Posted by: Budger | September 1, 2006

Bike Escapades 2

July 3, 2006

Hi Everybody,


It’s time for another update on Rhonda’s biking adventures.  I have gotten a couple of emails from people asking me if I was still going, or if I had given up.  No, I have not given up, and I REALLY appreciate the emails of humor and support.  This is an uphill battle.  Just finding the time to do the training, between traveling for work, vacation and the weather has been a challenge.  We are now officially in summer in Houston, which means the average day is 90 degrees +/-, with about the same humidity.  It is VERY hot.  In addition, I am trying to wrap my project up in Denver, so I am still doing my Mon-Thur weekly jaunt there.  So I moved to Phase 2 of the training plan.  SPIN CLASS!  In addition, I am now the proud new owner of a Trek Pilot 2.1 Road Bike.  It is beautiful.  Yes…I got the look from Eric.


For those of you who have never been to a Spin Class, let me start out by saying they are a lot of fun.  A spin class is a group cycling class, similar to aerobics, with an instructor.  The instructor and the students all ride stationary bikes, and the instructor calls out directions.  In addition, the class is set to music.  This is an added benefit, because music has always been what keeps me motivated during exercise.  However, when I’m riding the bike on the road, I don’t listen to my iPod for safety reasons.  The Spin Class is for all different levels because you can go at your own pace.  For example, it may be a “hill climb” class, and the instructor will call out to increase your resistance and come out of the saddle, as if you were actually riding a hill, but you can tone it up or down to your individual level.  The Spin Bikes are stationary bikes with direct drive pedal/flywheel.  (I will explain the pros/cons of this technology later.)  The flywheel has a resistance pad, similar to a brake that is tied to a dial knob.  If you want more resistance you tighten the knob..  The more resistance from the pad, the harder it is to pedal, and so on.  This is the basic technology of a spin bike.  It is not like an electronic stationary bike that is programmed.  


My friend Shannon, who did the Bike to the Beach last year, and is my biggest fan while pursuing this goal, spent most of last year on a project in Bangkok, Thailand.  Obviously you don’t ride a bike in Bangkok (unless you have a death wish), so she did the majority of her training in a Thai Spin Class, with an instructor that did not speak English.  I figure if she can do it in those conditions, I can do it in Denver.  So I find a Spin Class at one of the Downtown Denver Athletic clubs.  Shannon is coming to Denver for a trip, so I ask her to go with me to introduce me to Spinning.


What do you mean you have to walk the stairs as part of Spin Class?


Shannon and I decide to go to the Wednesday morning 6AM Spin class.  The athletic club is about 6 blocks from our hotel.  We make plans to meet in the lobby at 5:30AM.  I have not seen Shannon in several months, so we are taking the time to get caught up.  She is also on a diet/exercise plan and has lost 30+ pounds since I had last seen her.  We meet up in the lobby, in our bike shorts, and are comparing notes on our diets, and the sausage/squish factor of the bike shorts.  (Yeah, Laura, I know…embrace the spandex.  Problem is it embraces me just a little too much.)  Off to the club we go…walking at a warm-up pace.  The club is in an office building on the 6th-9th floors.  We get in the lobby, and there is one elevator that goes to the 6th floor where the club reception is.  We pay our guest fee, get the information about towels, etc., and the guy tells us that the Spin Class is on the 9th floor in room 9B.  “Take the Stairs…”  Shannon and I look at each other and mouth in unison, “Take the Stairs…..”  The guy looks at us like we don’t speak English, and repeats “Take the Stairs.  The elevator won’t move between floors.”  Again, we look at each other, and we’re thinking what kind of health club is this that you have to take the stairs instead of the elevator, but to the stairs we go.  We get to the stairs, and I tell Shannon, that obviously they are taking the “fitness” thing way too seriously, and I will follow her.  Three flights of stairs, lots of bitching, and one cardiac explosion later, we arrive at the top, where Shannon says “OK, we’re done.  Let’s go get breakfast now.”  I’m too out of breath to respond.  My face is already beet red, and I haven’t even seen the Spin Bike yet.


