Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Final Ride (as in Final Exams)

I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to Lexington, KY this weekend to help lead a ride with Patrick Sims at the University of Kentucky. The first significant snow fell gently from the sky as I emerged from my slumber. The gentle type of snow that covers the brown grass and sits lightly wherever it lands. Being a North Coast native, I'm used to the stuff, but here it provided interesting reactions from the locals.

The last few years I have had significant life events occur when the snow descends from the heavens. As if God's way of telling me that today was going to be special. And believe me it was. I knew that today was going to create a lasting impression on me.

Patrick sent me a note about a month ago asking if I could come down for a weekend to help him lead a ride. We decided that December 6 would be the ideal time. The ride would occur the Saturday before finals week at UK. It just so happens to be my finals week next week as well, so I could relate to the anxiety felt by the majority of the riders in the room.

My anxiety was a touch higher. I finished my profile just hours before the ride and must have revised my music selections 30 times. I finally found the sound I needed and laid down the tracks. But my profile seemed too regimented. I revised my profile and left it open in the sense, that if I couldn't get a read on the audience to alter the profile, I would do what I had scheduled.

Patrick and I spent the better part of the evening working on our profiles. The dueling computers, both with MixMeister cranking the tunes so we could each fill the gaps in our play lists. We were in such synchronicity that several times we both clicked and played the same song at the same time. I knew that this ride was going to be special.

The Final Ride, as this two-hour special event ride was called, was sold out. Thirty-three riders filled the room. We even brought in an upright exercise bike for one student recovering from an injury suffered when someone ran a red light and hit her while she was training on her outdoor bike. The energy was high, there was almost a buzz in the room.

Patrick kicked off the ride with a 10 minute warm-up and turned the microphone over to me. The room anxiously awaited as I began my profile. All eyes were upon me and you could see they were literally on the edge of their seats as I spoke and asked them to commit themselves to the ride, keep an open mind, be honest with what their bodies told them to do, and finally take the initiative to make this ride special for themselves and no one else.

We started to pick up the pace and get into the grove. I was still skeptical as to how they were going to react to this "stranger" from up North. After the first song, I could see they began to relax and settle into their zones. Their eyes no longer focused on me as they all got into their own zone.

The music flowed and I got lost in the emotion of the ride several times. I don't think I've ever had to coach a class with such little effort. Patrick had done a masterful job coaching his students on form. Almost all were perfect and only needed an occasional reminder to relax shoulders and let the energy flow through themselves.

Here is the play list I used during the ride.

Reel Around the Sun - Bill Whalen (flat/standing flat)
Keep Hope Alive - The Crystal Method (flat/standing flats - getting ready for the hills)
Kalendero - Cirqu Du Soleil (seated climb)
He's A Pirate [Chris Joss Ship Ahoy Tribal Mix] - Hans Zimmer (standing climb)
Snapshot - Fluke (fast flat pace lines)
High Roller - The Crystal Method (flat with some out of the saddle work)
Vicarious - Tool (climb)
Rods and Cones - Blue Man Group (flats and jumps)
Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 - Class of '99 (climb)
Out of Control - The Chemical Brothers (flat with cadence building)
Conga Fury - Juno Reactor (riders choice)

After my hour, Patrick took us home. I was moved to tears on two occasions and really got caught up in the ride. I had a chance to ride with an excellent instructor whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

When Patrick finished his segment, I couldn't believe we had been on the bike for more than two hours. Time stood still, flew by, and seemed to transport me to another place and time. I was definitely experiencing flow at this special ride.

I may have coached a segment of the ride and given the class a taste of something else. But Patrick and his students gave me the greatest gift of all. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to be there and ride with those 30 other people. The energy was unbelievable and it touched me deeply. I don't know when I'll feel like that again during a ride, but to all of you that took part in The Final Ride, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Keep on pedalling!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Team Teaching - When More than One Works

Team teaching is an alternative to having one instructor the entire class. Team teaching works well with extended rides. Extended rides are usually held around the holidays or some other celebration. To be successful, the team of instructors must work well together and have complimentary styles.

