I have a 75-year-old cycling student in my periodized cycling program named Sally. She and her husband are avid cyclists and are preparing to go to France this summer to ride in Normandy. Since the start of the program in early January, she has only missed one class due to her book club (she’s got her priorities!). Her husband was right there with her until he unfortunately tore his Achilles tendon while skiing last month. None of my other riders have been as regular and committed as these two.
I just love Sally! She’s always happy, always working hard, always willing, and very eager to learn. I’d say she is the model student. She knows what her physical limits are, but also recognizes when it’s her mind holding her back and not her physical abilities, so she’s not afraid to try anything I throw out there. Let’s just say she never uses her age as an excuse. She does have trouble with cadences over 90 rpm both in technique as well as the fact that they push her heart rate very high even at low power output. For this reason, when we do pedaling drills faster than that, she knows to do them in short increments (< 30–45 seconds) and/or to simply ride at her own personal fastest cadence with good form.
I play a wide variety of music genres in these classes, since the age range in my two groups is upper 30s to upper 70s (the latter is Sally’s husband). Many of my riders appreciate classic rock so I tend to play a lot of that, but I also throw in modern and indie rock and alternative, and a lot of downtempo and electronic for the mental focus tempo rides we do.
Sally mentioned the other day after class that she hasn’t recognized hardly any of my music (even the classic rock!) so I decided to throw in a special song just for her.
Yesterday was our final class of the current six-week series (which was preceded by an eight-week series), a fully periodized program. I begin and end each series with an FTP 20-minute field test. When doing an FTP assessment like this, it’s important to have a “hard” effort of about 5 minutes to prime the body’s energy delivery systems, followed by 6–8 minutes of relatively easy effort before the actual field test begins.
During this easy segment while we were getting ready for the field test, I played “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin. Just before it started, I said, “Sally, this is for you!”
I’ll never forget her smile! She loved it, and so did the rest of the class. And you know what? It’s really awesome for cycling, because at 81 bpm, it’s perfect for an easy flat between intervals or a warm-up.
A little later during the field test, I used “Ring of Fire” by Social Distortion. I mentioned to the class that it is a punk rock cover of a Johnny Cash song, and Sally piped up and said, “I LOVE Johnny Cash!” So I think I’ll play the original next week just for her. (We’ve got a 3-week extension to this clinic until the end of April, and of course, Sally was the first to register.)
How about you? Got any classics from the ’50s that you’ve played for your special older riders?
Also, until I did a search for Bobby Darin to get this YouTube clip, I didn’t realize what a hottie he was, even by today’s standards! Am I right? Something about those high cheekbones! 😉