WeissCrax: Spinning out of Control

It’s Tuesday morning and that means one thing: SPINNING CLASS!!

Here’s the 4-1-1…

4:11AM – No chance of hitting the alarm’s snooze bar – I’m up!

Today, everyone in Mankind – Womankind too—will be gunning for one of 24 bikes in the 5:45 a.m. spinning class (think exercise on stationary bikes) at my health club.

Every second counts! It requires crisp military-like precision to successfully complete this covert athletic operation. I want MY bike today!

Spinners just want to have fun.

4:17 Noozhawk email blast arrives. 2X. Yes, get it twice. I’m special.

Exactly thirty-three minutes later, I’m out the door of my cool Santa Barbara flat, loaded down with gym bag, briefcase and work clothes.

The car is 500 yards away. Tiny sweat beads pop my forehead near the 50-yard mark.

I toss everything in the trunk, jump in the driver’s seat and speed away, heading 12 miles north  (west?) to Goleta. No other vehicles on Route 101 at this ungodly hour.

Barista Erin knows how to start the day.

At the State Street exit, powerful forces commandeer the car for my morning mojo — “a cuppa Peet’s java.”  Always the second best way to start the day!

“Hi, Randy – the usual?” Erin asks inside. She’s likely the only barista in the Western Hemisphere who doesn’t drink coffee.

“Yes, please,” comes with my always knuckle-bump. I’m like Norm on Cheers. They know my name. I’m their #1 Customer (first and only, so far).

Not bad for 5:07…

After a few quick sips – it’s a mad dash to the car to drive the final stretch.

Back on 101, the Patterson exit comes quickly — especially at 147 mph. Funny things happen next on Cathedral Oaks Road – traffic. Hmmmm.

Nearing the club’s entrance, cars are suddenly everywhere! They belong to people trying to steal MY exercise bike!

After entering the gates, I hit the gas and the car goes airborne at the first speed bump.  Having masterfully turned the steering wheel hard-right in mid-flight, the car screeches to a smoking, rubber-burning stop upon touchdown, and landing sideways across three parking spots.

I grab my gear and cloths and bolt like Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt towards the club’s front door. Dark figures move quickly in the now-crowded lot. I sprint by Jill and Laurel (hint: pig tales).

YIKES!! Major trouble! The club is not yet open. There are many people waiting and many more following behind me.

Human gridlock at 5:21!

Everyone is very nice, of course, and keeping a polite distance, due to WUB (Wake-Up Breath) clouds.

And, you know, that everyone is thinking: “I’M GONNA STEAL YOUR BIKE!”

5:30 Club Ambassador Monique opens the door to prevent another fatal stampede – like holiday shopping at Wal-Mart.

Inside, I immediately snatch two white towels from the nicely stacked double cloth columns on the counter and zip upstairs – two steps at a time. My weekend conditioning at the Santa Barbara City College stadium pays off right now.

Inside the Spinning Room is sheer pandemonium. The scene is like kids playing musical chairs – running around and screaming in that one horrific moment when you realize maybe “too many people, not enough chairs.”

Seven people race towards MY bike by the window, only I can’t get there due to the room’s funky layout and zillion people.

My only hope is tossing a towel from afar. If it lands on the handlebars – I’m good. If not, I’m toast. We’ll see if this practice pays off, too.

Once launched, the towel appears to travel in “slo-mo” through the air. It takes forever! But, mercifully, lands on target, just as someone was about to claim MY bike.


With the pressure off, it’s time to casually walk downstairs with that curt, smug look on my face and change into sleek bike racing gear. I’m back upstairs in six minutes.

Roberta Issaris is all smiles from HER front row bike

Spanky is a man on a mission.

Team Shackelford

The author and class instructor Pete Engle

5:45: Instructor Pete Engle starts the jammed-packed class.

Pete and Julie (Friday class) are my favorite instructors. In fact, Pete’s also my hero for his 2001 organ donation surgery.

After a few quick seating adjustments, I jump on MY bike and start pedaling. Nice to see all “the usual suspects” – Tara, Joe and Kathy, Hair-Dude Rob, Roberta, Dawn and Barb on THEIR bikes, as well.

Knuckle-bumps all around!!

Pete wastes no time pushing us to our limits. Seated climbs…breakaway racing sprints…jumping in/out of the saddle (aka seat). Salty water flies out of nearly every pore in my body.

6:00 – I’m Shamu and everyone near me ducks for cover as they’re in my personal Splash Zone!

Literally awash in the moment, I’m overjoyed when Pete says, “OK, last song.”

Until he drops “the hammer”…

“It’s 12-minutes.”

Bad words dance in my head!  Heck, even Stairway to Heaven is shorter!

When song finally ends, we’re done too.  I’ve got nothing left. The floor under MY bike looks like Lake Cachuma.

Pete next cools us down, cracks some jokes and leads light stretches. The pain gradually exits my body – although at a slower rate than when it entered.

Before leaving, he reminds us that we are required by law, the entire insurance industry and club policy to wipe all DNA off our bikes with the special chemically-treated towelettes found in the back of the room.

I also wipe down the wall and window beside me.

Now the real fun begins – coffee and chatting downstairs with my spin buddies. No topic is sacred. Body parts. Kids. Plastic surgery preferences. Everything. And you never know what’s coming next. Definitely pay attention here!

And at 6:37AM, I’m very much alive….