Sundays with Jeff B.

  Rode for my 7th straight day this morning, in Jeff B.’s 8 am class down at Imperial Marketplace . 

    Two months ago, I decided to leave the Sunday class at Grossmont. It felt like leaving home. Grossmont’s Sunday morning cycle class was my introduction and my education to Spinning.  I took my first class there. I got turned away for missing out on cycle pass disbursement there. And I got my butt kicked there by Barbara a couple of times. But finally, after riding for streaks of up to 5 straight days in classes at various locations–for months on end–I found myself at a level that demanded more of a challenge than Grossmont could offer.

I don’t blame Barbara. She’s in better shape than me and could still kick my butt at this level. But she’s hampered by her audience. Spinning instructors reflect the energy of the attendees facing them. The attendees at Grossmont on Sunday are overwhelmingly senior. Sure, there’s a couple of hot girls and hard studs that show up intermittently. But the weight of the audience swings towards sixty. And they just can’t keep up. One of them–Tommy– pays to reserve a pass and then puts in half an hour before dismounting and wandering out the door. Before that, he gets off the bike a couple of times to chat with various senior ladies in the group, gets a drink at the water fountain, and so forth.

One guy there actually goes harder than Barbara. He’s probably about my age. He wears a bandana bald cover, and there’s not an ounce of fat on his frame. He stands almost the whole class, and he’s always pedaling a notch above the rest of us. There’s a skinny, cute lady, about the same age as him, who always spins beside him and tries to keep his pace. There’s something unsettling when only 2 people in a class of 25 show up ready to push the rev-limiter.

The last Sunday I was there was the weekend before Thanksgiving. Barbara showed up and gave a very low-key performance. I wondered aloud to Ed (another good old guy) if she maybe partied too hard the night before.

“All I want is some music with a beat, and some instruction,” Ed told me once in the Jacuzzi after class.

His shaved head is shaved like a bald egg. He’s got a barrel chest over his expansive belly.  The hair on his head’s gone, but he’s still got a furry body.

“Don’t start playing that rap music,” he continued, “if I hear that in class, I’m outta there!”

After that class, I felt frustrated. I don’t get up early (on what is often my only day off) to just go thru the motions. And I expect an Instructor who doesn’t show up for that, either. 

I tried a couple of weeks over at College Grove with Annette. Annette’s kind of an aging unit herself, but I had her for a class at the Stadium location down in Mission Valley and she had me soaked, dizzy and panting by the hour’s end. The group classroom at Stadium is about as big as an elementary school classroom. And class was full: 25 folks straining at the pedals along with Annette. At College Grove, the Group X room is cavernous: about as big as a full basketball court. And only about 15 people show at 9 am Sundays. Annette turns the lights down and gamely tries to get something going. But there’s almost no energy in the room. Everybody’s cranking the pedals, but there’s no inspiration: from front to back.

“Oh yeah, push it….Oh Yeah!”

Annette tries to motivate, but she sounds more like a bored porn starlet.  Which is too bad, because she really is sweet.

 I finally found Jeff B.’s Sunday class. I was going there every Monday night, and paying a buck to reserve a pass. So why not try Sunday too? The class has many “regulars.”  There’s Whoop Dogg, a black man of middling height with a booming, deep timbered voice that he used to call out “Yeeah,” and “Heeerah!”  The first time I heard him call out this variation on the Marine “Hoorah,” I though he was saying “DeeRock.” There’s some really pretty, really firm girls, as well as some who’re trying to work it off. One older black couple are there both trying to work it off together. They both laugh loudly when Whoop Dogg starts his shout outs. And Jeff B. himself is a lot of fun. His patter sounds like a DJ parody: “Ahlright, Schan Dhiego, let’s ghet up and ghet moving! Turn that knob to about a five, we’re going to be doing a lot of hill climbing this mhorning. Lhet’s get up out of that saddle on my count, in 3-2-1.”

And he can kick ass with the best of them. You’ve gotta remember, any talking a Spinning Instructor does comes at the cost of precious respiration. Most normal humans cannot run in place on a cycle while simultaneously calling out cadence and instruction. And I love that Jeff always includes a “rider’s choice” segment. For seven or 10 minutes, he lets us pedal (in time to the steady beat) in either standing or seated position. I always stand. It’s a challenge, and I love being the only one in the room who can stand for that long. This morning, I stared down, or up at the ceiling a lot when I stood for the 7 minutes of quick, steady pedaling. I didn’t want to appear boastful or show-offey. But I still had a blast. As usual.

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