Spin, Doctor

This is why outside is better than inside

Many, many years ago my brief illicit flirtation with a turbo trainer ended once MouseLung(TM) receded sufficiently to reaffirm muddy vows with my mountain bike. Subsequently, occasional bursts of insanity has seen my trembling finger hovering uncertainly over the ‘buy now’ button, while an instrument of pain filled my browser screen. The certainty that – in reality – its dusty carcass would lie unused in the dark reaches of the ‘shed of dreams’ ensured that button was never pressed*

My friend Jez is the flipperati’s ‘Mr Turbo‘. A man with the awesome self-discipline to exchange a warm winters’ bed for a 6am bastard torture contraption while confidently pitting his fitness against a set of goals best thought of pitching up somewhere between ‘laughable and unattainable‘. He talks of power output, wattage, intervals, heart rate zones and all sorts of other shit that, frankly, feels far too hard when the option is to look outside and utter a ‘I think we can safely consider than a raincheck, now where did I stash those Pringles?”

So not one of those, but thanks anyway. Instead I’ve drawn a straight line between quitting before starting to group therapy via guilt and ego. My Venn diagram of riding buddies has Malverns in one circle and Forest in the other. The intersection is minuscule ensuring flipping back into the hilly world of the Malvern Hills reminds me what proper fitness must feel like. With the forest boys, it’s more what proper drinking feels like 😉

In that group** my arse is handed to me on muddy plate whenever geography dives for the river. Point us the other way tho and my cheating choice of bicycle and some raging re: dying of the light can see me up front on the climbs. It’s a shallow victory but as a man who regards a tea spoon as ‘quite deep‘, I’ll parade it as some kind of ‘no other bugger cares‘ trophy. So when Matt began to lyrically wax over the benefits of a static spinning class, I began to worry.

In the spirit of enquiry then I pitched up on a dark, rainy night to a converted industrial unit split between classes of women aerobically gesticulating, and a more mixed group herded into a small, sweaty room segregated by bike like objects at regular intervals. Bike-Like in a form which included one of the normal two wheels, a shiny saddle clearly sourced from some kind of kinky sex-shop and a transmission systems entirely missing the physical realisation of a freewheel.

And the fella running it was – while sprightly and in generally good condition – pretty fucking ancient and that’s baselined from a man who looks in the mirror every morning and wondering who the grey,old twat looking back at him might be. Still, how hard can it be? Really it’s riding a bike which is pretty much my default not-working activity, the room was peopled by nobody wearing lycra or oiling themselves up***, and boxed by a 45 minute time limit which barely gets the forest crew to the first pub.

Perceptions are wonderful things. Inability to walk, hummingbird heart rates and schadenfreudeless so. All as the result of a losing combination mixing deluded resistance oneupmanship and going after it in the manner of the first man at the bar come post January Dryatholon. Subsequent weeks followed a similar pattern especially as Spin Class falls less than 24 hours after Sunday rides that may finish in the pub, but mark out the previous five or six hours slogging through hilly organic plasticine.

It’s addictive tho. Because while treasuring any kind of pain is not part of my world, it’s less than an hour of suffering. It’s inside, dry, warm and only mildly fetid. The instructor mainlines my tragic 80s rock music agenda, and – here’s the important bit – Matt’s not getting a fitness jump on me. But we’re getting that jump over everyone else. For which we die a bit by a thousand cuts; some of those being endless sprint/climb intervals, a few more being heart busting ‘jumps‘ between sitting and standing and a particularly sadistic exercise of sprinting like a bear-chased man two inches out of the saddle.

There’s no polite way of saying this; that fucking hurts a lot. Much of this was tangentially in my mind as I sauntered into the Asthma clinic on the back of a six day cycle where I’d ridden five of them over a 100k, and up a further 3 kilometres of vertical distance. Sure I walked like an aged cowboy and was pathetically grateful the appointment was on the ground floor, but buoyed by the realisation that everyone else there looked pallid and sick, whereas I just looked knackered.

Blood pressure: beyond healthy. Weigh in: Much Smugness. Lung Function: Better than a man of my age would puff and way beyond what a chronic asthmatic should realistically be able to project. Weekly alcohol consumption: lied a bit.

So my three month recurring appointment was downgraded to ‘come back next year unless you’ve died first’. The doc left me with the happy news that since my first appointment, some five years ago, my blood pressure was down, my weight had dropped 11kg and my lung capacity gone the other way by 16{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2}. She was keen to understand the secret of my success. “Spin, Doctor‘ I replied, apparently amusingly.

And then I showed her that photo on my phone. Because much as spinning has wormed itself into my riding life, nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – gets close to skiving off work and going riding with your mates. And you get awesome light for free.

The next person who responds to the cost of my bike with ‘you can buy a car with that‘ shall be met with half a smile which is code for ‘crikey, you couldn’t miss the point more if you were firing a moonshot

* after all, my road bike fulfils that function superbly.

** or, as it increasingly is, any group

*** which is my enduring image of Gym-Rats. For which they really need take a proper look at themselves. And not in the mirrors such establishments install to reflect your awesomeness.

3 thoughts on “Spin, Doctor

  1. Alex

    Nah, it was lost in a fire 😉 Honestly I can’t remember what happened to it, but it’s long gone. You really don’t want to go down that route Matthew. Go to a spin class, at least there your misery can have company!

  2. Nah, it was lost in a fire 😉 Honestly I can™t remember what happened to it, but it™s long gone. You really don™t want to go down that route Matthew. Go to a spin class, at least there your misery can have company!

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