Those who have taken a spin class can probably relate to this article by Bob Mina. I read it a few years ago on xtri.com and nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Reprinted by permission and originally published here: http://www.xtri.com/article.asp?id=820
This is part two of the Hurricane Bob Thanksgiving Weekend Double Header. If you missed part one, follow the link in the sidebar. After a tough time in the fitness assessment, Bob has just found out that his new gym has spinning classes.
I ask a staff member, “Can I bring my own pedals?” He seems surprised: “Sure! You’d be the first to do that, but that’s allowed.” Excellent. I unscrew the pedals from Phoenicia that night, and pack a bag like a kid going to camp for the first time. This is going to be great – better then riding alone, good music, and it’ll break up the day nicely. Great!
The next day I was the big dork that showed up for class first. I had my bike set up, and in true tri-geek form, I also had a measuring tape to get the saddle, bars, and pedal-seat lineup close to my road bike (scoring an 11 out of 10 on the Stableford Fredness Chart). I filled my bottle, got on the saddle, and waited for everyone else to show up.
The first thing I noticed as they came in was that most of the class was women. Actually, I was the only guy. I was also the only one wearing Lycra shorts and a sleeveless jersey. I was definitely the only one with loud yellow shoes, Look cleats, and no clue how to ride a spin bike. For those of you that don’t know, a spin-bike is a special stationary bike with a 45-pound (~20 kilo) flywheel and a resistance knob. You can turn the tension up or down to simulate climbing, sprinting, and anything else. The classes are usually led by aerobics-type instructors with enough energy to tell you what to do, ride out what they’re telling you, AND yell at you all at the same time.
As our resident instructor told us, “Okay, lets get going…” I clipped in. Her eyes spun my way and looked really closely at my feet. “First class?” She asked me. I nodded. “Great! Enjoy it!” After 30 seconds of easy spinning, she nailed us: “Ready guys – SPRINT! GO! GO! GO!
”BOOM! Just like a crit from my roadie days, we’re off like a cow nailed on the @ss by a bottle rocket. I have no resistance on my wheel yet, so I sit and spin like Marty Nothstein would (okay, about 40 RPM slower). I’m listening to her tell us to go, trying to catch up with the music, and wondering just how hard these next 30 minutes are going to be…
“STOP! Good sprint – we’re off!” She says. Like a good roadie finishing a sprint, I set the cranks to 3 and 9 and mock-throw the bike to end the interval……
which is a remarkably stupid thing to do with a 45-pound flywheel hurtling around at 29 miles per hour.
My left foot snapped out first as the pedal simply whipped out from the cleat, leaving my foot dangling in space like Wile E. Coyote when he’s missed the turn.
My right foot was driven upwards, and without anything holding back from the left, I began the usual slow-motion thought process that only comes out for the very big crashes. My body slammed forward and downward onto the handlebars, causing the bike to lift its rear-end about 10” off the floor. Did I mention that on the front of these bikes there are little rollers to help you move them into place before class?
For the first time in recorded history, these rollers now took an active part DURING a class as I performed an unrehearsed, one-legged-nose-wheelie forwards, thinking to myself, “So help me God, I’m really going to crash a stationary bike.”
“And I don’t have a helmet!”
In a blink the back of the bike slammed downward, and the skidding stopped. I’d only moved about a foot forward, but I was sitting there still pedaling with my right leg while my left leg was just stuck out into space. The instructors eyes were wide open, and she’d spun her head so fast towards my personal train wreck that she’d wrapped her headset 2 ½ times around her neck. The woman directly across from me opened her eyes a few seconds later, thankful that she wouldn’t have to explain a head-on collision that involved two non-moving bicycles to her insurance company.
I clipped back in, pedaled up to speed, and made a mental note about the important safety tip: N-E-V-E-R stop while at speed on one of these things. I thought to myself, “What would Lance do if he’d screwed up like this? I know – he’d take a drink and act cool.”
I reached for my bottle. Pity that the launch and landing had popped the top about halfway off. As I went to open the nozzle with my teeth I proceeded to dump most of my water down my face, cascading down my torso, and then all over my bike. I created an instant lake on the floor, but at least instead of looking cool? I WAS cool.
I waved at everyone still staring and said, “Hi. How are ya? I used to race bikes, you know.” The water dripping down and warping the hardwood floor quietly underscored my coolness. The class was 3 minutes old and I’d already had a near wreck, a flood, and blasted through my AT. Not too bad, really. I’d gotten all the mistakes over and done in the first class.
Following the dramatics of my debut, things got a lot better. After my second class, I’d learned to ride the bike without being a danger to myself or others. By the third the instructors started to let me go in early (and stay late) to get in more mileage. I’ve even become known as, “That triathlon guy” because I’ve started to sign up for back-to-back classes when they have them so I can get in 90 minutes. They think that’s insane. They don’t know me yet.
Speaking of insane, there’s a new Pilates class next week I’m thinking about trying. Yes, I’ve heard that it’s like a cross between Yoga and Medieval Torture, but at least there aren’t any moving parts involved to start with, right? Even I can’t crash a Yoga mat…I think.