I’ll Take the Sublime Moments Where I Find Them…

Fourth day off from work; fourth straight dayof rain. In Southern California: where it allegedly never rains. Today the intensity turned up from misting showers to droplets pelting in sheets.

Got up early and rushed out the door to catch Steve K. riding over at Rancho San Diego. Washed hair and face in kneeling position under the tub faucet. Brushed teeth in a hurry, but didn’t shave. Rained all the way on the freeway. Rush hour traffic not to bad, but then again, I was headed away from the city. Hoped that the rain would keep the Spin pass seekers home in bed, but I knew that was just fantasy. Fighting the weather to get to the gym only sweetens the challenge.

I walked up to the counter only a couple minutes late for the start of pass handout. I grabbed one and went straight to the bike room to mark my bike with a towel and my water bottle. Then I headed upstairs to warm-up. Every 24Hour gym has it’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Rancho San Diego has an additional set of single M/F bathrooms upstairs. But they don’t have a really good weighted Ab crunch machine. And their elipticals are the old style: the kind that hurt my knees. So I did a lot of stretching, and jumped rope for about 90 revolutions. I did use the Ab crunch machine, hating it the whole time. The elbow pads are too close to the top grips, so my shoulders get banged repeatedly on the down stroke. I pumped out 120 reps anyway. Climbed on the incline bench for some incline sit-ups. Only got in about 15.

Steve K. came in to the locker room, carrying his travel mug and a big gym duffel. I could smell the coffe from four lockers down. His physical proximity made it my brush with greatness for the day. I took a long time to put my jump rope away and stage my towel and flip flops for the post ride routine.

I walked in 5 minutes late and saw a tall grey/blonde lady riding the bike I marked with my water bottle and towel 50 minutes earlier. I walked towards her, overwhelmed by that feeling of disorientation. The mirrors in the room were already fogging up. The water in the air from the rain combined with an A/C malfunction. It was uncharacteristically bright in the room. All the overhead lights were still up on full power. Usually, the instructor dims them to start the class. The brightness, and the loss of my bike made me feel very out of place. Everybody was up and running in place to the bass heavy music. Then, I just snapped out of it, brushed by the thieving older woman to retrieve my water bottle and towel off the stereo stand next to Steve K.  The woman said something to me as I passed.  I didn’t hear her well enough through my earphones. It didn’t matter what she said: there’s no explaination or apology for what she did. I may not be part of that clique that shows up for class there every Tuesday at 8 am. But I still didn’t deserve to be displaced.

So anyway, I grabbed the empty bike right behind her. The mirrors were all fogged up by now. One reason I like the front is the ability to watch myself work. With fogged mirrors, that wasn’t an option. The toe straps were mis-installed on the pedal clips. I had to remove and re-thread them. The seat height couldn’t seem to reach a satisfactory position. So I redid that 4 or 5 times. It all was a way to work out the frustration with being displaced. Finally, I was up and joined the rest of the riders.

“Those of you who haven’t taken my class before will find it’s a little different,” Steve K. said, as he always does.  “My rides tend to be more like an outdoors ride, with lots of hills and not too many breaks. Unlike some other instructors, I won’t give you a break after every push.

Steve K. talked about his family for the 1st time ever.  I’ve ridden with him for maybe 15 classes this year. He ‘s always chatty: about the fact he’s a triathlete, and he hurt his heel, which stopped him training and forced him to forfeit an entrance fee for a triathlon recently. He also makes references to his “partner,” e.g. “my partner and I were out on a hill climb and some girl was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. But instead of trying to repair it, she was just waiting for some guy to come along and do it for her.” He’s mentioned his partner so often in anecdotes that I just figured he was gay. Today, he spoke of his “wife” and we learned his son works for a Clio, a manufacturer of heart rate monitors. Must be the effect of the holidays, bringing out all this personal info.

After I settled down, and got my head right with the ride, I turned in an okay performance. But, with being late and monkeying with the bike, I only got in 40-45 minutes. Maybe I’ll ride at Mission Valley Center tonight. I have a spot reserved. Steve K. was really happy with the overall performance of the class. He congratulated us a couple times on our determination.

After I got out of the bike room, I wanted a jacuzzi. Rancho’s Jacuzzi is outside, with the pool. It was still raining hard. I looked through the plate-glass windows lining the hallway to the locker rooms and watched the rain drops hitting the pool water like little bombs. So I took my red umbrella out and held it over me all the way into the jacuzzi. I sat there, umbrella overhead, feeling like a dork. But then, I happened to look up at the sky. A movement caught my periphral vision and I looked up under the umbrella. And watched as the water beaded into little bubbles atop the transparent nylon. These little beads were shaped like mercury. When they got big enough to be heavy, they began rolling until they caught up against the umbrella’s outer fabric seam and broke into rivulets that ran off in clear pipettes, down to join the hot bubbling water all around me. I stared at that simple show for several minutes, suddenly feeling renewed and somehow more alive. That two or three minutes was the best part of the whole morning.

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