Month: January 2010

An Open Letter of Apology to my Spin Class Instructor

Dear (I don’t remember what your name is but you look like Mr. Clean without the earring and are endearingly hot yet sadistic):

I regret to inform you I will not be making it to class this week. Yes, I know I was the person pestering for more intervals and insisting that you could totally use Lupe Fiasco’s “Go Go Gadget Flow” or Metric’s “Gold, Guns and Girls” in your audio provisions. I know I was the one singing along, in the back of the class, as you made us do jumps while on level 5 on a hill in one minute intervals. I even know I joined in mockery with you at the wimps who passed out of class after they busted their New Year’s resolutions a mere two weeks in.

I’d like to stress right now that this isn’t, really, my fault.

It’s the city of Seattle’s fault.

Being a cycling fiend, as you are, you know of the Burke Gilman trail. I’d wager you know it far more intimately than I, and I’ll wager that you know, for example, when to change to the other side of the trail along that particular stretch behind the Fred Meyer in Ballard. Sadly, I did not, so when faced with the alternatives of going straight (and into a gravel pit) or hanging left (into traffic and yet across railroad tracks) I opted for hanging a light left, in weird hopes that I’d just pop over the tracks and straighten out, as I can with my Rav 4.

By now you are sighing at my incompetence, although not nearly as much as I am. You see, as you may have figured out, my tire got wedged in the track.

And my leg got wedged in the bike frame.

This did not stop me from doing an elegant pirouette-cum-frontflip over the handlebars and landing, on my back with my head on asphalt, and my left leg woven intricately through my bike such that simply picking it up off of said leg was not an option.

There was, I am fairly certain, tumbling involved.

This however is academic as I have discovered something: you actually do see stars when you hit your head! Seriously! I was amazed and yet dazed. Little white lights everywhere and all swimmy, it was like a really bad laser light show. It presently faded and my comrade called the male person, who gave us a ride (me to the ER to get my brains checked, my comrade back to his car because I was not going to leave him to the wolves).

You’ll be happy to know the ER at Swedish Medical Center in Ballard is equipped with nice equipment and super-nice folks, I was in-and-out in about 2 hours all told. They didn’t mind me twittering my progress in the least.

However, I am sad to report that I have a welt that is about 8″ x 6″ on my left thigh. You won’t see it when I return to spin class, because it is covered by my shorts even; the doctor said it was a miracle I hadn’t fractured my hip (perhaps this was his way of telling me gently that I am aging?). I have lost most of the skin intended to cover my left knee and I don’t mind telling you had I known I was to be in such a situation I would’ve shaved more recently and paid more attention to my hair configuration.

I have also acquired miscellaneous odd bruises and other pain spots that neglected to show until now; perhaps they were intimidated by ‘big purple’ and all of its bluster. Naturally I declined any pain meds at the ER, thinking ibuprofen would be enough.

And I leave you on that happy note, sir, because I am essentially in as much if not more pain than I would be after your class.

Purchase Order

I need shoes for spin class. Everyone else has these spiffy clippy shoes and they look more comfortable than mine and they look official and did I mention everyone else has them?

I’ve been on the fence about these until recently: my boss managed to royally screw up his left arm while falling of a bike and not being able to declip his shoe in time (ergo, wrist took all of the fall). I’ve done that once and got away with it because I was young (I was 9, a skateboard was involved, shut up). However I’m off the fence as of now, because my shoes currently do not function as well in spin class and like I said all of the other kids have them.

The other thing all the other kids have are bike shorts, which I am also beginning to think are worth the hype.

I think I’ve found another expensive hobby.

Padding. Cushioning. Other Forms of Support.

Riding 25 miles when you haven’t really done more than 12, ever, is an interesting thing. First off, I will say that gear is very important, and I have practically no bike-specific gear, except the bike and a helmet and some padded gloves. I spent Saturday afternoon searching the internet for gel-padding seats. I wasn’t sore on Sunday. I was sore on Monday.

One would think that at my height and build I have plenty of padding, thank you, but apparently not, as after I got off the bike in the Starbucks’ parking lot I literally stumbled. Dozens of “serious bikers” had passed us and I fully intend to get all of the gear the other kids have: shoes, padded seats, better glasses, padded shorts, a holder for my bike pump, padded gloves, a jersey or two, did I mention padding?

Spin class tomorrow has *nothing* on that ride.

Or the thirty miles we’re doing Sunday.

I looked at last year’s route: the largest elevation gain en route is an area over 10 miles and goes up 800 feet. For those doing the math with me, that is 800 feet up over 52 thousand feet out, or 8 feet up over 520 feet out, or 1 foot up over 65 feet out. This is miniscule compared to the hills I’ve had to practice on around here, which have a 9% plus grade. (Grade=rise/run; so the grade on the “big hill” of the ride is 800/52800, or 1.52%). The big issue with this ride then is distance, not stress to the knees: it actually ends up being some 260 miles between the two days, from Vancouver down to Seattle.

