My Spin Class Strategies for Road Biking

Last February, I still had my doubts about being worthy of the expensive racing bike Dan got me for Christmas, especially after The Big Crash. But my bike riding skills and confidence slowly continued to improve as the year and miles (1200+ so far) progressed. In late summer, I finally had to admit that the feeling of terror that dominated most rides had evolved to one of FUN!

DVFitSpin

Now, holiday commitments, the ski season, loss of daylight and unfriendly weather make time on the bike difficult to fit in, so I’m back to Spin classes. The outdoor riding fantasies that get me through that intense two hours every week often result in drills and experiments to address issues I experience on the road.

Here are my strategies. Feel free to comment!

  • Remember that Spin class is about fitness, not road-cycling.  The instructor’s training plan and hand and body positions will not always apply to riding a road bike in the real world.
  • Be realistic with RPMs. I realize the slow “walking” pace in spin class is geared towards building endurance, but I try to avoid that on the road.  The indoors advantage is that I can get a feel for my real-world RPMs from the Spin computers. Since it’s pointless to shoot for 150+ RPMs during sprints like some competitive folks in class do, I try to see how many watts I can generate by gradually adding resistance.
  • Study avid road cyclists I’ve befriended. Where does Jimmy put his hands when he’s standing? When does the other Jim diverge from the instructor’s recommended tempos?
  • Get a more efficient stroke (because fitness isn’t enough). After being challenged for falling behind, I figured out I only “turn on the after burners” (pull up on the pedals) to catch up or at the beginning of a hill. As with inline skating, biking power and efficiency have to be learned and practiced in order to become habitual. During spin class, I now try to incorporate my pulling muscles both seated and standing.
  • Standing and the female center of gravity. I Spin where I can check the mirror directly to my left. When it comes to pedaling while standing, I still don’t have a groove. When I try to lean forward as suggested, my power to the pedals feels off balance. Then this timely article, Are Women’s Body Proportions Different From Men’s? showed up on womenscycling.ca. I learned my center of gravity is in my thoracic area rather than my low back. Now I think I need to think less and feel more to master this skill. (But I look perfect in the Spin class mirror!)

My enduring enthusiasm and inclination to analyze make it clear that I’m very happy I decided to take up this new sport in my 6th decade of life. I see many more years of riding ahead!

 

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