by Angela Reed-Fox
Safe and effective sprinting in indoor cycling
The one indoor cycling manoeuvre which causes the most injuries (and litigation) appears to be 'sprinting'. But effective sprinting is safe - what we've found it that sprinting is frequently coached wrongly or badly, putting riders at risk of injury.
What sprinting is not
Sprinting is not having riders pedalling as fast as they can. We've seen examples of instructors asking riders to match an unsafe foot speed (regardless of the ability, fitness, and coordination of the rider), getting riders to compete against each other to see who can go the furthest (using the bike's distance metric) or having riders competing to pedal the fastest.
The above practices (and others) promote riders pedalling with insufficient resistance; with the fixed flywheel construction of the stationary bike, this means they are more likely to lose control of the bike, putting them at risk of horrible injury.
What sprinting is
What happens as Sagan decides to attack?
1. He adds on gears
This is similar to us adding on resistance - but on a road bike, when you add gears, it means every push of the pedal will get your nearer to the finish line. Instantly he's making it harder to pedal.
2. He positions himself
Moving his seat closer to the nose of the saddle, he's shifting his weight forward on the bike. This means he can power down on the pedals more efficiently because he's shifting further ahead of the crankarms which means he can recruit more power from those big muscle groups.
3. He picks up the pace
Then he's ready to fire. Added to the steps he's already taken, when he increases the cadence and fires forward.
What does that mean for you instructing a sprint?
First of all, it means there's a definite order. Although Greipel employed these steps in a second, he'd be adding cadence onto resistance, not the other way round. For him, that would mean he's wasting energy with a faster cadence at a lower resistance, but in the studio where we have a fixed wheel setup and no actual finish line, it's more about safety. We keep our riders safe by always ensuring that they have sufficient resistance for their ability, their level of fitness, and the cadence they're pedalling.
Coaching different positions on the bike is great not just for seasoned veterans, but also for new riders who will welcome their bodyweight being shifted to a different part of their undercarriage! We'll be recruiting muscles differently when we shift to a different position.
In the clip, Sagan looks like he's pedalling at about 100-110rpm (approx). That's a vast difference from some of the unsafe craziness that occurs in studios. Why doesn't he pedal faster? Because he's pedalling against an immense resistance and he knows his most efficient cadence when sprinting. As a general rule of thumb in the studio, if your rider can manage 120rpm, that rider needs to add resistance.
What would happen if Peter Sagan did a dangerous 'studio sprint' in this situation? Well what would happen would be he'd pick up the pace and reduce the resistance (we've seen that happen) so essentially his power output would drop, as his cadence increased. He would be overtaken. His legs would be flapping wildly as he pedals in his 'granny' gear while his opponents would quickly flock past him snatching glory from him well before the finish line. He'd probably lose his place on the team for the next season, and therefore miss out on lots of lucrative sponsorship deals too. See, it's just not worth it!
How should you coach the sprint?
by Angela Reed-Fox
GDPR - How we made a challenge into an opportunity
On the 25th of May this year, the GDPR rules which came in 2 years ago became legally enforceable. And that has seen companies rushing last-minute to secure data and data practices. Your inbox may have filled up with "Please allow us to keep sending you mail" messages.
We suspected that this might not work. On the one hand, if a company felt it now needed to ask for permission to continue mailing someone - could it be possible that they hadn't asked for that permission in the first place? And secondly - what would make someone receiving the mail think "Yes, please keep sending me stuff I didn't originally ask for" actually click to resubscribe?
We consider that adversity makes us stronger in life and in business, and also that restrictions can be a blessing by enabling us to concentrate our focus.
With any challenge, we follow a 4 step process:
1. The definition
We needed to check and possibly change the way we stored and use personal data (more on that another time) and also we needed to revamp our email marketing system. Although we have always acted ethically and fairly, as there was some confusion over what precisely the GDPR required, we recognised that we may need to delete or destroy some customer data, thus reducing the size of our list.
2. The possibilities
We found this a good time to 'clean house', clean up our email list and customer database, and make sure our processes are watertight, and reinvent strategy, taking our marketing up a level. We considered this a perfect time to improve our strategy and re-engage with those who have signed up with us.
3. Make the issue something that works in our favour
As we tightened our policies and streamlined our processes, we knew that we would be disengaging from those who had signed up with us, but who hadn't visited or engaged with us. We would be improving our email open rate (OR) and click through rate (CTR). We wouldn't have the costs involved in maintaining a larger list. We would have a streamlined list of engaged people who were genuinely interested in us and what we had to offer.
There is a fallacy that the bigger an email list, the more profitable it is. There is another fallacy that the more those on the list are contacted, the more likely they are to buy. These two misconceptions are probably the main reasons businesses find email marketing doesn't work for them - when in reality it's a relatively cheap way to contact those closest to the business, keep them engaged and interested, and show them new things.
4. Test and test again.
It's early days, but we're in the testing phase.
What did we do?
oing back to our boutique cycling studio where we test everything, we knew that sending an email to current registrants (those who had registered to use the cycling studio) and asking them to 'resubscribe' was not going to be successful. We defined success as eliminating disengaged or inactive registrants, and losing no more than 30% of our current engaged registrants.
So what we did was change our marketing strategy radically. Previously we had offers, promotions, discounts going out on all platforms, email, social, paid search, as well as in leaflets and magazines, and in the studio itself. We decided to ditch all of those platforms (not for marketing, but just for offers), we decided that all our offers were going to be accessible from only one place - the registrant's inbox.
Why? Because this immediately added value to the emails we would be sending. If registrants knew that the offers would only come in this way, they'd be more likely to open and read our emails - improving our OR and CTR. We'd be changing behaviour by offering value.
We created a new project. We called it 'JammyFox' implying the fact that only a particular few would be getting hold of our offers.