Using Counts to “Find our Rhythm”

Rhythm. It’s everywhere. Including the fabric of what makes us human. So when one of my riders asked, What do you mean by “find your rhythm” (a line I use just about every class), I was taken aback. He added, “I don’t have rhythm and I sure as heck don’t know how to ‘find it’.” What? Rhythm is the feel of the pedal, the whir of the wheel, the synchronicity of legs and lungs, the harmony of our bike and body melting together to create beautiful, fluid movement and power. I use words like that in my classes. And when I thought about this, I realized, some – perhaps more than I suspect – of my riders probably don’t know what I mean.

I usually coach riders to “find their rhythm” with words aimed at their individual experience – marrying their pedal stroke to the beat of the music, creating the sway of their upper body with the strength of their pedal stoke. My rider’s question told me that approach doesn’t always work. Fortunately, a tangible image came to mind.

I’ve had the privilege of riding with one of our Five Spokes followers in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Everything about her style is precision cuing personified. When she leads riders through four and eight count jumps like a chorographer, something beautiful happens. There are no frills. No added movements. No extra words. Just counts and movement in and out of the saddle in tandem. Rhythm!

Usually, when I do jumps, I don’t count, but when I saw the effect in her class, I realized this could be a tangible way to have riders who equate rhythm with their ability to dance, to tap into the primal power of dozens of sweaty bodies moving in tandem, transferring energy to each other and feeling in sync, in rhythm. To feel the rhythm.

I know it sounds obvious – the joy of moving together is undoubtedly part of the reason for the rocket success of many new indoor riding styles. But like many things, obvious is only obvious after we make the connection.

I tested my theory by weaving counted jumps into a rhythm ride. It worked. The rider said he felt like he was “part of a line dance and actually keeping up.” Simple. Effective. I’ll take it. It’s not only a start, but a great reminder that one size does not fit all.

It also speaks to the power of riding with each other and what our individual styles can teach each other. Love it – stay awesome!

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