By ICI/PRO Member Soigneur Jennifer Lintz

JN cropped

Even though I have been teaching indoor cycle for five years, I somehow managed to make it through the first four without ever setting foot on a road bike. Why the long gap? Fear. The thought of clipping in and out of my bike was scary to me, so I kept putting it off. Did my lack of experience bother me? Yes. When participants came dressed in flashy jerseys and official-looking bike shorts, I sometimes felt like an imposter. Maybe I didn”™t know something that “they” — the experienced outdoor folks — did.

When my husband announced last July that he was selling my road bike - a birthday present from the year prior - that all changed. Within minutes of learning about his plan, I was suited up in my bike shorts, Team CycleQuest jersey, helmet, and sunglasses, ready to take on the outdoors. For a good thirty minutes after that, I rode up and down our street, back and forth, back and forth. The neighbors must have wondered what was going on. I practiced clipping in and out, stopping, and turning. I think Justin started to realize he was no longer going to be able to sell the bike, so he spent time coaching me, too.

And then we hit the road. Aside from holding on for dear life down a couple of hills and falling once or twice when trying to stop (just paying my dues), I had a great experience. You could say I was hooked. After riding with Justin a few more times throughout the summer, I eventually built up the confidence to venture out on my own ... and loved it. Though I still have room to grow and lots to learn, my first summer on the roads definitely impacted my teaching. Here are a few examples.

1. I don't spend so much time — if any — teaching out of the saddle. Though I occasionally ask my participants to stand, I don”™t do it nearly as much as I used to. Riding outside made me realize that I feel much more powerful seated than I do standing. Interestingly, I have noticed my watts on the bike tend to communicate the same message. When I do give folks the option of standing, I encourage them to monitor their power output to make sure that they are truly benefiting from the change in position.

2. I give an overview of the ride. The first few times Justin and I rode together, I found myself wanting to know how far we were going to go and what the terrain would be like. Prior to riding outside, it seemed like my intro for classes was always pretty much the same … “We”™ll be doing a mixture of hills and flats today.” Talk about vague! Is it an out and back ride? How many hills are we going to do? When faced with real roads, I wanted the 411. As a result of that revelation, I now make a point to provide specifics to my participants. And, I”™ve been making an effort to give my profiles a name, per Krista Leopold”™s recommendation. Justin and I know our “loop” by name alone, just as I am hoping my participants will fondly remember the “interval sandwich.”

3. I use visualization more. Riding outdoors has given my legs an opportunity to experience a variety of terrain as my eyes soak up the scenery. I am well-aware of the gradual two-mile hill that is unavoidable on our ride home. I know that it plateaus about mid-way through and seems to last for an eternity. There are more pleasant straightaways on the south side of town that quickly come to mind, too. The changing backdrop is part of what makes riding outside so much fun. To enhance the indoor experience, I now make a point to ask my participants to think about the stretch of road they might be on at different points during class.

I”™m sure those three examples are merely drops in the bucket when compared with everything I have yet to discover about the indoor and outdoor cycling connection, but, we all have to start somewhere! Here's to many more rides in the future 🙂

Originally posted 2013-03-14 05:00:29.

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