Why CicloZone – My Story (Darren Lee)

A band showing brand colours of CicloZone, an indoor cycling app

Let me tell you a story… a long time ago in a galaxy far far away… well maybe not that far and certainly not that long ago, but around 20 years ago in a small Andalucian town in the mountains of Spain, I found myself mopping out my sweat drenched indoor cycle studio in the middle of July at around 11 p.m. after a 14-hour day before I could close up and leave for the evening and get a well-earned nights rest. I rung out my mop into a bucket, with the studio fans on full blast, and windows wide open in 30 degree evening temperatures and 80% humidity, trying to evaporate the dampness from the floor and I started to wonder ‘why?’. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t questioning my life choices, or my circumstances, I was a foreigner or ‘Giri’ living in a provincial, whitewashed Andalucian town with a successful cycling career and successful gym business (which was rare) and I have never been afraid of long hours, or hard work. I was questioning something more specific, my gym had a membership of no more than 500, yet my indoor cycle studio, with more than 30 bikes was overbooked 3 times a day, every day of the week. I knew of David Lloyd gyms in the UK, with 20 times that membership, who would love to boast those attendance figures. I had people travelling 20 miles from neighbouring towns to come and grab a bike place for a class, and yet other gyms local to me couldn’t muster 10 riders for a single class a day. So, as I said, I started to wonder what I was doing that made it different, and then it dawned on me… I was actually teaching people how to ride a bike and more importantly I was giving my clients the reason WHY!!

– WHY increase resistance and ride at 60 to 65rpm? Because i wanted to engage more muscle fibres and increase strength. – WHY ride seated at 85 to 90 rpm on moderate resistance? Because I wanted to utilise more oxygen in this interval and promote neuromuscular connection in the legs.
– WHY stand at 85 to 90 rpm? Because I want to promote more quadricep activity and core in this part of the ride.

The truth is that I created my classes differently to all other indoor cycle instructors. Most create a ride by first choosing music, usually by artist and preference, whereas I always created the profile first and then mixed my music to fit the training profile.
I chose the music by beat (bpm) to suit the cadence required by that profile, or that particular interval, and I mixed verses and choruses to a length required for that particular performance or active recovery interval. Most importantly, I told my audience WHY!!! and they loved it.

Indoor cycle classes are full of professional, intelligent people who soaked up the reason why’s. They loved learning about Vo2 max efforts with shallow recovery and the increases in aerobic capacity it offers while they were leading up to there next red zone interval. By educating my clients as well as training them, they were becoming better cyclists and therefore enjoying the sessions even more and they came back night after night, week after week like it was a drug. So now, from wonder, my thoughts turned to ‘how?’ HOW could I get more people to enjoy my classes. Should I buy more bikes? At €500 a piece that wasn’t an option, and anyway I had already shoe horned as many Tomahawk ICE bikes as possible into  my cycle studio. Maybe open another studio? How could I be in two studios at the same time? Then my attention turned to the TV on the wall in that studio, a TV on which I played cycle race footage grabbed from the internet in my classes during performance rides, and MTV music videos during my disco night Tempo rides. What if, what if I could record my classes and play them on the TV at other times of the day? Hey, maybe on big screens in studios all over Spain… maybe in England… heck, let’s go for the world. A pipe dream? Maybe.

In 2002 it was a pipe dream, but the seed was sown and unbeknown to me at that moment CicloZone was born. Roll on 18 years, thousands of km ridden and a lot more life experience under my belt, technology had caught up with me and finances allowed me to create something really special. CicloZone is a passion, born over many years, made possible by an amazing business partner and a young, incredible team of talented digital developers.

It’s my passion to educate and bring the reason WHY into as many cycle studios and home based pain caves as possible. To get as many people as possible to take up cycling and get more bums on saddles understanding and enjoying the amazing, exhilarating feeling of cycling and understanding WHY they feel so good. I just want people to reach their fitness goals and understand WHY they are getting there when for years they had been nothing more than an unfulfilled New Years resolution. 

Cycling has given me so much over the many years I have ridden and will continue to do that for me until the day I ride up my final mountain, and I just want to pass this on. I want too make people feel great about themselves, and nothing feels better than that.

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