally comfortable critiquing others publicly, so I sat and pedaled quietly off to one side. A few of the other Instructor/participants offer a few simple suggestions and I felt pressured to say something... and being a guy, finally offered up something I thought would be safe:

"Have you ever had someone evaluate your bike setup?" "Your saddle appears to be too far back."

Not a good choice. 

I couldn't tell if her flushed look was communicating embarrassment or anger. Either way it was the wrong thing to say publicly in a room full of her peers.

"I'm right where I'm supposed to be", she said rather indignantly as she sighted down across her knee at the left pedal.

But she clearly wasn't. Any experienced cyclist looking at her from the side could see how stretched out her position was and how she looked on the bike would benefit from a few minutes my (or anyone's) observation.

When was the last time (if ever) you've had someone look at your bike setup on the instructor bike at your club? During your initial certification doesn't count. 

Instructors are proud people.

We expect others to look to us for stuff like bike fit, direction and guidance. Unfortunately this has us walled off as a sort of island, operating all by ourselves, without the benefit of any constructive criticism.

Our participants are nice = they won't typically say anything, even though they see something not quite right - or even grossly wrong.

I'll never forget a lunch meeting I had with a prospective customer a few years back. He had a spinach salad, I've forgotten what I ate that day. I remember his spinach because at some point during the meal my lunch guest suddenly had one green tooth. Completely green like it was something he paid for from one of those places at the mall where they sell jeweled "grills".  A piece of the spinach had attached itself and neatly covered one of his front teeth. I foolishly said nothing while we sat and talked. The whole time trying not to stare at his new organic dental appliance. We parted and I had forgotten all about it until checking my email later that day; I CAN"T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAT THERE LOOKING AT MY GREEN TOOTH AND NOT SAY ANYTHING! I'm pretty sure that was the last time I communicated with him.

But participants (read cyclists) will judge you based on everything they see

Believe me when I say cyclists will judge you. What do you think we are doing to keep our minds occupied during a 5 hour ride? We notice every detail. Now I'm sure that the Instructor being evaluated really did believe she was properly positioned. She found a bike setting and repeat it every time she taught. Her body got comfortable until it became "right"... even if it wasn't. Alone at home in your basement this isn't a problem. Sitting in front of 10s or 100s of cyclists every week is.

What to do? 

I'm guessing you already know the answer to this; ask for help! And it doesn't need to come from another Instructor.

Would you like to make someone's day? In your next class pick out one of the experienced cyclists. Ask them to review your setup on your bike. I know I would have been flattered if someone in authority (you) asked for my help. You could even make a big deal about it during your warm-up. Simply explain how you recognized that you needed a second pair of eyes to really check your bike setup, so you asked Linda to help because you saw her as an experienced cyclist. Then you could continue with how Linda was able to suggest a few small changes and how much better you feel now.

This simple act of humility may have a profound effect on your class. Once other's realize that the Great and Powerful Instructor needs help, they to maybe inclined to ask for help as well.

Give it a try and let me know your experience.





Originally posted 2012-11-28 14:47:25.


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