This past weekend, my husband and I competed in the team event of the 26th Annual Subway Coronation Triathlon. Guess who rode the bike course!?! The course was riding up and down a notorious road in Edmonton – Groat Road. It has a continuous hill climb that deviously plateaus, for what you think is the end, to be followed by a short climb to the top of 111 Avenue. It was with great pleasure that I got to ride the hill four times!
I reincarnated the climb for my cycle participants in class. I wanted them to have a chance to experience the Groat Road climb. Here is how it unfolds...
To start, have cycle participants start with a tension that mimics a hill (cadence will slow down).
The hill has five distinct climbs, which vary in duration. Prompt cycle participants to add a ‘gear’ (read: add resistance) with each hill climb.
Picture credit: static.flickr.com
Hill 1: 30 seconds
Hill 2: 60 seconds
Hill 3: 60 seconds
Hill 4: 90 seconds
Hill 5: 15 seconds
After the cycle participants reach the top of the hill, set the stage for the downhill portion. Groat Road has six turns, which are ~ 30 seconds each. With each turn, instruct cycle participants to drop a ‘gear’ and increase their cadence to the bottom.
I would encourage you to explore the various, hilly terrains of your community and make them into drills for your cycle participants. Take a ride for yourself and see how the hill would be best described. Draw the hill on a poster or white board as this will help participants visualize the course and allow you to place landmarks of interest (i.e., road signs, bridges, shoulder/run off lanes, etc.). On Groat Road, my two major landmarks were a traffic sign indicating a change in speed limit and the 107 avenue bridge which you ride under.
Setting up a drill that can be applied to an outdoor location can help cycle participants’ transition from indoor to outdoor riding and give them an opportunity to imagine riding local terrain.
The first couple classes of a new session are a great time to get the class practising fundamentals – using resistance and cadence to dictate their workout. These two drills are great for the first few classes as they are interactive but also introduce some important concepts. The drills are also good for the beginner classes to give cycle participants a taste of what a cycle class can be like.
Stand Up, Sit Down Wave
As we know, it is important to add resistance to the flywheel as we stand up out of the saddle. The drill emphasizes this principle but also allows cycle participants to ‘play’ with their resistance.
Starting at the front of the room, prompt the first cycle participant to stand up and add more tension. As soon as the first participant stands up, the next participant follows suit by adding tension and standing up. The ‘wave’ begins and participants remain standing until the last participant joins the others.
The wave can continue from the back of the room, where the last cycle participant decreases his/her tension and sits down. The wave will move through the group quickly and can last several cycles. If you want to change it up, try starting at the back of the room, this forces participants to watch for the wave especially with their peripheral vision (excellent skill to have when riding on the road!).
Encourage cycle participants to add more resistance on each round of the drill. An alternative to this drill would include having cycle participants maintain the same tension they set for standing in the sitting position.
One of the fun parts of being a cycle group fitness leader gets to play DJ! This drill focuses on cadence by using the music volume to dictate speed. As the song starts, keep the volume low (slower cadence) and progressively add more volume over 30 seconds to take cycle participants into a sprint pace. Hold the sprint pace for 30 seconds then slowly decrease volume and prompt participants to slow their cadence. Repeat up to six times. Choose a song that is between 140-150 bpm.
Note: To ensure auditory health, keep the high music volumes below 90 decibels.
Games are always fun to play in a cycle class. Try these two games with your beginner participants to help them learn the basics on the bike!
Workman's Cycle Drills & Skills
Enjoy some of my favorite cycle workout drills either in a cycle class or on your own bike at home!