My Adventures in Cycling: Part One
I say part one because I’m sure there will be a part two, three, four, five, and so on. I’ve long thought about trying a cycling/spin class, but didn’t for a variety of reasons: cycling is for skinny people (actually, everything is for skinny people), I won’t last one minute on those bikes, my butt will go numb along with other parts, people will look at me (and not in a good way) because I’ll be the only big person in the room, and the list goes on………. I often allow my perception of my body to limit my activities. Hey, as much as I do Bikram yoga I think some days that yoga is for skinny people. Those are the days I tire of having a different body type.
These past few weeks I’ve been looking for a way to shake up my life. My father’s death has affected me in ways I’ve not expressed, but the resulting effects have me seeking ways to shift my path, change my life for the better.
A couple of weeks ago I decided I’d just bite the bullet and go my gym and try cycling. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d hide in the back and slink away if need be. Once I made the decision I kept putting it off, but a few days ago I just felt this strong pull to try the 9:30a.m. class at the 24 hr fitness in Simi. The 24 hr in Thousand Oaks is closer, but I felt this nagging pull to go to Simi. When I tried to shut the voice up, it just kept getting louder and louder and louder until I had no choice but to obey it; although, Mother Nature did her best to stop me. Saturday night winds howled so loudly that I couldn’t sleep for most of the night. I ALMOST talked myself out of going due to exhaustion, but that voice just kept screeching in my ear.
So I got dressed and headed out to the gym a little later than I planned. They limit the number of people in a class so I figured if all the spots were gone then I was safe! Of course, there were plenty of spots, so I went in the room and marked my bike in the back corner and went off for a nervous pee.
Just before 9:30a.m. the instructor came in the room, and I knew in an instant exactly why I’d been drawn to this class. You see, I figured the instructor would be skinny and have a “perfect” body just like all the people who go to cycling/spin classes (this is NOT reality; this is merely how my mind works). The instructor was overweight with awesome red hair and funky tattoos. I knew then. I got it. She was the reason I was drawn to THAT class. I had perceptions and life just handed those perceptions to me upturned on a platter.
I could tell from her commanding presence that she knew her craft. She asked if anyone was new to cycling, and when I raised my hand she came over and made sure my bike was adjusted properly. She had me do some rotations so she could see if the height worked for my knees and she told me how to adjust the intensity of the bike and that I’d need to make sure I had resistance for when I’d stand up. I felt fairly certain at that point that I was in good hands.
Much to my giddy surprise I could stand up on the bike pedals without a problem. I’d tried standing up on the pedals in the bikes in the gym and couldn’t do it so I never imagined I’d be able to do it in a cycling class.
I do confess that once the class started I did look at the clock and started doing a mental count down. I wanted to make it through the class. That’s ALL I wanted. However, once I realized that I could stand up on the pedals and FOLLOW the instructors I became somewhat giddy. “Wow!” I thought to myself “I can stand up straight. I can stand up AND push my hips back. I CAN DO THIS!”
My mindset shifted. I started to feel excited, exhilarated, happy, and I knew in that moment that I had found a renewed purpose. I’d focus my energy on being an athlete. This thought came to me from above. I know this because I felt it as strongly as I heard the voice that told me to go the 9:30a.m. cycling class. I didn’t and don’t feel any doubts about that objective. Find my athletic purpose one moment at a time.
Sometimes I feel sad/bad/lonely because I feel like I do a fair amount of my athletic activities alone, including that 10K I seem to be propelling myself toward, but the very same voice that told me to focus on athletic activities, told me that as long as I had myself I wouldn’t be alone. Also, I do have an awesome support system.
Back to the class. As the clock neared the 10:30a.m. hour I felt so high!!! So happy!!! I’d done it!!! AND I’d excelled at it!!!! I say excelled in the sense that I completed the class without stopping while being able to follow almost all of the instructor’s directions. BUT, the universe wanted to play with me. The instructor wanted to keep going and going and going and going. She told people they could leave if needed to, but I’d come this far! I wasn’t about to quit early!! I wasn’t going to give fat girls a bad name!!! Besides, then I could wear a badge of honor and tell people what I accomplished!
I figured she’d stop at 70 minutes. People started leaving. I kept going. 75 minutes. She kept going. I kept going. Finally, at 80 minutes we were ready to cool down and stretch. Phew!!! I’d made it. I went over to thank the instructor, who told me how happy she was that I’d made it through the whole class. My efforts impressed her! I asked her what other times she taught. It turns out she only teaches on Sunday mornings! Ahhhhh, then I understood the absolute determination of the voice that told me I HAD to go to THAT class! The universe wanted to make sure I’d go to cycling again, so it gave me an awesomely exhilarating experience that would make me want to go back again and again! And I will. Of that I have no doubt.
The voice that led me there was my father. I know that for certain. His voice told me to be an athlete too. He wants me to be happy. To live as I’m meant to. And there’s a certain happiness that comes with the release of endorphins.
So, here’s to more cycling! To life! To new adventures!
And now, observations from my first cycling adventure:
1) Resistance when standing seems key to healthy knees. One time I forgot to add resistance when I stood up and my knee almost flailed.
2) Shoes matter. So do socks. I just grabbed a pair of old new balance running shoes. The tops of my feet, my toes were not happy. My toes also didn’t appreciate the rubbing. I’d just put on a regular pair of socks—not smart.
3) Hydration matters (I know this from yoga). I brought a small water bottle with me but quickly consumed that. Fortunately, for me the instructor went around to the students and offered to fill their water bottles if needed.
4) Yes, I feel it in the nether regions but it’s not as bad as I thought.
5) I’ll do it again.
6) Unlike Bikram, in cycling the fans ARE your friend if you want to feel cooler.
7) Like Bikram, wiping just distracts you from your purpose. Don’t wipe. Want to be cooler? Place your bike near a fan. I did. Not on purpose but by cosmic designJ
8) I look forward to my future cycling adventures; although, I reserve the right to change my mind if I can’t walk when I get up in the morning…………….