Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Baby, it's COLD Out There! I'm "Houstonized"!

A year after we moved to Houston, we put a pool in our backyard during the summer. We swam in the pool through the month of December, thinking nothing of swimming in sub-80°F water (maybe even below 75°F). Since then, we've gradually gotten spoiled by the warm weather, and find that it's difficult to swim in the pool unless the temperature is at least 80°F. preferably higher. We joke that we've become "Houstonized". I am definitely Houstonized, and am not looking forward to riding my bike with biting cold wind running through my body.

Over the weekend of 3-4 January, we were wearing shorts outside it was so warm and humid. Come Sunday night, a cold front moved in; Monday morning it was absolutely FREEZING, even though the temperature was not below 32°F. I'm glad I had a spinning class to go to instead of trying to ride my bike outside in that chill (I don't have a stand for riding inside yet; haven't gotten that fancy).

It was a great class Monday morning. Kim led us through several sprints downhill and uphill. For those of you not familiar with the bikes we use in spinning, they have one wheel in front, a solid flywheel. The heights of the handle bar and seat are adjustable by loosening and tightening set-screws; the bar and seat can also be moved forward and backward to fit your trunk and leg length. The flywheel is moved using a set of bicycle pedals, attached to the flywheel by a rubber belt. The pedals have toe clips to fit the front of your shoe into, so you can put energy into the pedals on both the up and the down strokes; on most bikes the flat side of the pedal will fit a clip-less shoe, for those that have clip-less biking shoes. A set-screw with a knob is positioned on the frame so that you can adjust the tension on the flywheel. Turning the knob clockwise applies more pressure on the flywheel, making it more difficult to pedal; turning the know counterclockwise releases the tension, making it easier to pedal. In class "1" is no tension and "10" is the most tension you can apply and still get the pedals to move. We usually start off at 5 and vary up from there. The numbers are self relative; there are no markings on the bike that indicate whether you are at 5, 6, or 10. So you have to use your judgement and set it according to your own fitness and preferences. I've found that each bike is slightly different, and a 5 on one is an 8 on the other.

In spinning, as in aerobics, the instructor brings a disk full of music to play. Monday Kim had a couple of new tunes, including "Hey Ya" by OutKast. That song is all over the airwaves, on pop, rock, hip-hop, and stations in-between. Anyway, it was a great song to spin by. That's one thing about the early morning class that really gets you going; besides the exercise, the music energizes you and stays with you during the work day.

The class usually starts with music having a slower beat. You warm up and stretch out at 5. Then, depending on Kim's plan, the music speeds up or slows down. One number might be a sprint at 5; another might be an uphill climb at 10. Sometimes we sit, sometimes we stand in the pedals, sometimes we stand with our bodies low. There is usually a break of 15-30 seconds in between numbers to rest, get a drink of water (I keep forgetting to bring my bottle, so I have to get up and get a drink at the fountain), stretch, keep going, whatever. The variation of music with difficulty and objective makes the class interesting. It's a wonderful way to train.

Had a good class, and a good first day back to work. I estimate that I went 5-7 miles on the stationary bike; have no real idea since there is no odometer.

No, I didn't train today; too dang cold! :-(

Stay warm,