Becoming a League Cycling Instructor can be daunting. It’s one thing being an experienced rider feeling comfortable in your own skin on the road, but learning how to pass on that knowledge to others and being somewhat responsible for their well being is quite a weight to bear.
A couple weekends ago, I took part in certification training that went even beyond its regularly scheduled hours. Before the seminar began, I had to take a pre-assessment test(passing on the first time is no easy task), prepare an eight minute presentation and collaborate on a group one as well. I really didn’t get much sleep the weekend before with CicLAvia happening, so let’s make it two.
Class started on Friday night with dinner and introductions. Some familiar faces, some new. Our instructor Jim was Straight Outta San Diego serving as a stern, knowledgeable educator while also balancing with a deadpan humor worthy of a Daily Show correspondent.
We got down to the course framework and went out for a short night ride. I brought CiclaValley 1.0 because it was the only bike in my brood that had reflectors on it and I didn’t want to be the unprepared guy on day one. While it was the closest I’ve ever come to looking like a Christmas Tree, I still needed to add reflectors on my pedals to be considered lawful. Good to know.
I got home that night at 1030PM to work on my group presentation only to rise and shine at 6am. Judgement Day happened later that morning and naturally none of the teams were enthusiastic to go first. Even though I have a lot of experience speaking and performing in front of crowds, you can’t escape the anxiety of being judged.
Our presentation went well considering we didn’t have a run through, but while all of the groups were worried about content, the focus was more about communication. As a teacher, you have to be more than a machine that shoots off facts. You need to frame concepts, vocalize, make eye contact and speak with a level of confidence that your audience will not detect the level of fear you carry inside.
We were going to move onto parking lot drills after, but since the facility was being used, we unexpectedly moved onto the start of individual presentations. We were all hoping they’d be held off until Sunday, but given the opportunity to not stress over it for another night, I volunteered immediately.
I was not as prepared as I had wanted to be, which always plays on your confidence, but with my topic being , “Riding in Inclement Weather”, I stressed preparedness to avoid added distractions on the road. No one threw a tomato at me, so let’s call it a win.
We finally left the classroom to practice emergency maneuvers in Metro’s underground parking garage to avoid the sun and possibly public shaming.
On paper, performing these acts properly look simple, but in practice you’re more likely to hit a half court shot.
The Rock dodge requires a quick movement and return with the handlebars while trying to stay completely upright. The idea is that if you need to avoid a crack, obstacle or boulder in a very narrow space, you can execute it without veering into traffic. Good luck.
The next was the quick turn where you make a perpendicular turn in a narrow space at a good speed and hold it. The key is to turn your front wheel the opposite direction the way you intend to go, let your body leam the other way, then steer your bike back. A bit insane.
We practiced turning to the right since that’s the most common direction it’ll be needed in ‘merica, but later, Jim did the exercise where we biked directly towards him and at the last second he would direct us to turn left, right or stop. The signals were given late enough that I was almost sure he wanted me to hit him. I didn’t not want to test his Yodaesque powers.
Lastly, we moved onto the quick stop. We began by using just the rear brake, both brakes and then both breaks while leaning back. Sounds simple enough, but performing it without skidding was a virtual coin toss for me.
All of us were given the chance to explain each drill as instructors, but while everyone was sharing as many details as possible, you could see the wheels spinning as everyone was also thinking about what we were forgot.
After the cycling circus ended, we headed back upstairs for some chalk talk before adjorning at 6pm.
I should have gone home, but I headed to City Hall for the Civic Center Crit. It was kinda on the way home-ish. I was tired enough to only last a half hour, but the CiclaValley media network will be back to full coverage in 2016!
Sunday morning, we got a bit of a reprieve with an 8:30am start time which was negated after arriving at the Metro Station without my wallet. We headed out into Downtown immediately to train for our on-street instruction.
We had one run through before we broke off into smaller groups where I drew Jim, just as you’d expect.
It was only one other person in my group, so after I gave my rundown of what everyone (both of them) should look for, I released the hounds onto the streets.
Of course, Jim broke every rule imaginable to see if I was keeping a watchful eye. Incorrect positioning, lack of signaling, riding in the door zone and even getting into a fight with a motorist(I made that one up).
After our short ride around, I took my group aside, explained the proper actions and then proceeded to scold them and breakdown their confidence.
Or the opposite of that. I’m new to this.
After a much needed lunch break from the convection oven heat, we headed back to finish off the individual presentations. Everyone did a much smoother job after the benefit of performing with the group, so while preparing for two is rigorous, it was important to help build up that confidence.
After some words about educating children and marketing your skills, we were free to go. We were all tired from the weekend and the preparation, but everyone was glad to have gone through the seminar.
I was fortunate to be part of such an involved, diverse group that clearly is part of the next generation that will move this city forward. Everyone was extra supportive of each other and while the days were long, the breadth of enthusiasm pushed us through.
It was an exhausting week studying manuals, preparing material and practicing maneuvers on top of the class, but well worth it in trying to become a better part of our cycling community.