Sunday, May 22

This morning’s ride: 1:44:42 Distance: 27.44 miles

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been over a week since I’ve been on my bike. Well, actually, it hasn’t. I’ve done a couple of short trips, but nothing of substance. The weather has not been agreeable to riding here in the past week–especially in the early morning hours.

I haven’t been shirking, though. I have been spending a lot of time at the Y. Spin classes seem to have a bad reputation as a rather sissy way to work out. I can tell you that this is not the case. They’re freakin’ hard. At least, they are at the Y. Well, the 5:30 am ones are hard, at least. As well as the 9:15 am Sunday class. In addition, I’m going on my lunch hour 3-4 times a week with Dave. This past week I’ve been spending some time working on my upstroke. Rather than pushing down on the pedals, I’ve been pulling up on the cages. I’ve gotten so I can go 15 solid minutes at the same pace and resistance as my downstrokes. The difference, of course, is that on the downstroke, I can continue that pace for a couple hours. On the upstroke, I can’t go much more than 15 minutes. Otherwise my hamstrings will curl back up on themselves, and no one wants that to happen. Well, at least I don’t.

May 22. Less than three months to go. I’m a little bit freaked by that, to tell you the truth. Although I’m in better shape than I have been in my adult life–hell, my entire life–right now, I’m not certain I’m in good enough shape, or that I’ll be in good enough shape when the time comes. Right now, I’m hovering at around 194, which is the least I’ve weighed since probably 10th grade. I still have 14 pounds to lose. And a lot more stamina to gain.

Actually, today’s ride showed me how much I’ve gained in that department. I did the ‘Three Parks’ ride I tried the last time I got on the bike. I started by taking a couple of trips up and down Cobb’s Hill–which has lost a lot of height, apparently, in the past couple of years. At least, that’s the way it feels to me. Then I went down to Ellison Park, where I rode up a rather long incline to get to the southern entrance. It was one of those gradients that was too long to get up out of the saddle to climb, so it was just a long hard sitting slog to the top, followed by a nail-biting ride down a pothole-filled road with a blind curve into a steep river basin, and then straight up out of that basin on the north side. I managed to take that hill at a very respectable pace, out of the saddle most of the way. It’s my goal to make it up standing up before the month’s out.

From there, it was a slightly hilly ride down to the canal, where I did a 10-mile sprint that took me through Genesee Valley Park, and up the river to downtown. For most of this part I was going 20 mph. That’s a serious bit of cranking, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could keep it up.

I got a bit of a late start this morning. I left about 20 minutes later than I had hoped I would. I wanted to make the spin class–the one where the instructor gave me the look. Remember? That was almost exactly three months ago. If I rode home to change out of my riding stuff into a more conservative t-shirt and sweats, I wouldn’t be able to make it to that class on time. So, I rode straight there instead, and took the class in my riding gear. Then I rode home. The time and distance include the ride home, but not the hour spent in spin class.

This is interesting. The class that kicked my ass three months ago, I take almost as an afterthought, after a pretty difficult ride, and I’m scared I’m not making progress.

My friend Mike tells me I have a tendency to make molehills out of mountains, but only after I climb the mountain. Maybe that’s the case here. I hope so…

Wednesday, February 23

Five months 27 days, give or take, to the mountain mounting.

I made it to the morning spin class at the YMCA. By the way, the Greater Rochester YMCA is one of my sponsors for this race, having supplied me with a free membership, of which I am taking great advantage. As I assumed, Dave was nowhere in sight.

My goal for this session was rather simple: get through it. Well, actually, there’s a bit more to it: get through it while doing all the stuff the instructor tells me to do. I managed to get through the Sunday spin class, in that I was on the bike and pedalling for the entire time. But there were extended times where I was unable to follow along with him. This time, I told myself, I would be scrupulous in following along.

So, at 5:30, I trudged into the spinning room, water in hand, towel around my neck, attitude set. And I hear this:

“Brian?”

