ball hung in the middle of the darkened room and swirled
multi-colored patches simultaneously across my face, the mirrored
walls and the other dark figures standing breathless beside their
spin cycles. I leaned motionless against my own. The pounding music
had stopped but echoed in my pounding heart as I draped against the
handle bars. My legs were heavy rubber. I could barely think. Still
a singularity among those wandering square patches distracted and
drew my attention.
One patch had
a warmer hue than the others and repeatedly became the focus of my
stricken eye. As I followed its spiraling path, I began to see that
it also held more detail, so I peered more closely. Zooming in I
tumbled as if into a cinema and found myself surrounded by the full
glorious color of an autumn scene.
In that scene
I was tight on the wheel of Sharon (of Nine) Giannino, and we were
holding a strong pace through the blazing colors along 211 coming
out of Montgomery. Finishing up a late-season New Paltz ride, we
were alone; even though, on seeing her stand and lean into her big
gear just after the bridge, I had warned the others, "I think Sharon
smells the end of the ride. It's going to get fast now."
As an aside
I'll mention this only once, and then drop it. I've lobbied for a
couple years with regard to making Sharon's nom "Sharon of Nine." My
wife agrees, as do various people we've talked to outside the biking
community, but I only get blank stares from OCBC'ers when I bring it
up. Apparently biking and watching Star Trek are mutually exclusive
activities, so I'll give a brief explanation.
There is a
character on one of the later Star Trek series called Seven of
Nine who is beautiful beyond imagining, has a killer bod and is
part cyborg besides! She was assimilated by the Borg and upgraded
with their technology, making her part human, part machine. Sharon
Giannino matches those specs precisely. When wearing her Stars and
Stripes she has often been called an action figure; and, when she
spins effortlessly off the front, everybody in the know has to
believe that some sort of Borg technology is at work?beyond her nine
cogs. Thus Sharon of Nine seems the obvious choice to me, but
I haven't been able to get even two other people in the club to
agree. As I said, just blank stares. Maybe people are embarrassed to
be revealed as Trekies, but for the life of me I can't think of
anything more embarrassing than wearing bicycling shorts.
pleased to report that the beauty and killer bod aspects of Sharon's
demeanor do not hold the same sway over me it would have years ago.
However, despite my advancing years, there are some triggers that
still provide exactly the same effect they ever did, such as: THE
BITCH PASSED ME!
So when I
saw her nostrils flare in Montgomery I knew it was time to go, or
else endure the aggravation of seeing somebody already in the
parking lot when I got there. Of course I warned everybody else that
the ride was about to begin, but neither Charlie (Chatmandu) Brown
(the only one there I can remember for sure) nor any of the half
dozen other riders took me seriously. Maybe they knew better than to
give chase. Oh that's right, (Totally Tubular) Louie and (Shoeless)
Julie were back with another group doing their usual stellar OCBC
job of helping a new rider make it through their first 50 miler, so
Sharon and I were off alone.
As long as I
stayed out of the wind the pace was manageable, so I was close on
Sharon's wheel. I was sure she didn't know I was behind her, so I
tucked over to the right, got real quiet and had time to think.
the reason that she had been my target all summer was because last
spring on a Wednesday night I had told Randy (R&) how I'd spent the
whole ride chasing Sharon and Andrew. Randy said, "Sharon? That ain't gonna happen. Fugett aboud it." That little dig derived from
my last name while supporting his other tendency to call me
"Useless" due to my not pulling?ever. My good fortune at having
amassed a dozen or so noms (while there are children in China who do
not have one) did not allay my knee jerk reaction. Sharon
immediately became my quest.
about Randy reminded me how he was soon to retire and go on a cross
country bicycle ride taking Roberta (&R) with him. I shuddered,
figuring that meant the demise of OCBC.
considered Randy the spiritual leader of the B's (at least since
Crazy Mike's been MIA); and his quick sardonic wit, along with that
chuckling sparkle in his eye while making sure nobody gets dropped
(though he could leave the entire lot of them for dead in a moment)
is a large part of what insures those rides are an ongoing challenge
and a pleasure. Also it meant Roberta would now be giving up her
title as the Spoke 'n Word Editor so would no longer be playing
Sharon Osbourne to all the rest of our Ozzies. I thought, "This club
will never be the same, how can we possibly go on? Hell, I wouldn't
be surprised if Dr. Art doesn't just stumble around freaked out and
stop writing articles altogether. Well, it's his own damn Vault."
