bike training, bike commuting, bike safety

At CyclingSavvy Boot Camp, The Hug

I hope you’re reading this because you’re thinking about taking a CyclingSavvy class. Or perhaps you’re considering the online course, because workshops aren’t yet available where you live.

Ideally you’re thinking:

Who are these people?

Why should I trust them?

What makes CyclingSavvy worth my time?

A peek into Boot Camp will answer your questions.

I hear disdain from the founders: We offer nothing called Boot Camp!

True. It’s called CyclingSavvy Instructor Training.

CyclingSavvy is new. Currently 99 people are certified as CSIs (that’s the acronym for “CyclingSavvy Instructor”). Ask any of them about their training, and you’re likely to hear these words: Hard. Intense. An ass-kicker.

bike training

Keri Caffrey uses “Chalk Talk” to illustrate an idea for CyclingSavvy instructor candidates

Ryan Scofield, a new CSI from Bonita Springs, FL, summarized his training beautifully in a Facebook post:

“Keri, Lisa, and Karen did an amazing job of simultaneously scaring the crap out of us and invigorating us.” He’s referring to CyclingSavvy founder Keri Caffrey, instructor trainer Lisa Walker, and me. (I’m learning how to become an instructor trainer. That’s another story.)

“It’s a big deal to design these courses and teach classes,” Ryan wrote, “and it’s not to be taken lightly.”

CSIs are entrusted with a solemn responsibility: Teaching people how to ride safely anywhere. This naturally includes riding on all kinds of roads. 1 If you’re going to show people on bicycles how to take their place in traffic and love it, you’d better know what the heck you’re doing.

“Taking a CyclingSavvy class is easy and fun,” observes CSI John Schubert. “Taking the instructor training is difficult. The difference is because the instructors have to know a lot to make the class easy and fun for the students.”

Yep, he’s that John Schubert, affectionately known as one of “The Johns.” In the United States a group of men named John have helped untold numbers become better bicyclists through their books, essays and advocacy.

An article that Schubert wrote for Adventure Cycling Magazine inspired me (a Missourian) to travel to Florida to check out CyclingSavvy.

“I am well aware of the bad rap education has received,” Schubert wrote in that article. “Visualize a middle-aged guy with a pot belly filling out his jersey spending way too much time explaining gearing to a bored audience before launching into that overly sincere ‘bicycles are vehicles’ speech.

“Now imagine the gearing lecture all gone and the speech replaced by interactive teaching methods that truly engage the students.”

How to engage people: That’s what boot camp instructor training is all about. At every step in the process, candidates are exhorted to put students first. “The most precious thing people give us isn’t their money,” Lisa Walker told the candidates. “It’s their time.”

Effective time management was one of the training’s many epiphanies for John Allen, another new CSI, and yes, one of “The Johns.”

John Allen is perhaps best known as the guy who wrote Bicycling Street Smarts, with more than 300,000 copies distributed in multiple languages. Keri credits him with being one of her first teachers.

In an exquisite turn of events, John was an excellent student in Keri & Lisa’s March 2017 training. Here’s another thing we CSIs have branded into our skulls: We are always learning. We learn from each other. We learn from our students. We are always looking for ways to make what we do better.

About halfway through the training weekend, John Allen said something that stopped us in our tracks. We were working in a parking garage on a chilly Saturday in Downtown Orlando, learning how to effectively teach bike handling skills. Suddenly this national bike safety expert marched over to Lisa and pronounced:

“I’m humbled with what I’ve learned that’s above and beyond what I already knew.”

After a intensely gratifying moment of silence, Lisa responded: “Thank you, John! I want to hug you for saying that.”

And she did.

bike training

CyclingSavvy Instructors in Orlando, March 2017. From left: Karen Karabell, Shannon Martin, Yvonne LeFave, Steven Goodridge, CyclingSavvy founder Keri Caffrey, Esther Lumsdon, Instructor Trainer Lisa Walker, Dan Carrigan, John Allen, Ryan Scofield & Katherine Tynan.

On May 19 & 20 John Allen and Charlotte, NC’s inimitable Pamela Murray are leading Boston’s first CyclingSavvy workshop. John reports that he is loving spreading the word to folks in Beantown. “Why?” he says. “Because I have something positive and engaging to offer people.”

There’s still time to register here.

Boston too far? Meet me in St. Louis! Newly minted CSI Katherine Tynan and I are leading an STL workshop that weekend. Details here.

  1. Click through on any of our videos, and you’ll understand why we throw away the vast majority of our footage. It’s boring.
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