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Vuelta a Spin

By Garland Lee

My competition begins every weekday at 5:30 pm at the spin cycle room in my gym. There is a pattern to these cycle challenge classes just as there is in a pro cycle event. The serious spinners come early to reserve their favorite bike like the pros jockeying for position in the staging area. The elite spin jockeys take the front row bikes, the domestiques take the middle row, and the aspiring wannabes in training, like me, in the back row. Today I will break away from the peloton. I arrive early to stake out a prime front row cycle. I will race to win.

The reigning "gold jersey" of the 5:30 spin is Suzie, an athletic blond girl with the ripped tanned figure and steel toned legs. Her place is reserved in the first row cycle in front of the spin instructor. I have chosen the bike next to the Suzie in the front row.

Suzie arrives at exactly 5:30 pm attired in her tight fitting jersey and shorts. The others in the room greet her with the reverence of a superstar. I do not make eye contact with her but I noticed her glance at me curiously for just a second as if asking herself what I was doing in the front row next to her instead of in my customary place with the back row aspirants.

The instructor arrives and takes up her position in the slightly elevated spin cycle facing the mass of forty spinners at the starting line.

"My name is Mary and welcome to 5:30 spin," she exclaims in her usual enthusiastic way. "Today we will be working hard," she says as the riders get up on their spin cycles.

"Are you ready?" Mary asked and the riders get rowdy in response. The crowd is restless, "Yea…aah, oowwww…eee." Mary dims the lights in the cycle room and my mind is swept away into the world of pro cycle competition.

"Today we will be racing Stage 20 of the Vuelta a Espana," Mary explained. The spinners are energized, imagining the excitement of the race ahead. More cheers from the riders as Mary turns on the techno music to signal the beginning of the long uphill race. "This is a tough stage, maybe the toughest of all the Grand Tours."

"Are you ready?" she asked, trying her best to psyche the riders like a good d.s.

"Yessss!!!" the cyclists scream back eagerly in unison as they begin pedaling speedily in their attempt to seize the lead.

"Let’s GO!!!" Mary orders, as the upbeat rhythm of the electronic tune pulses through the cyclists' veins providing a surge of energy. The whirling buzz of spinning wheels fills the humid air of the room. The pace quickens, "Add some tension now, a full turn," Mary barks, " C’mon, we are going up the Abantos! Take it up." The class gets up from the saddle in unison, pedaling hard to keep up. Some spinners start to fall behind, their legs and lungs growing tired from the added tension on their spin wheel.

"Take it low and add more tension," Mary directs, "speed it up. You see a competitor up ahead. Speed up and pass him." The spinners legs are slowed by the added tension on their simulated climb. Heavy breathing fills the air. Sweat showers from the spinners' faces and drenches their handlebars.

"C’mon, you’re just a few feet from the lead rider. Don’t give up now, faster!!!" Some of the riders have tired and are sitting in their saddle in recovery, the few elite spinners are speeding up at near breakaway speed. I peak out the corner of my eye and see Suzie pedaling away. Her legs are pumping smoothly, almost effortlessly.

I have been preparing for this for the past year. All the weight training, running, and cycling have come down to this event, this moment. Today I will win this Stage. I pick up my pace and match Suzie stride for stride. My legs cramp from the pain of the tension on the spin wheel but I keep my legs driving, thinking nothing but victory, of the great champions who suffered to win.

"C'mon, don’t give up. Do you want to win?" Mary hollers at the spinners, encouraging them to breakaway as we enter a brief flat stretch of the race.

"Take off a little tension, you have a little break, a little recovery here but there’s another vertical ahead to the finish, GO…OOO!!" A few spinners drop out and left the room.

"Here it is. The final hill to victory. Ask yourself, how much do you want it? Add more tension and fly!!" Mary shouted. Suzie charged up the hill, refreshed by the short recovery. Her legs refused to quit despite the added load of heavy tension on her spin wheel. I reached deep inside to overcome the fatigue in my legs, propelling them faster than I ever thought I could go on a simulated uphill climb. Most of the other spinners are falling behind, barely able to keep this furious ascending pace. It’s down to a match race now between Suzie and me.

Breathing loudly, I continued to push harder now, focusing on nothing but the finish line. The rest of the spinners watched Suzie and I go head-to-head to the finish. "Yeah…GO…OOO!!" they yelled out in encouragement of our efforts.

"You see the finish line. The crowd is cheering for you. You are so close to the finish. Just 300 yards. Give it everything you’ve got. Finish strong!" Mary roared.

Suzie’s legs slowed a little as we neared the finish. We are neck and neck heading for the finish line. I see my opportunity to make my final breakaway burst to victory. "It’s all you… It’s all you!" I thought to myself as I pumped my legs as hard as I could, pounding the pedals with the fury of a raging mad man. The tightened spin wheel was moving with such velocity that it squeaked loudly.

"The finish line is coming up. You’re so…ooo close. Keep going. Don’t stop. Finish strong," Mary exclaimed. Thirty seconds later she yelled out, "You’ve finished. You’ve won Stage 20 at Vuelta. Great job."

I flew past the imaginary finish line with the crowd cheering wildly. Suzie tried hard to keep up with me but with about 50 yards to go her legs tired and she eased her pace slightly to the finish.

Suzie looked at me for a moment, then turned away and I heard her whisper to herself , "He’s so strong."

"Stud," I heard one of the other girls murmur from across the room.

Today I am the King of Vuelta a Spin.



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