As promised, here’s my blog on Mad Dogg Master Instructor Sarah Morelli’s Gravity ride from this year’s WSSC conference.
The ride was held in the main ballroom with hundreds of bikes, two huge screens, a big stage and killer sound system. The energy in that room is signature WSSC: hundreds of humming wheels, sound checks, lighting checks, instructors from all over the world setting up bikes to get ready for the ride, saying hello to each other, anticipating a world-class experience and knowing that we’re going to share that experience together.
While I was warming up, a Five Spokes follower came up to me and introduced herself. Getting to learn about her, why she follows Five Spokes, and what she finds most helpful and engaging was priceless. While an instructor set up to my right, I realized I had ridden with him at Charleston Ride in South Carolina several years before, an amazing Spinning® studio that was owned by MI and Manager of the Global MI Team, Luciana Marcial-Vincion. What a great start to the 60-minute interval ride billed as “A flowing and energetic approach to interval training with a visually engaging exploration”!
I knew it was going to be awesome in the truest meaning of the word. Sarah’s rides are magical to me. She’s a master of metaphor, and her voice, the music she chooses, her smile, her humor, her insights, her authenticity, and the way she infuses her mastery into coaching sets the bar for me.
The focus wasn’t watts or threshold or anything remotely “HITT”. Instead, she painted pictures with her words that made me feel the ride. Feel, as in mind-body-spirit. Feel, as in the rhythmic trance that only a masterful instructor and a rider willing to go there can create together.
Throughout the ride, there were stunning visuals of earth from space and the earth as we see it, but they were backdrops to her words and cues. Her ability to create an experience that reminded me of why I fell so deeply in love with Spinning® over a decade ago had me overcome with emotion more than once.
A class like Gravity can take me places no other experience can. I had forgotten that feeling. Over the past few years, the pressure, hype and seduction to make things harder, faster, louder, to measure everything, and to not just be an instructor but a “Superstar instructor!” is everywhere. I stopped teaching “endurance” rides years ago because rider’s attention spans had changed. And recovery rides? Forget it. “Soul” had been redefined in the industry.
But for that one magical hour, Sarah’s mastery, the beat and rhythm of the music, the physical challenge, the energy from hundreds of instructors, the flood of memories from so many great times at previous WSSCs intersected, and I knew I was home again. The place I had started; the things I value most about indoor cycling clearer than ever before.
On the plane ride home, I created an endurance ride and taught it Friday: six songs from six to nine minutes long, pedal stroke drills, cadence ladders, holding steady cadence, a few running flats, all coached to tapping into the rhythm of the pedals, melding bike with body, mind with spirit, joy with effort. Boring? Hell no.
Three days of instructors teaching and inspiring other instructors, helping each other in ways that we might not even realize. That is what I love about this community and why I am so grateful to be a part of it. I am wired for high-energy, challenging rides, and although Gravity was an interval ride, it reminded me that energy, challenge and endurance have always gone together. Thank you Sarah Morelli. Thank you MI friends and mentors, new cycling friends, and Five Spokes followers. It truly was a magical three days.