The beginning of class can be disjointed at times. Riders are trying to get settled. Some people are still chatting (loudly) and we are trying to establish that official “class has started” moment. Then 5 new people show up and need to be setup on their bikes.

Yesterday I”™m teaching at a club I”™ve taught at for over 7 years.  The cycling class is held in a multi-purpose room, so each member is responsible for pulling their bike onto the floor from the side of the room.  The class starts right on time (I”™m a stickler for punctuality).  Five minutes into the class, 5 “new” riders enter the room.  All of them have on running type sneakers and they are standing next the to the remaining bikes and appear confused.

I meet them at the back of the room and immediately understand their hesitation. The bikes are equipped with Schwinn Triple-Link pedals, which allow for the standard SPD clip on one side and then a removable toe cage on the other side, which accepts a LOOK compatible cleat. The problem was that none of the available bikes had toe cages. I found a set of cages thrown to the side. One cage was missing a strap, which I found and re-threaded. Then I went around the room to other riders who were not using their cages and started removing them from their bikes to allow the remaining 4 people to ride. Throw in a few bike setups and now we were 15 minutes into class before I re-emerged back at the front of the room.

Obviously, the big challenge was not the pedal hunt, but trying to teach the class and keep everyone focused while controlled chaos was unfolding in the back of the room. At the time my 5 newbies entered the room, I had just finished my opening spiel. So while I was getting them situated, I was simultaneously leading the class through some Spin-Ups (short 10-second accelerations followed by 20 seconds of easy pedaling) and then a set of 30-second speed intervals. In addition to staying on top of the timing, I found myself continually pushing the headset mic onto the top of my head so I could talk with the new riders without our conversation bombing over the sound system.

As chaotic as all of this was, I actually love this kind of challenge. As a cycling coach, I spend a good amount of time coaching off the bike.  I”™m constantly leading drills while speaking one-on-one with riders to help them with specific issues and technique.  But it made me think, “how could an instructor train themselves to handle a situation like I experienced gracefully?” Here is a suggestion:

Try teaching your entire intro and warm-up off the bike.  But don”™t just stand at the front of the room. Instead walk around from rider to rider.  Pace the isles (if you have them).  Provide encouragement and make suggestive corrections as you go.  Try to keep track of the timing and any intervals.  See how it goes.  Remember, it is all about experience.  Obtaining the ability to stay on task and keep your riders focused in this way will provide some great preparation when those 5 new riders show up at the last minute.

Also, please share any other tips you have used to stay in control and command when all hell breaks loose.

Originally posted 2017-03-30 18:50:10.

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