Me, after the class, trying not to feel too humiliated.
I haven't had too many chances to get out on my bike these past few weeks. Just too cold, too snowy or too wet.
Which gives me a chance to write about the cycling of a different sort I did a few weeks ago.
I went spinning.
I was at a party around Christmastime, hosted by some new friends of mine, Karen LaMonte and Steve Polaner. I was complaining about the winter weather, and how difficult it was to get out on my bike.
That's when they told me about their spinning addiction. They've been going twice a week for a number of years, and they love it. Truly love it.
They encouraged me to join them for a session at World Class Fitness on Wenceslas Square.
Now, I'm not a big guy for gyms. I don't like lifting weights or running on a treadmill. I also don't like organized classes, usually because I'm nervous about not performing well in front of my fellow classmates.
I know I should do these things for my health, but I find it so, well, boring. I love squash, and play as much as I can, but in squash someone wins and someone loses. There's an outcome. Instant gratification.
Lifting weights or running inside simply holds no allure. I'd rather suit up for a subzero bike ride or go for an icy hike.
A few years ago, I took a class at Delroy's gym in Prague that was supposed to mirror the training that a boxer goes through. The friends I went with called it Boot Camp.
After 15 minutes of what was supposed to be an hour of exercise, I thought I was going to throw up. I wanted to walk away. I could only look at the clock as the minutes ticked slowly by and I made heroic efforts to keep my lunch down.
But Karen and Steve are cool, and I did need the exercise, so I figured I'd give spinning a go.
Sure, they're in great shape, but in the end, I figured, hey, I cycle a bit, too. How hard can it really be?
It was deja vu all over again.
After 15 minutes of what was supposed to be an hour and a half of spinning, I thought I was going to throw up, literally. I wanted to walk away. I could only look at the clock as the minutes ticked slowly by and I made heroic efforts to keep my lunch down.
It was embarrassing.
Especially to those who know this blog, and my supposed feats of cycling prowess.
When I'm out on my mountain bike, and I reach the top of a very steep hill, I usually rest. Take a few sips of water. Catch my breath. Grab a beer.
You don't do that in spinning. You never stop pedaling. For 90 minutes. Sure, you might adjust the tension on your pedals to make things a little easier on yourself, but you never stop.
And the instructor, who is spinning right along with everyone else, is constantly barking commands at you, and urging you up-up-up the hills, and the techno music is blasting, and it's a special kind of hell. The instructor on the day I was there, Michael Sommer, was lean and muscled and ended up being a cross between Lance Armstrong and Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from "Full Metal Jacket."
He certainly was a great motivator. After all, he kept me pedaling for 90 minutes, when all I wanted to do was hit the showers after the first 15 minutes.
Me and my drill sergeant, Michael Sommer.
I was drenched in sweat. I couldn't breathe. My thighs were burning. I looked around at the other 20 or so people in the class. They, too, were sweating. In fact, there was so much sweat pooled under some of the stationary bikes that it looked like some of my classmates had wet themselves.
I have newfound respect for those who attend spinning week in and week out, like Karen and Steve. You simply have to be in incredible shape.
When the weather turns nice, I've invited Karen and Steve out to my neck of the woods. They're eager to see some of the sights out my way, and I can't wait to show them.
They call it "outdoor spinning."