Taking your spin class outdoors

When a friend and I returned from a cycling trip in Croatia last June my IC classes were curious about the experience and I told them lots of stories. One day I mused “Now that we have done some hills in Europe I guess it”™s time to do the hills here at home. We”™ll be riding the Cabot Trail next.” http://www.mapmyride.com/s/routes/view/bike-ride-map/canada/nova-scotia/cape-breton/8895784

Follow that link to see just how big a challenge this will be 🙂

Within minutes the class had come up with a scheme to ride the trail as a group. Word of our plans has spread and new people have arrived in my classes to be part of this adventure. Most of them have never done any serious riding outdoors and several do not even own bicycles. We are aiming for a four to six day trip in late September 2012. Right now we are making plans for winter training and a spring reconnaissance ride for the ‘leaders”™.

Yesterday, with temperatures in the mid-teens (℃) and under a sunny sky, a few of the group got together for their first ride. We did a safety check on the bikes and headed out with the promise that no one would be left behind. I placed experienced riders at lead and sweep and had a spare to accompany anyone who turned back. The most ambitious riders did 28 kilometers and realized after the fact that they could have done more. I was very supportive of their decision to ride within themselves. It will be time to test their limits after they have improved their form and bike handling skills.

Next time we do this route I will encourage them to do a 52 kilometer loop. They will all be amazed at how much farther and faster they will travel than they did on their first outing.

In anticipation of this weekend, I put together a profile for my classes which simulated parts of the ride and, in particular, highlighted how to avoid red-lining on the hills. Several people told me that they relied on that information when they found themselves in doubt during yesterday's efforts. As proof that they find real-time data useful --- every one but me had on their heart rate monitor! I had an opportunity to ride with and coach each member of the group. One person stood out for me - her ability to receive verbal guidance and apply it was outstanding. Her skills improved dramatically and she was rewarded by being able to ride a hill she had had to walk on the way out. Another rider surprised us all - she was very strong even though she had previously only ridden on rail trails. She attributed her performance to her indoor experiences - improved endurance and better form.

Next up: a clinic on gears and shifting and a discussion about bike choice. Most of the group will be purchasing a new or new-to-them bike in the next few months.

Originally posted 2011-10-20 05:11:38.

Christine Nielsen
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