Monday, March 8, 2010

#29 Cycling 5:40 a.m. Monday (Betsy)

I’m back in the saddle again (think Gene Autry but don’t let the tune get stuck in your head). It’s another early morning bike ride and after a few days off I’m raring to go. Well, I’m happy to be here. Um, okay, I’d rather be sleeping but proud that I got up.

I had to turn off my beloved Oscar show last night before it got to the good stuff so I could get up today. It’s no problem, I reasoned, I’ve got it recorded and can watch the gushing winners’ acceptance speeches on Monday. When I checked this morning though, I saw that the DVR had suddenly stopped recording just before they announced Jeff Bridges (my all time favorite since the Big Lebowsi) as winner of Best Actor. Drats! (Note to self – always extend the allotted time on the DVR for programs I really really want to see!).

Jeff Bridges as The Dude above and as Bad Blake on below.

I decided this would be a good morning to take Betsy’s normally sold out 5:40 a.m. cycling class. Surely there would be a few folks who stayed up late to watch the Oscars and/or someone who did the marathon and needed rest. When I got to the Club I saw that a full 28 had reserved seats. Uh oh.

I was early so I went in and told Betsy if it filled up – I would leave. I took a bike that was open and waited to see what would happen. It turns out that three or four folks didn’t show up so I got to ride after all.

Betsy teaches a great class – I see why she draws a crowd. She’s encouraging and enthusiastic, which isn’t so easy at that time of the morning. She also plays a nice mix of music that keeps the legs humming along.

Every cycling teacher seems to have their own distinct style even though you’d think there’s a limited number of ways to skin this cat. Betsy is the first one I’ve encountered who exclusively uses average watts as she gives instructions for effort level. Instead of saying, ‘increase your gears by 3 or 4, Betsy says “I want you 20-30% above your average watts”. This presupposes, of course, that one knows one’s average watts and that one can do rudimentary math in one’s head. Perhaps this gambit is to distract us from the pain while we work out the calculation. Anyway, I kind of liked it.

In today’s class we mostly did up tempo but steady rides. For most of the pushes today we stayed in the saddle peddling at a rate of 90-110 rpms although we also did a few standing runs at 80 rpms.

During class Betsy told us that she had done the half-marathon yesterday so she was understandably keeping her gear level a little lower than usual. She admitted to throwing in a grimace now and then to make us think she was working harder than she really was. Not to let the cat out of the bag but I’ve been using that strategy for years….

Betsy Kortebein (or the Betzinator as I think of her) has more than 25 years of experience in the fitness industry and is a frequent leader of group exercise at the LRAC and LRRC. She is also the Fitness Director at the LRRC and a Personal Trainer at both clubs. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as a Personal Trainer and as a Group Exercise instructor.

In her spare time, Betsy is an avid (and good) runner. In 2008, she won the master’s division of the Little Rock Half Marathon. She has also run marathons fast enough to qualify for Boston, a race she competed in last year. So, not much hope of wearing her down in a 45-minute cycle class.

Today’s $25 gift certificate winner was John Eidt.

I’d like to end this post with a note about a former LRAC group ex instructor who was a participant in class this morning. Sue Tull, who taught aerobics at the Club for years, is an early morning fixture in classes at the LRAC these days. Like Betsy, Sue also ran the half marathon yesterday and still managed to get up and ride a bike this morning. Sue ran yesterday’s race on behalf of her beloved son Jake who died unexpectedly and far too soon last May just before his 22nd birthday.

Jake was a student at the University of the Ozarks but in the Spring of ’09 was studying animal migration patterns in Kenya, Africa. As a special treat, Jake invited Sue to come visit and accompany him on a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. The two did indeed summit the mountain but tragically upon their return Jake became ill and died several days later of a hitherto undiscovered enlarged heart.

Jake touched a lot of lives at the University of the Ozarks and the school meant the world to him as well. After his death a scholarship fund was set up in Jake’s name and the Little Rock marathon was targeted as a focal point to raise money for the fund and more importantly as a way to honor and remember their friend. On Sunday 40 classmates, professors, friends and family gathered to walk or run in his memory. Also at the marathon, the LRAC's unofficial water stop - formed by Kris Mougeot and her early morning posse donned the specially designed purple tee shirts for Jake and made their presence known.

The LR marathon effort has raised $5,000 so far and that number is still rising. The Club will be making a $500 donation to Jake’s scholarship fund. For more information or to contribute - e-mail me at and I'll send you a sponsorship form.

For further coverage of this story see KARK’s report at:

and/or the following link to a newsletter article from the University of the Ozarks:

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