I’m not much of a work-out kind of person. I don’t know why I’m relatively thin. I get comments about it often seeing as I am surrounded by (and regularly consume) sugar and fat laden cupcakes. I mean, I try to stay active, mostly when it’s warm out, but I loathe exercise more than the average person so I’m chalking it up to good genes.
Then a friend sent out a text asking if anyone wanted to go with her to this new Cyclebar we have in town. I’d seen posts about it on Facebook and was intrigued. I had no plans for the day in question, plus, my friend had recently had a baby so I thought “Oh good. I bet we’ll be on about the same level of activity.” “Sure! I’d love to join,” I replied. We reserved our bikes online (you can pick the ones in the back!) and the first time is FREE, so this was starting off great!
She offered to drive and was punctual when she picked me up on Saturday morning. We got there a little early, and got the low down on signing in and how the lockers work, and then we were given a pair of biking shoes, each in our size. The facility was really nice; state of the art. To our surprise we got a free water bottle that they filled up with our choice of chilled or room temperature water. I mean, fancy!
When the cycling room opened up we were the first ones in. It was kind of dark in there which was comforting for me. We found our reserved bikes and they helped us figure out how to adjust the seat and handlebars to our barely-over-five-feet body frames. Then the first moment of panic came. We slipped our biking shoes into the peddles but couldn’t figure out how to get them unhooked. I’m not claustrophobic but I now understand that feeling. As I was invisioning this nice building instantly going up in flames while my feet were mechanically stuck to this immobile bike, an instructor came over to explain how to turn our feet in to release the clips. Whew! I’m just glad we didn’t die in my imagined inferno.
So we’re warming up while other cyclists start to file in and settle in on their bikes. I notice most of them are quite defined and tan (it’s March in Minnesota – that’s not normal) and many are wearing sweat bands. Meanwhile, I’m in the Target yoga pants that I sometimes pretend are leggings and wear to work, and I didn’t even bring a hair tie. Why didn’t I bring a hair tie?!
Just before the class got started a screen above the instructor lit up with everybody’s bike number, sign in name, and stats. What?! Noooo!!! This wasn’t part of the deal. I want to be anonymous back here in the last row! Ugh. Then I noticed my name wasn’t up there. I was glad at first but then the instructor made an announcement about letting them know if your name wasn’t up there and the nice lady beside me told me if I didnt get properly signed in my calories wouldn’t be tracked. Well I didn’t wake up early on a Saturday morning to spend the rest of the weekend guessing how many extra calories I had to eat away with so I awkwardly turned my feet in, hopped off my bike and went back to the front desk. They got it figured out quickly but by the time I got back to my bike the class was just getting started. I locked my feet in, looked up at the screen, and I saw my name in last place.
Here’s where it all started going down hill for me – and not the kind where you’re coasting downhill, wind in your hair, fresh air in your nostrils, on an actual bicycle. More like a death spiral.
Five minutes in of the fifty minute class my butt started hurting but I was going along alright at a level 3 of the 3-5 suggested resistance level.
Then she we were instructed to increase resistance and stand. This might make my butt hurt less, I thought. Then, “Push ups!” Next, “Hover!” (over the seat). Then back to push ups.
Now, I have an old knee injury from a motorcycle accident I was in in my early twenties. When I do exercise, cycling is usually pretty easy on the arthritis. But this, I was discovering was not normal cycling.
Ten minutes in I gave up on standing. I lowered my gear but decided to go faster.
Then came the “Sprints!” What? I am sprinting! Keep up with the beat? But this is the Spice Girls and I’m in my mid-thirties. I look over at my just-had-a-baby friend and she is killing it! I mean she lets out an exhausted sigh every now and then because she is human and she is my friend, but what the heck is wrong with me?! I shouldn’t have had that pizza and spinach dip last night. Or the cupcakes. Also, peanut butter toast was a bad choice for breakfast. Oh look, I’m only in second to last place. Right in front of ROCKNRIDE.
Thirty minutes in my sweat towel fell to the floor. And I sure as heck am not doing level 15-17. About half that is pushing it for me.
Thirty five minutes we get the arm weight bar out. It was kind of nice to take my mind off of my burning glutes and since I don’t have any old arm injuries I actually didn’t mind this part of the class. At first.
Forty minutes. I’m sweaty and my towel is still on the floor. I can no longer lift my arms to hold my hair up and let the air flow cool my sweat soaked self. Gosh, I wish I owned a sweat band. Furthermore, I’m starting to think ROCKNRIDE is an undercover employee who monitors everyone’s progress and goes s-l-o-w so that no one is “really” in last place.
Forty-five minutes. If I hear “Sprints” or “Gear it up” or “Hover” one more time I might accidentally throatpunch someone. I mean these people are a whole other level of fit. I can actually taste blood in my mouth. Is this what death feels like? When. Will. This. End???
Fifty minutes. “Cool down” time. Thank. Gaawhd! “Lower to gear 5-7.” I’m in gear 3. Close enough.
Finally, time to stretch. I turn my toes in, unlock myself from the grips of the death machine, and let my feet hit the floor, careful not to completely fall down. Standing is hard. My toes are numb and I’m certain my throat is bleeding. Or maybe my lungs.
Class is over. A nice lad handed out Sani-wipes to clean the machines. I made it through alive but walking is even harder than standing. I’m so glad I don’t have to drive. People are actually speaking to each other!? I look at the screen a final time before making a B-line to the fresh air outside. Even ROCKNRIDE pulled ahead of me. Whatever.
On the way home we stopped at Starbucks, because, Starbucks. Also I’ve read that drinking milk after a workout helps muscles recover. I’m SURE a grande iced latte is exactly what they mean. Plus, I just burned a boatload of calories, right?
As my friend pulled into our neighborhood I excitedly check my email for the follow-up message the Cyclebar sends with all your stats. I burned 229 calories.
I take another sip of my iced latte and think, I should have slept in.
Note from the author: The Cyclebar is actually a really nice place. The staff is friendly and informative and the facility is very clean. If this review tells you anything I hope it’s this: If I can do it, so can you! Also, bring a sweat band.