​What I Learned From Being at the ‘Back of the Pack’

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2021

I’m just getting back into cycling after many years being off the bike. In my past life, I was an avid cyclist, and I biked through the South of France, exploring the French Riviera and Provence. And as a Ph.D. student right through my early career years, my old clunker of a bike was my sole means of transportation – I rode up to two hours a day to and from work.

About seven years ago, my husband bought me a beautiful road bike for my 50th birthday. It had skinny tires, curly handlebars and clipless pedals. I loved it, and got back into cycling for the next two years.

But then – you know what’s coming – I got busy. Work and life got in the way, plus DC summers were way too hot and humid to do any productive cycling. So for my 55th birthday, I got a used Peloton bike, which continues to sit directly in front of my desk collecting dust.

Why? Shortly after I got the bike, I was diagnosed with osteopenia, which subsequently devolved to osteoporosis. I needed to build bone mass, and cycling won’t accomplish that. So I swapped it out for weight-bearing exercise like pole walking, dancing and vinyasa yoga.

Last month, I dusted off my bike and joined two cycling groups. And, like every “weekend warrior” athlete, I totally underestimated my current cycling level while cycling with a group on an evening ride along the Potomac River, Mount Vernon trail and through Georgetown.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Cyclists come in all shapes, ages and sizes – that’s the beauty of this activity.
  • Despite being in good shape, I lack the power and leg strength for cycling, because I don’t train specifically for it. So, I’m the slowest rider, inevitably ending up at the back of the pack, in front of the “sweeper”, who makes sure no one’s left behind.
  • So I turned to my core values, and met myself where I was. I’m staying in my lane, while being kind and compassionate with myself.
  • I know that with practice, I’ll build up my speed and endurance, advance to a new lane and head out for longer distances as I embark on my new cycling journey.

And here’s the most important thing about cycling with a diverse and inclusive group: NO ONE GETS DROPPED. NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND.

I never once felt like one of those ducklings I recently told you about in my 6/02 email story and video clip, who got left behind.

I was made to feel included, even though:

I showed up unprepared for the group ride…

  • My headlight broke, and the group organizer loaned me a spare.
  • My tires were not sufficiently pumped, but the group starts with everyone topping up their tires if needed. I was shown “how to fish” – pump my tires – so I can ensure my tires are always ready. I learned that air is lost with each ride.

My cycling technique needed improvement…

  • I was off-balance, like a drunk driver, because I kept looking down to avoid potholes and cracks in the sidewalks and trails instead of looking ahead.
  • The sweeper taught me that by looking ahead, I could stay balanced on the bike, better anticipate hills, gear down and build up the momentum to conquer them.

I felt stressed and anxious...

  • I’m used to cycling in the ‘burbs' with wide streets and no competing trail traffic (pedestrians, joggers, cyclists) and cars.
  • It was hard to stay alert and focused to stay safe, while having to cycle fast to keep up with the pack. Fast riding is not in my comfort zone.

As the tortoise at the back of the pack, I was grateful to be swept by the sweeper:

  • He comforted and guided me to the finish line.
  • He taught me when and how to shift gears to cycle more powerfully and when to start gearing down to take on the hills.

I’m sharing this story with you today because as we transition to live events, we don’t want to leave an entire virtual audience – that has enjoyed the accessibility, sustainability, affordability and convenience of virtual meeting -- behind.

It’s time for us to channel our ‘inner sweepers’, to make everyone feel included and engaged. Virtual meetings are:

  • The perfect entry point to convert new attendees into in-person attendees.
  • An opportunity to extend the conference lifecycle by engaging with attendees before and after the event with pre- and post-event education content.
  • A chance to extend sponsorship revenue after the event by providing on-demand and enduring education content.
  • A great way to keep momentum going year-round by keeping the content rolling – just like wheels of a bike!

Revitalize your virtual/hybrid meetings with healthy meeting experiences that engage and energize virtual audiences: My brain and body breaks and byte-size wellness activities are available in a stand-alone portal (The Virtual Wellness Lounge) or can be included and broadcasted inside your meeting agenda and on your conference platform.

And if you need content to help attendees and employees navigate life after lockdown, I have enough byte-size content inside my content factory to keep them going for years after lockdown!

Let’s talk! Click HERE to book a Zoom meeting with me.

Stay well,


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