In the saddle: Return of the gym rat tougher than imagined |

In the saddle: Return of the gym rat tougher than imagined

BASALT – I thought I would make a smooth and easy transition back into gym rat at Basalt Health and Fitness once mid-October rolled around. I figured I was in pretty good shape from a superb summer of hiking and biking, so spinning and cardio classes would be a breeze.

Instead, I got my ass kicked.

Kate, one of the spin class teachers, celebrated her birthday last Wednesday by toying with her students and making us suffer. I suspect she made us burn a few extra calories in advance to offset the cake and champagne we brought in to wolf down after class (at 6:30 a.m.).

She followed up the next morning by filling in for an instructor who was on vacation. She led a class called “Boot Camp” that damn near killed me with a mix of short but intense cardio exercises with a heavy dose of ab workouts and core strengthening maneuvers. By the time Friday rolled around, I was shuffling rather than walking because my hip muscles, glutes and inside of my thighs ached so much. Boot camp, indeed.

On Friday, my humbling return to the gym continued with Jo’s spin class at 5:30 a.m. Jo keeps the rock ‘n’ roll and tension on the bicycles cranked up. You never feel cheated about the lung-searing workout you get crammed into 45 minutes.

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was looking forward to staying out of the gym and getting back on the trails on such a glorious fall day. My neighbors were soaking in the sun and enjoying a cup of coffee in their front yard as I prepared my mountain bike for a ride. They needed a split second to accept my invitation to join me on what I believe is one of the toughest climbs in the Roaring Fork Valley: up into the Crown from Rock Bottom Ranch near Basalt.

We hit the Rio Grande Trail as the morning chill was waning. Within seconds of leaving the Rio Grande we were experiencing the agony and ecstasy of the climb up what some dub Vomit Hill. Lo and behold, my neighbor Margaret was the first person I ever rode with who cleaned the nasty old hill – riding from the Rio Grande to what’s known as the upper gate with only one break, required to pass through a creaky gate. It was a truly amazing feat, especially since she’s about 5 feet 3 inches tall and easily less than 110 pounds.

So my hat’s off to the spin teachers and cycling neighbor. Their efforts convinced me that chicks rule.

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