Going Long: Tips For Teaching a Longer Cycling Class

Each winter I add a two-hour class to my weekly teaching schedule. These classes are designed as long slow distance—we do not raise intensity above Zone 2. I know that there is some dispute about whether this format is a useful part of a training plan. That debate will go on but I will continue to offer the classes because my students demand them. They have found that, when combined with my regular classes, they experience enormous measurable changes in their early season cycling and running performances. I sometimes wish I could pull the classes off the schedule because they are very challenging to teach. I can’t use drills or varied effort to entertain people. It ends up being all about the music and whatever I bring to the table.

This article lists some of my strategies for making a longer class format palatable for both me and my students. These suggestions are largely based on the fact that we can talk during class, so they wouldn’t be suitable for long classes where people are working at threshold. But I doubt that too many of you are experiencing demand for that option.

It’s OK to Talk

4 Responses to “Going Long: Tips For Teaching a Longer Cycling Class”

  1. JamesHuff says:

    Some good ideas, thank you. I am a new instructor and am doing my first 1.5 hour themed ride “Super Bowl Party. Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Christine Nielsen says:

      I think it all depends on how structured you want the class or whether you want it to just be a party. There is a Super Bowl profile here on ICA. That would give you some ideas about how to create a game situation in class. To extend the time, you could have more of a party at halftime using music from this year’s performers. If you just wanted to make it a party with no reference to the actual game you could pull music from groups who call the two competing cities home and encourage people to guess and cheer for bands from the team/town they are supporting. If you really wanted to do some homework I’ll bet there’s a source for music that was famously used in Super Bowl ads.

  2. Pat Williams says:

    Great article.

  3. Bill Roach says:

    What a creative and well thought out approach. One important point here, it seems to me, is that some rules can be tipped on their head some of the time. I do not refer to anything involving safety. But, when an instructor knows what she is doing, she can occasionally trade a rule for some other specific benefit. It’s tricky but Christine seems to have mastered it. I’d love to take a class from her.

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