20 November 2008

spin class blues

spin class
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
I went to a spin class last night. About two minutes into it I remembered something; I really don't like spin classes. The bikes are nothing like real bikes, the room smells horrible, and you don't go anywhere!

On top of that, the instructor played The Who, The Beatles, The Who, The Beatles, The Who.... for an hour (the only non Beatles or Who song was that ode to rednecks by Lynard Skynard - Sweet Home Alambama - one of THE WORST songs ever)! I'm a fan of both bands (and I HATE Lynard Skynard), but.... come on! Variety is good. Monotony is bad.

In the instructor's defense, he was playing to the crowd; a bunch of 50 and 60 year-olds that I guess did not appreciate the hip-hop he had been playing lately.

The Bikes
Spin class bikes feel nothing like a real bike. The one I was lucky enough to get had wobbly handlebars and a jiggly saddle (which also pointed down making me slide off of it every 10 seconds or so). The pedals had either cages - which I find annoying - or SPF clips that I don't have cleats for. Also, they didn't spin in a circular motion, more like an oval, which was incredibly disconcerting and somewhat uncomfortable (but frankly, not as bad as it sounds). And what's up with the shifting/friction thingie?! There must be a better way.

The Music
As I already stated, this class played nothing but The Beatles and The Who with a horrific redneck song thrown in just to make me freak out.

I imagine that this is the hardest part for an instructor. Not everyone will like every song you play. I've been to a few dozen spin classes in my life (there was a time in Concord when I went a few times a week for a few months) and only liked every song played in about 4 or 5 classes.

The Instructor
That was the big bright spot to this class. This guy was nice and even humble, a trait uncommon in the spin class instructors I've met. Generally, I've found them to be a miserable lot who think rather highly of themselves.

In Conclusion
I'd like to buy a trainer. That way I can pick my music (or watch TV).

I got to ride next to Nikki, and I always like that (she is my best friend, after all!). Then, after the class, we went swimming with the boys in the amazing pools at the SHARC. The "warm water pool" is a shallow pool that starts at 0 inches deep and goes to 4 feet. In the middle, there's a big gadget that dumps water onto the kids (and adults) that wander beneath it.

Liam showed us what he learned in his swim classes, and Camper, fearless as he is, repeatedly jumped in (at first we caught him, but as he grew more bold, we just stood by and watched as he'd jump in, land on the bottom, and jump up). At one point, the lifeguards turned on the waterslide into the big pool, so Liam and I went for a few runs.

Meanwhile, in the outdoor pool, the high school team was hosting a swim meet.

So yeah, I'll be back for more spin classes and more fun in the pool. Maybe there'll be better music next time - or maybe I'll bring my iPod (with big-ass headphones)!

15 November 2008

fall family ride

fall family ride
Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod
It was a sunny, beautiful autumn day today so we took the McLeod family bike-train for a ride. It was close to 60 degrees out, so I wore shorts and a long-sleeve jersey, while the rest of the crew was a little more bundled up.

Basically, we rode out to the base of the hills that surround Hillsboro (out to Forest Hills Golf Course) and back via Rood Bridge Road (which brings us by another golf course - I guess you could call this route the Golf Course).

View Larger Map

The mostly flat route takes us through farmland and nurseries, with great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams (the sun glowing off the new snow on the peak was creating a gorgeous alpenglow!), Mt. Saint Helens, and a glimpse of Mt. Rainier.

We saw cows, horses, chickens, llamas (OK, OK, alpacas!), geese, and goats - to which, Liam and Camper would shout a greeting. At one point Liam even yelled a greeting to a farmer ("hello farmer!"), who politely - and graciously - gave us a wave.

Most of the trees were barren, with a few still clinging to their leaves (or is it the other way around?) but the scene was almost more reminiscent of spring than fall as many of the fields are verdant with the fresh shoots of whatever was recently planted (lettuce, spinach, rye?) having just broken free of the soil.

The ride ended with a trip to the Rood Bridge playground, so everyone came away satisfied. At close to 20 miles, it was the longest ride Liam has ever ridden on his trail-a-bike - this time he even pedaled a little!

08 November 2008

winter[riding] season begins

I went out for a ride in the rain today.

The rainy season set in about a week ago and I've been dying to go out and play in it. Camper and I have been taking the Breezer/Chariot combo out for some fast laps around the neighborhood, but we haven't hit upon any serious rain - just a drizzle-or-two.

I've been wanting to take my road bike out in the wet conditions, but haven't had the chance to until today. It poured this morning, which was a little more than I was prepared for, so I waited until the clouds broke and the sun came out.

The pavement was wet, and while the sun was shining at the moment, there were still scattered showers all around. Perfect.

I put my bike stuff on, grabbed my bike and set out on my usual route.

I quickly made a discovery
Skinny bald race tires are not the best option for wet riding conditions.

Compensating for the lack of surface contact, I continued on.

As I rode toward the hills, I noticed the fact that I really couldn't see them, and the way the sun was making those low-level clouds ahead of me glow, was spectacular. I then realized that was not clouds ahead as much as it was a wall of water.

I plowed headlong into the water and was quickly consumed by the downfall. It was pouring, and all the while, the sun was pounding down on me. I had a shadow!

The sun was on one side of me, and on the other was a huge, double rainbow. One end was i a stand of trees amid a wheat field, and was making the trees glow. The other end was on the barn and silo of a farm and was lighting them up.

I rode out of the rain after a few minutes, but looking towards the hills, could see that it was raining. A fifteen-hundred foot descent on wet roads with my current tires was already discouraging. Doing it in the pouring rain was out of the question.

I detoured onto SW Johnson School Road and rode back towards Rood Bridge.

The sun was shining and I quickly dried off in the breeze (of my totally-hauling-ass speeds!). Wool is good for that. I kind of like riding in cooler temperatures. In the summer heat, it's hard to regulate your body temperature, but when it's 55 degrees out, it's easy (wool tights, long-sleeve poly shirt, wind/water resistant jacket - add a layer if it's cooler, open vents of it's warmer, etc.).

It was a good first-of-the-season ride.