Take Your Indoor Cycling Class Outdoors, Part 2

If you read the first article in this series and are excited about starting an outdoor program for your indoor students, I have one important piece of advice: “Wait, proceed with caution.” There are some important issues which you should address before you begin to discuss your plans with others.

Liability and Insurance

You need to consider liability issues associated with taking your instruction and leadership outside your club or studio. Investigate whether your personal or club’s current insurance applies to activities outside the the indoor cycling classroom. If you have insurance that covers your indoor cycling classes, you might be able to gain additional coverage for a reasonable price to include an outdoor program. If not, there may be alternatives. In Nova Scotia, the Provincial Cycling Organization provides insurance for individuals and leaders of group rides so long as they become members of the organization and register as a club.

In the United States, USA Cycling is partnered with an insurance company that provides certified USA Cycling Coaches with $1,000,000 of liability coverage for $200 per year. Similarly, you much become a USA Cycling coach. The entry-level coaching certification (level 3) costs $95 for one year ($170 for two years) and requires an online exam.

If neither of these options apply to you, it is likely that you will be able to identify similar arrangements in your state or country.


Decide on what safety-related rules and behaviors matter to you and keep those at the forefront in all of your planning. I go beyond the legal requirements in terms of what I require from participants. It is a case of “my game, my rules.” For example, some cities and towns allow cyclists to ride two abreast (side-by-side). Even though this is legal, you may decide for safety reasons, all riders much maintain single file at all times. Think through the different scenarios you may encounter on the routes and roads you choose to use.


Decide at the outset whether you want to be compensated for the time you spend on an outdoor program. The entire enterprise, as well as your satisfaction with it, will be shaped by this decision. I donate my time but I justify that as part of my commitment to spend a certain fraction of my time engaged with my community. I have also found that the fact that I am a volunteer makes it easy for me to ask others to assist me.

Personal Goal Statement

Think about your own goals. Write them down. In addition, record what you won’t do. If your program becomes successful you may create a monster that will eat a lot of your time and energy. If you are able to refer to a clear goal statement and list of do’s/don’ts you will be less likely to become frustrated and disillusioned.

Get Help

If you expect your program will attract more than four people, recruit assistants. It is good to have a partner on the road, but also afterwards for the inevitable ‘can you believe that happened’ conversations. Your helper should be a competent cyclist but doesn’t have to be enormously accomplished. It is much more important you find someone who is sympathetic to novices, their pace, their mistakes and their foibles. Ideally your helper should have some mechanical competence so that you aren’t stuck with one person who has bike issues when you should be coaching others in the group.

If you develop a program model that includes compensation for your time, you should factor in payment for your helpers.

Identify Useful Resources

Don’t worry if you aren’t qualified to address all aspects of outdoor cycling. There are resources in your community that you can draw on to help educate your students. These include bike shops and organizations devoted to cycling and active transportation. Education programs such as those developed by the League of American Bicyclists and CAN-BIKE are also helpful.

It is very important to do your homework to ensure success. In part 3, we will move on to developing and marketing your program. (Parts 3–5 are reserved for ICA members. Click here to find out more about joining ICA.)

Click here to read part 1.

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