I was just
about to fall into an abyss of depression but we arrived at the
intersection by the airport. Sharon looked back and found me on her
wheel. She winced and I smiled. "Quiet bike isn't it?" I queried
aloud but also thought, "Needer, needer, needer...I've still got some
We made the
left turn onto 416 towards Orange
Park; and, since she knew I was there, I had to pretend to pull for awhile.
I knew the wind would now be angled from our right front, so I
figured the trees would hold it off me. As soon as we cleared the
trees I jumped right back on her wheel, this time just to the left
in a quiet little niche. I let the wind do its magic while I
practiced patience and repeated my mantra, "Not before the final
hill, not before the final hill..."
By the time
we were on the last climb to the parking lot, the wind had done my
work for me and as the hill tightened I finally heard
Sharon give out a little
gasp and be done. I stood, passed her and off-handedly taunted,
"Guess it's time to breathe hard...don't you think?" Then I did my
version of a sprint to the end.
hand I was standing beside my truck when Sharon coasted into the
parking lot and growled, "I'm really tired of being your lead out."
I smiled and
thought, "Ahh, a successful year..." but suddenly the day compressed
around me and moved away. It dwindled back down to become once again
that little overly bright yellow square amidst the disco lights
swarming over the walls. This was Sharon's spin class!
I felt the
pain and realized I was in Sharon's world now. Her payback was
complete, and what a payback it had been. It turns out Sharon is a
professional aerobics instructor. The only reason I've ever been
able to ride with her is because she's chronically over trained from
her teaching schedule, which also benefits her spin students,
because her experienced guidance proves as good as one can hope for.
about a dozen of us from OCBC that had realized the good sense of
getting in some high quality workouts over the winter months. Some
signed up for Tuesday, some for Thursday some for both, while two
acted as alternates after SlingShot and the Black Widow got sick of
the snow and headed off to Tampa. All told those in attendance were:
Dave Bray, Charlie (Chatmandu) Brown, Randy (R&) & (&R) Roberta
Dakan, Mary (The Black Widow) Endico, Sherry Herlihey, Tom Kearney,
Jane Koch, (The Brave) Mary Lou Nolan, Virginia Richardson, Vinnie
Scelta and Barbara Sessa.
Bianche) Lawrence is a member of the gym so made a couple guest
appearances and once tried to throw us all off the program by
bringing some of his mother's famous brownies. He had to be reminded
those sinfully delicious treats are illegal in International competition?in
the most ironic way.
Athletes are not barred from eating
them, just barred from passing them out to the
competition--especially to those with the cycling gravitas of SlingShot.
From the very
first night, when we'd all filed through the door to Straub's Gym in
Monroe, past the towering bright altars to step, walk, and run, on
along the gleaming porcelain white macabre racks of pump and burn,
down the long dank hallway that finally descended into Sharon's dark
little dungeon of drills, we were all impressed with the extreme
effort she puts into choreographing perfect exercise sequences to
the perfect music. When one finds La Donne Mobile (that
operatic student standard) paired with
George Thorogood?s Bad to the Bone plus selections
from the Allman Brothers, Madonna and others, ending with Christina
Aguilera's Beautiful for the grand finale warm down, all
previous carefully timed to a
hammering, lung shattering set of sprints, dashes and dances, it is
certain that an eclectic mix has been assembled with great effort.
class my heart-rate monitor's computer readout revealed a perfect
progression from warm up through intervals that peaked my anaerobic
threshold again and again, punctuated by recovery and tempo work,
all precisely paced to tunes from all over the musical spectrum. I'm
sure everybody found instances of their own favorites. Plus the
individual adjustment of effort available on the spin cycles, based
on perceived exertion (in a darkened, no pressure, non-hostile
environment), allowed Pokers through AA's to work side by side.
Nobody got dropped, and everybody enjoyed a top quality workout at
their own level.
there is that little matter of Sharon's constant cracking of the
whip, with the periodic crescendo of wheezing while a tidal wave of
lactic acid washed over the room. In light of that, and since nobody
likes my suggestion of Sharon of Nine as her nom, I might
make one last humble suggestion.
sought after nom amongst the AA men is BASTARD (the S.O.B. at the
front pushing the pace up Ridgebury), which in 2001 referred to
Kevin Haley, was abdicated in 2002 to Humberto Cavalheiro and which
in 2003 may be passed on to (Dangerous) Dan Sullivan, depending on
the success of his next round of Liposuction, I'm sure nobody who
has endured her spin class (that is to say those people now riding
in front of the rest of you) will lodge any complaint when I begin
referring to Sharon as the SPIN BITCH.