Oh God, what have I done… again?!

Posted by SuperClydesdale on April 5, 2012 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

A recent experience reminded me of my favorite part in the movie Year One.  In a spoof on the biblical Cain & Abel story, Cain thinks that he had successfully killed his brother, and portrays it as an accident, or self-defense, or both.  He looks upon his brother and in pretend anguish, he shouts “oh! What have I done?”    When Abel recovers from the blow and tries to rise, Cain smashes him yet again with a rock, and wails, “oh, God, what have I done… again?”  He smashes Abel again.  “What have I done some more?”   For a third time, Abel recovers, and lefts his head.  And, for a third time, Cain bashes him in the head with the rock and asks “what have I continued to do?”  It’s freaking hilarious.

David Cross  is one of my favorite comedic actors, I’ve loved watching that guy since his HBO series  Mr. Show.  He does a spectacular job yet again in Year One.

That part of that movie was playing in my brain this week when I did something that I swore I would never do again.  I put my bike on a Computrainer.  And then, against my instincts and better judgment, I pedaled

Oh, god!  What have I done… again?

That humor of that scene was the only thing that kept me from jumping off of the bike and murdering my friends who talked me into the spin session.  If I had seen a large rock somewhere in the spin center, it might have been enough to push me over the edge.

My friend Chris who owns the Computrainers and runs the spin classes had invited me and another buddy over for a private session.  Lucky me.

As I am preparing for the ride – I put my bike on the trainer, attached the cadence meter, said a prayer.  I also haul over two large fans and situate them about five feet in front of my bike.  One of the most miserable things of riding a trainer is the lack of adequate air movement.  I start cooking from within.   This time, I would mitigate that.  It was about 65 degrees in the building, so I felt confident that I would not overheat this day.  The fans are normally in front of the class of eight, and the Computrainers are set up in two rows of four bikes each.  I put my bike in the front row so as to be as close as possible to the fans.  This is only the second time that I have done a spin session, and the first time, I was only getting an occasional share of an oscillating fan.  Not nearly enough, and it contributed greatly to my misery.

When we first set up the bikes, and the course was announced, I knew that this was going to be a particularly unpleasant session.  We were going to ride a simulation of Richter Pass – an 18-mile section of the Canadian Iron Man route.  About 1300 feet of climb.   The course takes a little over an hour. 

One of the measures used to gauge the difficulty of a ride is feet of elevation gain per mile of distance.  So, 1300 feet over 18 miles is 72 feet per mile, which is “moderate” in my book.  Many of my training rides are at the “difficult” level which to me is 100 feet of climb per mile.  It’s a major component of the SuperClydesdale “misery index” on a ride.  I call it the Gravitational Disadvantage (GD), where:

GD = elevation gain (feet) / distance (miles)

Yes, I have a minor in mathematics. 

The GD is important only when riding with riders with fewer… gravitational issues.  In this case, I’m coming in at a relatively slim (for me) 228 pounds.  My fellow riders are both sub 200.  I’m giving up at least 30 pounds to one, and 40 pounds to the other.   

The Computrainer knows the difference.   Each rider has a profile that includes their weight.  The trainer then sends this information to the “load generator” to make it simulate the effects of gravity. I’ve been called a “load generator” myself, but for different reasons.  During my recent “cleanse” I was a turbocharged load generator.  Professional grade.

The spin session is set up as a course where everybody can see where they are on the elevation profile, as well as their stats:  speed, cadence, watts, percentage of grade, etc.  Most important to the experience is that you can see exactly where you are vs. your fellow riders, as well as how many feet you are behind the rider immediately “ahead of you” on the virtual course.  So, naturally, that means one thing:  this is a race.  Now, it’s hardly a fair race, given that the course is called “Richter Pass” and it is mostly a climb, and I’m significantly heavier than my fellow riders.   I absolutely hate entering contests that I know I can’t win before it starts.  That’s the main reason I’ve never auditioned for America’s Got Talent or American Idol — I have no talent.

The weakness of the Computrainer for Clydesdales is that the load generator doesn’t simulate wind resistance or gravitational attraction (outside of on the climbs).   A Clydesdale has two primary advantages:  wind resistance, and power.   On level ground, we have power that can really propel us faster than smaller riders who have to fight a much higher resistance to weight ratio.  Similarly, on descents, gravity’s love for Clydesdales will propel us to the point that we can actually pull away from lighter riders rather easily, as they battle the wind resistance.  On many rides, I can coast downhill as fast as my lighter riding partners can pedal.    If the Computrainer was to be realistic, the load generator would actually become a motor on a significant downhill.  I could really power through and make up the significant distance I give up to lighter riders on the climbs.

So, on a hilly race course like Richter Pass, I get nothing but disadvantage.   It provides me more resistance than lighter guys, yet the lighter guys are able to descend just as fast as I am.   On the flats, I get no advantage whatsoever.  Now, you might be wondering… what does that matter?   You’re doing this for a workout, right?  Silly, stupid person.   Yes, you.

The Computrainer spin classes are nothing more than a vehicle to facilitate an athletic competition.  Any training benefit derived should be considered purely incidental.  And, since spin classes are attended by competitive males, the results of such a competition are significant and serious.  Egos are damaged, fragile notions of self worth are questioned.  I’m heading off to therapy as soon as I am finished writing this.

I think that it’s best that I not participate in these rigged sessions.   Only if my profile can be split off from fellow riders, perhaps a “special needs” profile that just has a timer.  I want to ride on a different course than everyone else, I will just happen to be in the same room.  Nobody can see my stats.  It’s only fair.

As it was, I was a very unpleasant participant, intent on ruining the experience for my fellow riders.  I had a bout of CCTS  mid-way through the session, when it became apparent that (a) I was miserable, and (b) there was no way that I could win.

One thing cannot be argued – it’s hard to beat the ass-kicking available in a spin class.  It’s balls out for the entire time.  No coasting.  No cruising.  You are 100% for the duration.  Temping to repeat if I can get my brain around the disadvantage.  Like so many other disadvantaged peoples, I guess it just means that I’ll have to be that much better to beat them.

At the end of the session (1:10 for me), it felt like I’d pulled an ass muscle.  I couldn’t sit comfortably for a while.  That was a new experience for me as well.  I hobbled off and had a beer – or was it three???

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.