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My Cycling Class Today: When a Rider Doesn’t Like You…or So You Think

If you teach a regular class you will have several regular participants—your groupies, so to say. They are the ones who get you. They respond to what you say and do, and they smile and interact during and after class.

You are also likely to get the “other” kind of regulars. The ones who are always there but rarely make eye contact and just seem to be doing their own thing. They usually ignore your attempts at corrections, and often come late and leave early, so you don’t get a chance to chat with them. And they just look miserable.

Questions flood your brain… Do they just not like you? Is it your music? Your style? Do you smell? Or are they just unfriendly people? You feel frustration building, not sure if it’s them or you.

This is a common scenario in indoor cycling classes around the globe. Let me tell you my story of a rider who I swore did not like me, but I discovered that I had prejudged her.

The other day I was teaching a busy Coach By Color* class on Matrix IC7 bikes. The participants in this club are still finding their feet after years of using old Spinner bikes with no data, so it is a work in process to educate them. Some had done their threshold test, others were just using the bike-predictive formula for their recommended power output.

A woman who has been attending my classes for over a year arrives to class. She must be in her 50s. She always sits on the same bike looking miserable, never makes eye contact, and in the past has always ignored my advice and recommendations. For example, she most often rides a heavy hill regardless of what we are doing in the profile.  

What has gone through my head? I’ve just always assumed she doesn’t like me or my class but this is the only time slot she can make.

Until that day, that is.



  1. Fabulous post!!! Something we can all relate to. I also teach on the Matrix bikes…love them!
    Thanks again for a great post on ICA.

    1. Thank you Carol. And yes, I am a big fan of IC7s.

  2. Thank you for this article Izabela. I agree, it is easy to make quick judgements of our riders and yet so satisfying when we take the time to notice them and their individual circumstances. You made a difference in this woman’s ability to connect to cycling and exercise in general, what a great thing. It is important to realize that our role as instructor has many pieces to it, and understanding who our riders are is clearly an important one. At the same time, settling with the fact that there may be some riders that don’t like us or just plain want to remain anonymous, but hopefully if we try make the connection we can feel like we did our job. Well done!

    1. I agree that we will not be everyone’s favourite instructor. And the limitations that come with how little time before of after class we get to interact. Still the feeling when you do make a difference is great. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Thank you.Great article

    1. Thank you for your comment

  4. Great article and reminder. My motto in life, and in spin class as well, is to connect with others in a positive way and by being open minded and non judgmental. That’s one of the qualities I value most in a person. You just never know what anyone is going through. Being open minded and non judgemental is my way to get through life and of course spin class for me.

  5. Really nice post there Izabela….

    1. Thank you so much for reading

  6. I have a regular rider who always sits in the back corner, wears ear buds to listen to his own music and doesn’t usually follow my cues. Basically does his own thing, I never understood why he even came til he missed a couple of weeks and I told him we missed him. He apologized and said his elderly, disabled dad lives with him and he had appointments during the morning spin class. He said he really missed the class as it was one of the only times he had for himself. After finding out a bit more about this rider, I had a whole new respect for him and what he deals with on a daily basis. His escape is spinning! Now it doesn’t bother me as much when he does his own thing. I am just glad he is there! He did comment he really liked a music choice I played, so now I try to play that song more when he is there.

    1. I think from my own experience that when you are a new instructor a rider like that grinds on you more and you just take such behaviour personally. But as you spend more years teaching, grow in confidence and see the importance of talking to the riders and getting to know their story, you discover that first impressions can be deceiving. I have a guy like that in my class: full time job, kids to take to various activities and as a lawyer he has to be on call so often comes in a bit late and has to rush off if he gets a call. But he always makes the best of each class he makes it to. So well done Dawn for approaching him and learning for the reasons behind his behaviour.

  7. Good story making a good point, Izabella. Nice job.


    1. Thank you very much Bill.

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