Bittersweet

Last night, the stray notion of returning to Grossmont for the Sunday Cycle class popped into my head. But I quickly dismissed the thought. After all, haven’t I reached a level above what that class can offer? This morning, I got up at 6 a.m., enough time to make the 8 a.m. class down at Imperial. The thought of Grossmont occurred again, and was dismissed again. But I dawdled: stretched the cup of coffee out  and kept remembering reasons to come back after I was out the door. Finally, heading south on the freeway at 6:55 a.m., I realized that I was passively aggressively trying to return to Grossmont. If I missed the pass handout at 7 a.m., I would be forced to take the safety option of the Grossmont class. At 7:05, I called down to Imperial and was informed that, indeed, there were “no passes left.”

So, it was back to Grossmont. I haven’t seen that gym in daylight for maybe a month. The interior, the walls, the mats and the machines all looked worn in comparison to the newer Imperial location where I’ve been working out lately. But, the Grossmont location has a warm spot reserved in my heart. I spent the most hours there when first starting on this training regimen.  As early as it was, the old familiar front row spot three bikes down to the right of the instructor was wide open.  I rolled my bike into place and went off to stretch out in the elliptical area.

Coming back with 5 minutes till class start time, there was a very weird feeling in the room. Several of the folks were standing by their bikes and looking out the giant plate-glass windows facing the gym’s front entrance. I wondered if Barbara’s attendance had gotten less reliable. She only let us down one time: and that was really Haitham who failed to show for substitute duties as she promised.  But, no, she breezed in fully dressed in her signature bike shorts and a baseball long-sleeved tee. Her hair is longer and really enhances her overall cuteness. So she started, setting up her bike, the stereo, her music: which thankfully included no Huey Lewis, Bryan Adams or Hootie and the Blowfish.

A block of new, unfamiliar and younger folks was clumped up over across the room behind the front row. One of them–a young male, maybe hispanic (mentioned only for illustrative purposes) cured Barbara’s ire, and drew her fire.  We only knew about it when she called out “well, are you going to join us?!”

Barbara has a really great smile, and she’s the type of person who always smiles after any statement. It’s really a chilling technique: getting called out by someone who’s wearing a great big smile. Cuts you off at the knees before you can even jerk into reaction mode. So we all watched the young man close up his cell phone and put it away. He had apparently been texting in the saddle.

“Okay,” said Barbara, “you should be no lighter than a 7 or maybe a 7 and a 1/2, and uppp…”

The next half hour was like working out in a morgue. I had previously thought that Barbara was hindered by the collective age of the folks taking her class. But the total lack of energy in that room was hard to explain. No whoops, no hoots, no response at all from the crowd. Just Barbara, mechanically cheerful and taking us through drills that had no heart and no fun. The music was fine: contemporary, full of dance-able beats. I dunno, I still find it odd and disheartening. And it made me pine for Jeff B’s regular class.

Finally, at a half hour in, Barbara reached for the old familiar.

“This is a signature 24Cycle drill,” she announced, and started leading us up through a classic “ladder” drill: sitting and standing at increasing increments–starting with level 6 and ending at 9. She told us it was a 7 minute drill and we stood for the final 3. A female voice in the back whooped when Barbara sat us back in the saddle for cool down.

“Do that again!” someone else called, and Barbara smiled. From that point, everybody was looser and we cruised into the forty minute mark with seated sprints at “whatever level you choose, just make sure you’re working.”

The young hispanic male drew another rebuke for lack of effort on the next drill. Barbara called out for a seated level 8. A minute later, she held up 8 fingers at the young man, whose feet were moving too fast to truly be at a resistance level of 8. He should bring an apple for teacher if he ever comes back.

It was nice to see familiar faces. Ed was there in the back row, his great big barrel chest heaving to keep up. Tommy was in the back row, almost directly behind me. He made it through a half hour with only a couple of dismounts for water, his shiny bald head and black horn rims bopping over to the fountain on the side. I felt encouraged that he was actually going to make it through an entire class. But, no, at about 8:15 he dismounted, pulled his bike back onto its front rollers and wheeled it back over against the wall. Au Revoir, Tommy. A lot of the usual ladies were MIA. The elderly asian lady who treated the fan near the door as her own and always parked it a foot away from her right side, the curly-haired, laughing lady who giggled “what’re you on?” to Tommy that time he came in late and wandered aimlessly around for 10 minutes, both were absent.  The tall older guy with a full head of hair, who always rode to the right of me and cracked Barbara up a few times, he was gone, too. As was the bandana-wearing gent who led the whole class when Haitham let us down that one time. His lady buddy, who always matched his standing riding for the entire class was there. She rode standing for the entire class on the bike next to me on my left side. Several times, I stayed with her, standing for a heavy climb after Barbara sat the class down. But I felt embarrassed about standing out, though Tommy–off all people–stood along with us as long as I stayed standing. Happy in the end, wearing a mesh shirt soaked through, I walked out the back door while Barbara led stretching and cool down. Then it was down to the best jacuzzi I’ve come across (so far) in the circuit. A nice bonus and fitting close to an uneven session.

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