It’s one thing to obsess over Michelle Obama’s arms. Or your Physique 57 instructor’s entire body. But as far as I’m concerned, those aren’t REAL people. They are public-facing heroes of the human form. I imagine they can dedicate something I can’t to their bods. (Ie: Close the East Wing! It’s Soul Cycle time, baby! Evidently this is happening, lucky lady.)

So when I see someone in amazing shape in the wild (re: on the subway, at a party) I get a major girl crush. Who is this perfect human specimen? 

First Lady Arms

First Lady Arms

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In case you missed it a little while ago I wrote a piece called “A Madlibs Bio of Every Yoga Instructor I Have Ever Had” that was posted on Thought Catalog. Check it out and let me know what you think!
 

 

Oh hello. Bienvenue! Velkommen! Maruhabaa! It’s me from before. I noticed quite a bit of international traffic to the blog recently, which has made me feel vaguely like an international icon. And with minimum 200% less infrastructure-inflicted poverty than the World Cup.

On a more personal note, I signed up for a Half Marathon! It’s on September 27 which means I am two weeks into a 12-week training plan. I’m following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training plan. Does anyone have any other training plan to recommend?  Mr. Higdon’s is pretty straight forward: run 4 times a week (including one long run), cross train one time, rest the other two days. The long runs get a mile longer each week. The lesson for me here is clear: there is no black magic or intelligent combination that results in success. To become a stronger runner, you just have to run.  Kind of a bummer.

Running in Quogue Wildlife Reserve

Running in Quogue Wildlife Reserve

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  1. Running makes me feel like an athlete but it doesn’t make me look like one.
  2. In related news, weights are the only thing that noticeably change my body.
  3. I do not like indoor cycling.  I specifically begrudge SoulCycle for making their spin rooms sweltering. That said, cults have been using sweat lodges for years, so I support their use of data-driven solutions and outside-industry research.
  4. Eating bread makes me feel sluggish but also happy.
  5. Reading fitness blogs like these motivates me to keep going.

And for those playing at home, this is me riding a cruiser this weekend. My new favorite (only favorite) kind of bike.

riding in westhampton

I had a whole post drafted reviewing a new studio called BFX in Chelsea. But I decided instead of sharing it, I would tell you to click here and get a free class during their opening week, and decide for yourself if you like it. (I did). Teach a man to fish and what not. They use a fancy technology with a heart rate monitor and public shaming accountability, like the Torque board in a Flywheel class.

Let’s talk about what you’re really here to read. Nicole + Bike = <3?

riding around

riding around

I’ll get real with you. I had a setback. After not riding for a few weeks I got back on a bike this weekend in the Berkshires and lost my mojo. I forgot how to brake like a gentle giant. Instead I squeezed the brake latch with the expediency that – well that I do a lot of things. I freaked out about cars. I freaked out in general. Luckily my biking instructor (Matt) has experience teaching two year olds and was able to get me back on track by having my repeat some early lessons. But we didn’t make any forward progress.

A bit frustrated, when I got back to the city I searched the internet for “Adult Biking lessons.” Shockingly, while many existed, all were full. But fate has a funny way of working, I checked again later that night and boom: one spot opened up in the next day’s class at Bike New York.

Bike New York

Bike New York

I signed up for the most primary level class: Learn to Ride- Adults. The class cost $0, but is not funded by the city. Bike New York is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to facilitate bike riding in the five boroughs. I am not entirely sure that the whole thing isn’t a bogus project set up by Matt’s mom to get me to learn to ride a bike.

me at Bike School

Hello I am Nicole and I can’t ride a bike (yet)

Everything about this experience was wonderful and so extremely weird. What is the strangest place to teach a 30 year old to ride a bike? If “a community center gym in Roosevelt Island” was your guess, please pick up your prize at the end of the post.

The class was led by an incredible instructor named Barry. Barry looks like a bike rider. He is in his 50s, tall and lanky and has a healthy tan. His speech is calm and even paced. Joining Barry were seven volunteers who had all been trained for this very purpose. Everyone was kind and non-judgmental.

My 15 classmates varied in age from early 20s to senior citizen. When we entered the gym we were fitted for helmets. One of the walls was lined with bikes in size order. We were prompted to organize ourselves up in height order and find an appropriate bike. Fun fact: I was the tallest person in the class.

Then we stood next to our bikes and Barry gave us the 411. He taught us about the ABCs which I think means Air Pressure, Brake, and Chain – the list of things to check before cycling off into the sunset. Barry started talking about the kickstand when I looked down and saw my bike didn’t have pedals. Oh. Then I noticed none of the bikes had pedals.

my colleagues

my colleagues

Extolling the importance of balance,  Barry explained  we were going to learn how to move sans pedaling. So the lot of us kicked ever-so-gracefully around the Roosevelt Island SportsPark gymnasium attempting to propel ourselves forward and keep our feet floating. Not to brag, but I was a total ringer in this motley crew, having done this exercise ad nauseam before. My fellow student, Vincenzo (a grandfather and spinning instructor – stationary bikes only, obviously) yelled “there’s always one in every class!” when I pushed off the ground and flew my legs into the air.

Max, the oldest of the bunch and also the second tallest, was next to me in formation. He was having trouble lifting his leg over the bike in order to sit on it.   “Nicole, can we switch bikes?” he asked but when I turned around from a few paces ahead one of the volunteers was lowering his seat.

Eventually a glorious icecapade-esque dance formed. A circle of 16 grown up misfits kicking their feet while gliding on pedal-free bikes in a gymnasium in Roosevelt Island, or Tuesday at 1pm as we call it in biking school.

Now I was not named Prom Queen, but I was the first to “earn” my pedals in adult bike school. This was both a blessing and a curse. You move a lot faster on a bike when pedaling and all of my classmates were still kicking. This made doing any actual riding a bit tough. But I broke formation and kept going, working on braking gently.

I made some progress for sure. But since we were on flat land, I couldn’t use the gears, which is something I need a little help with.

Eventually more people earned pedals. Such a bizarre and heartwarming sight. Full-grown humans who no less than 90 minutes ago could not ride a bike were pedaling and swerving around the gym. Yes there were collisions. Yes it was hysterical.  But my big takeaway was I’m glad this exists. I think I am ready for the next level class which focuses on stopping and starting and gears. I was probably already ready for that class but I can’t say it wasn’t a fun way to spend 2 hours.

Watch me ride. (You’ll see me stopping a number of times. That’s because the goal here was to stop gracefully using the 100% the brakes and 0% my feet. I get it right, eventually.)

Where to go for adult biking lessons in NYC:

Bike New York

Bicycle Habitat

NYC Parks Dept