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Spinning My Wheels

bettina naked

My gut is growing, and I am feeding it Fritos and beer. I can’t bear to go to spin class, because…well…it isn’t outside.

Ok, I’m lying. Spin class hurts. Those people are crazy. Whenever the lunatic woman up there tells us to stand up and crank up the tension, I fake it, reaching to the knob and then flail my way back to the handlebars. Meanwhile, the guy beside me has stood up in the pedals through the last two, 20-second spinning breaks the drill seargant has mercifully given us. He‘s about 17 years older than I am. Two years ago I was visiting him in the cardiac unit after open-heart surgery. I am concerned.

“Do you have any aspirin?” I shout over the gerbilesque whirring of his front wheel.

“What?!” he shouts back, turning to fling sweat across my cheek.

“Aspirin!”I insist.

I wonder if it’s 20 chest compressions for every two breaths. Hell, I can’t imagine the number being all that important. People say you should carry identification with you when you‘re out in the woods, but really, I think we should all have a step-by-step CPR card on us.

I’m tempted to wear my helmet to class so that people will know that I am JUST as serious as the rest of them.

I hate spin class so much that I’ve taken up running – my first hate. Not only that, but I’m doing it on a treadmill. I want to make sure it’s as miserable as it can get. I always choose the “random” setting, but I wish there was one that said “Shut-In.” That way I can say that I did it.

The treadmills at the YMCA all look out of the window into the parking lot. I don’t know who that’s worse for, the people running, or the people coming in, trudging across the parking lot trying to look chipper about what’s getting ready to happen to them. While running, I decide that the kids and I will make signs that say “YOU CAN DO IT, YES YOU CAN!” We will wear them as sandwich boards and run up and down the sidewalk with pompons. Community service.

Nine years ago I took my first ride in Turkey Pen along Squirrel Gap. The narrow trail had about four inches of snow. I slid from the trail six times, wheels and handlebars somersaulting. It was always the climb back up to the trail that killed me. Getting clipped back in with iceballs stuck to my cleats reminded me of my dogs paws after a walk in the snow. The creek crossings were the least of my problems. I opted to walk (stomp) through them to avoid the risk of falling over and totally submerging myself in the three inches of icy water.

Eight years ago my girlfriend and I chased a group of our guy friends through the winter woods for more than three hours, looping everything in elevation together in Bent Creek. Just 10 minutes from the parking lot her bike whipped out from under her on a patch of ice, smashing her beautiful cheek bones directly onto the frozen ground. I thought for sure she had shattered her face, but it was only a long scrape. She was mortified at what her AB-Tech students would think. That’s when I knew she was ok.

Seven years ago I went riding with…ahem…Jane and Michael. It was too big of a ride for Jane – but only because it is winter. She had done it in the summer . After much cussing and throwing her bike, she begins to ride slowly and deliberately just to piss off her boyfriend. We spend a lot of time waiting in the cold and then trying to ride hard again. Our muscles are like cement. We have been in the elements twice as long as we had planned. We have enough food and water, but we are really tired, and there is a river crossing at the end.

Makes me want to go the Y…

Bettina Freese is a massage therapist, freelance writer and mom, which seems REALLY weird to say.

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