5 Critical Success Factors: Delivering a Tour De France #Indoorcycling Class

map_routeEach year in July, the Tour De France inspires many riders to exceed their potential, find new heights and achieve the elusive goal of winning the most prestigious cycling competition in the world. Over the past few years, I have incorporated videos of “Le Tour” stages in my indoor cycling classes. These rides, 60 minutes each, are meant to expose indoor cycling riders to the competitive nature of riding in a race, as well as to some unique aspects of outdoor competitive cycling such as: riding near the threshold, riding in a peloton, alternating between endurance stages and attack stages, time trials, team pursuits and mountain climbing.

Although the concept is exciting and leads to a nice break from teaching traditional indoor cycling classes, I have established the following success factors that you need to pay close attention to if you plan on implementing a “Le Tour” video ride at your studio or gym.

The 5 Critical Success Factors – Pre-requisites:

  1. Plan ahead – at least 30 days prior to the class, make an announcement in your regular classes and repeat the announcements at subsequent classes. If you have multiple rides planned, announce those as well (see example below).stages
  2. Ask your facility’s group fitness manager or communication staff to include the ride’s date and time in their emails, tweets, blog posts and social media posts. Creating awareness is critical.
  3. Obtain the necessary videos and companion music (check if licensing or fees are required), practice the ride and routine and make sure any audio/video equipment that is needed is available and in working order.

The 5 Critical Success Factors

  1. 66_20140722_©BrakeThrough-Media_DSC9655-659x440This is NOT Interval Indoor Cycling: While obvious to us indoor cycling instructors (especially if you ride outdoors), this is a really important notion to impart onto your riders. Typically, most indoor cycling riders do not ride outdoors. They are used to indoor interval routines, where music, tempo and instructor cueing help them achieve specific goals. With a “Le Tour” video ride, there are significant differences, where for example, you are in the seated position in a peloton, plugging away at threshold or tempo levels (90-100 rpms) for prolonged periods exceeding 10 minutes. For indoor cycling, staying seated for that long is somewhat unusual and to many, uncomfortable. Similarly, there are portions of a “Le Tour” ride when a breakaway occurs and you reach anaerobic levels (>110 rpms) to overtake the leader. While doable in indoor cycling, the pace and intensity as well as duration may not be in line with what indoor cyclists expect.
  2. The Playlist will be different: The majority of “Le Tour” videos I use have an already paired playlist, mostly instrumental with no lyrics. If your indoor cycling group is used to certain motifs (EDM, Pop/Hip Hop, Motown, etc.), or used to “your” style of music as the instructor, the video tour will certainly be quite different. Make sure they are aware of this during the communication stage I described in the pre-requisites.
  3. tour-de-france-2015-video-game-screenshots_0002_Layer-48The Video is your Competition: Most indoor cycling classes feature a two-dimensional approach: the instructor’s cues, and the music+routine. With a “Le Tour” video ride, a third dimension is introduced, the video itself, whereby riders are now paying attention to the screen upfront and they are following the pack. As an instructor, your role will be sidelined a bit. You should still cue and provide motivation, encouragement and anticipation to changes in levels (for example when a climb is coming or when a breakaway is about to occur). However, I would suggest you cut back on the amount of cueing and let the riders make an immersive connection to the video. I believe this makes the ride more effective. In other words, do not be a distraction.
  4. Make it Educational: While all indoor cycling participants are looking to work out, there are rare opportunities to educate them on the particulars of something as popular as the Tour De France. If possible, and if you are using Microsoft PowerPoint, you can have companion slides along with the video that you can use to share certain facts such as the distance of “Le Tour”, the number of riders, funny tidbits about food consumption and country facts (see screen shots of slides below).
    tdf1 tdf2
  5. Listen for Feedback: When the ride is over, encourage the participants to share with you and the rest of the group how they felt, suggestions for improvement, what they liked or disliked and if they wish to see this type of ride repeated. Over the years, I’ve had groups who loved the Tour De France video ride, groups who hated it and others who wanted something different such as videos for Pikes Peak, Colorado state park rides, mountain biking and cyclocross.

If you are planning on a video ride, ensure your group is aware of it, preparing them for the key differences and enlist the help of your facility’s marketing team to spread the word.

“Bon chance et merci”.


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