I grew up loving bicycles. From my first hand-me-down with solid rubber tires (ouch!) to road riding, I learned to deal with progressively greater challenges, like balancing. And traffic.
And “toe clips” (later cleats) to keep my feet on the pedals, where they belong. This is great for pedaling efficiency, but adds a layer of complexity to other basic maneuvers such as, say, stopping.
Early in our marriage, Brent got a pair of “rollers,” an 18-inch-wide treadmill-ish arrangement for indoor riding. Trying not to fall made the experience so harrowing that nothing but lousy weather induced me to use them. Thankfully we now have resistance trainers, which hold your bike upright so even the klutziest among us can hardly fall over.
By the time the new local gym opened, I had decades of experience with all kinds of riding. So it was with an abundance of confidence that I signed up for a 5:05 AM spin class. They use stationary bikes. What could go wrong?
Note to self: Quit asking that.
I showed up at 5:00, as the gym opened. It took two minutes to stash my bag and get to the spin room, leaving three minutes to adjust a bike to my size.
It wasn’t enough.
I was just jacking the saddle up to accommodate my long legs when the instructor came in. “Let’s get started!” At that, the room plunged into Stygian darkness. (I have no idea what “Stygian” means, but it sounds literary–and really, really dark.)
Well, not completely dark. Colorful disco lights started spinning and flashing in my eyes, further blinding me.
I hopped on, only to find the toe straps (which I hadn’t used in 20-plus years) were threaded wrong. I couldn’t pull them tight enough to secure my feet. Also, my seat was too far forward. I climbed off and tried to adjust both, using the Braille method.
The instructor yelled something I couldn’t hear over the loud music. Rather, I could hear but not understand her. Probably because of too much youthful exposure to lawn mowers and Aerosmith. Anyway, everyone else stood out of the saddle, so I got on the bike and followed suit despite the clunky feel of not having my feet attached firmly to the pedals.
My right knee started to twinge.
Back off the bike to lower the saddle slightly, again using Braille.
Of course, there’s no “slightly.” The notches are nearly an inch apart.
“Dog attack!” the instructor yelled. This turned out to be an intense interval, standing and pedaling all-out. Finally we sat back down. Then, “Dog attack!” Sprint. Rest. “Dog attack!”
Gasping, I turned to my neighbor. “How many dogs does the guy have?”
At last we got away from the imaginary dogs and climbed some long imaginary hill. My right knee twinged louder.
Maybe moving the saddle farther back would help. I stopped to adjust it.
Everyone else was following some undecipherable prompts from the instructor. I gave up and just got my workout from wrestling the spin bike.
Road riding has its downsides: trucks on narrow roads, headwinds, hills, real dogs, and potholes.
On the whole, though, I’ll take my chances on the road.
At least I’m not just spinning my wheels.
Thanks for reading!