I have to be careful, though, to not make the same mistake I made last March: when I was training for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon. A bunch of us signed on to do it, and we had heard a reputable rumor it was “practically flat”. Oh, no it wasn’t. A month before race day a couple of enterprising spirits went out and drove the course, and a week later dropped out. I’d be lying if I said it was anything more than sheer fiscal prudity that kept me in. That sort of thing is not a welcome surprise.

The question remains though: which padding do I purchase *first*?

Going The Distance…

… but not so much on the going for speed…

Today we did 25 miles from the Third Place Books in Lake City to Redmond, and back. I teased Duncan the whole way: “Are we there yet? I have to pee. Can we stop for a coffee? Can we stop for a beer?” We were also consistently having to contend with “serious cyclists” (ones with fancy shoes and fancy gear and going way over the 15mph trail speed limit, I’llhaveyouknow) and mommies with strollers (usually 2 or 3 abreast on the  narrow trail). We did beat our official “training pace” of under 10mph, though, and despite some wonky gear shifting (mine… of course) I think we did pretty well.

Apparently next week I’m on the hook for 30 miles. Um… yeah!

Chartreuse?

I have to admit, today I got one of those chain-mail-facebook-thingies that resembles a social experiment. This particular one was to GIRLS, (not women, mind you), and it was to list your bra color (!) as your facebook status (?) with no explanation.

Well.

There’s not a lot of drama in “black”, really, anymore.

But what was funny is that not only did the gal who sent it to me “do it”, but all of our related friends “did it”, and then several completely unrelated friends “did it”. Friends I know, for an absolute fact, haven’t ever shared the same airspace as the friend who sent the email. Ever.

And then the men joined in.

Apparently, GH wears a brown bra. Someone named Nick I have never met wears magenta, and a friend’s husband wears green.

Who knew? paging Eddie Izzard!

Geek Fail

I’m sorry, but the most classic, rookie mistake you can make in SQL is to turn a table in on itself and create a Cartesian Product.

Which I did.

On our shiny new server.

It ran for six hours before I caught it.

And somehow the delivering of the massively huge mapping project in less time than it has ever taken, ever, takes a huge back seat to the classic rookie mistake of someone who doesn’t even manage classic rookies.

Bleh.

Spin Class Fail

I completely forgot about the phenomena of Resolutors.

Resolutors are those folks that, post-or-during New Year’s, decide they are going to absolutely change their life. Usually this change of life decision is fueled by enough alcohol to create an everlasting flame; it doesn’t last past January and dies out.

That said, it does last DURING January and so, at 5:25, spin class was full. There was not a spare bike to be had, and yours truly had to camp out on the stairstepper.

I’m Back In the Saddle Again…

Well, not yet.

Tomorrow starts official training, courtesy of the LA Fitness next to work. From here out I will be doing about 80% bike work (spinning and cardio bikes) and only about 20% of the “fun stuff” (swimming and so forth). 

The last spinning class I took was two months ago. It featured a man who looked like a wiry Mr. Clean, sans-earring, and some truly impressive bike shorts. It also featured 3 or 4 gym rats, a couple of yoga moms, an elderly man who looked frail but, as he did not apparently sweat at all through the class, wasn’t, and myself.

Mr. Clean started the class with some vintage Madonna and I realized that he arrived in class in bike shoes and gear not having changed into them recently — he had in fact biked in from Seattle where he worked, to TEACH SPIN CLASS.

Ever been to a spin class? Here it is in a nutshell:

The instructor gets up on a bike in front of the class, facing you. Everyone else is facing the same way, at him/her. (For the sake of this post, we’ll use the neuter pronoun of him). The music starts, and he tells you what to do: how fast to spin, where to put your gears, whether or not you should be sitting or standing.

It’s that last part that is the core of the masochism that is spin class. I can handle shifting and making things harder to do, I can handle spinning faster or slower as permitted. But when they literally have you standing up and riding for 5 seconds, sitting down and riding for 5 seconds, and repeating — for two to five minutes — your knees, hamstrings, and quads inform you that they are not happy with you, right then. They do not wait until the next day to make their displeasure known.

This is likely because your back, chest, and arms (including forearms, biceps and triceps) are all queueing up to do that the next day. The day after spin class, you feel as though you have done something truly ill-advised to yourself.

I can’t wait.

For those of you who go to the LA Fitness in Bellevue, WA: I will be in the 5:30p Spin Class on Mondays and Wednesdays, and, schedule allowing, Fridays. You’re welcome to come and see me disintegrate.