Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The heat is on...

Even when it's cold out. Last night, thanks to Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club and TARGET TRAINING, I had the chance to ride my bike indoors in their facility. This isn't one of those sexy-glam spin class outfits where the goal is to look cute in your itty-bitty cycling shorts and cutesy tankinis. This is hard core. You can tell by the bikes hanging from the ceiling when you come into TARGET TRAINING that this clientele means business.

I showed up early (had to wipe down the bike from residual road crud from my last ride) and to have the bike set up on their trainers. Please bear in mind, I've never ridden a trainer before. I've done the stationery bike thing (didn't like it - I wasn't going anywhere!), but nothing like this.

I was given a kind of cue-sheet for the routine, but, I'm warning you, if you've never been in a training class, nor have used a trainer before with all the monitors, etc. it is going to read as Greek. Thank goodness, Eneas, the night's guide, was calling out instructions.

The evening started, and I was hitting about 85 RPM (cadence, for those of you who are new, is measured in RPM - the number of Rotations Per Minute you spin your wheels), getting about 125 Watts (don't ask - I just know it's energy output - still learning what it means... ), about 18-20 mph. In fact, sometimes I was spinning high enough that the machine's computer paused itself. I thought I'd be fine. Especially once I learned I'd signed up for the session for the cyclists that are at the top of the ability and speed chart - not my usually group!

Then, the fun began. Eneas had us go on a small incline. I figure "No problem!" I keep up an 85-95 RPM cadence... I'm checking my heartrate - around 140, I'm doing ok. And then he had us get out of our saddles. Do bear in mind, a waif I've never been called. And I have this bizarre fear of falling over my handlebars. I also have a knack of having things break on my bike that never happens to anyone else - especially when I get out of my saddle! Labor Day weekend, days before the NYC Century, I got out of the saddle of my Peugeot to "jump start" a sprint, and my pedal snapped off. (Mind you, the bike and all the parts were 20+ years old.) A month or so ago, I got out of the saddle (as I was feeling cocky) and I felt the handlebars loosen. Next thing I know, the handlebars are in my hand, detached, and I go flying over the handlebars, riding uphill, and on High Ridge Road where it is 2-lanes of fast-moving traffic. I have a justifiable apprehension to lifting my caboose out of the saddle!

But, Eneas says that's what we do, that's what we do. Note: I really enjoyed last night, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But this was a moment of hell. All of a sudden, I went from a steady and admirable pace to a clumsy, staggered, swaying mess of not a single-consistently smooth stroke. What's worse is that the next phase of the session included an incline, but somehow, my thighs were toast. 15 minutes in. 1 hour to go.

Oh. Do as I say, not as I do. Always have water with you. Always eat food during the day. Remember socks. I had done none of those things. I left my water bottle at the office, I forgot to eat lunch as I was on a very long phone call catching up with someone who'd been overseas, and I had to borrow this poor guy's extra socks. All told, I was a bonking mess. I was chewing gum so I could salivate and keep myself hydrated. I was sucking on GU Gel blocks (Thanks, RoadID!) for some kind of energy, and the socks were too thick for my shoes. Like I said, "Do as I say, not as I do."

There is a moral to this story, however. If this were just about me, I'd have said, "You know what? I'm outta here. I'll just tell Alan that I'm signing up for the lower-level group next week." But, I was there. Eneas did let me keep my incline lower than the others, as it was apparent I was a bit out of my league. But I thought about my friend, Lindsay. I met her through LIVESTRONG. She's fighting cancer, right now. Over the holidays, instead of being with her family, she was in and fighting to come out of a medically induced coma. I put my head down and thought about my friend, Tal, who has fought cancer over and over again. And he's not even 30. I'm complaining about having ill-fitting shoes, being a bit dehydrated, and sore? These people are going through and looking at having chemo. Tal is just recovering from surgery. Lindsay is just coming out of 11 of 12 days of chemo. Who the hell am I to be quitting?

So I didn't. I was there to train for my LIVESTRONG Challenges. I was there to be a LIVESTRONG Leader. I can't be in the back of the pack at the events I'm leading. I'll be damned if I'm going to be the last to finish the Bloomin' Metric wearing my LIVESTRONG jersey. That's no good. I closed my eyes, put my head down, stopped obsessing that the numbers on the screen were lightyears away from where they should have been. "Do it for Lindsay. Do it for Tal. Ride for Lindsay. Ride for Tal."

I'd love to report that, miraculously, I hit all the numbers, the bike grew wings, and I flew over the city of Westport like E.T. That didn't happen. But, I got a second wind. My incline was still lower than the rest of the class, but not by much. I was maintaining the target cadence. My heartrate was pretty steady at 160. And, while my tailbone was killing me (must get a new saddle), I didn't feel pain anymore. (Especially my feet. The overly thick socks + barely fitting road shoes made sure my feet went numb.)

And I finished.

I will never doubt that a trainer-session is for wimps.

Neither will you... to be continued... (you're going to want to come back for an announcement later this week... )


  1. Dear Rica,

    I loved you story!! The best part being you not quitting, you know you can't do that being a LiveStrong Leader right! Our "boss" is famous for saying "Pain is temporarely, quitting lasts forever". We can't let him down! I did feel for and with you and like you I have ridden for Lindsay, for Sarah, for Chari and all those lovely friends that never quit! They teach me to stop whining and get on with it!. BTW, love your wall of strength! Annemieke

  2. Thanks, Annemieke!!! Especially now that I've gone through an indoor training session, I am more and more amazed by what you do!

    Indeed, the Boss' words ring clear. (If I'm wearing the "colors", I can't quit. EVER.)

    See you in AUSTIN, my dear!


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