Some time ago I responded to a question from John with a note about the importance of visual learning.  In spite of what I already know, I was still surprised by the changes I have seen as a consequence of a visual presentation to the group that is doing the Cabot Trail.

A little background: I have been taking an incremental approach to their training and to what I share with them.  Too much information too soon would, in my opinion, be counter-productive.  I have also been talking to them about the changes I see as they transition from people-on-bikes to cyclists.

A few weeks ago, after a milestone ride, I complimented them on everything from clothing choices to cadence and gearing.  Then I shared the next step in their transition - the ride profile (from my GPS) of what they had just done.  Frankly I did it as a bit of a lark - another step toward cycling geekdom.  I did not expect the reaction I got.

The visual component of the profile along with the associated data has been truly transformative.   As individuals they were able to link their experience of the ride with what they could see on paper or screen.  I was pleased that they could articulate and repeat phrases that I have used in IC classes and point to where they used that information on the ride.  Since that day I have seen greater focus and understanding and more initiative from everyone.   Most surprising to me - they have switched into 'data' mode and are now actively working to improve their individual performance in many areas.

I am limited in my ability to use visual aids in my IC classes.  I am lucky to have a whiteboard!  When I do video rides the bikes have to be moved to another floor and a complex array of cords and adapters and computers and projectors need to be organized.  That can only be done once or twice a month.  Based on my experience with this smaller group I know that I could have another level of impact on my IC students if I could reliably provide more visual information that links their physical experience to images and verbal descriptors.

I urge those of you who do have the ability to develop and use visual information to make that a routine component of your classes.   Your students will fly as a result.

Read the rest of my posts about our preparations to ride the Cabot Trail.

Christine Nielsen
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