Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Was Campaign Shouting Like A Southern Diplomat


What does that mean, anyway? It's a lyric from Chuck Berry's "Nadine", one of the songs on my spinning playlist, and it's been going around in my head, especially when spinning.

We don't talk about a "spinning season", but such a thing is, for me, de facto, here. I never plan for it. I always vow that I...Will...Ride...Through...The...Winter (through gritted teeth). But, invariably, in the first part of January, I fall off the wagon...er, bike.

My excuse is asthma. I need the daily heavy aerobic exercise to clear out my lungs, but when the temperature is below 40 outside, riding with the intensity to clear out the lungs instead brings on an asthma attack. So, I ride a little slower, a little easier, till in the end, I'm riding like the geezer I am, and I wake up every morning gasping for breath.

So, I give up, and resign myself to the alternative: spinning.

Except, every year I rediscover that I actually like it!

This is nuts. Everything about me says I should hate spinning. So why do I like it?

Maybe it's the whole idea of pairing cycling and music. When I first started racing, in the 1980's, I always listened to music before and after riding, and when on the rollers. There were certain pieces of music that I thought of as "bike racing music": The English Beat's "Get A Job", most anything by R.E.M., and, uncharacteristically, Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe". So, when the idea came along of using the loud music as a focus and pacing device, rather than just a distraction from the boredom, I was there!

Maybe it's the folks with whom I spin. I spin at Gold's Gym in the Seattle Convention Center, in Kempton Baker's class. Kempton has tattoos all up his arms, plays in a band (guitarist, but he's always telling us to "follow the high hat"), and races cyclocross. And he is the absolutely nicest guy ever, with charisma and a great sense of humor. He also has a dog, Jack, a collie, who comes to class. Jack is my best friend. I bring him Snausages. No living thing in the world is as excited to see me as Jack when he anticipates a treat.

There's also a core of people with whom I've been spinning on and off since I started working at Medio. Of course, since I am a misanthrope, I never talk to them, and I don't know their names, but I am aware of them, and their presence makes me feel like the bike studio is home.

The last couple of sessions have been especially enjoyable. I go 30-45 minutes early (the folks at Gold's have been very nice about opening up the studio for me), put in a light workout using my iPod, then do the 45 minute class with Kempton, and then finish up with a 10-15 minute cool down spin.

At some point, when it gets nice enough, I'll stop spinning, and get all my miles on the road. But at this point, I'm happy, I'm working my legs, and best of all, when I wake up, I can breathe!

So, Chuck Berry. I've got a couple songs by Chuck on my playlist (which is, at the moment, dominated by X). The man is a genius. If you ever get the chance, treat yourself to watching Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll, Keith Richards' paean to Chuck Berry. At this point, "Nadine" is my favorite. When that baritone sax starts to trill in counterpoint to the guitar, doesn't that make we want to move up a gear or two, mmmm, mmmmm! If I could duckwalk on a bike, I surely would!

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