Can a Spin Bike buck you off?


The Spin Class was great!  We had a great instructor, who was very patient with the newbie, and I got setup on my spin bike.  Remember I said that a spin bike had direct drive pedal/flywheels?  What this means is that when you stop pedaling, the flywheel keeps going, and since it is direct drive, the pedals continue to crank.  So if you stop pedaling at a high speed, the pedals continue to move, but your legs don’t and you can get ejected from the bike.  The instructor warned me of this, but of course, when you’re pedaling, and you need to stop, it’s not the first thing that crosses your mind.  So the instructor calls for everyone to come “out of the saddle” – stand up – and continue pedaling.  I do my best to get my behind out of the saddle, slow down to almost a stop on my pedaling, and start to get ejected from the bike.  Luckily I managed to save myself over the handlebar.  Unluckily, the class has mirrors, and I had witnesses to my near disaster.  Shannon didn’t say anything, but I could see her suppressing laughter next to me.  I am undeterred.  4 weeks and 4 spin classes later, I am now “out of the saddle” without the added gymnastics. 


Now some of you may be thinking that I am a little accident prone.  That is an understatement.  Remember I am the world’s biggest klutz.  Just getting on the bike is an adventure, as I always lose my balance as I hitch my leg over.  While buying the bike, I was trying on bike shoes, and I tripped and almost fell in them, and I wasn’t even near the bike.  Shannon who was at the store providing support was giving a blow by blow on the cell phone to another friend.  Eric was picking out a bike computer, and gave me the look again.  However, I figure I can get hurt getting out of bed, so what’s one more thing.  That was before the Toe Clips.


Tour de France


I am now riding in the Tour de France.  You laugh!  I picked up my new bike on Friday June 30, and it started to rain in Houston.  It rained, every day, for four days straight.  I have not been able to ride my bike outside.  So I hook it up to the trainer, turn the TV on to the Tour de France recap, and VOILA! I am riding in the Tour.  While I have been on the trainer I have been diligently practicing clipping in/out of the pedals on the bike.  I am having difficulty getting clipped in.  When I took my ride at the bike store after my final fitting, I thought I had unclipped, and pulled my foot off the pedal.  It didn’t come off, because it wasn’t unclipped, and I fell over like a tree falling in the forest.  At least that is how Eric described it, who witnessed the event.  Of course I was at a four-way stop, so there were four other witnesses in cars as well thinking "what kind of idiot comes to a stop on a bike and doesn’t put their foot down?"  Again I am undeterred.  July 4th I finally get an opportunity to take the bike out.  I am still having problems clipping my left foot.  I lose my balance twice, wreck again, and hurt my arm/wrist.  I am walking around like a wounded chicken with a bad wing.  I had to drop out of Stage 5 of the Tour early because my wrist was hurting.  Tomorrow is another stage.


Good news!  I went to the Doc, and my wrist is not fractured, only a bad sprain.  This morning the weather was beautiful, so I took the bike out.  I rode for almost an hour with no wrecks, and I successfully clipped/unclipped my shoes.  My AVG speed is almost 11mph with a top speed over 14, and I was not pushing it since my wrist is till hurting.  Tonight is the Tour de France time trial, and I will be riding in front of the TV.  I have made my decision.  I am going to ride in the Bike to the Beach MS150 in October.  I am riding to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis in honor of my friend Monica Cataldo.  I appreciate everyone’s words of encouragement while I pursue this goal.  I figure if Monica can live with the challenge of MS while raising two kids and a husband, then I can challenge myself to ride a bike.  However it is a huge challenge for me when a year ago I could not walk up a single flight of stairs, so please keep the humor  and emails coming.  I will keep you posted on my new adventure.  Next up….I’m going to find some hills in Texas….somewhere.


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