When deciding if you want to team teach at your facility, you must consider who is on the team or who you will ask to teach with you. Consider the following when deciding if you want to team teach:
  1. Do all instructors follow the indoor cycling program your facility teaches? Does everyone teach without using contraindicated or made-up movements? You may have to take a class or two from the other instructors to determine if you want to teach on the same team. You don't want to find out they are instructing with unsafe movements prior to your team teaching experience.
  2. What are the teaching styles of the other instructors? Are their styles similar, completely different, or complimentary to your own style of teaching? Evaluate how your style of teaching will fit with the team. You may be drastically different than your fellow teachers and it may or may not work. Decide for yourself it it works.
  3. Can the other instructors adapt to any circumstance thrown their way? Not everything works as planned. Evaluate how they handle situations like students arriving late to class, a stereo or microphone malfunction, or students that ride their own ride.
  4. Have you worked with any of the other instructors before? This is similar to knowing how they teach. If you have worked with any of the other team members, recall how that experience worked for you. You want to have an enjoyable experience. If you do not work well with any of the other instructors, then you must decide if it will ruin your day or be evident to the students you have an issue with an instructor.
  5. Will the feelings (or egos) of other instructors be hurt if they were not asked to participate? Consider how you will feel if you were excluded. Know that they may feel some resentment and animosity toward the instructors on the team.
  6. Will all of the instructors step-up and help out with the ride? You need to make sure that the other instructors will support you when you teach. They must be respectful of your segment and let the participants ride. The other instructors should be willing to assist you whenever you need something such as water, towel, or help with the stereo equipment. When you teach, delivering a safe ride for your participants is all you should be concerned about. Your other teammates should take care of everything else.
  7. Will the instructors selected check their egos at the door or use this as an opportunity to show up the other members of the teaching team? You may not know how others will react once in a group setting. If you feel that any of the team will try to capture and not share the spotlight, consider sitting the event out. When all instructors have checked their egos at the door you know they are there for the right reason.
When you consider these factors, a ride can be flawless and enjoyable for both the participants and the instructors. Carefully planning the ride will prevent members from feeling like they are just at a dog-and-pony show. All instructors must be there for the right reason -- the participants.

The Rock n' Roll Ride
I am fortunate to work with three unbelievable instructors. We all happen to teach the 6:00 AM classes at the same club and do not get much exposure to the other time slots unless we sub for someone. Something just clicks when whenever the four of us get the chance to teach a ride together. Saturday, we had the opportunity to teach a two-hour Rock n' Roll Band theme ride.

Tom, Renee, Alice and I each had 1/2 hour to play our favorite rock tunes, well at least the ones that you can ride to and play in a mixed company crowd. You can download our play list by clicking here. The ride was a sell out earlier this week so we knew we had to give it our all since it had been promoted for several weeks. This was our opportunity to teach to a full class, something we don't see at 6:00 AM. All of us usually have a half-full class that early in the morning, so this was our opportunity to give people a reason to show up at 6:00 AM. We were excited, the members were excited, and we had a great plan to give our students the best ride possible

The ladies had to teach elsewhere earlier in the morning so Tom and I got to be the "warm-up bands" for this ride. I lead off with some of my favorite tunes, of which some I've used in class before, but never at this studio nor all in the same profile. I extended the warm up time and tried to keep them in their aerobic zone.

Tom was next and he built on the foundation I laid down. Tom took their efforts a little higher and built upon the first 1/2 hour. The students were primed and ready for the headline acts to follow.

Well the ladies showed up and Tom and I stepped aside. Alice and Renee knew how to pump up the audience. It was a great thing just to watch them work the crowd. Unfortunately, the microphone went out during the second last segment so Alice and Renee had to shout over their music. Yet despite this setback, they still delivered a rockin' ride.

The ride was a hit with our participants. The team of instructors circulated and made sure that all of the participants water bottles were full. When the microphone went out, one instructor tried to fix it, while another went to locate the director to track down a spare. We worked well together and are planning our next event.

This ride was a great opportunity for us to give our participants a two-hour ride with a central theme. The participants rocked, the music rocked, and my fellow teammates rocked.

Well done Alice, Renee and Tom!!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some Randon Thoughs

Well, I'm just starting this blog. Sure, I have a post from 2006, but that is one of the projects I worked on pursuing my degree. More on that below. I'm not sure where it is going to go, but hopefully I can share some fun and interesting thoughts and experiences. I have had a lot of unusual things happen to me throughout my life and I'm sure that there will be plenty more.

A little about me. I'm been a student for most of my life. In fact, I've been enrolled in some school for nearly 27 years of my life. I have my bachelors, MBA, and now I'm working on my Masters in Education along with completing my undergraduate requirements in integrated sciences.

In my spare time, I've coached youth basketball and ice hockey. I am also a Master Instructor for the Spinning Program (indoor cycling). Not only do I spend lots of time on an indoor cycle, but I try to ride three to six times a week outdoors. I also enjoy indoor mountain biking and plan on riding this weekend while snow is falling outside. I'll write about that some time next week.

So we will see how this goes. The more I play with this blog, the better my blog spot will be. Be patient as I find time to learn and personalize this page.

Till next time. Do what you do best and do it your best!!!