Less than five minutes in, we were red faced, dripping sweat and in pain. The room was dim, crowded and the music was pumping. My friend and I exchanged looks that said ‘How are we already in over our heads? We’re supposed to be bike racers!’ This was our first spin class experience.
The first part of my holidays was spent in Chicago with the family. As it typically is in December in Chicago, it was freezing cold and snowy for much of the time. Who wants to ride outside in that? So, instead of riding rollers alone in the kitchen, I decided to take up a former teammate’s offer and attend his spin class. Why not? There would be other people there, it was a workspace to go to to work out and it was something new and exciting to try.
I dragged a friend along to the morning class not knowing what to expect but figuring we’d fare well enough. After all, riding bikes is what we do. We found the spin room, took the two open bikes in the center of the room and class began. Within minutes our towels were soaked, we’d both taken off our base layers to try to cool off, and our legs were burning. Only fifty minutes to go! It felt like I was racing a pro crit, not at a gym with people riding in yoga pants.
We both survived the class, although it seemed like by the skin of our teeth, and lived to tell the tale. One thing that I took away from the class was the reminder of how great cycling is. It’s a lifetime sport and is all-inclusive. Nobody is turned away at the door. This class had people of all walks of life- high school aged to grandmothers; muscle bound men wearing lycra and sleeveless jerseys to people who looked like yoga instructors who danced on the pedals; parents with their kids. Cycling is a sport for everyone. It’s a sport that you can approach as seriously or as relaxed as you like- what you put in is equal to what you get out of it. You see it on the roads on the weekends- the race paced group rides and the weekend warriors. They are two very different groups of people with different attitudes towards and about the same thing, yet both groups love it equally. My friend and I fall into the group who approach it as a competitive venture- it’s a competition to be the best in the world, and the best that we can personally be. For others it’s more social, or maybe a way to see their neighborhood differently, or a way to live a healthier lifestyle.
Looking around the room when class was over, seeing the grandmother, the guy in the pro team’s jersey, the teenagers, and the businessmen, they all came from different places, looked different and returned to different lives. Despite these differences, they all had one thing in common- they all left with a smile on their face and a love of a wonderful sport.