Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spinning Wheels

I've recently started working at a location in Rockville, MD. It's an interesting job but the commute can be a challenge. So, I've joined a gym up there and have been easing the commute by working out until the traffic lightens one or two times per week. I've been experimenting with spinning classes as a path to fulfill my goal of becoming a stronger cyclist. I like spinning. It doesn't require coordination or much ability to stay with group movements (it's no zumba). Also, since you have control of the resistance you can tailor the difficulty of the workout as needed while still staying in synch with the class. 

So far I've taken four classes.Three of the four were great. The fourth was OK except that the instructor kept handing things over to one of the participants, who is apparently the local top spinning dog and subs as the instructor for some classes. This guy's goal was clearly to demonstrate how superior he was. He called out cadences and difficulty levels that no one in the class was able to match - well beyond just pushing the group a little. He also encouraged us to "make our quads scream" and "kill it" and "feel the pain". Maybe it's just my taste, but I respond better to a supportive, encouraging approach than to someone who wants to make me feel bad about myself and sustain injuries.

I mentioned that I "joined a gym". Actually, I got a fitness membership at the Rockville Jewish Community Center. I'm reveling in working out in this environment - young Israeli kids speaking Hebrew to each other in the gym, middle-aged ladies complaining about the draft in the spin class room when the fan is on then complaining about how hot it is once it's turned off, grabbing a snack from the in-house kosher Subway after my workout.

All that notwithstanding, or notwithspinning, today I went out for a real world bike ride for the first time since starting spinning. I took the 29er MTB out on the C&O Canal Tow Path and ducked down some side trails (inadvertently winding up on a section of the Billygoat trail, which is a hiking trail where cycling isn't allowed - I backed out as soon as I realized this). I swear my riding was stronger than ever before, even after having gone running earlier in the day. Either I've already built some quad strength (without even making them scream!) or maybe I've just become aware of how I can push myself a little more on the bike. For better or for worse I had an ear-to-ear grin as I bombed along the trail, enjoying the nippy January weather.
On the Billygoat Trail - Oops

Starting Off the New Year Right

A New Year's Day kayaking trip is something of a tradition for Chesapeake Paddlers Association folks. There's just something wonderfully audacious about being out on the water on the inevitably cold morning of January 1st when the world is for the most part still in bed fuzzily recovering from New Year's revels. Of course, it is a taste which is less than universally shared: Ralph put a call for paddlers to launch from Carr's Wharf and only three people showed up - including Ralph. As it happens, it was something of a CPA leadership paddle, since the three participants were the organization's Coordinator, the "King" of the Pirates of the North weekly paddling group, and a Steering Committee member (that would be me). OK, maybe the New Year's Day paddle is a tradition only for crazy diehards.

Ralph and Bob

Be that as it may, the three of us met at the wharf at 9 AM. Carr's Wharf appears to be an old ferry landing, too decrepit now to be of much use as a ramp for trailered boats but perfect for launching kayaks. A badly decomposed deer in the middle of the launch area added to the charm.

Getting Ready to Launch @ Carr's Wharf

We launched into the Rhode River and headed back into the coves and creeks, first paddling past the YMCA Camp Letts up into Seliman's Creek, then exploring Muddy Creek, and then finally Bear's Head Creek for a total of about 7.5 miles.

As always with winter paddles, my hands were my main problem. The air temp was above freezing but my hands felt painfully cold from launch through landing and stayed sore the rest of the day. This is a chronic problem for many kayakers and we all experiment to try and find a solution.

After we got off the water Ralph broke out his wife's home-made gingerbread cookies and offered tea & hot cocoa as well - a nice little post paddling snack. Finally, after shooting the breeze for a while, we all headed our separate ways.

A great way to start the year. I hope it's a harbinger of a good kayaking year to come.

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