The Spinning Alternative

So this was a milestone winter for me in that I finally retired from running. 9 months of the year I ride a mountain bike but in the winter, when the trails get really nasty( not nasty for my fat bike friends) but nasty in my estimation, I always turned to running until the spring. My knee started to bother me on uphill runs and I decided to preserve it for future use. I have no issues with it skiing and riding and want to keep it that way so all my years of running are finally coming to a close. So aside from hiking, I needed an alternate form of exercise to keep in some semblance of shape and I returned to …………..the spin class at my local YMCA.

As I first entered the studio, I was welcomed by a wide array of folks getting set up on their bikes. The guy in front of me with his Tough Mudder Finisher T-Shirt warming up in a rage, the homemakers, the young girls in their yoga outfits, the tri-athlete with his headphones on oblivious to anyone in the room, and the instructor who began turning up unfamiliar music in the acoustically challenging loud room. Now I am an old rocker and used to loud music, but when the spin class music cranks up, I can’t hear a thing that the instructor says with her headset microphone planted firmly in her mouth. Maybe it is just me but all I hear is blah blah blah…………three, two, one………..and then whatever? So I just watch her and when she stands, I stand and when she sits, I sit, as I pedal to the beat of heavy metal or some other form of music. No Atlantic Records or Motown anywhere in sight. And that’s okay.

As the puddle of sweat forms under my bike, I look around the room at the various forms of fitness. Standing and jumping is foreign to a mountain biker and so many times, I just sit and pedal to the beat and sweat profusely. A good workout, no doubt, but not really aligning itself with cycling in particular. I remember a few years ago, when my wife and I started taking the class together, the instructor at the time came in and said if we were talking, we were not working hard enough. She was a hard body, had a look of disdain, and looked right at me and said,” and- I beat all the guys at everything that I do.” With that, I kept warming up wondering what these classes would entail with this intense woman of stone. Interestingly, after a few weeks, she heard me mention that I was riding in the MS-150 ( the charity ride for MS that goes from Pittsburgh to Lake Erie). This event was a two day event with a stop over at my Alma Mater – Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. She told me she wanted to ride with my friends and I said that she was surely welcome. Obviously she wanted to prove a point and she showed up loaded for bear.

At the start of the ride, my friends wondered who this woman was with the time trial bike and disc wheel. She had a skin suit and a time trial tear dropped shaped helmet and menacing sunglasses and as we began the slow ride from the start, my friends wondered what she was doing with a group of older riders who were out for a good time and not a race. Interestingly enough, after the first hill, she was gone. And I don’t mean in front of us. I mean she was off the back after the first hill. Long story short, she was weeping, mascara running down her face, as I waited 45 minutes for her outside of Meadville and we rode the hill together up to the college. She could not believe that she, a “professional athlete”, could not ride with a bunch of old guys. I felt kind of sorry for her seeing that it meant so much to her, but I encouraged her to keep riding outside and it will all come together. I told her that there is a difference in riding a road bike or a mountain bike and spinning in a studio. The experience of anticipating shifting, how to ride in a group, drafting, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with spin class, it is just different outside. She was somewhat comforted and encouraged as I deposited her into the loving arms of her man waiting for her at the college.

So as I continue to spin a couple of times a week, the exercise is good but I have no expectations that when I get out on the road or mountain bike in the spring, I will be in good riding shape. The spring is tough no matter what you do to stay in shape. The only guys who seem to overcome the spring pain are the fat bikers(not fat cyclists, but those who ride fat bikes) and the road guys who ride all winter no matter what the weather does. That is not for me as I like to do other things in the winter. But I know that I will be challenged for a while when the new riding season starts. But in the mean time, I will continue to form the puddles of sweat and listen to the pounding rhythmical cadence of music, bikes, and spinning flywheels. I just wish I could understand what the instructor is saying? It is hell to get old. Thanks for reading.

12 thoughts on “The Spinning Alternative

  1. Dan Morgan says:

    Pat, Have you tried a bike trainer and Sufferfest workout program attached to Trainer Roads. I think that you may enjoy it a little more and be able to listen to your own music at the same time. I have used Sufferfest for two years and enjoy it very much. Go Gators!

  2. captainmick says:

    Ha. Had a similar experience. Too loud!!!

    MDM

    >

  3. Janet Lee McCloskey says:

    Nice article on spinning! It’s nice to have another activity that we can do together!

  4. bill belch says:

    Pat , as you have skilled us all 25 years ago there is nothing to replace the real riding . And enjoying the ride , mud rain cold enjoy it all. Sidebar spin on !

  5. bill belch says:

    Pat oh yea i have sound ear muffs you can have !

  6. Gwynne Morgan says:

    Fun blog, Patrick! Liked the humor, the hard body instructor profile & denouement, and the ironic old guy refences. My last—probably for life—cycling foray was c. 5yearsago when I shot off a wooden Maine bridge that had risen, unremediated, with a flooded river. I landed under the bike in a move that required stitches. I carried the imprint of the bike’s chain for another 2 years. Love, Gwynne

    Gwynne Morgan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • patmccloskey says:

      Remember what John Howard said( Olympic Cyclist and Race Across America Champion), ” There are two types of cyclists. Those who have crashed and those who will” Thanks for reading Gwynne. Regards to Bill

  7. Art Bonavoglia says:

    Funny post Pat, very entertaining, Riding on a stationary bike is one thing, but actually riding outside with hills and stuff is another, as your hard body friend found out, sorry about your knee.

  8. Cindy Marie says:

    Nice post. Spinning is fun and you can work as hard as you want during classes!

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