The Monday Bike Ride

Someday I will have time to read a book again. This month won’t be it. I literally forgot I’m in Albuquerque for a week; who forgets that they’re flying to Albuquerque?

Perhaps I can read a book on the plane….

Meanwhile, my Monday mornings start earlier these days, with a 6:15 a.m. cycle class. The first time, I arrived late, they had started, I got the wonky bike with no time to learn to use it, and the class was terrifying.

The next week, I arrived early for an orientation, got the swanky bike that tells you how many calories you’re burning, how many miles you’re traveling, and how hard your body is working, and the class was terrifying.

The instructor told us to set goals for the class. By week three, I had two: do not fall off this bike, and do not throw up.

The class is just on the edge of too hard for me, and after the first-time disaster, the only thing stopping me from a quiet quit was Becky, the teacher. Becky is one of those instructors you wish you could hate. Perfect hair falling in glorious beach waves around her face, you could add a watermelon to the scale and her weight still wouldn’t reach three digits. Barbie-esque in perfect exercise wear, she exudes confidence and strength.

And gosh darn it she is one of the kindest, smartest people you will ever meet. Which is annoying when you really need to hate her for doing this to you about halfway through a class where the bike is going 85 RPM with 8 resistance, and she says–in that reasonable tone that makes it sound like the best idea in the world–“OK, now I know your legs are on fire so we’re gonna get some relief and stand up, weight over the pedals, up you get, it’ll be great…..”

Have you ever (in adulthood) stood up on a bike going the equivalent of 65 miles per hour? It is an exhilarating experience, but only in the sense of survival. It can be done, despite images of my body hurtling across the room at said 65 mph.

Becky knows just what to say, when: at the beginning of class, “(mildly sarcastic tone) Come on, you don’t start your Monday morning this early for that little effort”; mid-way through, when we are all huffing and grasping blindly for water bottles, “(soothing voice) Give it what you got; you’re not competing with anybody but yourself”; and at the end of the class when we do the sprint speed spurt, “(exuberantly) You and your friend are on the flat stretch and it’s hot and you’re going to the pool, move, move, move! The faster you get there, the sooner you can get in the water!”

Becky sits with perfect posture and shouts these perfect encouraging words to the rest of us as we wilt across handlebars, trying to remember how to breathe.

So yeah, we love Becky. At the end of class last week, she said to me, “I’m glad you’re enjoying this.” Being a words girl, I hesitated over the word, “enjoying,” but you know, when the music is pumping and she’s urging us to find that rhythm of pedals against the beat of the song and we’re burning a calorie every seven seconds and everyone is climbing that hill together, no competition, just you and the bike and Becky’s voice exhorting, “You are strong, you can do this, there’s a reason you get up so early,” well, yeah, okay.


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