It was Gary.* Thirty years ago, when I was working as a night-time DJ in my home town, Gary was one of the station’s reporters. My shift started right after his evening newscast, which was often the end of his shift. But there were some nights when he would come in to file stories after city council meetings and such. The first time he did it, he startled me because I thought I was all alone for the evening. And I startled him because I had turned out all the harsh flourescent lighting in the studio, and turned on a couple of nice warm lamps I would bring in. I felt I did a better set without the bad vibes brought on by those nasty corporate lights. Like I said, I was alone. What…did you think I took off my pants or something? It was nothing like that. It was just who I was.

I was Brian the Bedtime Buddy. True story.

A few years later I got a job in Rochester. So did Gary. We bumped into each other every now and again, but rarely at all in the last decade. But here was Gary, at the same spin as me. He looked older. He looked tired. Looks can be deceiving.

He was the instructor.

He kicked my ass.

But I let him. I kept up with him, working hard and sweating like crazy, but I did it nonetheless. Point for me.

Afterwards, we chatted a bit, caught up with each other, and I told him about the climb. “That’s gonna take a lot of stamina,” he said.

That’s all he said. No Look.

Gary led a good class. I liked his visualizations, his energy, and his music. I’m going to make this part of my Wednesday morning routine, even after it gets warm enough to ride.

By the way. I  briefly considered becoming a DJ as a career. I had the wit and the attitude, but I didn’t do it, because I didn’t want to get up early in the morning.

My, how things change.

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*No, Gary doesn’t get a link like Dave. As far as I know, there’s nothing to link Gary to.

Monday, February 21

Five months and twenty-nine days until the hill climb. Twenty-eight days? Thirty? Who knows. It’s less than six months away. I’ll get picker about the exact number of days left when it gets closer.

Not much of a workout today: I did a half-hour on a stationary bike, then worked my abductors and adductors, two muscle groups not normally used that much in cycling, but I’m working them a little to keep my muscles balanced. The reason I didn’t work any harder or longer is due to the kickass spinning class I took yesterday.

And when I write ‘kickass’ I mean it. It kicked my ass. I was sort of disappointed in my work in it. I made it through, but I had to slow down and not work as hard as I wanted to. I think I started myself off with too much resistance on the bike, which meant I burned myself out too soon. It was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll do better next time. I have much to prove to myself. And, in a way, to the instructor, because he gave me The Look.

The Part Where I Explain The Look:

As a rule, I get two sorts of reactions from experienced cyclists when I tell them what I’m planning on doing. The first is encouragement and admiration. The second is neither encouraging nor admiring. Nor is it overtly dismissive or contemptuous. It’s simply a look that conveys a complete disbelief that I will do what I am attempting to do. A raised eybrow, sometimes two, with a tilt to the head, while the eyes look me up and down and do not like what they see. That’s The Look.

Most times, The Look is accompanied by The Sound, which is its audio equivalent. One or two syllables long, and always an ‘h’ sound. “Huh,” is the most charitable version. Others are less so.

Back To The Story:

The instructor gave me The Look. The instructor made The Sound. “Haha,” he said.

Yeah. That’s the least charitable version of The Sound.

In case you haven’t noticed, this sort of thing affects me. I don’t like it. I find it snobbish and boorish. What’s new is my reaction to these sorts of things. At one time, The Look (and similar acts)  would crush me. I would realize I’m being silly and of course I can’t do it, and I should just go back to my place and open a bag of Doritos and watch cartoons and maybe later I’ll go out with my friends for some beer and I’ll say and do outrageous things and they’ll laugh and that’s a good time.

But now, even though I don’t like the reaction, I’m not devastated by it. He’s just wrong, that’s all. And even though he’s wrong, he’s a good tool for me to use. So I’ll go back to his class next Sunday, and I’ll do better. I’ll ride harder. It is (I found out later) the hardest spin class the YMCA offers,* and I’ll use it to my best advantage. Because in the end, it doesn’t really matter what this one guy thinks, does it?

Unless, of course, that guy’s me.

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*although the one I’ll go to on Wednesday will also be hard, but that’s just cuz it’s at 5:30 in the freakin’ morning.