Saturday, March 13, 2010

Class #35 Cycling 5:10 a.m. Thursday (Joe)

This morning’s cycle class makes the third one in the last 12 hours and the fourth one in two days. I hadn’t really intended to do so many bike classes this week but between the crick in my neck and scheduling issues, it was the only way to try and keep pace. Besides, this only makes my 8th bike class overall, which puts me only one third of the way through the full cycling schedule.

This is the earliest class on our entire schedule and it’s interesting to watch the body try and cope with the idea of doing physical work 90 minutes before it is usually awake. I suppose if it could, my body would write a letter of protest or perhaps picket whoever had the bright idea to get up so early to ride a bike.

This is my second class with Joe at this hour - he also teaches one on Tuesdays and I notice this time that his class requires a slight recalibration of the so-called “base” gear. The base gear is established in each class and is generally defined to be a gear you can pedal 90 rpm’s while exerting 50% of your effort. In reality of course, figuring out what 50% of one’s effort might be is a total guess.

What I suspect most people do instead is figure out what gear they need to start with to go up the number of gears called for by any particular instructor. The thing I’m beginning to see is that each instructor has their own system for how much of a gear change they ask for. The “normal” system seems to be a range of 8-10 gears to go from base to the hardest hill climb.

In Joe’s class, the gear range never exceeds five from top to bottom. At one point he mentions on a climb that he starts at gear 13 and goes up to 18. In my typical classes I start at gear 6 and on the hardest climbs get up to 15 or 16. All this amounts to is that in Joe’s class I need to raise my base gear by 2 or 3 to get a comparable workout in. (Joe’s ‘base’ rate of 13 boggles my mind cause that’s a really tough gear for me.).

In his professional life, Joe Barnett owns a landscape company called Little Rock Land Design. His company does some maintenance work, for instance they take care of the grounds at the LRAC but Joe’s specialty is landscape design and installation. Joe also has a fondness for creating really cool waterfalls and ponds.

About twelve years ago I hired Joe to create a landscape design for my back yard at home. Along with the Dogwoods, Holly’s, Azaleas and Japanese Maples, I also asked Joe to put in a waterfall. I thought the sound of water; right outside my bedroom would be soothing. And, so it was – until about June 1 when the frogs started showing up.

During mating season the frogs would flock to my pond and the males (I suppose) would indicate their whereabouts by emitting a racket that sounded (to me) like a child screaming for help. Whenever it happened, which was every night for about two months; I would grab my flashlight, go outside, and one by one capture the frogs, put them in a bucket and take them across the street to Allsop Park. Needless to say, this got old in a hurry.

After about the second year of fighting the frogs and realizing I’d never win this battle, I decided to fill in the pond and get a good night’s sleep. My backyard is still filled with the beautiful plantings that Joe designed and installed and that I absolutely love but the water feature (and the frogs) had to go. (To be fair I should say that some people find the sound of frogs ‘calling’ a pleasant and peaceful sound of nature – to each his own I say just keep ‘em away from me.).

Joe winds down the class at about 5:55 and we get off the bikes to stretch. I’ll catch a plane in about three hours and be stuck sitting for most of the day so now I’m glad I came. My body feels good, I’m completely awake and ready for some chow and still the sun isn’t quite up.

The $25 gift certificate for this morning’s class goes to Andy Ketch.

My next class will be on Monday as I’m out of town thru Sunday night.

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