I’ve managed to come down with a monster head cold – the kind that has a fever and aches and a head full of snot – so my new year’s eve will be low-key and probably end well before midnight. But before the festivities begin, enjoy this story about my first time spinning and riding in the snow:
I’ve ear-marked Saturdays in December for bike rides to get to 2,000 miles for the year. The reality is I sadly did not get out as much as I planned. Nonetheless, my intrepid commuter friend sent out an email Friday asking if anyone wanted to ride Saturday morning. A quick look at the weather report indicated a 90% chance of snow on Saturday – meaning all club rides would probably get cancelled. So I texted him about the weather. He countered with “come to spinning with me!”
I’d never been to a spinning class before and had all kinds of dumb questions. I previously avoided them because my primary focus is always Bike For Fun. Which is really a guise for I Don’t Want To Do Intervals. So of course I said “OK!”
The gym where we were taking the class is only a little over a mile from my house – so of course I just rode my Beast of Burden commuter bike over. The snow had just started to fall and it was lovely to glide down the street with snowflakes on my helmet. (It would be more ethereal to say in my hair but I had a barrier cap under my helmet and Cat Ears on my straps – decidedly un-ethereal and a little more Elvis)
The class itself was quite a workout – very different from going out and riding your bike or even watching a movie while spinning away on the trainer. Within ten minutes I was sweating like a pig – and the sweat just kept pouring. I had a headache and felt like I didn’t need to prove anything to myself so I took it easy on some of the “jumps” – going from a sitting to standing position rapidly – by staying seated and spinning as high a cadence as I could.
Couple things I learned:
1. You can’t coast. If you try, your bike will lurch and make a horrible clunking noise and the instructor will ask you if you are OK.
2. Spinning bikes have incredible momentum. According to the cyclometer, I went 26.9 miles in 68 minutes. I find that very hard to believe – although I suspect it’s similar to running on a treadmill. The machine keeps you moving at a steady pace.
3. I spin at a high cadence naturally. When the instructor wanted us at 90-100, I was at 110. When she wanted us at 115, I was at 123. Even when we were “climbing” she would ask us to be at 50-60 and I would end up somewhere in the 70s. If I were to do this again, I would finesse the gearing more and not listen to the gear she wants us to be in – because it was clearly too low. But as a newbie, it made sense to try to follow her direction.
4. Spinning is done in a small dark room (or at least this one was) and NO FANS. It would have been a world of difference to have a fan blowing on your occasionally to help relieve the heat of the room. I have one pointed at me at home when I am on the trainer – and it helps tremendously.
5. I would try this again. I suspect the class would have been significantly better if the instructor matched her cadence to multiples of the beat and better communicated what exactly we were supposed to do.
Post-class, we cleaned up and unlocked our bikes and rode over to the diner up the street for a bite. The snow was coming down harder now and in the mile it took to get to the diner our jackets and jeans were soaked. Commuter friend’s wife had already gotten us a table so coffee and assorted yummies were on their way. Wonderful breakfast with wonderful people!
As you may have guessed, the snow was coming down even harder now and an inch of snow had accumulated on our rides. We brushed them off and Commuter friend rode with me most of the way back to my house.
I’m a fairly independent girl but I was glad for the company for no other reason than it was probably not the smartest idea to be out on a bike on the roads. We were on our hybrids with wider tires but the roads were slick and cars were sliding all over the place around us. One guy sped up to turn in front of us and skidding through the whole turn. We managed to pedal up one of the three hills to my house, turned the corner and there was a line of cars stopped for other cars that had slid all over the road. I only lost traction a couple of times but didn’t crash or fall.
We went our separate ways – he back to his house and me dismounting and walking the last two hills (and one downhill which would have been a suicide mission to attempt on my bike) home.
I can’t dismiss that it felt very awesome to be out riding in the snow. It wasn’t terribly brilliant nor would I recommend it as a routine thing to do without proper gear (i.e., fat fat fat tires with excellent traction) … but it was very very very fun.
See you on the road next year!