How to Challenge All Rider Levels

To set and achieve the goal(s) of a ride, I select from seven “challenge levers” and then adjust them to various levels depending on the make-up of the majority of riders in a class:

  1. Ride at high RPMs
  2. Ride at high resistance loads
  3. Combinations of both for varying durations
  4. Movements
  5. Hold a steady cadence
  6. Proper form/technique (body and breath)
  7. Mental focus to accomplish the challenges

Each of these can be really challenging for your riders or not so much. The key to creating the appropriate challenge is how you apply the FITT principles – Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. (We cover the details of how do this in our How to Turn Great Ideas Into Great Rides workshop.)

Here is my three-step approach for using one profile to meet the needs of many:

  1. Mentally graph your riders’ experience and fitness levels (think bell curve).
  2. Create your profiles with the middle in mind.
  3. Adjust the challenge to the outliers with your coaching.

For example, if you have a series of jumps in your profile, coach the option to stay seated or standing to give newer riders a chance to try, but to not feel bad about opting out. Coach the same move to experienced riders by focusing on the ability to lift and lower in and out of the saddle primarily using legs vs. over-involving arms. Same profile, different options and emphasis. More generically, coach personalized resistance levels with language that makes it clear to riders that it’s their challenge.  Let them know you expect them to listen to their bodies and make smart choices. Set realistic expectations throughout the ride for each of the experience levels.

At a minimum, your riders are bringing these four variables to each class:

  1. Experience level
  2. Fitness level – Strength, endurance, condition
  3. Mental discipline – Ability/wiliness to focus
  4. Motivation – Desire to perform and participate

Build your profile for the middle, and coach to these variables for each group. That way, your less experienced/less fit riders have something to strive for without feeling overwhelmed, and your “majority” and high-performing riders get the challenge they crave!

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