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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

A bit over a year ago, when Ralph said he wanted to get a Peloton, I was underwhelmed. We have owned just about every bit of exercise machinery imaginable. Bowflex. Elliptical. Weight benches. Treadmills. Stationary bikes.

Otherwise known as cat beds, clothes hangers, and in a pinch, somewhere for the extra person in the room to sit and eat a sandwich.

I disliked them all, with the exception of the treadmill because we hung a TV in front of it and I would walk and watch the Food Network.

But he seemed very attached to the idea and if it was something he thought he’d really use, then that was fine by me.

He sized me for shoes. He said, You’re going to use it, right?

I think my exact words were, “I’ll try it once.”

I had no intention of “using it.” I mean, how many times could we own a stationary bike and then subsequently get rid of a stationary bike?

But, you know, we were fat. And not taking care of ourselves too much. And then there was a pandemic and your basic inertia set in.

So we ordered it, and it took four or five months to get here, like everything during the pandemic. But then we got it. And got on it.

Everything you have ever heard about the cult of Peloton is true. You will believe.

I’m not here to give you a sales pitch, just to say that the thing I fully expected to dislike immediately and waste my money on eventually when we finally gave it away, turned out to be a thing I do almost every day, not because it’s good for me, even though that’s part of it, but because I actually like it.

It’s hard. And I complain about it. And sometimes I yell I hate you!! at the instructors when they tell me to pedal harder. And for those reasons I love it.

I decided to get on the Peloton today.

When life gets life-ish, I promise myself at least a 15 minute scenic ride every day. The scenic rides take you through some very cool places across the globe, more like sightseeing than bike riding. It’s self-directed so you can go as hard or as easy as you want.

It’s hard to say no to something that can literally be as easy as you want it to be.

I decided to get on the Peloton today, and I decided to do a 60 minute Power Zone ride. I had nothing pressing to do, and if I can’t take some time for myself on the weekend, when can I?

Besides, I’ve been phoning it in for so long with the bare minimum of what it takes to please the Apple fitness gods for whatever the badge du jour is, that I really wanted to get back into something meaningful.

Sixty minutes. That’s pretty aggressive considering lately it’s been all about some leisurely ride through the Grand Tetons or something.

Going from what amounts to a couch on a bike to an hour long instructor-led power ride seemed a bit daunting. Like maybe I would just hit the 30 minute button next to it instead.

But, deep end. If you’re going to jump, jump.

You get two ranks on a ride. Your rank out of the people currently riding at the same time, and your rank out of all the people who have ever taken the ride.

I came in 13 out of the 14 people who were on that session, because that’s always.

Even at my best I was only ever in the bottom third of all the people.

It’s so annoying and frustrating.

Pretty sure the person under me turned the bike off halfway through because their numbers were so low you could have exhaled onto the pedals and turned them faster. So yeah.

It’s not like I didn’t try. I try every time. Ralph tells me I sound like I’m going to die. If he’s on with his Destiny clan, who can hear background noise through his headphones, I get shushed.

In fact, I even did it at the TOP of my zone, edging into the bottom of the next one. And STILL I came in 13 out of 14.

I am not even good compared to myself. It gives you your “personal best” in a comparable ride and my best was just … so much more that I have no idea how I ever did anything at that pace.

So let’s see, if I was going to tell someone else to stop being stupid, what would I say?

I’d say you got back on after a long time of being off. I’d say that’s great. I’d say, you did an hour, which is a big deal, and you can do it again, and you’ll get better.

I’d say things that wouldn’t make anyone feel better because WHY WOULD YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT BEING TERRIBLE.

But that’s not what I was going to say.

What I was going to say, was that it felt really good to ride. It was super invigorating and I actually felt like I accomplished something. It also makes me feel less like stuffing cookies in my face, because I’m not that person, I’m the healthy person who rides for 60 minutes and eats carrots.

I want a carrot.

A carrot flavored carrot from the Farmers Market, because I just got some beautiful ones. I deserve them.

60 minutes on the bike doesn’t make you tired. I mean, it does, but it’s an earned tired. It’s a used-muscles tired. It’s not that soul deep exhaustion that makes you want to get in bed and never come out like when Chrome sucks up your plugins and won’t give them back because technology.

60 minutes on the bike makes you want a carrot.

60 minutes on the bike leads to words, and the word is energized.

Regardless of what my rank was or how today-self did compared to six-months-ago-self, I felt really energized, like I could do anything, maybe even one day come in 12th.

Today we bought donuts, even though we ended up buying the wrong ones, the super more fattening ones. And I bought caramel corn because Ralph loves it. And I got a 50% off coupon from Tiff’s that is really hard to ignore.

That’s why I decided to get on the bike and not do a self-directed ride, not do a 30 minute ride, not do a 45 minute ride. I went all the way to 60.

It felt really good. It felt like I don’t want a donut. Or a cookie.

It felt good, in part, to do something that on a normal day I would not have the time or energy to eke out. It felt good, in part, to be tired in a physical way and not just a mental one.

It felt like taking control. It’s really quite impressive what a lot of sweating will do for you.

People who tell you to exercise your way out of a bad mood aren’t wrong. They’re just incredibly annoying.

I wasn’t in a bad mood today, in fact I was in a little bit of a worse one after seeing my rank, but the real thing was feeling energized.

I like the experience of taking a hard class, but even more than that, I like how it feels afterwards.

Do you know what I did afterwards?

I painted. I took out my paint by number and sat there for an hour and painted. It’s one of those things I’ve been wanting to do for more than a year.

But I never have the time or energy. Today I made one and generated the other.

Do you know what I didn’t do?

Laundry. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of it. But it will still be there tomorrow, and I’m not out of socks yet.

I had another word today, one that’s been floating around for a while waiting its turn. But when I stepped off the bike after doing something hard, it was like a bright light flashed in my brain with ENERGIZED in neon tube lights.

And I had to talk about it.

It’s a good feeling, like someone plugged you in and all systems booted up. Scenic rides are nice, but getting your butt kicked by some unbelievably perky twenty-something, even when your position on the leaderboard falls below the 70-somethings, is actually quite satisfying.

I wanted to say that out loud today and remember it, because tomorrow I will complain that I have to get on the bike. And I will put it off until I finally fling myself off the couch so I can get it done and move on to more sitting on the couch. And then I’ll eat a carrot.

Photo: in progress paint by number, which I may finish before 2023.