Think about watching someone else do something for the first time. They don’t know what’s going to happen, they try it and see the result. You are the observer, you have an outside perspective uncolored by how you think you look doing something – you’re seeing the real picture.
That’s how the learning process starts. Strip away the assumptions that you know how to do it, forget what you think you look like doing it and focus on learning how to do it better. Looking at that first step is a hard one because everyone I work with has turned the pedals on a bicycle countless times over the years. In that time nobody evaluates how they make the pedals go ’round, they just do. What feels familiar becomes normal and is confused with being right – it’s really not.
My pedal stroke program is based on three things:
- Simple physics – the application of force. I will break the pedal stroke down into zones where each large muscle group can apply force in the direction that the pedal is traveling.
- The learning sequence. Motor skills are learned in a three step process that can’t be ignored.
- It ain’t all about fitness. We all have grand plans to build our fitness levels to new heights and ride so much stronger next year. The truth is that somewhere in your 30’s your fitness potential starts heading in the wrong direction. Gains in pedaling efficiency are your only way of offsetting that.
Getting on the program
I could jabber on about force vectors and efficiency based on trig functions and information your muscles are feeding back and defense mechanisms your body has forever. I’m told I need to answer three questions: When? How many? and How much? To answer that I’ve broken it down to a few classes I offer:
A) The full first year program. This program is for the enthusiastic recreational rider who is looking to gain an advantage on their riding partners (on the theory that any 4 people in lycra on bikes is a bike race). It’s an 16 week program which starts with the basics of individual muscle usage and builds everything upon that. The cost of the program is $600/person for a 4 person class.
B) The second year program. This class is a brief review of the first year class followed by more in-depth methods and an emphasis on strength gains applied to the pedal stroke. I’m still working out the details on this one…
C) The charity rider program. Riders doing events like the PMC or Best Buddies just want to be more comfortable on their bikes. Oddly, the basis for going fast or climbing hills is the same thing that makes riding the bike more comfortable. The large muscles both power the bike and take the weight off the handlebars. It’s a 4 week program, 2 sessions on trainers, two sessions on the road. The cost of the program is $150/person for a 4 person class.
D) Working around injury. I have been a bike fitter at Belmont Wheelworks for the past 20 years, I don’t know of anyone who has worked with more riders with hip or knee replacements. Working with injuries or asymmetries in the body is never one stop shopping. The body is adaptive, we make corrections, the body adapts, we make smaller corrections… I can’t nail down how many weeks this will take, I charge $80/hour for individual coaching.
E) Individual coaching. This season I am structuring individual coaching like my other classes where it’s a set time every week or every other week, just to make it fit with my schedule. I will have very few slots open for individual coaching, this will be done on an individual basis.
Group class format:
Each group class will need to be hosted. Being the host has it’s advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that 3 other people will be dragging their bikes and trainers into your house/gym/garage/basement once a week. The advantage is that the class comes to you, and you get to show off your espresso machine. A hosted class can be more convenient for the class members, but we will need to discuss location as I will be riding to most of my classes and a 2 hour ride to get to a 5:30am class probably isn’t going to happen.
Each person will need to fit well on their bike (I will work with the individuals in the class on that) and have a trainer that provides enough resistance. Last winter I found that larger riders were overpowering fluid trainers. The solution for that was switching to a smart trainer. I will also be requesting that students set up a video feedback look for when they train at home (I assign homework).